Tag Archives: George W. Bush

Bush/Cheney lies about torture exposed yet again. Craig Ferguson with a moving monologue on Boston. And a beautiful cartoon from The “New Yorker”

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A picture of a vigil in downtown Boston Tuesday night. There’s been some amazing stuff written in the wake of this tragedy in the last 24 hours; I can’t link to all of it here, but if you’re on Twitter, check out my feed @michaeljlewis75, I’ve been re-tweeting great video, stories and photos all day.

Since the United States Congress, the current Attorney General Eric Holder, and Barack Obama himself refuse to look at the past actions of the previous administration and find any fault whatsoever, it’s left to others to say what everyone in America already knows:

Under George W. Bush and Dick Cheney, America tortured people. We were no better than Iran, Syria, or any other of a hundred awful nations that have engaged in this practice for centuries. After 9/11, after a stupidly ill-fated invasion of Iraq, the U.S. government engaged in torture to try to get suspects to tell us things.

The latest condemnation of our own war criminals came this week from a non-partisan group called the Constitution Project; they’ve released a 576 page report declaring that unequivocally, all evidence shows that we were torturers.

From the blog of Andrew Sullivan: “Those findings, to put it bluntly, are that for several years, the United States government systematically committed war crimes against prisoners in its custody, violating the Geneva Conventions, U.S. domestic law, and international law. Many of these war crimes were acts of torture; many more were acts of cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment. All are federal crimes. None of those who authorized the war crimes has been prosecuted.”

And disgustingly, it doesn’t appear that anyone involved at the highest levels will ever be prosecuted.
Because yeah, the guards at Abu Ghraib were surely the only Americans who ever behaved in a torturous manner during those eight years.

Check out this report that summarizes the findings of the committee, and then try to tell me why George W. Bush and Dick Cheney are currently free.

**Craig Ferguson isn’t someone I pay much attention to normally; I don’t watch his show, and only once in a while do I see a clip of his that’s worth watching.

But I thought he was spot-on with this commentary about the Boston tragedies on his Monday night show. Really genuine, honest emotion from a man who wasn’t born here but has grown to love this country.

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**Finally today, a beautiful image is worth more than a thousand words. Check out this cartoon from The New Yorker; similar to how those around the nation felt about New York after 9/11, Boston is now a symbol of love for so many.

A setback on stem cells. Ebert nails it again. And a hilarious ESPN graphic

I’m a huge proponent of stem-cell research, as it’s one of those issues I just can’t understand why people are against. After eight years of the Bush administration severely curtailing the ability of scientists and doctors to find cures for devastating diseases, I thought scientists would be able to get back to work on these potentially life-saving stem cells once President Obama approved funding for more stem cells in 2009.

So it was with anger and sadness that I read this story in the Times Tuesday, saying that a federal judge has stopped Obama’s expansion of stem-cell research, on what appears to be flimsy grounds.

This is such important work, and so vitally crucial to the health and welfare of millions. Every available opportunity needs to be there for researchers and scientists, and here’s a federal judge basically ordering them to stop working.

My beloved grandmother, the best person I’ve ever met in my life, currently suffers from Alzheimer’s. Stem cell research may be unable to help her, but it could help some of the millions in the future who’ll be afflicted.

I hope this decision gets appealed and overturned, but quick. There is no time to waste. None.

The Times also had an eloquent editorial about the issue here.

**Roger Ebert, one of my favorite writers of any genre, wrote an excellent blog today about the ridiculous Ground Zero mosque issue. Ebert cuts through the b.s. and really nails it, with 10 cogent points. Check it out here.

**Gotta love the Little League World Series, for so many reasons. Tuesday I loved it because I happened to turn on ESPN while I was eating breakfast and saw this scoreline graphic on screen:

New Jersey 0
Saudi Arabia 0

I love that. How often do you ever get to see New Jersey and Saudi Arabia square off in an athletic event? I love the possible promos for the game: “One’s got sheiks and Arabs, the other one has a guy who shakes his abs!” Tune in for New Jersey vs. Saudi Arabia!”

A tiny glimpse of justice at Guantanamo. And a cool Bon Jovi concert.

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Sometimes it’s the smallest news, the kind that gets buried under the celebrity headlines and the political shouting and the sports scores, that really makes a difference.

Especially when it comes to how our country is viewed by the rest of the world.

This story got pretty much lost in the shuffle this week, but I think it’s a very big deal. Tuesday night, very quietly, the U.S. Senate passed a measure allowing Guantanamo Bay detainees to enter the United States to stand trial.

Apparently, the Supreme Court, over and over again, ruling that the United States simply cannot hold people indefinitely for no reason and with no trial scheduled (suspending habeas corpus, too) finally had an effect on people.

This is the beginning of the way back from the nightmare of Bush-Cheney. It’s a long, slow road. It can’t be zoomed past at 90 miles per hour, like so much of us would like.

But now, the United States of America is going to try alleged “enemy combatants” in a court of law, in a civilized matter. With lawyers on both sides, evidence presented, and witnesses.

It’s stunning that it’s taken this long. But thank God, finally, the rule of law in this “war on terror” is regaining the upper hand over torture and guilt by suspicion.

*** On a slightly different note, I’m still a Bon Jovi fan. I loved them when I was a kid; “Slippery When Wet” was worn out by your humble correspondent during the late 1980s, as I truly identified with the music of a bunch of guys from New Jersey who lived to rock (Yeah, that sounded like a VH-1 “Behind The Music” intro, I know.)

Anway, the boys did something very cool recently. They invited 5,000 fans to the Meadowlands parking lot in East Rutherford, N.J. and held a private concert there.

Here’s a clip of it, with Jon and Richie singing “Wanted Dead or Alive.” For the record, my 3 favorite Bon Jovi songs of all-time are “Runaway” (the song that launched it all), “Livin’ On a Prayer” (duh, the greatest karaoke song ever), and “Never Say Goodbye” (such a good love ballad).

Michael Moore’s lack of empathy, and watching a newspaper die, from the inside

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Two things sparked this post (I don’t know, sometimes I figure you people might be interested in how my mind works…)

One is Michael Moore, who I generally regard as a brilliant satirist and filmmaker. I’ve loved Moore’s movies since someone in high school told me I should rent this new film called “Roger and Me,” about one guy trying to take down General Motors.

It was hilarious and smart, and since then I’ve seen all of Moore’s movies, including the underrated “Bowling for Columbine,” and “Fahrenheit 9/11,” which, despite its intended purpose, did not rid us of the scourge of W. in 2004.

Moore has been a powerful voice on the left, and while occasionally he goes too far and defeats his own purpose, he’s still one of the good guys in my mind.

Anyway, Moore’s got a new flick coming out about capitalism, and at a press conference in Toronto the other day he somehow got on the topic of newspapers.

He spouted most of the same lines many of us have used when talking about the slow decline of my industry; corporate greed, profits over people, etc. None of it remotely surprised or affected me.

But then he went a little further. He said “good riddance,” about the death of newspapers. And he predicted that in “one year, or two years,”  there will be no more daily papers.

Well you know what, Michael? “Good riddance?” Screw you.

I say that because newspapers, at their best, expose scandal and malfeasance and bad people doing bad things to good people, and isn’t that what you’re about? Isn’t that why you first started making “Roger and Me,” because you wanted Roger Smith of GM to explain to you why his hard-working factory employees were being laid off by the thousands in Michigan?

And now you’re saying good riddance, and, basically, who cares if newspapers die in a year or two. Who do you think writes stories and uncovers scandal that motivates you to do documentaries? Who do you think is keeping an eye out for the public good, about things like automobile safety and rule-breakers in government and athletes cheating to get ahead? Dedicated newspaper reporters, sir.

I don’t know, I’m probably so charged up about this because the last 36 hours have been horrible at work, which is the other reason I’m writing this.

For the fourth time in two years, the Daytona Beach News-Journal laid off a significant portion of the staff. These cuts hit me harder than the other ones, and I think it’s because we continue to lose good, talented, honest people who bleed for this business and never wanted to leave. We’ve run out of people who didn’t care about the job and now they’re firing indispensable parts of our staff.

Friends of mine, people I care about, got an email from our corporate receivership leader at 4 p.m. Monday (it’s a long story, we’re in the process of being sold and the court has put an outside manager to run us in the interim. Of course, “the interim” has lasted a hell of a lot longer than anyone thought it would).

These people got an email at 4 p.m. (hey, might as well get a good day’s work out of them) saying they had to show up at 11 Tuesday morning and meet with human resources, and bam, that was it.

Long-time employees, newer employees, journalists of great skill and people who put in an honest day’s work for a story; it doesn’t matter.  One email, a handshake, and a few week’s severance pay. And what was once a vibrant, passionate voice shining a light in this community gets just a little dimmer.

It is heartbreaking watching a living, breathing organism like a newsroom slowly, excruciatingly die. People I respect and trust were walking around like zombies today, trying to keep working, but dealing with the feelings of surivor’s guilt and helpless anger at the same time.

Many more talented writers than I have been writing about the breath being slowly expunged from this business we love; I can’t put it nearly as eloquently as they have.

But let me just say that watching it from the inside has been even more painful than I could have imagined.

I’ve been trying to come up with an analogy of what it feels like, and the best way I can describe it is this:  It’s like watching a beautiful mural on a wall that you helped paint, slowly being chipped away and chipped away, and as each piece falls to the floor a little piece of you falls with it. And you can’t stop it, or rail against it, you just have to stand there and watch.

Look, I know Michael Moore does have empathy, and I know he’s really railing against the corporate monsters like Gannett and Tribune Co. for putting profits over people when he says “good riddance.”

But there were people crying and hugging and not wanting to leave at my office today, trying to hold on to one last moment of being a part of something bigger than themselves. As I said goodbye, I was grateful I wasn’t joining them.

But watching them leave, I was sad all over again.

And I think if Michael Moore, or anyone else who has been gleefully dancing on the tombstone of newspapers  had been there, maybe they’d feel a little differently.

Some people are just bat-shit crazy

 W.MyPetgoat

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OK, I accept that there are lunatics and morons in the world.

I accept that people will not always agree with me politically, and that’s great, we deserve to have a variety of opinions in this country and it’d be boring to have everyone have the same ideas.

But are you F’ing kidding me with this? If you didn’t see the story Thursday, here’s the deal: President Barack Obama has planned a televised address to the nation’s schoolchildren on Tuesday at noon. He’s going to talk to them about the importance of hard work, staying in school and achieving your dreams.

That bastard.

Yep, this incredibly simple act, the President of a free country talking to the future leaders of America, has drawn a tremendous amount of criticism from the right wing.

Spurred on by talk show hosts and bloggers, the Associated Press article says, some parents and legislators are urging people to boycott the address.

Oklahoma State senator Steve Russell said “this is something you’d expect to see in North Korea or Saddam Hussein’s Iraq.”

And Florida GOP chair Jim Greer (yeah, I knew there’d be a Florida guy quoted in this story) released a statement, saying he was “absolutely appalled that taxpayer dollars are being used to spread President Obama’s socialist ideology.”

ARE YOU KIDDING ME? I can’t possibly believe some of these moron politicians and parents think Obama’s going to be giving political tips to 9-year-olds. What is he going to do, explain to them the benefits of a single-payer plan? Explain to the tykes just why immigration policy needs to be reformed?

Have these yahoos forgotten that, um, BOTH President Bushes have given speeches to America’s children? And gee, wasn’t it Dubya who was reading kids the charming “My Pet Goat,” on September 11, 2001? And how exactly is it bad for the first African-American president ever, a guy who no one thought could ever actually achieve what he’s achieved, to remind kids that he’s a perfect example of how in this country, you really can do anything.

I just … despair at the state of America when something this freaking innocuous can cause an uproar. Whatever. It’s too stupid to even waste any more time writing about. If you really think your kid will be scarred by hearing a speech from the American President, fine, keep them home watching TV.

I’m sure something more educational will be on. Like “Jerry Springer” or “The Real Housewives of Atlanta.”

Now, if you’d like a nice, uplifting story about a 26-year-old American tennis player from Florida who’d never won a MATCH on the pro tour, please click here. Such a cool little story developing at the Open.