Saturday, September 09, 2006


Odds and ends

Let's talk about a little bit of this and that today.

Liar in Chief

We see splashed on this morning's paper news that Saddam Hussein not only had no ties to al-Qaeda, but saw the group as a threat and sought to eradicate it. Not only that, but President Bush knew this to be true the whole time. That's the news released Friday from the Senate Intelligence Committee.

"Iraq and al-Qaeda had high-level contacts that go back a decade," President Bush said in October 2002 as he attempted to drum up support for war.

In fact, Saddam opposed al-Qaeda, and at one point Iraqi security forces attempted unsuccessfully to capture Abu Musab al-Zarqawi as he sought medical treatment in Baghdad under an alias. If you'll recall, war supporters have attempted to use this appearance in Baghdad by al-Zarqawi as proof of al-Qaeda ties to Saddam's regime.

Much of the committee's report is based on U.S. intelligence reports, illustrating the degree to which the Bush administration knew damn well that Saddam had nothing to do with 9/11. Many of us have strongly suspected this to be true, and now we all know damn well. It appears more and more that Bush merely wanted to go after Saddam - not an entirely bad idea- and simply used 9/11 as an excuse to do so. This extraordinary diversion from the real war on terror has no doubt put our nation in greater danger than it already faced.

Although Iraq was not a base for terrorists when we invaded in 2003, it certainly has become one since then, turning Bush's lies into a self-fulfilling prophecy.

The Abominable News Anchor

Last night, I finally tuned into Katie Couric's attempt to remake the network news division that once gave us Edward R. Murrow. What an abysmal excuse for a newscast! Frankly, I've always actively disliked Couric. Lacking more eloquent words, I'll simply describe her as a shrewish bitch. Still I expected her newscast to be better than the trainwreck I viewed last night.

For years, I've clung stubbornly to a sentimental and grossly outdated view of CBS as the Tiffany Network. I long for Walter Cronkite, the most trusted man in America; "60 Minutes" in its glory days before it became a tired collection of geriatric farts; Charles Kuralt making us feel good about our coutnry, as troubled as it might be; and even its attempt to turn entertainment into something intelligent and witty with the likes of "Mary Tyler Moore" and "All in the Family."

Granted that view has been tarnished greatly, what with "Survivor" and Dan Rather's oversized ego. Still, trustworthy and solid Bob Shieffer brought us hope with a return a couple of years ago to a serious no-nonsense newscast, featuring real news and not the O.J./Jon Benet/Lacy Peterson foolishness that characterizes the cable news axis.

Well, that's all over, apparently. Now, instead of news, we have a more lighthearted, breezy newsmagazine show. I strongly suspect we're seeing news geared toward the thirty- to fiftysomething woman. It's news for the Oprah crowd, which doesn't like to hear all that bad stuff about war and killing and shrinking prospects for the next generation of Americans.

Last night's broadcast started with news of the manhunt for that cop-killer in New York state, featuring an in-studio interview with a U.S. marshal. We also had a humorous essay on summer by some wild and crazy guy I've never seen before. Katie herself presented a fun rundown of some wacky websites we might wish to check out in our spare time, including a high-speed montage of some guy who photographs himself everyday. And we ended with Steve Hartman wringing his hands over how sad 9/11 was for folks in Shanksville, Pa.

Somewhere in there, the folks at CBS forgot to throw in the actual news, so I turned the TV off without a clue of what actually happened in our world on Friday. What a waste of America's time. If this goes over as well as CBS hopes, expect the other two networks to follow with their own newscast-looking lifestyle show.

Thank God for Jim Lehrer. We need him more than ever.


If you're a Netflix subscriber as we are, you know how it keeps you from ever actually visiting the cinema, and you wind up watching movies months and months after they premiered in their first run. That's how it is with us and Steven Spielberg's "Munich." We finally saw it nine months after it first arrived at the movie theater.

I've been fascinated and admittedly admiring of Israel's take-no-prisoners response to terrorism ever since I was a kid viewing '70s-era TV movies reenacting the Munich Olympics attack and the hostage crisis in Entebbe. We Americans tend to view Israel in a far more favorable light than we do her enemies, certainly with great justification. And of course, testosterone dictates that I always like to see the bad guys get theirs.

The movie has been criticized by many as historically inaccurate. For example, in "Munich," the Mossaud employs a secret commando outift to assassinate a list of 11 plotters in the Munich attacking. By the end of the movie, the outfit's head succumbs to paranoia and disillusionment. Whether he actually feels remorse or moral misgivings is left to the viewer to misinterpret. I'm always troubled by movies that don't wish to portray history accurately. I can easily see viewers of "Munich" literally interpreting the story as fact and forming opinions based on events that didn't actually happen, or at least not in the way they were portrayed.

At the same time, the overall message is something we should all consider. Spielberg illustrates us in "Munich," that exacting revenge and seeking to crush are enemies are ultimately unsatisfying. Something therein leaves us a little more hollow and a little less human. Something in revenge sets forth what I've heard described as a perpetual-motion machine of retribution and violence. In the end, Spielberg says, each assassination by Israel was met be an even larger, more hideous act of terrorism by Arab groups. What we see in "Munich" is the genesis of the mess that eminates from the Middle East and now envelopes the entire world. A mess that Israelis and Palestinians attempted to further perpetuate last month, culminating in widespread destruction throughout Lebanon.

These are dangerous times for the world. No doubt, the terrorists are evil and wish to destroy us. We cannot sit idly by, and no doubt violent tactics will and must be used. Yet, are we excused and absolved from any moral considerations ever in our efforts to make our country safer? Sadly, I suspect most Americans feel such absolution to be perfect and easy. Also, looking at this failed war in Iraq and Israel's failed attempt to bomb Hezbollah into submission, is it possible that we are facing the limits of violence. I know that we Americans decided a long time ago that peaceful means of seeking accord is for suckers, the ridiculously naive and the limp-wristed. Yet, look at the war and destruction we've committed ourself to as the only alternative. Is that getting us what we want?

Here is the email I sent to CBS news on Wednesday morning: "As loyal CBC Evening News watchers from Walter Cronkite to the present, we are so disappointed that you have chosen to cheapen your newscast with photos of the Cruise/Holmes baby. This is not newsworthy and suggests that the CBS Evening News is quickly morphing into tabloid television. Tonight and henceforth we will be watching NBC."
I am in disbelief as I see CBS turn the evening news into NewsLite. This has Katie Couric's fingerprints all over the format. Basically she's taken the Today show with her and morphed it into the crap we see today. I've always preferred NBC news anyway (love John Chancellor / David Brinkley days). And I think Brian Williams is solid, so it won't disturb my news watching. But this is a growing trend to turn hard news and analysis into fluff and quick-hitting for the ADD generation. Just the other the Dallas Morning News is laying off 85 of its 530 writing staff. This shows me that its moving more toward the Quick 15pager version that it now distributes for free. I think I might have to subscribe to the New York Times now.
Wow, here's something conservatives and liberals can all agree on - Katie Couric is a shrewish bitch. (nice word Mouth - very appropriate)
Although, as liberal as she is, y'all must really hate her! I guess though, that Michael Savage is pretty conservative, and I think he's a Godless jerk.
His favorite narrative--that of sex ficken brasil his duel withRathbone Culbertson--was not omitted, and it was delivered with morefire, egotism, and gusto than the Major himself put into it.
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