30 January 2007

Most Americans are not aware of the catastrophic humanitarian crisis they bear so much responsibility in creating

A tale of two perspectives on Palestine, one that blindly casts a "Jew-hater" stamp upon the recent Jimmy Carter title "Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid", based mostly, it appears, on self professed ignorance.
Jimmy Carter and his new book, Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid, came up at a party last night. The gathering was fairly typical for my circle in Cambridge. About a third of the folks there were Jewish. The average age was 30s and the average education level somewhere between masters and medical doctor. Most of the folks were right-thinking kind-hearted sorts, who'd like to see a legally married gay couple in every 10th suburban house, a Prius in every garage, and organic produce on every table. For the gentiles at the gathering, Jimmy Carter was a hero, slightly ahead of Clinton in the pantheon of ex-presidents, and his latest book only increased his stature. Jimmy Carter never had a unkind word for anyone and, for many decades in and out of politics, managed to find the good in everyone with whom he interacted, domestically and internationally. For the gentiles, Jimmy Carter was entitled to wear the badge of "Nicest Guy in the World" (formerly belonging to Jesus?). If Jimmy Carter had surveyed the world's regions and chosen to single out Israel for condemnation, that was only because Israel was in fact the world's most evil state filled with the world's most evil people.

For the Jews at the party, there wasn't a strong feeling of kinship with Israeli Jews. They were American-born, descendants of the last waves of Jewish emigration to the U.S., roughly 100 years ago. Nonetheless, for the Jews at the party, Jimmy Carter was a garden-variety Jew hater and the book was prima facie evidence of his Jew-hatred. Why would he bother to take the time if he didn't hate Jews? [Disclaimer: Everyone in the discussion had read newspaper articles about Jimmy Carter and his book, but nobody had actually read the book!]

Another take, this one telling that an "apartheid" designation may be a tad too tame for the truth.

Israel has spent the last five months unleashing missiles, attack helicopters and jet fighters over the densely packed concrete hovels in the Gaza Strip. The Israeli army has made numerous deadly incursions, and some 500 people, nearly all civilians, have been killed and 1,600 more wounded. Israel has rounded up hundreds of Palestinians, destroyed Gaza’s infrastructure, including its electrical power system and key roads and bridges, carried out huge land confiscations, demolished homes and plunged families into a crisis that has caused widespread poverty and malnutrition.

The stark reality of Gaza, however, has failed to penetrate the consciousness of most Americans, who, when they notice the Israeli and Palestinian conflict, prefer to debate the merits of the word “apartheid” in former President Jimmy Carter’s new book, “Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid.” It is a sad commentary on the gutlessness of the U.S. press and the timidity of the Democratic opposition that most Americans are not aware of the catastrophic humanitarian crisis they bear so much responsibility in creating. Palestinians are not only dying, their olive trees uprooted, their farmland and homes destroyed and their aquifers taken away from them, but on many days they can’t move because of Israeli “closures” that make basic tasks, like buying food and going to the hospital, nearly impossible. These Palestinians, after decades of repression, cannot return to land from which they were expelled. The 140-plus U.N. votes to censure Israel and two Security Council resolutions—both vetoed by the United States—are blithly ignored. Is it any wonder that the Palestinians, gasping for air, rebel as the walls close in aThe debate over Jimmy Carter’s book, one that dishes up a fair number of Israeli myths about itself and states a reality that is acknowledged even by most Israelis, misses the point. The question is not whether Israel practices apartheid. Apartheid is a fond dream for most Palestinians. The awful question is rather will Israel be able to unleash a policy so draconian and cruel that it will obliterate a community that has lived on this land for centuries. There are other, far more loaded words for what is happening to the Palestinians. One shudders to repeat them. But unchecked, unstopped, the current wave of violence and abuse meted out to the Palestinians will echo down the corridors of history as one of the greatest moral and tactical blunders of the early part of this century, one that will boomerang on Israel and on us, bringing to our own doorsteps the evil we have allowed to be delivered to the narrow alleys and refugee camps in Gaza. When it was only apartheid, we had some hope.round them, as their children go hungry and as the Israelis turn up the violence?

There is nothing outrageous or bigoted about Jimmy Carter's book arguing that Palestinians are victims of apartheid. One rabbi writes that President Carter was the best friend the Jews ever had as president of the United States. As former assistant treasury in the Reagan administration states it, Jimmy Carter speaks truth to propaganda.

Now, I haven't read Carter's book either, but slinging charges of racism against the ex-president seems shortsighted, or worse, an attempt to rationalize unfounded beliefs.

Here is Jimmy Carter, in his own words, on the matter.

Finally, an anecdotal illustration, but illuminating nevertheless: Jerry in the West Bank and Gaza.

22 January 2007

Why does it bother us so much to be told that we’re wrong?

Driving home from work today, I heard this beautiful message on the radio.
You’re wrong! Wait. Let’s try that a little less emphatically. You’re wrong. Why does it bother us so much to be told that we’re wrong? Well, at a very basic level, it bothers us because we are built to care about truth, and being wrong means we’ve missed the mark. But this really shows the problem. Most of us act as if we think our value as people hinges on showing that we already know everything.

That’s not a love of truth, that’s pride masquerading as love of truth. And surely no sin is more clever a disguise artist than pride. So what does it mean to be told we are wrong? Well, either we are or we are not. If we are not, we shouldn’t get upset. We should lovingly show the person that it is he who is mistaken. And if we are wrong, then we should gratefully express our thanks to the person for showing us how to more fully embody our professed love of truth.

The beginning of wisdom is the love of being wrong. Because if you never find out where you’re wrong, you’ll never become any smarter. And if you don’t love such discoveries, you’ll be much too slow in recognizing them.

Let me pin these words to my brain and hardwire into my heart for future reference…

The issues you are most interested in hearing about on the radio

Plucked straight from my email inbox and presented here, with my annotated answers to all the silly questions posed.

How often do you listen to News 92.3 KTAR?

A few times a day, usually in the car, but certainly not limited to that alone.

What time(s) do you generally listen to News 92.3 KTAR?

Anytime, during the waking hours.

Politically, do you consider yourself:

None of the above. As far as I can wager, I suppose best label would be libertarian progressive or better, progressive libertarian.

Are you aware KTAR has split news and sports programming onto two different stations?

Yes, on one level but I still tune to 620 AM expecting to hear news/talk and then am confronted with the reality of the split. Also, KTAR 92.3 is out of the loop of news/talk radio — all of the other stations in that genre occupy the AM band, with the exception of 91.3 KJZZ (NPR), which is probably why I've tuned you in at all since the January 1 split.

Are you aware News 92.3 KTAR has a new talk show host, Darrell Ankarlo, in its lineup?


Have you listened to Darrell Ankarlo (8:30-Noon) on News 92.3 KTAR yet?


We're interested in any feedback you may have on The Darrell Ankarlo Show.

First off, I consider it an absolute disgrace that you imported a radio jock from an outside market when there is plentiful homegrown talent working in the Valley that could ably and capably fill the role that Ankarlo was brought in for.

Second, the endless charade of "Welcome Ankarlo to Phoenix" grew exceedingly tedious right way. Help Ankarlo buy a home, orient Ankarlo to the Valley, listen to Ankarlo suck up to prominent Phoenix office holders, etc.… So boring.

Third, neoconservative Limbaugh wannabees are a dime a dozen. Why is KTAR so eager to employ one in lieu of an informative and intelligent host like they used to feature with say the Straus Place show with legendary host and Valley faithful Bill Straus?

We're want to know the issues that interest you most. Please rate how interested you would be in hearing the topics below discussed on the radio.

Nobody really cares about the Papas school story. It might be a big issue, but it's not compelling radio. And it's something that you are devoting far too much coverage to. The metropolitan market doesn't revolve around central Phoenix anymore. For local issues, traffic congestion and illegal immigration are the large issues and in the world scope, the illegal immoral Iraq invasion is big news.

Same sex marriage, though controversial and should warrant an occasional segment, is not prime talk radio fodder. Neither are sensationalist stories like the serial killers or any of the other tabloid television fare.

We're want to know the issues that interest you most. Please rate how interested you would be in hearing the topics below discussed on the radio.

I think you should run your quiz through a grammar check next time, not that my own meanderings here are free from syntactical and semantic folly.

I believe Senator John McCain and Sheriff Joe Arpaio demand extensive coverage, but not in the bootlicking manner in which KTAR carries out now. I'd like to see the corruption and graft engaged by these public officials brought to light, instead of reading about it on the internet or via alternative weekly rags. Or why those "alternative" sources are out to lunch in what they are reporting. That would be much preferable over the deafening silence that is output now. And the US/Mexico border is a huge deal, even if it's just the attention being paid to it by diverse groups.

Please rate how interested you would be in hearing the topics below discussed on the radio.

All these listed are being framed in a most "National Enquirer" sensationalistic mode — Internet dangers, Hillary Clinton 4 president, Islamic extremists. The way this question is posed would naturally lead one to answer "celebrity gossip" and "movie reviews".

Here's a better tip: how about intelligently discussing the issues by presenting evidence from conflicting sides where knowledgeable guests representing opposed interests can bring the debate to the public airwaves and have the listenership dial in and present their questions and concerns in return for insightful answers. Let's move away from the toaster talk, headline survey quick dip style garbage and migrate over to meaningful radio where citizens are provided the information resources to make prudent decisions.

Anybody else care to share their answers for this KTAR survey?

19 January 2007

Ron Paul Announcement!

Here's the MP3 of yesterday's broadcast announcement.

Also, a clarification: Dr. Paul actually announced the formation of a presidential exploratory committee, not the launch of an actual campaign ... yet!

17 January 2007

Ron Paul to announce 2008 presidential bid tomorrow

And on the Charles Goyette show, no less!

The announcement will reportedly be at the top of Goyette's show — at 6 a.m. MST (GMT -7 hrs.) — on 1100 AM KFNX. (Listen live here.) The 30 minute segment will be replayed at 8:30 a.m. And I'll post a link to the MP3 once it's up.

Why announce on an Arizona early-morning talk radio show? Two reasons: Arizona's early GOP primary; and John McCain. Can you imagine what would happen to McCain if Paul beat him (or ran a strong second) on McCain's home turf?

And can you imagine a Clinton v. Paul race? Think of it: Rep. Paul outflanks Hillary on the right (she's a pro-this-war Democrat, he's an anti-this-war Republican); and on the left (on the drug war and civil liberties).

Finally ... a Republican I can vote for!

(To learn just where Dr. Paul stands on the issues, peruse his archive.)

13 January 2007

You now run a risk of a 40 year jail sentence from using Windows

A jury in Norwich, CT has handed a felony conviction that could net 40 years prison time for a spyware infestation. And the accounts I have read, no way did the prosecution prove that the pornographic popups were not the result of spyware or malware. Any skilled computer administrator knows that spyware can indeed easily trigger an unrequested barrage of automated popup pages.
Oct. 19, 2004, while substituting for a seventh-grade language class at Kelly Middle School, Amero claimed she could not control the graphic images appearing in an endless cycle on her computer.

"The pop-ups never went away," Amero testified. "They were continuous."

The Web sites, which police proved were accessed while Amero was in the classroom, were seen by as many as 10 minor students. Several of the students testified during the three-day trial in Norwich Superior Court to seeing images of naked men and women.

Computer expert W. Herbert Horner, testifying in Amero's defense, said he found spyware on the computer and an innocent hair styling Web site "that led to this pornographic loop that was out of control."

"If you try to get out of it, you're trapped," Horner said.

Outrage over this obvious miscarriage of justice has spread across the net.

There are accounts that the judge in this case was seen falling asleep during proceedings and made comments to the jury that she wanted the case to end by the end of the week, dismayed that a plea arrangement was not accepted by the defense.

It is sickening that prosecutors are permitted to get away with this abusive act. A lot of reports, including the hometown Norwich Bulletin, focused on why the plug wasn't pulled sooner, but there are also reports teachers at this school were prohibited by policy from turning off school computers and she told four other teachers and the school's assistant principal about the popup problem, and nobody responded with help. Also, the school's internet filter license had expired, and the detective in the investigation was quoted in one local paper's account as saying "there was no search made for adware, which can generate pop-up advertisements". Unbelievably insane how this woman was railroaded.

Even computer industry journalists are not immune to the grip of gross stupidity either — follow the thread here where a Computerworld editor and his ignorance are taken to task by the followup comments.

Beyond the travesty here, even if she did engage in a critical ethical lapse by browsing content not suitable for children and inadvertently displaying it, that would be grounds for dismissal, not a felony conviction.

Friends don't let friends use Windows. I think if I was a teacher, I wouldn't step foot into any classroom with Windows computers where an incident like this, something totally out of my control, could ruin my life.

There is always more to the story, but it sure sounds like the school went in search of a scapegoat, or a lustful prosecutor eagerly eyed this case as one that solidified him as an anti-porn champion.

8 January 2007

Is it morally superior to enlist?

Culled from my email inbox, the daily Andrew Tallman Show newsletter puts forth the question:
I heard a soldier recently talking about his experiences in the military and how beneficial it has been to him both personally and professionally, and then he made a comment about how he sort of looks down on other men his age who don’t enlist. It wasn’t a major point to him, but he just thought that if you love your country and you’re a young man, you would enlist. As someone who’s never served and was a bit concerned about the possibility of a draft, this made me think. Is it morally superior to enlist? Is it practically better? If so, and given the fact that someone needs to do this or else there’s going to be problems, shouldn’t all young men do so? After all, if enough people didn’t do so voluntarily, we’d have a draft. And that would presuppose some sort of general moral duty to perform military service. Also, about half the countries in the world have compulsory service. Clearly, they think it’s a duty.

I believe this to be an absolutely absurd assertion, that an American has an obligation to serve themselves up as fodder for foolhardy corporatists who line their pockets on the sacrifice of spilt blood from fallen young Americans. And our nation's founding fathers had a deep antipathy against the existence of standing armies. James Madison, known as the "father of the Constitution" wrote these words:

Of all the enemies to public liberty war is, perhaps, the most to be dreaded, because it comprises and develops the germ of every other. War is the parent of armies; from these proceed debts and taxes; and armies, and debts, and taxes are the known instruments for bringing the many under the domination of the few. In war, too, the discretionary power of the Executive is extended; its influence in dealing out offices, honors, and emoluments is multiplied; and all the means of seducing the minds, are added to those of subduing the force, of the people.... [There is also an] inequality of fortunes, and the opportunities of fraud, growing out of a state of war, and ... degeneracy of manners and of morals.... No nation could preserve its freedom in the midst of continual warfare.

A standing military force, with an overgrown Executive will not long be safe companions to liberty. The means of defence agst. foreign danger, have been always the instruments of tyranny at home. Among the Romans it was a standing maxim to excite a war, whenever a revolt was apprehended. Throughout all Europe, the armies kept up under the pretext of defending, have enslaved the people.

True, there is moral foundation in military service. It can instill discipline and put young people on a straight path, sparing them from an otherwise destructive route. On the flip side, and life in the military can be far from an enclave of virtue.

I do love my country and if we were attacked, I would eagerly volunteer for the campaign to repel the invaders and/or enthusiastically enlist in any resistance effort. But I think that's the part of the Constitution about a well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State. Not for illegal, immoral invasion of a nation that did attack nor threaten to attack the United States, with the ever shifting justification based on equivocation and outright deception. And once one volunteers to be a party that enforces state edicts, there's no opting out. A majority of the war waged in our nation's recent history (last 100 years or so) has all been the "elective" sort, with our leaders brazenly lying to the public, to escalate hostilities. Once engaged, it's even more difficult to cease the campaign, as no politician wants to give credence to the charges of cowardice. Charges, I may add, that are boasted and brought forward by chickenhawks.

As far as what other countries do regarding compulsive military service, I could give a rat's petunia. I've always considered this debate from the vantage point that if conditions of national defense warranted it, there would be an ample supply of those signing up to fight. When it comes to elective wars, waged to enrich the coffers of the corporatists and globalists, the state must then resort to alternative means — i.e., conscription, highly paid mercenaries, expedited immigration to reward foreigners enlisting, or employing killing machines instead.

The Gates Foundation has holdings in many companies that have failed tests of social responsibility

The LA Times has a series skewering the Gates Foundation for what it reports as a "dark cloud over the good works". It sounds like a colossal tax dodge to me, even if the small percentage (5%) of the foundation's worth represent a huge donation to "good works".
AT the end of 2005, the Gates Foundation endowment stood at $35 billion, making it the largest in the world. Then in June 2006, Warren E. Buffett, the world's second-richest man after Bill Gates, pledged to add about $31 billion in installments from his personal fortune. Not counting tens of billions of dollars more that Gates himself has promised, the total is higher than the gross domestic products of 70% of the world's nations.

Like most philanthropies, the Gates Foundation gives away at least 5% of its worth every year, to avoid paying most taxes. In 2005, it granted nearly $1.4 billion. It awards grants mainly in support of global health initiatives, for efforts to improve public education in the United States, and for social welfare programs in the Pacific Northwest.

It invests the other 95% of its worth. This endowment is managed by Bill Gates Investments, which handles Gates' personal fortune. Monica Harrington, a senior policy officer at the foundation, said the investment managers had one goal: returns "that will allow for the continued funding of foundation programs and grant making." Bill and Melinda Gates require the managers to keep a highly diversified portfolio, but make no specific directives.

By comparing these investments with information from for-profit services that analyze corporate behavior for mutual funds, pension managers, government agencies and other foundations, The Times found that the Gates Foundation has holdings in many companies that have failed tests of social responsibility because of environmental lapses, employment discrimination, disregard for worker rights, or unethical practices.

It is not crystal clear from the article that the Gates Foundation only gives 5% of its worth, but there is a side box balance sheet that lists $66 billion in assets and $13 billion in total grants. That equates to approximately 20%, but there are no details provided for over $4 billion in loans that may skew the percentage even lower.

I had a suspicion that the Gates Foundation was more about tax avoidance and positive public relations that it was about charitable contributions. On the other hand, seeding a financial future and gaining more funds to give is prudent strategy. However, investing in companies that profit from and enable global injustice and environmental destruction on a proportionally larger scale would seem to defeat the purpose of charity service.

3 January 2007

There are no bigger names in the Valley of the Sun in sports talk radio

Not quite sure if that is more of an assessment of the sorry state of local "sports talk radio", but certainly there are dissenters to that view, and are most pleased that, unsurprisingly, Gambo & Ash Join KTAR.
Sports 620-AM KTAR has signed former XTRA (KGME 910-AM) hosts John Gambadoro and Mark Asher (also known as "Gambo" and "Ash"), which solidifies the afternoon programming lineup for the all-new, all-sports station.

KTAR's decision to hire Gambadoro and Asher finalizes the station's weekday lineup of shows. They join a talented team of veteran radio personalities who will be broadcasting at the following times:

5 - 9 a.m. The Doug and Wolf Show
9 - 11 a.m. The Herd with Colin Cowherd
11 a.m. - 1 p.m. The Dan Patrick Show
1 - 6 p.m. Gambo and Ash
6 - 9 p.m. 620 SportsLine with Dave Burns
9 - 11 pm. ESPN GameNight
11 p.m. - 4 a.m. All Night with Jason Smith
4 - 5 a.m. Mike & Mike in the Morning

1 January 2007

Most members of the political establishment were notable for their absence

At former President Gerald Ford's funeral.
George W. Bush sent his apologies - he was too busy cutting wood and riding his bike - and almost 500 of the 535 members of Congress also had more pressing engagements, as the state funeral for Gerald Ford, the 38th president of the US, was held in Washington yesterday.

Wow, not that I'm all for big fanfare and incessant adulation for fallen leaders, but this seems to be disrespectful.