August 31, 2006

CNN Calls Bushshit on GOP "Fascism"

Whoo hoo! CNN says the new GOP buzzword is "Fascism":
White House aides and outside Republican strategists said the new description is an attempt to more clearly identify the ideology that motivates many organized terrorist groups, representing a shift in emphasis from the general to the specific.
Err... how does totally mis-representing the enemy (whoever that is these days) help to "clearly identify" anything?

We have to call them out on this, folks.

The anti-Western terrorist agenda has NOTHING WHATSOEVER TO DO WITH FASCISM!!!!

It is not just irresponsible but also dangerous to mis-represent Islamic fundamentalist terrorists in this manner.

Are they so stupid that they don't know what "Fascism" really means? Any reporters wanna hit Snow, Bush et al with a few history questions?

Or do they not really believe in their own self-professed "war" on terrorism?

Has the whole thing just been one big long political sham?

They are now trying to change the English language to suit their own partisan poliltical purposes:
While "fascism" once referred to the rigid nationalistic one-party dictatorship first instituted in Italy, it has "been used very loosely in all kinds of ways for a long time," said Wayne Fields, a specialist in presidential rhetoric at Washington University in St. Louis.

"Typically, the Bush administration finds its vocabulary someplace in the middle ground of popular culture. It seems to me that they're trying to find something that resonates, without any effort to really define what they mean," Fields said.
Bush Boy Charles Black says use of the word Fascist is OK because "it helps dramatize what we are up against."

Why not just call them "Aliens" ..or "Paedophiles" ... or "Girly Men"?Heck, why not just call them "Commies"?

Mind you, CNN made sure to stick in the "fair and balanced" bit:
After all, the hard-line Iranian newspaper Jomhuri Eskami did just that in an editorial last week blasting Bush's "Islamic fascism" phrase. It called Bush a "21st century Hitler" and British Prime Minister Tony Blair a "21st century Mussolini."
A pity CNN didn't see fit to examine these Iranian claims a bit more closely.

The real Fascists are in the White House these days, folks.

Robert Koehler: Twenty Gandhis:
The twist of historical fate juxtaposing the birth of "satyagraha," the world's first large-scale nonviolent resistance movement, with the terror attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, is downright chilling, like the sound of rhythmic tapping coming from beneath the rubble. Someone's still alive down there! Hope floods the heart.

Liz Graydon, a former middle-school teacher who is now education coordinator for New Yorkers for a Department of Peace, saw mention in a newsletter from Nonviolent Peace Force, which does peace work in Sri Lanka, that this Sept. 11 would be the 100th anniversary of Gandhi's movement for social justice. Not surprisingly, "The date just jumped out at me," she told me. It immediately became the focal point of plans to commemorate 9/11, and the stunning aptness of it has lit up the national peace network.

In August 1906, Mohandas K. Gandhi, a young Indian lawyer living in South Africa, was stunned almost to paralysis -- "an impenetrable wall was before me," he later wrote -- upon learning about the law the province of Transvaal had just passed, known as The Black Act, requiring Indian nationals to submit to a humiliating registration and fingerprinting process. Its intent was obviously racist, a first step by the white government to marginalize and eventually expel "coloreds" from South Africa.

"I clearly saw that this was a question of life and death," Gandhi wrote. ". . . the community must not sit with folded hands. Better die than submit to such a law."

Gandhi called a meeting of the Indian community on Sept. 11, which about 3,000 people -- Hindus, Muslims and others -- attended. One angry speaker, according to Gandhi's account, declared: "If any one came forward to demand a certificate from my wife, I would shoot him on that spot and take the consequences."

Gandhi had another idea: "It will not . . . do to be hasty, impatient or angry," he said. "That cannot save us from this onslaught. But God will come to our help, if we calmly think out and carry out in time measures of resistance, presenting a united front and bearing the hardship, which such resistance brings in its train."

Gandhi's vision, which he came to call satyagraha (a combination of Sanskrit words literally meaning "seize the truth"), held the day, indeed, kept the Indians of South Africa unified through eight years of intimidation, abuse and imprisonment. In 1914, the government agreed to end all anti-Indian discrimination. And of course, this movement continued in India itself until 1947, when British colonial rule finally ended.

Graydon, who used the 1982 movie "Gandhi" in her middle school curriculum, said her students were invariably skeptical that nonviolence could accomplish anything. She recalled one boy who conceded, halfway through the film, that it was pretty convincing, "But c'mon, Miss Graydon, there are 6 billion people on the planet. You'll never get all of them to be nonviolent."

She noted that the population of India at the time of Gandhi's movement was 300 million. "We don't need 6 billion Gandhis," she told him. "We need 20 Gandhis."

New Yorkers for a Department of Peace, in conjunction with the M.K. Gandhi Institute for Nonviolence, has organized 32 screenings of "Gandhi" around the country on Sept. 11, including, in New York, at the Regal Theater, across the street from Ground Zero. As far as I can tell, many other events are being planned that day, both in conjunction with and independent of the New York event, that will draw inspiration from this mystical confluence of anniversaries.

"Nonviolence is the greatest force at the disposal of mankind," Gandhi said. "It is mightier than the mightiest weapon of destruction devised by the ingenuity of man."

Maybe the time has come to learn how to use it.
Bush's Ekkerleklic Reading

The Huffington Post has video of Bush being asked about reading Camus. He is on MSNBC, seemingly in New Orleans.

The body language was very interesting.

When asked about Camus, Bush starts laughing. Then he starts shifting his feet and puts a hand on his belt buckle. Then he gets aggressive, cutting off the reporter. His eyes start shifting around, and his hand starts sweeping through the air. It's almost as if he is making up a lie as he goes along! Imagine that!

Bush said "Mark" recommended the book to him. Anyone got some idea who that might be?

Bush bragged that he "also read three Shakespeares" (maybe he said "three of Shakespeare's" [books] but that Texan drawl blurred it?). He said Camus was "a coupla books ago" as if to say, "That's old history. Don't ask me any more questions about it." The reporter seemingly obliged.

I still don't believe he has read Camus L'Etranger. And if he did (it has become news, so maybe he had to, just as a precaution) I am sure he didn't understand it. Somebody should ask him about not just the plot, but also his thoughts on the philosophy behind it.

No seriously. The press should hammer him on this one. Did he really read the book? If he is really reading this many books, how does he find the time (I sure can't find it for myself)? And, um... wouldn't it be a good idea if future US Presidents got their education BEFORE they ran for office????

From the comments at HuffPo:
Three thousand innocent lives would have been spared if the dumb ass in charge would have read the August 6, 2001 memo entitled, "Bin Laden Determined to Strike United States."
And this:
Ahh, the American experience. It was great while it lasted....
For anyone who still does't know who Camus is, my previous (100% excellent - getting lots of hits) Bush Reads Camus post here.
A Good Morning For A Blogger

Is when see an Atrios post like this:
Yglesias throws away his sensible liberal membership card.

Hooray for him.
Linking to a TPM post like this:
The Iran debate has really become rather surreal. You have the "Islamofascist" locution jumping from the fever swamps of rightwing punditry into the mouth of the President of the United States. You have the Secretary of Defense issuing dire warnings of another Munich. These things are being done by the exact same people who, four years ago, were utterly dismissive of claims that invading Iraq was likely to serve Iranian interests better than American ones. Indeed, you have the exact same people who two years ago were assuring us that it made sense to commit American blood and treasure to fight Sunni insurgents on behalf of Iranian-backed Shiite militias now saying we need to commit more blood and treasure in Iraq to stop . . . Iranian-backed Shiite militias.

You have Richard Cohen, who backed the Iraq War and came to regret it, turning around and saying it's time to party like it's 1938. Meanwhile, this entire view of the world has, as best I can tell, no relationship whatsoever to reality...

So, here's Iran. Outgunned by its two leading religio-ideological antagonists, Israel and Saudi Arabia, in the region. One immediate neighbor is Pakistan, with a larger population base and a nuclear arsenal. Another immediate neighbor, Afghanistan, is occupied by soldiers under the command of an American president who has spurned peace offers and threatened to overthrow the Iranian government. A second immediate neighbor, Iraq, is occupied by a larger number of soldiers from the same country. The Iranian military's equipment is outdated and essentially incapable of mounting offensive operations. So Iran is trying to build nuclear weapons and missiles to deliver them. Under the circumstances, wouldn't you? Don't you think a little deterrence capability would serve the country well under those circumstances?

I'm sorry to have gone on at such great length here, and a little nervous about stepping outside the "sensible" zone with my commentary on this topic, but somebody needs to call bull$#*t on the prevailing elite consensus about Iran.
And you realise that maybe, just maybe, Matt Yglesias did read those emails you sent him.


And Juan Cole seems to have quickly abandoned the term "Muslim Fascists" after a few comments from me.

And, again following a few helpful comments from yours truly, Tim Dunlop has also started over-coming his Achilles Heel a.k.a. fascist denial syndrome.

All in all, not a bad week. "Fighting Fascists 101" resumes next week.

Paul Wolfowitz used to get his "good news from Iraq" from the Fadhil brothers.

Now we find out that Rummy gets his Hitler quotes from Charles Krauthammer.

With people like Bush and Downer quoting wingnut xenophobia about "Islamofascists", the inmates are not just in control of the asylum any more - they are running our countries.
Deserting The Iraqi Desert

Not many in the media are prepared to call conscientious objectors "a brave group". This three-page Sunday Times article is another very good one:
To be labelled a deserter is no small burden. If convicted of desertion, they run the risk of a prison sentence – with hard labour. To choose exile can mean lifelong separation from family and friends, as even the most trivial encounter with the police in America – say, over a traffic offence – could lead to jail.

Many of the deserters are not pacifists, against war per se, but they view the Iraq war as wrong. First Lt Watada, for instance, said he would face prison rather than serve in Iraq, though he was prepared to pack his bags for Afghanistan to fight in a war that he considered just. They don’t want to face the military courts, which is why they have decided to flee to Canada. A generation ago, Canada welcomed Vietnam-war draft dodgers and deserters. Today, the political climate is different and the score or so of US deserters who are now north of the border are applying for refugee status. So far, the Canadian government is saying no, so cases rejected for refugee status are going to appeal in the federal courts.

But there is no guarantee that these exiles will ultimately find safe haven in Canada. If the federal courts rule against the soldiers and they then exhaust all further judicial possibilities, they may be deported back to the United States – and that may not be what the Americans want. Their presence in the US will in itself represent yet another public-relations headache for the Bush administration.
That's only the start of it. The Times goes on to take a close look at a few soldiers' stories. The details are not pretty:
“A car comes through and it stops in front of my position. Sparks are coming from the car from bad brakes. All the soldiers are yelling. It’s in my vicinity, so it’s my responsibility. I didn’t fire. A superior goes, ‘Why didn’t you fire? You were supposed to fire.’ I said, ‘It was a family!’ At this time it had stopped. You could see the children in the back seat. I said, ‘I did the right thing.’ He’s like, ‘No, you didn’t. It’s procedure to fire. If you don’t do it next time, you’re punished.’”

Anderson shakes his head at the memory. “I’m already not agreeing with this war. I’m not going to kill innocent people. I can’t kill kids. That’s not the way I was raised.”
It gets worse:
We was going along the Euphrates river,” says Joshua Key, detailing a recurring nightmare that features a scene he stumbled into shortly after the US invasion of Iraq in March 2003. “It’s a road right in the city of Ramadi. We turned a sharp right and all I seen was decapitated bodies. The heads laying over here and the bodies over there and US troops in between them. I’m thinking, ‘Oh my God, what in the hell happened here? What’s caused this? Why in the hell did this happen?’ We get out and somebody was screaming, ‘We f***ing lost it here!’ I’m thinking, ‘Oh yes, somebody definitely lost it here.’” Key says he was ordered to look for evidence of a firefight, for something to explain what had happened to the beheaded Iraqis. “I look around just for a few seconds and I don’t see anything.”

Then he witnessed the sight that still triggers the nightmares. “I see two soldiers kicking the heads around like soccer balls. I just shut my mouth, walked back, got inside the tank, shut the door, and thought, ‘I can’t be no part of this. This is crazy. I came here to fight and be prepared for war, but this is outrageous.’”
From that same soldier:
“I’m not your perfect killing machine,” he admits. “That’s where I broke the rules. I broke the rules by having a conscience.” And the more time he spent in Iraq, the more his conscience developed. “I was trained to be a total killer. I was trained in booby traps, explosives, landmines.” He pauses. “Hell, if you want to get technical about it, I was made to be an American terrorist. I was trained in everything that a terrorist is trained to do.” In case I might have missed his point, he says it again. “I mean terrorist.”
Read the full article here.

August 30, 2006

Basic Bloody Common Sense

Robert Pape, author of the book, Dying to Win: The Logic of Suicide Terrorism.
The central fact is that overwhelmingly suicide-terrorist attacks are not driven by religion as much as they are by a clear strategic objective: to compel modern democracies to withdraw military forces from the territory that the terrorists view as their homeland. From Lebanon to Sri Lanka to Chechnya to Kashmir to the West Bank, every major suicide-terrorist campaign—over 95 percent of all the incidents—has had as its central objective to compel a democratic state to withdraw.
Again via The Road to Surfdom.

Thom Hartmann:
Genuine American fascists are on the run, and part of their survival strategy is to redefine the term "fascism" so it can't be applied to them any more...

In fact, the Islamic fundamentalists who apparently perpetrated 9/11 and other crimes in Spain and the United Kingdom are advocating a fundamentalist theocracy, not fascism.

But theocracy - the merging of religion and government - is also on the plate for the new American fascists (just as it was for Hitler, who based the Nazi death cult on a "new Christianity" that would bring "a thousand years of peace"), so they don't want to use that term, either.
Hartmann quotes Vice President Wallace from 1944:
"The really dangerous American fascists," Wallace wrote, "are not those who are hooked up directly or indirectly with the Axis. The FBI has its finger on those. The dangerous American fascist is the man who wants to do in the United States in an American way what Hitler did in Germany in a Prussian way. The American fascist would prefer not to use violence. His method is to poison the channels of public information. With a fascist the problem is never how best to present the truth to the public but how best to use the news to deceive the public into giving the fascist and his group more money or more power...

"Still another danger is represented by those who, paying lip service to democracy and the common welfare, in their insatiable greed for money and the power which money gives, do not hesitate surreptitiously to evade the laws designed to safeguard the public from monopolistic extortion. American fascists of this stamp were clandestinely aligned with their German counterparts before the war, and are even now preparing to resume where they left off, after 'the present unpleasantness' ceases...

"They claim to be super-patriots, but they would destroy every liberty guaranteed by the Constitution. They demand free enterprise, but are the spokesmen for monopoly and vested interest. Their final objective toward which all their deceit is directed is to capture political power so that, using the power of the state and the power of the market simultaneously, they may keep the common man in eternal subjection...

"The myth of fascist efficiency has deluded many people. ... Democracy, to crush fascism internally, must...develop the ability to keep people fully employed and at the same time balance the budget. It must put human beings first and dollars second. It must appeal to reason and decency and not to violence and deceit. We must not tolerate oppressive government or industrial oligarchy in the form of monopolies and cartels."
Noting that, "Fascism is a worldwide disease," Wallace further suggested that fascism's "greatest threat to the United States will come after the war" and will manifest "within the United States itself."

Hartmann also quotes Italian philosopher Giovanni Gentile:
"Fascism should more appropriately be called corporatism because it is a merger of state and corporate power."
And the American Heritage Dictionary, which says Fascism is:
"A system of government that exercises a dictatorship of the extreme right, typically through the merging of state and business leadership, together with belligerent nationalism."
And Roosevelt:
"In vain they seek to hide behind the flag and the Constitution. In their blindness they forget what the flag and the Constitution stand for."
The White House gets subpoenaed:
Bruce Afran and Carl Mayer, who say they represent hundreds of plaintiffs in lawsuits against Verizon, AT&T, and the US Government, will announnce today that they are serving both the Bush administration and Verizon with subpoenas.
Not that I have much traffic to steer, but if I did have traffic I would happily steer it towards Antony Loewenstein's very decent blog.

Here's a selection of recent posts:

1. Bush and Saddam Should Both Stand Trial, Says Nuremberg Prosecutor.

2. Mediawatch keeping tabs on Murdoch.

3. Bush's "Islamofascist" language angers US Muslims.
Money Talks

And now for some really, really good news: Fox News' Ratings Take a Nosedive. Expect to see changes!
Raed In The Middle Of An Airport Security Scare

Legendary Iraqi blogger Raed Jarrar (of made to change his shirt before boarding a US flight. From his blog post:
He said "people are feeling offended because of your t-shirt". I looked at my t-shirt: I was wearing my shirt which states in both Arabic and English "we will not be silent". You can take a look at it in this picture taken during our Jordan meetings with Iraqi MPs. I said "I am very sorry if I offended anyone, I didnt know that this t-shirt will be offensive". He asked me if I had any other T-shirts to put on, and I told him that I had checked in all of my bags and I asked him "why do you want me to take off my t-shirt? Isn't it my constitutional right to express myself in this way?" The second man in a greenish suit interfered and said "people here in the US don't understand these things about constitutional rights"...

The woman went away for 3 minutes, and she came back with a gray t-shirt reading "new york". I put the t-shirt on and removed the price tag. I told the four people who were involved in the conversation: "I feel very sad that my personal freedom was taken away like this. I grew up under authoritarian governments in the Middle East, and one of the reasons I chose to move to the US was that I don't want an officer to make me change my t-shirt. I will pursue this incident today through a Constitutional rights organization, and I am sure we will meet soon"...

It sucks to be an Arab/Muslim living in the US these days. When you go to the middle east, you are a US tax-payer destroying people's houses with your money, and when you come back to the US, you are a suspected terrorist and plane hijacker.
That last para makes a little more sense when you read this bit from the same post:
The most interesting incident was during a visit to a Lebanese refugee camp. I was called by two young Lebanese people, and they asked me whether me and the rest of the delegation visiting their shelter where coming from the US. I said yes. They said: "you better get the hell out of here unless you want us to make a scene". I tried to explain that we are the "good" Americans who are against the war, so they said go back home and change your government. "you can't come here visit us in a shelter that we were sent to because of your tax money and your bombs, and expect us to be nice to you". So me and the other Americans got the hell out of there.
Something Fishy...

Via War and Piece:
If Armitage told Justice Department investigators about his role in the leak to Novak back in October 2003, how come Fitzgerald didn't include it in his timeline?
Can you say false dichotomy?
Told You So

A Bush-lover repents:
You were right, I was wrong.
MUST READ: Today's 'Islamic Fascists' Were Yesterday's Friends

Brendan O'Neill:
What we have today is not a World War between a principled West and psychotic groups from "over there," but rather the messy residue of decades of Western meddling in the Middle East...

Where the Cold War began with America and Britain supporting the Muslim Brotherhood and other radical Islamists against popular secular movements, it ended with America and Britain arming, financing, and propagandizing on behalf of radical Islamists fighting the Soviet Union's last stand in Afghanistan before its collapse in the early 1990s.

Throughout the 1980s, the CIA and the British intelligence organization MI5 arranged for the arming and training of thousands of mujahedeen in Afghanistan.
If you have not seen it before, Juan Cole has an excellent write-up complete with pictures showing how the West helped create 9/11. For example:
The Bush administration responded to these attacks by the former proteges of Ronald Reagan by putting the old Mujahideen warlords back in charge of Afghanistan's provinces, allowing Bin Laden and al-Zawahiri to escape, declaring that Americans no longer needed a Bill of Rights, and suddenly invading another old Reagan protege, Saddam's Iraq, which had had nothing to do with 9/11 and posed no threat to the US. The name given this bizarre set of actions by Bush was "the War on Terror."
Now that, Mr Howard and Mr Rumsfeld, is REAL HISTORY!
Still Poor In The USA

One in eight Americans in poverty:
IN the world's biggest economy, one in eight Americans and almost one in four blacks lived in poverty last year, the US Census Bureau said today, both ratios virtually unchanged from 2004.

The survey also showed 15.9 per cent of the population, or 46.6 million, had no health insurance, up from 15.6 per cent in 2004 and an increase for a fifth consecutive year, even as the economy grew at a 3.2 per cent clip...

In all, some 37 million Americans, or 12.6 per cent, lived below the poverty line, defined as having an annual income around $US10,000 ($13,200) for an individual or $US20,000 for a family of four.
The good news, if you want to call it that, is that it's the first year since Bush took office in 2001 that the poverty rate has not increased.

Today's NYT editorial slams Bush for telling reporters, “Things are good for American workers.”
The comment is preposterous. As The Times’s Steven Greenhouse and David Leonhardt reported yesterday, the economic expansion that began in late 2001 is on track to become the first since World War II that fails to offer a sustained lift to the real wages of most American workers. Although the nation’s economy has grown and productivity has been strong, American employees have not shared in the wealth they’ve helped to create. Wages and salaries now make up the lowest proportion of the economy since the government began keeping records in 1947, while corporate profits have climbed to their highest share since the 1960’s.

Until recently, the decline in real wages has been masked in large part by the housing boom that allowed many Americans to borrow and spend, even as their pay was squeezed. But now the housing market is flagging and with it, the Bush-era economy — without American workers having ever experienced a period of solid prosperity.

Unfortunately, there’s little likelihood of meaningful improvement anytime soon. When Mr. Bush and his advisers are not insisting that everything is fine, they’re promising more high-end tax cuts as a cure-all, or painting the problem as one of impersonal market forces for which there are no government solutions.

Those are not the paths out of the predicament. Just the opposite, they are approaches that have contributed to it.
UPDATE: The Carpetbagger points out that Bush wanted to keep the poverty results hidden:
And I'd be remiss if I didn't note the timing of the report's release.

For years, including the first three years of Bush's first term, the Census Bureau released its poverty data in late-September. In election years, that meant the public learned about the number of families in poverty about five weeks before going to the polls. Starting in 2004, the administration moved the release up to August, when Congress is out of session, DC has crawled to a stop, and a lot of journalists (and regular voters) are on vacation.

Moreover, in 2004, the Census Bureau also changed the location of the poverty report's release. Instead of using the traditional National Press Club in downtown DC, where the numbers have been released in years past, officials moved the release to a harder-to-reach office in Suitland, Md.

And just to further raise eyebrows, the poverty numbers used to be released by a career Census official. In 2004, that changed, too — the report was released by the bureau's director, a political appointee of the Bush White House.

To be fair, maybe these changes were innocuous and had nothing to do with softening the report's blow. But it's not as if the administration has earned the benefit of the doubt.
How low can you go? That's the big question facing us all today.
AWB: "Damning Stuff" Indeed

Sure looks like a smoking gun to me:
The Cole inquiry has reportedly been given nine pages of handwritten notes by a senior foreign affairs official that prove the Howard government was warned two years ago about AWB's involvement in the oil-for-food scandal.

The notes, by veteran Australian diplomat John Quinn, mention such terms as "AWB Ltd", "service fees", "10 per cent" and "exposure" in the context of the impending investigation into kickbacks to Saddam Hussein's regime, The Australian newspaper reports.

Mr Quinn wrote the notes during meetings on July 22 and 29, 2004 when he was head of the government's Iraq taskforce.

The typed transcribe of his notes confirm he was told "AWB Ltd - problems", and there were "25,000 files - damning material".

Mr Quinn's notes also show one of the meetings was attended by representatives from the Attorney-General's Department, the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet, and the Department of Foreign Affairs.

A range of government officials and ministers, up and including Foreign Minister Alexander Downer, have insisted under oath they either didn't see, of felt compelled to ignore, the many warnings about AWB because the allegations were made by rival wheat sellers.
Stirring Up A Fascist Mob

"Fascism" is a sorely abused word. When parents ground their teenage kids, they are called Fascists. The shop-owner who won't sell cigarettes to minors is called a Fascist. When the local council imposes water restrictions in a drought, they are called Fascists too.

Today, Donald Rumsfeld went even further, talking about a “New Type Of Fascism”:
In some unusually blunt terms, Rumsfeld says the administration's detractors suffer from "moral and intellectual confusion" about global security threats and he says they lack the courage to fight back.

In remarks prepared for a speech to an American Legion convention, Rumsfeld recalls the failed efforts to appease Adolf Hitler's regime in the 1930s and says the US today faces "the same kind of challenges."
He quoted Winston Churchill as observing that trying to accommodate Hitler was "a bit like feeding a crocodile, hoping it would eat you last."
"I recount this history because once again we face similar challenges in efforts to confront the rising threat of a new type of fascism," he said.

"Can we truly afford to believe that somehow, some way, vicious extremists can be appeased?" he asked.

"Can we truly afford to return to the destructive view that America _ not the enemy _ is the real source of the world's troubles?"
And how's this for balance:
Rumsfeld recalled a string of recent terrorist attacks, from 9/11 to deadly bombings in Bali, London and Madrid, and said it should be obvious to anyone that terrorists must be confronted, not appeased.

"But some seem not to have learned history's lessons," he said, adding that part of the problem is that the American news media have tended to emphasize the negative rather than the positive.

He said, for example, that more media attention was given to U.S. soldiers' abuse of Iraqi prisoners at Abu Ghraib than to the fact that Sgt. 1st Class Paul Ray Smith received the Medal of Honor...

"Those who know the truth need to speak out against these kinds of myths and lies and distortions being told about our troops and about our country," he said.
What do you say to such mob-rallying nonsense? Matt Yglesias has a few words:
Rumsfeld is a buffoon. A punchline. A well-known liar. He and his bosses -- Bush and Cheney -- are running around the country trying to cite the failures of their own policies as a reason to entrust them with additional authority in order to continue and intensify those same failings. We're witnessing the bitter, bitter fruits of the Iraq War. Other nations learned that they must seek nuclear weapons as soon as possible to safeguard themselves from a newly trigger happy United States of America. Muslim opinion was sharply polarized against us. Iran and Syria were told that their cooperation against al-Qaeda was no longer needed because their governowpments would topple soon enough. A power vacuum was left on the streets of Baghdad that parties aligned with Iran have rushed to fill. The Arab-Israeli conflict was sidelined as something that would magically resolve itself once Saddam Hussein was out of the way. And America's allies were taught that our government was not to be relied upon -- that we operated with bad intelligence and initiated wars of choice without any real plans or ideas about how to cope with the aftermath.

That's how we got here. By listening to Bush. By listening to Cheney. By listening to Rumsfeld. The idea that we should keep on listening to them is absurd.
UPDATE: Stephen Elliott at HuffPo:
It's exactly this kind of absurd dishonesty from Rumsfeld that makes the war in Iraq so hopeless. We can't possibly change course in that failed endeavor without first changing our Secretary of Defense. All other approaches are worthless minus that first major step.
More quotes via WaPo:
What bothers me the most is how clever the enemy is... They are actively manipulating the media in this country... They can lie with impunity... The enemy lies constantly - almost totally without penalty... The enemy is so much better at communicating... I wish we were better at countering that because the constant drumbeat of things they say - all of which are not true - is harmful. It's cumulative. And it does weaken people's will and lessen their determination, and raise questions in their minds as to whether the cost is worth it.

August 29, 2006

A New Benchmark Definition: CRAP

The Right Honourable Alexander "Lamb Of Peace" Downer's Speech to the National Newspaper Publishers' Conference. Via the Road to Surfdom:
My point is this: in a grown-up society such as our own, the media cannot expect to get away with parading falsehoods as truths, or ignoring salient facts because they happen to be inconvenient to the line of argument - or narrative - that particular journalists, or media organisations, might choose to adopt on any given controversy or issue.

There were the widely-reported claims that Israel had bombed deliberately a Red Cross ambulance.

In subsequent weeks, the world has discovered those allegations do not stand up to even the most rudimentary scrutiny.

After closer study of the images of the damage to the ambulance, it is beyond serious dispute that this episode has all the makings of a hoax.

Yet some of the world’s most prestigious media outlets, including some of those represented here today, ran that story as fact - unchallenged, unquestioned.
There's more... unfortunately....
Anyone who doubts my personal commitment to a free media only needs to look at my website...

Australian people would not support any government that conducted foreign policy divorced from the values which underpin our own society...

...the desire for freedom is not an accident of one's birthplace. It's universal...

Indonesia is a good example of a successful transition to democracy and also what Australia does to support democratic development... The success to date in the Aceh peace process is a major achievement...

When we talk of values, this Government is unashamed of promoting Australia and its value... not necessarily as a model to adopt, but at least as an example of a successful country from whom others can learn.

... there is no longer a distinction between the domestic message and the international message... we work away at our public diplomacy programs to build an accurate and positive image of contemporary Australia.

We do this by bringing out prominent journalists from overseas.

For example, this month we've hosted Mark Steyn-

Dr. van Heerden offered this life-saving info to FEMA. They wouldn’t touch it. Then, a state official told him to shut up, back off or there would be consequences for van Heerden’s position. This official now works for IEM.

So I asked him what happened as a result of making no plans for those without wheels, a lot of them elderly and most of them poor.

“Fifteen-hundred of them drowned. That’s the bottom line.” The professor, who’d been talking to me in technicalities, changed to a somber tone. “They’re still finding corpses.”

Van Heerden is supposed to keep his mouth shut. He won’t. The deaths weigh on him. “I wasn’t going to listen to those sort of threats, to let them shut me down.”
That's not the worst of it:
Back at LSU, van Heerden astonished me with the most serious charge of all. While showing me huge maps of the flooding, he told me the White House had withheld the information that, in fact, the levees were about to burst and by Tuesday at dawn the city, and more than a thousand people, would drown.

Van Heerden said, “FEMA knew on Monday at 11 o’clock that the levees had breached… They took video. By midnight on Monday the White House knew. But none of us knew …I was at the State Emergency Operations Center.” Because the hurricane had missed the city that Monday night, evacuation effectively stopped, assuming the city had survived.

It’s been a full year now, and 73,000 New Orleanians remain in FEMA trailers and another 200,000, more than half the city’s former residents, remain in temporary refuges. “The City That Care Forgot” — that’s their official slogan — lost a higher percentage of homes than Berlin lost in World War II. It would be more accurate to call it, “The City That Bush Forgot.”
Untouchables Need Love Too

Deepak Chopra:
There was a long-held superstition in India that if the untouchables ever took charge of the government, the world would come to an end. Therefore, they weren't granted even a whiff of power until the era of Gandhi, and when the wheels kept turning and the untouchables gained real power, you know what happened?
Nothing To Export Here

Most US voters agree that the political system is "badly broken". And only 48% believe that elections are generally fair to voters.
A US Eye On Australia

It’s not often that Australian politicians are role models for their US parallels (normally it works the other way round, with Canberra two steps and six months behind the latest exploitative political stunts from London and Washington). So it’s interesting to read the WaPo's E.J. Dionne, Jr. paying attention to Howard:
What's exportable about Howard's politics is his shrewd understanding that conservative parties embracing hard-line market economics need to provide those threatened by economic change with something to hang on to -- tradition, nation, family, flag -- so their world doesn't fly apart. Except on the immigration issue, where he used a sledgehammer, Howard has pulled off in a subtle way what Republicans in the United States have pursued with less finesse and a greater emphasis on religion than would work in this more secular country. Interestingly, though, the political role of religion is on the rise here...

The next Australian national election is expected late next year. Watching whether Howard's model can work one more time will be instructive, especially to Republicans in the United States who will need all the ideas they can find to hold on in 2008.
Before the 2004 elections, I argued that a vote for Howard was a vote for Bush:
This year, a vote for John Howard is a vote that says "I don't care that Iraq is now over-run by violence, I don't care about accountability in politics, I don't care about international law and domestic civil rights, I don't care about the separation of Church and State, I don't care about global warming, I don't care about blatant, overwhelming media bias, I don't care that globalisation is being hijacked by big business while millions continue to live in poverty, I don't care, I don't care, I don't care.
Despite such concerns, Howard won re-election anyway. As I noted, it was a sad day for Democracy in Australia:
Elections are the final accountability system for any government that embraces immorality and refuses to hold itself accountable for failures, lies and willful deception. If the electorate fails to hold such governments accountable, then there is simply no accountability. And if there is no accountability, our so-called Democracies become a shallow form of something far more sinister.
And of course, the warning to the USA was ignored: Bush went on to win as well. But for anyone interested in comparing US and Australian politics, it's worth re-visiting some of the issues from the post-election post-mortem :
Nobody I know likes John Howard. Even those who vote for him tend to joke about his obvious inadequacies. He is a squinting, sneering, diminutive excuse for a human being, bloated with delusions of self-importance, a worthless, soul-less man who has dragged our once-proud reputation as a free and fair society through the mud. Sounds familiar?

There is one major dissimilarity between Bush's USA and Howard's Australia which should be kept in mind: Australia's economy has been strong for eight years under Howard, while Bush has taken the USA from a massive surplus to an unimaginably huge deficit in just four years.

But aside from this, there are many frightening similarities between Howard's re-election and the Bush campaign. So-called "Bush-bashers", eager to vent their own frustrations with an emminently hate-able man, should keep the following facts in mind.

Howard's re-election was fuelled by a massive scare campaign. In Australia, this was based on his opponent's weaknesses (primarily inexperience) and the prospect of increased interest rates. These fears were totally unfounded, as even the Chairman of the Reserve Bank admitted. But that didn't seemt to matter to the voters, many of whom have huge mortgages in an uncertain employment environment. The scare campaign was very, very well targetted.

Then there were the bribes. Howard promised electoral bribes worth $6 billion. That's a lot of money in a country with a population around 20 million. Mind you, he's not talking about fulfilling those promises today - he's talking about privatising the national phone company, tossing more people off welfare and even removing Australia's long-standing compulsory voting law. Anyone who believes the promises of a proven liar cannot complain when they are deceived.

Finally, there were the outright lies. Howard lied to win the 2001 election, claiming a boatload of refugees had been throwing their children into the water when - as was proven after the election - his own people told him that was not true. He lied again to support Bush's invasion of Iraq, even when Australian intelligence officers warned him that the "proof" being proffered by the US and Britain was not reliable. He lied again to say he was not informed of the Abu Ghraib torture scandal before the media broke the story. All these lies - plus many more - were exposed to the Australian public well before last Saturday's vote.

Amazingly, it just didn't matter. Our Prime Minister lied to us repeatedly, it was proven beyond doubt, nobody was ever held accountable, but still it did not matter.

In the end, perceived self-interest and fear won out over altruism, common decency and even self-respect. In the privacy of the polling booth, Australians voted for Howard. Many of them will probably never even admit it.
And remember, John Howard's son was part of the Bush-Cheney campaign (and still works in Washington as a Bush staffer, I believe).

As I said back then, Bush is a symptom of a much wider social malaise afflicting the USA. Howard reflects a very similar disease in Australian society. Ultimately, the battle for truth, honesty and justice will not be won in polling booths, but in the flickering darkness of our souls.
Seems to me the insurgents in Iraq are no longer focussed on getting the US out of their country, but rather who takes over when they go.
The Blackwater Files
Most readers are familiar with the Blackwater Security company, mainly because it's the biggest mercenary security force in Iraq. Blackwater got an unwanted boost in name recognition in 2004, after it sent four of its men into the horrific Fallujah ambush driving an unarmored car. The image of the men's charred corpses hanging from a local bridge is now an icon of the early days of the U.S. occupation.

The company's reputation has been further tarnished by its taking $100 million more from the State Department than Foggy Bottom can justify. Oh -- and for clearing over $30 million more in taxpayer monies to "protect" FEMA rebuilding operations in New Orleans.

So how did the controversial company get its start? The old-fashioned way, a new book reports: by finagling a secret "no-bid" contract from a close friend in the CIA.

According to Robert Young Pelton, author of the forthcoming book, "Licensed to Kill: Hired Guns in the War on Terror," Blackwater's first contract was a secret, no-bid $5 million deal with the CIA, with apparent assistance from the agency's #3 man, who was a family friend of Blackwater's founder...
More at TPMmuckraker.

August 28, 2006

Armitage takes a hit. As detailed by David Corn.

I think a deal has been done here. Armitage is in the Powell camp. If he is going to be the fall guy, something stinks.
The Armitage leak was not directly a part of the White House's fierce anti-Wilson crusade. But as Hubris notes, it was, in a way, linked to the White House effort, for Amitage had been sent a key memo about Wilson's trip that referred to his wife and her CIA connection, and this memo had been written, according to special counsel Patrick Fitzgerald, at the request of I. Lewis Scooter Libby, the vice president's chief of staff. Libby had asked for the memo because he was looking to protect his boss from the mounting criticism that Bush and Cheney had misrepresented the WMD intelligence to garner public support for the invasion of Iraq.
Conspiracies? Moi?

Not only are Bush & Co unable to find Bin Laden, but they can't seem to find any serious evidence against him either.

Is that because they know he is dead? Or because they know he didn't do it? Or is there another logical explanation?

How To Win A War

Hizbollah's Reconstruction of Lebanon is Winning the Loyalty of Disaffected Shia:
Hizbollah has trumped both the UN army and the Lebanese government by pouring hundreds of millions of dollars - most of it almost certainly from Iran - into the wreckage of southern Lebanon and Beirut’s destroyed southern suburbs. Its massive new reconstruction effort - free of charge to all those Lebanese whose homes were destroyed or damaged in Israel’s ferocious five-week assault on the country - has won the loyalty of even the most disaffected members of the Shia community in Lebanon.
Via Aussie blogger Antony Loewenstein, whose important book My Israel Question has now become a best-seller.
911 Cover Up
Rigorous Intuition: The Coincidence Theorist's Guide to 9/11
Drawing maps is fun!
Can Anything Be Done?
Mistakes Of The Past

Good to see the LA TIMES revisiting The CIA-Contra-Crack Connection, 10 Years Later. Sample:
Two years before Webb's series, the Los Angeles Times estimated that at its peak, Ross' "coast-to-coast conglomerate" was selling half a million crack rocks per day. "[I]f there was one outlaw capitalist most responsible for flooding Los Angeles' streets with mass-marketed cocaine," the article stated, "his name was 'Freeway' Rick."

But after Webb's reporting tied Ross to the Nicaraguans and showed that they had CIA connections, The Times downgraded Ross' role to that of one "dominant figure" among many. It dedicated 17 reporters and 20,000 words to a three-day rebuttal to "Dark Alliance" that also included a lengthy musing on whether African Americans disproportionately believe in conspiracy theories.

All three major U.S. dailies, The Times included, debunked a claim that Webb actually never made — that the CIA deliberately unleashed the crack epidemic on black America. The controversy over this non-assertion obscured Webb's substantive points about the CIA knowingly doing business south of the border with Nicaraguans involved in the drug trade up north.

The Washington Post titled one of its stories "Conspiracy Theories Can Often Ring True; History Feeds Blacks' Mistrust." The New York Times chipped in with a scathing critique of Webb's entire career, suggesting that he was a reckless reporter prone to getting his facts wrong.

"That article included virtually none of the good things Gary did," said Webb's former Cleveland Plain Dealer colleague, Walt Bogdanich, now a New York Times editor. "It didn't include the success he achieved or the wrongs he righted — and they were considerable. It wasn't fair, and it made him out to be a freak."
Is Science "Dead?"
History comes knocking at Doonesbury.
Aussie readers may be particularly interested in this: Glenn Greenwald takes a look at Mark Steyn's failed prophecies.
Ignoring Cheney

Robert Kuttner challenges the US media to pay closer attention to The Cheney presidency:
Cheney is in a class by himself. The administration's grand strategy and its implementation are the work of Cheney-- sometimes Cheney and Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, sometimes Cheney and political director Karl Rove.

Cheney has planted aides in major Cabinet departments, often over the objection of a Cabinet secretary, to make sure his policies are carried out. He sits in on the Senate Republican caucus, to stamp out any rebellions. Cheney loyalists from the Office of the Vice President dominate interagency planning meetings.

The Iraq war is the work of Cheney and Rumsfeld. The capture of the career civil service is pure Cheney. The disciplining of Congress is the work of Cheney and Rove. The turning over of energy policy to the oil companies is Cheney. The extreme secrecy is Cheney and Attorney General Alberto Gonzales.
Media Matters looks at the problems with modern journalism. A good write-up with lots of links to articles I have previously cited here.
And after all that - after all the death and destruction - we still end up with an Israel-Hezbollah prisoner swap.
Brits Withdraw, Looting Follows

When the history of the Iraq War fiasco is written, this little episode will rate a mention:
[British troops] withdrew from Camp Abu Naji near Amara. They only gave the Iraqis one day notice. This short notice suggests that the evacuation was done under considerable duress; one suspects that the British position was becoming untenable because of repeated Shiite guerrilla attacks (there were only 1200 British troops there). When they left, they left behind nearly $300,000 in equipment, intending that the Iraqi police should have the use of the base.

Muqtada al-Sadr and his followers on the provincial Governing Council crowed that the Mahdi Army was the first Iraqi group to force a substantial withdrawal of Coalition troops from an Iraqi territory, according to Amit Paley. The LA Times says that the Mahdi Army boasted of having forced the British troops to leave so abruptly.

While a small contingent of Iraqi security forces (mainly recruited from the Badr Corps and the Mahdi Army) was on the base, they professed themselves helpless when some 5000 looters, some armed with AK 47 machine guns, showed up to strip it bare. The poor British officer corps was reduced to maintaining that the camp had been kept in perfectly good order on their departure. God, they must hate Blair.
Via Informed Comment.

August 25, 2006

Not wanting to fan the politically-generated flames, but there certainly is a real threat (don't ask why!) and something tells me this could turn out to be a far more serious terrorist plot than any other to date since 9/11:
Tokyo police have arrested five executives from a Japanese company suspected of exporting equipment that could be used in producing nuclear weapons.
UPDATE: more here.
The Magic Of Christmas

If you have ever taken even a passing interest in physics, you will know that at a quantum level, the standard laws of science are often totally reversed. So anyone with an open mind should pay close attention to stories like this:
"We don't have any doubts. We've conducted meticulous research and we're getting such phenomenal results - up to 400% efficiency - that small glitches and errors in testing can be ruled out. We really believe we've found something that can change the world."
Sure, they could be just a couple of Irish con-men looking to lure gullible investors and up their share price before they sell off their company, but then again...

Imagine a world with free, environmentally-friendly, endlessly renewable energy FOREVER. Now that would sure change the political landscape in a hurry, wouldn't it?
"Who Dares Do More Is None"

So has Bush really read Albert Camus' L'Etranger? Has he read all other 59 books on his official reading list for this year, including both Macbeth and Hamlet?

Bob Cesca is sceptical:
President Bush is currently responsible for two ground wars; a crisis in Israel and Lebanon; a midterm election; a sagging housing market; the upcoming hurricane season; a laundry list of scandals; an on-going attempt to avoid coming off like a retarded frat-boy bully; and the day-to-day struggle to basically run the nation -- that is, pretend to run the nation. Looking back on 2006, he's faced numerous other critical events at home and abroad including gas prices, immigration, the Dubai ports deal, the Plame investigation, and his vice president shooting a lawyer in the face.

Yet, he's somehow found time to read not one, not five, not 20, but 60 books this year alone....
Keep in mind that Dubya has been on vacation for one full year out of his six years in office. Keep in mind that he told world leaders at the G8 summit that he had to leave early coz he had something real important to do back home... Nah, I still can't believe he actually reads much, if at all.
VIDEO: Stewart Slams Bush's "Desperate Soundbites" (YouTube video)
Reaping What You Sow

Wouldn't you know it? The Iranian nuclear facility now being cited as evidence of weapons activity was a Cold War gift from the USA.
Not only did the U.S. provide the reactor in the 1960s as part of a Cold War strategy, America also supplied the weapons-grade uranium needed to power the facility--fuel that remains in Iran and could be used to help make nuclear arms.
Remember, it was the USA who gave chemical weapons to Saddam, and Osama bin Laden was trained by the CIA.
Where The Hell Are We Going?

Manuel Valenzuela:
The lunacy that is the so-called “war on terror” has taken us into a bizarre and alternate world, one that is as dangerous to the human race as any time in our brief history. We are on the verge of disaster, of immersing ourselves into the self-fulfilling prophesy of our most archaic myths. If we do not put a stop to this madness, then surely it will put a stop to us. What we do in the next few years might well determine our future as a civilization, and it might very well decide what future historians will write about humanity at the dawn of the 21st century. Have we learned nothing from the errors and mistakes of our descendants? Have we yet to grasp the kind of future we are invariably leading ourselves into?

August 24, 2006

Another Bad Press Day For Dubya

Sidney Blumenthal says that by linking Iraq with the war on terror, Bush has created a dynamic that threatens to destroy him:
Asked three times what his strategy is, or whether he has a new one, Bush tried to fend off the question with words like "dreams" and "democratic society". "That's the strategy," he said. Then Bush confused having a strategy with being in Iraq. "Now, if you say, are you going to change your strategic objective," he struggled to explain, "it means you're leaving before the mission is complete."

Perhaps Bush's bizarre summer reading, according to his press office, of Camus's The Stranger, is responsible for his melange of absurdities...
Mark Morford blames Bush for "a general sickness, a vague nausea, a sense that, in fact, far beyond just miserable foreign policy and tax breaks for the rich and a single nasty, botched war, the whole system, all aspects of culture and American life have somehow been tainted, darkened, poisoned."

Marianne Means says Bush has disappeared down the rabbit hole:
Just as Alice tumbled into Wonderland, our esteemed leader abandoned the grim reality of life above ground for the happy fantasy of imagination in a land that doesn't exist. On the surface, the president was being strong and unwavering about the fact that he has no new ideas, his party is in trouble, the economy is uncertain and his dream of a peaceful new Middle East is crumbling.

But the conflict in Iraq he described did not much resemble the violent civil war most others see. Can tea parties with the Mad Hatter be far behind?

It is understandable the president is having difficulty coping with the ugliness of what his unprovoked invasion has wrought. He felt such pressure to counter growing public realization of the Iraqi disaster that he mounted an abrupt charm offensive before the press corps. He joked and behaved as though he liked some of them.
Smile, Laugh and Shake Your Hair In The Wind, George!

By failing to be more optimistic about Iraq, Bush is enabling the terrorists!!!
The shifting rhetoric reflected a broader pessimism that has reached into even some of the most optimistic corners of the administration -- a sense that the Iraq venture has taken a dark turn and will not be resolved anytime soon. Bush advisers once believed that if they met certain benchmarks, such as building a constitutional democracy and training a new Iraqi army, the war would be won. Now they believe they have more or less met those goals, yet the war rages on.
And how's this for a scary Vietnam War parallel:
Bush and his team are trying to turn the public debate away from whether the Iraq invasion has worked out to what would happen if U.S. troops were withdrawn, as some Democrats advocate. The necessity of not failing, Bush advisers believe, is now a more compelling argument than the likelihood of success.
Reading this article, I am more convinced than ever that Rumsfeld will be offered up as a human sacrifice to the Gods Of Midterm Elections:
Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld said on a radio show this week that violence is largely limited to four of 18 provinces and that "the government now is starting to get its legs under it."


"One of the biggest mistakes we made was underestimating the size of the task and the sacrifices that would be required," McCain said. " 'Stuff happens,' 'mission accomplished,' 'last throes,' 'a few dead-enders.' I'm just more familiar with those statements than anyone else because it grieves me so much that we had not told the American people how tough and difficult this task would be."
OF course, that's IF Bush can find anyone to replace him.
My Big Fat Australian Army

I guess it stands to reason - from a militant's point of view, anyway - that if you are going to exacerbate regional tensions, fan the flames of terrorism and walk away from international treaties and alliances which have helped guard the peace for half a century, then you are going to have to increase the size of your army.

It's all about our own little region, of course:
I have believed for a long time that because of our additional commitments in our region and my strong belief that situations like that which arose in the Solomon Islands are likely to occur in our region and given that Australia has the prime responsibility to respond to these situations, I've believed for some time that we've needed a larger army... This will come as no surprise to the Australian public. We have ongoing responsibilities in our region. It's a fairly unsettled region. The rest of the world looks to Australia as the strongest and wealthiest country in the region to carry a lot of burden.
But of course:
In addition to that, we will from time to time need to make niche contributions ... to the fight against terrorism and other operations in partnership with our coalition friends.
Wouldn't it be nice if we actually had some "friends" in our own region? Maybe then we wouldn't need such a big army?
Iran now the key power in Iraq, says UK think-tank:
The great problem facing the US is that Iran has superseded it as the most influential power in Iraq. This influence has a variety of forms but all can be turned against the US presence in Iraq with relative ease, and almost certainly would heighten US casualties to the point where a continued presence might not be tenable
Speaking of "Non-Democratic" Alternatives...

The problem is that the Bush-Blair-Howard camp have never clearly explained a plan for “winning” their self-professed “war” on terrorism. They warn that this “war” could go on for another 50 years or more - they even call it “the Long War” - but they never explain how it will eventually be “won”.

In fact, there is really only one way to achieve such a “victory” and that is to create a global Police State. Even then, terrorists would flourish between the cracks of CCTV surveillance and dob-in-a-neighbour fearmongering. Still, I do not think it unreasonable to ask the Bush Fascist Consortium if such total government control of all areas is their ultimate goal. If not, what?

Bush has already broken numerous laws in the USA, including the NSA wiretapping (which continues today BTW). His Attorney General, who is more intent on breaking the law than enforcing it, says the Geneva Convention is a “quaint” anachronism. Bush explains that loss of civil liberties is inevitable because “9/11 changed everything”. Blair and Howard nod dumb agreement.

Now even the neo-con mouthpieces at IRAQ THE MODEL are calling for their own Democratic rights to be put on the shelf for a while in Iraq:
It is true that the constitution of Iraq guarantees the rights to freedom of expression and freedom of practicing religion but when practicing these rights means putting people's life in danger and worse as it may escalate already exiting tensions then these rights need to be put on the shelf for a while.
Logically, where is all this heading?
The Washington Monthly:
Astonishing, no? Israel fights a four-week war that fails to achieve its aims and the public is so irate that the prime minister is almost immediately forced to create a panel with the teeth to (possibly) bring down the government. Here in America, we fight a three-year war that has not only failed to achieve its objectives but has demonstrably weakened our national security, and the collective response is a yawn. What a contrast.
Here is Australia we can't even manage a yawn - we are fast asleep!
Vent That Anger!

Ben Tripp Can't Get No Satisfaction:
We all know George W. Bush is a prick, and we know his people are the biggest bunch of peckerwoods since Nixon assembled his cabinet. We know furthermore that this cabal of venomous schweens have wrought more havoc in the world, and done more damage at home in America, than any single American administration since the South decided to secede. Even the commercial media is beginning to take note of these undisputable facts. Pundits are lining up to get on the earliest possible train out of Bushville, but that train left before the World Trade Center fell. Anybody with access to good information knew these people were planning to screw the world, long before they got out the brace & bit. Apparently the media didn't have that access to good information.

Or maybe the problem lies elsewhere. Maybe-- and you know this is a rhetorical device, you know 'maybe' doesn't enter into the thing-- just maybe the media didn't give a rat's rip about good information. Maybe they're in the bullshit business, same as most politicians. Back to my original point, because there's some convergence that needs to happen. We all know George W. Bush is a prick, and everyone around him are not only pricks, they're smarter pricks than he is, so they have no excuse. And we know the largely conservative, reactionary, sensationalist mainstream media has been lapping their ample bags for the last five years-- and throughout most of the Clinton years, as well. Why then, with the big rotten media finally starting to admit Bush is a Bad Thing For America And The World, am I not happier? It's because millions and millions of Americans don't give a rat's rip about good information, either.

See, it takes two to get fooled. You need a fooler, and you need a goddamn fool. There were enough fools in 200 and enough fools in 2004 to put this turdmincer in office and keep him there. Granted, not a sufficient number of fools so he could win an election square and fair, but plenty sufficient so it was close enough to steal, both times. I still see bumper stickers supporting the bastard, supporting the war on Iraq. Far fewer than I saw two years ago, but you have to ask yourself, what kind of human beings are these that can't accept the evidence all around them? If there were 2600 dead Americans on my lawn, people would ask questions. Anybody would. So why aren't a third of Americans asking these questions of the Bush administration?

So that's the first thing that robs me of satisfaction as I watch Bush and his minions lose their tiny minds in a morass of bad poll numbers and the impending bum-battering this election year promises to bring (the terror-alert card didn't work this time-- it's been pulled from the deck so many times it's gotten grubby, and even an idiot can spot it amongst the cards these days). America is rife with assholes, to put it bluntly. I used to merely dislike Right-Wingers for being flinthearted, war-loving sons of bitches. I forgave the ones I knew personally, assuming them to be essentially good people that didn't get enough love when they were children. Or something.

Now I hate them, and I fear them, and I don't want to live in the same country they do, even though it is patently obvious I'm the one that's going to have to shine up my passport and fuck off out of it. They're not going anywhere. America won't be reunited in my lifetime, any more than it was reunited in the hundred years following the Civil War. I'm never going to forget what these ignorant, soulless fundamentalist woman-hating troglodytes did to my country, and several other countries, and the world at large. I'm not going to forgive, either. Half of Americans should put their beloved guns to their sanctimonious heads and blow their meager brains out for supporting war and death and destruction because they couldn't be bothered to seek out the facts beyond the cable news headlines, because they just like to kill dune coons, because they are mindless, superstitious, cowardly zombies sucking at the fartpipe of an authoritarian God that's the only sonofabitch meaner than this shitstain of a president. That's just the first thing that took all the fun out of watching the neoconservatives go down in flames.

The second thing is worse. Real people died because the government couldn't be bothered to follow up on an obvious plot to attack our country, on account of it was the president's vacation time again. Or, as so many now believe, because the government let it happen on purpose, or had a hand in it. And real people died again as we defeated an entire nation in pursuit of a single man. A man we then allowed to escape. A man we have since stopped looking for. Instead, real people died in Iraq-- and continue to die in numbers that the Black lague would envy-- to distract us from the abject failure of the hunt for Osama. And because what the hell, Iraq needed to die. It was in the playbook. Real people died in New Orleans, too, in an inexcusable act of willful negligence, as opposed to direct, bloody belligerence. They died just the same. I'll never forget that. How many died? Damn near as many as died on 9/11/01 in Manhattan. What have we done about it? The same thing we've done about the terrorists. Just about nothing.

The deaths of all these real human beings, that were born into the world, that suckled at their momma's titties, that learned how to talk one language or another, and found a god that suited them, or didn't, all these people that liked soccer or lamb chops or kissing or TV shows with David Hasselhoff, and a hundred thousand more that were too young to have learned anything much, but every single one of whom was born into this world just the same as George W. Bush, every cracker in Texas, Me, and Jesus Christ (in no particular order), all these deaths make it a sinful thing to even imagine taking satisfaction in the ruination of the Fourth Reich the neocons were attempting to erect.

I once thought I'd enjoy watching them go down. But it's no fun. We've lost the souls of half of our fellow Americans. They've become Nazis, monsters, Death-Eaters. We've lost countless civilians in distant lands, and miscounted tens of thousands of our own sons and daughters in the war. And we've lost too many freedoms. It is not too much to say that I have lost my country, and there are millions more that feel as I do.

Somewhere in a government-sponsored enemy-archive there is, I am told, a fat file stuffed with my writings, and probably the texts of my phone calls, and records of my financial transactions, too. They may also have all the documents pertaining to my divorce, and my kid's school report cards, and only the devil knows what else. I hope they will add this humble blog posting to that file, and I hope they will recognize that unlike them, I don't gloat over the destruction of my enemies. There's no satisfaction in it. The America I've lost is the same America they have lost, the only difference between me and the FBI agent in charge of filing my bumf being that I was kicking and screaming and he was collecting a paycheck.

So there's no satisfaction in watching the Right Wing implode. None at all. The price of admission was far too high. It is a bleak thing to admit, but if there is any satisfaction to be had, it is in knowing that the neocons --and the rotten-gutted millions that aided and abetted them-- must all live in the same world as the rest of us, forever washing their hands of blood that will not rinse away. And forever hosing off their patios, too, because when I figure out where they live, I intend to personally shit on their doorsteps if it takes me a thousand years. There may be some satisfaction in that.

August 23, 2006

Blind support of Israel is bad:
Australia has lost respect in the Middle East because of the federal government's unwavering and uncritical support for Israel, a retired ambassador says.

Ross Burns, Canberra's former ambassador to Israel, warned Wednesday that Australia's international interests could suffer because of the government's failure to offer a longer term and more independent view of Middle East affairs.

"I can't say that any Australian interests have been directly affected so far," he told ABC television.

"But ... in the longer term I think the respect for us in the region has fallen.

"People increasingly look at the statements by Australian ministers, see that we're only emphasising a very small range of points - most of which are very much echoing points made by Israeli politicians - and they don't see us as trying to maintain a more balanced attitude to a crisis."

"There should be more to our policy than just simply one of uncritical defence of Israel," he said.
It's going to be very interesting to hear Bush explain how you can be anti-abortion and yet still support the Plan B ‘morning-after’ pill.
Business Is Business

Right? BHP Billiton posts record profit with 63pc jump after profitable deals with Saddam.
COKE: As American As Apple Pie?

Or rampant economic imperialism:
The attitude of the U.S. government seems to be that all nations should blindly accept U.S. products and policies -- everything from Coca-Cola to our own brand of corrupt Democracy -- without question. Those nations who question U.S. imperialism are branded as either terrorists or failed states who are, "harming their own people" by blocking the sale of products like Coca-Cola.

It's a massive distortion of reality, of course. Because in reality, these high-acid, high-sugar soft drinks actually harm people by promoting obesity and diabetes, along with bone density loss, blood sugar disorders and nutritional depletion. Both the Coca-Cola company and the U.S. government have long operated under the absurd illusion that carbonated sugar water drinks are, somehow, America's gift to the rest of the world. But that "gift" has actually given the world something far different: rampant obesity and diabetes that's now beginning to reflect the ever-worsening state of health in the U.S.

Not only is India right to ban Coca-Cola, but every nation would enhance the health of its people by doing the same.
"A majority of Americans think the United States should not ally itself with either
Israel or Lebanon in the current conflict that spans the border of those countries, a new Zogby International telephone poll shows." More than half the respondents, 52 percent, endorsed neutrality. A total of 34 percent say we should follow our time-honored superpower policy of supporting Israel, the little democracy that is, more or less, our 51st state. Surprising, at least to me. That majority is saying, "Stay Out!"

The Boston Globe:
George W. Bush sounds increasingly like your average defiant teenager. The teenager won't clean his room, and the president won't leave Iraq.

The president's latest news conference was another installment of rebel with a cause that a shrinking number of Americans believe in.

''We're not leaving so long as I'm president,'' promised - or threatened - Bush.

Acknowledging that public support for the war continues to wane, the president said, ''These are challenging times, and they're difficult times, and they're straining the psyche of our country.'' But as Senator John Kerry correctly pointed out, ''The American psyche isn't the problem. The problem is this administration's disastrous Iraq policy.'' In fact, the presidential psyche, not the national psyche, is a big problem.

Bush, the stubborn, won't leave Iraq. And even worse, he won't admit mistakes relative to getting us there in the first place, or military miscues since, when it comes to carrying out the mission, he dooms us to travel the same misguided path as long as he remains in the White House.

What's a nation to do? Ground the commander in chief for the rest of his term and take away his car keys?
What It IS

God, it's nice to finally read a gutsy, full-blooded para like this in the US press:
What is happening in the broader Middle East and North Africa can be seen as a boomerang effect that has been playing out slowly since the horrific events of Sept. 11, 2001. In the immediate aftermath of those attacks, there was worldwide sympathy for the United States and support for its declared "war on terrorism," including the invasion of Afghanistan. Then the cynical exploitation of this universal goodwill by so-called neoconservatives to advance hegemonic designs was confirmed by the war in Iraq. The Bush administration's dishonest statements about "weapons of mass destruction" diminished whatever credibility the United States might have had as liberator, while disastrous mismanagement of Iraqi affairs after the invasion led to the squandering of a conventional military victory. The country slid into bloody sectarian violence, while official Washington stonewalled and refused to admit mistakes. No wonder the world has progressively turned against America.
Thank you, thank you, Saad Eddin Ibrahim!
OK, So What's The Solution?

A MUST READ: the Dead President Scenario.
Bring Him Home

Hicks supporters to stage vigil in SA:
Supporters of Australian terrorist suspect David Hicks will stage a candlelight vigil in Adelaide on Wednesday night, calling for him to be repatriated.

Hicks' military lawyer Major Michael Mori will speak to the gathering along with the former jackeroo's father, Terry.

The vigil, to be held from 5.15pm (CST) to 7.30pm, has been organised by national community action group GetUP and local support group, A Fair Go for David.
Isn't it about time we asked why our children are trying to kill themselves?
Although poisoning is the most common form of self-harm reported in hospitals, the study revealed that cutting was the more prevalent form of self-harm (64.5 per cent), followed by overdosing (31 per cent).
You Can't Keep A Good Man Down

Longtime Bush Out blogger Winter Patriot is back in the saddle, with a new blog at Winter Parking. Hey, he even does radio shows!

Welcome back, mate.
Cheney gets briefings on Iran from the former Office of Special Plans (OSP) Director, Abram Shulsky.

The shit hits the fan in post-war Israel as police raid the Israeli president's home:
Katsav is the latest in a line of leaders to be clouded in scandal in recent weeks, adding to the sense of despair felt after the 34-day war against Hizbollah that ended last week. The army and government have been widely criticised for the handling of the war, in which 119 soldiers and 39 civilians were killed, and the military failed to dismantle the Lebanese group.

Army chief Dan Halutz has come under fire for selling his stock portfolio in the hours preceding the war, while Israel's State Comptroller is looking into a Jerusalem property deal involving Prime Minister Ehud Olmert.

This week, Justice Minister Haim Ramon, a key Olmert ally, resigned to face accusations that he improperly kissed an 18-year-old female soldier. Tzahi Hanegbi, another prominent member of Olmert's Kadima party, was informed earlier this week he would be charged with fraud, bribery and perjury.
Bush-Cheney-NYT '04

Eric Boehlert says the New York Times' Eavesdropping Story Wasn't The Only One Squashed For Bush During the 2004 Campaign.

Boehlert cites delays in the Valerie Plame case, the delayed assault on Falluja, delayed investigations of the yellowcake uranium story, and of course the infamous "Bush Bulge" story. A reader also cites the Coingate scandal, in the critical swing state of Ohio. Given the narrowness of Bush's victory, any one of these stories could have swung the election against him.

Sure, reporters should be careful what they write in the final weeks of an election cycle, when a single explosive story can swing the election - only to be revealed as a hoax later on (e.g. children overboard). But that doesn't mean that all genuine reporting should be put on hold. In a healthy democracy (and I am not suggesting the USA fits that criteria), voters will have a degree of scepticism and can properly be left to make up their own minds.

From the comments:
Back in previous times you could sort of expect the media to publish these kinds of stories because they would sell, but not now. Now they run a cost benefit analysis and have determined that being lapdogs for the Bush admin is "more profitable". Freedom be damned.
And a lonesome lament:
Strange. I remember as a child, learning how much control the Soviet Union had over its people, organizations, media etc. It was thought to be such a bad thing and they were bad, evil rulers.

I wondered why the people didn't stand up to their government and speak out. I felt sorry for children my age at how much they were missing. I thought myself so lucky to be in America - land of the free, home of the brave, like I was taught in school.

Now, I understand how it can happen. It has happened. It is happening. But never in my wildest childhood dreams did I think it would happen in America - land of the free, home of the brave.
Dripping Cynicism

Like I said, we live in dishonest times. Anyone who isn't at least a bit cynical, disillusioned and tired these days probably is not paying attention. So it would be entirely fitting if a new album of music from the man hailed as "the poet of his generation" is just total crap:
"I don't know anybody who's made a record that sounds decent in the past 20 years, really," the 65-year-old rocker said in an interview with Rolling Stone magazine.

Dylan, who released eight studio albums in the past two decades, returns with his first recording in five years, "Modern Times," next Tuesday.

Noting the music industry's complaints that illegal downloading means people are getting their music for free, he said, "Well, why not? It ain't worth nothing anyway."

"You listen to these modern records, they're atrocious, they have sound all over them," he added. "There's no definition of nothing, no vocal, no nothing, just like ... static."

Dylan said he does his best to fight technology, but it's a losing battle.

"Even these songs probably sounded ten times better in the studio when we recorded 'em. CDs are small. There's no stature to it."
It's All About Iraq, Tony

Tony Blair has done what few people thought possible: he has raised the opposition UK Conservatives from the dead and transformed them into clear favourites at the next elections. This is really damning stuff... Tories open nine-point lead as Labour drops to 19-year low:
72%, including 65% of Labour voters, think government policy has made Britain more of a target for terrorists. Only 1% of voters believe the government's foreign policy has made Britain safer, a devastating finding given that action in Iraq and Afghanistan has been justified in part to defeat Islamist terrorism...

The findings will shock many at Westminster who had expected Labour to gain ground following John Reid's high-profile handling of the alleged plot against transatlantic airlines. Carried out over the past weekend, following the series of terror arrests, the poll shows voters do not believe the government is giving an honest account of the threat facing Britain. Only 20% of all voters, and 26% of Labour voters, say they think the government is telling the truth about the threat, while 21% of voters think the government has actively exaggerated the danger.

A majority, 51%, say the government is not giving the full truth and may be telling less than it knows.
The Liberal Democrats also climbed 5 points after their leader publicly criticized Blair's close allegiance to Bush.
The voting figures, if repeated at a general election, would send Mr Cameron to Downing Street with a majority of around 10 - although that could climb if Liberal Democrat discontent with the government costs Labour tactical votes in marginal seats.
While Bush currently holds a 57% disapproval rate, the UK polls indicate that most Brits are more well-informed and sceptical than their US counterparts. A pity we have almost zero debate on these important issues here in Australia.

UPDATE: UK may cut Iraq force in half by mid-2007:
"We anticipate there is not going to be a political appetite to saying 'alright, we're done' while there is still unfinished business in the center of the country," the commander said.
Gandhi Museum Goes Hi-Tech

But you plebs can't touch the buttons! Gandhi's hands-on, high-tech message for a new generation:
"Gandhian values of nonviolence and truth are relevant for all times. But the challenge was to get this message across to the younger generation. So we used the medium of technology that they are so fascinated with," says Savita Singh, the director of the Eternal Gandhi museum and memorial.

The $2.8 million exhibition, which opened last year, is an expansion of an older, more solemn memorial, the sprawling colonial-style house where Gandhi spent the last 144 days of his life. It was in its grounds in 1948 that Gandhi, walking to a daily prayer meeting, was shot dead by a Hindu radical.

August 22, 2006

Buy The Shirt

Stewart/Colbert 2008!!!
Deconstructing Reconstruction

Ted Rall:
Hours after a ceasefire halted a five-week war between Israel and Iranian-backed Islamic militias in Lebanon, reported the New York Times, "hundreds of Hezbollah members spread over dozens of villages across southern Lebanon began cleaning, organizing and surveying damage. Men on bulldozers were busy cutting lanes through giant piles of rubble. Roads blocked with the remnants of buildings are now, just a day after a ceasefire began, fully passable." Who cares if Hezbollah is a State Department-designated terrorist organization? Unlike our worthless government, it gets things done!
This reminds me of an early Baghdad Burning post, comparing the rapid Iraqi reconstruction of their country after the Iran-Iraq war to the dismally slow US reconstruction efforts (hampered by ridiculous security concernes due to the fact that everybody there hates the USA and therefore nobody can be trusted unless they are a foreign security contractor with bodyguards, and bodyguards to guard the bodyguards...).


Blog Archive