Blog Archive

Friday, April 30, 2004
Media Watch

Four stories here to focus on up front and then on to others.

The first of course is the Sinclair story. [Note that this is their own text of the broadcast ban, and that it is posted on their top webpage.] This is absolutely insane and unparalleled in American TV media.

By now you probably already know the story. Ted Koppel's Nightline program tonight is spending it's entire 30 minutes simply reading the names of our 500 (and then some) combat dead from Iraq as photos of them are displayed. Though both Koppel and ABC have both stated that this has no political intent and is merely to honor our fallen, Sinclair has barred their three ABC stations from airing the program.

I must point out here that this will be no ratings winner for ABC. Many viewers of Nightline will probably just move on after five or ten minutes, and if you'll recall, Koppel was almost cancelled a bit back, saved only by our outrage that ABC would even consider doing this.

A few moments on the Sinclair Broadcasting Group. They are highly partisan, their four top executives giving the maximum allowed to the Bush campaign while giving nothing at all to anyone that disagrees with Bush. While they only own eight ABC stations, they also own 20 FOX, 19 WB, 6 UPN, 3 CBS, 4 NBC affiliates and 2 independent stations and they claim to reach approximately 24% of all U.S. television households. While a mere 8 ABC stations are being shut off this time, there is no reason to expect Sinclair to do otherwise with their 54 other stations should those occasions arise. Pure and absolute censorship whenever it might seem to go against their own financial greed.

But we are not alone in our outrage of this dispicable censoring. From John McCain (R-AZ), unimpeachable in his concern for our troops:

Your decision to deny your viewers an opportunity to be reminded of war's terrible costs, in all their heartbreaking detail, is a gross disservice to the public, and to the men and women of the United States Armed Forces. It is, in short, sir, unpatriotic. I hope it meets with the public opprobrium it most certainly deserves.
From Bernie Sanders (Ind-VT), a similar outrage:
Your company's shameful and cynical statements disrespect both the victims of terrorism and the brave Americans who have made the ultimate sacrifice in the Persian Gulf. It is an outrage to suggest that giving recognition to the fallen in Iraq is an attempt to sabotage their mission. These American heroes deserve to be heralded, not hidden in the closet. The Nightline show in question will allow all Americans to personalize the service and sacrifice of the pride of the nation.

Your company's censorship sets a dangerous precedent that is contrary to the First Amendment and America's long tradition of access to information. This is an issue that some of my colleagues and I will be addressing with the FCC. Frankly, to censor information you disagree with has very little to do with freedom and what makes this country great. It sounds more like totalitarianism.

* * *
From here, it's on to a few glorious Dick "Dr. Death" Cheney moments. The obvious one of course is Dr. Death's designation of the FOX network as being "more accurate" in their news reporting than others. This is a bowl of crap, studies well showing that FOX viewers are the most likely to be misinformed over viewers of any other news outlet. The freeper's and dittoheads will no doubt take a confirmation from "the doctor" as how intelligent they are. Crap. Pure crap.

But on to Dr. Death's other recent press tampering event.

It seems that the doctor has recently conversed with Sheikh Hamad bin Jassim from Qatar. The doctor's problem? al-Jazeera is based in Qatar, and the Sheikh's problem is that Qatar really likes our foreign aid supplements to his country. Dr. Death's message to the Sheikh: Go home and take care of the al-Jazeera "problem".

* * *
And then at last there is the case morning talk radio host Doug Stephan, self described as a moderate conservative. Doug's problem? Bush simply doesn't represent his own brand of conservatism, and so he's endorsing the man more closely aligned with him, John Kerry. For that, Doug has been tossed from 3 stations.

Now, three stations is a flea bite for Doug, but the point here is that Doug was directly told that he was being tossed for his political views on Bush. Worse still however is that Doug hardly rages against Bush, as his program is much more of a variety show than it is political. Doug simply has too wide an audience.

A very sorry state of affairs indeed.



All is not lost however:

Fighting back!
Peril in the Air for Bush: Howard Stern
[ Permanent Link. ]
These days, Stern's broadcasts are divided between his usual schtick — interviews with strippers, off-color song parodies, jokes about celebrities — and rants against the president. Stern will never be mistaken for a policy wonk, but tune in to his show and you'll hear him cogently attacking administration positions on an impressive range of issues: stem-cell research, abortion rights, gay marriage, media consolidation, the handling of Iraq.

Meanwhile, Stern's revamped website looks more like Mother Jones magazine than Maxim: It features articles about the administration's trade violations in Myanmar and includes a link to the contributions page of the John Kerry for President site. Indeed, Stern has become an ardent Kerry advocate. "I call on all fans of the show to vote against Bush," he said on a recent broadcast. "We're going to deliver the White House to John Kerry."

Most people simply think of Howard as a "shock jock", but make no mistake; Howard's a quite successful businessman. He's survived more FCC fines than you and I will ever earn in a lifetime.

Michael Powell, on the other hand, is a token appointee, slid in on some perverted form of nepotism. No contest. Whatever you might think of Howard's listeners, he's delivering them to Kerry.


Fighting back!
The Inside Scoop
with Mark Levine
I like to feature from time to time some of the excellent liberal talk radio available over the Internet, and Mark Levine's Inside Scoop is one of the newer entires into the field. Mark is on RadioPower.org [streamed audio link] daily from 3-4 P.M. (Eastern) and on Sundays from 7-8 P.M. per his site:
Mark Levine served as Legislative Counsel to a high-ranking Democratic Member of Congress on the House Judiciary Committee and the House Select Committee on Homeland Security. He has an economics degree magna cum laude from Harvard College and a law degree from Yale. He also was a Presidential Scholar and a Fulbright Scholar in Switzerland.
If you listen in (the stream works quite well on dial-up), you'll find Mark has a quite good grasp of progressive legal issues, and though he does not focus exclusively on these, his programs are all well flavored by this. If you want to sample him when he is not on, his archives are available through his site and on the excellent White Rose Society. I especially recommend "Mark Levine Interviews George Dubya Bush". I'd also recommend "Beyond the Abortion Debate", which I forwarded to a rabid pro-lifer and got a thumbs up from her on it.

If you want something shorter, you might try the e-mail Mark sent a good while back (to only 20 people, by the way) that ended up starting his talk radio career: The "Gore Exception": A Layman's Guide to the United States Supreme Court Decision in Bush v. Gore. This e-mail has since been passed along to over 10,000 people since then, and is a definitive analysis of Bush v. Gore at four law schools.

And by the way, Mark's still fairly small, and so it's still fairly easy to get through to him during the show via both phone and e-mail. Check him out.

Thursday, April 29, 2004
Kerry and Allies Believe the Vice President
 May Be Significant Liability in Close Race
It is all part of an increasingly pointed Democratic strategy of trying to define the president -- and erode his personal credibility -- by turning Mr. Cheney into a symbol of Republican excess. Though vice presidents rarely play decisive roles in presidential elections, Mr. Kerry and his allies believe this vice president could become a significant liability for Mr. Bush in a race that appears close.
Finally! Attack the real President, Dick Cheney. What a thought!

Yes, I've heard of all the speculation about Cheney being replaced, but why not give him a shove. Think of the upside. If Bush does win by replacing Cheney, at least we'll be rid of Doctor Death.

 
... a perfect reflection of the dreamworld where half the nation now dwells ...Chris Floyd:
Fake horses. ...
Mehlman's minions believe exurbia offers rich pickings for the Bush cult -- and they're probably right. People who live in fake towns, with fake stores and fake horses, are likely to be happy with a fake president, who uses fake evidence and fake words about "freedom" and "peace" to launch all-too-real wars of conquest while turning the national treasury into a candy store for his cronies.

The exurbanites' virtual reality is a perfect reflection of the dreamworld where half the nation now dwells, ...

* * *
But fake horses are more tractable than powerful live beasts -- and self-serving lies are easier to handle than a volatile, complex reality. Anyway, is it really so surprising that so many Americans prefer a Potemkin world? Otherwise, they would have to accept the incontrovertible facts: that mass murder is being committed in their name; that their leader is a terrorist -- a fanatic who pursues political goals through wanton violence -- just like the enemy who attacked them; that they have been deceived, betrayed, exploited, suckered and bought off -- sometimes willingly -- for years, for decades, by elites whose crimes and follies are now blowing back in firestorms of rage and hatred.
Is it any wonder that the cozy exurbians prefer cults and fakery to such fearsome truths?

[ As always, lots of good links.]

Senator Lautenberg (D-NJ) stepped into the Kerry/Vietman smear fray with his appearance on the Senate floor as he delivered an 18-minute tutorial on what it means to be a Chickenhawk. And yes, that's his hand in this photo as he points out the necessary qualities one must have to actually be a Chickenhawk.

The New York Times writes the article, but by all means, do the video of his full presentation. It's fairly low quality and it streams (in four continuous segments), so it should present no problem even for dial-up.

LA Times Commentary:
"I Want to Know the Ugly Truth"
By Monica Gabrielle, Monica Gabrielle is a member of the Family Steering Committee. Website: www.911IndependentCommission.org
 
Ms. Gabrielle wasn't allowed to attend the closed-door questioning today of Bush and Cheney by the 9/11 Commission but presents here a list of questions that she would ask of each of them.

Because of my own focus on Afghanistan (most recently in "The Perfect Alibi"), I would make note here of both of her last questions for Bush and Cheney:

For President Bush:

8. From May 1, 2001, until Sept. 11, 2001, did you or any agent of the U.S. government carry out any negotiations or talks with Bin Laden, an agent of Bin Laden or Al Qaeda?

* * *
For Vice President Cheney:

5. Please describe any discussions/negotiations between the Taliban and either public or private agents before Sept. 11 regarding Bin Laden and/or rights to pass a pipeline through Afghanistan, or any other subject pertaining to Afghanistan.

Neither of these are what might be called "fishing expeditions". The paper trails on these may be obscure, but they are definitely there. If someone wants to find out why the administration was so unprepared for 9/11, they need only answer these two questions.
It’s really not hard to see why many Democrats just plain old hate President Bush.
 
Josh offers one good reason:
Let's start with this. What's the signature pattern of Bush's life?

When he faces a challenge or a tough scrape, he lets his family and friends bail him out. He has always let others do his fighting for him.

* * *
If the president wants to attack or question Kerry's war record or what he did after the war, Kerry should tell him to do it himself. No special deals, no hidden help from family retainers, no hiding behind Hughes. Tell the president, for once, to fight his own fights.
Not likely, Josh.
Monday, April 26, 2004
Visit Al's site in a new window.
Hey, middle class, ...
It's wake-up time on those "tax cuts" you got!
Sure, you probably think that I'm going to tell you that it wasn't a tax cut but merely a tax deferral onto your children [Think: A half trillion dollar deficit. Someone's got to pay.] But no, I'm not here to tell you that at all. You either knew that already and didn't care, or you are too stupid to be reading me in the first place. No, it's not that at all.

You see, there is this little do-hickey in our tax laws called the "Alternative Minimum Tax", and if you've never made over $100K, it's never applied to you before. It's not a tax increase according to the Bushies because it was already there onthe books, but guess what? If you are an "average family" earning between $40-$100K, on the April 15th after you've re(s)elected Mr. Bush, that alternative minimum will add an average of $3,469 to your tax bill. If you're a bit better off and making 120K, sorry, Puppy, try $7,000. And both of those are each and every year.

And you thought that tax cut was for you. I told you it wasn't, and the Bushies knew this exactly when they did this. I told you that it was a massive transfer of the tax burden from the very rich to the merely well off and average middle class, but you were too busy grubbing for those few extra bucks and didn't care. Well now, you can pound sand. I was right, and you got fucked.

Listen to me next time.

[ NOTE: For more details, listen to Al Martin's April 23rd interview on the Tony Trupiano Show. This is a commercial-free version of this interview [6.3 MB, MP3, 36:41], and you'll be looking for the 11 minute mark in this interview. Do however listen to it all. Al has lots more to say on current issues. ]

Sunday, April 25, 2004
Oh, my God!
Jimmy Breslin:
A frank talk with God
Jimmy Breslin knows that God does not take with George Bush. How?
I can't believe that Bush is so dumb that he thinks he actually talks to God.

When I am the only one I know of who talks to God.

I can prove that because God told me that no one else in America speaks to him directly.

And what does God tell Jimmy?

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View larger image

It's their reality. We just live and die in it.

The Top 25 Signs that you've entered Bushworld.
Friday, April 23, 2004
 
"History, we don't know. We'll all be dead."Chris Floyd:
Our brief history of conscious thought is replete with vivid scenarios of the end of life on earth. The brain-fevers we call religions have produced most of these ...
The corrosive nihilism at the heart of the enterprise ate through the gaudily-painted surface most tellingly in a single anecdote. Woodward asks George W. Bush how he thinks history will regard his adventure in Iraq. Bush, gazing out the window, shrugs and waves the question away. "History, we don't know," he says. "We'll all be dead." No fine, faith-filled talk here about God and Jesus and the immortal soul responsible for its actions throughout all eternity -- the kind of zealous patter Bush favors in public statements. This was just the cold, rotten, meaningless core of his grand vision -- "we'll all be dead." So who cares? Apres moi, le deluge.
What "world events" are they secretly dreaming of, these death-fetishists, these unconscious nihilists, mired in their group-mind fog? What voluptuous nightmares will require their "robust" attention? How many world-devouring warheads will be "sufficient" to at last quell their anxiety, their all-too-human craving for oblivion?
Plan of Attack

The entire five-part Woodward serailization (25 pages)
of "Plan of Attack" from the Washington Post. [ Note
that each article will open to the same new window. ]

Part 1 : Deciding on War
Behind Diplomatic Moves, Military Plan Was Launched
'We're Going to Have to Go to War,' Bush Said to Rice
Part 2 : Making the Case
With CIA Push, Movement to War Accelerated
Agency's Estimate of Saddam Hussein's Arsenal Became the White House's Rationale for Invasion
Part 3 : Cabinet Divided
Cheney Was Unwavering in Desire to Go to War
Tension Between Vice President and Powell Grew Deeper as Both Tried to Guide Bush's Decision
Part 4 : The Special Relationship
Blair Steady in Support
'I'm There to the Very End,' Prime Minister Told Bush
Part 5 : Countdown to War
U.S. Aimed for Hussein as War Began
CIA Informants Told of His Suspected Whereabouts
Vultures and the rotting corpse
that once was Iraq

As long as everything in Iraq is going to hell in a handbasket, it's nice to step back for a moment and see the ways in which the darlings of the Iraq hawks who paved the way for the war are helping to make a mockery of the ideals and goals we're supposedly fighting for in the country.
If you were a company looking to get on the Iraq-reconstruction gravy train, Salem [Chalabi] was probably a good place to start. Not only did he have the ear of his uncle Ahmed Chalabi, with his close ties to the Pentagon and his seat on the Interim Governing Council, but his business partner Marc Zell was pretty well-connected, too.

Who's Marc Zell, you ask? Allow me to explain.

Zell is the longtime law partner of Undersecretary of Defense Doug Feith, one of the Bush administration's prime architects of the drive for war with Iraq. Feith's Pentagon office, meanwhile, is the one charged with doling out Iraqi reconstruction contracts.

(Their law firm is called Feith & Zell -- though they've changed the name while Feith is in government. You can visit them too at www.fandz.com)

At this point, I'm going to assume you’ve heard enough that you’re either laughing or crying at the mix of insiderism, cronyism and ridiculousness that Chalabi and his crew are making of the lofty ideals we're supposedly fighting for in Iraq.

We may have banished dictatorship and gross human rights abuses from Iraq — at least for the moment, that is — but cronyism and clan dynasticism seem to have weathered the invasion quite nicely.


Paul Krugman:
What Went Wrong?
The mess in Iraq was created by officials who believed what they wanted to believe, and ignored awkward facts. It seems they have learned nothing.
Why was it predictable that Iraq would go wrong? The squandered victory in Afghanistan was an obvious precedent. But the character flaws in the Bush administration that led to the present crisis were fully visible in the months that followed 9/11.

It quickly became apparent that President Bush, while willing to spend vast sums on the military, wasn't willing to spend enough on security. And 9/11 didn't shake the administration's fanatical commitment to privatization and outsourcing, in which free-market ideology is inextricably mixed with eagerness to protect and reward corporate friends.

Sure enough, the administration was unprepared for predictable security problems in Iraq, but moved quickly — in violation of international law — to impose its economic vision. Last month Jay Garner, the first U.S. administrator of Iraq, told the BBC that he was sacked in part because he wanted to hold quick elections. His superiors wanted to privatize Iraqi industries first — as part of a plan that, according to Mr. Garner, was drawn up in late 2001.

Vultures. I see vultures. Bad enough they had to go in and kick the crap out of these people, but to then let their corporate cronies go in like vultures and tear the remaining flesh off of the rotting corpse that once was Iraq? These people are so devoid of morals that it is hard to even believe that they are human.
Winning the hearts and minds,
one person at a time.
 
Visit Pull the Shrub.org
 
"It's clearly a budget.
It's got a lot of numbers in it."
~ George Bush, 5/5/2000
 
"By a careful review of this site, one might assume that the author of this page is a dedicated ‘liberal’ or some such other convenient label. However, that assumption would be as inaccurate and as dangerous as assuming that a re-election of Bush will not harm our country further.

"The author of this page has been a life-long, registered Republican, self-labeled 'conservative' … supporting most Republican candidates for President and Congress since 1964. This site is my personal statement of outrage and protest against George W. Bush the greatest presidential mistake since Herbert Hoover."

[ This article originally appeared on AS/IS2, a contributory poetry blog.]

Photography as Poetry

I am a political animal, so I hope that all of you will pardon me any of the politics I am about to say offends any of you. It is not my intent to do so.

Poetry is about free expression. It is perhaps the most free form of human expression ever devised. It can be beautiful or it can be ugly. It can be current or it can be ageless. It can be simple emotions or it can be wildly political. Poetry does not care. It reaches out to embrace all of this.

It is a quite similar inspiration that besets those with a camera in hand. So many photots are taken seeking just those few that are exactly right. Exactly poetry, and needing no further words. Tami Silicio did this and got fired.

Since 1991, photographing of the caskets of dead U.S. soldiers has been banned. It was a ban that was never enforced until now. Tami Silicio took a series of photos of this, and one got published in the Seattle Times. This is what she was fired for.

Tami Silicio did not have any political intent in her mind when she gave her photos over to the press. Instead, she was just awed by the great reverence with which we treat our fallen soldiers, and wanted the rest of us to know that we were indeed acting in that fashion. Nothing more. She saught to exault the dead; not exploit them. And she was fired for that.

Later that day, they also fired her husband for what she had done.

Photo 1Photo 2

If a picture is worth a thousand words, Tami Silicio has made her point.
Thursday, April 22, 2004
Oh, my God!

Theocracy Watch:

President Jimmy Carter:
Carter's Crusade
Former President Jimmy Carter, America's first evangelical Christian president, in an interview with The American Prospect. Carter speaks about the success of the Republican Party in attracting the "religious values" vote and the rise of the fundamentalist vote to it's position of political prominence.

I'm very impressed with Carter here (as I often am) because while I am an Atheist and he is an evangelical, he's still hit the nail right on the head regarding the fundamentalists.



The campus is immaculate, everyone is clean-cut and cheerful. But just what are they teaching at Patrick Henry College? And why do so many students end up working for George Bush?
It is worth making clear from the outset that Patrick Henry College in rural Virginia is not your average American university. At Patrick Henry, the students - about 75 per cent of whom have been taught at home rather than in schools - are required to sign a statement of faith before they arrive, confirming (among other things) that they have a literal belief in the teachings of the Bible. At Patrick Henry, students must obey a curfew. They must wear their hair neatly and dress "modestly".

Students must also obey a rule stating that if they wish to hold hands with a member of the opposite sex, they must do so while walking: standing while holding hands is not permitted. And at Patrick Henry, students must sign an honour pledge that bans them from drinking alcohol unless under parental supervision.

Yet these things alone do not make the college special. ...

Be afraid. Be very afraid.


And two on Dubya's new "Father" . . .

Robert Scheer:
With God on his side
George W. Bush the believer marched the nation into madness in Iraq. Smarter policymakers like Colin Powell -- and Bush's own father -- should have stopped him.
So, it was a holy war, a new crusade. No wonder George W. Bush could lie to Congress and the American public with such impunity while keeping the key members of his Cabinet in the dark. He was serving a higher power, according to Bob Woodward, who interviewed the president for a new book on the months leading up to the Iraq invasion.

Of course, as a self-described "messenger" of God who was "praying for strength to do the Lord's will," Bush was not troubled about shredding a little secular document called the U.S. Constitution. ...


Calgary Sun:
Calamity George
Bush harbours no worries because God's on his side
George W. Bush says he's been praying for fewer casualties in Iraq.

How incredibly immense of the "bring it on" president. There's no substitute for resolute, concrete leadership, even if the praying comes between decisive bouts of hooking bass on the Crawford ranch back-40 while Americans and Iraqis are slaughtered in ever greater numbers.

No doubt Bush, on bended knee last year, also implored his lord to divinely hoodwink Americans with the weapons of mass destruction and Saddam's al-Qaida links catechism.

And lo and behold, God really is on Bush's side. ...

Wednesday, April 21, 2004
What are we doing to ourselves?

Why are we so focused on infecting others with our fears?

Why are we so intent on spreading them to our children?

What are we doing to ourselves?

Quotable:

To love that which is infinite is to
feel a joy that is free from all sorrows.

~ Benedict Spinoza, 1632-77
The fourth of the five-part Woodward serailization
of "Plan of Attack" from the Washington Post:

PLAN OF ATTACK : The Special Relationship
Blair Steady in Support
'I'm There to the Very End,' Prime Minister Told Bush

Part 1:
Deciding on War
Part 2:
Making the Case
Part 3:
Cabinet Divided

George W. Bush is probably not bright enough to be president.
For years, we have been told most Americans are conservative -- and that is probably true. Nobody calling himself a "liberal" has been elected president in 40 years. The situation now is so desperate that anyone who loves this country and cares about the world has to do everything in their power to see that the conservative candidate wins the presidential election in November.

That would be John F. Kerry, of course.

No, that's not a trick answer. ...

Charley Reese thinks that the press is doing a lousy job:
The American press needs to end its lovey-dovey relationship with the Pentagon. The Pentagon has provided ample evidence that it can propagandize the American people without the help of a lap-dog press.

It is not the job of the press to support the troops. That is the duty of the American people, their loved ones and their folks back home. ...

The military and the press have two separate functions. The job of the military is to kill people and destroy assets. The job of the press is to report on the process. If the brass want to call killing civilians "collateral damage," so be it, but journalists should report that civilians have been killed. ...

Kirwan is back!
War Has Answered!
The sought after has finally arrived. It's been well over a year, closer to two, since the formal Council of Conspirators began to plot the arrival of this day. Finally WAR has arrived in all its blood and ruin-all it's chaos and oblivion. ...
In the Mailbox:
 
It seems that a Mr. Murphy doesn't much like John Kerry. In fact, he doesn't see much difference between Kerry and George Bush, fearing perhaps that Kerry might even be worse. No way, says Murphy, could he ever think of voting for John Kerry.

Of course, I had to straighten him out:

Dear Mr. Murphy,

A few brief points to clear up before I address your vote (or lack thereof):

  • Skull & Bones is a college fraternity. They have skulls and bones and robes and death rituals and vows of silence and wild howling parties at 3 A.M. ... just like my fraternity did. Just like all fraternities do. Shall we then forever ban anyone who ever joined a fraternity from public office? This is a non-issue.

  • Feeling a sense of patriotic duty common during the Vietnam days, John Kerry went to Vietnam where he quite likely did some very nasty things ... just like the more than one million other young men who served in Vietnam. Shall we then forever ban anyone who ever served in Vietnam from public office? This is a non-issue.

  • Your desire to cut the Pentagon budget by 15% is admirable (though I would wish to cut far more). The trouble is that it just isn't going to happen, at least not anytime in the near future. If you wish to work towards this goal, you would do well to lay out perhaps a 20 year gameplan during which you plan to radically alter the American sentiment. If you are even successful, it will certainly take that long.
Regarding your deep dislike of John Kerry, I understand that. I don't much care for him myself. There is indeed little that Mr. Kerry offers to any serious liberal. Your suggestion that Mr. Kerry might perhaps be worse than Mr. Bush however clearly shows that you do not understand Mr. Bush.

Presidents are not solo actors. They are merely the most prominent face in a large organization that they bring into office with them. In the case of John Kerry, one would feel fairly confident that he would also be the strong hand that steered his organization. In the case of Mr. Bush however, we already know that he does not exert this same type of strong hand leadership over his organization. This of course serves to elevate the powers of the individual actors within his organization, and this is where the problem with Mr. Bush comes in.

You have suggested that both Mr. Kerry and Mr. Bush share the same backers. To some extent this is true. Certainly they share the military-industrial complex and the globalizationists (together, the Corporatists). Mr. Bush however brings in two additional backers that Kerry does not: the Neocons and the Christian Fundamentalists. To suggest then that Kerry = Bush then is to ignore this second set of backers of Mr. Bush.

The Corporatists of course are about making money. While making money is certainly necessary, you likely are of a mind that they focus to completely on this, sacrificing as they do social concerns, and I would agree with you on this. But Corporatists do have one very necessary trait; they operate on facts. They might not emphasize the same facts that you or I would, but they do operate on facts. As such, they are rational (and reasonably predictable) actors. The same cannot however be said regarding the Neocons and the Christian Fundamentalists.

These last two groups come with pre-formed sets of ideologies that are not fact-based. In other words, they simply believe something regardless of whether or not real world experiences bear out those beliefs, and in fact will not change those beliefs when facts directly refute them.They are penultimate ideologues.

Now I do not intend to get into a detailed discussion of the beliefs of either of these groups (this could take books) but to say that their beliefs are very dangerous and their end goals share a common element: absolute power. Both of these groups, given the opportunity provided by a second Bush term, would institute extremely harsh penalties for any and all forms of dissent, and both would remove your right to vote. This is the difference between Mr. Kerry and Mr. Bush. With Mr. Kerry, you will actually get to vote again in 2008. With Mr. Bush, you will not. And that is a very big difference.

You are correct, Mr. Murphy. You are not going to get much of what you (and I) desire if you vote for Kerry and he is elected. But you are also not going to lose much, and you will have another chance at it in four years. It is indeed a pity that this is our choice in this election, but it is foolish to ignore the fact that it is.

With regards,
Benedict@Large
Tuesday, April 20, 2004
US Christian fundamentalists are driving Bush's Middle East policy
To understand what is happening in the Middle East, you must first understand what is happening in Texas. To understand what is happening there, you should read the resolutions passed at the state's Republican party conventions last month. Take a look, for example, at the decisions made in Harris County, which covers much of Houston.

The delegates began by nodding through a few uncontroversial matters: homosexuality is contrary to the truths ordained by God; "any mechanism to process, license, record, register or monitor the ownership of guns" should be repealed; income tax, inheritance tax, capital gains tax and corporation tax should be abolished; and immigrants should be deterred by electric fences. Thus fortified, they turned to the real issue: the affairs of a small state 7,000 miles away. It was then, according to a participant, that the "screaming and near fist fights" began.

I don't know what the original motion said, but apparently it was "watered down significantly" as a result of the shouting match. The motion they adopted stated that Israel has an undivided claim to Jerusalem and the West Bank, that Arab states should be "pressured" to absorb refugees from Palestine, and that Israel should do whatever it wishes in seeking to eliminate terrorism. Good to see that the extremists didn't prevail then.

But why should all this be of such pressing interest to the people of a state which is seldom celebrated for its fascination with foreign affairs? The explanation is slowly becoming familiar to us, but we still have some difficulty in taking it seriously.

In the United States, several million people have succumbed to an extraordinary delusion ...

Welcome to Texas, the "Rapture" state.
What makes the story so appealing to Christian fundamentalists is that before the big battle begins, all "true believers" (ie those who believe what they believe) will be lifted out of their clothes and wafted up to heaven during an event called the Rapture. Not only do the worthy get to sit at the right hand of God, but they will be able to watch, from the best seats, their political and religious opponents being devoured by boils, sores, locusts and frogs, during the seven years of Tribulation which follow.

The true believers are now seeking to bring all this about ...

Go read.
"We can laugh at these people, but we should not dismiss them."
Richard Cohen:
Bicycling to War
 
My article yesterday on Bob Woodward's "Plan of Attack" concluded with the one question that I've found left unanswered by all of the "insider" books (O'Neill, Clarke, and now Woodward) about inside workings of the Bush administration: Why did we go to war with Iraq? In "Bicycling to War", Richard Cohen takes a stab at explaining at least part of the answer:
Old joke: A man repeatedly rides a bike across the Mexican-U.S. border. Each time, he's stopped by Customs and the bike is taken apart. Nothing is found. Finally, one day a Customs official offers the man immunity from prosecution if only he will tell what he's smuggling. The man pauses for a second, shrugs and says, "Bicycles."
* * *
The "bicycle" in this case has been in plain sight ...
Cohen's conclusion? Bush's very real conviction that "he is a servant of God and history, chosen to liberate Iraq." He's probably correct in this too, as the evidence points to this strongly.

The problem with Cohen's conclusion is that it is incomplete. Certainly the likes of Dick Cheney and Paul Wolfowitz did not follow some messianic vision that Bush might possess simply out of loyal to their "commander in chief". They had to have their own reasons quite apart from this Bush "vision". Indeed, as Wolfowitz himself boldly (though perhaps stupidly) admitted in his Vanity Fair interview:

"... for bureaucratic reasons, we settled on one issue - weapons of mass
destruction, because it was the one reason everyone could agree on."
In other words, "weapons of mass destruction" was a compromise, and not likely anyone's first reason for signing on to the war against Iraq. Indeed, the 12 million protesters that turned out for the pre-war public demonstrations largely had this exact same sense: We know that this war is not about WMDs, so tell us what it is really about, and maybe we can talk about it. The Bush administration could not of course do this, because even they could not agree.

Still, Cohen's conclusion is instructive because it does offer an answer to a second question I've had: Since the reasons for supporting the war were so very divided and since all supporters of the war would need to be represented in the war cabinet in order to garner the necessary public support for the war, who there was representing the Christian Fundamentalists? Obviously, Bush himself.



Also, the third of the five-part Woodward serailization of "Plan of Attack" from the Washington Post:

PLAN OF ATTACK : Cabinet Divided
Cheney Was Unwavering in Desire to Go to War
Tension Between Vice President and Powell Grew Deeper as Both Tried to Guide Bush's Decision

Part 1:
Deciding on War
Part 2:
Making the Case
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Monday, April 19, 2004
60 Minutes:
Plan of Attack
Woodward Shares War Secrets
 
If you missed the 60 Minutes interview with Woodward, here is their write-up of it. There is definitely some amazing stuff here. A few examples.

* * *
Woodward describes a meeting between Dick Cheney, Don Rumsfeld, and Prince Bandar, the Saudi ambassador during which Cheney and Rumsfeld present the war plan to the prince. Now much has been made of the fact that this was classified as "Top secret. No foreign." (which means that no foreigners are supposed to see it), and that it would be several more days before even Colin Powell would learn of this plan. What strikes me here however is that communications like this with a foreign ambassador are supposed to be the turf of Powell's own State Department, and this illustrates clearly the efforts of Cheney and Rumsfeld to simply lock the State Department out of its own role.

But it gets even worse when Woodward comes to the quid pro quo of this:

Prince Bandar enjoys easy access to the Oval Office. His family and the Bush family are close. And Woodward told 60 Minutes that Bandar has promised the president that Saudi Arabia will lower oil prices in the months before the election - to ensure the U.S. economy is strong on election day.

Woodward says that Bandar understood that economic conditions were key before a presidential election: "They're [oil prices] high. And they could go down very quickly. That's the Saudi pledge. Certainly over the summer, or as we get closer to the election, they could increase production several million barrels a day and the price would drop significantly."

Now I don't know if any laws are being broken here, but I'm certainly not too interested in a Saudi prince manipulating our elections. More amazingly however, if Woodward's account is correct, members of the administration have just looked at a Saudi prince and said, "Sure. Go ahead. Manipulate the U.S. economy. That's fine with us."

* * *
Another one: Describing a meeting on March 19 when Bush gives the order to go to war:
He's with the National Security Council, in the situation room. Says Woodward: "They have all these TV monitors. Gen. Franks, the commander, is up on one of them. And all nine commanders, and the president asks each one of them, 'Are you ready? Do you have what you need? Are you satisfied?' And they all say, 'Yes, sir.' and 'We're ready.'"

Then the president saluted and he rose suddenly from his chair. "People who were there said there were tears in his eyes, not coming down his cheeks but in his eyes," says Woodward. "And just kind of marched out of the room."

Tears? And a salute? Scarey. But wait:
Having given the order, the president walked alone around the circle behind the White House. Months later, he told Woodward: "As I walked around the circle, I prayed that our troops be safe, be protected by the Almighty. Going into this period, I was praying for strength to do the Lord's will. I'm surely not going to justify war based upon God. Understand that. Nevertheless, in my case, I pray that I be as good a messenger of his will as possible. And then, of course, I pray for forgiveness."

Did Mr. Bush ask his father for any advice? "I asked the president about this. And President Bush said, 'Well, no,' and then he got defensive about it," says Woodward. "Then he said something that really struck me. He said of his father, 'He is the wrong father to appeal to for advice. The wrong father to go to, to appeal to in terms of strength.' And then he said, 'There's a higher Father that I appeal to.'"

Excuse me? Bush "not going to justify war based upon God," but then launches into "a higher Father that I appeal to"? What does that mean? That he's not going to tell us that this is what he's done?

* * *
There's lot's more of course, including the severely strained relationship between Powell and Cheney, with Powell saying, "Cheney has a fever. It is an absolute fever. It?s almost as if nothing else exists." Bad dog, Colin.

* * *
All of this has to make one wonder: What on earth was Karl Rove thinking here? Did he think that Woodward would just write another puff piece like "Bush at War", with this one timed perfectly for the election? Oops!



Want more? You're in luck. From Sunday through Thursday, Woodward will be publishing a five article adapted from "Plan of Attack" in the Washington Post. The first two are linked below, with each being five pages.

PLAN OF ATTACK : Deciding on War
Behind Diplomatic Moves, Military Plan Was Launched
'We're Going to Have to Go to War,' Bush Said to Rice
PLAN OF ATTACK : Making the Case
With CIA Push, Movement to War Accelerated
Agency's Estimate of Saddam Hussein's Arsenal Became the White House's Rationale for Invasion



Two additional articles on Colin Powell, because he stands to be the big loser here. From the New York Times:
The CIA's pet name for pre-war Iraq. (It fits even better now.)
 
Powell should have better realized who he was trying to do business with, and simply should have resigned before he got dragged further into it.

Dowd offers an armchair analysis of the personalities.

* * *
Time for Colin to pay for his indescretion.
 
"... very unfortunate and unhelpful." - White House damage control is already in gear, and Powell may be finding himself out of a job.



And finally, even with all of this, there's one thing that we still don't have:
The Reason Why.
Curiously enough:
Goodness! Have we developed a new "meme"?
Full Transcript:
The new 'Bin Laden tape'
If you haven't gotten to read this yet (it's from last Thursday), it is pretty interesting. Essentially, Bin Laden is offering to form some kind of truce with Europe, isolating the United States. He's pretty explicit about what his "beef" is, and he's quite explicit in his criticisms of Bush. The part which particularly caught my eye however was a direct reference to the "they hate our freedoms" claim, which Bin Laden clearly says is a false claim. But then again, you alreadty knew that.
A bit of a follow-up on "The Perfect Alibi", in which I mentioned the United States ambassador to Afghanistan, Zalmay M. Khalilzad. The New York Times presents a fairly flattering profile of "Zal's" work there in the rebuilding effort.

A couple of notes on the article:

  • "As a State Department and Pentagon official and at the Rand Corporation, he advocated pre-emptive action against so-called rogue states like Iraq." - This is somewhat of an understatement. Khalilzad was a member of the PNAC.

  • Khalilzad "briefly defended the Taliban while working as a consultant for Unocal, the oil company that was then trying to build a pipeline through Afghanistan. He later became one of the Taliban's fiercest critics." - This is somewhat misleading on two points. First, Unocal wasn't trying to build a pipeline at this time. They were trying to negotiate a contract with the Taliban to build one, and Khalilzad was acting as a broker for Unocal in this effort. Obviously he defended the Taliban during these nogotiations and turned on them when the Unocal negotiation broke down.

    Second, not mentioned here is that UNOCAL did sign a pipeline contract with the new Afghanistan government, and is currently in a pre-construction phase of that project.

This last bullet suggests that this article is a bit of a puff piece, or at least more of a human interest story rather that a news story. Assuming the article's portrayal of Khalilzad to be reasonably accurate however, he does seem to be a far better choice for his position than Bremer was for Iraq.
An Eric Blumrich Animation
[ Flash, 1400 KB ]
[ Via Wierd Pixie.]
 
And what a sickening spectacle ...Chris Floyd:
And what a sickening spectacle: Bush and Blair piously kneeling in prayer on Easter Sunday, ...
... pledging their fealty to Jesus Christ and His teachings of mercy and lovingkindness -- while ordering missile strikes on crowded cities, while filling hospitals with the mutilated bodies of young children, while shoveling fat war profits to their cronies and contributors. Only the most craven, bootlicking sycophant could fail to be revolted at the hypocrisy of these murderous cynics. They're a perfect match in moral idiocy for their crack-brained brother-in-arms, Osama bin Laden.
* * *
... the conquest of Iraq has nothing to do with terrorism or liberation or WMD or national security or Arab democracy or Bush family revenge. It has been planned for years by Cheney, Wolfowitz, Rumsfeld and other Bush retainers, planned openly, and for one reason only: to give the United States direct military control of the Middle East in order to dominate global economic and political life for "the New American Century." This need was so great, said the group -- openly, in September 2000 -- that it "transcends the issue of the regime of Saddam Hussein."
It wouldn't have mattered if Saddam had found Jesus, or freed his people, or set himself on fire in Madison Square Garden: The Bushists were always going to invade and occupy Iraq -- always, no matter what.
Wednesday, April 14, 2004
He's working hard on a new film, but had to take a break to comment on last night's Bush press conference. I wonder what his new movie is about.
Now if Bush would just quit speaking in public and giving me
more free material for my movie, I can get back to work ...
I actually had a ducky time last night myself during the Chimp's "duh"-op. From an e-mail to a friend:
Did I see the "news conference"? You should have been here for it! A few folks were over, and I told them all to shut up as I listened. Well, they did, but I did not. Before he could finish a sentence, I was yelling and waving my hands calling him a liar and explaining why to my guests. By half way through, they were laughing at me, not in a bad way, but rather because they couldn't wait for Bush to start speaking again so that I could kick sand in his face! I was "going Malloy" on them, and they were loving it.

I think what started all the fun was when my head rolled back so far it almost fell off. Bush hadn't yet mentioned 9-11 when I yelled, "You son of a bitch! You're going to say 9-11!" Sure enough, about 20 seconds later, he did. But here's the thing: Every single time he did, I announced to my guests at least ten seconds before he did that he was about to do so. And I was never wrong! No wonder Mike Malloy has high blood pressure.

Maybe I'm clarvoiant?
Tuesday, April 13, 2004
WMD fakery?

Monday, April 12, 2004
Tehran Times:
New Reports on U.S. Planting WMDs in Iraq
A follow-up to the original March 13th report.
 
Published in its entirety:
BASRA, April 12 (MNA) -- Fifty days after the first reports that the U.S. forces were unloading weapons of mass destruction (WMD) in southern Iraq, new reports about the movement of these weapons have been disclosed.

Sources in Iraq speculate that occupation forces are using the recent unrest in Iraq to divert attention from their surreptitious shipments of WMD into the country.

An Iraqi source close to the Basra Governor's Office told the MNA that new information shows that a large part of the WMD, which was secretly brought to southern and western Iraq over the past month, are in containers falsely labeled as containers of the Maeresk shipping company and some consignments bearing the labels of organizations such as the Red Cross or the USAID in order to disguise them as relief shipments.

The source, who spoke on condition of anonymity, added that Iraqi officials including forces loyal to the Iraqi Governing Council stationed in southern Iraq have been forbidden from inspecting or supervising the transportation of these consignments. He went on to say that the occupation forces have ordered Iraqi officials to forward any questions on the issue to the coalition forces. Even the officials of the international relief organizations have informed the Iraqi officials that they would only accept responsibility for relief shipments which have been registered and managed by their organizations.

The Iraqi source also confirmed the report about suspicious trucks with fake Saudi and Jordanian license plates entering Iraq at night last week, stressing that the Saudi and Jordanian border guards did not attempt to inspect the trucks but simply delivered them to the U.S. and British forces stationed on Iraq's borders.

However, the source expressed ignorance whether the governments of Saudi Arabia and Jordan were aware of such movements.

A professor of physics at Baghdad University also told the MNA correspondent that a group of his colleagues who are highly specialized in military, chemical and biological fields have been either bribed or threatened during the last weeks to provide written information on what they know about various programs and research centers and the possible storage of WMD equipment.

The professor also said these people have been openly asked to confirm or deny the existence of research or related WMD equipment. A large number of these scientists, who are believed to be under the surveillance of U.S. intelligence operatives, have claimed that if they refuse to comply with this request, they may be killed or arrested on charges of concealing the truth if these weapons are found by the Bush administration in the future.

He said that the Iraqi scientists believe their lives would be in danger if they decline to cooperate with the occupation forces, especially when they recall that senior U.S. officer Michael Peterson once said, "Iraqi scientists are at any case a threat to the U.S. administration, whether they talk or not."

A source close to the Iraqi Governing Council said, "In the meantime, many suspect containers disguised as fuel supplies have been moved about by some units of the U.S. special forces. The move has been carried out under heavy security measures. Also, there are unofficial reports that the containers held biological and bacteriological toxins in liquid form. It is possible that the news about the discovery of the WMDs would be announced later."He also said that such mixtures had been used by the Saddam regime in the 1990s.

The source added that some provocative actions such as the closure of Al-Hawza periodical by U.S. administrator Paul Bremer, the secret meetings between his envoys with some extremist groups who have no relations with the Iraqi Governing Council, the sudden upsurge in violence in central and southern Iraq, a number of activities which have stoked up the wrath of the prominent Shia clerics, and finally, the spate of kidnappings and the baseless charges against the Iranian charge d'affaires in Baghdad are providing the necessary smokescreen for the transportation of the WMD to their intended locations.

He said they are quite aware that the White House in cooperation with the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) has directly tasked the Defense Department to hide these weapons. Given the recent scandals to the effect that the U.S. president was privy to the 9/11 plot, they might try to immediately announce the discovery of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq in order to overshadow the scandals and prevent a further decline of Bush?s public opinion rating as the election approaches.

Original story below.

~ Additional Resources ~

Thursday, March 18, 2004
Common Dreams:
Journalists Find Many Ways to Kill Truth in Iraq
On March 13 the Iranian news agency Mehr reported a story that, if true, is surely the biggest news of this election year: "U.S. forces have unloaded a large cargo of parts for constructing long-range missiles and weapons of mass destruction (WMD) in the southern ports of Iraq.
* * *
Five days after Mehr broke this story, a Google and Lexis/Nexis search failed to find it reported in any U.S. news source. Not even a story to say "We checked and found nothing to support the allegations." Why? Two possibilities come to mind. Perhaps American journalists in Iraq, and their editors at home, saw it and said "Oh, that's silly. With all the serious stuff we have to investigate, why waste a good reporter's precious time on such nonsense?"
* * *
The other possibility is that some American journalists believe the U.S. might indeed be planting WMD parts in Iraq for pre-election "discovery." But the story is just too hot, too dangerous to touch.
* * *
Saturday, March 13, 2004
Tehran Times:
U.S. Unloading WMD in Iraq
The original story!
 
This is the original story from the Tehran Times. If you have this bookmarked from then, your link no longer works. This is the new link for that story.

Published in its entirety:

TEHRAN (Mehr News Agency) -- Over the past few days, in the wake of the bombings in Karbala and the ideological disputes that delayed the signing of Iraq's interim constitution, there have been reports that U.S. forces have unloaded a large cargo of parts for constructing long-range missiles and weapons of mass destruction (WMD) in the southern ports of Iraq.

A reliable source from the Iraqi Governing Council, speaking on condition of anonymity, told the Mehr News Agency that U.S. forces, with the help of British forces stationed in southern Iraq, had made extensive efforts to conceal their actions.

He added that the cargo was unloaded during the night as attention was still focused on the aftermath of the deadly bombings in Karbala and the signing of Iraq's interim constitution.

The source said that in order to avoid suspicion, ordinary cargo ships were used to download the cargo, which consisted of weapons produced in the 1980s and 1990s.

He mentioned the fact that the United States had facilitated Iraq's WMD program during the 1980-1988 Iran-Iraq and said that some of the weapons being downloaded are similar to those weapons, although international inspectors had announced Saddam Hussein's Baath regime had destroyed all its WMD.

The source went on to say that the rest of the weapons were probably transferred in vans to an unknown location somewhere in the vicinity of Basra overnight.

"Most of these weapons are of Eastern European origin and some parts are from the former Soviet Union and the Eastern Bloc. The U.S. obtained them through confiscations during sales of banned arms over the past two decades," he said.

This action comes as certain U.S. and Western officials have been pointing out the fact that no weapons of mass destruction have been discovered in Iraq and the issue of Saddam's trial begins to take center stage.

In addition, former chief UN weapons inspector Hans Blix has emphasized that the U.S. and British intelligence agencies issued false reports on Iraq leading to the U.S. attack.

Meanwhile, the suspicious death of weapons inspector David Kelly is also an unresolved issue in Britain.

Occupation Forces Official Claims to Have No
Information About Transfer of WMD to Iraq

A security official for the coalition forces in Iraq said that he has not received any information about the unloading of weapons of mass destruction in ports in southern Iraq.

Shane Wolf told the Mehr News Agency that the occupation forces have received no reports on such events, but said he hoped that the coalition forces would find the Iraqi weapons of mass destruction one day.

Coalition forces and inspectors have so far been unable to find any Iraqi weapons of mass destruction. The U.S. invaded Iraq under the pretext that Iraq possessed a stockpile of weapons of mass destruction.

Go figure!
Where it concerns April, T. S. Eliot Was Right
 
Mike's back with an Easter Sunday rant against his usual suspects: The Bush Crime Family. Square in his sights is Condi's "I don't feel like answering questions today" appearance before the 9-11 commission, a menu of options for Iraq, and of course the Bush&PuppetMaster mystery visit to the 9-11 committee.

Be sure to also head on over to The White Rose Society, where Mike Malloy's professional "Demo" CD has just been posted (about half-way down) for your downloading pleasure. White Rose also has the "Heretic Cut" Malloy CD posted, as well as archives of Malloy Shows back to 12/15/2003. Toss a few bucks at White Rose webmaster Ben Burch if you can while you're there. Your contributions are the only way Ben keeps White Rose alive.

The Photo They Don't Want You to See ...

The 'Dover Effect'
The "Dover Effect"
Considering Condi:

David Corn at The Nation
 
Not too long, but a great review of the history of the two year battle to declassify the August 6th, 2001, Presidential Daily Briefing. Maybe Condi didn't actually lie in her characterization of this during her testimony, but she certainly did not tell the truth.


Slate's ballot box: Politics and policy.
LexiCondi
Decoding Rice's self-serving testimony.
 
Ever wondered what Condi meant when she used all those pretty words during her testimony? Here's the lexicon(di) that will set you straight.

And you thought you knew everything.


An "Open Letter to National Security Advisor Condoleeza Rice"
 
This is fun stuff, if for no other reason than its suggestion that we track all of the war profiteers' campaign contributions so that we'll know precisely how much Bush got paid for his 9-11 wars.

I might add one additional detail however. Since he spent so much time away from the office, shouldn't we pro-rate that back against how much time he actually spent there doing his job?

Monday, April 12, 2004
Bush Push:

Charley Reese:
Learning-Disabled
 
Libertarian Charley Reese is at it again:
The Bush administration, I fear, is severely learning-disabled.

Rational people, acting as individuals or as a group, learn from their mistakes. They gather data, they make decisions, and they take actions. Then they assess the feedback from reality and adjust.

* * *
Well, I hope you share the president's faith. The same people who failed to protect us in September 2001 are still where they were. So is Paul Wolfowitz, the architect of the Iraq War, who said we would be greeted with flowers and dancing in the streets. Bush ought to put him in charge of Iraq. He deserves to live in Baghdad for the rest of his life.
I'm telling you, there's trouble brewing with Georgie's home boys!

And Charley? I'm with you on Wolfie as Ambassodor to Iraq! They greeted him so warmly last time he visited.


So where's Paragould? A very red state.
As I write this, civil war is about to erupt in Iraq -- a pending conflict stemming from a Bush-waged war based on a family vendetta and oil-based greed. In the meantime, a disproportionately funded force in Afghanistan is making little to no headway in its search for the true villain of the modern world.
* * *
Nixon must be rolling in his grave -- and offering Bush a nod of approval.

... but this explains everything:

Hey, Condi! Maybe this even explains why you
couldn't get anything done for the first 233 days?


... and did you see this?

Judge Roy "Ten Commandments" Moore's
Top 15 Reasons
why you should vote for him for president
instead of George Bush.

Send him a buck! Piss Karl Rove off!

Thanks to ANTISYSTEMIC for the great graphic!

Iraq, First Person:

The Guardian:
An Iraqi intifada
Now the war is being fought in the open, by people defending their homes
 
Naomi Klein reports from Sadr City in Baghdad.
"They stole our playground," an eight-year-old boy in Sadr City told me this week, pointing at six tanks parked in a soccer field, next to a rusty jungle gym. The field is a precious bit of green in an area of Baghdad that is otherwise a swamp of raw sewage and uncollected rubbish.

Sadr City has seen little of Iraq's multibillion-dollar "reconstruction", which is partly why Moqtada al-Sadr and his Mahdi army have so much support here. Before the US occupation chief, Paul Bremer, provoked Sadr into an armed conflict by shutting down his newspaper and arresting and killing his deputies, the Mahdi army was not fighting coalition forces, it was doing their job for them.

After all, in the year it has controlled Baghdad, the Coalition Provisional Authority still hasn't managed to get the traffic lights working or to provide the most basic security for civilians. So in Sadr City, Sadr's so-called "outlaw militia" can be seen engaged in such subversive activities as directing traffic and guarding factories from looters. In a way, the Mahdi army is as much Bremer's creation as it Sadr's: it was Bremer who created Iraq's security vacuum - Sadr simply filled it.

Sadr City, the next Fallujah.


 
Rahul Mahajan reports from Fallujah.
Nothing could have been easier than gaining the good-will of the people of Fallujah had the Americans not been so brutal in their dealings. Tribal peoples like these have been the most easily duped by imperialists for centuries now. But now a tipping point has been reached. To Americans, “Fallujah” may still mean four mercenaries killed, with their corpses then mutilated and abused; to Iraqis, “Fallujah” means the savage collective punishment for that attack, in which over 600 Iraqis have been killed, with an estimated 200 women and over 100 children (women do not fight among the muj, so all of these are noncombatants, as are many of the men killed).

A Special Forces colonel in the Vietnam War said of the town, Ben Tre, “We had to destroy the town in order to save it.” That statement encapsulated the Vietnam War. The same is true in Iraq today -- Fallujah cannot be “saved” from its mujaheddin unless it is destroyed.

Vietnam redux.


1
... and some ideas:

Chicago Daily Tribune:
Declare victory and get out
By E.W. Chamberlain III., a retired U.S. Army infantry Col.
 
A retired colonel and military affairs writer sees little gain by staying and wants to avoid a repeat of Vietnam:
What have we gained or will we gain from this war in Iraq other than more dead Americans?

Is our oil cheaper? No, it's more expensive.

Are the Iraqi people free? No, and they obviously do not wish to be free.

Has the threat of terrorism at home decreased? No, it has increased as we make more enemies every day while fighting an excursion in Iraq rather than focusing our total efforts and energies on real terrorists.

The commander in chief needs to take care of his troops before it's too late. ...


A modest proposal
How to cut and run with style:
 
The problem with simply cutting and running is the very likely possibility of a civil war that would not be kind to the Iraqis and would certainly be damaging to the world's economy. There is a way to do this however while almost eliminating that eventuality. It is of course the three-state solution. Here is how it would have to be done.

The key of course is that the Iraqis themselves must draw the lines of the split. Of course, we (and hopefully the U.N.) would moderate that negotiation, but the final determination would be the Iraqis'. Once that determination was made, U.S. (hopefully a by this time internationalized) troops would then withdraw, being at this time responsible only for border enforcement, a role that would be played until the new states could develop their own governments and security forces. Now there are three problems that would have to be solved to make this work.

First, the eventual division would quite likely leave most developed oil production in the Shia and Kurdish states. The Sunnis would have oil, but it would take them a while to bring it on-line. We would likely need to provide the Sunnis with some sort of economic assistance while this occurred, perhaps in the form of manufacturing development aid.

Second, wherever these lines are drawn, there are large areas where the sects live intermingled, and this could present a large refugee problem if left unadressed. To solve this, we would need to provide a second level of economic assistance, this time to individual citizens wishing to relocate across the new borders. This might also include some job creation assistance to insure a smooth resettlement.

Finally, Turkey, who is quite opposed to the creation of a Kurdish state. The relocation asssistance might also be extended to Turkish Kurds, and a separate negotiation between the Kurdish state and Turkey (again, moderated by us) to insure that both parties had reasonable assurances that there would be no cross-border interference.

All of this of course would hinge on the prompt removal of the feeding trough for U.S. multi-nationals. This is something that the Bush administration simply cannot do, and it is probably the primary reason why so little progess has been made during the last year.

Saturday, April 10, 2004
Happy Easter!
Some holidays visits and a broken DSL connection add together to equal a few days off for me. DSL is supposed to be fixed Tuesday afternoon sometime, so I'll probably not be posting much until late Tuesday or early Wednesday.

On the bright side, this will give me some time for some off-line projects as well as time to get my second computer back together. Who knows, ... maybe I'll even be able to get my "voodoo" home network (a cross-over cable) working at long last. It never wanted to work quite right last time, and if you've ever had a home networking problem before, you know how very little help the manufacturers provide.

In the meantime, have a good holiday!

Thursday, April 08, 2004
One-Stop Shopping for the 9-11 Commission
 
Video, audio, and transcript of Rice's testimony and all the rest of the hearings. Links to many articles, timelines, and charts. Be sure to check out the panaroma of the briefing room. Very impressive.

Collected observations on Rice's appearance from various talk-radio programs:

  • From a former ad-man: It was clear early on that Condi's strategy (no doubt via coaching) was to bore people into not watching.

  • From a Washington lawyer: Beyond offering opinions, Condi didn't say much, and contradicted even those opinions as she spoke. Clinton did a bad job./We did as good as Clinton. (I love these.) We were very active on this./You can't really expect us to get much done in 227 days.

  • From a progressive author: With "friendly" questioners, Condi's answer were short, allowing more "softballs" to be tossed at her. With "unfriendly" questioners, Condi "fillibustered" her answers, running those questioners out of time.
In all, if Condi's job was to protect the administration, she did well. As for the rest of us looking for something more substantial, it wasn't much there. I'm sure that we can expect even less from the puppeteer and his puppet.