A Rare, Heroic Video

US News and World Report posted a clip of an unnamed soldier filmed in northeast Afghanistan in which he was shot four times. The video, uploaded to YouTube as part of an ongoing documentation of the war, has been viewed more than 1.3 million times. How did I find out? Well, just after writing bit number 1, I went to refill my coffee and CNN was showing the clip.

 This young man was wearing a helmet cam, and returning fire, when he suddenly and repeatedly yells, “I’m hit,” as he was maneuvering to draw fire away from his team, which were pinned down. “The rest of the squad was pinned down by machine gun fire. I didn’t start the video until a few mins into the firefight for obvious reasons. I came out into the open to draw fire so my squad could get to safety,” he explains. Luckily, his body armor and helmet stopped any bullets from getting through.

This, we should watch. This, we should be privy to, and this should be front page news. You want violence, horror, shock, reality? But, it’s not in the Washington Post, or The NY Daily News – who chose to lead with Lindsay Lohan’s hotel spat. It’s not in the NY Times, or even the Huffington Post. In other words, you had to know it happened, or accidently see it like I did, and then go look for it.

This clip and accompanying story should be run daily in every news outlet until we get out of Afghanistan. This is ugliness with a point – that our young people are in a life and death struggle for absolutely no reason.

Nothing can be more important for us to realize, not even the live video of a suicide.



Calculated Humanity

“Imagine for a moment had there been no egoism, distrust, malicious behavior and dictatorships, with no one violating the rights of others, had humanitarian values been viewed as the criterion for social dignity in place of affluence and consumerism; had humanity not experienced the dark age of medieval period and centers of powers not hindered the flourishing of knowledge and constructive thoughts; had the wars of crusades ensuing period of slavery and colonialism not happened; and had the inheritors of these dark periods followed a course on the premises of humanitarian principles; had the First and Second World Wars in Europe, the wars in Korea, Vietnam, Africa, Latin America and in the Balkans not happened; If the tragic incident of September 11, and the military actions against Afghanistan and Iraq that left millions killed and homeless had not happened. If integrity and honesty have not prevailed on the international relations and all nations and government were treated equally and justly in the global effort to build and expand happiness for the entire mankind. Imagine how beautiful and pleasant our lives and how lovely the history of mankind would have been. Let us take a look at the world’s situation today.”

That is, verbatim, part of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s speech to the UN. And to me, way more scary than his usual hate – speak. This was classic schizophrenic manipulation. But why? What’s his rationale for coming across like he’s part of Amnesty International? Why did he decide to expose a part of himself that actually made him appear vulnerable? Or did he just snap for a moment under the spotlight? Whatever, it told just how truly crazy this man is. How incredibly serpentine he can be at any given moment. Only he knows why he shifted into peace mode yesterday, and given that he can’t understand what happened, let’s do another “imagine.” Imagine this man with a nuclear weapon. Imagine him having a bad day. Imagine him being nudged by Al Qaeda during his bad day with a nuclear weapon.

Theoris are being tossed around by the “pros” as to why Ahmadinejad went humane for a moment. Former Homeland Security Advisor, Fran Townsend, even suggested that he was attempting to make nice so that he can live here once he’s out of power and susceptible to the Ayatollah’s wrath, last night on CNN. Imagine Fran and Mahmoud as next door neighbors.



Inhumane Masters Of War

I read an incredible piece today on the CNN site.  It’s the second part of a special they call The War at Home that deals with the horrors our soldiers experience when their tours are done and they attempt to re-acclimate to life.  Mainly it depicts PTSD, and although I have read, met, and even treated people with trauma, this particular article drew from deep inside of me anger instead of my usual empathy.  It’s not because it was written so well – which it in fact absolutely is – but more I think because of what is currently going on in Pakistan and Afghanistan.

These men and women, basically kids, are sent into a nether-world of unspeakable inhumane acts with minimum preparedness. Not that anyone could ever truly be prepared for that.  These are not the elite SEALs or Green Beret’s who are mentally psyched to go kick ass. These are farmers and clerks and insurance salesmen – regular folks who are doing their part to protect our country.  And there is where my anger festers.  They have been fed and nursed like babes on a breast to believe the lies sold to them by a collective of manipulators that snakes all the way to the top.  I have always been of the opinion that any of our presidents who have given the green light to go to war are mass murderers.  In a court of law, they would be convicted as such given that the motivation for killing hundreds of thousands of people is circumstantial and self serving at best.  The Christian, God-fearing men who profess to be humbled in the eyes of God, are responsible for committing the number one un-godlike act – the taking of the life of his fellow man.

Einstein said, “He who joyfully marches to music in rank and file has already earned my contempt. This disgrace to civilization should be done away with at once.
Heroism at command, senseless brutality, deplorable love-of-country stance, how violently I hate all this, how despicable and ignoble war is; I would rather be torn to shreds than be a part of so base an action! It is my conviction that killing under the cloak of war is nothing but an act of murder.”

CNN Last-No Big Surprise There

cnnlogolastThe latest cable news numbers are out, and CNN’s prime time performance was dismal, with only the ancient and fawning Larry King managing to stay out of the ratings dungeon.  Probably because he finds a reason to interview Suzanne Somers once every couple of months, which must be sexy for his demographic.  Even so, he finished third out of the four cable network offerings (the networks being CNN, Fox, HLN, and MSNBC).

It’s no surprise.  CNN is by far the closest thing to a non-partisan news outlet remaining on cable.  Come sundown, the cable news vampires come out in full force, sucking the essential truth out of the body politic.

And we as Americans have come down squarely on the side of, well, whatever side we’re on.  We watch what confirms our own beliefs and biases, and now that CNN doesn’t have a polarizing presidential election to run with, they’re dead meat, and dead last.

It’s also no surprise that a nation that amuses itself by watching singers who can’t sing and dancers who can’t dance would choose news that isn’t news.

In the same respect as the WWE, the leading professional wrestling organization, labels itself as “sports entertainment”, Fox and MSNBC should drop the pretense of calling themselves news outlets and begin describing their on-air fare as “news entertainment”.

Perhaps it was a blessing that Uncle Walter (as in Cronkite) passed away recently after a long, fulfilling, life.  There’s no telling what would have happened to his blood pressure upon seeing Hulk Hogan behind an anchor desk.

PodKast Transcript: Ugly Unintended Consequences

mwilliamskkkeditor’s note-the following is a transcript of the LK PodKast posted earlier today:

No bumper music today. No time for gussied up production. Some things are too important to wait on and this is one of them.

I’d be shirking my duties if I didn’t get into the ugly and nationally embarrassing unintended consequences of the Obama presidency. Unintended consequences, by the way, is just a fancy name for outcomes that weren’t expected or desired as a result of a particular action. In this case, that particular action, which is producing some putrid side effects that reflect poorly on more Americans than I’m comfortable thinking about, was the election of the first black president of the United States.

This past Sunday, Maureen Dowd, who I don’t particularly enjoy reading (I find her kind of snarky), opened the mainstream media floodgates with her piece on the racism fueling the anti-Obama movement, including the anti-health care reform protests, and the anti-government intervention tea parties, among others. A lot of anti’s.

Jimmy Carter, another character I have my differences with, but who also happens to be an 85 year old white southerner with no fear of speaking his mind, confirmed that from his vantage point, only a fool couldn’t see the racism that runs through the roots of the anti-Obama groundswell.

And then CNN picked up the ball, and they’re running with it big time, featuring a Klansman type who forgot his hood named Mark Williams. Monday they had him on a panel with Gergen and Carville; last night he went one on one with Roland Martin. The unmitigated hatred for Obama flows out of this guy’s pores, and he’s a wily, clever bastard. On TV at least, he stays millimeters and milliseconds away from dropping his euphemisms and going straight to raw hate speech. On his web site he doesn’t bother holding back. Ugly stuff.

And he’s got plenty of followers. Under the guise of representing the working stiff, and that’s his description, “the working stiff who pays the bills”, he’s tapped into a whole bunch of folks who, especially now that their personal economic outlooks aren’t all that bright, are ripe for the picking.

Which raises some difficult but necessary questions.

Who among the Obama supporters, over half of the Americans who came out to vote last November, foresaw what, in retrospect, was the very easy to predict emergence of the racism that still lies just beneath the surface of tens of millions in this country?

Did any of his supporters, of which I was one, whether they were in Obama’s inner circle, people who worked on the campaign, college students, union workers, black or white, take into account the highly combustible combination of a black president and a severe economic crisis?

And, in 20/20 hindsight, would this awareness of the almost inevitable re-surfacing of racial tensions have changed anyone’s vote, either out of fear (because Mark Williams and his crew are pretty damn scary) or out of the sad but quite possibly true understanding that the country wasn’t ready for a black president?

Clearly, racism and sexism are still running neck and neck, judging from a recent quote about Hillary attributed to President Bush by one of his former speechwriters, in which Bush was heard to say something to the effect of “Wait till her fat ass is sitting at this desk”. But there’s a precedent for Hillary; her name was Margaret Thatcher. There’s no such precedent for Barack Obama.

It’s time for all good men and women, black or white, rich or poor, Republican or Democrat, to forcefully declare that the issues before us will be debated and decided based on the merits. It’s time for all good men and women to reject catering to or cowering in the face of Mark Williams and his ilk, who are nothing but white supremacists masquerading as populists.

It’s time for all Americans to dig deep and wrench out the best in themselves, however difficult that may be while dealing with economic hardships that can easily cause them to blame others, instead of displaying the fabled American quality of picking one’s self up by one’s bootstraps and taking responsibility for getting back on the horse.

We either get civil real quickly, or get suited up for some very uncivil times ahead.

Better to face things now, or lie face down in them later.

Spitzer on a FareedGPS rerun f…

Spitzer on a FareedGPS rerun from 3/22-public rehab gets quicker and quicker. Guy’s brilliant but off the hook already?

American Media Deserts American Ally

9PM. Thanksgiving night. I turn on the television after events both joyful and obligatory have ended. I’m looking for updated information on what’s been described as India’s 9/11.

I turn to CNN. They’re showing a heavily promoted special about the heroes among us, generous and potent souls who have made life better for others. Taken by itself, laudable recognition for a few of our unsung brethren. But the events unfolding in India surely qualify as extraordinary circumstances that warrant preemption of planned programming. Mumbai, known to many Americans as Bombay, is the financial hub of India, a country of over a billion people. It is under attack, by terrorists of as yet unknown origin, who are seeking out westerners, mainly Yanks or Brits, to slaughter or hold hostage.

I turn to Fox News. Sean Hannity’s America. Taped. No relevance at all to something that could be frighteningly relevant, as there are unconfirmed rumors that the terrorists may have come ashore from Pakistani vessels. India and Pakistan, two countries uneasily sharing a border. Two countries in possession of nuclear weapons.

I turn to MSNBC. They’re running a taped time filler. “Lock Up”. Vicarious thrills for those of us not in the penal system who want to get a taste of prison life from the safety of our own homes. Meanwhile, a synagogue is being stormed by Indian security forces as there are hostages being held there. Westerners and Jews are targets. Westerners and Jews, who, in this compass-less world we’re living in, could just as easily be portrayed as the cause of the attacks as the victims that they are.

Forget the major networks. Their news gathering organizations have been rendered close to irrelevant. Well informed teens know of Anderson Cooper, not Charlie Gibson. And, sadly, there aren’t that many well informed teens.

But wait. My cable system carries the BBC. Now there’s the in depth coverage; the respect for and recognition of others not like ourselves.

This “ugly American” chauvinism, born to some degree of hubris, laziness, and a sense of entitlement that says we’ve all worked hard and deserve a day off, will be our downfall. It’s a piece of the pie that explains, when we’re trying to round up allies on national missions (whether righteously justifiable or folly), why friends don’t come running.

We turn a blind eye, and expect unqualified support. Our actions will determine our destiny.

Happy Thanksgiving.  Be quietly thankful that you’re not in Mumbai, and pray, in whatever form that takes for you, for those who are.

Friday follow up: CNN‘s wised up, in that it has preempted previously scheduled programming about the President elect, his family, and the challenges he’ll face upon assuming office, in order to continue coverage of the Mumbai atrocities.  Fox is running its regular news programming and covering events as they unfold.  MSNBC is again asleep at the wheel, running taped material they had planned to fill time with on the Friday following the holiday.  When, for a news channel, reality is an inconvenience that can’t be bothered with, it’s no longer a news channel.  I wouldn’t be surprised to see Olbermann and Maddow denounce their own network the next chance they get.   LK

Hillary For Veep, Redux

Given that:

a) according to CNN, 1 in 10 Americans believes that Obama is a Muslim,

b) the polls are way too close for comfort, and

c) Lanny Davis makes a convincing case for Hillary as O’s running mate in today’s Wall Street Journal,

below is an update of a piece originally posted on June 3rd, when the idea of Hillary For Veep was even less appealing to Obama supporters than it is now:

Wall Street Journal

“Couldn’t believe it myself when I wrote the headline above. Here’s the thinking:

Together, baggage and all, an Obama/Clinton ticket seems unstoppable. There will be meddling from Billary. There may also be the risk of conscious and unconscious sabotage, in the hope that Barack loses and Hillary gets one more shot in 2012. And there’s still the ugly possibility that whatever provoked her to refer to RFK’s tragic demise is still lurking in her ultra-complex cranium.

Still, paradigm changing events take time and are not comfortable. I’ve heard a number of very bright people use the “marathon” analogy to describe the Dems ‘08 nominating process. Respectfully, they’re wrong. Compared to the time it took to transform a scruffy bunch of oppressed English colonies into America, the primary season was barely a quarter mile sprint.

Having the first black American president, and everything it would mean to both the citizens of this country and to the world community, as well as what it would indicate about this country to the world community, is paradigm changing. It’s also got the potential to be paradigm restoring, given the surreal nose-drive America’s reputation and the American experience have taken since Dubya ran the greatest power in the world into the ground.

And that’s not just our military power. Our economic strength and our power to do good works have taken serious hits. Expecting McCain to do anything but temporarily soothe a wounded nation is living with blinders on.

Obama/Clinton. Won’t be easy. Nothing worth doing is.”