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.
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?
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.
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.
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Swamp Gas v. 012
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.
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.