December 13, 2005
The BuzzFlash Mailbag
The opinions expressed in the Mailbag are not necessarily those of BuzzFlash. Read the BuzzFlash FAQ for info on submitting to the Mailbag.
Subject: Another American Died Today
Is Tookie Williams the 1001st person we have put to death? Or is the number higher? No one seems to bother with the numbers except when the number reaches some plateau. One Thousand, they thunder and then are strangely silent at 1001. Will there now be silence until the number reaches 2000?
America has a very blasé attitude towards death. Oh, we stand aghast at the death of an innocent victim and then coldly decide to kill the person we think did the evil deed. Tit for Tat, an Eye for an Eye, and all that. We use the death penalty as a deterrent. We dispense justice. We are the good guys.
We killed an American citizen today. He claimed he was innocent of the crimes of which he stood convicted. Are we omniscient that we can see into a man’s heart and mind enough to kill him? It is too late now to save Stanley “Tookie” Williams. He is gone. Hopefully to a better place. If his redemption was indeed honest, then he has been welcomed home by God. Hopefully all those who had a hand in killing him will not be.
Judicial homicide is a disgrace for any country that wants to call itself civilized. Killing is wrong. Killing is barbaric. Killing is a festering sore on the face of America. Other civilized nations of the world are aghast at our continuing hypocrisy.
Will we never learn? There is no justification for a civilized country executing people. We don’t chop off their heads, so that places us on the moral high ground? What have we become?
Today every real spiritual person in this country should bow their head in shame that a murder was committed by their government. We should be better than that.
I do not know if Tookie was innocent as he continued to insist that he was. I do know that we are guilty of killing an American citizen, and that is just wrong.
Marjorie L. Swanson
Subject: Bush Claims 30,000 Iraqis Killed In War - And He Is Right!
Apparently, according to White House sources, he got this figure from the newspapers. And he's not far off on the number - but misses the mark when placing the blame.
http://iraqbodycount.net/ gives a similar figure, and breaks it down:
Who was killed?
* 24,865 civilians were reported killed in the first two years.
* Women and children accounted for almost 20% of all civilian deaths.
* Baghdad alone recorded almost half of all deaths.
When did they die?
* 30% of civilian deaths occurred during the invasion phase before 1 May 2003.
* Post-invasion, the number of civilians killed was almost twice as high in year two (11,351) as in year one (6,215).
Who did the killing?
* US-led forces killed 37% of civilian victims.
* Anti-occupation forces/insurgents killed 9% of civilian victims.
* Post-invasion criminal violence accounted for 36% of all deaths.
* Killings by anti-occupation forces, crime and unknown agents have shown a steady rise over the entire period.
It appears, yet again, that he has failed to explore the whole story, to find out what the evidence is saying, and where it came from.
Well, at least he's consistent ... sad to say.
Stephen M. Olds
Subject: Distorting casualty figures
Bush's speech yesterday was a great success, judging by the number of news organizations who are repeating the distortion that "30,000 Iraqis have been killed in the war." That number, of course, is the estimate by Iraq Body Count of just the number of civilians killed. Since only 7% of anti-American forces are foreign, 93% of the anti-occupation personnel killed are also Iraqis. The numbers of Iraqi combatants killed are not tracked, but if we assume that the US has killed five "insurgents" for every civilian, then total Iraqi casualties, combatant and noncombatant, easily and conservatively tops 100,000.
Albert Clark, NY
Subject: Marginalizing troop deaths
The title of the article is "Iraqi Ministry Denies Captives Were Abused" (NY Times).
At the very end of the article (the 35th and last paragraph, actually), there's a "by the way ...":
This seems to be the current thinking on this curious practice. "It would be too distressing to have a headline that says 'Two More Soldiers Die in Iraq.' But lest we be accused of covering up the bad news, maybe we should announce it at the end of an article about something else entirely. Maybe nobody'll notice."
I've noticed this trend for some time now: burying news of soldier deaths, almost as an afterthought, in articles about another subject. So we get headlines like "IRAQIS GOING TO VOTING BOOTHS!!!! .... and oh, by the way, a couple of more soldiers died. But let's not dwell on that."
And they call this journalism.
[BuzzFlash Note: We've noticed the practice in other newspapers, too. Maybe they've ruled that Iraq only gets one headline a day? And, as you point out, it usually isn't about soldiers dying.]
Subject: Xmas Card of the Year
You might enjoy (or hate) this Flash Xmas card by animator Mike Constable.
[BuzzFlash Note: Not cheery ...]
Subject: A Blog
You probably get a lot of people telling you about their blogs and asking for help to get the word, so I understand if there is no response to this request - you will still be my favorite web site. (And I'm not just saying that because I want your attention.) So, if on the off chance you are able to take a look at
... that would be great. I named it after Daniel Shays, one of our first real rebels.
A BuzzFlash Reader
Well. Yes. Media creates a product that they sell to their clients. The clients are corporations ... and the product is consumers. Happy audiences are better consumers than anxious or pissed-off audiences. So take your Prozac and watch the happy talk and spend, spend spend.
Subject: Stanley vs. George
Hmmm ... How is it that a man who kills only four people and changes his life around during his stay in prison must die by lethal injection when the President kills thousands, maybe tens of thousands, and still gets to be President?
A BuzzFlash Reader
Subject: Mr Froomkin (Sent to Washington Post ombudsman)
Dear Ms Howell,
Hope this finds you well. I hope you will see fit to inform your reporters about what I have to say:
Mr Froomkin is perfectly correct: the Media, including the Washington Post, has held no one accountable for any of the myriad failures and deceptions of this Administration. In addition, WaPo often merely transcribes the Administration's propaganda-points (or as the sophisticates say, "spin") without reflection or qualification.
If you wished, you yourself could easily come up with a dozen things this regime has done that would have instantly ended the career of any other politician in living memory. Name the politician who would be in office--who would have as much as 40% approval--when it was pretty much clear that they had in fact terrorized the American people with deceptions; had subverted the exclusive war-making powers of Congress through false statements; had, through lies, initiated a successful recruiting drive for al qaeda while allowing bin Laden to escape?
Lying to Congress about the cost of Medicare. Bush's insider trading: "The letter exonerated me," when the letter said explicitly that it was not an exoneration. Cheney swearing he'd get rid of his Halliburton options, but instead keeping them and watching the value go from $200,000 to $7 million on the strength of no-bid contracts his office arranged. Halliburton's threat to not deliver food to our troops in Iraq if a judgment against them was withheld, and no punishment happens to them. The blatant perjury of FEMA's Michael Brown in Congressional testimony. The authorization of the torture that most Americans and every single person not living in the US knows we practice, as we take over the role of world-monster once held by the Soviets. The gross mismanagement of defense on 9/11, the suppression of investigations into al Qaeda operatives before 9/11, Katrina, the multi-billions theft in Iraq under Bremer, the routine falsification of scientific data (attested to in a statement signed by 6,000--SIX THOUSAND!!! scientists), the perjury by Rice, Rumsfeld, and Tenet ("uhhh, I forgot about those other two August briefings") before the 9/11 Commission, the routine punishment of truth-tellers in the government, the removal of protections on whistle-blowers, the disabling of FOIA regulations, a whole brood of ex-Trotskyists pushing their dream of world revolution. The outing of a key player in our WMD defenses. The routine character-assassination of opponents. The happily-skipping Anthrax terrorist of 2001. Off the top of my head.
Nobody has resigned in connection with any of this, or of the literally hundreds of career-ending actions I've left out. In fact, the only people in the Administration who have resigned are people who have refused to go along with the destruction of America's power, wealth, prestige, and traditions.
On balance, those complaining about Mr Froomkin should reflect and note that the Washington Post is notably Pravda-ish. Certainly much more so than it can be seen as an ally of its readers, a force demanding accountability and truth from those in power.
Thank you for your time.
PS By the way it is educational to read old Pravdas. You will find there, also, criticism of officials, complaints by the people of corruption, scandals in high places, etc. But in the main, they pushed the party line without unmasking it. Like here, these days.
Subject: Time to Revisit "Jeff Gannon"
OK, Plamegate is a big deal. More recently, the US-controlled Iraqi newspaper is news. In both cases, the specific laws that were broken are bad enough, but the loss of "trust" through blatant exposure of foul play might be an even bigger factor.
With this in mind, shouldn't more folks in the media be looking back at the Talon News Agency affair through a wider lens, seeing it as a part of a larger dishonest agenda, which is the fraudulent manipulation of media?
Think of it! Leaking information is one thing ... it's been done since time began. But planting an actor, an imposter with a false name, in the Press Room? Being called on personally, in front of dozens of senior correspondents; I guess no one had ever seen this guy, right?
And furthermore ... correct me if I'm wrong on this one ... wasn't he paid out of some Oval Office petty cash, or some such BS?
A BuzzFlash Reader
[BuzzFlash Note: Good suggestion. This Toledo-Blade editorial also brings Gannon/Guckert back into the big picture of media manipulation: Best news money can buy.]
Subject: The Promised Land
Government of, for and by the people, that is. Why aren't we going for it now when existing conditions are just right and the powers that be are so vulnerable, stricken as they are by the implications of their plummeting popularity. It's as if we the people can't even conceive of the fact that we're at the very moment when, like Aslan says in "The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe," "It's OK, you don't have to discuss the past." Why not? Because in order to get off of this here dead-end straight ahead that we're trapped on, we've got to scrap all the same-old-same-old business-as-usual stuff that's been passed down to us through the ages and which, to date, never has worked. If it had worked we wouldn't still be in these God-damn chains! Next we discard our belief that this is the way it is, has always been, and will always be; replacing it, instead, with "Yes, changing the world's not only necessary, it's doable, what with everyone including myself now joining in." And with this here spiritual inertia thus overcome, everything else will fall into place and for everyone, too, nobody left out ... We the people will see to that. Lucky us!
A BuzzFlash Reader
Subject: Shirley Smith's Silent Night
Whew! What a relief!
After hearing a colleague of mine squawk over having to attend a "Winter Solstice" Party the previous weekend, I felt like screaming, "Enough!!" (Well, I didn't really scream, but, I said something like, "Oh, come on! What's the big deal? Maybe some people just heard the word "Party" and figured, "Hey, count me in!")
Then, I let loose in my journal by writing, " 'Political correctness'? How about calling it 'good manners' ...and, what's wrong with saying "Happy holidays," because that's what they are: HOLIDAYS ... Are we REALLY a Christian nation ... were the original U.S. natives Christian ... Go ahead, say [Merry Christmas], and, don't say you can't. It's a free country; and, I don't wanna hear you getting your knickers in a twist over Jews, Pagans, Hindus, Muslims, Mormons, Atheists or Rastafarians ... are YOU religious ... Do you observe Holy Days ... Do YOU subscribe to the Ten Commandments... Do YOU attend Christmas Eve Midnight Mass ... If not, then, shut your face, lighten up, and, enjoy your holiday ... Christmas is secular ... the stores are always mobbed ... Christmas songs -- not Hanukkah, Pagan, Muslim, or Hindu songs -- are all over the radio ... There's always reports on how well or badly the malls are doing, nary a report on church attendance."
Sorry this is long, but, this "war on Christmas" makes me furious. Maybe it's because I'm not a religious person.
I just have to wonder how religious the whiners and crybabies are.
Subject: Item Listings
I very much enjoy BuzzFlash. BUT I am not at all interested in the blogs. Could you please indicate which of your items are blogs so as to save time of those of us not interested in them. A simple indicator such as [blog] after the headline would be nice. I look forward to the selection of articles and interviews but not the bloggers' ramblings. Thank you for your consideration.
Subject: The dollar was also dragged lower by comments from China's central bank
The statement below sounds very bad for U.S. since China owns us. Haven't seen this on the news.
A BuzzFlash Reader
Subject: Diebold C.E.O. Resigns, Times Never Mentions It (Sent to NY Times)
Dear Mr. Calame:
Yesterday Walden O'Dell, C.E.O. of Diebold, Inc. (a Fortune-500 company headquartered in Ohio) resigned under fire. His company faces a class-action suit alleging securities fraud dating from October 22, 2003; meanwhile, the company's stock has been in a steady decline on the N.Y.S.E. in recent months over allegations that its voting machines are subject to hacking and disputes concerning their certification by individual states.
Before the 2004 election, O'Dell made a public statement to the effect that he'd do "anything possible" to guarantee the re-election of George W. Bush. Since the election, Diebold has denied numerous charges from various state election officials, and analyses from computer scientists, that its machines can be manipulated to flip votes from one candidate to another and otherwise be programmed to flout the will of the voter. At the same time, the company has refused to allow the source code inside these machines, which could expose such manipulation, to be inspected.
Meanwhile, prominent Ohio Republicans have been cited for a multitude of ethics violations and electoral hanky-panky.
Today's New York Times carried no mention of Mr. O'Dell's resignation, not even in its 20-page business section. Matters of far lesser significance were cited. The objective conclusion is that the Times is continuing to censor any news that even indirectly speaks to the honesty of the 2004 election.
But allegations of election fraud in 2004 are no longer mere "conspiracy theories." They have now become matters for a court to decide. Will the Times see fit to ignore Diebold's upcoming trial, too?
Robert Lockwood Mills
Subject: Stress remains a lingering hazard for combat vets (jdnews.com)
A BuzzFlash Reader
Subject: Another fake condolence shouts "I don't really care"
A Buzzflash Reader
Subject: The Whine Before Christmas
Are we to be subjected to the whining of the Christian majority in this country every year? Must we listen to the raucous crowing of the likes of O’Reilly in perpetuity? Christianity Billy. That’s the message of peace and love. Obviously something far off your radar.
This is our annual attempt to spend ourselves into bankruptcy and eat ourselves comatose to celebrate the birth of the Son of God. As if that isn’t enough hypocrisy to fill every little stocking hanging from the mantle we will celebrate the season by boycotting every merchant who doesn’t greet us correctly. No good will or peace on earth here, folks. We’ll have none of that namby-pamby, wimpy, liberal foolishness around our Christmas.
The Pope says that rampant consumerism is what is destroying Christmas. Now, come on, whiners, do you really think that Bill O’Reilly had more credibility on this subject than the Pope?
The majority religion in this country is Christianity. Do they claim they are not allowed to practice their religion? Does anyone seek to close their churches or restrict their freedom to worship as they see fit?
No, the only objection is that they not be allowed to cram their beliefs down everyone else’s throat. That, of course, means that they are being persecuted.
The number of whining Christians seems to grow each year. Or maybe it is just that the whiners are louder. They are certainly out to ruin the Holiday Season for anyone who doesn’t share their narrow and bigoted view.
Let’s just forget the whole thing. The Reason for the Season doesn’t have to be articulated, it has to be felt, lived and approached with a love of mankind that we, as Christians, are supposed to be about. The religious right just doesn’t “get” Christianity. They never did. Appears that they never will. Peace.
Marjorie L. Swanson
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