Wednesday, August 24, 2005
Topical News Items
People learn a lot about me by seeing what news attracts and holds my attention. I consume my news from a host of different sources. In the so-called mainstream, I turn to CNN and MSNBC for televised news and read The Washington Post and The New York Times for print news. I also subscribe to Sirius satellite radio and listen to BBC and C-SPAN. I'd say the greatest diversity of news I consume comes online, however. I visit a host of blogs, the most prominent being Daily Kos. I also read international news sources like online newspapers from Mexico and online English-language editions of Al-Jazeera. We exist in a vacuum if we care only what we are saying about what we're doing - it should and does matter what others are saying about it as well. It flabbergasts me that we don't turn more readily to international news sources - for no other reason that it at least provides some perspective.
The Cindy Sheehan story has really captured my imagination over the past few weeks. I'd like to make clear that I disagree with her ultimate message - that we should withdraw troops from Iraq now - but I love the fact that she has a message. Every time she makes it into the news coverage she raises the spectre of the things that were asserted and presented as fact in getting us into the War in Iraq. With her on the news virtually every day, we can't forget that we were told one thing in going to war and wound up having those things be proved completely false. I'm sure it's not just me, but I've noticed a substantially harshening tone in the Administration's rhetoric towards Iran of late - recall that Iran is a member of the "Axis of Evil" - it will do us good to remember that we have to question and questions and exercise extreme circumspection when it comes to the life and death issues of going to war. Cindy Sheehan brings that message home every time she makes a news cycle, and that's why I attented a vigil in solidarity, pictured above.
I joined BlogExplosion to get some exposure for this and my quit-smoking blog and happened across this blog which featured a picture of George W. Bush, done as a mosaic. In reading the blog post, I realized that the mosaic "tiles" were themselves pictures of fallen soldiers and marines. I thought it was an apt counterpoint to Cindy Sheehan's underlying message, that American men and woman (along with countless and uncounted Iraqis) are dying - and for what? I posted and commented on the picture on Daily Kos and was provided with another mosaic, the full size of which can be found here and with a thumbnail that I have included at right. If you follow the link and take the time to download the really big image and then zoom to an individual tile, you'll see another person's take on the makeup of George W. Bush. CAUTION: I would have to say that the tiles are definitely uncensored so if you're easily offended by graphic images, don't go there.
You've really got to wonder what Pat Robertson was thinking. Before I go off on some kind of diatribe, let me say that I am Christian and I beleive in God. I think that the vast majority of Christians and pastors and clergy are decent people who remain largely focused on God's word and, in the Christian faith, the teachings of Jesus Christ. I have special disdain for and disgust with what I think of as "wingnut Christians", however. I would definitely categorize Bush as a wingnut Christian, content to fall back on faith and God yet in no way practice it through acts or policy. Correct me if I'm mistaken, but was not Christ himself quite focused on helping the poor? What, specifically, has Bush done to help the poor? Last time I checked, the poor are actually getting poorer. But I digress. Pat Robertson would be another I'd categorize in the "wingnut" file. It seems to me his zest for power and things powerful has long since eclipsed any legitimate pastoral endeavors. The mere fact that he would even suggest, as a Man of God, that it would be not only be ok but advisable to assassinate another human being simply blows my mind. It boggles. And while I'm boggled, I become further boggled by the Bush Administration's unwillingness to outright condemn Robertson's comments in unequivocal terms. I guess Christianity is relative to fundraising in this millennium.
Tom's Shell has a sense of humor. It would be funny if it weren't so desperately true. I paid $2.90 a gallon for gas when I filled up today. I hear a lot of people rant on all sides of this issue. On Sirius Left yesterday, I heard one caller talking about it being "our own fault" (presumably gas consumers) because we don't carpool or better utilize mass transportation. I live in the Washington DC suburbs. We are not structured like a typical spoked-wheel city such as New York... People commute to a variety of hubs in the DC Metro area and public transportation simply doesn't reach a majority of the commuter routes in a do-able fashion. For example - I am a twenty-minute drive (if traffic is light) from the nearest Metro stop. I don't live in East Butt-Crack, either. I live in a major DC suburb. I have to pay to park, ($5.00) and then pay for a round-trip Metro ride to my office in Maryland (another $5.00). The Metro ride, one-way, takes another 40 minutes with a train-change. Unless I take a taxi, I have to take a bus to my actual office. That's another 30-minute commitment. So that's $10.00 for the day of travel, and 90 minutes each way if I hit all my connections just right. Carpooling holds a similar dilemma for anyone not close to a Metro station. I have a client-facing career. As such, I'm in and out of the office all day long in meetings at various locations. If the Metro went everywhere I needed it, it might be an option. But it doesn't. And given that I need my car and need to be free to travel whenever I need and to go wherever I'm required, carpooling is out. It's not my fault, Mr. Radio-Caller-Guy, and I don't have any viable options. I'll buy a hybrid as my next car, and I'm lucky that I can afford one. Many people aren't in that position - they barely make ends meet as it is and gas prices are a fixed increase that starts biting into other household-budget areas such as food. And healthcare. And other necessities. Drilling the ANWR won't solve this problem. Only aggressively and finally addressing serious steps to reduce our dependence on petroleum products will accomplish that, and that won't be quick. It's time for some creative thinking - instability in the middle east, which we have substantially increased, is in part to blame for volatile oil prices. Pat Robertson's threats to the leader of another huge oil-producing nation and the Bush Administration's subsequent non-condemnation doesn't help matters. NEWSFLASH: Seeming non-petroleum policies affect other areas of the economy, such as petroleum. This problem can't be addressed or solved or progressed with a short-attention span, band-aid approach. It's time for new leadership - we (literally) can't afford the one we have.
posted by RenaRF at 4:21 PM