Sunday, February 29, 2004

Bin Laden Captured?

I began to be suspicious when recent press reports indicated that Bin Laden was surrounded and on the verge of being captured. Now the Times of India confirms my suspicions that he may already be in U.S. custody. Will he be found in his own spider hole? Will he be dead rather than alive? Of course the U.S. denies the story, but it amuses me that we are questioning relatives of al-Qaeda fugitives. We had Bin Laden's relatives in the U.S. on 9/11 and allowed them to leave the country on the 12th and 13th. Too bad we didn't think it was important to talk to them. I would love to know what they might have said that would have been so terrible for Bush. We'll never know. Conjecture will be at grassy knoll levels forever.

I always believed that Bin Laden would be captured in 2004. How convenient for Bush. As I said in Black Commentator, paranoia is the only option for thinking people.

Saturday, February 28, 2004

The Passion in Comics

Friday, February 27, 2004

U.S. Arms Haitian Insurgents

Ira Kurzban, counsel for the Haitian government, charges that the U.S. government is backing the insurgent forces that now threaten the capital of Port au Prince. Democracy Now has the story.

Mel Gibson and Hollywood Honchos

Do Jews control Hollywood? According to the New York Times the answer is yes and those in control are most unhappy with Mel Gibson.

As a Black American I am reluctant to dismiss others as being overly sensitive or politically correct when pointing out what they believe to be prejudice or bigotry. If Jews think The Passion is anti-Semitic they should say so. But anyone who disagrees should also be able to say so without fear of being labeled anti-Semitic. Unfortunately the anti-Semitism charge has been leveled in large part because Mel Gibson's father, Hutton Gibson, is an outspoken Holocaust denier and anti-Semite. It certainly didn't help his son that he continued his rants up until opening day. It is indeed ironic that Jesus said, "The sins of the fathers shall be visited on the sons."

My personal issues with the Passion began when Gibson's first screening was held for consevative pundits in Washington. No liberals were invited. I opined the following in my September 19, 2003 post.

"I have no idea if The Passion is anti-Semitic or not. We should remember that because Jesus chose death to pardon human sins, the issue of whether Romans or Jews should be held responsible is immaterial. If there were no crucifixion there would be no Christianity. But Gibson seems to agree that Jesus Christ is the personal property of conservatives. It is also clear that unless liberal Christians speak up he will have been proven correct. There is no better way to stave off criticism of The Passion than with the "real" Christian seal of approval."

I also have to point out a thinly veiled subtext of Jewish criticism of The Passion. There seems to be an assumption that all gentiles are anti-Semites who can't be trusted to see a movie. The death of Jesus was a central theme of the terror that was inflicted on Jews in Europe. But American Christians are not Cossacks or Brown Shirts. We celebrate Lent thinking of Christ's sacrifice on our behalf and we celebrate his resurrection at Easter without participating in pogroms.

Having said all of that, I will have no verdict on the film until I have seen it for myself.

Tuesday, February 24, 2004

Photo Proves Bush Service in Alabama National Guard
It was Bill Clinton's Fault

What a suprise. The 9/11 commission finally has made a pronouncement and guess what, it was all Clinton's fault. According to news reports the CIA did not follow up on a tip from German intelligence to keep one of the hijackers under surveillance. When did this foul up occur? When Clinton was president of course. Read it here. Apparently the Bush administration, you know the one in power when the event occured, didn't miss anything. If that is true, why has Condi Rice refused to give evidence under oath? Why are their reports that the Bushies ignored warnings of hijackings? Just asking.

Haiti in 30 Words or Less

Haiti is one of those places that the U.S. media ignores for years at a time. It only gets attention if its citizens flee to Florida in boats or if there is an impending civil war. Of course that absence of attention doesn't make it any easier when trying to figure out what is going on in that nation. Black Commentator has done great work on Haiti and today Juan Gonzalez of the NY Daily News weighs in as well.

The story is really quite simple. The U.S. wants to bring back the old repressive regime. The so-called insurgents have sown violence, looting and destruction to get back into power. Read more here.

Thursday, February 19, 2004

Howard Dean

"My name if Freedom Rider and I am a Dean supporter."

"Hi, Freedom Rider."

Alas, it is really over. Dean could not survive the media and establishment antagonism. I believe he was in fact electable, that is until he was portrayed as a crazy man. The question for Democrats is this. Can any Democrat survive who speaks a little bit of the truth? I will go into greater detail later, but it is clear that any Democrat who poses a threat to the party establishment and the media is doomed. Naeem Mohaiemen says it best in Alternet.

Give Me That Old Time Religion

Anyone who came to the United States with no knowledge of its history and religioius heritage would conclude that only conservatives are Christians. Those of us who are Christians and liberals have a hard time making the case that we exist.
But never fear, Freedom Rider is here. My thanks to the Dallas Morning News for accepting a guest column on the subject. Unfortunately this paper requires a very inconvenient registration process to read articles so I print it in its entirety here. I also thank Smirking Chimp and Political Aims (February 17th post) for their mentions of my tome.

Margaret Kimberley: Not all Christians are right

02:41 PM CST on Friday, February 13, 2004

By MARGARET KIMBERLEY / Special Contributor to The Dallas Morning News

Conservative Christians have espoused their views on school prayer, public displays of the Ten Commandments, abortion, gay rights and other issues so vociferously that they have succeeded in making conservative synonymous with Christian.

The David Limbaugh book Persecuted: How Liberals Are Waging War Against Christianity (Regnery Publishing, $27.95) is the culmination of this effort. Not only are Christians alleged to be persecuted, a specious argument at best, but they are allegedly persecuted by liberals. It of course follows that liberals must not be Christians.

As a political liberal who is also a devout Baptist, I have grudging admiration for my conservative coreligionists. They are unrelenting in the promotion of their beliefs and in their alliance with conservative politics. The ascendancy of George W. Bush has made them all the more powerful.

Christian conservatives like Pat Robertson and groups such as the Traditional Values Coalition denounce gay marriage, the ACLU, the United Nations, the Supreme Court, all liberals and any opinions or policies connected to them. But while Jesus said, "As you do unto the least of these you have done it unto me," I see no mention of the least among us in the conservative agenda.

The president and the Republican-controlled Congress so beloved by religious conservatives recently passed legislation eliminating overtime pay for as many as 5 million working Americans. Are working people not the least among us? Do Christian conservatives approve of tax breaks that favor the wealthiest at the expense of the middle class?

It appears that the operative word for those who describe themselves as Christian conservatives is conservative, not Christian. They thrive on the idea of controlling the behavior of others, whether by restricting gay marriage, preventing abortion or establishing the supremacy of their religious and political beliefs, even if their actions subvert religious life as experienced by millions of other Americans.

The Ten Commandments controversy is a case in point. Former Alabama judge Roy Moore made his display of the Ten Commandments in the courtroom a rallying point for conservatives, many of whom believe they are persecuted by those who disagree on this and other issues. In fact, many Christians argue that secular display of the Ten Commandments places them in an improper context and trivializes the important role those teachings play in our lives.

The most prominent Christian conservative, President Bush, once said that Jesus was his favorite political philosopher. It is unlikely that Jesus would approve of challenging Iraqi insurgents to "bring 'em on" when American soldiers, international aid workers, and Iraqi civilians are in harms way.

It is time for this president and other conservatives to be taken to task when they claim to follow the word of God. Former Treasury Secretary Paul O'Neill alleges that the Bush administration planned for a war with Iraq as soon as it came into office, well before the terror attacks Sept. 11, 2001. A good Christian would be reluctant to make war and would certainly not make a case based on lies. Unfortunately, liberal Christians are less comfortable making public proclamations of faith and are reluctant to debate their conservative brethren.

When former National Organization of Women President Patricia Ireland was appointed to lead the YWCA, there was an immediate uproar from Christian conservatives. She was attacked on issues such as abortion and questioned about her religious beliefs. As a result of these attacks Ms. Ireland's tenure at the YWCA was short lived – just six months.

However, when Pat Robertson expressed his disdain for the State Department by saying last fall, "Maybe we need a very small nuke thrown off on Foggy Bottom," the criticism from liberal Christians was far more muted. Conservatives have a well-oiled machine that responds instantly to any issue they deem important. Liberals lack such a mechanism, and their silence results in acquiesce to conservative domination on matters of religion and public policy.

Liberals who are Christians must forthrightly connect their religious and political beliefs and question conservative views that are not in keeping with Christian teaching. Just as it is unhealthy for the body politic if only one opinion holds sway, it is unhealthy for one religious view to monopolize public debate. American political and religious life will continue to suffer unless liberals and conservatives are equally outspoken in the interchange of ideas.

More on the Texas Souffle

Thursday is Black Commentator day and that means you get another dose of the Freedom Rider. This week I take on our President, his arrogance, and his self-satisfied feeling of entitlement. I point out that I do not think he is stupid. He is proudly uninterested in anyone or anything outside of his own limited experience. That makes him very dangerous indeed.

Monday, February 16, 2004

The Texas Souffle

First, the good news. Someone remembers seeing Bush in Alabama. The bad news is that the recollection is none too flattering. The story is that the privileged frat boy was such an annoyance while working on a Senate campaign that he became known as the Texas Souffle, puffed up on the outside but full of hot air.

I don't have any confidence that this or any other negative news about Bush will hurt him this year. The press will find a way to minimize it and conservatives will be in lock step supporting him. On that front, read the Yellow Doggerel Democrat. Not only are the right wing supporting Bush, but their rhetoric has begun to take on a more menacing tone.

Vote Your Conscience

I couldn't have said it better myself. The Liberal Coalition blog tells us to vote for whomever we support. We are still in a primary season and we don't have to march in lock step. If we lose in November it will not be because we had a real primary race.

Friday, February 13, 2004

The Ann Coulter School of Religion

We should invade their countries, kill their leaders and convert them to Christianity.
Ann Coulter

Remind all the Muslim killers that thou shall not kill. Make them good Christians and good people.
Benny Elon, Israeli Tourism Minister

Benny Elon has quite a friendship with conservative Christians. When he met with a Christian group in Jerusalem recently he said that "Muslim killers" should be converted to Christianity. I don't know how anyone can live in Jerusalem and be unaware that Christians also have a history of killing in the name of their religion. On July 15, 1099 Crusaders captured the city of Jerusalem and massacred the Jewish and Muslim inhabitants. Jews were burned alive in synagogues and Muslims were murdered in their mosques, all in the name of Jesus. Elon could certainly use a history lesson.

Christians tend to overlook this history by saying that it happened nearly 1,000 years ago. True enough, but it would not hurt us to be a little more introspective and a little less certain of our superiority. Every religion has been controlled by fanatics at some point in its history. Christianity is no exception and we don't have to go back to the 11th century to find examples of religiously inspired blood lust. The pilgrims gave thanks to God when they killed Indians. Catholics and Protestants took turns burning each other at the stake. Churches were used as KKK recruitment centers. Hitler came to power partly as the result of the agreement or silence of Germany's Christian clergy. The worst mass murders in Rwanda took place in churches where victims fled for sanctuary.

Suicide bombings and other acts of terror were far less common when President Clinton worked for Middle East peace agreeements. The Bush administration Middle East policy, such as it is, consists of giving Ariel Sharon carte blanche. Those Christians who are supportive of Israel should not be afraid to ask the Sharon and Bush governments hard questions about their policies. We don't need religious conversions to bring Middle East peace. We need to affirm that the security needs of Israelis and Palestinians are not mutually exclusive and that the real road map to peace will happen when the U.S. becomes an honest broker in the process.

Thursday, February 12, 2004

Just Because You are Paranoid Doesn't Mean They Aren't Out to Get You

What a coincidence. The President's poll numbers are falling and the press is finally looking into his military service, or rather lack of service. Like clockwork, we have a security alert that results in a cancelled trans-Atlantic flight. Wow! Bush has an uncanny knack for coincidence working in his favor.

Don't be afraid to believe in conspiracies. Read my column in the current issue of Black Commentator. If anyone accuses you of being paranoid just respond, "You aren't paranoid? Why not?"
Bush was AWOL

The President claimed he would provide his military records to the press, but all we have are pay stubs. Richard Cohen of the Washington Post reveals his own National Guard experience, and explains that he did not complete his service, still got paid, and was honorably discharged. I have to admit that I rarely agree with Cohen, so I feel a little guilty about using his column to prove a point. As I said, I feel a little guilty, but not enough to pass up this information. The Washington Post now requires an annoying registration process to access articles, but registration is free and worth the effort.

Tuesday, February 10, 2004

Torquemada on NBC

Tim Russert has the reputation for being a tough interrogator on Meet the Press, but only if guests are Democrats. If a Republican is in the hot seat, well it isn't so hot. I don't know why expectations were so high for his interview with the President. As always the Daily Howler gives us the low down when Russert and his colleagues lose their appetite for real journalism.

Russert doesn't stand up to Vice President Cheney. Why would anyone think that he would ask the President hard questions? On September 14, 2003 Russert had this exchange with Cheney about the Bin Ladens and other Saudis who were allowed to leave the U.S. on September12th and 13th of 2001.

MR. RUSSERT: Vanity Fair magazine reports that about 140 Saudis were allowed to leave the United States the day after the 11th, allowed to leave our airspace and were never investigated by the FBI and that departure was approved by high-level administration figures. Do you know anything about that?
VICE PRES. CHENEY: I don’t, but a lot of folks from that part of the world left in the aftermath of 9/11 because they were worried about public reaction here in the United States or that somehow they might be discriminated against.

Russert did not follow up. He did not ask the Vice President another question about the departure of people who could have been considered material witnesses if not suspects in the murder of 3,000 Americans. Of course, Russert followed up with Wesley Clark on the subject of Michael Moore in a January 25th interview. You can read the entire transcript, but Russert asked a total of four questions about Moore's characterization of Bush as a deserter.

MR. RUSSERT: Is it appropriate to call the president of the United States a deserter?

MR. RUSSERT: But words are important, and as you well know under the Uniform Code of Military Justice, if you're a deserter, the punishment is death during war. Do you disassociate yourself from Michael Moore's comments about the president?

MR. RUSSERT: The right of dissent is one thing, but is there any evidence that you know of that President Bush is a deserter from the United States armed forces?

MR. RUSSERT: One of your major supporters uses words like that. Isn't that a distraction?

Hmmm, four follow up questions about a film maker's remark, and no follow up when the Vice President claims to know nothing about Bin Laden's relatives leaving the country without being interrogated. Is the media liberal? I report, you decide.
Mohammed Atta with a Cross

Am I the only one who was creeped out beyond belief by the evangelizing pilot? An American Airlines pilot asked Christian passengers to identify themselves and informed non-Christian passengers that they were crazy. Passengers of every faith were quite rightly in a panic and began making cell phone calls to their families. Does that bring back any memories?

American Airlines has issued an inadequate response under the guise of respecting employee confidentiality. American has to assure the public that nothing like this will ever happen again and if necessary needs to remind pilots that certain things, like prosletizing, are not acceptable while in the cockpit. Other airlines need to act in the same fashion.

Call me paranoid, but thoughts of 9/11 flashed through my mind when I heard this bizarre tale. If Christians don't step up to the plate and rein in our religious fanatics we will be like Muslims who are forced to explain the behavior of 19 hijackers.

Thursday, February 05, 2004

Ricin in the Senate or No Such Thing as Coincidence

Have you noticed that the Bush White House doesn't like it when dems are in the news? They already moved up the date of the State of the Union address to compete with the Iowa caucuses. How convenient that on a day when seven states held primaries that ricin was found in the Senate.

I think a little paranoia is in order. Among other things, Karl Rove once faked the bugging of his office to discredit a political opponent. Scroll down for Karl Rove's greatest political hits.

I don't know if the substance found was really ricin or not, but American extremists should be on the suspect list if the poison was in fact present. As always, read Orcinus to get the latest. The February 3rd post reveals the connection between right wing hate groups and the use of ricin and other chemical weapons.

Wednesday, February 04, 2004

Bush was AWOL

"Lt. Bush has not been observed at this unit during the period of the report."

I don't know if the correct term is deserter or AWOL but the facts are as follows. George W. Bush did not show up for his second year of National Guard duty. He just wasn't there. He didn't show up. No one saw him. has the goods on Bush and on the media who covered for him.

Why the Press Went After Dean

Howard Dean went from being the toast of the town to being spoken of in the past tense because he was honest. In a December 1st appearance on Hardball he said, "We're going to break up the giant media enterprises." That was the end of him. Suddenly the media went from mistrusting him to calling him crazy. Read about it here.

Of course, no one else will repeat the same mistake. The message is clear. Toe the line or be destroyed. I started out being sceptical that the democratic party had the ability to beat Bush. I began to have hope when I saw a candidate who wasn't afraid to take on the right wing. Dean isn't very liberal, he is pretty much a middle of the road democrat. But now that we live under right wing, one party rule everyone else looks like a leftist.

I want to see a Democrat sworn in as president next January. I think that any of the candidates who remain can win, but the pro-republican media tilt may be impossible to beat. We have already seen Peter Jennings use Michael Moore to get to Wesley Clark. If someone with a chest full of ribbons can be smeared by a so-called journalist who wants to protect someone who was AWOL, then Kerry's Vietnam experience won't help him much. The press have already accused Kerry of using botox and they will find something else. According to our media masters Bush can do no wrong and a democrat can do no right. I don't know who can fight that.

Monday, February 02, 2004

All Super Bowl, All the Time

Just when I thought that Michael Powell, Colin's kid, was asleep at the wheel of the Federal Communications Commission, he has worked himself into a lather. Is the subject of his indignation media consolidation or some other issue that effects the democratic way of life? Mais non! Janet Jackson's bare boob has our chairman's shorts in a knot. He was shocked, outraged and angry for the entire Powell clan! Read about it here. Hopefully Powell fils (I'm feeling French today) will learn to love being angry and speak up on behalf of his employers, the American people. Perhaps he will no longer whine when the public have the gall to tell him they don't want to be controlled by an ever growing media behemoth. In a New York Times interview last year he complained that American citizens were running "a political campaign against the commission." What was the great sin committed by the unwashed masses? They ran a "grass roots campaign."

Something must be done and rapidement. We can't have Americans talking back to their government masters. I really feel sorry for the republicans. No matter how much power they have it is just never enough. Black Commentator has a brilliant take on the corporate media and the damage it has already done in this presidential election year.

Houston, We Have a Problem

Watch out for those "wardrobe malfunctions." Last night I kept turning to the Super Bowl to see if the much vaunted half-time show had started. They are always over produced and over the top, but that is what makes them such great guilty pleasures. You can imagine my surprise when I saw Janet Jackson's bare bosom. I asked myself, "Can that be Janet's breast?" I replied, "No, it can't be. I must be more tired than I thought. I'm seeing things that aren't there."

The aplogies began even before the game ended. MTV apologized, CBS apologized, the NFL apologized and Justin Timberlake, the exposer, issued the same lame apology that everyone gives when they know they have done wrong. "I am sorry if anyone was offended." Perhaps Mr. Timberlake should try this on for size. "I apologize profusely to Janet Jackson for the embarassment that I caused her. I know that many viewers were also offended but I ask them to understand that the incident was in now way intentional. I also deeply regret the embarassment I caused the NFL, CBS and MTV."

I am also trying to decide if the announcers were correct when they ignored what millions of people clearly saw. They could have said, "Ladies and gentelmen, we don't know why Justin just exposed Janet's breast, but there will be no instant replay." A simple statement like that would have kept me from thinking I had lost my mind. Of course, they may have been shocked and not known what to say. I will give them the benefit of the doubt, but in the future there should be a new rule. If the viewers saw it, talk about it.