Friday, October 29, 2004

The Column that brought Billmon Back

Chris Sullentrop's column in Slate opens with his transcription of a bizarre cultlike chant known as "the Bush Pledge:"

I care about freedom and liberty. I care about my family. I care about my country. Because I care, I promise to work hard to re-elect, re-elect George W. Bush as president of the United States.

I guess it's too much to ask some Rethuglican out there to end the Bush Pledge with the Steve Martin line, "I promise not to repeat things other people say." (I think Martin's line was part of something called the "Non-Conformist Pledge").

Anyway, here's Billmon's take. Thanks to Swopa at Needlenose for pointing it out.

Actually, two surprises here--first, goddamned Blogger ate the original version of this post. Thanks, Blogger.

(And Blogger ate the second version--"maintenance." OK, one more time):

Second, Osama bin Laden emerged from his spider hole to lecture America about 9/11, "security," and even the upcoming election.

Third--as I expected, the Rethuglicans are spinning like Battling Tops.

I wish bin Laden hadn't opened his goddamned big mouth. But since he did, I'm gonna offer some spin of my own:

For THREE years George W. Bush has had the largest military on the planet at his disposal to hunt down someone who is admittedly in an out of the way location...out of the way to the extent that he seemed to think Bush was asking "about a schoolchild's goat" on September 11th. Robert Fisk once noted that bin Laden delayed a meeting with him for some time while he pored over old newspapers that Fisk brought with him.

But with the amount of military we've got, capturing the guy should be relatively easy--unless you do something really stupid, like, say, INVADE AN ENTIRELY DIFFERENT COUNTRY. Now our military is mired in Iraq for some time to come, while bin Laden is free to tell us what he thinks of Bush, Kerry...and Sweeden, for that matter.

My take is: if someone is assigned to complete a task, and goes in an entirely different direction, I'm sure as hell not offering praise. No, I'm thinking about changing the person.

Bush had his chance, and he blew it.
Spin, Round IV: It Wasn't the Rooskies...

It was the good old USA that supposedly removed the explosives from Al, let's see. In four days, the Bush team has offered four different excuses...and all of them include the proviso that "additional study is needed."

I'd like to offer a suggestion: why not start studying at Walter Reed Hospital, where you can witness first hand the effects of explosives on the human body.

Geez, this adminstration is so full of shit it's coming out their ears...
Four More Days!

Al Giordano has some inspirational thoughts about what can happen on November 2nd.

As a dedicated A.B.B. voter, my own opinion is that a Kerry victory is only the beginning, ESPECIALLY if the margin of victory is first-time or new voters. We will have to remind President Kerry over and over again that his administration is beholden to those that got him into office--not the fat cats who provided part of the bankroll.

Kerry is the lesser of two evils because the Bush administration is PURE evil.
Countdown, Continued

This time, Paul Krugman did the work for me. Four more reasons why Bush should be tending his "ranch" instead of leading the country. In order:

Letting Osama get away.
Letting Zarqawi get away.
The situation in Iraq. And
$70 billion more.

All of these stories would be getting more play right now if it weren't for the Al Qaqaa mess. Still, one can understand why the right is so upset.

After all, Al Qaqaa illustrates in a particularly graphic way the failures of Mr. Bush's national security leadership. U.S. soldiers passed through Al Qaqaa, a crucial munitions dump, but were never told that it was important to secure the site. If administration officials object that they couldn't have spared enough troops to guard the site, they're admitting that they went in without enough troops. And the fact that these explosives fell into unknown hands is a perfect example of how the Iraq war has worsened the terrorist threat.

The story of Al Qaqaa has brought out the worst in a campaign dedicated to the proposition that the president is infallible - and that it's always someone else's fault when things go wrong. Here's what Rudy Giuliani said yesterday: "No matter how you try to blame it on the president, the actual responsibility for it really would be for the troops that were there. Did they search carefully enough?" Support the troops!

But worst of all from the right's point of view, Al Qaqaa has disrupted the campaign's media strategy. Karl Rove clearly planned to turn the final days of the campaign into a series of "global test" moments - taking something Mr. Kerry said and distorting its meaning, then generating pseudo-controversies that dominate the airwaves. Instead, the news media have spent the last few days discussing substance. And that's very bad news for Mr. Bush.

Oh, and I just saw over at DailyKos that Bush has another song controversy--seems as if "Still the One," which apparently replaced "Rock & Roll Part II" as his theme song, was co-written by John and Johanna Hall, who support John Kerry. John Hall has demanded that Bush cease using it, and I'm guessing most folks have heard about Gary Glitter's collection of photographs...

As Kos notes, "Cat Scratch Fever" might still be available.

Ohioans for Truth

Link via My Due Diligence. BlogPac is running an ad featuring Rep. Tim Ryan's (D-OH) speech on the House Floor a few weeks ago regarding a possible military draft.

The video loads quickly, so by all means take a look at it if you've got the time. The transcript doesn't quite capture Congressman Ryan's tone, but if you're really pressed, here it is:

I rise in opposition of this bill, but I would like to clarify something. We are not trying to scare kids. This President's foreign policy is what is scaring the kids of this country. And people have said today, why are people believing this? Why are people believing this big Internet hoax?

It is the same people who told us that Saddam Hussein had something to do with 9/11; the same people who told us Saddam Hussein had something to do with weapons of mass destruction; the same people who told us we would be able to use the oil for reconstruction money; the same people who told us we would be greeted as liberators, not occupiers; the same people, the same President who told us the Taliban is gone; the same President who told us that Poland is our ally 2 days before they pull out; the same President who tells us Iraq is going just great; the same President who tells us the economy is going just great; the same people who told us the tax cuts were going to create millions of jobs; the same people who told us that the Medicare program only cost $400 billion when it really cost $540 billion.

So please forgive us for believing what you are saying. Please forgive the students of this country for not believing what you are saying. Not one thing, not one thing about this war that has been told to the American people or that has been told to these college students has been true. Not one thing. Bremer says we need more troops. The Pentagon says we need more troops, and this President cannot get them from the international community. There is only one option left. Let us be honest with the American people.

"What's This Then? A Liver Donor's Card."

"Need we say more?"

A videotape made by a television crew with American troops when they opened bunkers at a sprawling Iraqi munitions complex south of Baghdad shows a huge supply of explosives still there nine days after the fall of Saddam Hussein, apparently including some sealed earlier by the International Atomic Energy Agency...

Weapons experts familiar with the work of the international inspectors in Iraq say the videotape appears identical to photographs that the inspectors took of the explosives, which were put under seal before the war. One frame shows what the experts say is a seal, with narrow wires that would have to be broken if anyone entered through the main door of the bunker.


"The photographs are consistent with what I know of Al Qaqaa," said David A. Kay, a former American official who led the recent hunt in Iraq for unconventional weapons and visited the vast site. "The damning thing is the seals. The Iraqis didn't use seals on anything. So I'm absolutely sure that's an I.A.E.A. seal."...

The gloomy interiors revealed long rows of boxes, crates and barrels, what independent experts said were three kinds of HMX containers shipped to Iraq from France, China and Yugoslavia.

I guess that puts an end to the ridiculous theory that the Russians were hauling the stuff to Syria--why the hell would they have any interest in French, Chinese, or Yugoslav products? It's not like they don't have plenty of their own explosives.

So, what will the next Bush excuse be? That the dog ate it? That's as lame good an excuse as any, I guess.

And, not that most Americans seem to care, sadly, but Your Right Hand Thief noted the report released yesterday that suggests upwards of 100,000 civilians have died as a result of Operation Iraqi Freedom. Wonderful. I'm sure they and their families will be comforted by the idea that they died for Halliburton, um, I mean, democracy.
Countdown, Continued

Here's another reason to send George W. Bush into early retirement: August 6, 2001 Presidential Daily Brief. I'll post the entire text below. Bush's response? Three more weeks of R&R! More golf, more fishing, and--for public consumption--more clearing brush on his ranch. Of course, following the attacks, Team Bush was quick to lay blame on--Bill Clinton.

I wonder if Clinton can somehow be blamed for the missing explosives of Al QaQaa?

But that's a whole other issue. Read the memo below and decide for yourself if it's, in the words of Condoleezza Rice, "historical" information.

Bin Laden Determined to Strike in U.S.

Clandestine, foreign government, and media reports indicate Bin Laden since 1997 has wanted to conduct terrorist attacks in the U.S. Bin Laden implied in U.S. television interviews in 1997 and 1998 that his followers would follow the example of World Trade Center bomber Ramzi Yousef and "bring the fighting to America." :

After U.S. missile strikes on his base in Afghanistan in 1998, Bin Laden told followers he wanted to retaliate in Washington, according to a [deleted text] service.

An Egyptian Islamic Jihad (EIJ) operative told [deleted text] serviceat the same time that Bin Laden was planning to exploit the operative's access to the U.S. to mount a terrorist strike.

The millennium plotting in Canada in 1999 may have been part of Bin Laden's first serious attempt to implement a terrorist strike in the U.S. Convicted plotter Ahmed Ressam has told the FBI that he conceived the idea to attack Los Angeles International Airport himself, but that Bin Laden lieutenant Abu Zubaydah encouraged him and helped facilitate the operation. Ressam also said that in 1998 Abu Zubaydah was planning hisown U.S. attack.

Ressam says Bin Laden was aware of the Los Angeles operation.

Although Bin Laden has not succeeded, his attacks against the U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania in 1998 demonstrate that he prepares operations years in advance and is not deterred by setbacks. Bin Laden associates surveilled our Embassies in Nairobi and Dar es Salaam as early as 1993, and some members of the Nairobi cell planning the bombings were arrested and deported in 1997.

AI Qaeda members -- including same who are U.S. citizens -- have resided in and traveled to the U.S. for years, and the group apparently maintains asupport structure that could aid attacks.

Two Al Qaeda members found guilty in the conspiracy to bomb our embassies in East Africa were U.S. citizens, and a senior EIJ member lived in California in the mid-1990s.

A clandestine source said in 1998 that a Bin Laden cell in New Yorkwas recruiting Muslim-American youth for attacks.

We have not been able to corroborate some of the more sensational threat reporting, such as that from a [deleted text] service in 1998 saying that Bin Laden wanted to hijack a U.S. aircraft to gain the release of "Blind Shaykh" 'Umar' Abd aI-Rahman and other U.S.-held extremists.

Nevertheless, FBI information since that time indicates patterns of suspicious activity in this country consistent with preparations for hijackings or other types of attacks, including recent surveillance offederal buildings in New York.

The FBI is conducting approximately 70 investigations throughout the U.S. that it considers Bin Laden-related. CIA and the FBI are investigating a call to our embassy in the UAE in May saying that a group or Bin Laden supporters was in the U.S. planning attacks with explosives.

Thursday, October 28, 2004

Springsteen: We've Had a Saxaphone Player in the White House, Now We Need a Guitarist There

I'll still take warm winters, but today Bruce Springsteen performed before more than 50,000 people at a John Kerry rally in Madison, according to local accounts. The location of the stage was literally stumbling distance from at least one apartment I called home during my time in the city, and I'm sure the crowd stretched all the way up to the square.

I wonder if Matt at BFOP has anything to say about this...

Bush's Chickenhawks are Coming Home to Roost

The Rude Pundit has a few words to say:

If you take a moment and you sniff the air, what you get is the assaultive whiff of desperation coming from the Bush administration and the right wing of this country. The Rude Pundit refuses to make predictions, but there's a palpable sense growing in America that Kerry may actually win this long, lingering nightmare of a campaign. You get it from the shit smell of the dying Bush/Cheney campaign, the faded deodorant and armpit sweat stink from the conservative punditry.

You get it from the sight of Bush flailing about, like a jackrabbit on an electrified metal floor. It's a pathetic thing, as he hops around on the dais at his various events, searching for some spot where's there's comfort, peace, rest.

As always, discretion is advised when reading the Rude Pundit. But I think he's got a good read on Bush's overall mein right now. The hectic, non-stop schedule, the flailing attacks on Kerry, the absurd trial balloon explanations regarding Al QaQaa--on the latter point, apologies for not mentioning Talking Points Memo in my last post, although I'm sure y'all are all reading Marshall anyway. Team Bush has lost their swagger.

In yet another black eye for this administration, four British former "detainees" at Camp X-Ray (all of whom were eventually released without charge) have sued Donald Rumsfeld and others who were responsible for the horrible and needless turture they were subjected to. In Iraq, militants have siezed more hostages--killing eleven Iraqi soldiers (read 'soldier' as "unemployed young men caught in a desperate situation"), and have threatened to kill a Polish woman and Japanese man if their demand--the withdrawal of Polish and Japanese troops from Iraq--isn't met. Another militant group is claiming--without additional evidence--that they've got a good portion of the missing explosives from Al QaQaa. Sure, they might be lying--just like the next group claiming possession might be--but what happens when we encounter a militant organization that isn't? Considering the destructive capacities of HMX and RDX, can anyone traveling by jet feel safe anymore? Way to go, George W. Bush...

No wonder they're acting desperate--time seems to be closing in on them.
Blame it on the Rooskies

Also known as the "grasping at straws theory," Bush administration officials are now floating the idea that the missing explosives from Al Qaqaa are a dirty rotten commie plot. I guess Vlad Putin is expendable.

As you might expect, the Russians themselves deny this, noting they had no "official" military presence after 1991. Regardless, I think the sight of 10 ton trucks leaving a known weapons site--whether alone or in groups--would catch the attention of military planners here in the United States. If NOTHING else, our satellites and reconnasiance aircraft would have seen trucks entering and leaving.

As usual, though, blogs are teasing out the real story--Kos notes the window of opportunity for the Russians would have been roughly one month, as the IAEA inspected the site just prior to March 2003. If trucks entering and leaving THE MOST SENSITIVE SITE in the country weren't being observered and/or monitored--why not? Atrios links to this KTSP story out of Minneapolis. The station had embedded reporters traveling with the 101st Airborne, and were at the site in April 2003. Their reporters were shown "bunker after bunker of material labelled 'explosives.'" This was after the Russians supposedly cleared the site.

And, as usual, Juan Cole has some of the best information and analysis:

Despite the new attempt to defend Bush from charges of incompetence over the disappearance of 380 tons of dual-use explosives (which can be used to detonate nuclear bombs) from the al-Qaqaa facility in Iraq, there is really no excuse. The Pentagon's attempt to maintain that the facility was inspected in early April by US troops has fallen apart. It has 1000 buildings, and the troops had no orders to search them exhaustively. Thus, the statement that they did not see the stickers of the International Atomic Energy Commission does not in fact suggest that the explosives were already gone. It indicates that they didn't have time to see much of the facility.

The Bush administration, which touted "personal responsibility" upon arriving in Washington, once again seeks to pawn the blame off on others. David Englin of Ripple of Hope noted that even Rudolph Guiliani has gotten into the act--by blaming the troops themselves. See, it's THEIR fault for following orders--orders which seemed to involve the strategic toppling of statues while ignoring weapons. Ahh, but these weren't THE weapons, you know, the magic weapons providing four more years of absolute power. No, they were just plain old weapons of the variety that kill and maim, and thus of no concern to Bush, who wouldn't get caught dead--no pun intended--in any situation involving danger. No, it's blame the Russians, blame John Kerry, blame the media, blame, blame, lame, lame, lame.

One thing I've noticed--Bush sure is looking desperate--between non-stop campaigning, which shows what he REALLY cares about (hint: not the troops, not his role as commander in chief), and his weird invocation of Democratic icons, it looks like Bush might be envisioning his not-so-triumphant return to Crawford.

Four years too late, if you ask me.

Wednesday, October 27, 2004

Number 1 in the Nation

Atrios and Bob Harris both have posts on their own sites--as does Kos, so you've probably seen it...but here's the link to George W. Bush's single digit salute to America.

Ah, what the hell--here's an animated .gif:

Click on the link above to hear the audio...
Astronomy Post

Tonight's Lunar Eclipse starts at roughly 8:15 Central Time--for those in the viewing area, enjoy the show.

If you feel like observing something a bit more distant, though, here's the latest news from NASA's Cassini Mission.
Countdown, Continued

Here's another reason to give George W. Bush the boot: Restoration of the Mexico City Policy--this isn't listed among his executive orders, but it carries the full weight of one. I'll cite it in its entirety:

January 22, 2001


SUBJECT: Restoration of the Mexico City Policy

The Mexico City Policy announced by President Reagan in 1984 required nongovernmental organizations to agree as a condition of their receipt of Federal funds that such organizations would neither perform nor actively promote abortion as a method of family planning in other nations. This policy was in effect until it was rescinded on January 22, 1993.

It is my conviction that taxpayer funds should not be used to pay for abortions or advocate or actively promote abortion, either here or abroad. It is therefore my belief that the Mexico City Policy should be restored. Accordingly, I hereby rescind the "Memorandum for the Acting Administrator of the Agency for International Development, Subject: AID Family Planning Grants/Mexico City Policy," dated January 22, 1993, and I direct the Administrator of the United States Agency for International Development to reinstate in full all of the requirements of the Mexico City Policy in effect on January 19, 1993.

Note the date: January 22, 2001--this was the FIRST action taken by the Bush pResidency. It was retroactively enforced from the Friday before he took office.

Religious Tolerance details the ramifications of the policy: with a stroke of the pen, Bush denied ANY funds to international organizations which offer abortion services, counseling, or even advocated access to abortion procedures as PART of overall efforts to promote family planning. This, by the way, was a Reagan-era order, rescinded by Bill Clinton.

Later, Bush himself partially rescinded the ban--this is because family planning agencies are also on the front line in many countries when it comes to dealing with the AIDS crisis--but the order requires organizations receiving funds to separately account for any spending on family planning--with the additional proviso that exceptions can be made in the case of rape, incest, of if the life of the woman is in danger.

While it's good to see that a modicum of common sense was considered, a woman's right to control her body is not negotiable. It's a woman's right. End of story. And funding of family planning organizations--including those offering abortion services--just makes good sense. Denial of a woman's right to control her body is a human rights violation.

Jeffrey at Library Chronicles noted the latest round of Wimblehack 2004 from New York Press. Alas, there were no Lena Olin photos this time around, and, just as bad, I only went 50/50 on my picks.

It seems that, in spite of inspiring a new journalistic term, tumulter-sault (according to the article: the Tumulter-sault is a neat little literary device through which reporters refer to "details on the issues" without ever elaborating upon those actual details. The typical way the writer uses this one is to just slip it in, offhand-like, in between the more important details: "Candidate X, who boasts an impressive record on environmental issues, spent the weekend snowmobiling in Jackson Hole with a pair of one-armed Marine veterans..."), Karen Tumulty was upset by 4th seed Howard Fineman. Alas, Karen didn't file this week, resulting in the walkover. In the New York Times bracket, Elizabeth Bumiller knocked off James Bennet on the strength of her more elaborate Tumulter-sault, resulting in a Times/Newsweek death match that will take two whole weeks to decide.

Seriously, though, check out the entire article. Here's a sample paragraph:

Just think about how condescending this whole election process is: Big business takes away people's jobs, guts their public services, gives them two pro-corporate candidates to choose from in the election, and then hires a bunch of fawning mouthpieces to go on television and describe U the voter as a dumb savage who will vote for the first candidate who shows them a cuckoo clock or a shiny new penny. It's amazing that angry mobs don't round up people like Fineman and Matthews and chop their heads off on general principle.

Iraq: "We're Number 1!"

A stastistic that a Louisianian could appreciate: The Christian Science Monitor reports that Iraq is first among nations--in the number of journalists getting killed. It's official: Iraq is THE deadliest country for reporting.

Someone should tell the Bush administration, so they can trumpet this as a sign of progress. Actually, given the administration's attitude towards the Fourth Estate, they might actually consider this a good sign.
Technical Difficulties

I've noticed that Blogger decided--on it's own--to go bold on me. When I get the chance, I'll check to see if there's something they added to the template...

In the meantime, no, I'm not shouting from the rooftops, although if it'd help defeat George W. Bush, I'd gladly do so...
...And I Don't Even Really Like Rap

Eminem's Mosh video is just what Team Bush DOESN'T want on the air right before the election. As noted above, I'm not much into rap, which gives away my advancing age, but the video and lyrics are compelling.
Tom Burka's Scoop--No Pun Intended

Opinions You Should Have notes the Bush administration's plan for explaining Al QaQaa:

Bush To Counter 380 Tons Of Explosive With 500 Tons Of BS

The Bush Administration announced today that it had been stockpiling a toxic substance to fight the news that 380 tons of deadly HMX or RDX explosive had been stolen from a suspected WMD weapons dump sometime after the U.S invasion of Iraq.

Read the rest of Burka's piece--again, no pun intended--here.


After taking Monday off, I've been a little busy here at work; however, I'm hoping to overcome this spell of activity and return to my normal function as a civil servant, i.e., placeholder.

Anyway, with six days to go before the 2004 election, I was thinking it might be a good idea to offer at least six reasons why this pResident Bush should be handed $50 and a one way bus ticket to Crawford given his walking papers. I don't like the idea of spending tax dollars to fund a retirement that's the envy of King Midas, but it's for the greater good.

Actually, six reasons is lowballing, big time. But given how close it is to election day, I'll start by promising six, and will go from there, time permitting.

OK, in chronological order: Let's start with Reason 1: He wasn't legitimately elected. Greg Palast has been perhaps the most tireless reporter in covering the fraud of 2000, and deserves to be commended for the work he's done. Stop by the above link for the best place to begin if you want to see the sheer contempt with which the GOP treats democracy.

First, let's talk just a bit about the Electoral College--as everyone recalls, Gore WON the so-called "popular" vote, i.e., THE VOTE. It was the arcane Electoral Vote that he lost. Now, the Electoral College is not as contemptable as, say, the slavery clauses, but it's an element of the Constitution that is decidedly undemocratic. Unfortunately, it's unlikely to be changed any time soon, for a whole host of reasons that are of little interest except to Political Science majors like myself. However--in a nutshell, it's awful. Supposedly, the College keeps the candidates from focusing on "just the large population centers." Um, excuse me, but how is "democracy" without the people democratic? Besides, is the present situation--where the candidates focus on a handfull of "swing states"--really any different?

Then there was the Florida situation--a disgrace, pure and simple. The Supreme Court decision managed to somehow be even more disgraceful, and they knew it--why else would they insist that their ruling did NOT set a precedent? The controversies about "butterfly" and "caterpillar" ballots were chump change compared to the wholesale fraud perpetrated by Jeb Bush and Katherine Harris. The media hardly uttered so much as a mouse squeak about Jeb's voter purge, while Harris was berated for what? A bad photograph? Welcome to the end times for a genuinely critical press.

Voter intimidation--thought to be gone following the passage of the Voting Rights Act--was in evidence throughout the country in 2000, both in Florida and elsewhere (Your Right Hand Thief has a humorous and not so humorous take on this). Already, we're seeing an attempt to engage in similar practices this year. That's because, in the end, the GOP knows their key to victory is to keep voter turnout down. The exercise of democracy--or, as some referred to back in the 60's, the "excess" of democracy, is anathema to the interests of the elites. They try to make voting--and politics--seem boring, while simultaneously renting large numbers of politicians who do their bidding. If the public doesn't buy into the "politics are boring" meme, they bring out the heavy weaponry of fear, intimidation, and fraud.

No, I'm not forgetting 2000. Given the results, George W. Bush should have been a caretaker pResident, until 9/11 gave him carte blanche. But 9/11 will be another reason for throwing Dubya out on his ear. I'll look at in a subsequent post.

Tuesday, October 26, 2004

Bush as "Outliver"

Leslie Brill's Counterpunch essay is, to be honest, not quite as structured as I'd expect from an English professor. However, it underscores the case against Bush that I'll be trying to lay out in the final days of the campaign, and hopefully the beginning of the end to the insanity that defines the adminstration.

Brill uses the German term der Überlebende to describe Dubya. This could be translated as "Survivor," but he (and I think Brill is male, based on a quick googling of his name) chooses the term "Outliver" because Bush embraces any number of policies that involve killing--and this dates back to his tenure as Texas Governor, where he presided over the greatest number of executions since the restoration of the death penalty.

Citing Elias Canetti's Mass Und Macht, the professor analyzes the method to Bush's madness:

Since assuming power through a disputed and bizarrely concluded election, the second Bush Administration has consistently made choices and exhibited behavior characteristic of Canetti's Outlivers-of Outlivers, moreover, heavily laden with the anxiety of command. It has preferred modalities of power to judicial or legislative processes, and has reflexively acted out a mania for secrecy. Mistrustful of other nations, it has withdrawn from, defied, and refused to participate in numerous international treaties. With the curious exception of North Korea, it has preferred bilateral to multilateral diplomacy, and it has cooperated with multi-national organizations like NATO and the UN only as long as those groups endorse conclusions it has already reached. It has unhesitatingly put at risk hundreds of thousands of U.S. military personnel and has hardly seemed to notice the thousands of foreign nationals it has killed, wounded, and imprisoned...

Prominent in the personality of this Administration is its obsession with the power of governments to kill. Discussing "The Ruler as Outliver," Canetti observed that his "first and decisive feature is his legal power over life and death. It is the seal of his power, which is absolute only as long as his right to impose death remains undisputed" (273). The eagerness of the Bush Administration that the death penalty should be more widely and frequently sought in federal courts reflects the Outliver's craving for absolute power. In pursuit of more death-penalty prosecutions, Attorney General Ashcroft has repeatedly overruled recommendations of his own prosecutors; and the executions already accomplished under Ashcroft's urging are the first of federal death row prisoners in thirty-eight years. Equally suggestive is the Administration's fondness, when speaking of foreign enemies, to promise, "They will be captured, or killed." To make the latter more probable, Administration warriors urge development of tactical nuclear weapons designed to inflict lethal American might upon those who try to escape in mountain caves or buried concrete bunkers. Whether such actions violate international law and assumptions of innocence, or re-escalate a nuclear arms race, does not seem to merit discussion.

The assassination of Uday and Qusay Hussein offered a vivid example of this Administration's passion for killing. The attack on the home in which they were trapped was simply murderous-overwhelming cannon fire and rockets against a few cornered opponents. As Peter Davis noted in The Nation, there was "no waiting them out, no disabling gas lobbed into the house At the end they were impotent, helpless, and the order of the day-which no one here doubts came from Washington-was Exterminate the Brutes." When given a choice between capture and kill, those in charge evidently hardly considered the former.

For the paranoid leader, "every execution for which he is responsible bestows some strength. He obtains the power of the Outliver" (274). Given that no weapons of mass destruction have yet been found in Iraq (as of September, 2004) and that, if they eventually appear, they are unlikely to have posed a substantial threat to the U.S., Canetti's next sentences are especially germane: "His victims may not have actually been lined up against him, but they might have been able to do so. His fear transforms them, at first retrospectively perhaps, into enemies that have struggled against him. He has sentenced them; they have been brought low; he has outlived them" (274). Unself-consciously, Bush gloated in his 2003 State of the Union address, "All told, more than 3,000 suspected terrorists have been arrested in many countries. Many others have met a different fate. Let's put it this way-they are no longer a problem." The implications of the adjective "suspected" for the imprisonment and killing seem to have escaped him (and applauding legislators). Similarly, the regime of Saddam Hussein, whether it had weapons of mass destruction or not, is "no longer a problem." So we have been told; but ongoing casualties render increasingly questionable the famous "mission accomplished" boast...

Because George W. Bush and many of his key officers lean strongly toward the type that Canetti called Outlivers, American citizens and the world must take seriously the threats they pose. As the U.S. electorate confronts the claims and counter-claims of another presidential election, the incessant assertions of the Bush Administration that dire circumstances exist, that "bad guys" abound and will continue to exist indefinitely, must be viewed with vigilant skepticism. For Outlivers find nothing more convenient to justify the exercise of their power than the specter of omnipresent enemies.

Denouncing bombings in Baghdad, the President declared of the perpetrators, "They hate freedom, they love terror." (October 28, 2003) As one whose speeches constantly parade various threats before his countrymen and who urges Congress to pass another, even more intrusive and confining "Patriot Act," Bush's typically simple formulation would seem to apply at least as revealingly to his Administration as to those who carried out the attacks in Iraq.

What can we who unhappily watch the spectacle of our bellicose government and its nominated enemies do about all this? For starters, we must still remember-whether George Bush manages to claim the White House again or not-to cherish the civil liberties that remain to us and to guard against the unstinting promoters of "fear itself," be they foreign or domestic. For die Überlebende must by their very nature truly "hate freedom love terror."

Multimedia Tuesday

Via Matthew Yglesias, I came across TOPDOG04.COM. He's featuring a .wmv on his main page--the title is How bin Laden Got Away. The music is Dear Mr. President by Fred Wreck. Scroll down his main page for additional documentation.

Anybody who thinks Bush is serious about fighting to win the "war on terror" doesn't just have a screw loose. It's more like they're a general recall waiting to happen. Bush IS serious about all-war, all-the-time, though. And guess who's going to be fighting it? (Hint: not Barbara or Jenna). I feel a draft coming on...
Krugman: Bush's Culture of Coverup

Here's an op-ed by Paul Krugman that examines the recent revelation about the looting of Al Qaqaa and the refusal--that's right, refusal--to do anything about Abu Musab al-Zarqawi prior to rushing into Iraq:

Informed sources quoted by the influential Nelson Report say explosives from Al Qaqaa are the "primary source" of the roadside and car bombs that have killed and wounded so many U.S. soldiers. And thanks to the huge amount looted - "in a highly organized operation using heavy equipment" - the insurgents and whoever else have access to the Qaqaa material have enough explosives for tens of thousands of future bombs.

If the administration had had its way, the public would never have heard anything about this. Administration officials have known about the looting of Al Qaqaa for at least six months, and probably much longer. But they didn't let the I.A.E.A. inspect the site after the war, and pressured the Iraqis not to inform the agency about the loss. They now say that they didn't want our enemies - that is, the people who stole the stuff - to know it was missing. The real reason, obviously, was that they wanted the news kept under wraps until after Nov. 2.

The story of the looted explosives has overshadowed another report that Bush officials tried to suppress - this one about how the Bush administration let Abu Musab al-Zarqawi get away. An article in yesterday's Wall Street Journal confirmed and expanded on an "NBC Nightly News" report from March that asserted that before the Iraq war, administration officials called off a planned attack that might have killed Mr. Zarqawi, the terrorist now blamed for much of the mayhem in that country, in his camp.

Citing "military officials," the original NBC report explained that the failure to go after Mr. Zarqawi was based on domestic politics: "the administration feared destroying the terrorist camp in Iraq" - a part of Iraq not controlled by Saddam Hussein - "could undermine its case for war against Saddam." The Journal doesn't comment on this explanation, but it does say that when NBC reported, correctly, that Mr. Zarqawi had been targeted before the war, administration officials denied it.

Krugman goes on to suggest that if Peter Goss is retained as CIA Director, there's no telling what else presently hidden from public knowledge will stay hidden. He cites the Robert Scheer op-ed in the Los Angeles Times that charges the Bush administration with stonewalling Congress--and the American public--by suppressing a report on 9/11 prepared by the CIA inspector general which identifies individuals who didn't do their jobs. Goss refuses to release this report, even though it's been ready since last June.

Goddamn. How much more is it going to take before the public finally realizes that Bush is no more serious about his "war on terror" than he is about ANYTHING? His entire program is a subterfuge for a plain and simple power grab. In their mind, the violence in Iraq is a small price to pay for the real prize--complete control of the Federal Government. They'll do absolutely anything to get what they want--and the public be damned.

Monday, October 25, 2004

Ten Dim Bulbs

Apologies for slowness in posting today--I was feeling a little under the weather (nothing serious), and took a day of rest from work.

I've been reading the usual blogs and websites, which I'm sure everyone else has been doing--on the Iraqi debacle front, the revelation that almost 400 tons of high explosives have gone missing from a known military installation that apparently wasn't guarded when the troops swept towards Baghdad has all the markings of classic Bush policy: first, ignore the problem, second, ignore the problem, than get all hot under the collar when asked about it. While I'm sure that careful preparations were made for "Mission Accomplished," nobody bothered to accomplish the mission--because they never really had a mission. The invasion was pure politics. The fact that people were going to get killed mattered not one bit to them.

However, they've got some real spinmeisters, eh? The Wolves in the woods ad has already proven so effective that The Poor Man has TWO takes on this--here and here. Atrios reported last week that an airing on Crossfire drew derisive laughter.

And today's shocking revelation that Kerry didn't meet with ALL of the UN Security Council members last year (oh my gosh--Mexico, Colombia, AND Bulgaria weren't present) will only generate a response from those already inclined to think the Senator is Satan's spawn.

In this light (no pun intended) I'll close with the following joke sent to me by my sister:

How many members of the Bush Administration does it
take to change a light bulb?

The Answer is TEN:

1. one to deny that the light bulb needs to be

2. one to attack the patriotism of anyone who says
the light bulb needed to be changed,

3. one to blame Clinton for burning out the light

4. one to tell the nations of the world that they
are either for changing the light bulb or for darkness,

5. one to give a billion dollar no-bid contract to
Haliburton for the new light bulb,

6. one to arrange a photograph of Bush, dressed as
a janitor, standing on a step ladder under the banner "Lightbulb
Change Accomplished,

7. one administration insider to resign and write a
book documenting detail how Bush was literally in the dark,

8. one to viciously smear #7,

9. one surrogate to campaign on TV and at rallies
on how George Bush has had a strong light-bulb-changing policy all along,

10. and finally one to confuse Americans about the
difference between screwing a light bulb and screwing the country.

I'll try to be back later this evening--again, apologies for the late start.