Captain Ed has started a new group, the '101st Fighting Keyboarders,' an epithet which is flung at (mostly) conservative bloggers who support the Global War on Terror--especially those who want the Iraq War seen through to success.
I love it. It takes the "chickenhawk" concept and puts it back into the faces of those who use that non-argument in an attempt to shame Iraq War supports into silence. I've even had attempted deployments of this dud-bomb directed at me. I'm proud to have been the first to sign up as a member of this particular group, even though I'm not, technically, a "chickenhawk"--unless the definition of the concept is borne upon the ever-moving goalposts which wielders of this meme seem to never tire of moving.
If the president wasn't going to listen to me about his choice for press secretary, picking the classy and deceptively easy-going (it seems to me) Tony Snow is the next best thing. And, after facing down the big C, the White House press corps should be a piece of cake for him.
Additionally, I don't think that we'll be seeing a vicious razzing of Snow by the likes of Michael Wolff. People like Wolff only pick on perceived weaker beings.
In other words, McClellan was never quite intimidating enough to handle the position.
The rumor mill has put forth FoxNews anchor (and Bush the Elder staff member) Tony Snow and former Pentagon spokeswoman Victoria Clarke as candidates for Mr. McClellan’s replacement. Both are excellent choices, but I have someone else in mind and therein lies a story.
Most of the Republican/conservative bloggers/commenters have tried to be kind to Scott McClellan as he rides into the sunset. Democrat/liberal commentators have been, predictably, less charitable, however, one commentator stands out in his viciousness toward Mr. McClellan: Michael Wolff.
McClellan himself, as though having some terrible social disability, has, standing miserably in the press briefing room every day, become a kick-me archetype. He's Piggy in Lord of the Flies: a living victim, whose reason for being is, apparently, to shoulder public ridicule and pain (or, come to think of it, he's Squealer from Animal Farm). He's the person nobody would ever choose to be.
His daily march into hostile territo-ry, without any of the available diver-sions and protections that a basic presentation-software package [Microsoft Power Point] might provide, is so fraught that it must be a cunning setup—diabolical Karl Rove at it again. If not, it's a remarkable, defining lack of self-awareness on the part of the heretofore all-controlling Bush administration.
The peculiar use of hyphens belongs to Mr. Wolff. His oh-so-charming commentary on McClellan got me to thinking about the last time the existence of the former came to my attention--2003, not long after the beginning of Operation Iraqi Freedom. Wolff was in Iraq as a participant in a press conference conducted by the CENTCOM spokesman. In the wake of what seemed to be a Q and A session which revealed ‘unexciting’ news, Wolff asked the spokesman the following:
I mean no disrespect by this question, but I want to ask about the value proposition of these briefings. We're no longer being briefed by senior-most officers. To the extent that we get information, it's largely information already released by the Pentagon. You may know that ABC has sent its senior correspondent home. So, I guess my question is why should we stay? What's the value to us for what we learn at this million-dollar press center?
The words appear polite and reasonably, but I was watching as the questions were proffered. Mr. Wolff’s attitude and body language were anything but respectful. The demeanor could have been likened to a girl from the ‘hood snapping her fingers--a colloquial sign of disrespect.
The spokesman looked at Michael Wolff impassively. (After watching the bristle of Mr. Wolff, I had visions of the spokesman—an Army one-star general; 6'5", slender, but powerfully-built--walking over to his interlocuter and, all Worf-like, gleefully snapping his neck. Fortunately, the spokesman is much more of a diplomat, as we'll see.) That impassive expression remained even as Mr. Wolff’s colleagues applauded him for his gumption. When the applause died down, the spokesman smiled winningly and answered:
Let's -- I've gotten applause already; that's wonderful! I appreciate that. (Laughter.) First, I would say it's your choice. We want to provide information that's truthful from the operational headquarters that is running this war. There are a number of places where information's available, not the least of which would be the embedded media, and they tell a very important story. The Pentagon has a set of information they provide as well. If you're looking for the entire mosaic, then you should be here.
He also reminded them that
General [Tommy] Franks [has] already shown that he's more than willing to come and talk to you at the right time. But he's fighting a war right now. And he has me to do this for him.
(All emphasis mine.)
The spokesman’s name is Brigadier General Vincent Brooks and he is the person I’d like to see as the new White House press secretary. Of course he’d have to resign his commission and retire first. And this would be a step down for the handsome, telegenic West Point-graduate (at the top of his class, no less) and member of a family of generals.
However, it would be quite entertaining to watch as the White House press corps tried to unsettle him—a man who is used to wading through the political morass that lead to his single shoulder board-borne star. (The fact that he is black would make things interesting, but, as we have seen from the senate confirmation of now-Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, being black is no shield against being grilled in public—if one is a Republican. I’d call that progress--somewhat.)
General Brooks handled Mr. Wolff (and the other press types) with grace, aplomb and good humor. The thought of his wielding that long-honed ‘military bearing’ against a notoriously obnoxious and demonstrably undisciplined White House press corps is irresistible. Additionally, I don't think that Mr. Wolff--or anyone else--will be using the words of a junior high school class bully on someone like Vincent Brooks.
When people find out I'm half Kenyan, they always want to know whether I run. Well, no, not unless something's (someone's) chasing me...
Personally (and anecdotally), I think that it's an altitude thing with my kinsmen. Of course, it just may be that having four-legged beings chase you--rather than two-legged ones--will make you run just a little bit faster and longer.
A news report about the suicides of several Indian chicken farmers reminded me of an email which one of my old friends sent me a little over a week ago. Said friend was in audience as a bird ecologist from the US Geological Survey expounded on the etiology of the avian flu. The following is a slightly edited version of the email which contains some of the presentation’s key items. Be advised: the words below are that of my friend, rather than that of the bird ecologist, and the facts are recited from his memory. However, the facts are easily checked and links are provided, when found and/or available.
• H5N1 [avian influenza or 'bird flu'] is a poultry disease. It’s very deadly to chickens. Most that catch it die, within 48 hours. Wild birds carry it around and are more resistant.
• H5N1 is unusual because it started with domestic birds and spread laterally to wild birds and to humans. The normal progression for a bird virus is:
wild birds --> domestic birds --> domestic mammals --> people --> more people
• H5N1 went like this:
wild birds <=== domestic birds --> some people
• H5N1 first appeared in 1997 [in humans], in China. It percolated over there in Asia for many years, moving to Vietnam, Indonesia, Philippines, etc.
• Chinese officials responded to the disease by taking farmers’ chickens away from them (thereby destroying the farmers...they don’t have farm subsidy and insurance over there). Farmers responded by hiding their chickens, sending them to relatives, or not reporting the disease, so it spread even more.
• In early 2005, H5N1 killed a ton of wild birds at a lake in China. Experts from all over the world went to study it identified the disease.
• The current mass spread began in May 2005. It moved from China across Asia to Turkey and Eastern Europe, east to west.
• The cause of the sudden breakout is a mystery. The move from east to west does not correspond to wild bird migration, which runs north to south. There’s been some spread north to south (it’s in Africa now too), but the biggest rush was east to west.
• The cause probably had to do with trade and shipping of chickens and other poultry. Also with smuggling of exotic birds. And migration too; [likely] a combination of all these things.
• Poultry imports and smuggling will probably bring H5N1 to North America [much more quickly] than wild bird migration.
• H5N1 will probably appear in North America eventually, but it is NOT certain it will appear this year.
• There is an Asian strain and a North American strain. North American H5N1 was already here. So when the newsmongers said “They’ve found H5N1 in Canada!” it means nothing. That strain was already here. It’s always been here [can’t find links to confirm the 'always' part –ed.], it’s not the same disease.
• Not a single human being has caught H5N1 from a wild bird; only from chickens.
• People catch H5N1 by direct physical contact through unsanitary practices (which I won’t describe, unless you ask me to).
The great thing about being a woman with men friends who respect you is that they treat you like a delicate flower even when they know that you’re not. :-)
• Heat kills it. You can’t get it from a cooked bird.
• H5N1 thrives in cool, moist places. It can survive in deep cold. There are geese that migrate from China OVER the Himalayas that can carry it into India. India is upset.
• Dogs and cats have caught it, from eating dead (i.e. uncooked) infected birds. There is currently no data on mortality rates among dogs and cats.
• Since 1997 to date, 191 people have caught H5N1. Of these, over 100 have died of it. So far it’s been a 57% mortality rate (that's fifty-seven).
• The mortality rate of the 1918-1919 Spanish flu pandemic, which killed millions, was only 2% (that's two).
• Nobody knew what a virus was in 1918.
No one has caught H5N1 from another human. It's still just a chicken disease. Some day it might be human to human, or it may not ever be. But a 57% mortality rate is nothing to sniff at.
If you find a dead bird, remember that birds die all the time, from many, many different diseases. If you must dispose of it, wash well with hot water If you must eat it, cook it. If you must handle it, try to, you know.... restrain yourself. And wash.
H5N1 is a respectable disease. Chicken farmers should be concerned. The rest of us can ease up, but be respectful.
I doubt that access to pertinent information on the bird flu would have prevented those Indian farmers from taking their lives, since, as this article indicates, the Indian government has been trying to tell its constituents that it okay to consume cooked chickens, but, overall, Indians aren’t buying it. However, in societies which are more likely to believe information from acknowledged experts--along with individually-researched information--a little push in the right direction can help prevent panic from spreading.
So keep chowing down on that *well-cooked* drumstick. For now.
WORST CASE SCENARIO: Reports says that President Bush is likely to approve a national response plan which has been prepared in case of mutation of the virus (90 million infected, 2 million dead as target figures).
Dropouts: "The graduation (ratio) for black women to men is 70-30. I feel sorry and sad for all these highly educated females who are so intelligent and have no educated men to marry." [SNIP]
Parenting: "When are you going to challenge them about CDs full of vulgarity and profanity? ... When are you going to challenge them with, 'I want to know who your friends are before you leave this apartment'?"
Cosby asked foster parents, grandmothers, aunts and uncles who raise someone else's children to applaud, then pointed to the crowd: "There's your reality." [SNIP]
"I speak for the dead," he said. "And the dead say to me now, 'No more, no more, no more.' Say it to your young children."
Gerard Vanderleun knows why discovery of the "Gospel of Judas" is all the rage.
What is needed, in this secular age of self-intoxication, is a Saint who will remit our sins of betrayal; who will by his very existence sanctify treason. And who better fits this role than the man who betrayed the greatest love for the smallest change, Judas?
My progenitor--forgetting that Judas committed suicide as a result of his betrayal and is, therefore, past forgiveness--doesn't quite get the issue at hand (registration required),
It seems that, if Judas had not betrayed Jesus, Jesus would not have fallen into the hands of Caiaphas and Pilate. Yet if it was God who had sent his son to sacrifice his life for us, then the killers were merely acting as God's agents and should be hailed, not bundled into pogroms.
and muddies the whole story with a bizarre, alternate and rather Da Vinci Code-like treatise of the "real" story of Jesus of Nazareth.
And Doug TenNapel talks about the transformation of Life from Death.
I've been obsessed with amphibians and raised them my whole life because they transform. Insects transform too but when they do it it's really gross to behold. Transformation is at the heart of my religion, Christianity. I believe the Creator of the universe left messages in nature that reflect his big picture plan for all of existence. There are acts of cruelty, acts of creation, and in the case of a tadpole becoming an adult toad there is transformation and completion into something wholely better than before.
While watching the news on Sunday morning, I saw Sandy Dahl--widow of Flight 93's lead pilot, Captain Jason Dahl--give an interview about the upcoming movie United 93 and the response to the movie's trailer which is being shown in theaters at present. The interesting thing about Mrs. Dahl is her occupation. She also works for United Airlines—as a flight attendant. One thing that many of us forget is the courage of the flight crews (along with that of the passengers) that resumed status as soon as President Bush allowed commercial and private aircraft back into service.
Even though she was obviously struggling to hold it together emotionally for the camera, Mrs. Dahl was all for the depiction of the events. She said that the heroism of the passengers of that famed flight is being forgotten and that—since they had already known of the attacks on the World Trade Center Towers--we must be reminded of the fact that United Flight 93's passengers and crew gave their lives for our government, such as it is.
Judith Weiss has a roundup of commentary on the new movie. In one of her own posts, she says that United 93 will "separate the men from the boys," and that “it will be a cultural identifier for the group of people who want to win this war and feel surrounded by those who are hostile or indifferent.”
Can you take that as an intention for me to see this movie? Yes, and in the theater, no less. I think that we owe it to any victims of 9/11 to bear witness to any celluloid portrayals of their sacrifice, heroism and most untimely demise. Jim Gerhagty agrees:
If somebody doesn’t want to walk into a theater and watch it and relive all that, I can’t begrudge them. For me... I think I’ll have to see it. It’s almost like attending a memorial service. Periodically, I want to remember, to be reminded of everything of that day, to know what this war we're fighting is all about, and what the world can be during its worst hours and what individuals can be at their finest hours. I wonder how many other folks feel like that.
Forget the issue at hand with Rep. Cynthia McKinney (D-GA). Forget that she assaulted a Capitol hill police officer. Forget that she played the race card in relation to that incident. Forget her bad hair choice. Forget all the craziness for now and deal with it later.
Look at her eyes. Look at them and remember the eyes of yet another woman—surnamed Wilbanks—who also annoyed the American news-watching public and crossed the law-abiding line not so long ago.
Tell Ms. McKinney to ‘get thee to a physician’ in order fix her possible thyroid issues. It may not change her politics, but at least she might become a bit more sane and coherent. Okay, maybe not, but letting her know that she might have a correctable problem is the *right* thing to do—both for herself and for the rest of us.
After all, Jennifer Wilbanks is merely an ordinary citizen. Rep. McKinney is part of a body that makes critical and world-changing decisions.
Charles, I've got a book store to run and having you sic a bunch of bloggers on me and tell them to ride my a** because we're not shelving a pip-squeak magazine from those tools at the "Council for Secular Humanism" (Jesus wept!) is just not getting it done.
And there really is no such person as La Shawn Barber! (I'm wondering who that girl was with whom I had lunch a couple years back. Gasp!!! They're kidnapping black folks and wiping their memories to turn them into black conservatives--the Stepford Conservatives!!!)