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Saturday, July 23, 2005

Orange! Blue! Kaboom!

I had no idea Gator football games had such a political undertone.

"Israel is divided these days by colors. Orange belongs to the right-wing opponents of prime minister Ariel Sharon, protesting his "disengagement" plan to remove the Jewish settlements from the Gaza strip and northern West Bank next month. They appropriated the color from Ukraine's pro-democracy camp, which successfully overturned a sham election. The pro-disengagement crowd took blue, or blue-and-white like the Israeli national flag, as its emblem.

Driving up the hills to Jerusalem, with its heavily religious population, one sees an abundance of cars with orange stripes tied to their radio antennas and external mirrors. Down in secular Tel Aviv, there are more and more blue stripes. The war of colors is the public expression of a deeper debate, centering on Israel's direction and the ability of its democracy to absorb an act as deeply divisive as Sharon's disengagement."

Taliban and US Military Find Common Ground

A US military commander announced today, with a little smugness, than the Taliban is recruiting kids because its forces are depleted.

"They have been hit so hard they now have to recruit more fighters. They are recruiting younger younger fighters: 14, 15 and 16 years old," Maj. Gen. Jason Kamiya told The Associated Press in an interview. "The enemy is having a hard time keeping its recruit rates up."

An odd boast, considering our own country's problems filling the ranks of its armed forces. The problem is so bad that the US military is reaching out to younger and younger kids, using video games to make the military seem fun, and using deceptive and intimidating tactics to convince people to sign up.

On either side, bring kids into this conflict is a crime against nature. We shouldn't criticize their side when we do the same thing.

Mack the Dull Knife

The indispensable Oil Wars blog had an interesting post recently that revealed that Congress, at the urging of Florida Rep. Connie Mack, amended the Foreign Relations Authorization Act of 2005 so that it allows the US to "initiate radio and television broadcasts that will provide a consistently accurate, objective, and comprehensive source of news to Venezuela."

An example of this so objectivity, and what a load of crap that description is, can be found in Mack's own comments, which include:
“The United States has sent a message that we will not turn a blind eye as Hugo Chavez continues to snuff-out freedom and hijack Venezuela from its citizens.”


“Hugo Chavez is an enemy of freedom and of those who support and promote it. He is a threat to the United States and stands to undermine the balance of power in the Western Hemisphere. Today America has sent a message that we will not turn a blind eye as Hugo Chavez continues to snuff-out freedom and hijack Venezuela from its citizens.”

Undoubtedly, Mack, like his brethren in the White House, prefer the temporary government set up during the US-backed coup several years ago, which failed when the people demanded Chavez be re-instated (he has since won re-election by a wide margin). The coup government immediately suspended the constitution and closed the nation's elected legislature – that's the type of democracy the imperialists love.

Chavez is loved by his nation because he has taken back some of the oil profits and spent it on education, job-creation and health care for the poor, which is just about everyone. By all measures, the standard of living has improved under his presidencies, and by golly the oil companies are still making money hand over fist.

Such success bothers the US because it is what Noam Chomsky calls the "threat of a good example." Already other Latin American and South American nations are noticing and are rejecting the US-imposed economic reforms that have failed so wildly for everyone except the corporations that make money from these nations' natural resources.

Spend some time on the Oil Wars blog and check out some of the Venezuala resource web sites listed there.

Damn Those Crazy Liberals

The Gainesville City Commission, deemed "radical" and "ultra-liberal" by the local GOP and land development crowd, is considering reducing "chances for citizen input" into the local development review process.

The Plan Board, appointed by the lefty wackos, voted 4-1 to send the proposal to the commission. Hopefully their hate America instincts will kick in and defeat this bad idea. The last thing we need is less review of proposed developments. I'm not saying we need fewer developments, because generally I support infill development. But the people who will be impacted by these projects should have every chance to review and give input.

Friday, July 22, 2005

Nothin' But Net

The Basketball Hall of Fame announced this week that my Uncle Marty will receive the 2005 Bunn Lifetime Achievement Award at its enshrinement festivities in September.

Congrats, Marty. The link says it all about your career, but let me add this – I of course know your three kids well, and they are all outstanding individuals in every way. You and Marcia should share a lifetime achievement award for the excellent job you did raising them.


I Feel So Insignificant and Contemptible

I admit it -- I'm a twerp. When anonymous writers on an anonymous blog pass judgment on my inner being, how can I argue? What can I say when such an august body of people afraid to attach their names to their opinions decide to respond to my critique of their blog with such damning comments as "alachuapolitix rules" and "alachuapolitix rules"?

All that is left for me is either seppuku or registering as a Republican, which in the grand scheme is pretty much the same thing.

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Don't Crack Me Up

Gainesville police staged a high-profile bust of 18 street-level drug dealers Tuesday, in an East Gainesville apartment complex. Such events do nothing to reduce crime or drug use and abuse and serve only as media spectacles designed to make people believe the cops have a handle on drug dealing, which they do not.

This of course is not the first time such a bust has been made, and likely not even the first one at this apartment complex. When crack and powder cocaine are involved, the business of supply and demand are in control. When the cops arrest a dealer, he or she is either back on the street within hours or days, or, if the dealer is actually locked up for a long time, he or she is quickly replaced by someone else willing to risk prison time to make money as a crack dealer.

I first covered this type of press event in 1988, in Bushnell, when the Sumter County Sheriff's Office made a series of busts in the same neighborhood, where drive-through drug dealing was common.

I took the list of people who had been arrested and followed their progress through the courts, and I researched their prior arrests and adjudications. What I found was that the vast majority of them had been through this dog-and-pony show multiple times, only to return to the street and to crime.

I also talked to neighborhood activists, who seriously wanted something done about the drive-by drug store. They told me that after each bust, there was a brief lull and then the sales resumed.

I agree that we need to address drug abuse, but solely as a public health issue, not a crime issue. GPD does call this bust part of its "Comprehensive Drug Plan," but it is a rather useless appendage. Cops locally and nationwide have been going through this routine for two decades, with no appreciable decline in drug use.

Countries that focus on rehabilitation and treatment, such as the Netherlands, have fared much better with the effects of drug abuse on society. The illegality of drugs will deter people who are addicted to cocaine, so why spend money on it. Instead, divert that money into rehab programs that treat addicts, many of whom want help but are afraid to approach anyone because of the illegal nature of their addiction. Alcoholics aren't treated as such.

Don't agree. Check out this quote from one woman busted in the GPD sting, who thanked the cops "because I wasn't doing nothing but killing myself anyway."

Hopefully she'll receive more than time in a jail cell.

How to Irritate Fox News Republicans and Laugh About It

During my hiatus, a new local blog started by an anonymous writer. The blog is called Alachua Politix, and while its comment section is mostly a vent for Fox News Republicans who read "liberal" and see "evil," the main blogger (who goes by the handle "Politix Junkie") has a somewhat more even-handed approach.

I tried to get Politix Junkie to reveal his identity, but he refused. It is apparent that it is someone inside local politics, likely at the campaign organization level, if not a current or former elected official himself.

His posts are the blog's least interesting aspect, in my opinion. More fun are the comments, which revolve mostly around smug ha-has that the Democrats are in disarray and jabs at the evil liberals, almost always some talking point heard either from Rush Limbaugh or on Fox News.

The vast majority of the people posting comments do it anonymously, although I don't. Obviously, I am not afraid to attach my name to my opinion. I have been taking the knuckleheads on the site to task for their blind loyalty to Bush and the GOP, which has accomplished nothing and made the world worse in almost every possible way. The responses to my posts are always personal attacks that avoid the issues, which is fine with me because I see that as conceding my argument because they have no counter-argument.

It is obvious that when you challenge Fox News Republicans on their viewpoints, they have little to say except "you're a liberal." Says a lot about the reasons for the party's recent successes.

Anyway, if you like my blog, you will find my back-and-forth with "anonymous" amusing in this post.

Mission Accomplished, I Suppose

CNN ran a pair of important articles this morning about the July 7 London terror bombings and their connection to Dubya's invasion of Iraq and to Western imperialism in general.

In one article, the father of Mohammed Atta (the pilot of one of two planes that struck the World Trade Center towers) praised the London bombings and says many more such attacks will happen because of the US and British slaughter of Muslims around the world.

In the other article, London's mayor blamed the bombings on "governments which use indiscriminate slaughter to advance their foreign policy."

This, on the heels of an investigation by the Saudi Arabian government and an Israeli think tank that found most foreign fighters in Iraq "are not former terrorists and became radicalized by the war itself." The investigation "painstakingly analyzed the backgrounds and motivations of hundreds of foreigners entering Iraq to fight the United States."

"To say we must fight them in Baghdad so we don't have to fight them in Boston implies there is a finite number of people, and if you pen them up in Iraq you can kill them all," Peter Bergen, a terrorism specialist at the nonpartisan New America Foundation, a Washington think tank, told The Boston Globe. "The truth is we increased the pool by what we did in Iraq."

Which is exactly what the CIA said would happen before the invasion, but no one would listen. Most Americans were so shocked by the 9-11 attacks, and rightly so, that they agreed to anything that Bush wanted to do, including the Iraq invasion. Our pain and fear made it possible to swallow the lies about WMDs, even when the real experts were telling us Iraq was no threat and was not connected to the 9-11 attacks – facts now no longer in dispute.

Bush's credibility is slipping fast. Even the National Examiner is starting to pile on. The latest issue, which I saw in the grocery store check-out aisle, leads with "Bush Family Feud Explodes!!!" The cover pictures Barbara Bush and Laura Bush and alludes to Barb being upset about the Bush twins' partying escapades.

It's safe to say that a large percentage of the Enquirer's subscriber base is also part of Bush's political base. If the Enquirer's publisher feels it OK to parody the Bush matriarchs on its cover, it is a bad sign for Dubya. Next he'll be nominating an alien to the Supreme Court or chasing Bat Boy on his Crawford ranch.

I Have Awakened from My Blogger Somnambulism

Sorry about my blogging hiatus, but I needed to take a mental break from writing. I'm back.