Sunday, May 29, 2005

The Gulag of Our Time

Hyperbole is rarely criticized these days. In fact, exaggeration has become an artform. Ann Coulter was (and is) ahead of her time.

With US Senators regularly comparing their opponents to Hitler and Nazis, no one pays much attention when hyperbole is used.

Now, to get noticed, you have to go to new heights (or is it depths?).

Perhaps that explains the astonishing rhetoric inside the 2005 Amnesty international Report and the even more amazing accusations made during the press conference releasing the report. Here is your link to press coverage by PAISLEY DODDS, Associated Press Writer : Amnesty International Takes Aim at U.S.

Here are a few quotations from the Associated Press Article.

"Amnesty International branded the U.S. prison camp at Guantanamo Bay a human rights failure Wednesday, calling it "the gulag of our time" as it released a report that offers stinging criticism of the United States and its detention centers around the world."

" 'Guantanamo has become the gulag of our time,' Amnesty Secretary General Irene Khan said."

"At least 10 cases of abuse or mistreating have been documented and investigated at Guantanamo. Several other cases are pending."

I want you to know that I support Amnesty International and appreciate their work. It is important to read their reports and understand the great harm being done to people worldwide.

But, they are so biased and so unfair and so stunningly prejudiced against the US and, especially President Bush, their report reads like a bad Ann Coulter column (at least Ann is always funny).

Let's compare two world situations, the "Gulag" at Guantanamo and the current situation in the Darfur region of Sudan.

Kofi Annan this week again pleaded for financial and military support against the horrific genocide in Darfur. As I write 500 people die every day as a result of the most basic of human rights violations in Sudan. That toll will rise (back) to 1,500 to 2,000 a day within three months.

Here's the report:
Kofi Annan Asks for World Support on Darfur

Rape of women and girls and sexual slavery now numbers in the tens of thousands.

So, quoting directly from the Amnesty International 2005 report, let's compare the tenor of the language used in describing Darfur and the Sudan against the language used to describe George Bush (who is curiously identified personally):

SUDAN: "The parties to the north-south warfare in Sudan made commitments to reach an overall peace agreement by the end of 2004. Wealth and power sharing agreements had already been signed, and interim security arrangements made. In stark contrast to these peace negotiations, thousands of people were killed or raped in the escalating conflict in Darfur, western Sudan, and hundreds of thousands driven from their homes, many of them by government supported militias. Ceasefire agreements were regularly violated by the various fighting forces."

You'll note the very objective reporting of the facts, without editorialization of hyperbole. Certainly Amnesty International condemns the deaths in the Sudan. But there is no anger, no outrage. The facts are fairly reported.

Now read the report on the USA: "The blatant disregard for international human rights and humanitarian law in the war on terror continued to make a mockery of President George Bushs claims that the USA was the global champion of human rights. Images of detainees in US custody tortured in Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq shocked the world. War crimes in Iraq, and mounting evidence of the torture and ill-treatment of detainees in US custody in other countries, sent an unequivocal message to the world that human rights may be sacrificed ostensibly in the name of security."

Hatred, vitriol and hyperbole spill from nearly every sentence of the entire report. How is it possible to be so calm about the deaths of 180,000 people, the displacement of over 2 million and the possible starvation of tens of thousands and yet be so outraged over the possible civil rights violation of a few prisoners of war.

Again, let me say that I appreciate and support Amnesty International. And I do not support any violation of Human Rights by the USA.

But Amnesty International is so biased they lose all credibility. In their language, their attitude and their reporting show they feel lack of a very particular standard of judicial due process grievously outweighs genocide , rape, torture and murder in other parts of the world.

I wonder if the world agrees?

Imagine, if you will, a woman who has seen her village bombed and burned in the Sudan. A surprise air raid, just before dawn, from her own government.

Immediately after fleeing her burning home, her family is set upon by attackers on horseback who chase the family into the woods only to slaughter her husband , brothers and sons before her eyes.

But her horror has only just begun. She is captured by her attackers and raped repeatedly as her seven year old daughter is forced to watch.

Displaced, injured and alone, she travels hundreds of miles to a refugee camp. But there the rapes continue. And now her daughter is also attacked. The horseman move freely through the camp, the military protectors do nothing to protect her.

But now her daughter is ill from starvation and abuse. She will die soon.

Do you really think this mother is thanking god she wasn't captured by the Americans and transported to "the gulag of our time," Guantanamo, where she might have just been held without charges. Or perhaps had her religious books mishandled.

Or do you think she just might wish she and her family were subjected to American abuse rather than Sudanese?

No injustice should ever be tolerated, but, perhaps, with less hyperbole directed at George Bush, the world might just come to the aid of those who need it most.

Here is your link to Amnesty International's 2005 Report:

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

Oh Sure, NOW Hilary Rosen Gets It....

The entire Internet community is abuzz this week over Hilary Rosen's column in Arianna Huffington's new liberal Super Blog, The Huffington Post located here: . Arianna has attracted a who's who of great writers and opinion makers. You will want to make the Post a favorite on your reading list.

Ahhh, but the buzz is about the seeming about face Hilary Rosen has made in the arena of digital music downloads. You can read her post here:

Hilary, in case you somehow forgot, is the person most responsible for the complete disaster we have in the world of digital music downloads today. As the CEO of the RIAA, she fought every advance in digital music with a combination of ferocity, ignorance and zeal rarely seen in the corporate world. She literally tried to completely dismantle the entire Internet and had judges sided with her, there would be no Internet today.

When she failed at that approach, she began individually suing every possible provider of digital music, legal or not.

She single handedly destroyed the original Napster, the one organization that could have saved the music industry and brought them into the digital world. She turned down a two billion dollar offer from Napster to create payment methodologies for the industry that would have also protected the consumer and the vast music libraries then available.

She and the RIAA sued colleges and universities, on-line access companies, file trading firms and eventually individual consumers. Ignoring the most incredible string of court losses in the history of the American legal system, she was determined to simply wear out the underfunded opposition with a barrage of lawsuits filed in multiple jurisdictions and under wild and varying laws.

The list of companies she bankrupted reads like a who's who of technological greatness. Her opponents were geniuses, but she had the money and a spirit of ruthlessness to drive them to the ground.

While filing thousands of lawsuits, she simultaneously lobbied congress to get increasingly strict and burdensome laws, fines, royalties and restrictions in place to prevent anyone from ever successfully distributing digital music. While occasionally defeated in Congress, Hilary and her Hollywood owned legislators managed to pass the Digital Millennium Copyright Act.

She set up a royalty system so complex even the organization she left in place to administrate it can't figure out who gets paid.

But the key fact is that Hilary set up a digital rights system that assured almost anyone can prevent distribution of any given song: the labels, the artists, the songwriters, even the janitor. Everyone gets a cut and anyone can stop the process dead in it's tracks.

As a result, much of the world's music libraries are tied up and unavailable anywhere EXCEPT on the illegal, free file trading networks that Hilary wanted to stop.

In short, it was Hilary who created a monster, but ultimately failed to stop the free trading of music.

Ahhh, but now you should read Hilary's take on the problem. It seems it's all Steve Job's fault!!

Hilary writes, "....but when, oh when, will Steve Jobs let me buy music from somewhere other than the Apple iTunes store and put it on my iPod?"

Totally blind to her own contribution to the digital music disaster, she continues, "I spent 17 years in the music business the last several of which were all about pushing and prodding the painful development of legitimate on-line music. Now, the music fan is on the cusp of riches in their options - free of the viruses of the pirate sites."

What Hilary actually left was a digital wasteland without licensing standards, without digital standards, and without a method to achieve either. But she did leave a robust group of "pirate sites" operating with increasing strength and vigor.

the WIZARD, fkap sheds no tears for Hilary. So she can't get the tunes she wants on her iPod? She has no one to blame but herself.

Sunday, May 15, 2005

Exactly What is the Value of Human Life?

If you are somehow unaware that thousands of conservative and fundamentalist Islamic followers are rioting in Afghanistan over the Newsweek Magazine article reporting that US interrogators in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba flushed a Koran down a toilet, you might want to read this update from Reuters: Yahoo News: Afghan clerics threaten Muslim holy war over Koran

About 300 Afgan clerics are demanding that the US turn over the responsible US interrogators to an Islamic country for "punishment." Such punishment would undoubtedly be torture and horrific death. Failure to turn over the offending persons will result in a holy war against America. That however, is not exactly the point of today's commentary.

Only a few years ago these same clerics were faced with a similar demand from the USA. President Bush "demanded" they turn over Osama Bin Ladin to the US or face invasion and overthrow of their country's fundalmentalist Islamic government (the Taliban). Of course Bin Ladin's crime was not desecration of a holy book, but instead the murder of almost four thousand people of all nationalities and all religions. Still, the Afgan clerics said no and they continue shelter Bin Ladin. However, this isn't exactly my point either.

We in the west really don't understand the morality, the values and the beliefs of people in the fundalmentalist Islamic countries. And we don't understand at even the most basic level of our very being.

And, worst of all, we almost always ascribe our western values to their actions. Liberal or conservative, we explain what they do using our values as the basis.

And when we just can't figure out their actions using our cultural values as a template, we just call them "evil." That way we don't need to understand.

The Fundamentalist Islamic leaders are taking their most ardent believers and faithful followers and sending them to certain death as suicide bombers. Generally the goal is to kill even more devout Islamic believers. Every day dozens are being sent to their death and hundreds more innocent people are killed as a result. Almost all the dead share the same cultural heritage and religious beliefs as their murderers.

So let's get to my point. The world wide Islamic outrage, the riots and the threats of jihad over the desecration of a Koran at the hands of US officials shows us again how very important the Koran is to all Muslims. To paraphrase the MasterCard commercials, the value of the Koran is "priceless."

But it also raises a very important question. Exactly what is the value of human life?

Friday, May 06, 2005

Kudos to Barry Garron

As usual, the American press and public are captivated by the least important of possible news stories. Whether it is the "Runaway Bride" or the potential shenanigans of American Idol Judge Paula Abdul, we revel in insignificance.

I certainly recognize we all need diversions from the stressful life we lead in the modern world. And I enjoy gossip and American Idol as much as anyone.

But I want to give my "props" to Reuters Entertainment Reporter Barry Garron who's really "keeping it real" in his reporting analysis of the recent ABC PrimeTime Live expose of Paula Abdul and her alleged affair with former contestant Corey Clark.

Garron reported, "At least as alarming as the relationship "PrimeTime Live" purports to expose is the questionable relationship between the news division and Clark. Quinones seems all too ready to accept at face value the charges of an admitted liar -- Clark covered up a previous arrest record, which ultimately got him kicked off the show -- made more than a year after the fact, just as his first record is to go on sale and just as his proposal for a tell-all book is being floated among publishers. And if that doesn't tip the hand of ABC's Faustian bargain, check out the promotion during the show for Clark's interview Thursday on ABC's "Good Morning America." "

Also as usual, the added emphasis is mine.

This link to Garron's commentary was correct at the time of posting: Yahoo News: TV review: Primetime Live

the WIZARD.............

Thursday, May 05, 2005

Democrats Are Cowards

It is the Democrats who want Social Security to fail. Well, not really fail. No politician will ever let it actually collapse. They just want it to titer on the brink. Solve the problem early? Solve it on George Bush's watch? They can't allow that to happen.

So, in the name of "protecting" Social Security, they are actually working to assure that Social Security as we have known it will cease to exist. They want the system on the verge of total collapse.

They know that it will. And not in 2053 as forecast, but in the next five to ten years. At that time the monthly payout (which is all borrowed money, coming mostly from hostile foreign governments) will become unsustainable. At that time, Democrats can force through changes that are totally unacceptable today. High tax increases combined with program cuts.

Continued absolute Federal control will be assured. And today's cowardice will be recast as bravery in the face of disaster.

By REFUSING to compromise or to offer any solutions or proposals, they are betraying seniors, and all young Americans. This is cowardice at the highest level. There is no excuse. There isn't today a single Democrat who deserves to be in the House or the Senate. They are betraying all Americans in order to gain political advantage.


It's one thing to be high minded and resist Bush's optional personal accounts. Any reasonable Democrat can honestly disagree with the personal account option.

It's quite another to refuse to come to the table and negotiate. Hand it to the Democrats, they know how to hang together. And they are tickled to watch the Republicans fall apart and hang separately.

President Bush fell right into the trap the Democrats carefully set. While refusing to offer even one single suggestion or idea they actually tricked him into offering a detailed plan. Their attack came swift and hard.

And what a gentleman Bush was during his Press Conference. No harsh words for the loyal opposition. He gave the Democrats a free ride. He merely asked them once again to come to the table.

However, the Democratic leadership felt no need to hold back. No Mr. or Ms. Nice Guy. No lie was too outrageous. Name calling was the order to the day.

Shame on the President for treating the Democrats with kid gloves. The gloves need to come off now.

He played nice. He put his proposals on the table. He has offered to compromise.

Now he needs to aggressively go on the attack. He has nothing left to lose.

the WIZARD...........