Blog Archive

Monday, March 31, 2003
One thing that never seems to stay totally under wraps is when bureaucrats fear they are being targeted in a blame game. Whether or not this is the actual case at the Pentagon these days, some folks there certainly are acting like it. And why not? Rummy sure sure doesn't want it. If you ask him, he's perfect.
This is getting silly! When I have to go to the creators of Pravda, Isvestia, and Gostelradio to find out "no holds barred" details of what is happening on the ground in Iraq, the American news media has all but marched its way to irrelevence. We really shouldn't have to be running our own American version of Samizdat, but there seems to be no alternative. Mind you, I have no problem with "rally 'round the flag" stories. It is, after all, our own brothers, sisters, sons, and daughters in the line of fire. But when they are over there blogged down and under continual fire because our leaders believed their own propaganda and underplanned as a result of that, covering this up has nothing to do with patriotism and "supporting our troops". It only has to do with covering the asses of egotistical maniacs.
The ink is hardly dry on my reference to Joshua Micah Marshall at Talking Points Memo, when out he comes with a major article in The Washington Monthly describing the immense scope and inherent dangers in the administration's Middle East policy. It's a long article, so you might want to read William Raspberry's review, Hawks and Hornets", first just to get an taste. But plan on spending some time with Josh's "Practice to Deceive". It's everything you always wanted to know about how the neocons are shoving us into a hornest's nest that we can't get out of.
"Must reading" from Haaretz: The new Nero, an important new essay by Francois de Bernard, in which he warns of the dangers of a U.S. government formed from the merger of paranoid psychosis with Fundamentalist theocracy:
A new pathology is ravaging the city. It has taken control of the neurons of the empire. First it infected the emperor himself and then it was transmitted to his oligarchs. First it took control of the center and now it is shaking the peripheries, from north to south and from east to west. Now, at the height of its fury, the incredulity has given way to stupor ...

Indeed, everything is impelling us to minimize the gravity of this matter, insofar as possible. But the time has come for us to open our eyes. The time has come to forget the old idea - forged during the course of two centuries - of the United States as the bridgehead of the "free world" and "democracy." The reality that we are trying to keep at a distance is that the United States has become a theocracy and a pathocracy.

My only disagreement with this author is that he seems to view paranoia and fundamentalism as two separate concepts that have simply merged in this particular case. While it is true that a person can suffer from paranoia without turning to religion, once the paranoid has made this turn, fundamentalism is the inevitable destination. It does not matter in the least upon which theism that fundamentalism is based; the result sooner or later is always violence and disaster for any who allow the patient to control their lives.
Pulitzer Prize winner Peter Arnett got the axe today by NBC and Natoinal Geographic for a fifteen minute impromptu interview with Iraqi television in which he said, "The first war plan has failed because of Iraqi resistance. Now they are trying to write another war plan. Clearly, the American war plans misjudged the determination of the Iraqi forces." According to a joint statement from the two companies, "It was wrong for Mr. Arnett to grant an interview to state controlled Iraqi TV especially at a time of war and it was wrong for him to discuss his personal observations and opinions in that interview." Now I'm not trying excuse Arnett's choice of venues for this statement: he himself has indeed recognized and appologized for this error publicly (NBC Today show). Neither am I trying fault these two companies for their action: they had a financial investment in his reputation, and Arnett was well aware that he had obligations in that regard. But the fact of the matter is that what he said was true. A brief scan of newspapers from our British allies and elsewhere well confirms Arnett's point, and even NBC defended Arnett's comments when they were first aired. So why does this statement now refer to Arnett's comments as "personal obvervation and opinions" when less than a day ago they were defending these very same comments? Why do they seek to impune his statement and his qualifications when the real error was his choice of venues? All of which gets me to the war news coverage on this morning's network TV. Now it's not that people have not been criticizing this coverage for being biased all along, but it seemed to me that there was almost a conscious effort today to downplay the entire war. Gone was the far more aggressive and continuous coverage of it from the past week and a half, and it had been replaced by the studio sets, hair-dos, and homemaking tips that were more typical of this programming before the war began. Perhaps it is simply that these networks have to get back to their revenue streams (ads), but it seemed to me that someone wanted has decided that we all must be "dumbed down". That maybe we were learning a little too much and were getting a little too concerned about things "others" don't want us bothering with. Call me a conspiracy theorist if you want, but the news coming out of London was just as crappy as it has been for the past three days, and the gap between coverage there and coverage here has suddenly gotten a lot wider.
The Promises:

Dick Cheney: "the people of Iraq ... will welcome as liberators the United States"

Ken Adelman: "demolishing Hussein's military power and liberating Iraq would be a cakewalk"

Christopher Hitchens: "It will be rapid, accurate and dazzling"

Richard Perle: "Support for Saddam, including within his military organization, will collapse at the first whiff of gunpowder."

If there's one thing this administration is good at, it's letting our enemies know what we have planned for them. From Reuters:
North Korea vowed on Saturday to resist all international demands on the communist state to allow nuclear inspections or agree to disarm, saying Iraq had made this mistake and was now paying the price.
Sunday, March 30, 2003
Support our troops? We may have to. While they're at war, the president is busy cutting $14.6 billion from their veteren benefit programs. In Offensive Interference, American Prospect co-editor Robert Kuttner details this and all the other "little people" getting screwed while the war crowds these stories out of the headlines.. As Mr Kuttner says: This administration's slogan might as well be, "Sacrifice is for suckers."
In Demons Of Necessity, Lisa Walsh Thomas details "Why Weapons of Mass Destruction Will be Found" in Iraq.
The only thing that will "justify" these deaths is the discovery of vast amounts of dangerous weapons of mass destruction. It is NECESSARY, vitally necessary, to those who orchestrated the current happenings, that these weapons be found and shown to the world as evidence of Bush/Blair rightness ... So they WILL be found.
So let me get this straight: We've got sixty-some-odd thousand soldiers on the ground in Iraq, people are shooting at them, supplies aren't up to snuff, effective reinforcements are weeks away, and In Touch Ministries is handing them pamplets asking them to pray for the President? Just how "in touch" is that?
Stand Down is having an identity crisis of sorts. Being an anti (rational) war blog, how to remain relevent and focused now that the war has begun without simply becoming another Bush-bashing site. Among their thoughts is to stay "on message" as opposed to the neocon expansionist military agenda. A most worthy goal, but here is why I don't think they can pull it off (successfully, at least) without resorting to Bush-bashing: Trying to be against the expansionist foreign policy of this administration without appearing to be a Bush-basher is like trying to make am omelet without breaking eggs. The problem is that you can't combat the mindset that pushes this expansionism without also combatting the methodology its supporters employ to advance it. Consider: What's this war about? Is it about a brutal dictator? Regime change? Nuclear weapons? Biochemicals? Aiding terrorists? Freedom for the Iraqi people? It depends on which day you are arguing on. Everytime you beat one of these points down, up pops another, and another, and another. Until it all comes full circle, and by then, you are trying to re-win an argument you've already won. The problem is that it's about none of these. It's about the aggressive use of American military superiority in support of (American) corporate domination. Try to focus the debate on that however, and the neocons just brush you off. "Oh, don't be silly," they'll say. So here are all of us lefties: We've got the better arguments, we win every debate, and nothing changes. Why? Because we are the only ones in the debate. The neocons aren't in it. They never were. All they are doing is tossing out inanitities for us lefties to argue with each other about while they go about doing whatever it was that they started out to do in the first place. They'ver already decided this for themselves, and none of us were ever allowed in the room when they held their debate. The point thus becomes that arguing issues with these people makes almost no sense. It just doesn't get you anywhere. Instead, it is this very methodology that they use to avoid the debate in the first place that must be broken down, and you simply can't do that without turning anti-Bush. Why? Because it is this exact same methodology that these people use regardless of whether they are implementing foreign policy or implementing domestic policy. The matter is decided long before it ever reaches the public for debate, and once it does, it is simply a matter of tossing out slight-of-hand distractions to keep any opposition sufficiently disorganized until the dirty deed is done. Now if it were simply that the neocons employed a new instance of this methodology for each new policy decision, then indeed Stand Down could stick to military expansionism as a focus and hope for some moderate success. But these are not separate instances of a methodology at all. There is but a single instance of this mthodology, and it simultaneously encompasses everything the neocons want. It is not important that we are distracted by a different argument from the same issue, but merely that we are distracted by something. Proof of this is easy enough to find: The neocons screwed up the war plans. The anti-war opposition is trying to fix accountablity for this where it belongs, feeling that if this can be done, military expansionism can be halted in its tracks. You'd think that this was a bad time for the neocons, but in fact, it is a blessing. You see, while we are all fixated on this, few of us are left to watch the hen house. And what's going on there? The neocons are paying back their rich contributors by shoving through the most outrageous tax cuts in this country's history. They are paying back the pharmaceuticals by going after seniors looking to Canada for lower perscription prices. They are paying back insurance companies by removing juries from pain and suffering award determination. And all of this is being done under the cover of our distraction with how badly they have screwed our soldiers. They win regardless. We win all of the debates, but they still get everything they want. Which is exactly why Stand Down and the rest of us where not successful in preventing this war, and why Stand Down will not be effective if they single-issue their future: We can always win the game that we are playing, but that game is simply not the game that the neocons are playing. Theirs is a game of lies and slight-of-hand. This methodology must be exposed for what it is. Their core self-centered philosophy must be exposed along with it. And this will never be done by winning single-issue debates. The only way to outplay them at their own game. And the only way to do this is to attack them on all fronts simultaneously. And if that is not the definition of Bush-bashing, I don't know what is.
Saturday, March 29, 2003
From Talking Points Memo (TPM), a link to a brutal indictment of Rumsfeld's disasterous interference in the war planning effort. Just as I and others have been suggesting, this man's ego was way ahead of his concern for the safety of our troops. (As I write, we've got soldiers out there that are down to one meal a day(!), and realistic reinforcements are a month away.)

TPM suggests establishing a "no fly zone" to keep Rummy and the other White House tin soldiers away from the generals while these real soldiers fix the mess our troops have been sent into. I've got a better idea: Why don't we have Rummy plan how to pack George's bags for a permanent trip back to Texas? At least if he screws that up, nobody dies as a result.

Christian Zionist? I hadn't heard this term before I read this article, but reading Kurt Nimmo often leaves me with a few new ways of using the English language more precisely. (Do yourself a favor, and read this one through to the end.)

As always, you can catch a steady stream of Kurt from his blog: Another Day in the Empire. He even answers his e-mail!

"To the victor go the spoils": The sweetheart no-bid contract to Haliburton is already "old news", but Christopher Brauchli points out a few more items in "Who will profit from war in Iraq?"
The (four) companies that are being permitted to bid ... made political contributions of more than $2.8 million between 1999 and 2002, more than two-thirds of which went to Republicans ...

The U.S. is not discriminating only against countries that opposed the war. Britain is also being excluded ...


... (these) companies are paid with oil revenues derived from Iraq ...

Well, here's a novel idea: If we are so damned interested in bringing freedom to Iraq, and if it's their money to begin with, why don't we just let them decide who to award these contracts to?

Don't hold your breath!

There goes the neighborhood (Volume II): Plans Under Way for Christianizing the Enemy
Two leading evangelical Christian missionary organizations said Tuesday that they have teams of workers poised to enter Iraq to address the physical and spiritual needs of a large Muslim population. The Southern Baptist Convention, the country's largest Protestant denomination, and the Rev. Franklin Graham's Samaritan's Purse said workers are near the Iraq border in Jordan and are ready to go in as soon as it is safe.
Fascism Watch: It was only a matter of time (too much time), but the word "fascism" has started hitting the mainstream newspapers. From yesterday, Molly Ivans' "Government secrecy and other little steps toward fascism" (Creators Syndicate) and Brian Morton's "The Last Refuge of a Scoundrel" (Baltimore City Paper).
Regarding my earlier comments on PNAC and the development of bioweapons to target individual genotypes ("genocide in a bottle"), this suggestion was "washed" from the original Wolfowitz report. Gone, but apparently not forgotten.
There goes the neighborhood! So much for regional stability. Troops from Iran are on their way across the Iraqi border, and Syria is shipping in night-vision goggles. Rummy's figured this one out at least: Those goggles ain't meant for our side.
Friday, March 28, 2003
Let them eat 'cakewalk': You've got to give old Rummy credit. At least he's not a chickenhawk. But I don't get how being an all-Navy wrestling champ and flying a few birds around in peacetime qualifies him as some sort of expert with veto control over the plans for a major military assault in unfamiliar territory. Apparently the generals are thinking that also, because at least one of them has broken ranks, if only in an attempt to escape personal liability for the fiasco we are witnessing. The fact of the matter is that Rummy rejected higher troop levels in opposition to the repeated recommendations of his (real) military commanders. The 3rd Armored is now stuck outside of Baghdad undersupplied for the task before them, and maintaining a 300 mile supply line is proving to be a bit more problematical than was hoped. Meanwhile, their back-ups (the 4th Armored) are four weeks away in Texas, having been just called in. Whatever was this jerk thinking? That's not hard to figure out, in fact. Rove was having a hard enough time trying to sell this war to even it's few committed buyers, and went with the chrome trim (shock and awe) rather than the far less glorious horsepower (troops). Which tells you something about allowing political hacks into the war room. You can bomb the crap out of anyone, but if you want to take (and hold) real estate, you need foot soldiers, and you need lots of them. More than we have there. That we will win this battle goes without question, but suddenly we are stuck with a choice between two evils: wait for the 4th to show up (and watch our troops slowly get picked off while they do) or attack without the overwhelming force recommended by the generals (and watch our troops quickly get picked off while they do). Guess which one Rummy is advocating? The one Karl thinks will do less damage to the President's re-election campaign. And let's not forget this: the longer this drags out, the more the civilian body count goes up (283 confirmed as I write, and we haven't even been in to half of the places they are dying). Wasn't that one of Karl's big selling points? That this war was about not killing civilians? And yet the plan Rummy is now advocating will clearly demand more intense and more indiscriminate bombing in and around heavily populated areas. But we are being told that are still "on plan". A few extra soldiers? A few extra civilians? Heck, it's war, you know. Jeeze, Don, I thought it was a cakewalk.
'Prince of Darkness' Richard Perle resigns: I think I am starting to see a trend here. Henry Kissenger accepts the chair of the 9/11 investigation, but quits suddenly when his meal ticket gets questioned. Richard Perle suddenly quits the chair of the Defense Policy Board as soon as his meal ticket is questioned. So next we should perhaps expect all of our reservists in Afghanistan and Iraq so say, "Hey, I can make more money at home." Sure. It's not like Hank and Dick are getting their butts shot off either. But where is all of the patriotism in these jerks that the left supposedly lacks? A little crimp on the wallet of a multimillionaire is apparently enough to send their patriotism packing. It's not that I expect anything different from these scumbags, but it is still disgusting to watch. But please notice this: The Prince of Darkness only resigned as chairman, and Rummy wants him to stay on the Defense Policy Board. Scumbag that Richard Perle is, he's not stepping down from anything. He's just trying to fly a bit lower and stay under your radar. Not if I can help it, Dick.
I have to admit that I gained a bit of respect for Tom Friedman when he tempered his "right war" optimism with the suggestion that perhaps Bush was the wrong man to run it. In his latest op-ed, Scorecard for the War, he suggests six ways to know if we are winning the war. It's a really good list, Tom, but the article would have been better if you had suggested most of these as reasons we will probably never win this war.
I just got done watching a ten minute segment on my local nightly news about what the average Mom thought of all the war coverage. I think the TV station must have got their list of interviewees from the Xanax file of a local drug store. "It's wonderful." "It's like being there." Not if you ain't bleeding, bitch. But what has me in a tiff was the interview with a 12 year old boy: "If they re-institute the draft, I'd be glad to enlist." The kid didn't even understand that you don't have to enlist when you have a draft. "I'd be proud to die for my country," he went on. OK. Mommy and Daddy are now proud of you, but beyond that, this is nothing but brainwashing. At twelve years old, this boy has no concept of what death is. Yet there they were, the media whores, slopping all of this up for their ratings. Not news, but what the whores think people want the news to be. Pure child abuse, if you ask me ... but then again, you didn't.
We are on to the old "malprctice award caps" again down here in Florida, but fortunately there are enough folks up in Tallahassee who still have a semblence of brains.We will probably shove this annual onslaught of insurance industry PACs back for at least one more year. But they'll come back again and again and won't stop until they get this and screw all the victims of medical hacks. Forget my ten years in the insurance industry. This issue is solved by a thinking person with one question: If malpractice awards are driving premiums, why will no insurance company agree to premium caps along with award caps? Why? Because awards do not drive premiums. They never have. In this case, the issue is simply a case of Republicans trying to defund a source of Democratic campaign funding. These numbers work. Premium hikes vs. awards don't.
Thursday, March 27, 2003
dailyKOS is bringing the war home with several articles on our dead and MIAs. It is a shame that we have to get to know these kids that way.
A few more words on PNAC: My previous article on the Project for the New American Century referred to some quite brief excepts from this group's original 1992 plan for world domination. This article from the Sunday Herald presents a number of additional points from that document, and things don't get any better. Perhaps the most mind-numbing proposal from this document is the suggestion that biological weapons be developed that could target specific genotypes in order to "transform biological warfare from the realm of terror to a politically useful tool". For those of you who are "scientifically-challenged", think "ethnic cleansing" and "genocide in a bottle". Though I hate to drop names, this original document was authored by Paul Wolfowitz, who at that time reported directly to (then Defense Secretary) Dick Cheney. Others members of the current administration who are or have been members of PNAC include Donald Rumsfeld, Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage, and Under Secretary of State for Arms Control John Bolton. Other notables include Weekly Standard editor and current PNAC chairman William Kristol and Defense Policy Board Chairman (and war profiteer) Richard Perle. And PNAC is hardly keeping quiet these days. Their most recent statement (March 19, 2003) calls for (among other things) an American-led reconstruction of Iraq without any "early fixation on exit strategies and departure deadlines", and foresees U.S. military presense there "(f)or the next year or more". This being the point of disagreement at the just-conclude Bush-Blair meeting, expect this to become U.S. policy. Update: Why do these chickenhawks who were afraid to put on uniforms when they had a chance always have to ask Colin Powell to do their dirty work for them?
Call Goes Out For U.S. Reinforcements, but Rummy claims it was all part of the plan. Which plan was that, Don? The plan to save your ass when this gamble blew up in your face?
Wednesday, March 26, 2003
An open letter to our vice president:
Dear Mr. Vice President: The war suddenly comes home to roost, doesn't it? Your daughter, Mary, is apparently in Jordan and making her way to Baghdad as a human shield. I wish I had her courage. Karl Rove can do a lot to manipulate the American press, but even he could not prevent this from coming out at today's Command Press Briefing. That he can stop this from further display on American television is irrelevant. It is out for anyone who cares to look. Mr. Cheney, we have differed from the start about the necessity of this war, but that is of scant matter at this point. The war is on, and we must both hope for a quick resolution with minimal loss of life. I know that you feel we are doing the right thing with this war, but I must remind you that human shields are offerring a far greater level of commitment to their beliefs than you have with yours: They have offered their lives. I truly hope for your daughter's safe return, as I do for all who have offered themselves as human shields. I do not at all expect that we differ in this sentiment. Still, I am compelled to ask: Does the fact that your own flesh and blood might be shed in this at all influence your thinking? God help you if it does not.
If you would also like to send a letter to Mr. Cheney on this or any other subject, you may do so by clicking here.
Distant bombs vs dead bodies: Differing TV images feed Arab, US views
The Arab world sees pictures of bloodied bodies of young children. They watch scenes crowded with corpses, including gruesome images of dead American soldiers. Americans see almost none of that. Their view of the war in Iraq, through television and print, is dominated by long-distance photos of bombs going off in Baghdad and intimate battlefield scenes conveyed by reporters who are traveling with US and British soldiers. The two contrasting visions of this war, one seen by Americans and the other seen in the Middle East, help to sharpen differences over the conflict, say analysts and diplomats. "Friends from Syria are sending e-mails to me, asking what are the people in the US telling you about the images of civilian casualties," said Imad Moustapha, chief of public diplomacy at the Syrian Embassy in Washington. "My answer to them is very simple and sad: `Sorry, no one is seeing those images here.' "
From Benedict@Large: These pictures are indeed quite hard to look at. You pretty much have to force yourself if you are to continue to look beyond the first one you see. Still, in a part of the world torn by violence, they are viewed as a necessary part of the public's education. In "The Faces of War", I offer you these pictures and many more, and I offer them with scant commentary. You may not want to view these pictures; many are quite horrible. In offering them to you, I take no position on the correctness of any military action that produced them. Soldiers are professionals and war is hell. Still, I believe these photographs should be a necessary part of the education of anyone advocating for any war. Not all wars are unavoidable, but anyone who advocates for one should at least be aware of the horror they inevitably produce.
Don't look now, but under cover of the war in Iraq, the administration is busy trying to shove it's elitist tax cut through Congress-Lite. Expect them to get much of it while the people are distracted by the war. Get ready for a similar push on Patriot Act II. Can you spell C-O-N-S-T-I-T-U-T-I-O-N ? Can you say "Bye-Bye"? See also: The Attack on Civil Liberties, an excellent series by The Village Voice.
This is cute: Remember all those assholes in Congress who in their wisdon renamed "French Fries" to "Freedom Fries"? And all of the jerks who dumped their French wines in the streets? Seems our international friends have developed their own version of this.
"Shock and Awe" hardly shocking the Iraqis Someone tell me once again: Just who was supposed to be shocked and awed? If it was the Iraqi military, it doesn't seem to have happened. If it was me, then it worked. I am indeed shocked and awed. I am shocked because, for all of the talk of a quick and decisive campaign, it appears that we were misled as to how difficult this war would become. I am awed by my stupidity for ever having thought otherwise. While I never much believed in any of the publicly-stated reasons for this war, I did believe that, once started, it would be simple, quick, and decisive. After all, that was what we were led to believe, and indeed, there is every reason to believe that the presentation of war plans was intended to leave just that impression. The plan of "Shock and Awe" was to create a massive and precise fireworks display in Baghdad, quickly moving our troops in to take advantage of the total disarray that this would cause. By-passing pockets of resistance in the southern region while extending our supply lines over hundred of miles was not presented as a significant problem. This southern region, after all, was supposed to offer little resistance, and any residual resistance could be easily mopped up by the troops protecting the supply lines to the front. Except that this didn't happen. There were of course the foretold mass surrenders: soldiers by the thousands simply giving up. Why fight for Saddam, when he is such a terrible person and his time is short? This was what we wanted to see, and it gave us the confidence to proceed "on plan". We were moving swiftly, extending our supply lines successfully, and so the "shock and awe" bombings on Baghdad and elsewhere commenced. And then it happened. What had been token resistance from the by-passed population centers turned to fierce fighting. While the supply lines are being successfully defended, staying "on plan" forces this as the first priority to the exclusion of all other priorities. Like reinforcing ground troops approaching Baghdad as resistance there stiffens. Like securing these by-passed population centers. Like providing humanitarian aid in these areas. It is quite easy to "spin this" as "the fault" of the bad man of Baghdad, and indeed some are making such suggestions. But there is a level of silliness in this. Since when is it the obligation of any side in a war to perform according to the other side's plan? In fact, not acting in this fashion is a critical element of most successful military planning, and even pretending for a time to be acting according to the enemy's plan (the early mass surrenders) is hardly an idea that originated with the Iraqi military planners. In fact, it is an idea that has been used successfully throughout military history. A "Trojan Horse", if you will. By now, it is clear that some things are going very wrong. Two of these are obvious. First, we simply did not have sufficient troops on the southern front to allow for the possibility of what we have encountered. A 250 mile supply line through enemy territory is anything but a trivial military exercise. While we can defend that supply line, we can do little towards the swift achievement of other military goals in that area. And so "freeing" the people in that area and providing them humanitarian aid have had to take a lower priority. Second, we advertised (under the banner of "psy-ops") much of the high-level philosophy of our attack plans on that front. This has allowed Iraqi military planners to far better prepare their response to our attack in that region. In the first case, a number of factors may have come into play. The refusal of Turkey to allow us to establish a northern front may have allow the repositioning of Iraqi forces to better defend the southern front. And yet, none other than Donald Rumsfeld assured us that the Turkish decision would not have major consequences. Certainly contributing to this is less than desirable intelligence regarding this southern region. While this might certainly be anticipated, this begs the question as to why this very lack was not taken into account by military planners before the commencement of the war. Certainly, a few days or a week's delay would have allow the troops originally slated for the northern front to be fully re-deployed to assist on the southern front. This seems to imply some wishful thinking at some level, and I find it hard to imagine that our quite professional military planners would have been guilty of such. This sort of thinking would almost certainly have to have originated much higher up. This of course is quite consistent with my second suggestion of what went wrong: The "telegraphing" of our war plan to the enemy by (among others) the Defense Secretary himself. I can (in hindsight certainly) imagine the glee of the Iraqi planners over being given this gift. There can be little doubt that this decision, if it did not originate in the Oval Office itself, was at least cleared through it, and nothing gets cleared through that office unless it is clear by the president's handler, Karl Rove. Which of course explains why we are where we are today: A White House under Mr. Rove that insists on placing positive spins (i.e., wishful thinking) on everything it wishes to sell and that insists on total political control over everything that happens under it. Everything, it seems, including the war planning of its generals. And so once again, it seems, others are left to pay for the bravado of this administration, the bravado that has long been the hallmark of everything Karl Rove touches. Only this time, it is our military forces who have been placed in harm's way as a result; our militray forces who, at their own greater peril, must pick up the pieces. Some might even call this treason. See also: "Rumsfeld's strategy under fire as war risks become increasingly apparent" (Philadelphia Inquirer, 3/25/2003), "Diminished Expectations in Iraq" (New York Times, 3/25/2003), "Exposing Karl Rove" (CounterPunch, 11/1/2002)
Tuesday, March 25, 2003
The Project for the New American Century for Dummies:

The Carnege Endowment for International Peace has published Origins of Regime Change in Iraq, an excellent review of the 12 year history of PNAC along with links to key documents published by them.

For any unfamiliar with this group, it was formed in response to the end of Gulf War I by insiders (esp. Paul Wolfowitz) who felt that war should have continued to Baghdad, and whose members now comprise (with the excepton of Colin Powell) all key foreign policy voices in the current administration. Of particular interest in this article is its reference to excerpts from the original 1992 publication from this group which clearly show that "regime change" in Iraq and a permanent military presence there were key goals even back then. Also worth viewing is the PBS Frontline chronology of these events dating from 1991 to the present and today's LA Times Op-Ed by Robert Scheer, "The Wraps Come Off Bush's Colonialist Agenda".

Dollar$ and $ense: Under pressure from Congress to place a price tag on the Iraq War, the Commander-in-Thief this morning announced that he was sending Congress a supplemental appropriations bill of $74.7 billion for the war-related expenditures. For anyone keeping track, that's over 18 times the amount that Iraq spent on its military last year ($4 billion), and almost 29 times the entire budget for the United Nations ($2.6 billion) for the same period.
Monday, March 24, 2003
An open letter to Peter Jennings regarding his interview today with Richard Perle: Dear Mr. Jennings, Tonight you interviewed Richard Perle. You asked him many questions regarding how he felt the current war against Iraq was proceeding. To each of your questions, he gave a positive answer. You knew he would. Mr. Jennings, you are fully aware that Richard Perle makes millions of dollars on his war-related involvements. You know that he will perhaps make millions more on this war alone. Yet by your very presentation of him, most of your viewers will presume him to be some sort of impartial expert rather than the war profiteer that he is. In doing so, you essentially lied to all of those viewers. And you knew you were when you were doing it. You know the big story about Richard Perle today too, don't you? You know that a good number of honest Americans are trying to initiate an ethics probe against him for his conflicting roles as Chairman of the Defense Policy Board and as a consultant to Global Crossing, with whom he has a contract for $100,000 with a $650,000 bonus should he manage to convince the Defense Department to allow their major (American) communication network to be purchased by Chinese interests. You know this, but yet you did not even make a reference to this in your interview with him. You lied to your viewers when you presented him as unbiased, and you lied to them again when your lack of questioning implied that he was honest. And you knew that too when you were doing it. Mr. Jennings, you were once a most excellent journalist. You would not have achieved your current stature had you not been. Yet with that stature comes responsibility. A great many Americans listen to you and trust you for the information you present to them. Indeed, they make decisions that can change their lives based upon that very information. And yet you are failing them. You are interviewing who you are told to interview, and you are asking the questions that you are told to ask. You are failing the many Americans who trust you. You have become a media whore. You have the talent to be so much more than that, Mr. Jennings, and you also have the responsibility.
Well, isn't that a gas! That "possible secret WMD factory" found at Najaf? Notice how fast the story calmed down? There's a reason for that. Seems the press was in such a rush to grab their shocking headlines that no one bothered to do the research. This "secret" factory was actually documneted by the original inspection team back in October, 1991. That's twelve years ago for anyone who's counting.
While you watch the war on TV, Ashcroft is tapping your phone. Per the San Francisco Chronicle:
Since the Sept. 11 attacks, the Justice Department and FBI have dramatically increased the use of two little-known powers that allow authorities to tap telephones, seize bank and telephone records and obtain other information in counterterrorism investigations with no immediate court oversight, according to officials and newly disclosed documents. The FBI, for example, has issued scores of "national security letters" that require businesses to turn over electronic records about finances, telephone calls, e-mail and other personal information, according to the officials and documents. The letters, a type of administrative subpoena, may be issued independently by FBI field offices and are not subject to judicial review unless a case comes to court, officials said. Attorney General John Ashcroft also personally signed more than 170 "emergency foreign intelligence warrants," three times the number authorized in the preceding 23 years, according to recent congressional testimony.
Sunday, March 23, 2003
'Ex-presidents club' gets fat on conflict: The Observer reviews "Iron Triangle, Inside the Secret World of the Carlyle Group'" by Dan Briody.
It is the sort of thing they really could have done without. For 15 years one of America's most powerful venture capital groups has tried to play down suggestions that its multi-billion dollar funds get fat on the back of global conflict. But now, with the invasion of Iraq under way, a new book chronicling the relatively short history of the Carlyle Group threatens to draw attention to the company's close links with the Pentagon.
57 civilians (confirmed, possibly as many as 100) were killed this morning in the vicinity of Khormal, Kurdistan, the apparent victims of missile strikes. To date, this is the largest single-incident civilian death toll of the Iraq War, eclipsing the battle for Basra (50 confirmed, 77 possible). The total civilian death count for the war at this writing is 126 cofirmed (199 possible). 15 American soldiers were also confirmed killed today, and an additional 18 have been listed as missing. Things are starting to get rough out there not matter which side one is on. Also of note: There is now sufficient evidence to believe that missing ITV News Correspondent Terry Lloyd was killed in an incident in Iman Anas on the Southern Iraq war front yesterday.
While we are all wound up in the Iraq War, we need to remember that we still have many is harm's way in Afghanistan. As of today, six more of them will also not be coming home.
Saturday, March 22, 2003
Three Faces of Shock, Awe, and Death Offered without comment from Benedict. A lengthy article from The Black Commentator. Three authors; each worth reading.
When $26 billion is not enough: Of course, it wasn't money the Turks wanted at all. It never was. Having a long-standing beef against their own Kurdish population, they wanted a green light to send their own troops into Kurdish-contolled northern Iraq. We could have offered them peanuts to place our northern front strike force there, so long as we let their troops go in too. Of course, now that we have no troops there, the Turks are free to do as they want, and are crossing the northern border into Iraq as I write this. As I pointed out in my earlier article (Iraq, One War or Four), none of this should come as any surprise. In fact, there is also quite ample evidence that Israel is also ratcheting up their on-going war crimes activities against occuried Palestine. All of which leaves only the Iranian front left to be heard from. One war or four, indeed.
Alan Bisbort is pissed off as he writes in the American Politics Journal:
God damn the whole lot of you to be punished by being forced into one another's company for eternity. God damn you for having rigged our democracy and God damn you for having made the world more dangerous for my innocent son and the children of millions of other Americans who will reap the whirlwind from your deeds today. God damn you for lying from Day One of your insurrection in January 2001 and God damn you for what you plan to do in 2004 to deny what's left of our democracy's dignity the right to resoundingly toss your asses out on the sidewalk.
And from William Rivers Pitt (T r u t h o u t): Now, I am the terrorist:
We are the terrorists now, stupid underinformed terrorists who dance to the tune of a corporate media machine that will profit wildly from this attack. NBC, MSNBC and CNBC are owned by General Electric, one of the largest defense contractors on earth. They will be paid handsomely in military contracts because of this, as they always have been. Yet GE gives us the news we need to understand what is happening.
Impeachment News: House Representative Congressman John Conyers on the Judicial Committee is asking you to tell him whether you want Bush impeached or not. He is NOT introducing articles of impeachment now. He is only TALLYING votes FOR and AGAINST impeachment as of this moment. The phones are currently ringing off the hook, so please send a brief message stating whether you are for or against impeachment. You can send your messages can be sent via e-mail or by FAX: (313) 226-2085

Friday, March 21, 2003
We are going to be in such a fix when this war is over, or before this war is over. Our grandchildren's grandchildren are going to be paying for this war. I look at our future as, I'm sorry, being very, very dark. Walter Cronkite, March 18, 2003
Is there trouble in paradise? This just in from the "Moonie Times":
Will Bush be impeached? Will he be called a war criminal? These are not hyperbolic questions. Mr. Bush has permitted a small cadre of neoconservatives to isolate him from world opinion, putting him at odds with the United Nations and America's allies.
Weren't these the same folks who were george's biggest cheerleaders last week?
Thursday, March 20, 2003
We now have our first allied casualties of the war. Eight British and four U.S military people are now dead with the downing of a helicopter. TV news has already moved well beyond this however. I guess it does not make for good ratings. But I do want to know this: How does it feel now, george? Are you going to hug their parents and tell them it was all OK?
Scalia and the "Free Speech Award": Regarding the presentation of the Citadel of Free Speech Award to U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia by The City Club of Cleveland, I wrote to them expressing my anger that Scalia would not allow filming of the event for subsequent news broadcast. The City Club was polite and prompt in their response, a portion of which I quote here:
As stated in a Cleveland Plain Dealer editorial today, “Scalia’s other judicial writings sometimes inspire wincing on this page, but when it comes to the First Amendment, he is usually dead-right.” Northwestern University’s Law School says, “He has puzzled or pleased many conservatives and liberals by voting consistently in favor of free speech.
They also provided me a text of the award citation itself, and again, a portion of that:
He cast a critical fifth vote in a decision striking down a Texas flag burning prohibition. While such an act would be despicable to most Americans, including Justice Scalia, he recognized the underlying truth that the more important principal was full protection of our most precious American right, freedom of expression. He ruled that a St. Paul, Minnesota prohibition against hate speech violated freedom of speech, even though the expression of that speech was repugnant to most people.
For the entire text of their response, click here. A portion of my follow-up:
We on the left often complain that our voices are ignored and sometimes even vilified by the media, especially by the often predominant right-wing extremist elements of it. Scalia seems to be unaware of these or perhaps even content with it, though perhaps his decision to close this ceremony might give him pause. Certainly, there would have been no such outrage had he not insisted on preventing video coverage. We are further bothered by Justice Scalia's own words, in which he endorses in concept the "Divine Right of Kings". While your text of the award citation certainly provides several quite good examples of why you chose to make this award, the "Divine Right of Kings" can certainly not encompass a fully-realized right of citizens to actively and openly influence the conduct of their government. Indeed, his writing here implies that free speech is fine so long as it respects the God-endowed government.
For whatever it is worth.
And so it begins ... As of this posting, there are 16 documented civilian casualties, although 14 of these occurred during the ramp-up phase. Of course, "Shock and Awe" has not yet begun, and as I write, we are just beginning to cross the border. Two Iraqi military vehicles were destroyed attempting to cross that border into Kuwait. It is thought that these were likely attempts on the part of their occupants to defect, but the proper defection protocol was not being observed, and now there is no one left to answer that question. From KnightRidder however, we do know how the president feels about this:
Minutes before the speech [announcing the start of the war], an internal television monitor showed the president pumping his fist. "Feels good," he said.
Wednesday, March 19, 2003
Telegraphing Lies: A Declaration of War He called it a speech, but I really didn't pay much attention to what Reverend Bush was saying. Why bother? He never could much remember more that 15 sentences, and I'd heard all of them before. Nope. I watched his eyes instead. The whole damned time. Amazing. Reminded me of Babe Ruth. The "Babe", it is said, had to stop pitching because he started "telegraphing" his curve balls. Started sticking his tongue out right before each and every curve ball he threw. He wasn't any good as a pitcher after he started that. Seems Reverend Bush has the same problem. Seems every time he is tossing a curve ball, he blinks twice. (Don't believe me? Get the video and watch it again.) In fact, he did it about twice every minute throughout the speech, but curiously stopped double-blinking during the last few minutes. Of course, those final minutes were the "evangelical" portion of his speech, proving no doubt that he really is stupid enough to actually believe in all that Revelations crap.