John Furie Zacharias
having a bad day in a strange place
Thunderstorms Anywhere

Thunderstorms in the Imajica

 The different ways I don't like you 
 in a list that may never become organized
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Thursday, October 12, 2006
Iraq: Denial and Disconnect

I was completely dumbfounded to hear the public responses of President Bush and General Casey concerning the Lancet publication of the study of Iraqi civilian death toll numbers.  President Bush first dismisses the 650,000 death toll number as not being credible and then applauds the Iraqi people for tolerating the violence. He then says the study's "methodology has been pretty well discredited" -- when in fact -- the study used the same polling methodology that the U.S. government and the U.N. officially uses.  He then says, "you know, I talk to people like General Casey ..."

What does General Casey say?  General Casey says he saw a 50,000 civilian death toll somewhere, but can't remember where he saw it.  Watch the video or read the transcript, I'm not making this stuff up.  I can not believe a military general played the I'm just a dumb private game.

I can only guess that if you don't want to hear the bad news, you don't look for it in the first place. If someone else tells you the bad news and you don't like what you hear, you dismiss it as being a lie.  Now, I can't wait to hear Donald Rumsfeld tell someone that the civilian death toll estimate is just al-Qaeda propaganda.  Dick Cheney will probably blame it on Nancy Pelosi or George Soros.

In other denial and disconnect news: the toll on our U.S. military.  Apparently, the Veteran's Administration sat on a Freedom of Information Act request by George Washington University to release the numbers of U.S. servicemen applying for medical disability.  When the reports were finally given to GWU, it showed that one in four veterans that have served in the Global War on Terror during the last five years are now disabled.

Paul Sullivan, the Director of Programs at Veterans for America (an advocacy group that I joined), discussed the situation with Amy Goodman on Democacry Now! in this interview broadcast today.

It's no wonder the Veterans Administration was reluctant to release the bad news, as Sullivan describes:

What it means is, in terms of how much money the Iraq and Afghanistan war will cost taxpayers, the war will cost billions per year well out into the future. And here's why. There are two types of costs at the Department of Veterans' Affairs. The first is for veterans to actually be treated by a doctor. That's medical care. And as I mentioned, VA last year was short $3 billion for their healthcare budget, and they needed emergency funding in order to take care of the veterans.

The VA also pays monthly disability checks. It's called disability compensation or pension. And those checks show up in the mail or direct deposit into veterans' accounts due to their disabilities incurred or aggravated by military service. What's happened is, with this flood of disability claims coming into VA, VA may be paying out billions of dollars per year for 30 or 40 years due to the disabilities -- you know, missing arms, legs, psychiatric problems -- from Iraq and Afghanistan war veterans.

Now if the neocon warmongers in the Bush Administration didn't even plan for what happens after we invade Iraq, do you think they even bothered to think of the 150,000+ military veterans that will require life-long care and assistance? Do we add another 30,000 each year to the disabled rolls?

How many lives have to be destroyed for oil before we get serious about the situation and stop living in denial here in the United States?


Wednesday, October 11, 2006
Media: FCC, free your mind

Remember when you could say, "If you don't like what you're hearing and seeing on TV, change the damn channel!"

Click, click, click.  Why do I see the same thing on every channel?  Is this some Orwellian 1984 nightmare?  No, it's the media in the United States today.  The corporate media in the U.S. is like McDonald's restaurants.  You may pay for 500 TV channels, but they all serve the same mind-numbing propaganda from the same menu.

Is it any surprise that the only iconic anti-Bush, or anti-war voices are on two barely-watched cable channels?  Look. I like the fact that Keith Olbermann has the balls to rail against the Bush administration from time to time, but do you think MSNBC would even allow him that 10 minutes to rant in their 24/7 daily programming, if Bush's popularity ratings weren't as low, as say, getting a case of herpes?  When everyone was waving the flag for regime change in Iraq, MSNBC cancelled the only one hour show that questioned the war, Donahue, despite its huge ratings.

The other outspoken voices that point out the blantant hypocrisy and propaganda coming from our own federal government, Stewart and Colbert, are on Comedy Central.  And, god-dammit, if you don't think the average American is more ignorant now because they aren't being told the WHOLE truth about everything from immigration to Iraq, you deserve to live in the new Fascist States of America.

Obviously, my cussing stresses the fact that I think this is a vitally important issue, and I do think so.  First, I share the opinion of Amy Goodman of Democracy Now! when she said that the American media is one of most important exports to the rest of the world.  Not only does it entertain us, but also it is how the rest of the world sees us. It is our defacto public relations that shapes how the world views America.

The media consolidation of late has created huge multi-national coporations raking in billions of dollars each month, and yet, being the profit monsters they are, they want more opportunity to gobble up more media.  Just two guys on the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), were able to convince the five-member board to hold some hearings concerning further homogenization of the media.

You want reality TV? I watched two 3-hour-long public hearings recently held in two venues in California on C-Span.  If those videos become available, I'll try to link them here.  For now, I encourage you to EDUCATE yourself about this issue by simply listening to the many voices giving their testimony in 2 and 5 minute speeches.

Do the math. 6 hours of public hearings. 2 and 5 minute long commentaries. That's a lot of people expressing their concern about the FCC considering more media consolidation.  Both hearings were held in the Los Angeles area, so much of the testimony did focus on the impact of people working in media.  Also, however, broader issues of diversity, democracy, and an informed electorate were constantly raised.

Go ahead and multi-task. Start the audio and clean up your desk, do the dishes, or feed the goldfish.  Even though the public hearing was announced to take place only several days before it took place, I can testify from the videos I watched that hundreds of very concerned people showed up at both hearings.

Again. Kudos to the two FCC commissioners that got the public hearings held in the first place.  It's much better than deals made with lobbyists behind closed doors, and shredding reports that your corporate pimps don't like -- as was done in the past by the former FCC chairman, Uday Powell.

Click for the Real Audio of the Los Angeles hearing *

Click for the Real Audio of the El Segundo hearing

Go on, get back to work, now.  Well, unless you have to run the vacuum cleaner.

* In a grand display of government efficiency, the actual hearing starts with Chairman Martin's statement -- about 25 minutes into this audio file. jsyk.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006
GooTube Tuesday

I could spend 10,000 hours of my life researching, linking, and blogdriving my entries here -- and yet, Keith Olbermann sums up my outrage, disgust, and hope for my country in this 10 minute video.

This video segment sums up my assertion of Bush's true motivation for doing anything (self-serving political survival) and the apparent ADD Karl Rove has in advising the leader of the free world.

My tinfoil hats off to -- I just wanted to spread the cheer.

Why Gootube Tuesday?  Read this.


Monday, October 09, 2006
Swamp Gas v.012

Welcome to Swamp Gas in the Imajica.  Similar to the You Can't Make This Shit Up (YCMTSU) section, Swamp Gas will focus solely on news and items of interest in the sunshine state of Florida.

They say, "All the nuts in America roll downhill to Florida."  So let's just see how true that phrase really is.

Click on the Swamp Gas logo for the smelly menu.

Swamp Gas v. 012

 Foley Fun


By now, everyone has heard about the Florida Congressman, Mark Foley, who abruptly resigned from Congress after being confronted with the impending media story of his inappropriate email and cybersex chats with teenage boys who interned as Congressional Pages.  See C-SPAN, PBP. The only really amusing thing about this story -- after Foley's wine-and-priest excuse -- is watching the GOP Speaker of the House, Jabba the Hut, twist in the wind trying to spin the scandal.




Oddly, while Mark Foley was publicly forced out of the closet, Florida governor Jeb Bush was forced into a closet by law enforcement to protect him from angry protestors.  Apparently, Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum thought that having the president's brother speak at a campaign fund-raising event in Pittsburgh was a good idea.  Wrong again, Rick.


 Kate puts out TAMPA BAY

The ongoing GOP scandals and Bush crimes hasn't helped Senator wanna-be Katherine HarrisMost people remember her as the overly made-up GOP whore who helped Dubya steal the election in Florida in 2000.  Even though she has dumped over $10 million of her own inheritance money into her Senate campaign, her GOP pimps have not publicly supported her, and she has had some problems even keeping a staff together.  Apparently, GOP loyalty stops when a person believes that Jesus talks to her more than to George Bush.


Read more Swamp Gas

Friday, October 06, 2006
Phriday Night Phreeks

Democracy Now, Anarchy Later

Amy Goodman from Democracy Now! on The Colbert Report almost discusses her new book Static in the segment with Stephen Colbert, but she was able to talk about Iraq war veteran Sgt Marshall Thompson's ongoing "A Soldier's Peace" anti-war awareness project in Utah. Thank mediagrrl9 for getting this video online so fast.  She literally uploaded it while I was searching for it.

Bohemian Garden Rhapsody?

I never owned a Pacer wagon, but I did feel like Wayne and Garth for a few minutes when I nearly banged my forehead into my keyboard during the climax of the classic song by Queen and the anti-war protest presentation in this unusually crafted video.  Warning: watch this video in sobriety -- Dick Cheney appears in it.  I take no repsonsibility for your night terrors otherwise.

Click here for more Phriday Night Phreeks.


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