Warning – warning – warning - this part is not about Las Vegas, but contains some inane ramblings about politics and politicians. If you are here to read about my time in Las Vegas then please skip this section. If you are a Republican, then I do not apologize. Feel free to go elsewhere for your own rhetoric. I just felt I had to say something, even if it doesn’t fit here.
I missed our president’s speech this evening (yes, on purpose) and instead watched the French news. We are Cox cable subscribers, and in order to get their high speed internet access they require that you purchase their digital TV services. When we signed up we had the option to get two special groupings, or ‘tiers’; we signed up for the Variety and Movie tiers. As part of this we get BBC America, which we watch quite often as I am taken by the accent and attitude (yes, a Monty Python and Benny Hill fanatic from way back) as well as the International Channel. Part of the International Channel are music videos from India and Japan – these are quite interesting to watch and quite different than ‘my’ MTV. India seems to enjoy having large masses of background singers and dancers all moving in coordinated syncopation, unseen since the days of Busby Berkeley and his Gold Diggers of 1933. The Japanese girl bands appear to be filled with young women all about twelve years old, holding guitars larger than they are.
Anyway, some shows on the International Channel are news shows from around the world. I do not watch the Italian, Spanish or Chinese shows, as I do not understand these languages and they are not subtitled in English. The BBC news is in English, well at least in English not in American. I do not speak French either, but really enjoyed the country when we visited a few years ago. I did take French back in junior high school, and can still remember some phrases from the little skits they had us memorize (Bonjour John, como va tu?). But the French news does have English subtitles, so I can read my way through somewhat. The BBC news, coming from a country that agrees with us on Iraq tends to carry stories that are very similar to those on American networks. The French however disagree with America on many things (hey, I still eat French Fries, not Freedom Fries) and so their news tends to present a different side to stories.
But I did catch the Nightly NewsHour with Jim Lehrer, formerly known as the McNeil/Lehrer report. They came on after the Presidential Press Conference and did an analysis of it. It was an abbreviated News Hour, actually a News Half-Hour, and so missed some regular segments.
One of the segments that was not shown is an item that I consider to be the most disgusting segment on television today. This is their almost nightly list of American soldiers killed in Iraq. I find it rather horrifying to sit in silence and watch that list of names and photographs flow by – ‘age 18, age 22, age 19, age 19, age 35, …’ Two days ago it was sixteen (SIXTEEN – SIXTEEN say it again, Joe, SIXTEEN) individuals that died recently. We were outside and I did not catch the number yesterday, but came in in time to see the faces again. I do not see this on any other TV show and wonder why things like this do not fall under the FCC guidelines of indecency, which should require censure. If Howard Stern can be shut off the air for bad words, shouldn’t other shows be shut down because of bad news? Their web site lists combat injuries and has a scoreboard with the number that have died, currently sitting at 671 before and after May 1, 2003 which is I guess some magical day that all hostilities ceased and everything became roses and butterflies. Not to mention the 3,269 wounded that did not die (yet). Those are American numbers, not covering our ‘allies’ or Iraqis.
But I guess if anyone should be shut down by the FCC for indecency it should be our (not my, don’t accuse me of voting for him) president George W. Bush.
I find it really hard to sit and watch those names and faces scroll by and realize that there is little I can do to change things. Evidently at his press conference tonight he discussed having a long hard road in Iraq, and we will be there for a long time. WHY? If we went to relieve the world from a vicious brutal dictator then Sadam is gone, let us give the country over to it’s people and let them decide how to live and let our soldiers come home and die in auto accidents like they are supposed to. (It’s my blog, I can say anything I want to – go ahead and put your comments in, I’ll ignore or agree as I wish.) I just don’t feel that is our duty as Americans to bring Democracy (big D Democracy) to the world. ‘You do as I want you to do or I’ll bomb you until you do’. How many must die on both sides because our politicians feel it is The American Way to lead the world? They finally stopped saying we were being saved from ‘Weapons of Mass Destruction’ and moved on to ‘bringing Democracy to the middle East’. Please. Millions more were killed in African uprisings, but there is no oil in Africa, hence no American soldiers to be killed there. A whole continent given up.
I stopped believing politicians a long time ago. I was in the Navy during Viet Nam. I got to float around on an aircraft carrier (the USS Ranger in this instance) and repair the weapons systems on A7 aircraft. The A7 had a pretty sophisticated computer for the time, you could program in multiple fly over spots, aim points, and targets and a map display would guide you right there. Since all of the targets were secret the pilots would program in their points after getting in the plane, then erase them when they came back. I got to test the systems and insured that they would work, and watch the ammunition guys load the guns and bombs. One day I remember seeing our president Nixon on TV, emphatically stating that WE WERE NOT BOMBING NORTH VIET NAM. An hour later I was testing out returning airplanes and found that some pilots had failed to clear the computers and delete their targeting information. I pressed the first target, and what popped up on the map but Haiphong harbor, right in that NORTH VIET NAM that our president (didn't vote for that one either, wasn't old enough to) said we were not bombing. LIAR, LIAR, PANTS ON FIRE. I know the plane left with 16,000 pounds of bombs, and didn't come back with them, so I think they were left behind someplace. I don't think our pilots, and their briefers, were doing this on their own without official guidance. Haven't believed a politician since.
The least the Nightly NewsHour with Jim Lehrer can do is stop showing us this list of names so that we can support the war in ignorance.
OK, you can start reading again. Rant over. Back to Las Vegas –
Here’s a shot looking east down Desert Inn towards the strip. You can’t see it very well, but dead center (don’t bring it up again) is the ‘cloud’ in front of Fashion Show Mall. (Don’t get mad at me for the music if you click on the link, it’s not my page.) Behind it is the new Wynn Las Vegas still under construction. There is no page for Wynn, but here are Las Vegas webcams so you can see around town, if they are working.
This is the view I have when I come back from my local Von’s. It’s about four miles from here down to the strip – straight down as you can see. The ‘cloud’ is a big silver disk (it looks like a flying saucer) that is right on Las Vegas Boulevard (the Strip) in front of the Fashion Show Mall. Advertisements are projected on the bottom and across the face of the center. When I leave Von’s there is a big sports park on the right (photos in some future column) and this view straight ahead.