People who say it cannot be done should not interrupt those who are doing it. Welcome to From On High.

Wednesday, February 23, 2005

9/11 Update

The news regarding 9/11 continues to bring only more sorrow. From the Associated Press:

Forensics at New York's Ground Zero Ends

NEW YORK (AP) - The medical examiner's office has largely ended its effort to identify the remains of those killed at the World Trade Center on Sept. 11, 2001, leaving more than a thousand victims unidentified.

"They told us they've exhausted all current technologies for identifications," Diane Horning, who lost her 26-year-old son, Matthew, said Wednesday.

Horning said the medical examiner's office called her Tuesday morning.

The forensic effort failed to identify any remains of more than 1,100 victims, or almost half of the 2,749 who died there.

Since the attacks 3 1/2 years ago, the medical examiner's office identified nearly 1,600 victims, although progress had slowed considerably in recent months. Since September, only eight victims have been identified. A few inconclusive tests are still pending that could yield a couple of more identifications, they told families.

The city has about 10,000 unidentified bone and tissue fragments that cannot be matched to the list of the dead. (link)
Make that sorrow and plenty of anger. Still. After all this time.

Where Have the Republicans Gone?

Another tax-cutting Republican is proposing a tax increase. I must have died and slipped into a different dimension.

Tax-Cutting Ind. Governor Proposes Hike

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) - Gov. Mitch Daniels proudly displays a samurai sword in his office, a remnant of the days when President Bush nicknamed him "The Blade" for his prowess in cutting taxes and federal spending.

But now the former White House budget director - and Indiana's first Republican governor since 1988 - has proposed a one-year tax increase to slice away at the state's $645 million deficit.

Critics say the move contradicts not only Daniels' reputation as a fiscal conservative, but GOP tradition itself.

"This is the fastest any governor claiming to be a Reagan Republican has folded under the pressure of big-spending interests," said Grover Norquist, president of Americans for Tax Reform, a conservative group that in 2002 hailed Daniels as its "strongest ally in the administration."

The Wall Street Journal, in a recent editorial titled "Mitch the Knife," chastised Daniels for his "pocketbook raid," saying Republican governors in states such as Maryland and Texas have closed larger budget gaps than Daniels faces without raising taxes. (link)

Two things are becoming clear.

(1) Republicans favor tax cuts and will fight to the death to bring them about.

(2) In the face of mushrooming spending initiatives, Republicans are prepared to renounce number (1).

Mitch Daniels is yet another coward. Throw him to the trash heap of history with the rest of the politicians who have duped their constituents.

A Miserable Human Being

I celebrated the passing of Hunter S. Thompson on Monday with the quip that he and I are finally in agreement about something; his life was a waste and wasn't worth living. He put a gun to his head and blew his brains out. Finally.

For those of you not familiar with this literary genius and deviant icon, let me provide some detail and insight. I quote here a passage cited by Henry Allen for the Washington Post, a man who considers Thompson to be a hero of his - my - generation.
"It has been raining a lot recently. Quick thunderstorms and flash floods . . . lightning at night and fear in the afternoon. People are worried about electricity.

"Nobody feels safe. Fires burst out on dry hillsides, raging out of control, while dope fiends dance in the rancid smoke and animals gnaw each other. Foreigners are everywhere, carrying pistols and bags of money. There are rumors about murder and treachery and women with no pulse. Crime is rampant and even children are losing their will to live.

"The phones go dead and power lines collapse, whole families plunged into darkness with no warning at all. People who used to be in charge walk around wall-eyed, with their hair standing straight up on end, looking like they work for Don King, and babbling distractedly about their hearts humming like stun guns and trying to leap out of their bodies like animals trapped in bags." (From Hunter S. Thompson's "Songs of the Doomed -- More Notes on the Death of the American Dream") (link)
Drivel. Meaningless drug-induced nonsense. A hero to my generation.

No. My generation will, for sure, be remembered for having produced as its poster children, soulless, mindless, directionless, amoral individuals like Hunter S. Thompson. But that doesn't mean there isn't a huge segment of the 60's generation out here screaming, "That is not who we are!" Or ever were. Hunter S. Thompson is no more representative of my life than was Janis Joplin or Jimmy Hendricks or Jim Morrison. Or the Beatles. They were glorified by the press and by a good number of east-coasters. But many millions of us rejected their hedonism and drug-centered culture even in those days.

So. Let Henry Allen sing the praises of a man who will be - who is already forgotten. I'll continue to denounce him and his kind. I'll not mourn the passing of Hunter S. Thompson. I celebrate his final parting. The world - and particularly my generation - are better off for it.

A Revolution In The Middle East

For all those who see no connection - or who choose to deny one - between the war on terror and the battle taking place in Iraq, the unfolding drama in Beirut is just one more indication that President Bush is transforming the middle east. First came the overthrow of the Taliban in Aghanistan, then the ousting of Saddam Hussein. Then, without a shot being fired into Tripoli, Moammar Ghaddafi surrendered his nuclear weapons-making materiale in Libya. Now we are witnessing a revolution in its infancy in Lebanon.

David Ignatius, writing for the Washington Post, sees the significance.

Over by the Martyr's Monument, Lebanese students have built a little tent city and are vowing to stay until Syria's 15,000 troops withdraw. They talk like characters in "Les Miserables," but their revolutionary bravado is the sort of force that can change history. "We have nothing to lose anymore. We want freedom or death," says Indra Hage, a young Lebanese Christian.

"We're going to stay here, even if soldiers attack us," says Hadi Abi Almouna, a Druze Muslim. "Freedom needs sacrifices, and we are ready to give them."

Brave words, in a country where dissent has often meant death. "It is the beginning of a new Arab revolution," argues Samir Franjieh, one of the organizers of the opposition. "It's the first time a whole Arab society is seeking change -- Christians and Muslims, men and women, rich and poor."

The leader of this Lebanese intifada is Walid Jumblatt, the patriarch of the Druze Muslim community and, until recently, a man who accommodated Syria's occupation. But something snapped for Jumblatt last year, when the Syrians overruled the Lebanese constitution and forced the reelection of their front man in Lebanon, President Emile Lahoud. The old slogans about Arab nationalism turned to ashes in Jumblatt's mouth, and he and Hariri openly began to defy Damascus.

"It's strange for me to say it, but this process of change has started because of the American invasion of Iraq," explains Jumblatt. "I was cynical about Iraq. But when I saw the Iraqi people voting three weeks ago, 8 million of them, it was the start of a new Arab world." Jumblatt says this spark of democratic revolt is spreading. "The Syrian people, the Egyptian people, all say that something is changing. The Berlin Wall has fallen. We can see it." (link)

There are still a huge number of Americans - including the entire Democratic Party, who are unable to grasp the significance of the changes taking place in this most unsettled area of the world. For the first time in my lifetime, there is the possibility for peace.

A president launching a revolution. A wonder to behold.