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Saturday, June 18, 2005
Tell me something I don't know.

The Republicans are better than the Democrats at lies, spin and propaganda.

Thursday, June 16, 2005
Well, that was weird.

I haven't watched "Beauty and the Beast" for a long time. As far as Disney products go, it's about as good as they get. Part of it is the hand drawn animation. In 1991, when it was released, computer generated graphics were experimental. They appear in the background of a couple of scenes, but Beast was mostly hand drawn. It's a quality you don't see much today.

Another reason it's so good is the music. It was scored and librettoed by Alan Menken and Howard Ashman. These two guys were an unbelievable team. Who knows what they would have come up with if Howard hadn't died of AIDS in late 1991. Howard was the lyricist. He was a genius. I was reminded of this as I watched the movie this afternoon with my kids.

Beauty and the Beast is not a political movie. It is a fairy tale. It is a cautionary story with a moral or two, as most fairy tales are. One moral is that things that are pretty on the outside may not be pretty on the inside. Another moral is the converse: that things that are ugly or difficult at first glance may in fact be worth a great deal, if you give them a chance to prove themselves.

There is another lesson, too.

Let me digress a bit. It will come together soon, I promise: I love Star Wars. I saw episode III in Flint, Michigan when I had a little time between flights. The dialogue was horrible. The acting was even worse. I loved it.

The right wing yammerheads spent a fair amount of time complaining at Episode III's opening, that it was George Lucas's political anti-Bush statement. This whining was mostly justified by taking quotes from the mostly crappy dialogue. One of the quotes that the right found most objectionable was this:

“If you’re not with me, you’re my enemy”

This was thought to be a direct slam on Bush's post 9-11 speeech, when he made virtually the same statement to the world, thereby putting the entire planet on notice that the US was officially pissed off and unlikely to play nice anymore. Of course, the fact is that this phrase has been used often throughout history. Usually by very poor leaders, who bring calamity on their people..

This historical fact wasn't lost on Howard Ashman. Although he never lived to see George Bush elected governor of Texas, much less President of the United States, he knew what this phrase and this attitude meant when it was voiced by political leadership: Gaston, the puerile, self absorbed and charismatic villain of "Beauty and the Beast" utters these same words during the "Mob Song", as he whips the villagers into a frenzy to attack the Beast.

In spite of evidence that said Beast is not a threat.

Sound familiar?

Like I said, it was very weird.
Wednesday, June 15, 2005
Ya think?

"Was race a factor in Aruba arrests?"

Monday, June 13, 2005
So, now what?

Michael Jackson has been found not guilty. I know this because the headlines are huge, on every US news network. The headlines are bigger than they were when we rolled into Baghdad. They're bigger than the Runaway Bride, or the missing Aruba girl. The networks think this is big, big news. They should know, since they run on money, what the American public really, really cares about.

I guess this is what we care about. This is who we are as a nation. I've always thought that things like this were a sideshow, a distraction from the real issues of the day, that sooner or later, the American people would demand better from their news and information providers. I always hoped that eventually the charlatans, thieves and bullies of the right would be exposed, naked for everyone to see just how morally and intellectually bankrupt they are.

And then we would move on, having learned to pay a bit more attention to those who propose to lead us. A wiser nation, a more cautious and skeptical nation. The current conundrum of Iraq doesn't have a good solution. It doesn't. It should be a profound lesson to us. It should scare the crap out of us, this thing that has been done in our name. We should be aggressively searching for a way to shake this burning bag of dogshit that Geoge W. Bush left us off of our shoe. This issue should be dominating the national conversation. There is nothing more important to us as a nation than this single issue and all of its consquences.

It needs to be dealt with, now. There needs to be an honest appraisal of how this happened, and there needs to be a reckoning, with real analysis, real conclusions and real consequences. We are poorer. We are less safe. We have taken our vengeance for the 9-11 dead dozens of times over, almost entirely from people who weren't even involved. The world has long suspected, and now knows, that our rationale for the Iraq war was a load of crap. It was fabricated, and now everybody knows it. The proof is there for all to see. And the world is watching to see what we will do.

What we'll do is to look for missing pretty white girls. Peek into movie star and pop star bedrooms. Watch scripted and rehearsed reality shows. Complain about gas prices. Watch our jobs wither slowly away.

And sooner or later, we will watch, shocked and horrified, without really understanding why, when the towers fall again.
Sunday, June 12, 2005
Grampa's Questions
Guest post from the eldest Roach:

For as long as I can remember, I guess I have always had a slightly different view of life than most people. In retrospect I guess my different view of life in my younger years often crossed swords with conventional wisdom, usually leaving me on the losing end of an argument. Perhaps the best example I can give concerns a high school senior year writing assignment in an English class. The teacher said to read the assigned book and turn in a paper describing our thoughts. I read the book and turned in my paper. Shortly thereafter I was summoned to the teacher’s desk to explain why my paper only contained my name in the top right hand corner. My answer did not go well, “I read the book and didn't think there was anything in it worth writing about.”

Both the teacher and my mother were horrified. Perhaps my mother, even more than the teacher. My explanation was I had followed the instructions to the letter: no thoughts, no words needed. If the objective was to write 500 or 1000 words about the book, the assignment should have been put in those terms. This argument was lost on my teacher and my parents. However, I did learn from the experience. People don't always mean what they say or say what they mean. As a result, as I have aged, I seem to have either more questions or fewer answers.

For example: I wonder if 9/11 had not happened, would we have our troops engaged in Iraq today? It is becoming clearer each passing day that the hard line policies of the Bush administration bear no relationship to terrorist attacks against our nation. Rather, the current policies seem almost to guarantee that we are less safe and possibly more likely to future attack by terrorist forces. I for one feel much less secure today than I have felt at any time since 9/11. How secure do you feel?

Another example: I wonder how long it will take for the Bush administration’s War on Terror to become an even greater disaster than Vietnam, and for the exact same reason? While never acknowledged by most, Vietnam was basically a war for the hearts and minds of the people of Vietnam. We lost the war early on but pursued it for far too many years while trying to prove that it was about defeating communism. It is becoming clearer with each new disclosure that Iraq, and possibly the whole Middle East, is not about a terrorist threat to our country. It is a war for the hearts and minds of people and we are rapidly putting ourselves at risk by being there and betting on the wrong side. The underlying drum beat of anti-Muslim rhetoric and actions is no way to win friends and influence people.

Homeland security raises questions for me. We have spent close to $176 billion to fight a war of choice in Iraq. Iraq did not threaten us despite the claims made of such a threat. Nor did they attack us. Their armed forces were safely bottled up by a relatively small and inexpensive force sanctioned by the UN. We chose the timing and the plan of attack. It was our war, not Adam’s. I wonder, how much of the Homeland Security that the Bush administration says we can't afford could we buy with the $176 billion? Could we better protect at least some of our most vulnerable ports? Could we begin to devise a better system of air-transport security? One that really works, providing real protection without just burdening air travelers? And, thinking about Homeland Security, I also must wonder what we have bought with the money we have spent? While touring the East Coast last spring, we stopped in Washington D.C. I was amazed at the amount of construction underway and the security in place. Each of the buildings on the mall open to the general public were fully staffed and patrolled by security guards examining each purse and back pack. Around the mall the Capitol Building, the White House and the Washington Memorial were all fenced off while new construction was completed. I have no idea of the cost of all this, but I assume that all of it was financed by funds designated as “Homeland Security.” Three and a half years after 9/11 and we are still securing the Capitol. The same is true of the massive security and construction in Philadelphia around the Liberty Bell. The Bush administration has claimed that they have thwarted and prevented terrorist attacks against the homeland. I would feel more personally secure if they would be a little more specific. I know enough about politics and public relation to feel quite strongly that if they had any real successes, we would not have to wait for them to be leaked by a new Deep Throat.

Another question cuts to the heart of the War on Terror. This war began with the attacks on our country by an identified group. In the ensuing four years (more time than it took us to recover from Pearl Harbor and defeat Germany, Italy and Japan) we have spent almost $176 billion in Iraq. I wonder, if even a small portion of that sum had been spent in Afghanistan in the year following 9/11, would we have captured Osoma? If shock and awe had been launched against the Taliban rather than against a state that had complied with UN demands to disarm despite the Bush administrations claims to the contrary, would terrorists be more disorganized today? Would we still be having more terrorist groups organizing each day, each posing a new threat to our national security? Would we have sustained the casualties, both among our troops and Iraqi civilians? And would our armed forces be a higher levels of strength to provide a stronger defense should it be needed in the future?

As a youngster, I think I felt that questions, usually had answers. As I progress through my mature years, I find that questions are often more likely to lead to more questions, because people don't always mean what they say or say what they mean.
Sunday news roundup
The news networks are really scrambling to keep up with all of the fast breaking stories of international importance today:

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That pretty white girl?
In Aruba?
She's still missing.

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We have a different picture of the pretty missing white girl.
Our reporters have worked all week to find it.
We are very proud.

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The other networks are showing their poor news judgment by running pictures of the pretty missing white girl.
We will scoop them by showing this picture of a telephone pole with yellow ribbons and flowers on it.
Doesn't it just choke you up?

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What the hell is this? Prisoners in Gitmo? The President lying?
What is wrong with you people at MSNBC? Don't you know there's a pretty white girl missing?

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This cheesy looking white guy beat up on this dissipated black guy.
This is important because black people tend to scare us, so it's always nice to see one get beat up by an Irish nobody.

Oh, and that pretty white girl is missing. We still think that black guy we showed last week did it.
He looks you straight in the eye
And he lies. To you, me and the rest of the American people. He does it every day. In public. About nearly everything. Even when he doesn't have to.
"...Bush said that "federal terrorism investigations have resulted in charges against more than 400 suspects, and more than half of those charged have been convicted."

Those statistics have been used repeatedly by Bush and other administration officials, including Gonzales and his predecessor, John D. Ashcroft, to characterize the government's efforts against terrorism.

An analysis of the Justice Department's own list of terrorism prosecutions by The Washington Post shows that 39 people — not 200, as officials have implied — were convicted of crimes related to terrorism or national security.

Most of the others were convicted of relatively minor crimes such as making false statements and violating immigration law — and had nothing to do with terrorism, the analysis shows. For the entire list, the median sentence was just 11 months."
Experience has taught him that lying has no consequences. After all, he's still President, and even if someone in the media notices, it's only a few days before another pretty white girl goes missing.

And then everything's OK again.
Shouting into the closet to inform and entertain the 10 people who actually read this thing. In our new format as an online magazine, we take pride in our reporting and opinions. Please leave reader feedback on our online magazine message board so that we can better serve you.

“There’s a lot of money to pay for this that doesn’t have to be U.S. taxpayer money, and it starts with the assets of the Iraqi people…and on a rough recollection, the oil revenues of that country could bring between $50 and $100 billion over the course of the next two or three years…We’re dealing with a country that can really finance its own reconstruction, and relatively soon.” -Paul Wolfowitz

Cost of the War in Iraq
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