Saturday, May 27, 2006

The fish rots from the head

American troops have established a well-deserved reputation for defending the USA with honor. Americans owe their troops a debt of gratitude for their service. This blogger has great respect for our troops doing their duty, even when their commander in chief leads them into an illegitimate war of choice against Iraq.

It is not our troops' place to question their orders. They must act with discipline to ensure the safety of all Americans when their leadership calls on them to defend our country. Therefore, I must be clear that I lay a large part of the blame for the loathsome developments I recount here squarely at the feet of president George W. Bush.

It seems that Bush's corrupt fascism is beginning to rot the lower ranks of the military. In the latest incident, the 3rd Battalion, 1st Marines deliberately killed some thirty Iraqi civilians in cold blood. While searching Haditha for insurgents who had planted a roadside bomb that killed a member of their unit, they sprayed a house full of innocent locals, including women and children, with bullets. One young girl lost all eight members of her family in the attack and only survived herself by playing dead after witnessing her father shot down while answering the door.

Such incidents could be expected considering that the US military is sending troops with serious psychological problems into Iraq and is keeping soldiers in combat even after superiors have been alerted to suicide warnings and other signs of mental illness. Only one of every 300 troops see a mental health professional before being deployed to Iraq even though congress ordered the military to assess the mental health of all troops. Once there, many troops on potent antidepressants and anti-anxiety drugs are commanded into combat while they are mentally unstable. All this because their commander in chief has taxed the manpower of the military to the limits with his unnecessary war in Iraq.

Amnesty International released its annual report last week. It should come as no surprise that it contained a scathing indictment of Washington's human rights record. It condemned the military's detainment of prisoners in Guantanamo Bay, Iraq, and Afghanistan without a trial. It referred to the CIA-run secret prisons as a policy of "disappearances." Because of Bush's executive actions like adding torture to the military's toolbox, the USA has the disgrace of being lumped in with countries like China, North Korea, and Russia in Amnesty International's report.

With Bush leading the military, be prepared to hear more reports of heinous acts by our troops. Although the great majority of our troops will serve with honor, sadly, some of them will be influenced by the rotten example of their commander in chief and do things to disgrace their brothers in arms.

Thursday, May 18, 2006

And then there were two

America doesn't care that the architect of the warrantless wiretapping program against American citizens, General Michael Hayden, is in hearings to be confirmed as the CIA director. America wants to know who will be the next American Idol.

I love watching the American Idol auditions. There are few things more amusing than watching people who couldn't carry a tune in a bucket, but think they're the next Carrie Underwood or Ruben Studdard, screech a song for Simon to flame. But I usually lose interest and tune out shortly after the season gets to Hollywood. This season, I'm a little embarrassed to admit that I've been following the show all the way to the bitter end.

So Tuesday night, like millions of other Americans, I was watching the show. Elliott Yamin was sharp for much of his performance -- and, no, I'm not referring to the way he was dressed. I'm referring to the notes he was hitting. That's why it came as no surprise to me that Elliott was eliminated last night. The only surprise was that it was so close. He's a fairly skilled vocalist but his vibrato is way overdone. Plus, his performance is too mechanical and lifeless.

Katharine McPhee & Taylor Hicks are also skilled vocalists but what they have going for them that Elliot didn't is that they're also talented performers. I have to agree with Simon that Katharine's rendition of Over the Rainbow was the best performance of the season. But I disagree with him that Taylor's rendition of Dancing in the Dark was only okay -- I thought he sang it better than The Boss does. Anyway, I picked Taylor to win since the first show in Hollywood. Who do you think will win?

I'm a big fan of Simon Cowell. He's quite entertaining in spite of looking like he's perpetually perturbed. Everyone boos him but he's the judge who gives the most honest, accurate, and useful feedback. Paula Abdul, on the other hand, would not have a harder time recognizing a musical scale if she were deaf -- she thinks everyone's great no matter how far out of key they are. Is it just my imagination or does she have rum in her Coke cup? It seems to me that she starts out most shows relatively lucid but is usually hammered by the last twenty minutes.

Well, I guess we won't find out who will be the next American Idol until next week. But I invite you to make your prognostication. Post a Comment and tell me who you think will win and why. While you're at it, share with me what you think of the judges.