Saturday, April 29, 2006
Friday, April 28, 2006
Quote du jour
And about today's press conference: I wish the White House transcript would identify the reporters asking the questions, because I'd really like to know who these idiots are who are actually trying to goad Bush into going to war with Iran. Some examples (emphasis added):
Q Thank you, sir. The IAEA says that Iran is not in compliance with the Security Council. What sort of sanctions would you like to see and that could bring Russia and Chinese support?* * * * * * * *
Q Let's come back to Iran, if we can. The Iranians have said they're going to ignore what happens at the U.N. Security Council. Doesn't that mean the diplomatic options are dwindling?* * * * * * * *
Q You often say Iran is not Iraq.* * * * * * * *
THE PRESIDENT: Yes, I do say that.
Q There are many people who fear that this will turn into a military confrontation. Why is Iran not Iraq? There's WMD --
THE PRESIDENT: Iraq went through 16 different Security Council resolutions. There was resolution after resolution after resolution. Iraq had invaded its neighbors. Iraq was shooting at U.S. aircraft. Iraq had actually used weapons of mass destruction on its people before. There's a difference between the two countries.
Iran's desire to have a nuclear weapon is dangerous, in my judgment. The diplomatic process is just starting.
Q But when you talk about that, how many resolutions are you going to let go here? How far --
THE PRESIDENT: We haven't had one yet.
Q I know, but how far can you let them go? If you really fear that they're building a nuclear --
Q I just want to follow up one more time on Iran. Mr. Ahmadinejad was quoted this morning as saying those who want to prevent Iranians from obtaining their right "should know that we do not give a damn," his words, sir, "about such resolutions."Just in case you were wondering where the term "so-called liberal media" came from. It's hard work to make this warmongering pResident appear cautious and reasonable, but these questioners are sure trying.
THE PRESIDENT: Okay.
Q When you're talking about diplomacy, sir, a question of tactics, at this point, not goals. If you have, for instance, Russia saying they don't want a Chapter 7 resolution, if you're dealing with a gentleman who uses this kind of rhetoric, what kind of tactics can you possibly come up with?
THE PRESIDENT: I guess the first thing I would do is refer those comments to our partners and get their reaction, to see what they say, see how they react to those kind of comments. And I haven't had a chance to do that yet, since it just happened today. But I will continue to work with our friends and allies.
Listen, key--step one is to have a common goal. I know that sounds simple to you, probably, but it wasn't always that way. The world wasn't always of like mind that the Iranians were, you know, headed for a weapon, and that that would be a dangerous course of action. And now we are of like mind. And so we are in the stage now of formulating a strategy to achieve a diplomatic solution to this problem.
Q But Mr. President, given everything you've been hearing from Mr. Ahmadinejad over the past several weeks and months, in your estimation, is this someone you can work with?
I'm sure there was plenty of other scary nonsense in the press conference, but I'm not up to reading it all right now. I'll wait for WIIIAI's take.
Labels: Quote du jour
At least 67 US troops killed in Iraq in April
The Ruling (Lack of) Class
Two pea-brains in a pod.
No praise for George H.W. Bush implied or intended. To say that he was a better pResident than W is like saying that the Armenian genocide was "better" than the Holocaust. Or more accurately, that illegal Gulf War I was better than illegal Gulf War II--which certainly wouldn't be true if you were one of the tens of thousands killed in Gulf War I. George H.W. Bush was a very, very bad pResident, one of the worst we've ever had (which is saying a lot). His son is much, much worse.
Another word for nothing left to lose
In the last four years, more than 50 million people have joined the ranks of the free.-- George W. Bush, January 18, 2005
DATING is a dangerous game in Baghdad. Ali Ilhiam knows that holding hands with his teenage girlfriend could cost him a beating--or worse--from militant extremists.-- The Times (UK)
"Boys can't be seen walking and laughing with their girlfriends any more in the new Baghdad," the 21-year-old university student said, glancing over his shoulder to make sure that he was not being watched. Friends of his have been dragged from their cars, imprisoned and threatened with death by self-appointed moral guardians for daring to link arms with their girlfriends in public.
Mr. Ilhiam recalled that holding hands with a girl was permissible under the regime of Saddam Hussein, but he expressed concern about the growing puritanism that is being enforced by both Shia and Sunni militias.
"This country has expired," Murwa Majid said, nervously twisting a gold necklace that spelt out her name. "No matter what our new Prime Minister says, my generation is pessimistic. Life will not improve any time soon. This is not living."
"Girls don't walk the streets alone any more. We used to shop, go dancing, have parties, until a few months after the downfall of Saddam, and bit by bit, every day, we feel more repressed."
Gas price nonsense
The Oil Drum tries to explain the facts to the politicians in a lengthy press release, on which Jonathan at Past Peak comments. Greg Saunders at This Modern World calls the Repugs' call for $100 rebate checks to taxpayers "bribery;" I reluctantly informed him that Senator Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) is bidding five times as much for your votes.
Keeping gas prices low is like trying to rescue someone falling out of a building by digging a hole where he's going to land. It's expensive, futile, and will only make the splat bigger when he finally hits bottom. But, if you're Congress, digging holes is what you do.
No gossip here
So I just won't do it.
Thursday, April 27, 2006
Outrage overload--now with more adverbs!
- The Pentagon is going ahead with plans to conduct covert military operations in any country any time it decides it wants to, without the approval of the country or even the State Department. Chris Floyd comments eloquently.
- Halliburton has been importing laborers into Iraq from poor countries and then taking away their passports, making them effectively slaves (or Cheney-gangers). Just doing jobs Iraqis won't do, I guess (although they'll stand in lines, which seem to get blown up daily, just to get what has to be one of the worst jobs in the world--a position in the Iraqi security forces). WIIIAI comments vehemently.
- Not only are your dollars buying less gasoline these days; they're buying fewer euros as well. That's right, the dollar has resumed its slide into the abyss after a one-year breather due to the failure of the EU to adopt a constitution. Mike Whitney comments alarmingly.
- "Internet neutrality," which allows all users to benefit from the free exchange of ideas on the web, is under serious attack in Congress. Congressional candidate Charles W. Sanders comments convincingly.
- When the government comes to get you, your Levi's jeans may help them track you down. Katherine Albrecht of Spychips.com comments lucidly. Here's her lead paragraph:
It may be time to ditch your Dockers and lay off the Levi's, say privacy
activists Katherine Albrecht and Liz McIntyre. New information confirms
that Levi Strauss & Co. is violating a call for a moratorium on
item-level RFID by spychipping its clothing. What's more, the company is
refusing to disclose the location of its U.S. test.
Wednesday, April 26, 2006
32% = TWO terrorist tapes in a week
But ignore my snark, the video is real. How do I know? Well, according to the NY Times, always a reliable source about Iraq,
...an American official said Tuesday night that intelligence agencies had completed an analysis of the video and concluded that the speaker was Mr. Zarqawi. The man who appears in the video bears a strong resemblance to various photos the American and Jordanian governments have distributed of him.Perhaps this unnamed government official is referring to the same intelligence agencies that took the pictures of "Zarqawi" and distributed them. Completely convincing, no?
Well, at least the Times doesn't buy this BS completely, only almost. They say the man in the video "identified himself" as Zarqawi, although they then state as fact that Zarqawi is "the head of Al Qaeda in Iraq," and their headline calls it a "Qaeda video." Over at the WaPo, they've swallowed it hook, line, sinker, pole and fisherman. Their headline: Zarqawi Taunts U.S. in Video. The first paragraph:
Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the Jordanian leader of al-Qaeda in Iraq, showed his face in a video for the first time yesterday, accusing President Bush of lying to Americans about U.S. military victories in Iraq and vowing to destroy efforts to form a new government there.They make this unequivocal claim based on thorough independent analysis of multiple sources, right? Hah!
U.S. intelligence officials who evaluated the video, the bulk of which was devoted to his delivery of a lengthy speech in which he claimed that mujaheddin forces now had "the upper hand on the battlefield," said it was genuine.There you have it. The Washington Post, which just two weeks ago ran the story about how the military "is conducting a propaganda campaign to magnify the role of the leader of al-Qaeda in Iraq," now presents the latest effort of that propaganda campaign as absolute fact based on the off-the-record assertions of "U.S. intelligence officials."
I swear, if W's ratings get below 25%, we'll hear that Saddam Hussein has escaped, and we'll soon be treated to his videos denouncing the Great Satan. And the Times and Post will be stating as fact that Saddam is off making WMD's again (sic), because unnamed intelligence officials told them so. And if that doesn't work, there's always Emmanuel Goldstein.
Stupid is as stupid does
Our idiot pResident and his Nikular football.
The Naval Academy's football coach wonders: "Is there anything in there?"
"Oh my God. THAT's our Commander in Chief???"
Hasn't Iraq suffered enough?
Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld, seeking to put past differences behind them, paid a surprise joint visit to Iraq today to mobilize diplomatic and security forces and bolster the new government of Prime Minister Jawad al-Maliki.Because it is, of course, OUR government, since we vetoed the one actually elected by the constitutional process the Iraqis voted for (sort of).
"We really want to be ready to hit the ground running with this new government when it's ready to go," Ms. Rice told reporters on her way here from Ankara, Turkey, early in the morning.
"The turning point here is that Iraq now has its first permanent government, and that it is a government of national unity, and it gives Iraq a real chance to deal with the real vexing problems that it has faced," she added.Saddam Hussein ruled Iraq from 1979 until 2003; Hammurabi ruled Babyon for some 42 years. If Condi thinks THIS government is going to be more permanent than theirs, she's even crazier than I thought. Al-Maliki will be extremely lucky to outlast Paul Bremer's one year of
Not to be outdone, Rummy added some knee-slapping inanities of his own:
"This is a sovereign country, and they're making impressive progress," he said, adding that the government that Mr. Maliki is trying to assemble will be composed of "people who are competent, people who understand the importance of running ministries, not as sectarian ministries but as ministries for the whole country."And if it works, maybe we'll try it back home, he didn't add.
Tuesday, April 25, 2006
Jane Jacobs died today
Jane Jacobs, an author and community activist of singular influence whose classic "The Death and Life of Great American Cities" transformed ideas about urban planning, died Tuesday, her publisher said.We would live in a much better country if they had actually transformed urban planning ideas. Instead, we forged ahead with mindless sprawl driven by cheap gasoline and the teamwork of developers and politicians putting their own wealth and re-elections ahead of any sensible use of the land. We are paying for it big time now, and will continue to do so.
They all suck
But the real shame is that there are few Democrats who are much better. A few in the House: Lee, Kucinich, Conyers. But not any in the Senate. Russ Feingold (D-WI) is considered the best of a very bad lot, but even he pays lip service to the lies and hype of the administration. Here's what he told a bunch of LA bloggers about Iran the other day:
"We must never take any option off the table, because the danger is real. But we need to make every effort to negotiate, and it doesn't look like that's being done."Eli has the perfect response:
Really? Never take any option off the table? Even using nuclear weapons, or violating international law by launching an unprovoked war of aggression? How about kidnapping Ayatollah Khamenei and torturing him until President Ahmadinejad agrees to destroy all nuclear facilities in Iran? Could we at least take that option off the table?The comments on his post are great as well. Like I said last week, if the threat from Iran is real, then we are completely defenseless. And if you can't take war crimes off the table, you don't deserve a place at the table.
With "progressives" like this, hyping the "danger" of Iran and refusing to "take any option off the table," why worry about FOX News and the right wing?
Global warming caused last year's hurricanes
The record Atlantic hurricane season last year can be attributed to global warming, several top experts, including a leading U.S. government storm researcher, said on Monday.Of course, given the Bushies' track record, Holland will soon be drawing his logical conclusions without the hindrance of having a government job. Also, this just makes all of the posturing about "high" gas prices look even more ridiculous.
"The hurricanes we are seeing are indeed a direct result of climate change and it's no longer something we'll see in the future, it's happening now," said Greg Holland, a division director at the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder, Colorado.
Holland told a packed hall at the American Meteorological Society's 27th Conference on Hurricanes and Tropical Meteorology that the wind and warmer water conditions that fuel storms that form in the Caribbean are "increasingly due to greenhouse gases. There seems to be no other conclusion you can logically draw."
And, BTW--I don't think the planet has gotten any cooler since last year.
NAFTA: A death warrant
Falling industrial wages, peasants forced off the land, small businesses liquidated, growing poverty: these are direct consequences of NAFTA. This harsh suffering explains why so many desperate Mexicans -- lured to the border area in the false hope that they could find dignity in the US-owned maquiladoras -- are willing to risk their lives to cross the border to provide for their families. There were 2.5 million Mexican illegals in 1995; 8 million have crossed the border since then. In 2005, some 400 desperate Mexicans died trying to enter the US.
NAFTA failed to curb illegal immigration precisely because it was never designed as a genuine development program crafted to promote rising living standards, health care, environmental cleanup, and worker rights in Mexico. The wholesale surge of Mexicans across the border dramatically illustrates that NAFTA was no attempt at a broad uplift of living conditions and democracy in Mexico, but a formula for government-sanctioned corporate plunder benefiting elites on both sides of the border.
NAFTA essentially annexed Mexico as a low-wage industrial suburb of the US and opened Mexican markets to heavily-subsidized US agribusiness products, blowing away local producers. Capital could flow freely across the border to low-wage factories and Wal-mart-type retailers, but the same standard of free access would be denied to Mexican workers.
Meanwhile, with the planned Central American Free Trade Agreement with five Central American nations coming up, we can anticipate even greater pressure on our borders as agricultural workers are pushed off the land without positive, alternative employment opportunities. People from Guatemala and Honduras will soon learn that they can't compete for industrial jobs with the most oppressed people in say, China, by agreeing to lowering their wages even more.
A Repug says something intelligent
Kevin Spillane, a GOP strategist in Sacramento, Calif., said he suspects that voters understand that the oil market is too complicated to blame on a single party.It is, of course, coming from both sides (sic) of the aisle. AWol, Frist and Hastert vow to "look into" price gouging. Sen. Stabenow (D-MI), running for re-election, wants to repeal tax breaks for the oil industry and use the savings to bribe voters with a $500 rebate. How repealing the oil industry tax breaks will help lower gas prices isn't clear (nor the $500 rebate for that matter). Senators Levin (D-MI) and Specter (R-PA) are calling for a windfall profits tax, while state Rep. Robert Gosselin "repeated his call to not collect the state sales tax on gas costing more than $2.30 a gallon." Because the state is just swimming in money, I guess, and because lowering pump prices is an efficient way to reduce demand? Spillane is right: "It is politics at its dumbest and most desperate."
But he said both sides need to compromise.
"What Congress really needs to be doing is working on comprehensive energy solutions and not engaging in these gimmicks," he said. "It is politics at its dumbest and most desperate."
Billmon has more on this BS-fest:
If the Republicans want to try out [letting the market do its thing without government intervention] that's fine by me. They could even try telling the truth: That sky-high gas prices are the product of many forces, including the economic rise of China, our national allergic reaction to conservation, the security nightmare of trying to protect a far-flung global energy infrastructure, and, most of all, the inevitable fact that the supply of light sweet crude is finite, and production is probably nearing its peak.Which is, of course, bad news for all of us.
They could explain to the American people that there is no quick fix, no miracle fuels on the horizon, no package of tax incentives or industry subsidies that is going to make the problem go away.
They could warn them that even if there was such a solution, current fossil fuel consumption trends still wouldn't be sustainable, not unless we're willing to turn most of coastal cities into salt water swimming pools.
And they could try to make our pampered upper and middle classes understand that the sooner they adjust their bloated lifestyles to reflect these unpleasant facts, the better off we will all be in the long run.
But it looks like they want to keep their jobs.
Different election years call for different strategeries
But this year is more like 2002. Once again, they are ratcheting up the rhetoric for war, terrorist attacks are making a resurgence (in other countries, so far) along with another convenient tape from Osama. And this time they ARE halting the pumping of oil into the Strategic Petroleum Reserve.
What this says to me is that they knew they could steal the 2004 presidential election. Way too many states were solidly red, and a few untraceable electronic voting machines in key precincts in Florida and Ohio were all that was needed to finish off Kerry (well, along with Kerry himself). But there aren't enough paperless voting machines throughout the country to guarantee that they'll hold onto their House majority simply through fraud, so they are going back to the 2002 method of using the (literal) bully pulpit to corner the Democrats into being whimpering simps (well, more so), and adding whatever tools are at their disposal to bring gas prices down.
They know that their survival may be at stake if they lose the House this fall, and they'll do anything within their enormous power to see that that doesn't happen--the country and the world be damned.
In the News
Don't confuse me with the facts
Rice Says Progress In Iraq Might Aid Efforts on Turkey
Rice, who is traveling this week to Greece, Turkey and Bulgaria, told reporters flying with her that the end of the four-month impasse over Iraq's political leadership -- achieved over the weekend -- would open a new phase in the country's reconstruction.
Progress "doesn't come in great flashes, it doesn't come in great outbursts of another election," she said. "This is now going to have to be steady progress toward building the infrastructure of governing, and then governing."
Strangely enough, what happens in Condi's fantasy world has little bearing on the real one, where there seem to be lots of "great flashes" and "outbursts":
Baghdad Rocked By Car Bombs
Seven car bombs exploded in Baghdad in the morning, killing at least 10 people and wounding about 70, according to police officials and news reports. Across the country, bombings, shootings and mortar attacks killed at least 15 others, and the Baghdad police discovered the bodies of 32 recruits for security forces.I'm sure the Turks are thrilled that Condi sees this "progress" in Iraq as an opportunity for "progress" in Turkey. Maybe Istanbul will one day look like Baghdad.
Violence--both the sectarian kind, between Shiite Muslims, Sunni Arabs and Kurds, and insurgent attacks on U.S. and Iraqi government forces--has continued unabated since parliament met on Saturday to choose a new prime minister to lead Iraq for the next four years.
Who are the 32%?
In the staunchly Republican community of London, about 25 miles west of Columbus, Melinda Conley still supports President Bush and calls herself a "die-hard Republican."She makes a living selling worthless crap (with apologies to the one or two gift-shop owners out there who sell valuable crap). She apparently voted for aWol twice, and tells herself that the Bushies know what they're doing--and then marvels that she can't afford to top off the fuel reservoir on her land yacht. She wouldn't know reality if it ran her over--which it is bound to do in the next year or two.
But Conley, an interior designer and gift shop owner on Main Street, quickly says that she has done a lot of dying lately, a point driven home last week when she spent $100 on gas for her Ford Excursion--and that didn't fill the tank. She has no retirement plan. And business is tough.
"I keep telling myself that these guys know what they're doing, but is it going to get any better? I don't know that it is," Conley said. "Why is it harder and harder and harder just to live?"
Frankly, no one who drives an Excursion has any right whatsoever to ask "Why is it harder and harder and harder just to live?"
Shouldn't that be "New, Cular?"
From Monte Wolverton.
Not like it hasn't worked before
From Patrick Chappatte (Switzerland).
They are kind of like a kid who burns down the school because he did poorly on a test. The massive failure of 9/11 distracted attention from the stolen election and general bungling of the early W months. The criminal attack on Afghanistan distracted attention from any serious investigation of 9/11 or placing blame where it properly belonged--on the Bushies. The criminal invasion of Iraq was used to cover up the lethal pointlessness of the Afghan quagmire and failure to capture bin Laden (as if they really wanted to). AWol would prefer to destroy the world rather than admit failure--and he's well on his way.
Monday, April 24, 2006
The DCeiver responds to the "decider"
By now you all know that President Bush responded to the serious-minded call to justify Donald Rumsfeld's continued employment as the Secretary of Defense by telling the world: "I hear the voices and I read the front page and I hear the speculation. But I'm the decider, and I decide what's best. And what's best is for Don Rumsfeld to remain as the secretary of defense."
No real surprise here. Our ersatz Commander in Chief is given the opportunity to provide a deserving nation of adults with his well-founded rationale, and, just like always, he responds as if the American people were a bunch of children. He could have said, "You guys don't get dessert until you've finished your lima beans" and it would have sounded more nuanced.
[bunch of funny, bitter paragraphs]
I would suggest to you that every time you are seen in public addressing the American people in a manner that reflects your OBVIOUS lack of respect for us, treating the people who pay out of pocket to support this nation and from whom you derive your political power as little more than two-year olds, it doesn't so much give aid and comfort to our enemies as much as it bakes our enemies a cake, tuck our enemies into beddy-bye, reads our enemies Goodnight Moon, and then, after a quick little kiss on their cheeks, leaves our enemies' nightlight on so they aren't afraid.
It would be funny if it weren't true...
Vice President Cheney is still getting a lot of flack for throwing that first pitch into the dirt [at the Washington Nationals home opener]--whereas when President Bush threw out the first pitch in Cincinnati the week before, it was a perfect strike. But then, on the other hand, Cheney can read. -- Jay LenoMany more!
When pResidents listen to Bakers
[US Ambassador to Iraq April Glaspie:] But we have no opinion on the Arab-Arab conflicts, like your border disagreement with Kuwait.Now it has been pointed out that Glaspie didn't specifically tell Saddam to go ahead and invade Kuwait, as he did the following week. But Saddam sure makes it sound like he's planning military action, and that he is accepting Glaspie's words from Baker as a green light.
I was in the American Embassy in Kuwait during the late 60's. The instruction we had during this period was that we should express no opinion on this issue and that the issue is not associated with America. James Baker has directed our official spokesmen to emphasize this instruction.
Saddam Hussein: We want the others to know that our patience is running out regarding their action, which is harming even the milk our children drink, and the pensions of the widow who lost her husband during the war, and the pensions of the orphans who lost their parents.Also in that Glaspie/Hussein interview is this priceless bit of irony:
They reached an agreement which did not express what we wanted, but we agreed.
Only two days after the meeting, the Kuwaiti Oil Minister made a statement that contradicted the agreement. We also discussed the issue during the Baghdad summit. I told the Arab Kings and Presidents that some brothers are fighting an economic war against us. And that not all wars use weapons and we regard this kind of war as a military action against us.
Saddam Hussein: We do not ask people not to be concerned when peace is at issue. This is a noble human feeling which we all feel. It is natural for you as a superpower to be concerned. But what we ask is not to express your concern in a way that would make an aggressor believe that he is getting support for his aggression.Okay, I'm getting a bit off track here. My point is: If you ever want a bad situation to get a whole lot worse, just throw in a little James Baker.
Actually, we are negotiating, or bargaining, as Elizabeth Kubler-Ross once put it in describing the sequence of emotional reactions of humans facing certain death:
denial > bargaining > depression > acceptance
Events seem to have dragged us kicking and screaming beyond the sheer denial stage, since this is now the second time in six months that oil and gasoline prices have ratcheted wildly up. Something is happening, Mr. Jones, and now we want to talk our way out of it.
The main thread in this bargaining stage is the desperate wish to keep our motoring fiesta going by other means than oil. This fantasy exerts its power across the whole political spectrum, and evinces a fascinating poverty of imagination in the public and its leaders in every field: politics, business, science and the media. The right wing still pretends we can still drill our way out of this, if only the nature freaks would allow them to. The "green" folks thinks that we can devote crops to the production of gasoline substitutes, even though a scarcity of fossil fuel-based fertilizers will sharply cut crop yields for human food. Nobody, it seems, can imagine an American life not centered on cars.
Hu knows what they're up to
The danger of a military conflict between the United States and China, with all its potentially cataclysmic consequences, does not arise out of the personalities of Bush or Hu, but out of deep-going objective contradictions. The same economic forces that have produced an ever-greater integration of the US and Chinese economies--perhaps the highest expression of the overall globalization of the world economy--lead inevitably to conflicts between these two powers over access to natural resources, control of key strategic positions and, ultimately, world power.It's insane. The world is being run like one of those slick Hollywood triple-cross movies like Intolerable Cruelty, Confessions of a Dangerous Mind, or Mr. and Mrs. Smith. In "Confessions," there's a scene near the end where Sam Rockwell and Julia Roberts have a pleasant tea together, each one trying to poison the other. In "Mr. and Mrs. Smith" Brad and Angelina return home for dinner together after having tried to kill each other. They walk around the kitchen, chatting pleasantly in double-entendres ("I missed you." "I missed you too."), while every action is loaded with veiled threat. Pretty tame stuff in a world where the neocons build up Israel in part because a warped interpretation of biblical prophecy suggests that Israel must rule the Middle East before being destroyed at Armageddon, and where the US helps China grow into an economic powerhouse in order to destroy the labor movement, all the while planning to destroy China once it gets too powerful (and labor is fully destroyed)--and with Israel and China fully aware of exactly what our neonuts are up to.
From the early 1980s, the major imperialist powers--the US, Japan, the European powers--have poured capital into China, building China up as an offshore manufacturing platform that plays a decisive role in their class strategy, allowing them to put unrelenting pressure on labor costs and generating super-profits. The growth of world capitalism over the past quarter century is largely bound up with the opening up of China.
But this same process has generated a challenge to US domination of the Asia-Pacific region. The growing industrial and financial might of China increases its strategic weight in world affairs and makes possible a more ambitious program of armament, diplomacy and cultivation of economic ties. US imperialism reacts to China's rise as a threat to its hegemony all along the eastern shore of Asia, as well as in the Indian Ocean and even in Africa and South America.
For all the ritualistic invocations of democracy by American politicians, the US-China conflict has nothing to do with any repressive actions on the part of the Stalinist dictatorship in Beijing. On the contrary, maintenance of China as an almost inexhaustible supplier of cheap labor for international capital requires an internal political regime that denies workers any democratic rights and suppresses all opposition to the most brutal sweatshop methods.
Corporate America relies on the Beijing dictatorship to police and suppress the Chinese workers as well as to provide an increasingly important market for the sale of US goods.
Saturday, April 22, 2006
Friday, April 21, 2006
Tilting at windmills: greedy "green"
Narco News article. Excerpt:
The next 500 windmills are slated to go up along 1,300 hectares (five square miles) in the town of La Venta and nearby. The next wave--along the beach and Southeast Mexico’s coastal Dead Sea--will mean a certain death sentence for the indigenous fishing communities that speak Huave and Zapotec from San Francisco del Mar to San Mateo del Mar. The land of the historic vanguard of indigenous resistance in Mexico--the Isthmus of Tehuantepec--will then become an "energy park," globalization's showcase boomtowns, to be exploited by the highest bidder while displacing the authentic wealth of a surviving ancient civilization.
But a problem erupted for the Greedy Grabbers on their way to world domination via this anorexic stretch of América: The families that farm more than half that swathe of earth have so far refused to sign away the rights to 700 hectares of their lands. And a fight is brewing between two winds: one from above, the other from below and gusting to the left, both of which understand that the wind that wins this Isthmus will have a strategic advantage in all the battles to come.
Arrested for playing soccer
In Putnam County, New York, for instance, a suburban area only 50 miles from New York City, the County Sheriff arrested eight immigrants who were playing soccer on a school ball field and held them for immigration authorities. Seven were able to make bail, but the eighth, a 33-year-old father of five, has been in federal prison in Pennsylvania awaiting deportation since last January."Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free..." and we'll lock 'em up. For playing soccer.
Local officials who already hold strong anti-immigrant views have been emboldened by the bipartisan political rhetoric legitimizing new crackdowns and using the so-called war against terrorism to call for closing US borders. The sheriff in Putnam County, Donald Smith, said, "We have a situation in our country where our borders are not being adequately protected, and that leaves law enforcement people like us in a very difficult situation."
Smith said federal immigration agents were called because the sheriff’s deputies suspected the men were "illegal" and "because we are trying to uphold the law for the citizens of this county." The men were arrested for playing soccer and charged with trespass, a class B misdemeanor. Bail for seven was set at $1,000, but Juan Jimeniz, the worker now held in Pennsylvania, was held on $3,000 bail because he could not provide his home address.
What Eli said
Eli at Left I on the News demonstrates how the WaPo manages to grossly mislead without lying with this sentence:
President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said last week that Iran was pursuing the enrichment of uranium on an industrial scale, which could allow it to accelerate the development of nuclear weapons.Eli explains:
Ahmadinejad, of course, not only said nothing about "accelerating the development of nuclear weapons," what he said was the exact opposite.There are, of course, a few differences between the buildups to Iraq and Iran. Iraq was accused of pursuing activities in violation of UN resolutions, which it wasn't. Iran is accused of, indeed proudly proclaims that it is, pursuing activities which are legal according to provisions of an international treaty (the non-proliferation treaty). Eli looked into what Ahmadinejad actually said. Yes, he expresses his hatred for the US and Israel. (Can anyone still question why?) Yes, he says they are developing nuclear technology--for peaceful purposes, according to the terms of the NPT. Of course he may be lying--he is a politician, after all. But it is not legitimate in the least to say that his words are an admission that Iran is developing weapons or otherwise violating international law. (Unlike another pResident who's words almost daily indict him for being in clear violation of international law, the UN charter, US law, and the US constitution.)
Also, we should remember that Iran has a standing FATWA against making nuclear weapons!
Still, it isn't just the Bushies and their idiotlogues who have been drinking the Kool-Aid. As Eli points out, the Daily Show's Jon Stewart presents the lies as fact:
"We've got an America-hating madman who we know is building WMDs in an oil-rich country that starts with the letters I-R-A."What is WRONG with these people? They just like being lied into wars???
Thursday, April 20, 2006
Quote du three days ago
I think we just have to accept . . . that the terrorists, Zarqawi and bin Laden and Zawahiri, those people have media committees. They are actively out there trying to manipulate the press in the United States. They are very good at it.-- Field Marshall von Rumsfeld in his interview with Rush Limbaugh on Monday, via Billmon. Billmon's post quotes repeatedly from the WaPo's article from last week, Military Plays Up Role of Zarqawi, which makes what should be an obvious point--those media committees that the terrorists have are a part of Rummy's military. To suit the needs of the "war on terror," if Osama didn't exist, our government would have had to invent him. Which is pretty much what they seem to have done with Zarqawi.
Just read everything Chris Floyd writes
Let's try to understand this Iran nonsense
And then consider the country with far and away the most potent nuclear arsenal in the world, which continues to develop weapons (at a rate much faster than Iran can manage, I'm sure), which has multiple delivery options (ICBM's, sub and ship launched missiles, aircraft, artillery, even our own terrorist infiltrators with suitcase bombs), and was the first country to develop nuclear weapons and is still the only one to have used them. Does this country have any moral standing at all to tell other nations not to have nukes? Of course not. But let's pretend we're Bushies and believe that every horrible thing we do or might do is ordained by God, so this is okay too.
So--supposing that Iran really has a bomb, and has ties to terrorists. Does that make it imperative that we attack them right now, or else we're at grave risk? Well, consider that Pakistan has had nuclear bombs for eight years, was basically the incubator for al Qaeda and the Taliban, is still a hotbed for Islamic extremism and quite possibly is harboring Osama bin Laden right now. Pakistan has also participated actively in proliferating nuclear technology, including apparently to Iran. If Iran is a threat, then how much greater a threat is Pakistan? Bush, and Clinton for that matter, have left us exposed to the possible smoking gun/mushroom cloud for eight years!
Now of course I don't think we should attack Pakistan--they and we have more than enough trouble without that. But if anything points out the hypocrisy of W's "policies," it would be identifying Iraq and Iran as threats while ignoring Pakistan.
And if Iran is actually a threat, then we have been in imminent danger of destruction for years or decades. If Iran could give one of it's hypothetical nukes to terrorists, any other nuclear power could just as easily give one or more of its very real nukes to terrorists. Great Britain, France, Israel, Russia (and perhaps other former Soviet Republics), Pakistan, India, China, North Korea--all have reasons, ranging from pure hatred to jealousy to economic advantage to self-defense to justice, to want to see the US brought down a few pegs. And while their current governments may for the most part be sane enough not to try a sneak nuclear attack on the US, there could certainly be factions in those countries willing and possibly able to pull it off. They would of course run it as a false-flag operation. How simple would it be for an agent from France or Israel or China to bring a nuke into this country, leave a few clues lying around written in Farsi, and set the thing off? I would hope it wouldn't be easy, but by suggesting that Iran, with no nukes at all so far, is some sort of threat to us, the Bushies are implicitly saying that we have no protection in place against such an attack--in fact our only plan to prevent such an attack is to serially destroy countries that couldn't pull it off!
Any politician or journalist (and it seems to be most of them) who claims that Iran is a serious threat to the United States is really saying that the trillions of dollars spent on "defense" in recent decades have been entirely wasted. If one country on the other side of the world with a few dozen centrifuges is a grave danger to our nation, then we have no defense.
Wednesday, April 19, 2006
$72.25--Here come the senators!
It sounds like Chuck Schumer's ploy to get a photo-op has backfired. I googled and found several news reports covering this:
The New York Democrat, at a news conference in front of a Hess station in Manhattan, suggested that companies are deliberately under-producing, CNNMoney.com reported.But none of the articles had a photo attached. Nice try, Chuck.
'The bottom line is they are producing at 85 percent capacity when they should be producing over 90 percent,' Schumer said. 'Are they scaling back production? Only by subpoenaing the companies and looking in their books will we get that answer.'
I don't want those oil execs to get any more billions either. But the problem isn't underproduction. It's overconsumption. Having the oil companies produce full-out only makes global warming worse and delays further the day when Americans finally catch on that we've got a very serious problem.
Tuesday, April 18, 2006
Anyway, the US finally decides it is time for the troops to leave, at least partially, and the Japanese will be thrilled to see them go. Except that the US negotiator (why do they need to negotiate?), whose name is appropriately "Lawless," insists that the Japanese pay for most of the cost of bringing the troops home (or send them to Iran or whatever), which the US claims is $10 billion.
Bionic Octopus points out that there is a name for this sort of activity:
Hey, what do they call that thing where you muscle around someone else's property making their life really difficult and maybe roughing them up a bit for emphasis, and then make them pay you to go away? Oh yeah! Protection.Cue Lee Greenwood:
Yes I'm proud to be an American 'cause I do not have a clue
Any crime that's done is okay by me if it wears red white and blue
And I'll dumbly stand up, cheer her on, as she blows the world away
'Cause there ain't no doubt I'm dumb as nails I am the USA!
$3 a gallon
The futures prices don't reflect distribution and associated costs, so pump prices are substantially higher.
No Failure Left Unpraised
From Bruce Plante.
That's pretty much exactly what Bush does with every one of his projects. He claims they will provide a bunch of benefits or rid us of some problems. Then, after they have demonstrably and/or disastrously failed, he just goes on talking about the great benefits as if the program actually worked. Tax cuts, medicare, NCLB, and, of course, Iraq. Mission Accomplished, no matter what happens.
Monday, April 17, 2006
Quote du jour
A very interesting theme for a TV show right now, don't you think? I've read some other blogs suggesting that Rupert Murdoch is using his Fox empire to support the Bush empire because of the ridiculous partisanship and jingoism of Fox News. I don't think he has a political agenda at all--he just wants to make money. Fox News hits the same audience that has made Rush Lamebrain such a hit for years. But shows like "Arrested Development" and "The Simpsons" take many delightful shots at the idiots running this country (Homer referred to Bush as "Commander Cuckoo Bananas"). And then there's "24," which seems to appeal to people across the political spectrum. I have my very own 24 blog, and as far as I know all of the readers of that blog are far-lefties like myself and devoted watchers of the show. While Jack and the CTU gang don't generally show a lot of respect for constitutionally-protected rights, some of the plots (like this year's) are especially timely. In Season Two, which ran in the 2002-2003 TV season, 24's president (the guy who got killed this year) and Jack Bauer spent the last eight episodes of the season working desperately to keep the country OUT of a war in the Middle East, in sharp contrast to what was going on at the same time in the so-called real world. Right wingers, I think, just revel in the steamrolling of rights and wasting of "terrorists," missing these story lines entirely. (I don't doubt that there are many people across the political spectrum who despise the show for these same reasons, or just because it is ultra-violent.)
Anyway, they've still got six hours left to get the terrorist president out of office before the show's over, which is pretty close to where we stand in so-called reality as well.
Labels: Quote du jour
White House shakeup
President Bush's new chief of staff told White House aides this morning to expect a shakeup and asked anyone who was thinking of leaving to quit now, White House spokesman Scott McClellan said.Ah, Scottie? I think he meant you. Anyhow, if Josh Bolten really wants to improve things at the White House, he needs to get rid of these two jokers:
Given Hillary's positions on the Bush wars, civil liberties, "free trade," and just about everything else, shouldn't she have to face these no-name candidates in the Republican primary, and then get beaten by Tasini in November?
What's news and what isn't
Of course, the rest of the world knows what is going on in Gaza. Arab nations called for condemnation of the Israeli shelling in the UN Security Council, which was of course blocked by Israel's representative on the UNSC, the US. On the other hand, the White House has already condemned the Tel Aviv bombing.
And if you want an entertaining, depressing look at how this country got in this mess, with one party ruining the country while the other cheers them on, read Gore Vidal's Imperial America : Reflections on the United States of Amnesia. It includes several of Vidal's essays from the '80's and '90's which I guess I wish I had read back then. Not that I could have done anything to change anything. I'm finding it very depressing that during my 4 1/2 years of activism and blogging, things have only gotten worse in just about every way. How much more depressing must it be for the likes of Vidal, Chomsky and Tom Tomorrow, who have been documenting the insanity for decades? (BTW, Vidal is much more entertaining reading than Chomsky if you are looking for material to help introduce people to our brand of misery.)
Sunday, April 16, 2006
The smoking gun COULD be a mushroom cloud
More from Bob Harris, Billmon.
I can't find the quote now, but I saw a quote recently which said that if W's pre-emptive war doctine were accepted part of international law, every country in the world would be justified in attacking the US right now. We are THE rogue state.
Saturday, April 15, 2006
The same wall
From Simanca Osmani (Brazil).
Friday, April 14, 2006
!Tasini, si! !Hillary, no!
What has been lost in the debate about immigration is this fact: our country's foreign and economic policy is largely to blame for the flow of people who come here illegally. And if we can acknowledge that reality, we can go along way to coming up with a better long-term solution.I think that's quote of the year so far. I have been petrified by the prospect that New York's junior senator is likely to be the Democrats presidential nominee in 2008. I will change that fear to absolute glee if said junior senator happens to be Jonathan Tasini. Send him some bucks now, if you've got 'em. Or volunteer. As much as I want to save every hour of vacation for another trip to Mexico, spending a week in New York helping Tasini derail Hillary may be something I just have to do.
To state the obvious, the overwhelming majority of immigrants, legal and illegal, come to the U.S. to escape either political repression or economic crisis. Let's start with political repression. If you think about the hundreds of thousands of people who have come here over the past several decades from countries like El Salvador and Guatemala, many of them fled to the U.S. because they would have been killed or imprisoned by their government's repressive regimes or forced to live as refugees. These were often regimes that our government supported for many years, if not decades, with large infusions of weapons and money--weapons that were turned on their own people and money that ended up in the pockets of the rich and powerful.
Economically, the policies of Republicans and Democratic Administrations alike, from Ronald Reagan to Bill Clinton and George Bush, have created a sea of impoverished people from the Mexican border all the way to the tip of South America. So-called "free trade" and neo-liberalism have forced governments to slash government aid to its people and bow in subservience to international banks who demanded economic restructuring as a price of doing business in the glorious global economy.
Take apparel jobs. More than a year ago, the U.S. model of running the world economy demanded that a 40-year old quota system be disbanded. Poof--there went millions of jobs and billions of dollars in badly-needed cash for people in Mexico, Turkey, African countries and the Caribbean, as that work shifted to China. The shift happened so quickly--in economic cycle terms--that these countries have had no chance to replace even a fraction of the lost apparel jobs. In a short time, millions of people will be on the move, turned into nomads clawing for subsistence-level survival. It will make the displacement of the Okies of the Dust Bowl look like a short picnic outing. Where will they go? Count the U.S. as the main destination.
And then there's NAFTA, CAFTA and the other crazy so-called "free trade" deals. NAFTA has pushed down the standard of living of vast numbers of Mexicans. CAFTA is likely to do the same to the people in Central America and the Dominican Republic. The more the U.S. imposes on poor countries a bankrupt, dysfunctional economic model, which is based primarily on the idea of driving down wages, the more we will see destitute people knocking down our doors.
So, when you hear the political rhetoric about immigration, ask the politicians spewing their ideas and solutions how they voted on economic globalization and aid to repressive governments. Building walls on the border, arresting people and imposing quotas isn't the solution. We need a complete overhaul of the way our government thinks about and acts in the world. If we are so intent on keeping people from coming to the U.S., the best way to do so is climb down off their backs--let people live in peace in their countries, don't encourage repressive regimes and, most important, give up an economic model that has failed for most people around the world.
Thursday, April 13, 2006
Things that make you go "hmmm"
Then again--although California had been inhabited by the Spanish/Mexicans for nearly 200 years, and by Native Americans for centuries before that--gold was discovered there literally within months of when the US claimed California as part of the spoils of a war of choice. Or so the story goes.
Amazing coincidence, no? Hmmm.... Which way might the immigrants be going if California and its gold (and the other mineral-rich states) had remained a part of Mexico?
Water privatization in India
Private theme and water parks in and around Mumbai are found to be using 50 billion litres of water daily. This, while countless women in the slums and chawls of the city wait hours in queues for 20 litres.Etc.
Bazargaon is a scarcity-hit Vidharbha village that has one sarkari well and gets tanker water once in ten days. It is also host to the giant 'Fun & Food Village.' An elite park which offers 18 kinds of water slides and uses millions of litres as a matter of course. All Bazargaon's water flows towards this 'village.' It's a story repeated in different ways in many places, across many states. Water as a commodity, flows from poor to rich areas.
In Yavatmal, a Maharashtra minister asks farmers at a meeting to "diversify into dairying." The crowd jeers. (Vidharbha has seen over 425 farm suicides in ten months.) The problems of water and irrigation loom large here. "You want us to take up milk production?" scoffs a farmer, rising to his feet. 'When you pay us a price of Rs. 6 for a litre of milk, but pay Rs. 12 for a litre of your bottled water?"
People pay more for water than corporates do. The bottled water brigade got treated and cleaned water in Hyderabad for 25 paise a litre for years. This goes into that bottle costing Rs. 12. [My friend Sanjay tells me there are 100 paises to a Rupee, so this represents a 48-times increase in the price. Don't be too shocked; anyone buying bottled water here is paying a bigger markup than that--and why? Just love throwing money at corporations, I guess.] In many parts of the country soft-drink giants get it almost free. Whole communities lose out as heavyweights like Coke step in. That company used 283 billion litres of water worldwide in 2004. Enough, points out the India Resource Centre, to "meet the drinking needs of the entire world's population for ten days."
The corporate hijack of water is on worldwide and one of the most important processes of our time. The World Bank and the IMF help ram it through. Water privatisation has often been shoved into their loan conditionalities in the past decade.
In few nations will the damage be as terrible and complex as in India. Here water use is already very unequal. Most irrigation and drinking water in India, for instance, has a clear caste geography. Even the layout of our villages reflects that. The dalit basti is always on the outskirts, where there is least access to water. Barring dalits from the main water sources of the village are not just about the 'social' horror of untouchability. It is also about curbing their access to this vital resource.
It is also closely tied to the framework of class. About 118 million households -- 62 per cent of the total -- do not have drinking water at home. As census household survey data analysed by Dr. S. L. Rao show, 300 million Indians draw water from community taps or handpumps. (Many World Bank and Asian Development Bank projects, by the way, will end up doing away with those community taps.)
Globalization kills. As simple as that.
Quote du jour
The denials of plans for a military strike on Iran should be treated only as an indication that the administration believes it is currently in its best interests to lie about them--and nothing more.-- Billmon
Oh, if you're not scared yet, it's because you haven't read this Billmon post yet.
Labels: Quote du jour
I'll bet it happened
From Clay Jones.
Wednesday, April 12, 2006
Looking for help with Iran?
Despite all the sloppy and inaccurate headlines about Iran "going nuclear," the fact is that all President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said on Tuesday was that it had enriched uranium to a measely 3.5 percent, using a bank of 180 centrifuges hooked up so that they "cascade."If that doesn't work, you can try Chris Floyd's argument. Of course, if logic worked with these friends/coworkers/family members, Bush would never have gotten this far.
The ability to slightly enrich uranium is not the same as the ability to build a bomb. For the latter, you need at least 80% enrichment, which in turn would require about 16,000 small centrifuges hooked up to cascade. Iran does not have 16,000 centrifuges. It seems to have 180. Iran is a good ten years away from having a bomb, and since its leaders, including Supreme Jurisprudent Ali Khamenei, say they do not want an atomic bomb because it is Islamically immoral, you have to wonder if they will ever have a bomb.
The crisis is not one of nuclear enrichment, a low-level attainment that does not necessarily lead to having a bomb. Even if Iran had a bomb, it is hard to see how they could be more dangerous than Communist China, which has lots of such bombs, and whose Walmart stores are a clever ruse to wipe out the middle class American family through funneling in cheaply made Chinese goods.
What is really going on here is a ratcheting war of rhetoric. The Iranian hard liners are down to a popularity rating in Iran of about 15%. They are using their challenge to the Bush administration over their perfectly legal civilian nuclear energy research program as a way of enhancing their nationalist credentials in Iran.
Likewise, Bush is trying to shore up his base, which is desperately unhappy with the Iraq situation, by rattling sabres at Iran. Bush's poll numbers are so low, often in the mid-30s, that he must have lost part of his base to produce this result. Iran is a great deus ex machina for Bush. Rally around the flag yet again.
If this international game of chicken goes wrong, then the whole Middle East and much of Western Europe could go up in flames. The real threat here is not unconventional war, which Iran cannot fight for the foreseeable future. It is the spread of Iraq-style instability to more countries in the region.
Bush and Ahmadinejad could be working together toward the Perfect Storm.
Tuesday, April 11, 2006
How low can you go?
We will not pass along our problems
We will not deny, we will not ignore, we will not pass along our problems to other Congresses, to other presidents, and other generations.-- W, State of the Union Address, January 28, 2003.
Q Will there come a day -- and I'm not asking you when, not asking for a timetable -- will there come a day when there will be no more American forces in Iraq?-- W, press conference, 3/21/06.
THE PRESIDENT: That, of course, is an objective, and that will be decided by future Presidents and future governments of Iraq.
I'm sure someone else caught that, though I haven't seen it. I just started reading Gore Vidal's 2004 book Imperial America, which he starts by reviewing W's state of the union addresses. Coming across the first quote, in the book, immediately reminded me of the second one. Not that it makes any difference: maybe hypocrisy number 51,326 out of 2,346,651, and unlike many of them not impeachable.
And W saying he will not ignore? Like Cheney saying he won't snarl. Ignorance is the essence of aWol.
Why not just run as the Republican you are??
Providing more fodder for his critics within the party, Connecticut Sen. Joe Lieberman said yesterday that he would not rule out running as an Independent for re-election in 2006 should he lose the Democratic nomination.
A cruel and bloody civil war has started in Iraq, a country that President Bush and British Prime Minister Tony Blair promised to free from fear and establish democracy. I have been visiting Iraq since 1978, but for the first time, I am becoming convinced that the country will not survive.
I have been covering the war in Iraq ever since it began three years ago and I have never seen the situation so grim. More than a week ago, I was in the northern city of Mosul, protected by 3,000 Kurdish soldiers, but even so it was considered too dangerous to send out patrols in daytime. It is safer at night because of a curfew.
In March alone, the U.S. military said 1,313 people were killed in sectarian attacks. Many bodies, buried in pits or thrown in the rivers, are never found.
The real figure is probably twice as high. All over the country people are on the move as Sunnis and Shiites flee each other's areas.
I was in Lebanon at the start of the civil war in 1975. Baghdad today resembles Beirut then. People are being murdered solely because of their religious identity.
Bush and Blair have for the past three years continually understated the gravity of what is taking place. It has been frustrating as a journalist to hear them claim that much of Iraq is peaceful when we could not prove them wrong without being killed or kidnapped. The capture of Saddam in 2003, the handover of sovereignty in 2004, the elections and new constitution in 2005 have all been oversold to the outside world as signs of progress.
One Iraqi official remarked that the three main communities -- Sunni, Shiite and Kurds -- do not hate one another because they do not have a government, but rather they do not have a government because they already hate one another.
Three years ago, when Saddam's statue was toppled, Iraqis were promised their lives would get better. Instead Iraq has become the most dangerous place in the world.
NY Times furious to see democracy prevail
In these countries [western EU], a class accustomed to security--those with traditional jobs ending in generous retirement plans--opposes any effort to change the system. Economists may warn that the very system is one reason that unemployment, particularly youth unemployment, has soared, and that pressures of globalization mean that Europe must eventually change to prevent its growth from faltering even further. But many voters seem to prefer delaying that as long as possible.Let me turn that around:
In the United States, a class accustomed to enormous wealth--those who run the corporations and the government (and write for the NY Times)--opposes any effort to change the system. Economists may warn that inequality in wealth and income has soared, and that global warming and resource depletion mean that economies based on "growth" are not only dangerous to our health; they will soon be completely impossible. But most members of the ruling class seem to prefer ignoring the obvious and to continue raking in their filthy lucre as long as possible.Capitalism "succeeds" because it creates huge concentrations of power which are able to crush any opposition, including the people. The ultimate condition of unrestrained capitalism would be one person having all the wealth, ruling a desolate planet with everyone else dead. The French system, the one the voters prefer, may have huge flaws in it, but it's better than ours.
The devils are quarreling
Big Oil would rather fill the pockets of its executives and shareholders, rather than spend sufficient amounts to reduce the price of fuel, letting consumers, during tough economic times, pick up the tab.Of course, they're both quite right and both very wrong. The pot calls the kettle black, to which the kettle repies, "No, you're black." "I know you are but what am I?" etc. Relax, guys. You're both total scum, responsible in a major way for the multiple tragedies facing the planet currently and in the coming years! I mean, come on, ExxonMobil--you are making obscene profits off of Detroit's refusal to face reality for 30 years. And DC--those tough economic times are due in large part to the auto industry's never-ending attack on labor through plant relocation and outsourcing! So just chill, guys. You're both scum, and have been very handsomely rewarded for it.
Monday, April 10, 2006
Can you spell "Clueless?"
UK intelligence confirms that last year's July 7 London bombings were a direct result of the Iraq War. It was not the work of long-time al Qaeda activists, but young Britons who had been radicalized by the unprovoked invasion of the Muslim heartland.
And let's be clear: this is just the very beginning, the first, faint echoes of the coming whirlwind of blowback that will hit the United States and Britain as a result of the monstrous and murderous folly in Iraq. The victims of 7/7 are the first fruits of a terrible harvest of innocent blood. None of this retribution will be "justified" in any way--that's not the point here. The point is that you cannot launch wars of aggression and slaughter tens of thousands of innocent people and expect a Gandhi-like response from your victims and their compatriots.
$68.74: Seven-month high
From WTRG. (Note: images are updated daily, and haven't been updated yet today, so what you see in the graphs may not match the text above, which is current for April 10, 2006 at 4PM EDT.)
Zarqawi: A successful PSYOPS campaign
Through aggressive Strategic Communications, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi now represents: Terrorism in Iraq/Foreign Fighters in Iraq/Suffering of Iraqi People (Infrastructure Attacks)/Denial of Iraqi Aspirations.-- An internal US military document, quoted by the Washington Post. The Post explains:
The U.S. military is conducting a propaganda campaign to magnify the role of the leader of al-Qaeda in Iraq, according to internal military documents and officers familiar with the program. The effort has raised his profile in a way that some military intelligence officials believe may have overstated his importance and helped the Bush administration tie the war to the organization responsible for the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.Even though chances are good that Zarqawi no longer exists, US imperialism just doesn't know how to kill and destroy properly without a villain. Once Saddam was caught, the closest thing they could find to a villain (outside of the White House), was this alleged Jordanian terrorist, Zarqawi. Soon badly-edited videos of beheadings started to appear, and Zarqawi was blamed for every bad thing happening in Iraq, from suicide bombings to sandstorms. It wasn't long before Cheney, aWol and Rummy were using supposed statements from Zarqawi as evidence that their "strategy" was working.
The documents state that the U.S. campaign aims to turn Iraqis against Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, a Jordanian, by playing on their perceived dislike of foreigners. U.S. authorities claim some success with that effort, noting that some tribal Iraqi insurgents have attacked Zarqawi loyalists.
For the past two years, U.S. military leaders have been using Iraqi media and other outlets in Baghdad to publicize Zarqawi's role in the insurgency. The documents explicitly list the "U.S. Home Audience" as one of the targets of a broader propaganda campaign.
Some senior intelligence officers believe Zarqawi's role may have been overemphasized by the propaganda campaign, which has included leaflets, radio and television broadcasts, Internet postings and at least one leak to an American journalist. Although Zarqawi and other foreign insurgents in Iraq have conducted deadly bombing attacks, they remain "a very small part of the actual numbers," Col. Derek Harvey, who served as a military intelligence officer in Iraq and then was one of the top officers handling Iraq intelligence issues on the staff of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told an Army meeting at Fort Leavenworth, Kan., last summer.
In a transcript of the meeting, Harvey said, "Our own focus on Zarqawi has enlarged his caricature, if you will -- made him more important than he really is, in some ways."
We now know that not only is Zarqawi largely or entirely a myth--he's a myth intentionally created/inflated by the US military. Imagine my surprise.
I didn't found this country just so this bozo could
run ruin it!
Washington can't hide his disdain and contempt for the current holder of the office he held first.
Holy Bible, Batman!
The National Geographic channel ran a documentary on the Gospel of Judas last night; I recorded it but haven't watched it yet. I did, however, watch this delightful bit of blasphemy from Penn & Teller.
Of course, this may all be just another one of Karl Rove's ongoing series of evil-genius plots to continually distract attention away from the crimes of his
Sunday, April 09, 2006
W's plans to attack Iran, which Seymour Hersh reports are very much active and include using nuclear bombs, may well become the modern Barbarossa. While Iran is smaller and perhaps less able to repel attacks or an invasion than the USSR was, it is in a better position to inflict immediate massive economic harm on this country by blocking the Straits of Hormuz. A US attack on Iran, especially a nuclear one, would also likely solidify world opposition to the US, and not just from a few terrorists in caves.
Every day, new evidence appears that proves that the pResident of the United States is a criminal--crimes high and low. And every day he remains unimpeached is another day closer to World War III.
Saturday, April 08, 2006
Friday, April 07, 2006
Person of the week
"While I listen to you talk about freedom, I see you assert your right to tap my telephone, to arrest me and hold me without charges," said a man who later identified himself as Harry Taylor, a 61-year-old commercial real estate broker. Mr. Taylor also said he was a member of the liberal political group Move On, but attended the speech on his own behalf.Good on Bush for letting Taylor speak. Bad on Bush for not paying any attention.
Standing on a stage in shirtsleeves, holding a microphone, Mr. Bush drew applause and laughter by chiming in, "I'm not your favorite guy."
Mr. Taylor went on, "What I wanted to say to you is that I — in my lifetime, I have never felt more ashamed of, nor more frightened by my leadership in Washington, including the presidency, by the Senate."
Mr. Bush hushed boos from the audience by saying: "No, wait a sec. Let him speak."
Mr. Taylor continued, "I would hope from time to time that you have the humility and the grace to be ashamed of yourself."
Referring to abuse at the Abu Ghraib prison, Mr. Bush said, "What took place there and the pictures there just represented everything we didn't stand for." He added: "I wish that could be done over. It was a disgraceful experience."So he's disappointed that Saddam didn't have WMD's, and he wants to do Abu Ghraib all over again. (Of course, all indications are that Abu Ghraib-style torture continues to this day, and is defended by aWol's insane attorney general.)
The NY Times suggests that allowing Taylor and maybe a few other Bush opponents in was a risky change in strategy:
The visit here was part of the White House strategy to put Mr. Bush in front of crowds, including those hostile to him, as he tries to reverse sagging support for the war, and his presidency, in a crucial election year for his party in Congress.Given the mentions in the selection quoted above about "applause and laughter" for Bush and "boos" for Taylor, I'm guessing this was just a refinement of the strategy, not a change. Back in 1980, I went to hear George H.W. Bush speak at the University of Illinois when he was running for vice president. At the end, he fielded three or four questions. The last one came from a hippy-ish looking guy who asked a negative, argumentative question. Bush Sr. of course didn't answer it, but used it as a launching pad for one last rant about the greatness of the country and the correctness of Reagan's policies (okay, it was 26 years ago; I don't remember exactly what he said). The mostly pro-Reagan/Bush crowd went wild as Bush waved goodbye. I left convinced that the last "questioner" was a plant, a stooge hired to ask that question and give Bush the chance to rise up in righteous anger. I'd hate to think that Harry Taylor was also a plant, given that I just gave him my Person of the Week award. But, setup or not, letting one or two real or phony nay-sayers (representing the majority of the American people, BTW) into an audience only to be shouted down by the supporters who predominate in the crowd is certainly more refined political theater than just having person after person raise his/her hand and say "Mr. President, I wake up every morning and thank God that you are our president," which is what usually goes on when Bush "speaks."
But the event on Thursday, a speech about national security before the World Affairs Council of Charlotte, also highlighted the downside for his administration of breaking away from the friendly town hall meetings packed with pre-screened audiences that were a staple of his 2004 re-election campaign.
Labels: Quote du jour
Reflections on ingratitude
The minarets of the Buratha mosque are reflected in a pool of blood as an Iraqi fireman cleans up after a suicide bombing in Baghdad April 7, 2006.
Q: What is the biggest lesson you have learned from the Iraq war?-- Neonut Daniel Pipes. (He also said "We are engaged in a war, a profound war and long-term war, in which Afghanistan and Iraq are sideshows." Sideshows?? Well, the "war on terror" is a bit of a circus, I guess.)
A: The ingratitude of the Iraqis for the extraordinary favor we gave them -- to release them from the bondage of Saddam Hussein's tyranny.
Supporting the troops
The LA Times discusses a seldom-explored subject, the thousands of wounded Iraq veterans. Many of these Vets will need special help the rest of their lives, but the Bush administration has actually cut their medical benefits. And, tricks are used to put them off the books. Some of the wounded stay in the service in Iraq, but head wounds or post traumatic stress disorder often make them discipline problems, and they are given dishonorable discharges, which have the effect of denying them access to the VA hospitals!Cole's LA Times link was incorrect, and I haven't been able to find the article he refers to. But I believe him. For many of the people with "Support Our Troops" stickers on their SUV's, tax cuts are actually much more important.
Nothing new here. Tennyson glorified "The Charge of the Light Brigade":
"Forward, the Light Brigade!"Twenty-one years later Kipling wrote about the abandoned veterans in "The Last of the Light Brigade":
Was there a man dismay'd?
Not tho' the soldier knew
Someone had blunder'd:
Their's not to make reply,
Their's not to reason why,
Their's but to do and die:
Into the valley of Death
Rode the six hundred.
Cannon to right of them,
Cannon to left of them,
Cannon in front of them
Volley'd and thunder'd;
Storm'd at with shot and shell,
Boldly they rode and well,
Into the jaws of Death,
Into the mouth of Hell
Rode the six hundred.
There were thirty million English who talked of England's might,Imperial America, like Imperial Britain, never admits its "blunders;" it hides them. The real problem lies with people like Tennyson, who believe that there is honor and glory involved in senseless killing and dying.
There were twenty broken troopers who lacked a bed for the night.
They had neither food nor money, they had neither service nor trade;
They were only shiftless soldiers, the last of the Light Brigade.
O thirty million English that babble of England's might,
Behold there are twenty heroes who lack their food to-night;
Our children's children are lisping to "honour the charge they made-"
And we leave to the streets and the workhouse the charge of the Light Brigade!
Thursday, April 06, 2006
Quote du jour
Gospel of Judas
An early Christian manuscript, including the only known text of what is known as the Gospel of Judas, has surfaced after 1,700 years. The text gives new insights into the relationship of Jesus and the disciple who betrayed him, scholars reported today. In this version, Jesus asked Judas, as a close friend, to sell him out to the authorities, telling Judas he will "exceed" the other disciples by doing so.Sort of a "false flag" operation, I guess. The whole betrayal story never made much sense to me anyway. Jesus entered Jerusalem on a donkey, with people waving pond fronds and singing his praises. He threw moneychangers out of temples, gave sermons on mounts, was a whiz at food service, could skate like nobody's business, and wandered around trailing a group of homeless people everywhere he went. He must have been one of the best-known people in Jerusalem; the authorities didn't need Judas to point Jesus out for them. Unless, of course, a lot of that other stuff wasn't true. Or maybe he wore a mask!
I get the feeling that the bible was kind of like the 9/11 Commission report. The basic narrative was agreed upon, and then whatever evidence supported that narrative was included, and whatever didn't was left out. That chapter in Genesis which talks about how God was pretty happy with his world for a few billion years before he had Adam born to a monkey--out. The Gospel of Judas, obviously--out. Paul's letter to the Athenians, where he tells them that there's nothing unholy about man lying with man--out. The last verse of Revelation (Revelation 23:1--"April fools!")--out. (Think of all of the indulgence income the church would have lost without Revelation suggesting that the world was about to end. The big-money book if ever there was one; just ask "Left Behind" authors LaHaye and Jenkins.)
Believing in God or various gods or other supernatural things is understandable; the universe is immense and mysterious, and remains so, although on a different level, even after centuries of scientific exploration. Admiring the Jesus described in the four official gospels, even recognizing him as your favorite philosopher--that's fine (and it's too bad that that's the part of the bible that many supposed Christians pay the least attention to). But believing that one book compilation chosen by committee nearly two millenia ago is completely true, and contains the only truth you'll ever need--that's crazy. I would have thought that "The Da Vinci Code" might have blown more holes in this nonsense; too bad such important and provocative ideas (facts, really) were presented in such a crappy novel.
Way to go, Condi
The visit here [Baghdad] this week by Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and her British counterpart, Jack Straw, only served to stiffen the resolve of Prime Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari to retain his post, prolonging a deadlock in the formation of a new government, a top aide to Mr. Jaafari said today.
The aide, Haider al-Abadi, said the visit was ill-timed, counterproductive and what he called "naked intervention."
"Pressure from outside is not helping to speed up any solution," he said. "All it's doing is hardening the position of people who are supporting Jaafari."
He added, "They shouldn't have come to Baghdad."
His comments were echoed by other leaders across the political spectrum today, including Kurds and Sunni Arabs.
From Chuck Asay. Asay, from Colorado Springs, is one of the most obnoxious right-wing cartoonists around, master of the strawman approach. But I like this one. Of course, the next line, coming from the donkey sitting on the ground, should be "Yeah. Let's just wait until they're finished and then we'll say we could have built the same platform better."
From Steve Sack.
Wednesday, April 05, 2006
I guess there's some justice...
Levees breaking in California
Deputies evacuated about 100 homes early Wednesday because a storm-weakened earthen dam appeared close to rupturing, threatening a flood. Two levees had broken a day earlier in the Central Valley, and homes were evacuated near San Francisco because of a threat of landslides from the heavy rain.Regular blogreaders already know that the Central Valley is another catastrophe waiting to happen. It looks like the wait may not be long.
The 12-foot earthen dam is at a golf course near Valley Springs in the Sierra foothills, surrounded by a semi-residential area of ranch homes and horse properties.
Up to 4 inches of rain had fallen in 24 hours in the area, weakening the dam, said Angus Barkhuff, a forecaster with the National Weather Service in Sacramento.
Rain has been falling on Northern California for the past month and meteorologists predict continued wet weather for two more weeks.
The two levee breaks Tuesday in the agricultural Central Valley forced evacuations of residential areas and inundated farmland.
Enjoy it, Detroit sports fans
Good thing the Lions aren't playing.
Kerry FINALLY calls for withdrawal from Iraq
Sounds good to me. But of course Kerry doesn't run this country (mostly because he didn't say this stuff two years ago). Also, of course, he finally chooses the correct course for all of the wrong reasons. First of all, he is every bit as condescending as Levin, Rice and Bush were:
So far, Iraqi leaders have responded only to deadlines — a deadline to transfer authority to a provisional government, and a deadline to hold three elections.He also treats withdrawal of our troops as some sort of punishment to Iraq, even though he points out that "the majority of Iraqis..want us to leave their country." He also envisions, a la Murtha, that US forces will be just "over the horizon" ready to bring murder and mayhem back to Iraq on a moment's notice. Worst of all, he suggests:
Iraqi politicians should be told that they have until May 15 to put together an effective unity government or we will immediately withdraw our military. If Iraqis aren't willing to build a unity government in the five months since the election, they're probably not willing to build one at all.
For three years now, the administration has told us that terrible things will happen if we get tough with the Iraqis. In fact, terrible things are happening now because we haven't gotten tough enough.
An exit from Iraq will also strengthen our hand in dealing with the Iranian nuclear threat...How stupid are you, John? Are you really stupid enough to fall for W's lies once again?? Of course you are.
Despite his horrible reasoning and rhetoric, it would be wonderful to see his suggestions become policy. Of course, it would provide a great incentive for the parliament to delay agreeing on anything until after May 15, which would make the majority of Iraqis very happy.
Eli at Left I rips Kerry further.
Labels: Quote du jour
Quote du jour
And so it goes
The facts of the "Iranian crisis" are these: Iran has a right, under international treaty, to develop a nuclear energy program, which necessarily includes enriching uranium. The nation's leaders have repeatedly declared--in religious edicts, no less--that it would be illegal and unrighteous under Islamic law for Iran to develop a weapons program. The country's nuclear program has been subjected to perhaps the most extensive international inspection process in history, which has not produced any evidence of a clandestine weapons program.Yet it is more likely than not that before the year is out, the United States will launch some sort of military action against Iran, using the Foucaultian "representation" of Iran long entrenched in the American psyche by the hostage-taking in 1979 as the unconscious trigger for war fever among the public, who will thus be predisposed to accept whatever line of bull the Bushists feed them. And, as with Iraq, this bull will be augmented with heaping helpings from leading Democrats, ever anxious to display their warrior spirit in the vain hope of attracting a few Fox News Republicans. Are we really going to sleepwalk into this waking nightmare once again?Unfortunately, facts have little to do with how the world is run. And war is the only way the Repugs survive the coming hurricane season.
Looks like it.
BTW, I left Floyd a comment, pointing out that the phrase "leading Democrats" is an oxymoron.
McCain: Americans not tough enough to pick lettuce
McCain responded by saying immigrants were taking jobs nobody else wanted. He offered anybody in the crowd $50 an hour to pick lettuce in Arizona.The second part of that last sentence was made unnecessary by the first part. By the time he reached the comma, McCain didn't have any friends in that room. McCain is the very essence of a cheap-labor conservative.
Shouts of protest rose from the crowd, with some accepting McCain's job offer.
"I’ll take it!" one man shouted.
McCain insisted none of them would do such menial labor for a complete season. "You can’t do it, my friends."
You know, John, if Americans aren't tough enough to pick lettuce, we surely aren't tough enough to fight pointless wars. If the conditions and pay in these jobs are so bad that Americans can't do them, it is certainly criminal to expect immigrants to do them. Raise wages, shorten hours, improve conditions. More and better jobs for everyone.
It surely is a sign of how bad things are when the awful guest-worker plan proposed by Bush and supported by McCain is the better of the two bills being considered (the other being Sensenbrenner's xenophobic lock-em-all-up bill).
(Via Greg Saunders at This Modern World.)
Tuesday, April 04, 2006
Suicider at long last
The administration’s desperate quest for a victory in the war on terror, however, has made it blind to its real effects. It is not just that the government bent the law into conceptual pretzels, but that it actually allowed Moussaoui the only possibility of victory he could achieve. After all, the main reason the prosecution won its case for the death penalty was not anything the lawyers showed, but Moussaoui’s eleventh-hour reversal. Having disputed any involvement in 9/11 prior to last week, Moussaoui, in his final testimony, suddenly stated that he was supposed to have flown a plane into the White House, that he knew about the other attacks, and that he concealed them from the government. This, of course, was enough to seal the deal for the government. But what the government doesn’t want to acknowledge is that Moussaoui may very well have wanted the death penalty. ... Moussaoui has said previously that he wanted to be executed, and that he was willing to testify against himself if it would mean avoiding a life sentence: it was "different to die in a battle ... than in a jail on a toilet," as he put it. This alone strongly suggests Moussaoui’s last minute change of heart had little to do with a sudden passion for the truth or feelings of guilt. Moussaoui and the Bush administration seem to agree on one thing at least – that the courtroom should be seen as a battlefield. By ignoring the evidence, both get what they want. The administration adds a legal victory to its win column, and Moussaoui gets a state-facilitated martyrdom.
Headline says it all about private healthcare
[Update] Sorry, this was meant as a joke--the headline was just too good to ignore. Reader Rick points out that the article really wasn't about private healthcare as such; it was about life insurance. My apologies for misleading anyone.
Good riddance, Bugman
Wal-Mart just needs to die
Wal-Mart Stores, whose voracious, all-in-one retailing model has crippled thousands of competitors over the last 40 years, is turning to an unusual business plan: helping its rivals.Like a cat playing with a mouse. Except I like cats.
The giant discount retailer, under assault as never before by critics, announced a wide-ranging effort today to support small business near its new urban stores, including the hardware stores, dress shops and bakeries with which it competes.
Under the program, Wal-Mart will offer those businesses financial grants, training on how to survive with Wal-Mart in town and even free advertising within a Wal-Mart store.
Condi the war criminal
Outlawing aggressive wars was at the center of the Nuremberg Tribunal after World War II, a conflagration that began in 1939 when Germany's Adolf Hitler trumped up an excuse to attack neighboring Poland. Before World War II ended six years later, more than 60 million people were dead.U.S. Supreme Court Justice Robert Jackson, who represented the United States at Nuremberg, made clear that the role of Hitler's henchmen in launching the aggressive war against Poland was sufficient to justify their executions--and that the principle would apply to all nations in the future.And what has Condi been saying? Parry again:
"Our position is that whatever grievances a nation may have, however objectionable it finds the status quo, aggressive warfare is an illegal means for settling those grievances or for altering those conditions," Jackson said. "Let me make clear that while this law is first applied against German aggressors, the law includes, and if it is to serve a useful purpose, it must condemn aggression by any other nations, including those which sit here now in judgment," Jackson said.
With the strong support of the United States, this Nuremberg principle was then incorporated into the U.N. Charter, which bars military attacks unless in self-defense or unless authorized by the U.N. Security Council.
On March 31 in remarks to a group of British foreign policy experts, Rice justified the U.S.-led invasion by saying that otherwise Iraqi President Saddam Hussein "wasn't going anywhere" and "you were not going to have a different Middle East with Saddam Hussein at the center of it." [Washington Post, April 1, 2006]Chris Floyd elaborates:
Rice's comments in Blackburn, England, followed similar remarks during a March 26 interview on NBC's "Meet the Press" in which she defended the invasion of Iraq as necessary for the eradication of the "old Middle East" where a supposed culture of hatred indirectly contributed to the terror attacks on Sept. 11, 2001.
"If you really believe that the only thing that happened on 9/11 was people flew airplanes into buildings, I think you have a very narrow view of what we faced on 9/11," Rice said. "We faced the outcome of an ideology of hatred throughout the Middle East that had to be dealt with. Saddam Hussein was a part of that old Middle East. The new Iraq will be a part of the new Middle East, and we will all be safer."
But this doctrine--that the Bush administration has the right to invade other nations for reasons as vague as social engineering--represents a repudiation of the Nuremberg Principles and the United Nations Charter's ban on aggressive war, both formulated largely by American leaders six decades ago.
The implications of all this are unavoidable. Americans are now living under a criminal regime, a rogue junta that no longer feels the need to disguise its criminality. Hence Rice's confession; hence Bush's confession about illegal wiretapping of American citizens; hence the Administration's bold protestations in open court that the president cannot be bound by any act of Congress or judicial ruling in carrying out his "inherent" powers as Commander-in-Chief; hence the Supreme Court's craven kowtowing to this presidential dictatorship in its ruling yesterday in the Padilla case, when the Justices simply refused to address the issue of Padilla's years-long "indefinite detention without any formal charges or, for 20 months, any contact with the outside world.
But worse than all this is the sickening, despairing fact that the American Establishment-- Democrats and Republicans, media barons and financial chieftains, military officers and academic leaders, the courts and Congress--all have countenanced and embraced this open tyranny. There are simply no institutional forces with any power willing to stand up against the dictatorship. Nor have the American people moved in sufficient mass to present a credible challenge to the enemies of liberty.
These are in many ways the darkest days in American history. Even in the Civil War, there was no real question that the Republic itself would survive--even if in a reduced territory, had the slaveholding aristocracy that drove the Southern succession triumphed in the war. But now it seems that the Republic is well and truly dead, in every state of the Union, from sea to shining sea.
Monday, April 03, 2006
Poor Jose Padilla
an open question whether President Bush could legally detain a U.S. citizen in the United States as an enemy combatant in the future.That is if you are ready to concede that we no longer have a constitution.
Billmon has more, and he analyzes the strange decision of Justice Stevens to vote with the wingnut majority.
I'm a bit at a loss to explain Stevens's volte-face on the most important civil liberties case in recent memory. It's definitely not the kind of thing I would want to be remembered for if I were a Supreme Court justice in the twilight of my career.The Padilla case has been handled exactly how Saddam would have done it, how Stalin would have done it, how Charles Taylor would have done it. The Bushies and their idiot supporters must be very proud.
Perhaps John Paul decided that given the court's current composition, bringing Padilla up for a ruling on the merits was no longer such a good idea. Discretion can still be the better part of valour, and I can see the case for it here.
They owe us??
"They've got to get a prime minister who can actually form the government," Ms. Rice said after a meetings on Sunday with Iraqi leaders--which included a visibly uncomfortable photo session with Mr. Jaafari--inside the Green Zone, the fortified part of Baghdad that houses the Iraqi government and American Embassy. She added, "I told them that a lot of treasure, a lot of human treasure, has been put on the line to give Iraq the chance to have a democratic future."Nine more "human treasures" died yesterday. When W wrote Congress explaining his reasons for going to war in 2003, a "chance to have a democratic future" was not mentioned. The war was started in order to eliminate a non-existent threat and to enforce UN resolutions which were not being violated. Every day it continues is another war crime. Iraq owes us nothing; quite the opposite.
Levin makes withdrawal sound dirty
We urge you to make it clear to the Iraqis how important it is to us that they achieve a political settlement, form a unity government, and make the necessary amendments to their Constitution. We believe it is essential that the Iraqi leaders understand that our continued presence is not unconditional, and that whether they avoid all-out civil war and have a future as a nation is in their hands. If they don't seize that opportunity, we can't protect them or save them from themselves.Aside from the suggestion that troops might actually leave Iraq someday, pretty much everything is wrong with Levin's sentiments.
The bottom line is this: The U.S. needs to make it clear to Iraqi leaders that a prompt political settlement is not only essential to them, it is a condition of our continued presence.
First, his statement is repulsively patronizing, pretending that the Iraqis are just rambunctious children ungrateful for this supposedly huge favor the US has done for them.
I told them [Sunni Arab leaders], and other members of our congressional delegation told them, as bluntly as we know how: their dictator was removed at great loss of American blood and treasure and that the Iraqis and only the Iraqis will decide their own fate, and that our continued presence should depend on their promptly choosing a path of reconciliation and unity against violence and terror.
Second, he believes that Iraq deserves to be punished, yet again, if it fails to achieve the impossible while suffering the unbearable. The US scheduled and manipulated the three elections and the writing of the constitution last year, which has resulted in a parliament unable to govern. This, according to Levin, is entirely the fault of the Iraqis, and if they can't be good little boys and girls and play together, they'll all be punished.
Finally, he suggests that withdrawal of our troops would be punishment! US troops are now just the biggest and most dangerous of the various militias causing death and destruction in Iraq, and the one with the least right to be there. Withdrawing them wouldn't solve Iraq's problems, but would at least give Iraq a chance to solve them. Many Iraqi leaders have called for withdrawal, and polls show Iraqis in general favor it as well (as do US troops).
Levin voted against the war and is actually suggesting that troops might be withdrawn, and still manages to come across as an imperialist asshole.
I mention this because it is a great ad, I hope Hillary loses, and because it's cool to know that this blog has at least one reader in Slovenia! Thanks, Jean.
BTW, you can contribute your $20 to compete with Hillary's $20 million here. Because we all know it's votes and not dollars that count. (April fools.) I'm wildly pessimistic at this point, but maybe New York can come through and save us from the Bush-Clinton axis of evil.
April fools in Iraq
1. Guess what?! There's going to be electricity this summer!!!She notes the frustration over the formation of a government:
10. "Guess what?! They caught Zarqawi!!!" (This will only work on Iraqis who actually think he exists.)
I don't think anyone believes they're going to make any improvements or major changes, we're just tired of waiting for the final formation. People need to know who'll be in power because they want to know who to pay bribes to or get a 'tazkiya' from when they need something done. We need to know which religious party to go to when the Interior Ministry goons take away a relative.Now that's liberation! (April fools.)
"I hope they kill each other."
But the US has a long history of backing the underdog in the Sunni-Shiite game--not out of any love for the underdog, but simply to keep the carnage going. Before 1979, we supported and armed the Shah of Iran. When he was overthrown by Shiite fundamentalists, we turned objectively pro-Sunni, backing Iraq's newly-installed Saddam Hussein. The Carter administration encouraged him to attack Iraq, which he did, and the Reagan administration followed up by supplying Iraq with billions of dollars in military aid (including WMD's). This was anti-Shiite in two ways: Attacking Shiite-run and dominated Iran, and enabling Saddam to tighten his stranglehold on the Shiite majority in his own country.
Shortly after the war ended, Bush Senior turned the tables, suckering Saddam into attacking Kuwait and then turning the full force of the US military against him. The Gulf War might be seen as being pro-Shiite, since it had the effect of weakening Saddam's military and his standing in the country. But as soon as he withdrew from Kuwait and the war ostensibly ended, Bush Senior moved to screw the Shiites once again--calling for them to rise up and overthrow Saddam, but then abandoning them as Saddam killed tens of thousands of Shiites who responded to Bush's call. The 12 years of sanctions were generally anti-Iraqi, but almost certainly did more harm to Shiites than Sunnis. The current war would seem to be pro-Shiite, having removed Saddam from power and installed the Shiite Allawi as the first puppet (with fellow Shiite Chalabi pulling many of the strings). This of course was followed by the "elections" last year, which led to a constitution favorable to the Shiites and a Shiite-dominated parliament. There have been numerous assaults on Sunni areas like Fallujah, although there was a major assault on Shiite-dominated Najaf in 2004 as well.
And now, as the Shiites are poised to exploit their election triumph, Kalilzad and Rice are trying frantically to make sure that they can't.
It all seems terribly inconsistent, unless you consider that every time the U.S. has changed sides in this ongoing insanity, it has resulted in more death, more destruction, and has weakened both Iraq and Iran. And that, I'm afraid, has been the whole point.
Saturday, April 01, 2006
Holy Joe booed by Connecticut Dems
Quote du jour
Vice President Dick Cheney said the other day that Democrats are not competent to fight the war in Iraq--this coming from a guy who shot a bird and hit a lawyer.— Jay Leno, via Past Peak. Not that Useless Dick is wrong. The war is so completely FUBAR that no Democrat or Republican, or even some hypothetical intelligent well-intentioned political party, could possible fight it. Even the best possile solution available now, cutting and running, is likely to suck in multiple ways. But it is the only one that offers at least a slight hope of not making things worse.
Labels: Quote du jour
This is how it ends
No parallels to be made here. Nope. Not a one.
April fools! Consider 20th Century America to be the Titanic. Built on a strong hull, with numerous fine amenities added over the decades--women's suffrage, forty-hour workweeks, decent wages, civil rights. But then the owners decided they wanted even more money, so they removed the safety features, fired half the crew, and sold the lifeboats for scrap. Finally, they hired a captain who rams icebergs for fun. At least one iceberg has already been struck, and the ship is going down. First-class passengers are still drinking, oblivious, in the ballroom. In steerage, the water is up to their ankles and they know there's a problem, but they're trapped and can't do anything about it. On the deck, the band, or maybe it's American Idol, plays on.
How big does the handwriting need to be? Two of America's, and especially Michigan's, largest employers want to buy out, layoff, and further screw over their remaining workers, even as McMansions continue to be built in exurbia for god knows who. And the water is literally rising. ("Scientists are keen to understand the change in temperatures over the continent [Antarctica] as the region holds enough water in its ice to raise sea levels by 60 metres.")