Saturday, May 01, 2004

Mission Accomplished Day

In other news:

Terrorists kill Westerners in Saudi Arabia.

Four killed Saturday in Iraq.

Former general under Saddam is tapped to restore order in Fallujah.

Iraqis angry about the lack of overall security.

Abuse of Iraqi prisoners is "sadistic and systematic."

Today in Iraq and Riverbend have more on the overall situation and the prison photographs respectively.

But if you're pResident Bush, why bother with reality when you can daydream about landing on aircraft carriers?

Friday, April 30, 2004

Shameless Self Promotion

Well, at least through this Saturday night: The New York Times>New York Region>Letters:Tales and Tolls of the Rockaways--scroll to the end.

Better still, Mike Molyneaux was nice enough to send a paper copy, which arrived in the mail today. I think I've got a cheap frame around here somewhere--like maybe the one my college diploma is in...
Just When You Think You've Got Outrage Fatigue

I'm glad to see Tlachtga is posting again, and here's something that should receive far more attention than has been given:

The Bush administration has stripped information on a range of women's issues from government Web sites, apparently in pursuit of a political agenda, researchers reported on Wednesday.

"Vital information is being deleted, buried, distorted and has otherwise gone missing from government Web sites and publications," Linda Basch, president of the National Council for Research on Women, said in a telephone interview.

Check out the link above, and the sources (Pandagon and Reuters).
Rogue's Gallery

Talking Points Memo and The New York Times both have something to say about Joe Wilson's book. It's the latest effort to appeal to some semblence of reason as opposed to those who believe Bush has been ordained by the almighty to preside over the final days.

Sometimes a picture tells a thousand words. Here are the mug shots of Scooter Libby, Elliot Abrams, and Karl "Carlos the Jackal" Rove. You can almost visualize them being asked to step forward, turn to one side then the other, and state their name while a sweating Robert Novak tries his best to hide a nervous tic while protesting that he doesn't "really know much about anything."

"C'mon, Bob, we're counting on you. You're the only eyewitness," the precinct captain intones.

Well, there's always the chance that John Walsh might show some interest.
When Numbers Become Names

Matt Lavine shows us just what the numbers really mean when it comes to the soldiers killed in Iraq.

As I'm sure everyone knows, Nightline will be memorializing the dead this evening, in a similar way they did with the victims of the 9/11 terrorist actions a year later. Sinclair Broadcasting apparently forgot about that when they accused Ted Koppel of "politicizing" the war--as if the war wasn't political to begin with.

The list Matt cites includes the names of people who won't be mentioned on ABC this evening because their deaths were ruled to be "outside" straight combat. However, these are the folks who have paid with their lives for Mr. Bush's splendid little war. And consider: many of those who've been wounded are surviving only because battlefield medicine has improved dramatically over the last ten years or so. In previous wars, many more lives would have been lost.

Of course, missing from this list are the ten thousand or more Iraqi civilians who've been killed. One can only imagine how long that list would be. And, for that matter, let's not forget the Iraqi soldiers who lost their lives. Being born in the wrong place at the wrong time shouldn't be automatic grounds for a death sentence.

Sometimes it gets so bad I wonder if I'm beginning to suffer from outrage fatigue.
Depends on What Your Definition of "Is" Is

The Island of Balta has some news that ought to have us all raising a glass of Victory Gin:

(from CNN) International acts of terror in 2003 were the fewest in more than 30 years, according to the U.S. State Department's annual terrorism report released Thursday.

The Patterns of Global Terrorism report said 190 acts of international terrorism occurred in 2003 -- a slight drop from 198 attacks the previous year and the lowest total since 1969.

The figure marked a 45 percent decrease in attacks since 2001, but it did not include most of the attacks in Iraq, because attacks against combatants did not fit the U.S. definition of international terrorism.
(my italics)

As Balta points out, this should poke a nice-sized hole in the so-called flypaper strategy that was trotted out like a mid-season television replacement series when the ostensible reason(s) (WMD, liberation ideology) for the Iraq invasion flopped. And, as he also points out, there's no mention of whether or not Israeli actions against Palestinians make the list. Probably not. About the only useful thing about the State Department's report is that perhaps you could burn a paper copy for kindling if you needed to build a fire.

But if you're with the Bush team, don't bother with this report. There are plenty of paper copies of the Constitution that they apparently don't bother with anyway. Set a match to em.
200 Proof Lying

Moe Blues over at BAD ATTITUDES links to this database at The Center for American Progress. Still being updated (and they invite readers' submissions), it makes for a nice, quick way to track the lies of the neocons.

Of course, there's another way to do this: look for whenever their lips are moving.
Son of The O'Jesus Factor

Thanks to a call from a friend for computer assistance (a dead mouse, among other things) I was able to listen extensively to Fresh Air's interview with Raney Aronson and Wayne Slater. Aronson produced, wrote, and directed Frontline's show, while Slater, a Texas journalist, has followed the political career of Shrub for some time.

Both touched on a point that others have made, and to which I'll add my .002 cents worth: when a politician claims God as the source of their policy, opposition to said policy becomes heresy. Um, call me old fashioned, but I still believe strongly in the First Amendment. While Bush hasn't embarked on a frontal assault on this element of the Constitution, one could certainly call his remarks the moral equivalent of an end-around. Which is a dangerous precedent.

I mean, first, even a genuine interpretation of Biblical literature (or prophesy, or whatever you want to call it) portends some ominous happenings for humanity. Not the sort of stuff that people would, say, want their grandkids to go through. Then you've got the added weirdness that fundamentalist Christian ideology has imparted on the good book (which, if you ask me, is remarkably similar to the weirdness that fundamentalist Islamacists have imparted on the Quran). You end up with a package that almost begs for large amounts of fire and brimstone--something the US Military is more than able to provide. Armageddon becomes a matter of discretionary policy, which, quite honestly, I think is a little unfair to those of us non-believers. To understate, it's mighty damn selfish of them to impose the Apocalypse upon the other 5 billion plus--not to mention the rest of the flora and fauna--with whom they share the planet.

OK, so perhaps that's a little heavy on the doomsday scenario. But there are other, even more important considerations. For instance, I went to the March for Women because I believe strongly that women's rights--sexual, political, social, economic, health, you name it--are fundamental to the progressive cause. As women succeed in their (alas, neverending) struggle, I think we will see a general progressive awakening as the myriad feminist perspectives establish themselves in the realm of public debate. Fundamentalist Christian ideology seeks to limit the role of women in our social and political arenas--and again, considers opposition to this as heresy. Abortion becomes a flashpoint, because, in the attempt to limit the rights of women, a fertilized egg suddenly becomes more important than an female adult. Waxing poetically about the "soul" of a fertilized egg carries the implication that an adult woman's "soul" is considered not quite equal. God, via his messengers, i.e. ministers, provides the cover for what is an attempt, pure and simple, to limit the rights of half the population.

The irony of all this is that women played an extensive role in the formation of the early Christian church. Yet, today, a twisted interpretation of the written works seeks to suppress women's rights, while at the same time tries to justify killing in the name of freedom. To which I can only say, if there is a deity and if she's listening: Goddamnit! No pun intended.
"We're Not Worthy"

Billmon at Whiskey Bar pours out yet another glass of spot-on analysis:

All in all, it reminds me of the old joke about the transition from communist to capitalism: It's easy to turn an aquarium into fish soup; much, much harder to turn the fish soup back into an aquarium. And it's particularly hard to do when the soup is kept boiling -- which is exactly what the U.S. military presence in Iraq is doing.

Billmon goes on to cite an interview in The Wall Street Journal of retired General William Odom, who sees what the neocons and even otherwise blunt critics of neocon policy like Anthony Zinni can't bear to look at: our failure. Odom thinks the US should, yes, try to engage "friendly" Arab governments, NATO, the UN, etc., but should also set a departure date and stick to it--regardless of the situation.

Sometimes you've gotta shut the burner off.
Will This Affect My Portfolio?

Probably not, since it consists of the cash in my wallet, but Body and Soul is where I first saw this. Abu Ghraib, Iraq's notorious prison during Saddam's rule, is now...the notorious prison in Iraq under CPA rule. According to The Guardian UK, prisoners have been subjected to humiliating treatment, and at least one inmate was raped by an privately employed interrogator--which clouds the picture of how to deal with this obvious criminal act.

Being merely "the lesser of evils" in Iraq isn't good enough. These actions speak volumes in regards to the overall deterioration of the situation. William Golding and Chinua Achebe wouldn't be surprised at all.

By the way: my curiousity got the best of me, and I decided to check up on the market analysis for CACI International Inc, and Titan Corporation, the two private contractors associated with the prison. Looks like Forbes is hedging their own bets, giving CACI a strong buy rating. Titan, on the other hand, doesn't even get a sell, the kiss of death, but an avoid, which I guess is the sledgehammer of death.

What's very strange is that these companies are described as mainly IT enterprises. Sure, a prison needs recordkeeping. But when did IT branch out to interrogations? Maybe when the federal government puts $20 billion dollars on the table asks if there are any takers--I really don't know. But this war gets stranger and stranger as it gets worse and worse.

If this were a VH1 Behind the Music Special, they'd be talking about the downward spiral of drugs and alcohol right about now...

Thursday, April 29, 2004

Living With a Price on Their Heads

No word on whether or not yet another deck of cards will be in the works, but Aljazeera reports that resistance fighters in Fallujah are offering a bounty of $15 million dollars for the capture of either Mark Kimmitt, Ricardo Sanchez, or Ronald Dumsfeld.

But that's just another sign of desperation from isolated pockets of resistance...
The O'Jesus Factor

For those of us who normally watch Frontline but want to preserve the integrity of our telvisions--bricks really CAN damage a cathode-ray picture tube--The New York Times reviews The Jesus Factor. Here's a sample:

"I believe that God wants me to be president," is what Richard Land, a leader of the Southern Baptist Convention, recalls hearing Mr. Bush say in a meeting with close associates on the day of his second inaugural as governor of Texas.

I haven't seen Joan of Arcadia, but I'm pretty sure that James Baker III hasn't made any guest appearances as the supreme diety.

Shootin' the Shit With His Good Buddies

I guess Dubya thinks he deserves a gold star or something. He claims he answered "every question I was asked." The New York Times has the details, which aren't all that detailed when you read the story.

No word on whether or not Bush gets a conduct grade, but I'm sure his mother is proud of him.
In Case You Wondered What One Looked Like

Counterspin has an undoctored photograph of a chickenhawk.
Holding Freedom in Trust

The Rude Pundit has a few things to say about freedom, balance of powers, and "enemy combatants."
Crime and Punishment

BAD ATTITUDES does the math, citing this New York Times article. The result: the cost of killing someone via willfull neglect is $48,247.61.

No word on whether this can be charged to Visa, Amex, or Mastercard.
Always Look on the Bright Side of Life

Colin Powell thinks that the rest of the world is playing Captain Renault when it comes to Iraq, and will return to the fold once we round the corner...

When you're chewing on life's gristle...
Putting the Rock in Iraq

Once again, Whiskey Bar's chief mixer is reaching new heights of metaphorical genius. The first few lines caught me right away, because I happen to agree: the SPEED with which Iraq has fallen apart surprised me. My own reckoning was that it would take at least a few years before it all turned to hell. But I guess things move more quickly these days.

Enough of my own comments though. Take the time to read Billmon's post. Reading him has been like watching someone make the point eight straight times.
Worse Than My Apartment

I don't even know where to begin today. Ten soldiers killed in Iraq, violence erupting in Thailand, the two chickenhawks in chief are making their tag team appearance before the 9/11 Commission in a non-disclosed smackdown that will never see the light of day...

The Supreme Court is hearing arguments on whether or not the Bill of Rights means anything at all, US Troops are treating Iraqi prisoners like fraternity pledges needing a good hazing, and this article at MSNBC paints an awfully grim picture of what it means to be "wounded in action." 'bout them Lakers? Is this really the year for the Mailman and Gary Payton?

Damn. I need to clean up my apartment. It looks like--well, it looks like the Bush foreign policy: a complete wreck. At a certain point--I call it my six month rule--it's important to rid yourself of stuff that is really no longer useful. The only issue with that is actually finding and taking the time to part with what is essentially junk. Or shit, as in "get that shit outta here." I think folks like Richard Clarke and Paul O'Neill see this, but the BushRoveCheney monster continues to gaze longingly at the detrius while claiming somehow that maybe, just maybe, there's something useful amongst the clutter of boxes, papers, old clothes and shoes, etc. etc.

But there isn't. Time to put it on the curb, let the dumpster divers have their pick, and hope the rest gets hauled away to the landfill where the archeologists of the future will wonder how we managed to store all the shit we ended up tossing. That is, if we don't toxify ourselves into extinction...

Wednesday, April 28, 2004

From the Archives

Speaking of archives: one of the ironies of my trip to DC was stopping by the National Archives to glance at the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution, two documents that emphasize limited government. Airportesque security arrangements, complete with walk-through metal detectors, separate these items from the general public. Anyway, I came across this by going two clicks back on a Needlenose post, and I think Mary referenced it as well. Once again, Billmon over at the Whiskey Bar serves up some strong medicine. About all I can say is read it and you'll be nodding in agreement again and again. I almost want to do the "we're not worthy" cheer when I see stuff like this:

We seem to have reached the point where a half-baked strategy for endless war in the Middle East is actually easier to sell politically than a sensible energy policy, an end to American subservience to worst instincts of the Israeli national security state, and a focused campaign to destroy Al Qaeda while drying up the pools of hatred in which jihad festers and grows.

Clausewitz, that ultimate realist, once said that "he who neglects the possible in quest of the impossible is a fool." That just might end up being the epitaph for America's imperial adventure in the Middle East.


Mary makes a number of great points in this post. She says it's her longest post ever, but it sure is worth reading. Here's a paragraph (note: Mary is responding to a letter written by some idiot law student to a Notre Dame newspaper):

Yes, women are liberated by abortion. The day we start living in a perfect world where they aren't generally the primary caregivers for their children, that might cease to be the case, but right now, today, often the only thing that stands between control and chaos for a woman is a thin layer of latex. Pregnancy without the possibility of abortion means that her life as she knows it is over. She will always have that child, whether she wants it or not. If she keeps it, she will always have to support that child, whether she wants to or not. If she gives it up, she will always have to live with the fact that she gave up that child, whether its life works out for the best or not. "Tough shit," right? I mean, women have sex, they get pregnant, they gotta face the consequences rather than take it out on innocent babies, yeah? Except if you're gonna sit there and tell me that a 6-week old fetus is worth more in the scheme of things than a woman's entire life...well. We really have nothing to say to each other. And no, abortions don't affect men like they do women. Clearly they do affect some men a great deal, but if you're gonna sit there and tell me that a man, any man, really knows what it's like to be an abused woman carrying a potential life inside of you and knowing that both its entire future and yours, good or bad, now rest in your hands...well. We really have nothing to say to each other. And yes, abortions do provide equality, because punishing a poor woman and her child for their entire lives because the woman overslept and was 30 minutes late taking a pill one day is not by any stretch of the imagination treatment that we would tolerate for men, and if you're gonna sit there and tell me I'm wrong about that...well. We really have nothing to say to each other. You see, I, too, can master the Rhetorical Device of Imminently Won Lawsuits.

Word, Mary.
WMD--Weapons of Mosque Destruction

Needlenose points out the, uh, logic--twisted logic, that is--of Mark Kimmitt.
Help Wanted

Link via Today in Iraq. Camp workers quit dangerous Iraq jobs.

MANILA (AFP) - Nearly 50 Filipino civilians who claimed they were tricked by a labour recruiter into working in Iraq have quit their jobs there and returned to the Philippines, labour officials said Tuesday.

I can only imagine how they sold this: Exciting, high-paced, fast growing--must be willing to travel.
At Taxpayer Expense

The Onion | Sept. 11 Could Not Have Been Prevented Without Accruing A Lot Of Overtime
Ain't No Drag...Iraq's Got a Brand New Flag

Riverbend has just about the best thing to say:

I also heard today that the Puppets are changing the flag. It looks nothing like the old one and at first I was angry and upset, but then I realized that it wouldn't make a difference. The Puppets are illegitimate, hence their constitution is null and void and their flag is theirs alone. It is as representative of Iraq as they are- it might as well have "Made in America" stitched along the inside seam. It can be their flag and every time we see it, we'll see Chalabi et al. against its pale white background.

The Independent reports that Iraq might need a flag burning amendment added to the new consititution. This action has also given the resistance a de facto flag of their own: the old one.

This actually isn't the new flag, but it might as well be. Actually, here's the real new standard.

Of course, residents of Fallujah probably don't care a whole lot about which flag is flying--they're more worried about flying bullets. This BBC articlereports that, among other things, Marine snipers are targeting ambulances. No doubt the wrong wingers will claim that ambulances transport resistance fighters--and some ambulances might well do so. The problem, though, is that some DON'T carry resistance fighters, but instead, people needing urgent medical care--like, for instance, civilians wounded in the fighting.

While Fallujah is shredded (memo to Dick 'n Dubya: this doesn't look good vis-a-vis the whole hearts and minds thing), the US is poised to piss off the Shi'a majority big-time by entering Najaf. Um, is it just me, or does almost any carbon based lifeform realize that stomping on someone's sacred ground and threatening to blow up their sacred sites isn't the best way to endear yourself to said someone. Shit, the Taliban pissed off the world by blowing up the Buddhist statues which weren't even contemporary objects of worship.

But, they managed to design a new Iraqi nice. What's next? An official state bird? Or tree? How about an official unexploded ordnance or an official pile of rubble to go with the new flag? Because that's what Iraq will be when this is over--a pile of rubble.
US Seeks Assistance from Iraq to Deal With Iraq

Still trying to catch up, but here's something from Counterpunch last week. Patrick Cockburn reports that a number of Saddam's generals are being hired to preside over units of the Iraqi Security Forces--yes, the same forces who are either deserting or turning their guns on the US forces.

Maybe "Iraqification" can now be defined as "when it all blows up in your face and you're so damned desperate you'll do just about anything."

Tuesday, April 27, 2004

As a Matter of Fact, I Didn't Have Time to Post

Catching up with friends as well as going to what the organizers called the largest march in our nation's history--with which I concur--kept me off the internet this week. I appreciate those of y'all who've stopped by even in my absence, and I'll try to resume irregularly posted screeds either later tonight or tomorrow.

It wasn't like I didn't have ANY internet access--I could've hoofed it over to a local public library, but...anyway, I didn't keep up with my regular reading either. I'll be trying to catch up with those of you whom I read and appreciate. It might take a few hours or days, here's to getting up to speed with y'all's posts and adding comments here and there.

BTW: the march was fantastic. The media, of course, was weird. CNN (sorry, I'm a little tired from traveling and will just post the link to the main site) lowballed the crowd estimate and said 300,000. The march organizers gave an estimate of 1.1 million, and Park Police veterans (the police don't give official estimates anymore) said around 800,000. My own experience with large crowds is Jazz Fest and Mardi Gras. This march, IMHO, was bigger.

Another friend just called to check in, so I'll cut this short. As promised, I'll be back to post. Thanks again for checking in...