Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Senator Ted Kennedy dies at 77

What an eventful morning already.....and it is just 5:22 AM as I start to type this. With Ramadan going on right now us Muslims wake up long before sunrise (the time for this morning was around 4:50 AM) and eat in the morning before fasting until sunset. Then I find out Senator Ted Kennedy has passed away.

Somehow today we all slept in. Somehow I missed all the text alerts that are piled up on my cell phone right now. Somehow I turned to the internet this early morning and just happened to catch a Tweet from Steve Brusk of CNN:

President Obama says "an important chapter in our history has come to an end" with the passing of Sen. Kennedy

It is an end of an era today. Since 1952 there has only been a short stretch for 2 years (1960 election until the special election in 1962) that did not have a Kennedy in the United States Senate.

The man was simply a legend. If the United States Senate had a 100 Ted Kennedy's this country would be a better place. His was a voice that held some major clout in the Senate. His was a voice that mattered. When he was giving a stopped and listened. When he endorsed Barack Obama about a year mattered. When he showed up at the Democratic Convention last mattered. The man just knew how to hold the crowd in the palm of his hands. He showed it over and over again. He spoke with passion....and his record in the United States Senate shows it.

His 3 older brothers all died at a really young age but the images we have of JFK and RFK are those of those 2 young charismatic men. We forget that if JFK was alive today he'd be 92 and if RFK was alive he'd be 84. Although not as famous as the his 3 younger brothers Joseph P. Kennedy Jr. was only 29 when he was killed. Ted was the only one of the 4 brothers to die of natural causes. Associated Press points out that there is only one living Kennedy sibling left.

"For me, a few hours ago, this campaign came to an end. For all those whose cares have been our concern, the work goes on, the cause endures, the hope still lives, and the dream shall never die."

Who can ever forget his infamous speech from the 1980 Democratic Convention?

What happens to Health Care reform now? Did it die with him this morning or do the Democrats finally wake up and unite on this. His was a voice that really could have made a big difference in the months to come. He spoke about it at the DNC Convention last year:
But we have never lost our belief that we are all called to a better country and a newer world. And I pledge to you -- I pledge to you that I will be there next January on the floor of the United States Senate when we begin the great test.

Thank you very much. Thank you. Thank you.

For me this is a season of hope -- new hope for a justice and fair prosperity for the many, and not just for the few -- new hope.

And this is the cause of my life -- new hope that we will break the old gridlock and guarantee that every American -- north, south, east, west, young, old -- will have decent, quality health care as a fundamental right and not a privilege.

We can meet these challenges with Barack Obama. Yes, we can, and finally, yes, we will.

It should never be forgotten that Ted Kennedy was one of the voices who opposed the Iraq War in 2002.

Who picks up the torch on the Left?

Barack Obama released a statement early this morning. Reports had it that he was scheduled to meet with Ted Kennedy this week.

His impact was recognized around the world. Just this year it was announced that he would receive Honorary Knighthood from Queen Elizabeth.

A Statement from President Obama:

Michelle and I were heartbroken to learn this morning of the death of our dear friend, Senator Ted Kennedy.

For five decades, virtually every major piece of legislation to advance the civil rights, health and economic well being of the American people bore his name and resulted from his efforts.

I valued his wise counsel in the Senate, where, regardless of the swirl of events, he always had time for a new colleague. I cherished his confidence and momentous support in my race for the Presidency. And even as he waged a valiant struggle with a mortal illness, I've profited as President from his encouragement and wisdom.

An important chapter in our history has come to an end. Our country has lost a great leader, who picked up the torch of his fallen brothers and became the greatest United States Senator of our time.

And the Kennedy family has lost their patriarch, a tower of strength and support through good times and bad.

Our hearts and prayers go out to them today--to his wonderful wife, Vicki, his children Ted Jr., Patrick and Kara, his grandchildren and his extended family.

His death leaves the question....who will pick up the Kennedy family torch of public service? Some would say he himself passed the torch off to Barack Obama last year.

Yes I am aware of Chappaquiddick. But like millions of others I long ago decided that the 40 years in Senate after that paint a better a picture of what the man has done for this country.

Someone has to do him justice and give him a eulogy we'll remember years from. Whether it is Barack Obama or Caroline Kennedy...someone has to fill the shoe that unfortunately we've come to know "Uncle Teddy". He buried his brothers at a young age. He eulogized his mother. He's even eulogized nephews. Always with class, always with a speech worthy of the moment.

Ted Kennedy eulogies:
Jackie Kennady Onassis.
Robert F. Kennedy

The Dream Shall Never Die.

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Thursday, August 20, 2009

Ridge says Bush era "Terror Alerts" were politcally motivated.

Surprise! Former Head of Homeland Security Tom Ridge says that the Bush government "Terror Alerts" were politically motivated.

This of course is no surprise to many like me who caught on right away. Take a look at some brilliant work Keith Olbermann has done on this in the past.

The Nexus of Politics and Terror

Olbermann's Special Comment: Chertoff's Bullshit Terror Alert

Bush administration False Terror Alerts (part one)

Bush administration False Terror Alerts (part two)

Is anyone really surprised?

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Accidental MSNBC Humor?

So I went over to just now and saw this story on the release of the Lockerbie Bomber. What caught my eye first was this picture right next to the story on MSNBC's main page. Notice what it says on the steps leading to the airplane?

MSNBC is urging to relax when boarding a plane.....right next to a story about a plane being bombed.

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Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Attention Daily Show/Colbert Report fans

At the end of tonight's Daily Show Jon Stewart said they are going on a 3 week hiatus. That pretty much means Colbert will be off for 3 weeks too. Need your help here. I don't want to just be relegated to whatever old Daily Show/Colbert Report episodes they air on TV. I want to utilize the archives they have up on their websites and dig out some classics.

Anyone have some suggestions? I'll post mine tomorrow. Give me your suggestions and I'll add them to this list too.

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Lack of recognition for National Heroes.

I haven't gone back to Pakistan in the nearly 14 years it has been since my family emigrated first to Canada and then to the United States. I was just 10 years old at the time. It is odd at times to feel a slight disconnect with the surroundings you grew up with but one thing that hasn't changed and will never change is that I am and always will be a Pakistani first. There are few things that bother me more as a Pakistani then the fact that we just don't recognize our national heroes the way we should.

The country has faced so much darkness and gloom in its short history that one would assume that the country would embrace its heroes even more. Granted it hasn't been easy to find heroes for most of our history due to the political regimes that have been around but it really is shameful that we haven't done more as a people to preserve the legacies of those who have been a beacon of hope for Pakistan.

Last night out of the blue I just happened to take the time to research the story of Rashid Minhas. It is a story that always fascinated me growing up as I just happened to grow up right off of Rashid Minhas Road in Karachi. So it was a name I did hear a lot as a young kid. Rashid Minhas was only 20 years old and a rookie pilot in the Pakistani Air Force (PAF) in 1971 just before the Civil War intensified when him and a flight instructor by the name of Matiur Rahman died when their plane crashed close to Pakistan/India border. Apparently Matiur Rahman was attempting to take advantage of the rookie pilot, hijacking the plane in an attempt to defect to India and eventually fight against what was at the West Pakistan. The story as it is told says that the young pilot, Rashid Minhas in a struggle with the flight instructor seated in the seat behind him forced the plane to go down rather then it crossing the border into enemy territory. Both men died instantly. While Rashid Minhas did get an Air Force base named after and was awarded the "Nishan-e-Haider", the highest military award in Pakistan(to this date only 10 have been awarded and he is the only member of the PAF to have received the honor) the memory is pretty much all but forgotten except for a couple of times a year. I just happened to Google some stuff on him last night and discovered that we are right at the anniversary of this incident that occurred on August 20th 1971.

Rashid Minhas by no means is the only one that hasn't received proper recognition. The problem isn't just limited to our military heroes either. Our heroes in other fields haven't been recognized either.

Dr. Abdus Salam, to this date the country's only Nobel Prize winner was forced to leave the country back in the 70s because the government chose to question his religion. Who are these people to judge?

A.Q Khan, the father of the Pakistani nuclear program was left to rot under arrest and made a "sacrificial lamb" to please the U.S. Really? Just look across the border into India and take a look at how their father of the Nuclear program is treated.

Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto, without a question was the greatest leader Pakistan ever produced. I think it is safe to assume no Muslim country in the 20th century produced a leader like that. One who united not just Pakistanis or Muslims but other so called "third world countries." Unfortunately he was overthrown and hung. Who knows how the course of history changes if that military coup didn't happen.

The same goes for the our sporting legends too. Squash players like Jahangir Khan and Jansher Khan were never truly appreciated for the legends they were in their sports. Our hockey legends of the past are a distant memory now as the National team continues to fall into oblivion. Cricket legends like Waqar Younis, Wasim Akram and Javed Miandad have never been fully utilized. While young bowlers from around the world continue to reach out to Wasim and Waqar the Pakistan board fails to utilize them. Waqar who they had under contract as a coach was treated like garbage and eventually left. Who wouldn't have?

This problem by no means is restricted to Pakistan alone. It just hurts a lot more as Pakistani when we should be reaching out and touching the beacons of hope that can hopefully guide to a better tomorrow.

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Thursday, August 06, 2009

Hiroshima & Nagasaki - Biggest acts of Terror ever

August 6th 1945. One of the darkest hours in human history. On this date the United States dropped a Nuclear bomb on Hiroshima, Japan killing about 100,000 people instantly. This was followed a couple of days later by dropping another nuclear bomb, this time on Nagasaki.

The total number of casualties is listed at over 260,000 people with Hiroshima alone accounting for almost over 200,000. Just think about that number for a little bit. The attacks of 9/11 killed 2,900 people. Now we read all sorts of stuff in our history books and even in conversation with a bunch of people. We hear and read all sorts of justifactions. None of them to me are legitimate though.

The most common one of course is that "they" attacked us first at Pearl Harbor. Fair enough. Yes, the Japanese military did attack US military bases at Pearl Harbor but using that logic since the United States started the current Iraq War it is perfectly alright for the Iraqi military to come and destroy New York and Los Angeles with nuclear bombs? Sounds silly when you put it this way right?

Another one is that the Japanese were arming their citizens and the ground war would have been bloody. Isn't that what the United States did though? Why do people forget about the draft? Somehow it is perfectly alright for one side to do it....but not the other? Kind of silly don't you think?

Another one I hear is that a ground offensive would have been deadly for both sides. Again, really silly. Over 260K people died. Anytime that many people die in one place you CAN NOT use the "saving of lives" as a justification. You sound like a fool when you do.

To this date survivors are effected by the radiation and get sick as a result of it. It is quiet easy for most Americans to dismiss Hiroshima and Nagasaki but think what the reaction would be like here to this date if that many lives had been lost here? For a while I've been calling this the biggest act of terrorism ever. This of course gets people mad. Time to look at the world from a broader perspective. What would your reaction be today if the town you lived in was struck by a Nuclear bomb that killed that many people around you? Just look at how Americans treat 9/11 and the amount of people that died that day is microscopic compared to how many died at Hiroshima and Nagasaki. The bombs served one purpose. Strike some fear into Russia in the aftermaths of World War II.

A recent Quinnipiac University Poll shows some interesting numbers in reference to what Americans currently think of the Nuclear strikes.

This country has a lot of dark moments in its history. The treatment of Native Americans, African Americans and the events of Hiroshima & Nagasaki just happen to be at the top of the list. Again....think about it.

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Tuesday, August 04, 2009

Obama's Birthday

Happy 48th Birthday to President Barack Obama and Happy 89th(!) to Helen Thomas. She has covered every American President since Kennedy. Pretty impressive.

Barack Obama dropped by the Press briefing room to wish her a Happy Birthday today.

Barack Obama's cake isn't too bad either. Picture courtesy of NBC's Savannah Guthrie

It is Obama's Birthday so be on the lookout for crazy birthers around you who should be out in full force

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Corzine Campaign Commerical

Saw a new Corzine TV advertisement yesterday. My only question is....what took so long? This commercial should have been on the air at the latest by the morning after the rally. Just what is going on at the Corzine camp? Anyone actually trying to win this thing? I was at this rally and the support there was huge. Should have capitalized on it with a campaign commercial right away. Terrible job. I blogged about it.

Corzine Commercial

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Daily Show Tapings - Monday August 3rd 2009

Finally got a chance to go to a Daily Show taping yesterday. I had tickets at one point last year but that is when the writers went on strike and the show was cancelled.

Daily Show tells you to get in line by 3:30 PM. If you ever go, be in line a lot earlier then that. They didn't even have a celebrity guest yesterday and by 3:30 all the spots were already taken. I can only imagine what happens when more famous people show up. Get there early! Even though you have an e-mail confirmation it is not enough to get you in. They overbook every show. Once you get in line with your e-mail it is first come first served. There are about 75-80 "VIP Tickets" too. I don't know how you get a hand on those. They didn't have better seats or go in a lot earlier then we did. I don't know if there are any other perks to it aside from jumping to the head of line. You can get in line and hold spots for the rest of your party of 4. The rest of your party is allowed to cut into the line if they show up by 4:30 PM. I got there at 2:30 PM and ended up being #16 in the general admission. You don't get actual tickets that you can keep as souvenirs. It is pretty much like a hall pass that you used to get in middle school to go to the bathroom. Even if you don't have tickets try getting there around 2 PM and try to be near the front of the standby line. That should give you a good enough chance at getting in. There are roughly 230 seats inside. The entire wait process is outdoors but it is a shaded area. It was kind of hot yesterday so the Daily Show staff was walking up and down the lines with cold water. There is parking lot just a block away that they direct you to in the e-mails they send. Definitely park your car there. It is only $10 if you get the Daily Show staff to stamp it for you. Well worth it. You won't find cheaper parking anywhere in Manhattan.

My one gripe with the Daily Show is when the open the gates at 5:15 PM. You go through airport style security which is understandable but they make you shut off all cameras and cell phones before you enter the studios. This was my first time attending a TV taping so I don't know if this standard practice everywhere. I understand not allowing photography while the show is going on but what is the harm in letting people take pictures before the show, during breaks or afterward? They repeatedly warned that anyone caught taking pictures would have their cameras confiscated until the end of the show and any pictures they took would be deleted. Yikes! I mean this is the Daily Show. You would think they would have caught up to the 21st I had every intention of tweeting along during the taping but as an older lady from the staff said at the entrance to the studio, and this is an exact quote "there is no tweetering allowed inside the studio." They were going as far as to have people spit out gum as they entered the studio. Really? You can come up with semi legitimate excuses for cell phones and cameras but....chewing gum? I mean this is the Daily Show. They take their cameras EVERYWHERE. Really dissapointing.

Ok, that ends the negative portion of this entry. We got great seats. It is stadium seating and we were about 3 rows up, dead center of the studio. Before the start of the taping the big globe above Jon's head instead of listing real cities lists fictional ones like "mouthear, earnose, moutheyes, etc." The warm up act was good. Got the crowd fired up and did his job. He interacted well with the audience. He had to stall for a bit as Jon Stewart took a while to come out. When he did finally come out he got one HUGE ovation. There were people in the audience not only from different parts of the country but the world as well. Illinois and Indiana had representation there. The international flavor was even more. There were people there from Zimbabwe, New Zealand, Kuwait and Oman. He does a little Q&A session before the show to get a feel for the crowd. He was even funnier off camera then he is during the show. He asked if everyone had waited outside for hours and then added "I'm sorry but it definitely isn't worth it." He answered the questions well even though some of them were really awkward and bizarre. Someone asked him if Stephen Colbert and him were having an affair since they always take vacations at the same time. Oh boy. Jon did handle the question with class saying "calling it an affair cheapens it." He was asked whether he planned on taking his show to Iraq or Afghanistan like Colbert did. At first he replied he wouldn't because he was scared but on a serious note went on to add that he would do USO tours but that taking the show there for a week is a really difficult task. He mentioned that he does show in Washington for military families all the time. He was asked about the recent internet poll that showed him to be the most trusted man in America. This question was approved by the audience by another huge ovation. He laughed it off saying he considered himself a "joke answer" on the poll. He said it was the internet. He said he was surprised he didn't get 98% of the vote on that poll saying a lot of drunks on the internet voted for him. He was asked to name his favorite guest and said he enjoys it with comedians like Dennis Leary and others he's toured with come on because he gets to have more fun with them. He was asked which celebrity/guest was a total "dick". He jokingly said Desmond Tutuu. He didn't name anyone in particular but said some actresses he has interviewed were just awkward interviews.

There are a ton of microphones in the audience right above the seats. I have heard a few people mention the lady with the funny laugh on twitter in reference to last nights shows. Anyone who really laughs out loud would be heard on the show because there are that many microphones. I have to mention that Jon Stewart's desk is definitely a lot smaller then it looks on TV. They play a lot of music while you wait before the show and during the commercial breaks. Jon played along during the breaks using his pens as drumsticks. At the end of the show on TV they showed Jon going to the back but he did come right back out to thank the audience and invited everyone back to the show saying "it is fun." Slight dissapointment since none of correspondents were actually there and they didn't check in with Stephen Colbert at the end either since by all accounts this Daily Show taping was running a few minutes behind schedule I would say that the taping started around 6:15-6:25 PM ET. We were out of the studios by 7:10 PM eastern giving them a little less then 4 hours to have the finished product ready to air for the east coast viewers. I have to say there wasn't much editing. What you saw air was pretty much what they taped last night. Even the graphics which I assumed were added later were visible to us on the many big screen TVs that hung around the studios.

So in a matter of 2.5 weeks I've attended a Barack Obama rally and a Daily Show taping? Not bat at all. Wouldn't you agree? Again, only complaint is that they need to catch up to the 21st century but overall a great experience. Go and book your tickets at the Daily Show's website. I am looking forward to going back again soon. Looking to do Colbert's show too.

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Watch the show:
Master Rebators
The Daily Show With Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c
Master Rebators
Daily Show
Full Episodes
Political HumorSpinal Tap Performance

Master Rebators - The Crank Cycle
The Daily Show With Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c
Master Rebators - The Crank Cycle
Daily Show
Full Episodes
Political HumorSpinal Tap Performance

Thank You, South Carolina!
The Daily Show With Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c
Thank You, South Carolina!
Daily Show
Full Episodes
Political HumorSpinal Tap Performance

Ronald Kessler
The Daily Show With Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c
Ronald Kessler
Daily Show
Full Episodes
Political HumorSpinal Tap Performance

Moment of Zen - A Squirrel Gets Stuck
The Daily Show With Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c
Moment of Zen - A Squirrel Gets Stuck
Daily Show
Full Episodes
Political HumorSpinal Tap Performance

As always you can leave a comment here, reach me by e-mail or contact me via Twitter.

The Daily Show with Jon Stewart - Indecision 2004The Daily Show with Jon Stewart Presents America (The Book) Teacher's Edition: A Citizen's Guide to Democracy InactionIn the President's Secret Service: Behind the Scenes with Agents in the Line of Fire and the Presidents They Protect
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