Saturday, February 07, 2004

Code Whatever

Orcinus poses an interesting question: Why hasn't the Department of Homeland Security changed the terror color code to reflect the fact that ricin was discovered in the Dirksen Building's mailroom? Could it be that the whole color code is...a crock? Code Orange, Code Green, whatever--your tax dollars at work.

Neiwert's post is lengthy, but worth reading in full.
Acting 'Residential'

Update(7:00pm) Here's a link to a CNN article that likewise notes the contradictions between Condolezza Rice's statements regarding terrorists using planes as weapons, and the fact that such concerns had been discussed extensively among intelligence and security professionals.

Atrios asks the question "How will Bush actually campaign?" I've been thinking the same thing. From the looks of it, the answer seems to be "as little as possible."

The fact is that Bush is an incredibly weak candidate, and this is reflected on the stump. The "War on Terror" is simply a convenient excuse for the Resident to limit public appearances. The convention was deliberately scheduled later than ever before, and it wouldn't surprise me if Rove manages to somehow keep Bush from debating.

All of Bush's "public" appearances to date have consisted of heavily vetted audiences--and, as we all know, protesters are relegated to "free speech" zones which make a mockery of the First Amendment.

I expect that we'll see a LOT of mud slinging, courtesy of Ed Gillespie and the RNC. Bush himself will do little more than come out "strongly in favor of freedom," while his underlings relentlessly spit out a litany of charges against whoever the Democrats nominate. The real question will be how the media covers the campaign. If they actually report the facts, as opposed to playing the "is Bush 'presidential?' game, there will be real trouble for the Administration.

Interestingly, CBS, broadcasting as I type, reports yet more record voter turnouts in primaries and caucuses, while noting Bush's declining poll numbers. And, wow, they're now saying--finally--that at least a dozen warnings about hijackers using planes as weapons were recorded in the seven years prior to 2001. Duh. They've contrasted this with the statement by Condolezza Rice in 2002 when she said that no one could have expected something like the attack. Hmmn. Of course, this is Saturday--when news is buried.

Meanwhile Bush himself will be coddled by Tim Russert tomorrow, and plans to attend the Daytona 500, thus continuing a trend I first read about in Fear and Loathing on the Campaign Trail (If I remember right, it was George Wallace that hit the track). I expect Bush will get a better reception than Bill Clinton received in Darlington back in 1992, although it will be interesting to see just what he actually does while at the race.

All in all, though, Bush will have trouble with classic campaigning. He did poorly in 2000, only "winning" thanks to an ongoing media body slam on Gore (who, to be fair, was not exactly a charismatic candidate either), the systematic disenfranchisement of voters in Florida, and a decision by the Supreme Court that Vincent Bugliosi likened to treason. Bush "exceeded expectations" in the television debates by managing to speak in more or less complete sentences, but he made several notable gaffes on the trail, including calling Adam Clymer an asshole, and somehow managing to forget that Social Security was a federal program. Additionally there was his failure to come clean on a drunk driving conviction, and this year the spotlight might finally be brought to bear on his military record (click the link and scroll down).

I expect that Rove will do what any small animal does when cornered: hiss and show his teeth. But remember that this is a sign that the animal is afraid...
Festival Terroriste

Timshel must have posted this just around the time I found his blog--Opelousas certainly knows how to, uh, celebrate, I guess.

I just want to know if C.J.Chenier provided the background music.

Friday, February 06, 2004

I Always Knew I'd be Pressing Plates One Day

From Library Chronicles, I clicked on Aaron's homepage, and came across this:

ACME License Maker

I'm being lazy, so I'm not putting a link to a 1994 Louisiana plate which reads BushSux, but I think you get the picture...

And, for the record, the REAL Louisiana license plate has a central design produced by none other than my own sister, in her capacity as a graphic artist for a Lafayette-based advertising firm. Check it out. She also gets credit for the title of this post, which was what she mentioned to me when commenting on her work.
Iraq n' Roll

Remind Us: Why Did The United States Invade Iraq? This came from TalkLeft. The link is html, but from there you need to click on one of the mirror sites--which brings up a Flash presentation.

In a related story, Bush named the members of the Iraq intelligence panel today, who've been charged with, to paraphrase Fanatical Apathy, finding out "what Bush didn't know and when didn't he know it."

And, if you prefer high farce, check out this exchange recorded by TalkingPointsMemo--seems as if some folks, including our President and his spokesperson, have, to paraphrase Marvin Gaye, a one track mind: Too Busy Thinking About Saddam Hussein...
Dick Duck Season

The Island of Balta noted the Cheney/Scalia duck hunt, and, being from Louisiana, I couldn't pass up a comment or two.

First, here's a link to a State map, where anyone interested can get a general idea of where the Veep and the Justice went to kill stuff (please note: I have nothing against hunting, per se--if that's how you recreate, fine. I just hope that if you do hunt, you eat what you kill, or at least cull animals like nutria--I suppose that Cheney and Scalia didn't select nutria as a matter of professional courtesy). Anyway, from the map link, choose to locate by longitude and latitude--Amelia is at 29.7 N, 91.3 W. From there, zoom in to your heart's content.

Dick and Antonin were the guests of Wallace Carline, owner of Diamond Services Corp., an oilfield services company.

Check out the link to Balta, and, if you don't mind submitting an email address, you can subscribe to the Los Angeles Times, which has more.

Interestingly, the area that Cheney and Scalia were in has at least one Superfund site--not that they apparently give a damn.
Internal Struggle

Whiskey Bar has a very good post on the decision of the Massachusetts Supreme Court regarding gay and lesbian marriage. He likens the controversy, correctly, to the civil rights struggles of the 1950s and 1960s: what stance should a progressive person take? To support gay and lesbian marriage right now will play into the hands of the Cro-Magnons that run the Republican Party; to suggest waiting until the political scene is safer is copping out.

Civil Rights, without a doubt, drove a gigantic wedge between various factions within the Democratic party during the previous generation--in exchange for the most important victory this generation has seen in the ongoing struggle for individual freedom and dignity, the progressive agenda has been sabotaged by the sinister coalition of Southern racists and Republican monied interests. Call it what you will--the Southern Strategy, the Reagan coalition, whatever--but, as much as possible, this alliance has attempted to gut the gains made since the New Deal.

Medicare is now on the slippery slope, thanks to terrible legislation. And, if economic trends continue, Grover Norquist's dream of strangling the "baby" will become all too real.

So, what battles should progressives fight, and when should we fight them? That is part and parcel to a larger trend I've noticed of late: for instance, in the battle against the war in Iraq, has made some very good points--that said, they represent Pat Buchanan-type libertarianism. The Black Commentator writes about Al Sharpton working with far-right consultant Roger Stone, becoming, in his words, "a hapless stooge of the worst elements of the GOP," although, a few paragraphs later, Tucker Carlson is quoted as noting that "[Stone and Sharpton are motivated by a] disdain for white liberals."

Ten years ago, Bill Clinton allied himself against the interests of the working class when he embraced NAFTA, while Ross Perot, not exactly a civil libertarian, embraced a populist position against the legislation. And, lest we forget, is there any more bizarre of a coalition than the one cobbled together by the GOP? Racist white Southerners, the religious wackos, and Wall Street working together? How weird is that?

Without trying to waste too much space, I think the next ten years or so could become most interesting--the traditional factions comprising the Democratic and Republican parties could very well get rearranged in a shuffle--look at Soros, for instance. Ten, fifteen years ago, there's no way this guy would be trying to throw a Republican out of office. Same with the Buchananites. Additionally, the Racists and Religious Zanies in the GOP are, I believe, sick and tired of being told to wait for their own extreme agenda to be adopted (one reason why I think they'll be pushing HARD for Bush--he's their last chance).

So, again, do progressives wait until the deck has been shuffled? If so, what about the very real issues facing the country--as Billmon notes, a "Defense of Marriage" amendment would be the first since Prohibition to LIMIT freedom. On the other hand, legalization of gay marriage RIGHT NOW might be the one thing that would motivate the yahoos to the extent that any progessive agenda could be buried under an avalanche of "moral values" legislation pushed forth by a revitalized right-wing movement...

Just thinking out loud...

Thursday, February 05, 2004

On a Break from Chores

Orcinus has some additional information on Lt. AWOL. He further links to The Daily Howler and Salon for more. If you don't have a subscription to Salon, I encourage you to click through the ad and check it out.

The Republican spin cycle will attempt to do several things to control the damage--all involve selective disregard for the truth. First, they'll claim that this has previously been investigated and found to be groundless. That's not true. Second, they will attempt to attack anyone for even bringing it up. This could could be effective, as the press routinely allows itself to be cowed into submission. If this becomes "merely" an attack by the Democrats, it will be spun as "partisan bickering" (funny, though, how the press will repeat Republican attack points without EVER noting the "partisan" nature of the attacks). Finally, if this does get the attention it deserves, an all out effort will be made to dismiss the allegation as "thirty year old news." Damn, I can't find the link, but I've seen at least one story that pushes the idea that young voters won't care about something that happened back in the 70's.

But the spin point that the Democrats MUST make is that this goes directly to character. The fact that Bush will not release his military records--just like he won't release relevant records to the 9/11 Commission, just like he won't release records from Cheney's energy task force that show the close relationship between this administration and Enron, just like he won't release records relating to how intelligence was stovepiped to justify the Iraq war--this demonstrates a pattern of behavior that is anathema to genuine representative democracy.

And that's why, IMO, we're seeing record voter turnouts thus far: the American public is sick and tired of being taken for a fool--especially when lives are being lost for no reason overseas, and money is being dumped by the truckload into no-bid crony contracts...

(Took a break from trying to fix a leaking pipe. Back to plumbing...)
Posting Later

Trying to fix a plumbing problem right now...not exactly fun work.

Wednesday, February 04, 2004


Timshel posted this today, and to be fair, I should note it. John Breaux is a Blue Dog Democrat who I voted for in 1986 when he defeated the truly awful Henson Moore--once again, a lesser of two evils if there ever was one.

To be realistic, I've never expected much from the Senator, and he certainly hasn't let me down in that respect. And, as far as his possible resignation to take the post of lobbyist for the MPAA--once again, you've got a Congressman collecting the big bucks as a lifetime achievement award for pandering to the monied interests anyway. In a sense, good riddance.

CrawlingWestward, though, has a good point. If Breaux will resign right now (and he'd have good reason to do so), Governor Blanco could appoint Chris John (or anyone else) to the seat, which would be an excellent means of generating statewide name recognition before the general election in 2004--and, better yet, could put some hurt on David Vitter, Republican from Metarie.

Republican from Metarie--what else do you need to say?
Donald Rumsfeld, Space Cadet

From the Big Lies it any wonder that we criticize the idiot Bush Administration as the most dishonest ever when Rumsfeld--with a straight face--comes out with crap like this?

Rumsfeld offered several examples of what he called "alternative views" about why no weapons have been discovered in Iraq, starting with the possibility that banned arms never existed.

"I suppose that's possible, but not likely," he said.

Other possibilities cited by Rumsfeld:

• Weapons may have been transferred to a third country before U.S. troops arrived in March.

• Weapons may have been dispersed throughout Iraq and hidden.

• Weapons existed but were destroyed by the Iraqis before the war started.

Or, Rumsfeld postulated, "small quantities" of chemical or biological agents may have existed, along with a "surge capability" that would allow Iraq to rapidly build an arsenal of banned weapons. Commenting on that possibility, Rumsfeld said, "We may eventually find it in the months ahead."

Lastly, he offered the possibility that the issue of Iraqi weapons of mass destruction "may have been a charade" orchestrated by the Iraqi government. It is even possible, he said, that Saddam was "tricked" by his own people into believing he had banned weapons that did not exist.

Sen. Edward Kennedy, D-Massachusetts, and other Democrats on the committee reminded Rumsfeld that in September 2002 he said "we know" where weapons of mass destruction are stored in Iraq.

Explaining that remark, Rumsfeld told the panel that he was referring to suspected weapons sites, but he acknowledged that he had made it sound like he was talking about actual weapons.

The remark "probably turned out not to be what one would have preferred, in retrospect," he said.
You Want Fries With That?

My archives don't work that well (later, I'll check the settings) but I posted something a while back linking over to Counterpunch--an article written by Dave Louthan, the person who killed the cow that tested positive for BSE aka Mad Cow Disease.

Looks like the mainstream press has picked up on Louthan's story. Of course, they can't resist the opportunity to give him the media treatment. Check out the article (and, if you feel like it, link over to Counterpunch--you should be able to search their site using Louthan's name). See the difference?

The New York Times: All the Mud That's Fit to Sling.
Several Items of Interest

At Bad Attitudes today. Everything from cybergate (yet another scandal that the lap-dog, sheeplike, SCLM media won't cover), to Texas Justice (why let schizophrenia get in the way of letting a guy defend himself in a murder trial, especially when he's goddamned crazy to boot? And being crazy is no bar to getting the needle in the Lone Star State).

Finally, poor old Bill Janklow has to go to night-jail for three whole months. He's lucky he only killed a human being. If it'd been a cat, who knows how many nights of jail he'd have to serve...

About a month or so ago I came across this interview with Tony Kushner in Mother Jones. Again, for reasons of full disclosure, Kushner was a high school teacher of mine, and I credit him with forcing me to think--really think--about politics, history, lit., and so on.

I posted the same excerpt you see below--but it's worth a second look, I think, in light of A.B.B. getting closer and closer to being either Kerry, Edwards, or, much less likely, General Clark.

Kushner is an unrepentant socialist--but this doesn't prevent him from stressing that he'd even vote for Joe Lieberman if that's what it took to send Bush to perma-retirement (to paraphrase Bad Attitudes). Fortunately, Joh for Seven fell on his political sword last night, although we'll still have him to kick around in the US Senate.

Here are some excerpts from the interview:

TK: I have said this before, and I'll say it again: Anyone that the Democrats run against Bush, even the appalling Joe Lieberman, should be a candidate around whom every progressive person in the United States who cares about the country's future and the future of the world rallies. Money should be thrown at that candidate. And if Ralph Nader runs -- if the Green Party makes the terrible mistake of running a presidential candidate -- don't give him your vote. Listen, here's the thing about politics: It's not an expression of your moral purity and your ethics and your probity and your fond dreams of some utopian future. Progressive people constantly fail to get this.

The GOP has developed a genius for falling into lockstep. They didn't have it with Nixon, but they have it now. They line up behind their candidate, grit their teeth, and help him win, no matter who he is.

MJ: You're saying progressives are undone by their own idealism?

TK: The system isn't about ideals. The country doesn't elect great leaders. It elects fucked-up people who for reasons of ego want to run the world. Then the citizenry makes them become great. FDR was a plutocrat. In a certain sense he wasn't so different from George W. Bush, and he could have easily been Herbert Hoover, Part II. But he was a smart man, and the working class of America told him that he had to be the person who saved this country. It happened with Lyndon Johnson, too, and it could have happened with Bill Clinton, but we were so relieved after 12 years of Reagan and Bush that we sat back and carped.

In a certain sense, Bush was right when he called the anti-war demonstrations a "focus group." We went out on the street and told him that we didn't like the war. But that was all we did: We expressed an opinion. There was no one in Congress to listen to us because we were clear about why they couldn't listen. Hillary Clinton was too compromised, or Chuck Schumer -- and God knows they are. But if people don't pressure them to do better, we're lost.

I still am ambivalent about another Nader run: I voted for him in 2000, although I had the luxury of living in a State where Bush had a big lead and Al Gore had no chance at all to make it up. If I'd been living in a real swing state, my vote may well have been different (and, also for the record, I registered at a web site--forget the name now--that allowed me to 'trade' my Nader vote with someone in a close state who had misgivings about lessers of evils).

In similar circumstances, I'd vote the same way again. In 2004, though, I'm going to be VERY careful to ensure that whatever my choice, first and foremost we get rid of the worst president in my lifetime--and, considering I was born during the Johnson administration (imagine--that's another Joh for Seven), that's saying a lot.

One Thought re: John Edwards

There's one thing about John Edwards' standard speech that bothers me a bit. He didn't use it tonight when claiming victory, but on the stump he keeps saying something like "I've not news for George W. Bush--the South ain't his back yard, it's my back yard!"

Not a bad line. But I'd hate to see Bush himself or one of the MANY mouthpieces Bush will use in his stealth campaign turn that around into something like "we like to think of the South as our front yard."

I wish someone with access to the campaign would tell the Senator to stick "front yard" or words to that effect into the line. Believe it or not, that means something down here.

Yeah, that seems pretty trivial, but: if Edwards overcomes long odds and leads the ticket (or, more likely, IMO, taking the second slot), something stupid like this could actually become part of the endless spin cycle practiced by dozens, if not hundreds of well-paid talkingheads who seem to actually do little beyond get interviewed for television--and pick up checks from places like the Heritage Foundation, PNAC, the RNC, etc.

Like I said, it's just a throwaway line, but, here in the South people aren't exactly big on politics to begin with. Potential voters are more likely to base their votes on "who can shout the loudest the longest." A Bush spinner will use ANYTHING, absolutely ANYTHING, as part of their "slime the candidate" strategy. And this could become fodder...especially since they won't be able to do much else besides pin the label "trial lawyer" on him (and that ain't gonna work--after watching his speech, I'll say this much: Edwards is the best speaker among the major candidates for president BY FAR. He won't have any problem with "trial lawyer," IMO).

Recall, spin doctors have managed to change the tenor of the campaigns with stuff as mundane as the tag line for a Wendy's ad, for chrissakes. I'd hate to see an otherwise pretty good candidate for either president or vice-president have to chuckle a bit, smile and say, "yeah, you're right, I don't mean back yard in a bad way." The media would eat this up, turn it into a week-long series, with person-on-the-street crap ("do YOU think Edwards was being insulting when he used the term 'back yard'?") other words, spin it the way only Republicans can.

And that could be all it takes. Again, I don't mean to sound so trivial--but that sadly seems to be how a lot of politics works these days...

Tuesday, February 03, 2004

More Halliburton "Paytriotism"

It turns out the $16 billion dollar "overage" in the food bill is actually $27 billion dollars--and it might be even more.

Pentagon auditors are evaluating costs at 53 other dining facilities in Iraq and Kuwait also serviced by KBR.

All of the contracting companies doing work in Iraq with the U.S. undergo Pentagon audits.

KBR is the largest of those companies with some $8 billion in contracts.

Here's Halliburton's defense:

A separate statement from Halliburton said: "This is not about overcharging. This is about finding a good way to estimate the number of meals so soldiers can get fed.

"It's difficult to determine how many people will be at the dinner table in the middle of a war zone and the number must be based on estimates."

Of course, of course. Just like "estimates" of WMD. 25,000 tons of anthrax, give or take, uh, 25,000 tons...

"I have decided tonight to end my quest for the presidency of the United States of America," Lieberman said at a rally near his campaign headquarters in Arlington, Virginia, calling it a "difficult but realistic decision."

No word on whether he will seek the Republican nomination...


WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Rep. W. J. "Billy" Tauzin, R-Louisiana, announced Tuesday he will resign his chairmanship of the powerful Energy and Commerce Committee and will not seek re-election to Congress, a move that comes as he considers a high-paying job lobbying for the pharmaceutical industry.

Regarding Tauzexit: Timshel has posted regarding this before, and doubtless will have something interesting to say...
Like Shooting Bullets at Smoke...

I'm guessing that anyone dropping by can find plenty of articles, posts, and whatnot dealing with the ricin and anthrax attacks, or the various terrorist bombings in Oceania, Asia, or Europe, the 9/11 attacks (although fewer might be aware of home-grown terrorism like this--thanks Orcinus), and so on.

For the record, I have no idea who did the ricin attack, although my suspicion is that it's a homegrown domestic creep--but that's just a hunch. The point is, though, that it certainly pokes a big old hole in the thesis that we're somehow "safer" as a result of Bush's foolish policies.

Things like this will continue to happen regardless of how long--and how devasting--our wars on Iraq, Afghanistan, the evil-doers, terror, or whatever, are fought. Terrorists don't fight the way nations fight. That's why every time I see/hear about yet another act of terror (or the 'appropriate' response) I keep thinking that, as the title of this post says: it's like shooting bullets at smoke--and, for that matter, after shooting, like trying to catch the lingering smoke with a wide mesh butterfly net.

Sorry I don't have the link, but Howard Dean (in one of the debates, I believe) got it dead-on accurate when he said the issue in the Middle East isn't between the West and fundamentalist Islam, but between MODERATE Islam and fundlamentalist Islam. Few of us will ever even VISIT, much less live in the region. And, with our heavy handed tactics, we're doing our best to alienate the shit out of a lot of people who otherwise would find our position quite to their liking--as long as we don't try to stamp down on them with a heavy boot.

A while back I came across this article in Salon (I think you can view it without needing to watch the ad) that says much the same thing. Terrorism, and terrorists, cannot be fought with conventional military tactics anymore than catching Derrick Todd Lee would require the bombing of St. Francisville. Lee was caught--fortunately (and, to be truthful, I hope he is the person because I'd like to see the case closed), because, in spite of mistakes, there were good police officers who did solid work, and who continued to push for him to BE questioned until, finally, he was (and additionally forced to submit a DNA sample).

That's how we need to go after international terrorists--with the assisstance, of course, of the police and/or special forces in the various countries where terrorists operate. No, it's not Shock and Awe--but the real world ain't a damn Rambo movie either. When we push for levelling countries to "parking lots," and damn the "collateral damage," we show as little respect for our victims as those who perpetrated the appalling acts on September 11th. Remember that.

JOh Well

Lieberman might be composing his Joecession speech if he joes Oh for Seven today. As for my own point of view, it couldn't happen soon enough. He's already been too Joemenable to doing the dirty work of the Republicans anyway.
The World is a Safer, wait...ah...

Ricin, anyone? Saw an update on C-Span last night, here's the Reuter's article.

Meanwhile, Bush's budget is almost $500 Billion in the hole, and he refuses to add in the cost of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan--but the document sure has some pretty pictures (check the link provided by Bad Attitudes).

Speaking of Bad Attitudes, they pointed to Jeanne D'Arc's comment and link with the compliment "Blogging at it's minimalist best." Indeed. You simply won't believe what you're reading. Is it possible that Hell is expecting mild to chilly temperatures?

Fanatical Apathy has his own "News Round Up," covering several issues, including Bush's call for an investigation into "intelligence failures" regarding WMD. To paraphrase Mr. Felber, Bush will discover the answer to the question of "what didn't he know and when didn't he know it?"

While I missed Janet Jackson's exposure on Sunday (restroom break) there was another boob on the screen earlier in the day. It reminded me of something I saw a few years back: Dubya attended Hunter Thompson's Super Bowl party back in 1974 (right around the time he missed his National Guard physical, grounding him as a pilot, and with some speculation as to whether or not this was to avoid random drug testing). Anyway, here's what Thompson said about Bush:

"I can't be expected to remember what every drug-addled yuppie hanger-oner who wanted to get close to me during a football game twenty-five years ago digested. There were so many dope fiends milling about, I don't remember what some Yalie named Bush, whose father was a factotum in the Nixon Administration, was doing. But he strikes me as the sort of person I would have thrown out of the room. A rich, beer-drunk yahoo with a big allowance who passes out in your bathtup....I don't want to become the Deep Drug Throat....I won't do it." --Politex, 5/20/00

Balta has a link to a Findlaw article by John Dean that is well-worth reading. It provides an update on the Valerie Plame investigation--remember that? Neither does the sheep-like media, apparently...

While at Balta's site, hit the main page and take a look at some of the things he links to, in particular two stories that came from the New York Times, one concerning--surprise--Halliburton once again caught with grubby fingers in the till, this time to the tune of $16 million dollars in overcharges for food service contracting (but what's a few million dollars in corporate welfare between friends?).

The other story concerns the abysmal planning that went into Operation Iraqi Liberation (OIL--oh, wait--make that Operation Iraqi Freedom). When your plan doesn't call for having support troops, i.e., supply convoys, mechanics, Military Police, etc., etc., you might well run into a situation where the soldiers you do have on the ground will be simply overwhelmed by the myriad of tasks that an occupying army must do, in addition to, you know, fighting a war.

Of course, given that Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld (who at least served in the peacetime military), Wolfowitz, et al, never actually went into combat, is it any wonder that they didn't take all this into consideration?

Final note: sorry for the low volume of posts yesterday. Sometime work requires that I actually have like it might be that way today as well, but I might be able to sneak something in here or there.

Monday, February 02, 2004

From Today in Iraq

War News for February 2, 2004

Today is “Bring ‘em on" Day! Six months ago today, Lieutenant AWOL, wanting to sound tough, issued that challenge to insurgents, terrorists – in fact, anybody who wanted to attack American troops. Since then, 377 Coalition soldiers have been killed in action in Iraq. Thank you George, you spoiled little prick.

Speaking of AWOL--it looks like the SCLM won't be allowed to ignore this. Good. There are certainly more important issues out there, but this "speaks to character." And the fact is that George W. Bush is utterly lacking in this regard. Miserable Failure is about the nicest thing you can say about him.

Sunday, February 01, 2004

"Humanitarian" Reasons for War

Update: sorry, I blew the link to Arkhangel. It should be fixed now.

Another reason for not posting yesterday was that, after I finished reading Dogrun, I did some more reading--the usual websites, and then some. Billmon has a very long post, but one that is well-worth a careful read. Also, be sure to check out the comments and the links.

Human Rights Watch, one of Billmon's linked articles, has a scathing critique of the "humanitarian" justifications for the Iraq war, which have come to the forefront now that the WMD issue has been shown to be a canard. It's a long, dry report, but again, well worth taking a look at.

Short version: HRW is not averse to military action for humanitarian purposes, but they opt for the position that very specific conditions must be met before engaging in such an action. Iraq, for all the abuses perpetratated by Hussein, did not meet this criteria.

My own take, when arguing with the Bushistas, is to tell them that, honestly, WE DON'T KNOW yet if Iraq will be a better place without Saddam in power. Furthermore, I doubt seriously, based on the evidence we have, that the US administration gives a good goddamn whether or nor there is genuine democracy in Iraq--or anywhere else in the region. So please spare me your newly discovered concerns for civil procedures, right-wingers. Besides, if Chalabi had somehow managed to bully his way into a genuine position of authority, is there any doubt he'd be the titular head of the country at this point?

Again, please take a look at the HRW report if you've got the time.

Addditionally, Billmon has a link to a article (Billmon cites Juan Cole as his source) that contains a David Hilfiker report of his interview with Lt. Col. Nate Sassaman, who is noted for a comment he made a while back concerning how to deal with the resistance: a heavy dose of fear and violence, combined with a lot of money for reconstruction, or words to that effect.

This prompted a third component of the Billmon post--an exchange of emails and comments between himself, his readers, and an individual giving his/her name as Arkhangel. Arkhangel says he/she's attached to Lt. Col. Sassaman's unit--feel free to read the blog and judge for yourself. Call me gullible, but I tend to take people at their word--others at Billmon's comments area had their own opinions.

For the record, I also considered MojoVera to be genuine...but the nice thing about the internet is that you don't have to believe me.

It took me a good couple of hours to plow through all the stuff referenced above (call me a slow reader, I guess--shit, I am from Louisiana--maybe we're just slow in general down here)--so I'll cut this post here.


Apologies for the no-post day yesterday. A combination of massive hangover and unfinished business required my attention. Last week one of my bartenders (my view towards bars and bartenders is akin to a religious person's view of church and ministers) loaned me a novel called Dogrun by Arthur Nersesian. Not bad--lots of references to the Lower East Side--for that matter, to lower Manhattan in general, some of which I caught and some which I didn't.

The plot was interesting enough to carry me along--the protagonist, a 29 year-old woman, Mary Bellanova, deals with the death of her live-in boyfriend by seeking to find out more about his mysterious life, while dealing with a day-to-day existence that includes temp jobs, the party scene, "art," and a mystery figure--Joey, an older man who was her neighbor when she was a young child.

I wish that the author's name had been unknown to me, because I couldn't help but read the book in a critical vein. Was Nersesian able to "get" the woman's character down? I think I'll have to read some contemporary fiction by a woman author to make the comparison, but there were a couple of things I noticed that I might otherwise have not considered had I not been looking...

Would I recommend reading it? Sure, it's pretty short, the author has good technique, and the plot is good enough to carry you along. If anyone HAS looked at this, by all means feel free to comment. And, what was it that I noticed that made me think Nersesian did ok with his portrait of Mary Bellanova and her friends, but not quite extraordianary? I'd be happy to discuss it...

BTW--the Roman Numerals in the title reflect that it's Super Droll Day. I'll try to limit posts out of respect for those who want to watch the game or the ads, and, yeah, I'll be doing the same later on (watching the ads, that is). Despite the fact that Panthers QB Jake Delhomme is a local boy, I don't really care who wins, to be honest--besides, there are some Louisiana folks on the other side of the ball, too (Faulk and Reed, to name two). I'm pretty lousy with predictions, but for those who want to know, I'd guess a score of Patriots 34, Panthers 17.

I'll have a couple of other things to bark about in a minute...