Friday, August 04, 2006

Another Trip Down Memory Lane

Last night I caught Countdown's Worst Person in the World Segment (the gold medal went to Rush Lamebone), but second place: Congressman Jo Bonner blaming the Iraqis for Operation Enduring Clusterfuck--"We may look back and say we gave it our best shot and we did everything we could do to make it a success. And at the end of the day we could not make people accept the gift of freedom."--jogged my memory.

Fortunately, Counterpunch has a decent enough search engine, and without too much trouble I was able to find the article in question. It's from Chuck O'Connell, and was written on the eve of the invasion (published March 19, 2003). In it, he offers a set of predictions. Some are a bit off the mark; however, it seems O'Connell simply didn't realize the depths of Team Bush ineptitude. Others are, no pun intended, dead on accurate, and O'Connell lists the one I remembered as "Number 5:"

Iraq will not be rebuilt into an affluent middle class nation. Oil profits will flow to a small upper class and the mass of people will be forgotten by the prowar crowd and the government that waged the war to save the Iraqi people from Hussein. Eventually the misery of the Iraqi people will be blamed on the Iraqis themselves.

Actually, I have no idea where the oil money is flowing...but he's right about it NOT going to the Iraqi people, who might have more pressing concerns, like trying to cross the street without getting shot or blown up (or worse). For that, they've got us to thank, even as some like Bonner look to blame anyone...but themselves.

O'Connell also foresaw the "demonization" of Iran (of course, now that's part of the "flight forward," um, for lack of a better word, option, pushed by the petulant neocons, who refuse to recognize reality. And he correcctly assessed that there would be no resolution to both the Kurdish and Palestinian questions.

I think it's worth a look, particularly in light of the situation today.
Friday Video Blogging--WWJD Edition

The Passion of The Christ, Part II (Son of The Passion of The Christ?)

What would Jesus do? Well, you're gonna find out.
Complete Disconnect From Reality

Don't know if y'all saw this--it was on Atrios's site earlier this week, and I understand he's not exactly piling up the page views (and yes, that's a joke)...but, on the subject of jokes, well, Jean Schmidt. Need I say more?

I don't think science has yet managed to replicate the sheer level of vacuum eternally present in Representative Schmidt's cranium. Hell, I'm surprised her head hasn't imploded...and sucked in a fair bit of her district in the process. But if you want to see a real example of batshit insane, check it out. Pshew. Call it what you want: batshit insane, off the deep end and sinking like a lead ingot, divorced--no, ANNULLED--from reality and ineligible for a settlement, a few tons (or tonnes) of bricks short of a load, a knife so dull it loses the battle with melted butter, a bulb so dim you could use it in a darkroom...

Unfortunately, it's also the "point of view" of a national representative, who must think Iraqis were herding camels until the United States came to "liberate" them. Maybe someone should remind Schmidt that the Fertile Crescent is the birthplace of what's become Western Civilization, and that some cities in Iraq were already old when our republic was FOUNDED.

But be careful when doing wouldn't want to get caught up in whatever event horizon surrounds the congressperson, and begin a terminal death spiral.
Posterboy for a Meltdown

From Schroeder, this WaPo story coincidentally focuses on Pvt. Steven D. Green...who is now under indictment for raping and murdering an Iraqi CHILD (not, as the press here says, a "woman")and her family.

Subsequent to Green's indictment, we have yet another alleged crime...that we know of (and lord only knows how many we DON'T know about).

"I came over here because I wanted to kill people."

Over a mess-tent dinner of turkey cutlets, the bony-faced 21-year-old private from West Texas looked right at me as he talked about killing Iraqis with casual indifference. It was February, and we were at his small patrol base about 20 miles south of Baghdad. "The truth is, it wasn't all I thought it was cracked up to be. I mean, I thought killing somebody would be this life-changing experience. And then I did it, and I was like, 'All right, whatever.' "

He shrugged.

"I shot a guy who wouldn't stop when we were out at a traffic checkpoint and it was like nothing," he went on. "Over here, killing people is like squashing an ant. I mean, you kill somebody and it's like 'All right, let's go get some pizza.' "

At the time, the soldier's matter-of-fact manner struck me chiefly as a rare example of honesty. I was on a nine-month assignment as an embedded reporter in Iraq, spending much of my time with grunts like him -- mostly young (and immature) small-town kids who sign up for a job as killers, lured by some gut-level desire for excitement and adventure. This was not the first group I had run into that was full of young men who shared a dark sense of humor and were clearly desensitized to death. I thought this soldier was just one of the exceptions who wasn't afraid to say what he really thought, a frank and reflective kid, a sort of Holden Caulfield in a war zone.

But the private was Steven D. Green.

If you've got the time, read the entire article. You'll get a taste of Pvt. Green's own patch of hell in Iraq--which doesn't excuse his actions whatsoever, by the way. But then think about all the soldiers we've exposed to this sort of physical and psychological trauma. Amazingly, MOST, indeed, ALMOST ALL, will manage to deal with this sort of trauma without incident--ok, without overt incident. However, some--like Private Green--allegedly snap. They are the statistical anomalies--but this isn't a sterile mathematical universe. These "anomalies" can cause horrific pain and suffering.

And not just over in Iraq. I've mentioned this before, but once again, I'll repeat: I think the odds of Bush's petulant, stupid war of choice producing another Tim McVeigh or John Allen Mohammed are, sadly, quite good. Worse, the odds are even BETTER that we'll see some Iraqi war veterans "go postal," just as we saw some from a previous generation--Vietnam veterans--do the same. Oh--and this administration isn't even TRYING to mitigate this possibility.

That's just plain nuts. But then again, what do you expect from this administration?
Maybe It Was a "Metrics" Thing...

The inventor of "the Friedman Unit" has asked that it be dropped from consideration as a Board of (Border?) Standards Measure:

In today’s New York Times, Friedman writes “It is now obvious that we are not midwifing democracy in Iraq. We are baby-sitting a civil war” and it’s time to “disengage.” An excerpt:
[T]hree years of efforts to democratize Iraq are not working. That means “staying the course” is pointless, and it’s time to start thinking about Plan B — how we might disengage with the least damage possible.

…But the administration now has to admit what anyone — including myself — who believed in the importance of getting Iraq right has to admit: Whether for Bush reasons or Arab reasons, it is not happening, and we can’t throw more good lives after good lives.

Finally, the war in Iraq has so divided us at home and abroad that leaving, while bringing other problems, might also make it easier to build coalitions to deal with post-U.S. Iraq, Iran, Hezbollah and Syria. All these problems are connected. We need to deal with Iran and Syria, but from a position of strength — and that requires a broad coalition.

The longer we maintain a unilateral failing strategy in Iraq, the harder it will be to build such a coalition, and the stronger the enemies of freedom will become.

I knew there was a flaw in Tom's "metric" system. Besides, it just doesn't feel right to say that Friedman is full of "tonnes" of shit.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Hmmm...What Was That About 'Not Doing Body Counts'?

The Iraqi version of "If it's dead, it's VC:"

Military prosecutors and investigators probing the killing of three Iraqi detainees by U.S. troops in May believe the unit's commanders created an atmosphere of excessive violence by encouraging "kill counts" and possibly issuing an illegal order to shoot Iraqi men.

At a military hearing Wednesday on the killing of the detainees near Samarra, witnesses painted a picture of a brigade that operated under loose rules allowing wanton killing and tolerating violent, anti-Arab racism.

Some military officials believe that the shooting of the three detainees and the killing of 24 civilians in November in Haditha reveal failures in the military chain of command, in one case to establish proper rules of engagement and in the other to vigorously investigate incidents after the fact.

"The bigger thing here is the failure of the chain of command," said a Defense Department official familiar with the investigations.

As allegations of U.S. troop misconduct in Iraq have mounted, the military's defenders have maintained that most were isolated incidents and that officers and investigators working within the military justice system had succeeded in ferreting out the truth.

The military's primary report on the Haditha incident, completed this year, does not explicitly accuse the Marine command in Iraq of a cover-up. But the investigation cites several instances of information being ignored or evidence being destroyed, including log entries from the day the killings took place. The Defense official, who has reviewed the report, spoke on condition of anonymity because the findings have not been released.

Initial findings of investigators looking into the Samarra incident may be even more troubling. Military officials are investigating Army Col. Michael Steele, the commander of the 101st Airborne Division's 3rd Brigade, whose soldiers are accused of killing the three Iraqi detainees.

Investigators are trying to determine whether Steele issued an illegal order to "kill all military aged males" and encouraged unrestrained killing by his troops.

On Wednesday, a military court heard testimony from a witness who suggested that a culture of racism and unrestrained violence pervaded the unit.

The account of Pfc. Bradley Mason and other witnesses bolstered the findings of investigators who say the brigade's commanders led soldiers to believe it was permissible to kill Iraqi men...

Mason depicted a unit that had embraced a violent ethos and was routinely hostile to ordinary Iraqis. Commanders encouraged soldiers to compete to rack up "enemy kills," he said. A board at their headquarters that showed the numbers of Iraqis killed served to reinforce the message. "Let the bodies hit the floor," read a phrase at the bottom of the board.

"That's another terrorist down," Mason quoted Girouard as telling soldiers after they killed someone. "Good job."

Soldiers referred to ordinary Iraqis derogatorily as "hajis," a reference to Muslims who have made the hajj pilgrimage to Mecca, and considered the 10 or so Iraqi army soldiers and interpreters working for their unit as mostly "terrorists," Mason said. Under questioning, Mason acknowledged saying that even before he arrived in Iraq, he asserted that "every man, woman and child in Iraq deserves to die."

On May 8, the day before the raid, Steele reportedly addressed a group of about 100 soldiers.

"We're going in tomorrow," he told them, according to 1st Lt. Justin Werheim, another prosecution witness. "We're going to hit the ground shooting, and kill all the Al Qaeda in Iraq insurgents."

The rules of engagement were unambiguous, Werheim said, and came down "several times" via Capt. Daniel Hart, who also has requested immunity.

"We were to positively identify and kill any military-age male on the island," Werheim said.

On the "bright" side, I don't doubt military historians and specialists will be studying our occupation for years to's a textbook example of how NOT to win.
Do You Know What It Means To Miss New Orleans?

Linked to without comment--here's the New York Times article about Spike Lee's upcoming HBO documentary When the Levees Broke: A Requiem in Four Acts.

According to the piece, the first half will be screened at the New Orleans Arena on August 16th (I don't know if the free tickets are still available, but you can click here to find out) and HBO will air the show on August 21st and 22nd, with a full version on August 29th/one year after.

Don't know about y'all, but I'd like to see this...HBO isn't part of my cable teevee package, but I expect at some point a DVD will be available...

de·lusion·al adj. : relating to, based on,
or affected by delusions e.g., a delusional
Secretary of Defense

Rumsfeld must've gotten his grubby little hands on some of the heaviest drugs in the Pentagon pharmacopeia:

I have never painted a rosy picture [re: Iraq]

And, echoing his geographic acumen as to WMD ("We know where they are. They're in the area around Tikrit and Baghdad and east, west, south, and north somewhat"), the SecDef demonstrated his unique understanding of the relation between insurgency and meteorological conditions:

Does the violence tend to be up during the summer, in the spring, summer and fall months? Yes it does. And it tends to decline during the winter period.

To steal a line from WIIIAI, I'm waiting for Rummy to suddenly announce:

Dude, I am so high right now.

More about the Senate hearings today here and here.

I wonder if, like with Nixon during "The Final Days,", someone's passed the word around to ignore any direct orders from the doddering idiot SecDef. I dunno, it might be a good idea...except that the alternate, um, "deciders" are Smirk-Chimp and Deadeye Dick. Hmmm...

Still, at this point, "doddering idiot SecDef" might be putting it kindly. I'm beginning to think Rummy might be so out of it as to live on his own little planet...
A Measuring Stick for a "Friedman Unit"

To paraphrase Steve Miller, the "Friedman-Unit" six month window "keeps on slipping into the future"--well, except for the fact that any sane person knew since before the March, 2003 invasion that the whole sorry enterprise would eventually turn to shit-on-an-stick (of explosives).

The latest, courtesy of First-Draft and Rising Hegemon, demonstrates how the Friedman Unit--or, as Attaturk puts it, the "FU"--continues to to say?...a source of solace, or, perhaps more accurately, a bloody mass of straw and splinters upon which to cling to like a security blanket while hoping against all hope that SOMETHING...ANYTHING...can be salvaged from George W. Bush's petulance (and Tony "Poodle Boy" Blair's complicity):

Civil war is a more likely outcome in Iraq than democracy, Britain's outgoing ambassador in Baghdad has warned Tony Blair in a confidential memo.

William Patey, who left the Iraqi capital last week, also predicted the break-up of Iraq along ethnic lines...

The cable says that "the next six months are crucial" - an assessment which is shared by the coalition's military commanders.

"The next six months..." What a steaming pile...on the bed.

No, the bed won't UN-shit itself. It will need to be cleaned up. And the longer it stays, the worse it's going to get.

Yesterday, on Countdown Tom Ricks offered his own opinion, that there was, oh, about a 5 percent chance of the mother-of-all-clusterfucks turning out ok. Of course, that means there's a 95 PERCENT chance of this being as good as it gets. Geez.

Oh, and in case nobody noticed, the United States is getting a real taste of an Iraqi-style summer. Gee, maybe there IS a god, and she's letting us know SHE IS PISSED.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Oui, Oui

"French" fries and toast have been quietly added back to the menu of the US House of Representatives' cafeteria:

House Republicans renamed fries and French toast in 2003 to protest at France's opposition to the war on Iraq.

The patriotic name change hit the headlines at the time but the change back is getting much less coverage.

A House official would only say that fries are no longer being offered under the "freedom" nomenclature.

The Washington Times newspaper contacted aides of the two congressmen behind the move to "freedom fries " to see if they could shed light on the change back.

"We don't have a comment for your story," a spokeswoman for Republican representative Bob Ney told the newspaper.

At the time, Mr Ney, who together with Walter Jones pushed for "freedom fries", said the action was "a small but symbolic effort to show the strong displeasure of many on Capitol Hill with the actions of our so-called ally, France".

The move followed the lead of a North Carolina restaurant whose owner said he got the idea from similar protest action against Germany during World War I, when sauerkraut was renamed liberty cabbage and frankfurters became hot dogs.

The switch to "freedom fries" was seen as reflecting the anti-French sentiment among some lawmakers who felt President Jacques Chirac betrayed the US by opposing its policy on Iraq.

The Senate cafeterias never changed their menus.

A spokeswoman for the French embassy asked about current French-US ties told the Washington Times that the two countries were working closely on the Middle East.

"Our relations are much more important than potatoes," she said.

"French fries are back on the menu in the Capitol, back on the presidential dinner menu and our relations are back on track."

With that nonsense out of the way, maybe the Congress can, oh, I don't know, start behaving like a co-equal branch of government, instead of co-infantile with the present executive.

And damn if I don't wish all those idiots dumping bottles of vin francais down the drain back in 2003 hadn't consulted me first...I could've taken "good" care of them instead.
"Fu Wang Ge, or Hall of Wishes Fulfilled"

Even the Communists in China get it:

Anyone who has visited Beijing in the last few years knows that the Forbidden City, the ancient home of China’s emperors, is in the midst of a total restoration. Plans call for work to be completed by 2020, in time to celebrate the 600th anniversary of the imperial compound...

Mr. Jin said the renovation program, which began in earnest in 2002, was focused on finishing the largest public buildings before the Olympics and would restore the entire complex by the 2020 deadline. He said almost 2,000 construction workers and craftsmen were involved.

“I don’t think it’s an exaggeration to say that the whole world is watching,” he said. “We can’t make any mistakes.”

The craftsmen and workers doing the renovation are Chinese, but Mr. Jin said foreign conservationists were providing advice on certain projects. Preservationists with the Italian government are consulting on the work at the Hall of Supreme Harmony.

Mr. Jin said the arrangement with the World Monuments Fund was the first major collaboration involving an American conservation group and the Forbidden City. The partnership began in 2003, when the fund committed $3.3 million to restoring the building known as Qianlong’s Lodge of Retirement.

Last March a broader $15 million agreement, which included $5 million from the Chinese side, was announced to restore all 24 buildings and the elaborate outdoor courtyards of the entire Qianlong Garden.

The restoration is a matter of both civic and national pride, as well as a good investment, as well as a demonstration of an appreciation of history--unfortunately, it seems as if stripmall America, or at least those who are comfortable with such monstrosities, can't be bothered when it comes to OUR national heritage.

Don't get me wrong--restoration of the Gulf Coast and New Orleans will require a lot more work and be a hell of a lot costlier than restoration of the Forbidden City...but the United States is a hell of a lot RICHER than the PRC. Yet, we've got a combination of things contributing to the inertia: an administration too interested in destruction instead of creation, a contingent of the lazy, who insist upon throwing their hands up in the air both when it comes to restoring a cultural masterpiece AND a literal economic engine (while turning a blind eye to, ahem, this administration's robbing of the national treasury in order to prop up their favorite corporations)...and perhaps the largest groop, those who really don't know what happened--and don't understand the degree to which the government has abandoned its responsibility (and the degree to which the private insurance companies cynically shirked theirs).

I never thought I'd be envious of the PRC for ANYTHING, much less demonstrating a degree of far-sightedness lacking in this administration (which, by the way, is busily ensuring that your kids and grandkids will be in hock to the same PRC). Hell, I can only imagine how Team Bush would handle restoration of the Forbidden City...well, imagine it with the help of photoshop:

I'm sure they'd call this "Mission Accomplished."
Bad Policy, Worse Public Relations

Guaranteed Toxic if Shrub Touches it.

Toxic...if I had to choose a one-word description of pretty much every public policy pursued by Team Bush, that's the word.

Their capacity for extreme violence and destruction, as witnessed by their hyperventilating for multiple wars--wars that have gone bad faster than the rot from a Katrina Fridge--is matched only by an equally shocking inertia when it comes to cleaning up the mess made on their watch--the mess along the Gulf Coast, the financial mess resulting from running the national debt up faster than a teenager with their parents' car & credit cards, the international political mess...Team Bush is as toxic as the I-10 corridor between Lake Charles and Houston.

Today I saw the term "constructive chaos" at America Blog--though this was used to describe foreign policy, it could just as easily apply to New Orleans, where yet another report notes a level of despair that I imagine could be multiplied even further in places like Iraq and Afghanistan--speaking of, there's yet more news regarding two atrocities we know about--the Haditha massacre and the "kill them all" order last May in Samarra...and, while we know of other "incidents," I don't doubt for a moment there are even more we DON'T know about.

Lebanon is still on the receiving end of a savage collective punishment--punishment Rush Lamebone fully endorses and which is fully in tune with the twisted logic of Osama bin Laden. And it's a virtual certainty that this war will be as bad for Israel as the present twin quagmires of Iraq and Afghanistan are for us...between the outrage of those we're "liberating" and the stresses borne by the "liberators" (i.e., the military), does anyone doubt there will be MORE violence in the future?

And this crap will feed on itself. Thanks, Team Bush.

Athenae put it well-- it's THEIR mess and it's time they were called to task:

And the minute some right-wing blowhard like Norm Coleman, or that weird little plastic creature Santorum, or some other jerkoff of the week, goes on TV and says, "They have no plan for Iraq," these hawkish Dems should say, "So now you want us to fix your mistakes? Talk about the party of personal responsibility."

Because the minute you act like it's your assigned task to change the sheets, you take the focus off the guy who shit the bed in the first place. It's their mess, and they should have to lie in it all night long.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Afternoon Reading

Well, with photo posting dead--again--I'll have to forego any visual "enhancement" and instead just point to the links--here and here with a thanks and hat tip to Bayou St. John David. The links are to the online version of this month's National Geographic, and focus on large hurricanes and New Orleans. They're well worth a look.
Another Victim Found--Almost One Year Later

Scout Prime links to the story from WWL:

Eleven months after Hurricane Katrina hit, firefighters broke through a back door of a destroyed home filled with debris and furniture and found skeletal remains.

The remains were found yesterday in a home in eastern New Orleans. The discovery was made after the Louisiana Family Assistance Center in Baton Rouge received information from a woman's son who said he believed she was still in her house.

Chief coroner's investigator John Gagliano says DNA tests will be used to identify the remains.

With the help of a search dog, authorities found the bones under a pile of debris in a front bedroom.

It was the 28th Katrina body found in New Orleans since a federal mortuary service ceased operations and turned the collection of bodies over the coroner's office in March.

In May Louisiana's Department of Health and Hospitals raised Louisiana's Katrina death toll by 281, to a total of 1,577 after receiving more reports of out-of-state deaths.

Interesting that you can hardly listen to a Shrub speech where he DOESN'T bark "9/11" as if it's his personal justification for anything and everything...yet he can't seem to so much as mention the subsequent disaster that occurred on his watch...even though this administration had more than enough advance warning. The victims of Katrina are just so many corpses to be forgotten...kind of like the dead of Lebanon. Forgotten, or dismissed with a patronizing statement.
"Doctors Declare President 'Fit for Duty'"

The World Reacts

Moral equivalent of a president...but a certified dingbat and sociopath.

You know, it'd be one thing if Shrub was merely expressing the sadistic will of the entire GOP when he calls for more war instead of a cease-fire in Lebanon...or insists that the world of shit he's created in Iraq doesn't, you know, stink to high heaven for both Iraqis themselves and the soldiers we've sent over. That'd still be seriously sick, particularly in light of the very REAL problems in this country that are being studiously IGNORED. But the Chimperor's demented worldview is warped to such an extent that some in his own party realize things are seriously amiss:

A key Senate Republican is calling on the Bush administration to work for an immediate cease-fire in the conflict between Israeli forces and the Lebanese-based Hezbollah militants...

In a speech on the Senate floor Monday, [Nebraska GOP Senator Charles] Hagel urged the Bush administration to do something it has so far refused: engage Syria and Iran, the main sponsors of Hezbollah. "Ultimately, the United States will need to engage Iran and Syria with an agenda open to all areas of agreement and disagreement. For this dialogue to have any meaning or possible lasting relevance, it should encompass the full agenda of issues," he said.

Hagel warned that close U.S. ties with Israel must not come at the expense of relations with the Arab and Muslim world. "The United States will remain committed to defending Israel. Our relationship with Israel is a special and historic one. But, it need not and cannot be at the expense of our Arab and Muslim relationships. That is an irresponsible and dangerous false choice. Achieving a lasting resolution to the Arab-Israeli conflict is as much in Israel's interest as any other country in the world," he said...

But Hagel said military action alone will not destroy Hezbollah, and that the pursuit of tactical military victories at the expense of the core strategic objective of Arab-Israeli peace is a hollow victory. He urged the United States to reengage Middle East and international partners to find a resolution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Hagel, a potential presidential candidate in 2008, also offered comments about the U.S. challenges in Iraq.

"America is bogged down in Iraq, and this is limiting our diplomatic and military options. The longer American remains in Iraq in its current capacity, the deeper the damage to our force structure, particularly the U.S. Army," he said.

To paraphrase from The Merchant of Venice (and hopefully not stray into Mel Gibson territory) ALL SIDES have managed to extract not merely their pound of flesh, but literally tons of it. Continuing to kill--be it in Iraq, or Lebanon--or anywhere else for that matter--is the SUREST guarantee of even more bloodshed down the road. Charles Hegel gets this--Team Bush and their band of wingnuts seems not to comprehend.

I'm not so naiive to think that the United States has always been a paragon of virtue--too many Native Americans, African slaves, women, and "free" laborers of all ethnicities provide mute testimony to the contrary--but plenty of Americans in virtually every era recognized the sheer destructive futility of war, understood it was a LAST resort, and recognized engaging in war was virtually certain to create as many problems as it "solved." But these days, it seems as if some, beginning with the twitnut-in-chief, think of war as the first, if not sole option, for pretty much everything and anything (provided, of course, their sorry asses aren't called to the firing line)...and anyone who thinks otherwise is at least a rhetorical, if not actual "traitor."

This is dangerous on so many levels that, well, I can't really think of a joke. Because not only are we definitely losing the war in Iraq...and Afghanistan (likewise Israel is losing in Lebanon)...but we're also racing along a path of international estrangement (not such a good idea for a country dependent upon global trade), and guaranteeing the continuation of a conflict that does no one any good.

Now, I don't want to give the impression that I'm unconcerned about global terrorism, but the approach taken by Team Bush--that it's something akin to an American rules football game--is stupid, disastrous, and doesn't work (for instance, both our own military AND the IDF seem to have trouble distinguishing combatants from non-combatants). Just because American rules football is likened to war doesn't mean war can be likened to American rules football. Terrorism and other such dangers are more comparable to a cancer. And "defeating" cancer requires an approach far more intelligent than anything our "leaders" have proffered, even assuming they want to win--which, by the way, isn't a given (recall how gleeful Shrub sounded when referring to himself as "a war president").

Stopping the killing--as soon as possible--is the ONLY way to minimize even more bloodshed. That shouldn't be difficult for anyone who isn't certifiably batshit insane to comprehend.

Monday, July 31, 2006

Compared to Shrub, Don Vito's a Freaking Humanist

Consider: Don Corleone refused to kill the men who attacked Bonasera's daughter; later, after Sonny was murdered, he directed there be "no acts of vengeance...This war stops now."

In contrast, here's the boy-emper-ator:

Asked about the Israeli an interview on Fox's "Your World with Neil Cavuto," Bush said the deaths had added pressure on Israel to stop bombing. But, he said, "stopping for the sake of stopping can be OK, except it won't address the root cause of the problem."

"Yesterday's situation was awful," Bush said. "I understand that, but it's also awful that a million Israelis are worried about rockets being fired from their neighbor to the north."

And here's his statement of "concern" for victims of Qana:

"We mourn the loss of innocent life, both in Lebanon and in Israel."

Yeah, sure you do, you sociopathic freak. More than 50 people are killed in the most horrific way: huddled in a shelter, no doubt scared out of their wits by the deafening, thunderous roar of jets...before finally realizing their worst fears have, in a split second, become all too real. And the best the "leader" of the free world can come up with is a throwaway line.

Your "Christian" commander-in-chief:

The fundamentalists' rejection of science is deeply linked to their apocalyptic vision. Even the relatively sober ID theorists segue easily into Rapture-speak. "Great shakings and darkness are descending on Planet Earth," says the ID philosopher Paul Nelson, "but they will be overshadowed by even more amazing displays of God's power and light. Ever the long-term strategist, YHVH is raising up a mighty army of cutting-edge Jewish End-time warriors." They all condemn the attempt to reform social ills. When applied socially, evolutionary theory "leads straight to all the woes of modern life", says the leading ID ideologue Philip Johnson: homosexuality, state-backed healthcare, divorce, single-parenthood, socialism and abortion. All this, of course, is highly agreeable to the Bush administration, which is itself selectively leery of science. It has, for example, persistently ignored scientists' warnings about global warming. Why bother to implement the Kyoto treaty if the world is about to end? Indeed, some fundamentalists see environmental damage as a positive development, because it will hasten the apocalypse.

This nihilistic religiosity is based on a perversion of the texts. The first chapter of Genesis was never intended as a literal account of the origins of life; it is a myth, a timeless story about the sanctity of the world and everything in it. Revelation was not a detailed programme for the End time; it is written in an apocalyptic genre that has quite a different dynamic. When they described the Jews' return to their homeland, the Hebrew prophets were predicting the end of the Babylonian exile in the sixth century BC - not the second coming of Christ. The prophets did preach a stern message of social justice, however, and like all the major world faiths, Christianity sees charity and loving-kindness as the cardinal virtues. Fundamentalism nearly always distorts the tradition it is trying to defend.

Whatever Bush's personal beliefs, the ideology of the Christian right is both familiar and congenial to him. This strange amalgam of ideas can perhaps throw light on the behaviour of a president, who, it is said, believes that God chose him to lead the world to Rapture, who has little interest in social reform, and whose selective concern for life issues has now inspired him to veto important scientific research. It explains his unconditional and uncritical support for Israel, his willingness to use "Jewish End-time warriors" to fulfil a vision of his own - arguably against Israel's best interests - and to see Syria and Iran (who seem to be replacing Saddam as the "enemy of the north") as entirely responsible for the unfolding tragedy.

Fundamentalists do not want a humanly constructed peace; many, indeed, regard the UN as the abode of Antichrist. The willingness of the US to turn a blind eye to the suffering of innocent people in Lebanon will certainly fuel the rage of the extremists and lead to further acts of terror. We can only hope that it does not take us all the way to Armageddon.

I'll go further than that: Christ, if he showed up tomorrow, would spit in Dubya's face. And yeah, I'd offer good money to see that in person...or even on pay per view. Of course, if Christ DID show up, he'd probably get shipped down to Gitmo on the first available jet and treated as an enemy combatant.
"Although the sun is blinding this time of year in our part of the world, the Middle East is seeing some of its darkest days"

Riverbend's latest post:

I woke up this morning to scenes of carnage and destruction on the television and for the briefest of moments, I thought it was footage of Iraq...

I’m so frustrated I can’t think straight. I’m full of rage against Israel, the US, Britain, Iran and most of Europe. The world is going to go to hell for standing by and allowing the massacre of innocents. For God’s sake, 34 children??? The UN is beyond useless. They’ve gone from a union of nations working for the good of the world (if they ever were even that), to a bunch of gravediggers. They’re only good for digging mangled bodies out of the ruins of buildings and helping to identify and put them into mass graves. They won’t stop a massacre- they won’t even speak out against it- they’ll just come by and help clean up the mess. Are the lives of Arabs worth so little? If this had happened in the US or UK or France or China, somebody would already have dropped a nuclear bomb… How is this happening?

Where is the Security Council??? Why haven’t they stopped Israel? Ehud Olmert recently told Condi that he needs 10 to 14 more days of bloodshed- and nothing is being done about it! Where are the useless Arab leaders? Can’t the pro-American, spineless emirs crawl out of their gold palaces long enough to condemn this taking of lives? Our presidents/leaders are only as influential as their oil barrels are deep.

And the world wonders how ‘terrorists’ are created! A 15-year-old Lebanese girl lost five of her siblings and her parents and home in the Qana bombing… Ehud Olmert might as well kill her now because if he thinks she’s going to grow up with anything but hate in her heart towards him and everything he represents, then he’s delusional.

Is this whole debacle the fine line between terrorism and protecting ones nation? If it’s a militia, insurgent or military resistance- then it’s terrorism (unless of course the militia, insurgent(s) and/or resistance are being funded exclusively by the CIA). If it’s the Israeli, American or British army, then it’s a pre-emptive strike, or a ‘war on terror’. No matter the loss of hundreds of innocent lives. No matter the children who died last night- they’re only Arabs, after all, right
But Iraq is Sooooo Last Year...

Aside: here's an article that, together with the accompanying slide show, makes clear that, at least for the moment, Lebanon is "the new black, um, I mean Iraq. Oh--and Dependable Renegade found a group of so-called Christians celebrating the murder of children in a manner that I think's every bit as crass as those who celebrated the attack on the World Trade Center and Pentagon in 2001.

The Peculiar Disappearance of the War in Iraq
AS America fell into the quagmire of Vietnam, the comedian Milton Berle joked that the fastest way to end the war would be to put it on the last-place network, ABC, where it was certain to be canceled. Berle’s gallows humor lives on in the quagmire in Iraq. Americans want this war canceled too, and first- and last-place networks alike are more than happy to oblige.

CNN will surely remind us today that it is Day 19 of the Israel-Hezbollah war — now branded as Crisis in the Middle East — but you won’t catch anyone saying it’s Day 1,229 of the war in Iraq. On the Big Three networks’ evening newscasts, the time devoted to Iraq has fallen 60 percent between 2003 and this spring, as clocked by the television monitor, the Tyndall Report. On Thursday, Brian Williams of NBC read aloud a “shame on you” e-mail complaint from the parents of two military sons anguished that his broadcast had so little news about the war.

This is happening even as the casualties in Iraq, averaging more than 100 a day, easily surpass those in Israel and Lebanon combined. When Nouri al-Maliki, the latest Iraqi prime minister, visited Washington last week to address Congress, he too got short TV shrift — a mere five sentences about the speech on ABC’s “World News.” The networks know a rerun when they see it. Only 22 months earlier, one of Mr. Maliki’s short-lived predecessors, Ayad Allawi, had come to town during the 2004 campaign to give a similarly empty Congressional address laced with White House-scripted talking points about the war’s progress. Propaganda stunts, unlike “Law & Order” episodes, don’t hold up on a second viewing.

The steady falloff in Iraq coverage isn’t happenstance. It’s a barometer of the scope of the tragedy. For reporters, the already apocalyptic security situation in Baghdad keeps getting worse, simply making the war more difficult to cover than ever. The audience has its own phobia: Iraq is a bummer. “It is depressing to pay attention to this war on terror,” said Fox News’s Bill O’Reilly on July 18. “I mean, it’s summertime.” Americans don’t like to lose, whatever the season. They know defeat when they see it, no matter how many new plans for victory are trotted out to obscure that reality.

The specter of defeat is not the only reason Americans have switched off Iraq. The larger issue is that we don’t know what we — or, more specifically, 135,000 brave and vulnerable American troops — are fighting for. In contrast to the Israel-Hezbollah war, where the stakes for the combatants and American interests are clear, the war in Iraq has no rationale to keep it afloat on television or anywhere else. It’s a big, nightmarish story, all right, but one that lacks the thread of a coherent plot.

Certainly there has been no shortage of retrofitted explanations for the war in the three-plus years since the administration’s initial casus belli, to fend off Saddam’s mushroom clouds and vanquish Al Qaeda, proved to be frauds. We’ve been told that the war would promote democracy in the Arab world. And make the region safer for Israel. And secure the flow of cheap oil. If any of these justifications retained any credibility, they have been obliterated by Crisis in the Middle East. The new war is a grueling daily object lesson in just how much the American blunders in Iraq have undermined the one robust democracy that already existed in the region, Israel, while emboldening terrorists and strengthening the hand of Iran.

But it’s the collapse of the one remaining (and unassailable) motivation that still might justify staying the course in Iraq — as a humanitarian mission on behalf of the Iraqi people — that is most revealing of what a moral catastrophe this misadventure has been for our country. The sad truth is that the war’s architects always cared more about their own grandiose political and ideological ambitions than they did about the Iraqis, and they communicated that indifference from the start to Iraqis and Americans alike. The legacy of that attitude is that the American public cannot be rallied to the Iraqi cause today, as the war reaches its treacherous endgame.

The Bush administration constantly congratulates itself for liberating Iraq from Saddam’s genocidal regime. But regime change was never billed as a primary motivation for the war; the White House instead appealed to American fears and narcissism — we had to be saved from Saddam’s W.M.D. From “Shock and Awe” on, the fate of Iraqis was an afterthought. They would greet our troops with flowers and go about their business.

Donald Rumsfeld boasted that “the care” and “the humanity” that went into our precision assaults on military targets would minimize any civilian deaths. Such casualties were merely “collateral damage,” unworthy of quantification. “We don’t do body counts,” said Gen. Tommy Franks. President Bush at last started counting those Iraqi bodies publicly — with an estimate of 30,000 — some seven months ago. (More recently, The Los Angeles Times put the figure at, conservatively, 50,000.) By then, Americans had tuned out.

The contempt our government showed for Iraqis was not just to be found in our cavalier stance toward their casualties, or in the abuses at Abu Ghraib. There was a cultural condescension toward the Iraqi people from the get-go as well, as if they were schoolchildren in a compassionate-conservatism campaign ad. This attitude was epitomized by Mr. Rumsfeld’s “stuff happens” response to the looting of Baghdad at the dawn of the American occupation. In “Fiasco,” his stunning new book about the American failure in Iraq, Thomas E. Ricks, The Washington Post’s senior Pentagon correspondent, captures the meaning of that pivotal moment perfectly: “The message sent to Iraqis was far more troubling than Americans understood. It was that the U.S. government didn’t care — or, even more troubling for the future security of Iraq, that it did care but was incapable of acting effectively.”

As it turned out, it was the worst of both worlds: we didn’t care, and we were incapable of acting effectively. Nowhere is this seen more explicitly than in the subsequent American failure to follow through on our promise to reconstruct the Iraqi infrastructure we helped to smash. “There’s some little part of my brain that simply doesn’t understand how the most powerful country on earth just can’t get electricity back in Baghdad,” said Kanan Makiya, an Iraqi exile and prominent proponent of the war, in a recent Washington Post interview.

The simple answer is that the war planners didn’t care enough to provide the number of troops needed to secure the country so that reconstruction could proceed. The coalition authority isolated in its Green Zone bubble didn’t care enough to police the cronyism and corruption that squandered billions of dollars on abandoned projects. The latest monument to this humanitarian disaster was reported by James Glanz of The New York Times on Friday: a high-tech children’s hospital planned for Basra, repeatedly publicized by Laura Bush and Condi Rice, is now in serious jeopardy because of cost overruns and delays.

This history can’t be undone; there’s neither the American money nor the manpower to fulfill the mission left unaccomplished. The Iraqi people, whose collateral damage was so successfully hidden for so long by the Rumsfeld war plan, remain a sentimental abstraction to most Americans. Whether they are seen in agony after another Baghdad bombing or waving their inked fingers after an election or being used as props to frame Mrs. Bush during the State of the Union address, they have little more specificity than movie extras. Chalabi, Allawi, Jaafari, Maliki come and go, all graced with the same indistinguishable praise from the American president, all blurring into an endless loop of instability and crisis. We feel badly ... and change the channel.

Given that the violence in Iraq has only increased in the weeks since the elimination of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the Jordanian terrorist portrayed by the White House as the fount of Iraqi troubles, any Americans still paying attention to the war must now confront the reality that the administration is desperately trying to hide. “The enemy in Iraq is a combination of rejectionists and Saddamists and terrorists,” President Bush said in December when branding Zarqawi Public Enemy No. 1. But Iraq’s exploding sectarian warfare cannot be pinned on Al Qaeda or Baathist dead-enders.

The most dangerous figure in Iraq, the home-grown radical Shiite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr, is an acolyte of neither Osama bin Laden nor Saddam but an ally of Iran who has sworn solidarity to both Hezbollah and Hamas. He commands more than 30 seats in Mr. Maliki’s governing coalition in Parliament and 5 cabinet positions. He is also linked to death squads that have slaughtered Iraqis and Americans with impunity since the April 2004 uprising that killed, among others, Cindy Sheehan’s son, Casey. Since then, Mr. Sadr’s power has only grown, enabled by Iraqi “democracy.”

That the latest American plan for victory is to reposition our forces by putting more of them in the crossfire of Baghdad’s civil war is tantamount to treating our troops as if they were deck chairs on the Titanic. Even if the networks led with the story every night, what Americans would have the stomach to watch?
Making Bad Situations Worse...Since 2001

How NOT to solve a pest problem.

I guess anyone stopping by has read or otherwise heard about the Qana atrocity this weekend, which, sad to say, is neither the first, nor will it be the last in an ongoing series of actions that, to understate, are ugly on a truly epic scale (and geez--this isn't even the first time a civilian massacre has happened in Qana itself. Robert Fisk reminds us that Qana suffered a similar fate in 1996. Fisk also reminds us that Qana claims to be the site of Jesus's first miracle--I hope those so-called "Christians" who wholeheartedly endorse the Israeli actions can take pride in this spitting upon their savior).

And I see we've got a kinda, sorta cease-fire that isn' well as Shrubleroy's usual public embarrassment (that would be even MORE embarrassing if he wasn't so thoroughly cocooned).

This administration has an astonishingly consistent record of managing to make things WORSE in every instance they've applied their "reverse Midas" touch. And yet they expect to be rewarded for this singularly awful "achievement."

No one will say that things were "good" in the Middle East at the point of what Keystone Kondi calls "the status quo ante" and what Shrub calls "before 9/11." Nor can you say that everything in New Orleans was wine and roses prior to 8/29. But you'd have to be delusional--or on a river in Egypt to compare "the status quo ante" with "status quo" and NOT see a marked deterioration. And to paraphrase the 9th Amendment, I'm not implying that it's MERELY Iraq and New Orleans--or the Gulf Coast--where we find textbook examples of Shrub-fuckery. Just to cite a couple more, how about the "MBA pResident's" ridiculous drug "plan,"...or his total inaction in dealing with the environment? Friday, I described this as Team Bush's "leaden" touch. That might be on the generous side. Billmon's "reverse Midas" touch--everything they get their hands on turns to shit--might well be more accurate.