Greet The Mess
First, a few observations. I'll keep it short for the front page, and go into detail on the back.
George W. Bush screwed up when he snubbed the NAACP invitation to speak, which is the best explanation of why he appeared before the Urban League the other day. Despite assurances among the conservative bloggers that I've read that the NAACP is of no importance, someone (Rove?) decided that the Black voter is VERY important, and Bush should not surrender that vote lightly. Thus the appearance - but his demeanor while speaking was uncertain and tenative - like he was begging for a chance.
Barack Obama is going to be a hot speaker on Tuesday Night - DON'T MISS HIM! If he's as sharp as he appears to be (and Tim Russert treated him with a great deal of respect, maybe even admiration!), he's going to be very important for the future of our nation.
BP (formerly British Petroleum) ran a VERY interesting ad just as the show opened. If they are serious, I'm impressed - favorably.
Despite my critical comments concerning the 9/11 commission in another post, Kean and Lee Hamilton have a lot to say that should be heard.
And lastly, Tom Brokaw has some comments about the upcoming election.
Russert asked Obama about the recent comment campaign of Bill Cosby, and Obama said that he agrees whith the principle behind Cosby's comments, which are that America needs to turn off the TV and get over the anti-intellectualism that plagues this nation.
This is where I began to respect Obama, and if he's true to his words, he is going to be a big influence in this country. Anti-intellectualism ('It's cool to be a fool', C+ is OK) is one of the reasons that this nation is in the mess it is. We aren't making the right decisions because we can't determine for ourselves what the right choices are.
We are complacent, and expect someone else to carry that weight.
One of Obama's main points, presented as in agreement with Cosby's outspoken principles, is that we need to restore a sense of personal responsibility in the American citizen. We need to be promoting education at least as hard as we are promoting consumerism.
Personally, I think that we need to promote education a lot more than that, but that's my opinion!
What really struck me about Obama is how he fed the issues away from himself as the focus of current interest into the positions of John F. Kerry. He's very good at team playing, and the political favors he will be owed are mounting daily. When it's time for him to call all of these favors back in,he will be a political force to be reckoned with. We just might see him as the first minority VP candidate at some point. Maybe even the Presidential candidate.
BP's commercial at the beginning of the show was an eye opener. Taking more notice of the future oil shortages than the (mis)Administration of George Warmonger Bush, they were presenting their activities in the fields of natural gas and solar power as replacements for energy sources that currently use petroleum - by using a 'concerned consumer' asking 'tough' questions about the future sources of energy.
I applaud this commercial for these reasons:
1) It's realistic that corporations begin to think about what to do now that it's obvious that petroleum is a dying industry. Resources are finite and dwindling as demand increases. The smart firms are already planning their withdrawal from petroleum, as evidently BP is.
2) People need to be led into the New Energy Future. They need to see that changes are going to come, which will make acceptance and participation in these changes more likely.
I'd much rather that people pursued these changes more proactively as individuals, for they would thus have more of a say in how this New Energy Future is configured, but as we are complacent, ...
Chairman Thomas Kean and Vice-Chair Lee Hamilton are the Paul Revere and Billy Dawes of our age, and I don't say this mockingly. Having begun to read the commission's report I can see where they are coming from, and the danger they warn of is very real, and the shortcomings of governmental agencies on 9/11 (I haven't yet gotten to that part of the report) are in may cases still unresolved.
Kean agreed with Russert that if all of the defenses were performed as intended, there was a very good chance that the 9/11 attacks would never have happened. But as terrorism 'was not a concern' of any adminstration prior to the attacks ('no one had put all the facts together'), opportunities to deter any specific threat weren't taken, and Al Qaeda grew in numbers and capability. US government actions to deter terrorism that were taken didn't affect Al Qaeda at all.
Hamilton added that no one in the government could conceive of how much America is hated in some places. (This is still the case as I tried to point out in a recent post.) Any such knowledge was distracted by the Clinton Impeachment proceedings, but Kean claimed that no one felt there was much need for attention on the terrorism issue, as 'actionable' intelligence was lacking.
This was defined as information about Osama was so solid that it could not be ignored, and that there would be a clear justification to taking certain countermeasures, including attacking Bin Laden personally. Without any such information, it was feared that if a cruise missile went off-course and injured or killed innocents, it would cause more damage to the US than it cured. It was for this reason that Sandy Berger nixed any attackes on Bin Laden when he did - there just wasn't sufficiently definitve proof.
Both chairmen felt that the Berger incident did not in any way jeopardize the integrity of the final report. Hamilton insisted that they had seen every document that pertained to 9/11 in their entirety, so whatever Berger was about was of no importance to the report.
They also insist that there is no reason to attack Iran (or Iraq, for that matter) for any contacts they might have had with Al Qaeda, for neither country assisted, or even knew, about the 9/11 attack plans. This should water down Bush's recent contentions about Iran!
Both men emphasized that the nation is still at great risk, and that it is really important that America take action on the commission's recommendations to fix the problems that were found to exist, for the danger to the nation grows daily. But contrary to BushCo contentions, the American people are the first line of defense in any case - as the United 93 passengers demonstrated - and not any law affecting our civil rights.
They are sure that another attack is going to happen because Al Qaeda has demonstrated intent, capability, and an environment for action. By environment, they referred to a recent Zogby poll of Egyptians about their attitudes toward the United States. 98% of those surveyed expressed hostility toward America. But this is why Al Qaeda will strike again - because they can count on popular Arab and Muslim support.
Still, I have some concerns that the commission's recommendations are too 'Last War', but the Chairmen radiate what I call Apparent Sincerity, in which their words ring true, and their demeanor while speaking does too. It all makes sense, and their intentions are honest (as near as i can judge, anyway). So I take them at their word - I sense no political axes being ground.
Every American needs to read this report and push for action where it's called for (and to push for an alternate course of remedy where it's not - read 'USA PATRIOT Act' here).
Now if we weren't complacent, ...
TOM BROKAW'S OBSERVATIONS
MSNBC polled American voters and found support for the candidates solidfying in predictable ways. The GOP is going 93% for Bush while the Dems are only 86% for John F. Kerry. Brokaw felt that Thursday night's acceptance speech by Kerry is going to be crucial to his chances of victory, as the poll showed that Bush would just barely defeat Kerry were the election to be held today. The reasons, as Brokaw saw it, were that Kerry is still an unknown to many people, and they don't know whether or not to support him. He has yet to establish a 'comfort level' with the people.
Kerry seems to recognize this, for as he said in a clip that Russert showed of an interview between Kerry and Brokaw, he needs to show his strength and loyalty to the nation, and that he will present his plans for the future. Even Edwards is commenting on this, for he stated that they must define themselves to the American people.
Brokaw summed up by making the observation that American voter nerves are raw, and that a desire for change is evident. Opinions on the economy, the WMD claims for war in Iraq, and the handling of that war, are all in negative territory for Bush.
"It's going to come down to a few voters in a few states," declared Brokaw.
Now, if complacency wasn't our middle name, ...