Bob's Links and Rants

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Monday, July 31, 2006

Pay no attention to the much more important race next door

Many liberal bloggers, including some of my favorites, are thrilled that Holy Joe Lieberman is likely to be defeated in the Connecticut Democratic Party by Ned Lamont. I'll certainly be glad to see the smug pro-war moralizer tossed in the garbage. But Lamont appears to be only a slight improvement, with sort of a Howard Dean approach--he opposes one war (Iraq), but doesn't seem to have any plans to derail the military-industrial complex. He's also right on the AIPAC party line when it comes to Israel. From Counterpunch:
Ned Lamont is safely pro-Israel. The statement on his website leaves no room for doubt. "At this critical time in the Middle East," Lamont says. "I believe that when Israel's security is threatened, the United States must unambiguously stand with our ally to be sure that it is safe and secure. On this principle, Americans are united."
Ned--to you and all politicians who claim we Americans are united in supporting war crimes, I shout a hearty "Go Cheney yourself!" Still, I hope you win, but I sure don't don't expect much.

Meanwhile, in the next state over, a senator just as bad as Lieberman, and a much greater threat to America's future because of her front-runner status for the 2008 Democratic presidential nomination, is running for re-election against exactly the type of person who should be in the Senate. Jonathan Tasini is a true anti-war liberal, and a Jew willing to speak the truth about Israel:
Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton's Democratic foe Jonathan Tasini says that Israel--where he spent his teenage years--is violating international law and terrorizing civilians in Lebanon and Gaza.

When asked if Israel was acting like a "terrorist state" during an interview with the political blog Room 8, Tasini seemed to respond in the affirmative.

"It has certainly committed many acts of brutality and violations of human rights and torture," said Tasini, an American Jew who lived in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem from 1971 to 1980 with his father, a university professor.

"Terrorism is a very heavily laden word," he added in the interview with Room 8's Gur Tsabar, who is Israeli. "Are your actions in violation of the international norms of the Geneva Convention, and so on? And so I think it's sad to say, but it's clear, yeah."
...
Tasini later told Newsday that his answer was garbled and that he doesn't think Israel is a terrorist state. But he reaffirmed his opposition to its military tactics, a position shared by peace organizations in Israel.

His comments drew an immediate rebuke from Clinton campaign spokesman Howard Wolfson, who labeled his remarks "outrageous, deeply offensive and beyond the pale."

Tasini, who said his father fought "shoulder to shoulder" with assassinated Prime Minister and Clinton family friend Yitzhak Rabin during Israel's fight for independence, accused the senator of political pandering. "For simply pure political reasons, Hillary Clinton will not stand up and say the violence must stop--and that's costing lives," he said. "She's no friend of Israel when she essentially endorses this kind of war."
That's from Newsday, via Dennis Perrin, who knows Tasini personally and writes about his candidacy. Perrin realizes that Tasini doesn't have much hope against Hillary's millions, and doesn't really see much success in Senator Tasini's future should he get elected. Still, for me, derailing the Hillary Express would be service enough.

Oooh! Instant update! I went to Tasini's campaign web site, and here is what he has to say about the Qana massacre:
Let’s get one thing straight: the killing of dozens of children in Qana was an inevitable result of an aggressive aerial bombing campaign. Last week, I tried to warn our political leaders that our country could not stand by idly as Israel launched a massive attack that was sure to cause heavy civilian casualties. I was one of the few candidates for political office who called for an immediate ceasefire and condemned the violence on both sides: the firing of missiles by Hezbollah and the dropping of bombs by Israel. Instead of calling for restraint or a ceasefire, however, my opponent, Hillary Clinton, tried to Swift-boat me, dispatching her political operatives to lie about what I had said.

In a sense, I understand why my opponent has to try to silence the truth. She, and a broad segment of our political leadership, bear responsibility for the deaths of these children. They gave cover for what many rank-and-file Israeli citizens (and some Israeli politicians) are now calling a moral and military debacle. The Bush Administration stood by while a large part of infrastructure of Lebanon was reduced to rubble. Rather than call for restraint, Hillary Clinton stopped just short of declaring "let the bombs fall" with a one-sided statement that only helped fan the flames of violence.

So, I am not backing down. I am repeating what I said before: we must end the violence. Our country must reverse its one-sided policy in the Middle East and push aggressively for a strong, independent, economically viable Palestinian state existing along side a strong, independent, economically vibrant Israel. It is the only solution that will bring peace to the civilians who now live in fear of death raining down from above.

I remind people that my father was a proud fighter in the Israeli underground in 1948 and fought for its founding. Half my family lives in Israel. Indeed, a cousin of mine was killed in 1973 war and my step-grandfather was murdered by a Palestinian, for the simple reason he was a Jew. I know what it is like to sit in a bomb shelter or touch the body of a person killed by war. Has Hillary Clinton or other so-called "friends of Israel," who have cheered for armed conflict and death and destruction, ever spent one night in fear from war or sobbing in sorrow because of the death of a loved one in war? For them, it is all about political calculations, pandering and votes.

Was it worth it? Was it worth it to poison the Lebanese environment with spilled and burning oil, toxic waste flows, piled up garbage that will spread diseases? The death of hundreds of civilians, the flattening of entire towns and a huge portion of southern Beirut, the destruction of hundreds of millions of dollars of civilian infrastructure, and the creation of a two-mile dead zone at the Lebanese border—none of this is going to make my relatives in Israel any safer from Katyusha and Fajr missile attacks in the future. This war has unified the Lebanese and much of the world against Israel, many of whom just a month ago despised Hezbollah—and has done relatively little to weaken the militia’s power and appeal. Real security will come when we finally recognize that Israel’s future is inextricably linked to a just resolution to the Palestinian people’s legitimate demands for safety, security, and self-determination.

I want to guarantee Israel's long-term peace and security, as well as the peace and security of the Palestinians and the Lebanese. We can't ever do so with an approach that mimics the Bush Administration’s imperial, oil-driven Middle East agenda. Last week George Bush sent Condoleeza Rice to the Rome peace conference for one purpose--to single-handedly derail the agreement for a cease-fire. Even by the Bush Administration's already low standards, this was truly an embarrassment and a disgrace. But, we must also reject Hillary Clinton-style politics that allows itself to be held hostage to the blind ideology of the ultra-right-wing fundamentalist settlers and their supporters, who hold too much power.

American Jews such as myself will have to gain the courage to speak out against unjust and ineffectual policies that play into the extremist agenda on both sides. If you want to gain any hope from my experience, it's worth noting that since my first statement last week, we have been deluged with calls and emails; they are running 10-1 in favor of my position, almost all from Jewish Americans. There is hope. We must reject the same old pandering and lies, and turn instead to real, principled leadership, for a just and lasting peace for the children of Israel and Palestine. Let us resolve to make the children of Qana the last innocent people to see their lives end violently and needlessly.
I was going to edit Tasini's post like I do with most things I quote, but I just can't find any paragraphs I want to cut from that. It was hard enough not to include his previous post: More on the Clinton-Wal-Mart Connection.

So, while we get all excited that there might be a slightly improved senator from Connecticut, improving one percent of the Senate, there's a chance next door to elect a real peacenik, and thwart the big-moneyed plans of the other "leading" family in America's ruling class.

To comment on war crimes, the WaPo brings in an expert

Isn't Henry Kissinger dead yet?

Plenty of nuts to go around

You've probably heard some people in this country argue that the US should just "nuke 'em all;" turn the Middle East into a parking lot. There always seem to be people advocating genocide. Before the march on Saturday, one of the most outspoken members of the crowd, after spelling out a long list of Israeli crimes over the years, said to me "You know, the US should just nuke Israel, put a stop to all of this."

I turned and walked away. Fortunately, he was the only one I heard say anything like that--otherwise I wouldn't have joined the march.

I can't say that I'm completely consistent in my positions, or that they matter much, but I'll try to summarize what they are:
  • The leadership of Israel is completely wrong to attack Lebanon.
  • Israel has never been serious about eliminating terrorist attacks--every time relative peace breaks out, they do something outrageous (like shelling the beach in Gaza) to provoke new attacks.
  • All bombing is wrong: suicide, rocket, car, aerial. The Israelis do far more of it than do Hamas or Hezbollah.
  • The US continually pours gasoline on the fire by arming Israel to the teeth. I'm sure that Iran and other supporters of Hezbollah and Hamas contribute to some degree, but whether or not their targets were able to defend themselves seems to play little role in whether, or how hard, Israel hits them.
  • The continued land grab in the West Bank and the ongoing humiliation of the Palestinians have never brought Israel peace, and never will.
  • I'm ambivalent about whether Israel has a "right" to exist, but after 58 years accept it as a fact on the ground. (Just as most of us, including Native Americans, accept the existence of the US after 230 years.) I deny that Israel has any right to the extra territory it has grabbed since 1967, or any of the land it grabs now or in the future.
  • If Israel has a right to exist, then surely Lebanon does too.
  • More importantly, all of the people of the region: Palestinians, Israelis, Lebanese, and everyone else, have a right to exist.
  • Anyone who advocates nuking any place is crazy.

Mining Cole

Much-more-famous Ann Arbor blogger Juan Cole has plenty of insights into the various ongoing disasters. Here is a selection from today.
On the Qana massacre:
One hope the Israeli hawks appear to entertain is that they can permanently depopulate strips Lebanon south of the Litani river. Since most Shiites vote Hizbullah and offer political support and cover to it, fewer people means fewer assets for the party-militia. This project would require the total destruction of large numbers of villages and the permanent displacement of their inhabitants north to Beirut.

That is why the massacre at Qana occurred. The Israelis had bombed Qana 80 times. They were destroying all of its buildings. Therefore, of course, they destroyed the building where dozens of children and families were hiding. This tactic is both collective punishment and ethnic cleansing all at once. It is not only a matter, as the Israelis claim, of hitting Hizbullah rocket launchers. They are destroying all of the buildings.
On Ayatollah al-Sistani condemns Israeli aggression and US support for it:
The US punditocracy and ruling elite is fixated on Hizbullah as a "terrorist group" even though the organization hasn't engaged in international terror against American civilians in many years. What they forget about Hizbullah is that it is also a Shiite religious party, and that that is how it is perceived for the most part by Iraqi Shiites. Some 45 percent of Lebanese are probably Shiites.

The other thing to remember is that the United States is now a Shiite Power in part, insofar as it semi-rules a Shiite-majority country, Iraq.

The Associated Press is carrying the story that Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani has demanded an immediate ceasefire in Israel's war on Lebanon, in the wake of the Qana massacre:
"Islamic nations will not forgive the entities that hinder a cease-fire," al-Sistani said in a clear reference to the United States.

"It is not possible to stand helpless in front of this Israeli aggression on Lebanon," he added. "If an immediate cease-fire in this Israeli aggression is not imposed, dire consequences will befall the region."

...
Sistani has issued a warning to the United States. He wants Bush to intervene to arrange a ceasefire, i.e. the cessation of Israeli air raids on Lebanon in general.

What could he do if he were ignored? Sistani could call massive anti-US and anti-Israel demonstrations. Given Iraq's profound political instability, this development could be extremely dangerous. US troops in Baghdad and elsewhere are planning offensives against Shiite paramilitary groups, so tensions are likely to rise in the Shiite areas anyway. But big demonstrations could easily boil over into actual attacks on US and British troops. Both depend heavily on fuel that is transported through the Shiite south. Were the Shiites actively to turn on the US for its wholehearted support of continued Israeli air raids, the US military could be cut off from fuel and supplies. The British only have around 8,000 troops in Iraq, and they would be in profound danger if Iraq's Shiites became militantly anti-occupation.

Since the Israeli treatment of Arabs is an issue on which Sunnis and Shiites agree, there is also a possibility that Sistani could finally get some respect from the Sunni community if he led such a compaign. That development would be more dangerous to the continued US military presence in Iraq than any other I can think of.

Meanwhile, in Bush Quagmire II

The mayhem continues:
Gunmen in military uniforms kidnapped dozens of people in an upscale, mostly Shiite Baghdad neighborhood Monday, and shooting and bombings across the country killed at least 19 people, including four Iraqi soldiers.

The kidnapping was carried out by gunmen in military fatigues who drove to the main shopping area of Karradah in 15 vehicles and split into two groups. One went into a mobile phone shop and the other into the office next door of the Iraqi-American Chamber of Commerce, said police Lt. Thair Mahmoud.

They kidnapped 15 staff and customers from the shop and 11 from the chamber, he said. All were believed to be Iraqis. No other details were available.

The way out

The Progressive interviews Gore Vidal:
Q: Today the United States is fighting two wars, one in Afghanistan and one in Iraq, and is now threatening to launch a third one on Iran. What is it going to take to stop the Bush onslaught?

Vidal: Economic collapse. We are too deeply in debt. We can't service the debt, or so my financial friends tell me, that's paying the interest on the Treasury bonds, particularly to the foreign countries that have been financing us. I think the Chinese will say the hell with you and pull their money out of the United States. That's the end of our wars.
That's pretty much what I've been thinking for the last couple of years. As bad as economic collapse is likely to be, the future looks even bleaker if the current economic order continues much longer.

Other quotes from Vidal:
Q: Bush's ratings have been at personal lows. Cheney has had an 18 percent approval rating.

Vidal: Well, he deserves it.

Q: Yet the wars go on. It's almost as if the people don't matter.

Vidal: The people don't matter to this gang. They pay no attention. They think in totalitarian terms. They've got the troops. They've got the army. They've got Congress. They've got the judiciary. Why should they worry? Let the chattering classes chatter. Bush is a thug. I think there is something really wrong with him.
...
Q: Talk about the role of the opposition party, the Democrats.

Vidal: It isn't an opposition party. I have been saying for the last thousand years that the United States has only one party--the property party. It's the party of big corporations, the party of money. It has two right wings; one is Democrat and the other is Republican.

Condi expresses her concern about the Qana massacre to Israel


"Thirty-seven dead children? That IS impressive, Mr. Prime Minister!"


"And you, Mr. Defense Minister--you've been a bad boy, haven't you?"

Once again, Kofi and I have to ask--"What the %#*&$ is the matter with you, woman??"

Saturday, July 29, 2006

Today's protest in Ann Arbor


Pretty good turnout with little advance notice.

All the world is Baghdad; all the world is Lebanon


Members of the Louisiana National Guard search an abandoned apartment complex in New Orleans, July 8, 2006. They are some of the 300 troops who arrived to help keep order a few days after the city's worst act of criminal violence since Hurricane Katrina--the shooting deaths of five teenagers on June 17. The Guard patrols Eastern New Orleans, the Lakefront and the Ninth Ward, where miles of empty buildings offer fertile grounds to looters, squatters and those looking for a hide-out. This allows police to turn their full attention to populated areas, especially those where killings blamed on turf wars, drug disputes or revenge have bloodied the streets. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)
Five people were shot to death last night and early this morning in New Orleans.

Friday, July 28, 2006




From Lebanese cartoonist Stavro.

Who's pushing who into the sea now?



I went downtown after work and joined in the daily protest against the various wars. My friend Gloria gave me a card with that graphic on it (more or less--the card said "2005"). On the back of the card was this quote from Ariel Sharon, speaking to Winston Churchill's grandson in 1973:
We'll make a pastrami sandwich out of them. We'll insert a strip of Jewish settlements in between the Palestinians, and then another strip of Jewish settlements right across the West Bank, so that in twenty-five years' time, neither the United Nations nor the United States, nobody, will be able to tear it apart.
Many want to view the Israel-Palestine situation as the refusal of the Palestinians and their supporters to recognize Israel's right to exist. To be sure, there are many in both groups who feel that way. But for decades now, Palestinian and Arab leaders have agreed to accomodation with Israel--Sadat, Arafat, Abbas. They have been willing to live with the pre-1967 borders, and even negotiate beyond that. But Israel has continued, without pause, taking more--especially the most valuable land with access to water. Last year's supposed "land for peace" stunt in Gaza was accompanied by yet further grabs in the West Bank and Jerusalem--and basically turned Gaza into a free-fire zone. Sharon's statement has been Israeli policy pretty much since he said it, and they used Camp David and Oslo only to further that purpose, with no intention of abiding by the provisions they didn't like.

Protest in Ann Arbor tomorrow

In my set of photos of demonstrations around the world, I left out a country--Israel:


It is also interesting to read that Dana Olmert, daughter of the Israeli prime minister, is a long-time refuser and peace activist.

This just in--Ann Arbor locals can join the protest tomorrow!

Hearts and minds

If your country were being destroyed, would you blame the people defending you, or those doing the attacking? Ask the Lebanese. From the Christian Science Monitor, via Billmon:
The stakes are high for Hizbullah, but it seems it can count on an unprecedented swell of public support that cuts across sectarian lines.According to a poll released by the Beirut Center for Research and Information, 87 percent of Lebanese support Hizbullah's fight with Israel, a rise of 29 percent on a similar poll conducted in February. More striking, however, is the level of support for Hizbullah's resistance from non-Shiite communities. Eighty percent of Christians polled supported Hizbullah along with 80 percent of Druze and 89 percent of Sunnis.

Lebanese no longer blame Hizbullah for sparking the war by kidnapping the Israeli soldiers, but Israel and the US instead.

The latest poll by the Beirut Center found that 8 percent of Lebanese feel the US supports Lebanon, down from 38 percent in January.

"This support for Hizbullah is by default. It's due to US and Israeli actions," says Saad-Ghorayeb, whose father, Abdo, conducted the poll.

A great speech

What kind of peace do I mean? What kind of peace do we seek? Not a Pax Americana enforced on the world by American weapons of war. Not the peace of the grave or the security of the slave. I am talking about genuine peace, the kind of peace that makes life on earth worth living, the kind that enables men and nations to grow and to hope and to build a better life for their children, not merely peace for Americans but peace for all men and women, not merely peace in our time but peace for all time.
...
Today the expenditure of billions of dollars every year of weapons acquired for the purpose of making sure we never need to use them is essential to keeping the peace. But surely the acquisition of such idle stockpiles -- which can only destroy and never create -- is not the only, much less the most efficient, means of assuring peace. I speak of peace, therefore, as the necessary rational end of rational men. I realize that the pursuit of peace is not as dramatic as the pursuit of war and frequently the words of the pursuer fall on deaf ears. But we have no more urgent task.
...
I am not referring to the absolute, infinite concept of universal peace and good will of which some fantasies and fanatics dream. I do not deny the value of hopes and dreams but we merely invite discouragement and incredulity by making that our only and immediate goal.

Let us focus instead on a more practical, more attainable peace -- based not on a sudden revolution in human nature but on a gradual evolution in human institutions, on a series of concrete actions and effective agreements which are in the interest of all concerned. There is no single, simple key to this peace, no grand or magic formula to be adopted by one or two powers. Genuine peace must be the product of many nations, the sum of many acts. It must be dynamic, not static, changing to meet the challenge of each new generation. For peace is a process -- a way of solving problems.

With such a peace, there will still be quarrels and conflicting interests, as there are within families and nations. World peace, like community peace, does not require that each man love his neighbor; it requires only that they live together in mutual tolerance, submitting their disputes to a just and peaceful settlement. And history teaches us that enmities between nations, as between individuals, do not last forever. However our likes and dislikes may seem, the tide of time and events will often bring surprising changes in the relations between nations and neighbors.

So let us persevere. Peace need not be impracticable, and war need not be inevitable. By defining our goal more clearly, by making it seem more manageable and less remote, we can help all peoples to see it, to draw hope from it, and to move irresistibly toward it.
...
Meanwhile, we seek to strengthen the United Nations, to help solve its financial problems, to make it a more effective instrument for peace, to develop it into a genuine world security system -- a system capable of resolving disputes on the basis of law, of insuring the security of the large and the small, and of creating conditions under which arms can finally be abolished.
...
For there can be no doubt that, if all nations could refrain from interfering in the self determination of others, the peace would be much more assured.
...
The United States, as the world knows, will never start a war. We do not want a war. We do not now expect a war... We shall ... do our part to build a world of peace where the weak are safe and the strong are just. We are not helpless before that task or hopeless of its success. Confident and unafraid, we labor on, not toward a strategy of annihilation but toward a strategy of peace.
Tragically, the man who delivered that speech was gunned down in the streets of Dallas a few months later. For a few short months, the US had a president who had a different, saner vision of the world. James Carroll's book House of War tells of JFK's journey from ardent cold warrior to the man who gave that incredible speech at American University in June 1963. Kennedy ran in 1960 against Nixon accusing the Eisenhower-Nixon administration of allowing a dangerous "missile gap" to develop with the Soviets. As Carroll points out, there was a "missile gap" -- hugely in the favor of the US, something Kennedy apparently didn't know until he'd been in office for a few months. His first two years were no peaceniks' picnic, either. He signed off on the disastrous Bay of Pigs invasion, and then was involved in two huge crises which nearly led to nuclear war: the Berlin crisis of 1961 and the Cuban missile crisis of 1962. These events profoundly affected him, as the man with the button, causing him to realize that the fears on both sides, American and Soviet, were propelling the arms race, turning those fears into self-fulfilling prophecies. The American University speech reached out to Khrushchev and the Soviets, and was broadcast throughout the Soviet Union in its entirety. Nuclear tensions dropped substantially because of the speech, which led to the partial test ban treaty--a first step towards arms control.

Imagine that--a president who actually learns in office! Or is even capable of it.

Puffed Rice

Condiliar apparently thinks her time is valuable:
Rice, who was attending a regional security conference in Malaysia on Friday, had said earlier that she was "willing and ready" to return to the region to work for a sustainable peace agreement.

"I do think it is important that groundwork be laid so I can make the most of whatever time I can spend there," she said at a news conference Friday.
"The Middle East isn't the only part of the world I have to piss off in this job," she didn't add.

Meanwhile, Israel continues to lay the groundwork...








... while around the world people express their appreciation for Condi's work so far.


Bangladesh


Pakistan


India


Indonesia


Russia


Turkey


The West Bank, Palestine


And, of course, Iraq

And what was Condi doing while Beirut burned and the world screamed in protest?

I wonder--did she buy those boots during her Katrina shopping spree?

Even with that outfit, she's still less of an embarrassment, in Indonesia at least, than her predecessor:

From Doonesbury.

From Ted Rall.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Have I mentioned that I hate Bush?

As Israel continues to destroy Lebanon, the moron wants to go after Iran.
"Now is the time to address the root cause of the problem and the root cause of the problem is terrorist groups trying to stop the advance of democracy," he said. "Our objective is to make sure that those who use terrorist tactics are not rewarded."
Terrorist tactics like cluster bombs, ten-to-one reprisals, and deliberately killing unarmed UN observers?

And after derailing any and all attempts at a ceasefire, while rushing more fuel and bombs to Israel, aWol has the gall to respond like this to the latest Zawahiri rant:
"I'm not surprised people who use terrorist tactics would start speaking out," the president said. "Here's a fellow who is in a remote region of the world putting out statements basically encouraging people to use terrorist tactics to kill innocent people to achieve their political objectives. And the United States of America stands strong against Mr. Zawahri and his types."
Nearly five years after 9/11, aWol still doesn't know where Zawahiri or bin Laden are, but chances are that they're a lot less "remote" from Lebanon than W is in Washington (or Crawford, where I'm sure he'll be heading soon).

And don't miss Billmon's post about what's happening to Israel--and I don't mean from the rockets.

Out-Landis

AP is reporting that Tour de France winner Floyd Landis apparently flunked a drug test, pending the testing of a backup sample. I haven't paid much attention to the Tour, but these two paragraphs caught my eye:
Arlene Landis, his mother, said Thursday that she wouldn't blame her son if he was taking medication to treat the pain in his injured hip, but "if it's something worse than that, then he doesn't deserve to win."

"I didn't talk to him since that hit the fan, but I'm keeping things even keel until I know what the facts are," she told The Associated Press in a phone interview from her home in Farmersville, Pennsylvania. "I know that this is a temptation to every rider but I'm not going to jump to conclusions ... It disappoints me."
Jeez--a mother with that much faith in her son might drive him to use drugs or something.

Quote du jour

"George Bush is a 'Wheel of Fortune' President in a 'Jeopardy' world." -- Will Durst, via Past Peak, who has lots of good Bush jokes.

Labels:

Like a soap opera, but with more death

Billmon:
The ultimate result, of course, is a truly insane combination of bed partners, with the Iraqi prime minister giving a stemwinder of a speech against Zionist aggression in Baghdad one day, and then flying off to Washington the next day to vow enternal vigilance against terrorism in front of the most pro-Israel body on the planet -- the U.S. Congress. Meanwhile, Iranian-backed guerrillas are killing Israeli soldiers in Lebanon while an Iranian-backed government in Iraq sends its troops out on patrols with the U.S. military, which is speeding bunker buster bombs to the Israeli military so it can go kill more Iranian-backed guerrillas.

From Rob Rogers.

From Doonesbury.

From Tom Toles.

From Tony Auth.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Can we PLEASE have a third party now???

What a jackass:
Democratic Party chairman
Howard Dean on Wednesday called Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki an "anti-Semite" for failing to denounce Hezbollah for its attacks against Israel.
...
"The Iraqi prime minister is an anti-Semite," the Democratic leader told a gathering of business leaders in Florida. "We don't need to spend $200 and $300 and $500 billion bringing democracy to Iraq to turn it over to people who believe that Israel doesn't have a right to defend itself and who refuse to condemn Hezbollah."
Almost two years ago, I cited a Kerry supporter in Ohio, quoted by Ted Rall, with having the worst reason ever for opposing the war in Iraq: "We shouldn't be over there building them back up because they didn't build our towers back up." I think Dr. Dean may have just trumped that. As Rall said about the Ohio voter, Dean "is wrong on so many levels that it makes my brain hurt." I hate to have to spell it out, but it is probably important to do so.

First off, the anti-Semite charge is as absurd as it is ubiquitous. Opposing Israel's policies is not anti-Semitism, any more than Dean's criticism of Bush's policies is anti-Christian. Bad policies should be criticized, and all policies should be questioned. Those who do the questioning are not necessarily racist. Many of the most vocal critics of Israeli policy are Jews--certainly in this town! Of course, they get called "anti-Semites" as well.

Next, Dr. Dean puts together a sentence that would be Bushian in its logic if its structure weren't so complicated--so I'll call it Ricean: "We don't need to spend $200 and $300 and $500 billion bringing democracy to Iraq to turn it over to people who believe that Israel doesn't have a right to defend itself and who refuse to condemn Hezbollah." First, he seems to be buying the nonsense that bringing democracy to Iraq was the reason for the war, and then immediately contradicts that very notion by saying that we turned it over to Maliki (rather than him being elected by the purple-finger crowd). Second, he suggests as obvious that Israel's destruction of Lebanon has anything to do with defending itself. And third, his idea that the leaders of other countries have to say this or condemn that at his command couldn't be more Ricean.

Of course, the most troubling thing is that the so-called leader of the so-called opposition uses his most heated rhetoric to defend the honor of the country--Israel.

Dr. Dean, hear my scream: AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAARRRRRRRRRGGGGGGGGGGHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!

For diplomacy, maybe you need a diplomat

And whatever Condiliar is, she ain't no diplomat. Tony Karon in Time gives Condi and the neonuts some advice. Excerpt:
Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice faced a thankless, all but impossible task in trying to sell the Arab world on the U.S. policy of delaying a cease-fire so that the Israeli military can continue its anti-Hizballah campaign. But her case was hardly helped when she explained that the violence that has already killed more than 400 Lebanese and turned more than a half million into refugees represents the "birth pangs of a new Middle East." Phrases like that--and her rejection of the call for an immediate cease-fire on the grounds that "whatever we do, we have to be certain that we're pushing forward to the new Middle East, not going back to the old Middle East"--carry a revolutionary ring that scares the hell out of America's allies in the region. It was revolutionaries like Lenin and Mao, after all, who rationalized violence and suffering as the wages of progress, in the way a doctor might rationalize surgery--painful, bloody, even risking the life of the patient, but ultimately necessary. Social engineering is not surgery, however, and its victims find little comfort in the homilies of its authors.

Arab leaders, moreover, have learned to be suspicious of Rice's revolutionary ambitions--just a year ago, she spoke of spreading "creative chaos" in the region. Iraq, after all, is Exhibit A of the Bush Administration's "New Middle East," and it's a bloody mess that is growing worse by the day. Now, for Act 2, the Arabs are being told to sit quietly while Israel tears Lebanon apart, after months of watching it slowly throttle Gaza through a U.S.-backed economic blockade, and then bomb it for weeks on end. Hardly surprising that the Arabs--from the U.S.-backed autocrats to the beleaguered liberal democrats and the rising Islamists--see little to cheer in the Bush Administration's "new Middle East."
The whole article is good.

Fox News anchor starts to get it

Here is William Kristol, editor of the bible of neo-cons, "Weekly Standard", on Fox News Sunday, July 16:

"Look, our coddling of Iran ... over the last six to nine months has emboldened them. I mean, is Iran behaving like a timid regime that's very worried about the U.S.? Or is Iran behaving recklessly and in a foolhardy way? ... Israel is fighting four of our five enemies in the Middle East, in a sense. Iran, Syria, sponsors of terror; Hezbollah and Hamas. ... This is an opportunity to begin to reverse the unfortunate direction of the last six to nine months and get the terrorists and the jihadists back on the defensive."

Host Juan Williams replied: "Well, it just seems to me that you want ... you just want war, war, war, and you want us in more war. You wanted us in Iraq. Now you want us in Iran. Now you want us to get into the Middle East ... you're saying, why doesn't the United States take this hard, unforgiving line? Well, the hard and unforgiving line has been [tried], we don't talk to anybody. We don't talk to Hamas. We don't talk to Hezbollah. We're not going to talk to Iran. Where has it gotten us, Bill?"
That's from a great article on the Middle East by William Blum. Elsewhere in the article, Blum explains:
In a conflict between a thousand-pound gorilla and a mouse, it's the gorilla which has to make concessions in order for the two sides to progress to the next level. What can the Palestinians offer in the way of concession? Israel would reply to that question: "No violent attacks of any kind." But that would still leave the status quo ante bellum -- a life of unmitigated misery for the Palestinian people forced upon them by Israel. Peace without justice.

Isolated

Check out this graphic.

It's always bizarre when one of our neonuts talks about how Iran or North Korea are isolating themselves from the rest of the world.

The world calls for a ceasefire; the US pushes for a continuefiring.
The release of the diplomats' prepared statement was delayed by almost two hours by wrangling over its contents. The key sticking point was the phrase concerning a ceasefire, according to two European diplomats who were in the room.

Most of the officials in the room were seeking, at the very least, a phrase that said the group would "work towards an immediate ceasefire," one of the diplomats said. But Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice refused, and won, he said.

"She insisted it say 'work immediately to bring a ceasefire,' not 'work to bring an immediate ceasefire,'" the diplomat said. He said that the group argued about that for more than 30 minutes before ceding the point to the United States.
That's why she's secretary of state and you're not.

AIPAC Democrats

Juan Cole writes about how certain members of Congress (D's-Israel) were boycotting the speech by Iraqi PM Maliki (Dawa-Hell), because he refused to condemn Hezbollah for Israel's massive terror bombing of Lebanon. Cole explains that Maliki was, and is, practically a member of Hezbollah himself:
My understanding is that Nuri al-Maliki was the bureau chief of the Dawa cell in Damascus in the 1980s. He must have been closely involved with the Iraqi Dawa in Beirut, which in turn was intimately involved in Hizbullah. I am not saying he himself did anything wrong. I don't know what he was doing in specific, other than trying to overthrow Saddam, which was heroic. But, did they (the AIPAC Dems) really think he was going to condemn Hizbullah and take Israel's side?

And if he did, do they think that the Shiite religious parties that backed him would let him stay in office (they are the Supreme Council for Islamic Revolution in Iraq, the Islamic Dawa, and the Sadr Movement of Muqtada al-Sadr)?
Via Jean in Slovenia, who adds some excellent comments of her own.

The buck stops here

This probably wasn't shown live on CNN--

A man walks past the statue of President Harry S. Truman toppled during an anti-war demonstration against the Israeli bombing of Lebanon, in Athens, July 25, 2006. (John Kolesidis/Reuters)

Meanwhile, in Gaza

The slaughter continues.

John Bolton getting inspiration from Picasso's "Guernica."

"Many, many, many times again," said Bolton.

But you are a sitting duck


"Don't shoot! I'm not a lawyer!"

Just wondering...


What the %#*&$ is the matter with you, woman??

No hanging out for Saddam

Headline: Saddam prefers firing squad to gallows

How about you, George?

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Another day, another occupation

The Israelis say they will hold onto a strip of southern Lebanon until their army is replaced by an international force. As an inducement to join such a force, the Israelis killed four unarmed UN observers in an observation post.
The United Nations secretary general, Kofi Annan, in Rome for talks on the Middle East scheduled to start Wednesday, issued a statement saying that he was "shocked and deeply distressed by the apparently deliberate targeting" of the United Nations post by the Israeli military. He said the post, at Khiam, was clearly marked, and called on the Israeli government to conduct a full investigation.
I'm sure they'll get right on that, Kofi.

Repealing the estate tax

Congress wouldn't do it, so aWol is just firing the people at the IRS who enforce it:
The federal government is moving to eliminate the jobs of nearly half of the lawyers at the Internal Revenue Service who audit tax returns of some of the wealthiest Americans, specifically those who are subject to gift and estate taxes when they transfer parts of their fortunes to their children and others.

The administration plans to cut the jobs of 157 of the agency’s 345 estate tax lawyers, plus 17 support personnel, in less than 70 days. Kevin Brown, an I.R.S. deputy commissioner, confirmed the cuts after The New York Times was given internal documents by people inside the I.R.S. who oppose them.

The Bush administration has passed measures that reduce the number of Americans who are subject to the estate tax--which opponents refer to as the "death tax"--but has failed in its efforts to eliminate the tax entirely. Mr. Brown said in a telephone interview Friday that he had ordered the staff cuts because far fewer people were obliged to pay estate taxes under President Bush’s legislation.

But six I.R.S. estate tax lawyers whose jobs are likely to be eliminated said in interviews that the cuts were just the latest moves behind the scenes at the I.R.S. to shield people with political connections and complex tax-avoidance devices from thorough audits.

Sharyn Phillips, a veteran I.R.S. estate tax lawyer in Manhattan, called the cuts a "back-door way for the Bush administration to achieve what it cannot get from Congress, which is repeal of the estate tax."

Put the bottle down, and run away

Larry Lack writes about The Bottled Water Madness, and a new book on the subject by Canada's Polaris Institute.
The bottled water industry is a prime example of why P.T. Barnum, not Adam Smith, should be anointed as capitalism's patron saint. Aside from its usefulness in remote areas during disasters and emergencies, bottled water is an entirely needless affectation. The fears about the safety of public water supplies that its purveyors play on are exaggerated nonsense. But the enormous global bottled water industry built on these false fears undercuts public water, disfigures landscapes and exposes trusting bottled water consumers to serious health risks.
...
Approximately one fourth of all bottled water and as much as 40 per cent of that sold in North America is simply municipal tap water run through filters and treated with minerals or other additives. The rest of the bottled water found in stores is pumped from groundwater aquifers many of which have been severely depleted by these water "takings."

Safety testing of bottled water is seldom required or done, but published studies indicate that heavy metals and other toxic chemicals as well as health threatening bacteria are found with surprising frequency in bottled water which, ironically, is marketed based on claims of "purity". Both chemical and bacterial contaminations tend to increase when water is stored in sealed bottles for long periods of time.
...
Bottled water is responsible for an enormous increase in world production of plastic bottles. Surging sales of bottled water coincided with and may help account for a 56 per cent increase in U.S. plastic resin manufacture in the U.S.A. between 1995 and 2001 (from 32 million tons to over 50 million tons annually). Consuming critical supplies of petroleum and natural gas, plastic bottle factories create and release toxic wastes, including benzine, xylene, and oxides of ethylene into the environment. Toxic and carcinogenic constituents of plastic bottles, such as the phthalates that are used to make some containers flexible, can contaminate their contents during transportation or storage.

Pop!

Realtors: Home sales now a 'buyer's market'. What's left of the American economy has been running on borrowed time and, especially, borrowed money. That's about to change.

Finally, some good news

The WTO "free trade" talks have collapsed. Anything that derails this attempt at institutionalized theft is good news. Read what Global Exchange has to say about the WTO.

No biggie--we already knew about it

Non-existent nuclear-weapons programs in countries sitting on our oil? Axis of evil, cause for war. A big, ongoing, admitted program in an unstable country that, with one bullet, could be run by Osama bin Laden? Oh--we've know about that all along.
The Bush administration acknowledged yesterday that it had long known about Pakistan's plans to build a large plutonium-production reactor, but it said the White House was working to dissuade Pakistan from using the plant to expand its nuclear arsenal.
...
The reactor, which reportedly will be capable of producing enough plutonium for as many as 50 bombs each year, was brought to light on Sunday by independent analysts who spotted the partially completed plant in commercial-satellite photos. Snow said the administration had "known of these plans for some time."
And how is the White House working to dissuade Pakistan? By illegally helping Pakistan's long-time enemy, India, develop its nuclear program.

The neocon approach seems to be simply to arm the rest of world sufficiently so they can destroy each other, retaining American military superiority to wipe out the last one standing. Two days ago, Billmon quoted the Daily Telegraph:
White House aides have said they consider the Lebanon crisis to be a "leadership moment" for Mr Bush and an opportunity to proceed with his post-September 11 plan to reshape the Middle East by building Sunni Arab opposition to Shi'a terrorism. Yesterday Mr Bush cited the role of Iran and Syria in providing help to Hezbollah. (emphasis added)
As Billmon points out, the biggest, baddest Sunni opposition to Shi'a terrorism (and Shi'a anything) was Saddam Hussein's Iraq. And that the government we have now installed in Iraq is dominated by Shiites, some of whom are certainly involved in the terrorism now ripping apart what's left of Iraq. Back in the 1980's, the US supported both sides in the Iran-Iraq war. We still do. More correctly, we still oppose both sides.

You wonder--if the Soviets had won the Cold War, at least to the same degree we claim to have done, would they now be playing off Catholics against Protestants, perhaps arming South America until it had nearly beat the crap out of North America? Would the Soviets then, concerned that those southern Catholics were getting too strong, have switched sides, re-arming us so we could kick some Catholic booty (both abroad and at home)? And would the Soviets claim to have been trying to stop Catholic terrorism all along?

Probably. Orwell knew of what he wrote. Power corrupts. Superpowers are supercorrupted absolutely.

That ten-to-one casualty ratio? No accident.

From the Jerusalem Post, via Billmon:
A high-ranking IAF officer caused a storm on Monday in an off-record briefing during which he told reporters that IDF Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Dan Halutz had ordered the military to destroy 10 buildings in Beirut in retaliation to every Katyusha rocket strike on Haifa.

The officer said that the equation was created by Halutz and that every rocket strike on Haifa would be answered by IAF missile strikes on 10 12-story buildings in the Beirut neighborhood of Dahiya, a Hizbullah stronghold. Since the beginning of Operation Change of Direction, launched on July 12 following the abduction of two soldiers during a Hizbullah cross-border attack, over 80 buildings in the neighborhood have been destroyed.

And now, the weather


From David Horsey.

From Steve Kelley.

From Pat Bagley.

From Mark Cohen.

From Larry Wright.

From Slowpoke.

From Tom Toles.

This is CNN

The conflict has left more than 400 people dead on both sides of the Lebanese-Israeli border.
-- CNN. The article doesn't bother to explain that 90% of the dead are in Lebanon. You have to go to the fifth paragraph of the article with the fair and balanced title Hezbollah rockets strike northern Israel: Israel bombs 'terror capital' in southern Lebanon to get a more accurate accounting:
At least 39 people have died--17 civilians and 22 soldiers--and at least 370 people have been wounded, primarily civilians, in Israel, according to the Israel Defense Forces. In Lebanon, at least 386 people, mostly civilians, have been killed, and more than 1,100 wounded, Lebanese security officials said Tuesday.

Deja vu all over again


Time magazine cover, August 16, 1982

It was as resistance to this assault 24 years ago that Hezbollah was born.

Monday, July 24, 2006

Bullseye


Israel continues to carefully target its attacks.


Israeli PM Olmert admires some bombs in transit from the US to Lebanon.

Stealing the caption from WIIIAI:

"What are these people smiling about???"

Purple finger of death

From the Independent:
"Iraq as a political project is finished," a senior government official was quoted as saying, adding: "The parties have moved to plan B." He said that the Shia, Sunni and Kurdish parties were now looking at ways to divide Iraq between them and to decide the future of Baghdad, where there is a mixed population. "There is serious talk of Baghdad being divided into [Shia] east and [Sunni] west," he said.
Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki will spend the next two days meeting with aWol and other government officials. As dreadful as that is likely to be for him, I'm guessing he won't be in any hurry to go home. According to the White House, Maliki is bringing several of his ministers with him--including the oil minister (big surprise there). Can you say "government in exile?" I knew that you could.

The Independent is rather cynical about Maliki's visit:
The switch of American and British media attention to Lebanon and away from the rapidly deteriorating situation in Baghdad is much to the political benefit of Mr Blair and Mr Bush.

"Maliki's trip to Washington is all part of the US domestic agenda to put a good face on things for November," a European diplomat in Baghdad was quoted as saying.
I'm not so sure that the attention Israel-Lebanon is getting will really work for aWol. I mean, how long can the president be obviously working solely for the benefit of another country before people start to notice? Yeah, I know, but I'm looking for hope anywhere I can find it. Then again, won't Maliki's visit force attention back to the Mess-o-potamia? In truth, anywhere you look in Bush World it's a disaster. I watched the NBC News tonight--even they were having trouble polishing these turds.

Sound familiar?

Jihad is carried out almost entirely by young men and the Islamic oil nations have a vast supply of young men with no other job opportunities except service in Jihad. Their despair at the prospects of their societies must be great, and easily converted into aggressive rage. Plus, they are given huge inducements to believe that this employment is a holy mission, and fabulous promises of deferred pay in the form of early retirement to paradise and the consort of lusty virgins. As Peak Oil becomes more of a reality in the Middle East, I think these societies will only act crazier.
-- That's James Howard Kunstler, author of The Long Emergency, who writes frequently and coherently about the insanity of America's car-crazed culture. Unfortunately, Kunstler likes to play neocon when it comes to foreign policy, as his pro-Israel rant showed last week. But read the paragraph above, replacing "Jihad" with "The Global War On Terror," and "early retirement to paradise and the consort of lusty virgins" with "a college education and the undying respect of their countrymen," and the statement becomes much more true. (Actually, I haven't checked the military's recruiting methods lately--maybe they are promising lusty virgins now.)

Of course, Kunstler is improperly conflating the struggles of Hamas and Hezbollah against the constant aggression of Israel with the more general "war of civilizations" jihad of al Qaeda, which is more similar to our own "few, proud" and "armies of one"--young men (and women) responding to rhetoric of bloodthirsty "patriotism" and "duty" rather than the constant, direct, in-your-face death and humiliation the Palestinians have experienced for decades.

Kunstler also tries to conflate Lebanon and Palestine with the "Islamic oil nations". Neither is an oil nation, and Lebanon isn't even all that Islamic.

Jet Fuel? Check. Bombs? Check. Medical Equipment? Yeah, why not.

After rushing jet fuel to Israel, and restocking her with bombs, Washington is going to send some humanitarian aid to Lebanon.

"God Welcomes His Victims" -- church sign on the Simpsons after a hurricane.

W supports the troops, but WILL NOT answer their questions

What a cretin. AWol met with some troops recently returned from Iraq on Friday. Excerpts (emphasis added):
...this country supports you and admires you, and appreciates your dedication.
...
I want to thank you all for your service.
...your sacrifice has meant a lot. Congratulations for stepping up and volunteering and being a part of history. Thanks for giving me a chance to visit and have a little lunch with you. God bless you all.
From the official White House transcript, aWol apparently only "addressed" one question from these people he so admires and appreciates:
Q Mr. President, what do you hope Secretary Rice accomplishes on her trip to the Middle East, sir?

THE PRESIDENT: I'm going to talk to her tomorrow when I -- Sunday, when I get back to the White House. We're going to have a good visit.

Q What do you hope she accomplishes, sir?

THE PRESIDENT: I said I would talk to her tomorrow.
Now that's appreciation! It amazes me that the White House press office would even put this sample of W's snottiness on the web site. And then there's this:
I want our troops to understand that not only does the country support them, but we'll--we'll win. It's in our national interests that we win. And we will. We've got some powerful, powerful weapons on our side.
Yikes. Does anyone else get the feeling that when Bush finally finishes "democratizing" the Middle East that there will be about 100 "voters" still alive in the whole region?

Any excuse for a war

Probably not much of a surprise to anyone, but Matthew Kalman writes in the San Francisco Chronicle that Israel's assault on Lebanon has been planned for over a year.

Sunday, July 23, 2006

Quotes du jour

Via Past Peak:
This conflict is a long way from over. It's going to be a battle that will last for a very long time. It is absolutely essential that we stay the course.
-- Useless Dick Cheney, yesterday
Iraq will never be over, because it's not a domino. Dominating the diminishing oil reserves of the Middle East is not a sideshow; it is the essence of US strategic interest. We're talking about the centerpiece of empire in the New American Century. So this war--and it will not be contained to Iraq--will not be over until the American Empire falls.

Iraq is not Vietnam, because the war won't end with a dash for the helicopter on the roof of the Baghdad embassy. It will end with a dash for Marine One on the grounds of the White House.
-- Jeff Wells

Saturday, July 22, 2006

Record temperatures, record power use

A heat wave in California broke high-temperature records across the state this weekend, resulting in record-high power use. Seventeen days in a row over 100 degrees in LA's San Fernando Valley--a new record. The record-high power use, of course, means more fossil fuels burned--and more global warming. There may be some danger to our future because we're running out of fossil fuels, but the bigger danger probably comes because we haven't already.

Israel's almost out of bombs

Not to worry--Uncle Sam wants the carnage to continue:
The Bush administration is rushing a delivery of precision-guided bombs to Israel, which requested the expedited shipment last week after beginning its air campaign against Hezbollah targets in Lebanon, U.S. officials said Friday.

The decision to quickly ship the weapons to Israel was made with relatively little debate within the administration, the officials said. Its disclosure threatens to anger Arab governments and others because of the appearance that the United States is actively aiding the Israeli bombing campaign.

The munitions that the United States is sending to Israel are part of a multimillion dollar arms sale package approved last year that Israel is able to draw on as needed, the officials said. But Israel's request for expedited delivery of the satellite and laser-guided bombs was described as unusual by some military officers, and as an indication that Israel had a long list of targets in Lebanon still to strike.
Could we be any more depraved? Sadly, we probably can.

Alexander Cockburn explains some of the history for the ignorami who believe this whole mess started with the capture of some Israeli soldiers a couple of weeks ago. And Paul Craig Roberts writes about the shame of being an American after the House and Senate overwhelmingly expressed support for Israel.

From Mr. Fish.

Friday, July 21, 2006

Definition du jour

Psychopath (sy'-co-path) n. 1. A person with an antisocial personality disorder, manifested in aggressive, perverted, criminal, or amoral behavior without empathy or remorse. 2. The current President of the United States.
-- Billmon

Vote your fears

That's usually the message in political campaigns, but Repug Mike DeWine, running for re-election to the Senate from Ohio, has really gone overboard. Basically, he's saying that anyone who opposes any of the insane "anti-terror" schemes of the Bushies is a traitor. I shudder to think that these horrible ads actually would convince somebody to vote for DeWine--but I know they will. Why is it that a country that prides itself on being the "home of the brave" tends to vote like a bunch of total cowards?

From Bill Day.

Totally unrealistic

Dilbert:

It doesn't cost that much to buy Congress.

Is it ethnic cleansing if you order everyone to leave?


A southern suburb of Beirut (NY Times).


Beirut (WaPo).

AP:
Israel called up reserve troops Friday and warned civilians to flee Hezbollah-controlled southern Lebanon, as it prepared for a likely ground invasion to set up a deep buffer zone.
The photos above obviously provide the answer to "and what if we don't?" Of course, many Lebanese will be unable to leave since the Israelis have been blowing up bridges and roads from day one.

By what possible definition is this not terrorism?

Meanwhile, the WaPo has this Orwellian headline: In Mideast Strife, Bush Sees a Step To Peace. The article features this bit of irony:
As the president's position is described by White House officials, Bush associates and outside Middle East experts, Bush believes that the status quo--the presence in a sovereign country of a militant group with missiles capable of hitting a U.S. ally--is unacceptable.
The U.S. military has bases all over the world located in supposedly sovereign countries. Most of these bases have aircraft or ships armed with missiles capable of hitting all sorts of U.S. allies, as well as everybody else. U.S. jets based in Turkey, Italy, Iraq, Qatar or Diego Garcia could make Tel Aviv look just like those photos above in a few hours if they were so inclined. And given our penchant for turning on allies (Panama, Iran, Iraq, the USSR), I would think there might be a few people in Israel worried that one of the few militaries in the world superior to their own has them surrounded. (Not to mention that the raptureniks, apparently including W, believe that the rapture involves first Israel taking over the Middle East, and THEN Israel being destroyed.)

The war to start all wars

So 3 1/3 years after the invasion of Iraq, how's the flowering of democracy in the Middle East, one of the promised benefits, going? Billmon:
Let's see. We've got: Israeli Jews fighting Lebanese Shi'a and Palestinian Sunnis; Palestinian Fatah militants who've stopped fighting Hamas militants, but only because they're both fighting the Israelis; Saudi Sunni fundamentalists issuing fatwas against Hezbollah Shi'a fundamentalists; Egyptian Sunni fundamentalists backing those same Hezbollah Shi'a fundamentalists; Iraqi Sunnis killing Iraqi Shi'a and vice versa; Iraqi Shi'a (the Mahdi Army) jousting with Iraqi Shi'a (the Badr Brigade); Iraqi Kurds trying to push Sunni Arabs and both Sunni and Shi'a Turkomen out of Kirkuk; Turks threatening to invade Kurdistan; Iranians allegedly shelling Kurdistan, Syrian Kurds rebelling against Syrian Allawites who are despised by Syria's Sunni majority but allied with the Lebanese Shi'a who are hated and feared by the House of Saud and its Sunni fundamentalist minions. Oh, and American and Israeli neocons threatening to bomb both Syria and Iran.
Civilians being killed at the rate of 100 per day in Iraq (oh, my bad--not "killed," but "liberated").

The scariest item in Billmon's list, and they're all scary, is "Iranians allegedly shelling Kurdistan." Here's the Reuters report:
A senior Iraqi-Kurdish official accused Iranian forces on Thursday of shelling Kurdish guerrillas in northern Iraq.

Othman Mahmoud, interior minister of the Kurdish regional government in the north, said shelling was going on along the border about 170 km (105 miles) north of the city of Sulaimaniya.
Who knows how true this is--most reporters in Iraq are likely unwilling or unable to get anywhere near the region to verify it. But this is just what we don't need now--an actual causus belli for Bush against Iran, instead of the bogus lies about their nuclear program.

Thursday, July 20, 2006


From John Darkow.

From Ed Stein.

Why can't Israel just behave like the US?

For the first time in this mess, I'm going to defend Israel--slightly. This is only because of the nonsense coming from "experts" in this AP article Military analysts question Israeli bombing. These experts suggest that Israel is in error only because it has exceeded the supposedly humane guidelines the US uses when it bombs the crap out of people.
James Dobbins, a former Bush administration envoy to Afghanistan who now heads military analysis for the Rand Corp., said choice of targets by Israel was the key and may be misdirected.

"The military rationale seems rather thin, since many of the targets have no conceivable relationship to Hezbollah," he said.
The article then uses Dobbins and another "expert" to compare Israel's actions with what they consider to be a "good" bombing campaign:
The Brookings Institution's Michael O'Hanlon said the Israeli campaign most closely resembles the U.S.-led NATO bombardment of Serbia in 1999, in which a victory was achieved without a land invasion.

But the 78-day NATO bombardment of Serbia had clear international legitimacy and was more gradual. Air crews targeted Serbian military and communications sites first, and when that didn't persuade the Serb military to pull out of Kosovo, planes hit civilian and government targets.

Targeting was far more discriminatory. Despite tens of thousands of sorties, NATO is thought to have killed 500 civilians in the 2- 1/2 month campaign. By contrast, Israel has killed more than 250 Lebanese in eight days.

And the Serbian actions that triggered NATO's airstrikes were far larger than anything launched from Lebanon, Dobbins said.

"The Serbian government was responsible for the ethnic cleansing in Kosovo that drove a million people from their homes," Dobbins said, "while the Lebanese government is not responsible for the rocket attacks upon Israel."
The article identifies Dobbins as "a former Bush administration envoy," but doesn't mention that he was also a Clinton administration special envoy for Kosovo. For him to deny that the bombing of Serbia had "clear international legitimacy," as many do, would be to confess to being party to a war crime. The bombing of Serbia was done without UN approval, and no case for self-defense can be made by NATO or (especially) the US.

At least Dobbins has a self-interested reason to be delusional about the "discriminatory" use of American force. I'm not sure what Kool-Aid Michele Flourney, another former Clintonista, is drinking:
Israel has also chosen to hit targets that the United States would probably reject, because of the danger of killing civilians, said Michele Flournoy, a former Pentagon strategist now with the Center for Strategic and International Studies.

U.S. war planners realize their campaigns lose international and domestic support when innocents are killed, Flournoy said.

"Our own population is very discriminating in the use of force. People here have bought into the idea of proportionality and the just war," Flournoy said.
TV stations? Power plants? Water treatment facilities? Chinese embassies? Restaurants? Wedding parties? Bomb shelters??? Exactly what, Ms. Flournoy, WON'T this country bomb? And what percentage of the people here do you really think buy into proportionality and just war, or even know what they are?

And AP quickly glosses over a long and brutal history of US bombing:
The United States has been one of the chief proponents of strategic bombardment, launching campaigns in Vietnam, Iraq and Serbia. In World War II it targeted factories, railroads, bridges, ports and, in some cases, residential neighborhoods.
"In some cases."
Just after midnight on March 10, 1945, three hundred B-29s approached Tokyo at altitudes of between five thousand and nine thousand feet. The raid was code-named Operation Meetinghouse. Tokyo was a city of about five million people. Navigators carried guidance sheets directing them to fly over the most heavily residential sections of the city. The planned target was an area nearly four miles square, housing about 400,000 people. The official AAF [Army Air Force] history describes it: "The zone bordered the most important industrial section of Tokyo and included a few individually designated strategic targets. Its main importance lay in its home industries and feeder plants; being closely spaced and predominately of wood-bamboo-plaster construction, these buildings easily kindled.

The first waves of bombers dropped clusters of napalm canisters, which started fires in the rough outline of an X, which then defined the target area for subsequent waves of bombers. The B-29s flew so low that crew members did not need oxygen, but at that altitude the stench of burning flesh was palpable, and they wore their oxygen masks to stifle it. By the time the B-29s were returning to base, the bottoms of their fuselages were singed brown. Not one plane was shot down.

Because of the work of LeMay's statisticians, the warplanes had been reconfigured into flying boxcars whose only load was incendiary bombs. They dropped 1,665 tons of pure fire on the city, the most efficient and deliberate act of arson in history. The consequent firestorm obliterated fifteen square miles, which included both residential and industrial areas. Fires raged for four days.

Official counts put the number of dead at between 80,000 and 100,000. A million people were rendered homeless.
...
Although LeMay would not duplicate his success elsewhere, in the weeks after Tokyo his bombers would raze nearly half of the area of sixty-six other cities, killing 900,000 civilians, which surpassed by more than 100,000 the total of Japanese combat deaths. LeMay's campaign would make more than twenty million Japanese homeless.
--James Carroll, House of War: The Pentagon and the Disastrous Rise of American Power, pp. 94-96.

This was all after the Japanese had been chased from almost all of the land they had grabbed earlier in the war, and after their ability to wage aggressive war had been completely destroyed. Carroll points out that the US government knew from diplomatic feelers and decoded messages that the Japanese were ready to surrender--on one condition: that the emperor be allowed to remain and retain his privileges. But the US insisted on unconditional surrender until August of 1945, when the atomic bombs were dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. They then accepted the Japanese surrender, granting them the condition they desired. While the officially agreed-upon reason for using the A-bombs was to avoid a bloody invasion of the Japanese homeland, Carroll points out that American leaders knew that this was not necessary. The slaughter of a million Japanese civilians from the firebombs and atomic bombs, and the American lives lost in the bloody battle for Okinawa, apparently resulted from a combination of motives unrelated to the stated ones. Revenge for Pearl Harbor, sending the Soviets a message, justifying the two-billion-dollar price tag on the Manhattan Project, and shear momentum are some of the reasons Carroll lists.

But for AP to state that the US "targeted factories, railroads, bridges, ports and, in some cases, residential neighborhoods" is about as accurate as saying that Hitler imprisoned "communists, homosexuals, dissidents and, in some cases, Jews."

So while I condemn Israel's brutal assaults on Gaza and Lebanon, I don't pretend that the US isn't even worse--especially since Israel is using US-made and US-paid-for jets running on US fuel and dropping US bombs.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Seven Days in July

From the Guardian:
The US is giving Israel a window of a week to inflict maximum damage on Hizbullah before weighing in behind international calls for a ceasefire in Lebanon, according to British, European and Israeli sources.

The Bush administration, backed by Britain, has blocked efforts for an immediate halt to the fighting initiated at the UN security council, the G8 summit in St Petersburg and the European foreign ministers' meeting in Brussels.

"It's clear the Americans have given the Israelis the green light. They [the Israeli attacks] will be allowed to go on longer, perhaps for another week," a senior European official said yesterday. Diplomatic sources said there was a clear time limit, partly dictated by fears that a prolonged conflict could spin out of control.


Just one more week, kid!

And, as Chris Floyd points out, the indiscriminate bombing of Lebanon threatens not just Hezbollah, and not just Lebanese civilians--it threatens the lives of the 25,000 Americans in Lebanon. And rather than tell a close ally to stop threatening our citizens, we are arranging their evacuation instead (and doing a typically Bushian crappy job of it: "I can't believe the Americans," Danni Atiyeh, a 39-year-old civil engineer from Kansas City, Mo., said as he stood with his pregnant wife and sons Ali, 10, and Adrian, 6, while waiting for buses that were taking them to the ship. "Everybody else has gone home ... We're still here.") Floyd concludes:
This is what the Bush Administration is saying--through deeds, not words--with this evacuation. It is a remarkable admission. Yet at the same time, the Bushists are sending $210 million worth of vital jet fuel supplies to Israel to help run the IDF war machine (which is already well-stoked by American largess) as it wages mass slaughter and threatens the lives of up to 25,000 Americans. Obviously, Bush doesn't really care how many civilians the Israelis kill, or where they might come from, either.

But we have certainly arrived at yet another surreal moment in the Bush Imperium: American taxpayers are paying millions of dollars to fuel a war machine that is menacing the lives of thousands of, er, American taxpayers. Here is a policy worthy of the Shakespearean epithet: "too cunning to be understood."

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Sorry Ralph, you're losing me here

Ralph Nader's letter to Bush clearly was meant for other eyes:
This bombardment, by U.S. made bombers, military vehicles, ships, and missiles with American taxpayer subsidies, places an inescapable responsibility upon your shoulders which does not mix with your usual vacuous messianic rigidity.
Bush: Say what now?

Nader then goes on to recommend that Bush consult with James Baker(!), a recipe for making a horrible situation worse if ever there was one. He even suggests sending Baker to Israel to negotiate a cease fire. James Baker, who was right in the middle of our government the last time Israel attacked Lebanon. Baker was right there as the Reagan administration supported both sides of the Iran-Iraq war. Baker certainly played a role in arming the Mujahadeen in Afghanistan, helping to found al Qaeda. Baker was there when the Reaganistas were funding death squads in Nicaragua and El Salvador. He was the one who gave the green light to Saddam Hussein to invade Kuwait, and then just days later joined in the "worse than Hitler" chorus. His "diplomacy" failed to prevent the Gulf War (which of course it wasn't intended to do), and helped arrange the brutal sanctions in Iraq which hurt just about everyone there EXCEPT Saddam Hussein. And, of course, Baker was instrumental in stealing the 2000 election.

Ralph--is that the best you can come up with? James Baker????

Dingell on I-P-L

My Congressman, John Dingell, represents the largest concentration of Arab-Americans in the country. His statement on the Middle East is probably as good as we'll get from anyone in Congress. Excerpts:
There is a great tragedy unfolding in the Middle East that must be brought to an end.

The United States is the only country that can provide the necessary leadership to bring about peace, but we are not doing enough.

We must be committed to peace and must commit to achieving it.

The United States--as a leader of the free world--must take immediate steps to bring about a cease fire so that negotiations may begin. We must be a honest broker and reliable friend to all who want peace.

The United Nations--with U.S. leadership and the support of our friends and allies in the Middle East and Europe--must provide an international peace keeping force that brings Hezbollah under the control of the Lebanese government. To make this possible, Israel must immediately cease inflicting further damage on Lebanon's civilian infrastructure.

Failure to do this will have appalling consequences.
Awful things are happening in Israel and innocent people are hurting.

Terrible things are happening and innocent people are suffering in Gaza and Lebanon.

Israel can not afford, for its own security, to have a failed state at its northern border in addition to the chaos in Gaza at its southern border. The Lebanese people cannot afford to reenter the dark days of destruction of a generation ago. They cannot afford to lose hope in a prosperous and peaceful future that the Cedar Revolution offered. And once the bombs have stopped falling, and the Lebanese government has complete sovereignty over its territory, the United States needs to lead the way in helping Lebanon rebuild and reinvest. If we profess to support democracies, we can not turn our back on the million and a half Lebanese who marched and voted for a better country.

The actions of Hezbollah have been wrong and counterproductive. They violated Israel's borders, they have continually targeted civilians, and they have endangered Lebanon's promising future.

The reaction of Israel has been disproportionate and counterproductive. The use of force has brought about a tragic amount of civilian deaths and has weakened a promising democracy in Lebanon.

The situation cannot be permitted to continue.

General war in the Middle East is near and World War III is possible.
...
We must favor peace over all other concerns. We must concentrate on achieving peace for the benefit of people of the area and all the countries of the world.

Merkel and Smirkel

Herr Bush and Frau Merkel were having such fun together the other day:



Apparently aWol misread the signals:





That was at the G-8 summit, no less, with Elvis and Pooty-Poot and Laura's debonaire French friend and everybody there. YouTube has the video.

Chris Floyd comments:
What's more disturbing here? The fact that Bush has goosed the German Chancellor at a high-level summit meeting? Or the completely zonked-out look on his face? Is he on Halcion, like dear old dad? Or is it Old Grandad again? Has there ever been such a goon in charge of a vast nuclear arsenal? Lord have mercy on us all.

To which I'll add: Did even Bill Clinton flirt this much, with world leaders of both sexes, when Hillary was along on the trip?

Of course Iraq is still a mess

Chris Floyd writes about the recent escalation of violence, which even reportedly has Sunni leaders begging US troops to stay, and relates it to earlier reports on the US employing the "Salvador option" and support of militias:
Can it really be a complete and total coincidence, an amazing accident of history, that the "blood-dimmed tide" now loosed upon Iraq follows so closely upon the Bush Regime's plans to foment terrorism, employ death squads and "ride with the bad boys" in order to achieve its strategic goals--and that the reign of terrorism, death squads and bad boys now ravaging Iraq has convinced even some of the most recalcitrant opponents of the occupation that American forces should stay in Iraq--which happens to be one of the Regime's primary strategic goals?

Have I mentioned that I hate Hillary?

She spoke at a pro-Israel rally yesterday:
"I want us here in New York to imagine, if extremist terrorists were launching rocket attacks across the Mexican or Canadian border, would we stand by or would we defend America against these attacks from extremists?" Mrs. Clinton said to roars of approval.
By "defend America" I'm guessing that Hillary means we would turn Toronto, Montreal, Ottawa, Mexico City, Guadalajara and Cancun into parking lots.
Clinton said she supported taking "whatever steps are necessary" to defend Israel against Hamas, Hezbollah, Iran and Syria in the military conflict in the Middle East.

Senator Clinton, addressing a crowd of several thousand people, said the United States must show "solidarity and support" for Israel in the face of the "unwarranted, unprovoked" seizure of three Israeli soldiers by members of Hamas and Hezbollah, which she referred to as among "the new totalitarians of the 21st century."
It seems impossible that she could be a worse president than Bush, but by George she's gonna try.

From Matt Wuerker.

The cartoonists all fall in line

That the right-wing cartoonists would blame Hamas, Hezbollah, Syria and Iran for Israel's aggression is a given. No surprises from

Michael Ramirez


or
Henry Payne


But even lefty cartoonists are falling in line with the party line (probably the Democratic party):

Steve Sack

(Ummm...I think you're missing the two biggest sources there Steve--Israel and the US.)

Matt Davies


These are cartoonists who regularly point out the lies and incompetence of the Bush administration, even (now) regarding Iraq. But when it comes to the new lies about Iran and North Korea, these guys might as well be working for Karl Rove. And their "pouring fuel on the fire" analogy is rich, given that the Pentagon is literally doing exactly that:
The U.S. Defense Department is selling Israel jet fuel "to keep peace and security in the region," the Pentagon said.

Last Friday's statement announcing the sale did not say when Israel requested the fuel, valued at up to $210 million.

"The proposed sale of the JP-8 aviation fuel will enable Israel to maintain the operational capability of its aircraft inventory," the Pentagon said in the notice of such sales that it's required to give Congress, according to a Reuters report.

The fuel will be consumed while Israeli aircraft are "in use to keep peace and security in the region," the notice said.
Peace and security. So that's what this is:










From Clay Bennett.

From Mike Lester.

From Tom Toles.

Monday, July 17, 2006

TWA 800--Ten years ago tonight

I still don't buy the official story. The Clinton administration decided that a terror attack one month before the Atlanta Olympics and four months before the election wouldn't look good, so they ignored the one-hundred-plus eyewitnesses who saw a missile and derailed the investigation for months. Of course not all of the "conspiracy theories" are true, and some probably were started by Republican partisans looking to discredit Clinton. But everything about the investigation screams out cover-up. Presidents don't react to tragedies by trying to figure out what happened, or how to prevent them from happening again. They react to tragedies in the ways they calculate are going to benefit them most politically. In July 1996 Clinton was popular and looking to ride to an easy re-election over a weak Republican opponent--he didn't need any terrorists rocking the boat. In September 2001 Bush was wallowing in his own incompetence with his poll numbers sinking from his second-place finish in the election--9/11 was just what he needed. (See TWA800.com for lots of articles on why the official story is a sham. Also, Nelson Demille's Nightfall is a fascinating novel based on TWA 800--an easy, fun and even informative read.)

BTW, NBC's Brian Williams is a smug prick. He introduced the TWA 800 story tonight, and then went to footage of an MSNBC anchor covering the story ten years ago. That anchor? Brian Williams. I saw Dan Rather do that a couple of years ago, although his report from the field had been put together earlier the same day--not ten years earlier.

Mexicans know how to protest a stolen election


Of course, it helps to have a candidate who actually wants to win after he has won.

We're not blaming Israel

"I will never apologize for the United States of America. I don't care what the facts are." -- George H. W. Bush, 1988

"We're not blaming Israel." -- George W. Bush, today.

That W said the s-word is getting most of the attention in the news reports, disguising the fact that everything he says is s-word. Juan Cole blames the above quote, and the open-mike conversation with Tony Blair that it came from, on W's ignorance. Normally, this would seem to be a good guess--W knows so little, and what he does know is usually wrong (I'm sure Rummy could make that sound funnier). But in this case, I don't think that his "We're not blaming Israel" is based on ignorance of what Israel is doing or has done. It is a statement of policy, just like Daddy's statement 18 years earlier. Israel could crash American-made jets, well-marked with the star of David, into the Sears Tower, the Empire State Building, and the Capitol, and publicly claim credit for it, and the official policy of the U.S. government would still be "We're not blaming Israel." You can go to supposedly the most progressive member of the US Senate, Russ Feingold, and you'll get exactly the same message:
I stand firmly with the people of Israel and their government as they defend themselves against these outrageous attacks. The kidnapping of Israeli soldiers and missile attacks against Israeli citizens are unacceptable and cannot be tolerated. The first steps toward establishing peace must begin with the unconditional and immediate return of the kidnapped Israeli soldiers. Lebanon, Syria, Iran and countries throughout the region must also condemn the actions of Hezbollah, Hamas, and other groups committed to blocking the peace process and must take strong actions to return stability to the region immediately.
In this case, it's not so much that Bush doesn't know the facts. Like his Daddy, he doesn't care what the facts are--and neither does Feingold.

All that's missing is butterfly ballots

Greg Palast and Al Giordano have the latest on the theft of the Mexican election, which has most of the trappings of Florida 2000, including Georgia-based data-mangling firm ChoicePoint. The biggest difference seems to be that Mexicans actually care, and are protesting in huge numbers. From what I saw and heard in Mexico last winter, Lopez Obrador should have been a runaway winner. Maybe he was.

"They started it"

Israeli writer Gideon Levy answers that childish excuse offered by Israeli leaders and their American supporters for every war crime Israel commits:
What would have happened if the Palestinians had not fired Qassams? Would Israel have lifted the economic siege that it imposed on Gaza? Would it open the border to Palestinian laborers? Free prisoners? Meet with the elected leadership and conduct negotiations? Encourage investment in Gaza? Nonsense. If the Gazans were sitting quietly, as Israel expects them to do, their case would disappear from the agenda--here and around the world. Israel would continue with the convergence, which is solely meant to serve its goals, ignoring their needs. Nobody would have given any thought to the fate of the people of Gaza if they did not behave violently. That is a very bitter truth, but the first 20 years of the occupation passed quietly and we did not lift a finger to end it.

Instead, under cover of the quiet, we built the enormous, criminal settlement enterprise. With our own hands, we are now once again pushing the Palestinians into using the petty arms they have; and in response, we employ nearly the entire enormous arsenal at our disposal, and continue to complain that "they started."

We started. We started with the occupation, and we are duty-bound to end it, a real and complete ending. We started with the violence. There is no violence worse than the violence of the occupier, using force on an entire nation, so the question about who fired first is therefore an evasion meant to distort the picture. After Oslo, too, there were those who claimed that "we left the territories," in a similar mixture of blindness and lies.
As they say, read the whole article.

Sunday, July 16, 2006

Do something long enough, even the NY Times will notice

It is only now, nearly five years after Sept. 11, that the full picture of the Bush administration’s response to the terror attacks is becoming clear. Much of it, we can see now, had far less to do with fighting Osama bin Laden than with expanding presidential power.
That's the lead paragraph from today's lead editorial in the NY Times. There is truth here, certainly. To simplify and improve: "Much of the Bush administration's response to the terror attacks had far less to do with fighting Osama bin Laden than with expanding presidential power." But to suggest that this wasn't clear years ago, even just weeks after 9/11, is to suggest that someone isn't paying attention (even to their own newspaper articles). Every action the Bushies took after 9/11 was directed towards augmenting their power, not catching terrorists or preventing future attacks. Hundreds of middle eastern and south Asian people were detained for weeks and months, with basic rights violated. A global "war on terror" was almost immediately declared, an Israeli-like disproportionate and nonsensical step to take--unless, that is, if the goal was to increase presidential power, which wars always do. Rather than launch investigations into what actually happened, the administration actively blocked such investigations, preferring to pursue unconstitutional Patriot Acts instead. The thought police, led by AG John Ashcroft, threatened anyone who questioned the official story, accusing them of treason. The Taliban offered to turn over Osama, if only the US would present evidence of his guilt--but this would have taken away W's war card, which is what he really wanted. Using Gitmo, with its rag-tag collection of the extremely unlucky plus a few terrorists, seems to have been designed specifically to claim extraordinary powers for the pResident. Throw in Padilla, Hamdi, the Iraq war--all designed to grab power for the pResident.

Unless you've been reading this blog very closely for years, you might suspect that I've always been a hard-left radical who has hated every Republican after Lincoln. Not so. My hatred for W is not genetic or conditioned by years of practice hating Republicans--it developed almost entirely in the weeks following 9/11. To me it was as clear as day that he was using a tragedy to pursue a pre-planned agenda which had nothing to do with bringing terrorists to justice (real justice, not the vaporizing by missile fire justice Bush means when he talks about bringing them to justice) or with protecting America. His Stalinesque "you're with us or you're with the terrorists" was so obnoxious, so wrong, and the real purpose of a "war on terror" so transparent, I'm still shocked and awed that so many people don't see it. (In this country, that is--most of the world understands.)

And here's the NY Times, with the wool finally falling from their eyes, pretending that they're the first to see a dictatorship being constructed. Aargh! Even so, they still have plenty of wool over their eyes, all while claiming they don't:
While no one questions the determination of the White House to fight terrorism, the methods this administration has used to do it have been shaped by another, perverse determination: never to consult, never to ask and always to fight against any constraint on the executive branch.
No one questions? NO ONE?? I certainly do. Most of the links on my blogroll do. About one billion Muslims do. George Orwell did, and he died long before the Supreme Court appointed our current dictator. If they were determined to fight terrorism, they would at least take the time to define it. But that would raise ugly questions, like "Why is Hezbollah firing rockets at Israeli civilians 'terrorism,' while Israel dropping bombs on Lebanese civilians is 'defense?'" Or the obvious parallels in Iraq.

Sorry, I'm rambling. I'm always glad to see another passenger jump on the anti-Bush bandwagon. But it is annoying when they pretend they're the first ones here, especially since they really should know better.

Terrorist Training

You have probably seen in the past couple of weeks reports that skinheads and other neo-Nazis are getting into the U.S. military, despite an official ban. The story originated from the courageous Southern Poverty Law Center, based on an interview with an investigator from the Department of Defense. The SPLC is headquartered in a shiny building on a hill in Montgomery, Alabama, not far from the state capitol building (which was the first capitol of the Confederacy and the endpoint for the famous Selma-Montgomery civil rights march in 1965), the "First White House of the Confederacy," and the Dexter Avenue Baptist Church, where Martin Luther King preached in the 1950's. The SPLC tracks the Klan and other racist hate groups.

Anyway, I saw the reports echoed in blogs and thought, well, that figures. Most blogs attributed the Pentagon's stepping around its own policy to its desperation to get bodies, any bodies, into uniform and off to Iraq--which makes sense. When he's got a quota to fill, a recruiting sergeant may choose not to notice that his candidates seem a bit slow, or have a few too many needle marks on their arms, or that they've got swastikas tatooed on their shoulders. Most bloggers also pointed out that having these kind of soldiers is hardly the way to win hearts and minds in Iraq, and that our tax dollars are now going to train some of our most dangerous people in the use of advanced weaponry, which may well end up being used back home (Timothy McVeigh and John Allen Mohammed, for example). Most bloggers suggested that this was a dangerous and probably inevitable side effect of starting a stupid and pointless war and becoming desperate for troops. What I didn't see in these blog posts was the suggestion that training our skinheads is actually a goal of Bushie policy--until now.

Chris Floyd cites evidence from the SPLC report and elsewhere which suggests that this is all part of the Bushies' plan (to the extent they can be said to have a plan). Here are some excerpts from Floyd's article:
Hundreds, possibly thousands of neo-Nazis and "white power" extremists have infiltrated U.S. forces in a deliberate strategy to get training in weapons, urban warfare and covert operations, the Pentagon's own investigators report. These homegrown terrorists – avowed enemies of democracy, committed to sparking the same kind of horrific civil war in America that George W. Bush has spawned in Iraq – have wormed their way into some of most elite military units, as well as filling up the ordinary ranks with cretinous "race warriors."

This infestation is being actively abetted by the Bush Regime.
...
The infiltration is part of a concerted strategy by the neo-Nazi movement to use Bush's war for terrorist training – much as their extremist brothers in al Qaeda are doing. In skinhead magazines and innumerable websites, they pass along handy hints and exhortations to their cloaked comrades in the field and potential recruits at home. "Light infantry is your branch of choice because the coming race war and the ethnic cleansing to follow will be very much an infantryman's war," writes Steven Barry, a former Special Forces officer now serving as "military unit coordinator" for the neo-Nazi National Alliance, the New York Times reports.

"[The race war] will be house-to-house, neighborhood-by-neighborhood, until your town or city is cleared and the alien races are driven into the countryside where they can be hunted down and 'cleansed,'" writes Barry, as if he were channeling one of the deadly Iraqi militias sponsored by the Bushists in their self-confessed "Salvador Option" – an undercover program named for the right-wing Central American death squads armed and trained by the Reagan-Bush administration in the 1980s, as the New Yorker reports.

"Join only for the training, and to better defend yourself, our people and our culture," says another all-American goosestepper, Army engineer and Iraq war veteran John Fain. "We must have people to open doors from the inside when the time comes."

But it looks like some big-time insiders are already opening those doors. The percentage of "moral waivers" being granted to recruits for past misdeeds – and for previously disqualifying factors such as violent extremism and gang membership – has "more than doubled since 2001," the Chicago Sun-Times reports.
...
The tacit acceptance of neo-Nazis in the military is part of a broader pattern at work in the Bush Imperium: the "mainstreaming" of right-wing extremism in American society, an alarming development well documented by journalist Dave Niewert at Orcinus. White-power advocates once stuck under rocks on the lunatic fringe now appear on network television as respected spokesmen on the "immigration question." High-profile Bush-backers in the mainstream media – Ann Coulter, Michelle Malkin, Rush Limbaugh and other gasbags – routinely tout "fantasies" of ethnic cleansing, concentration camps, and death for "traitors," i.e., anyone who opposes the hard-right line. Bush himself has openly embraced demented religious extremists like the "Dominionists" whose rabid doctrines of Christian nationalism are scarcely distinguishable from the religious perversions that undergird most neo-Nazi philosophies. He has brought them to the very center of power, in government, the media and in institutions like the Council for National Policy, the right-wing steering group whose regular meetings of White House officials, TV evangelists, corporate honchos, conservative journalists – and Dominionists – help set the party line peddled by those media blowhards.

In its heedless lust for loot and dominion, the Bush Faction will use anyone: neo-Nazis, neoconservatives, theocrats, dictators, death squads, nutballs, gasbags. The blowback from this nest of vipers will poison American life for generations – but of course the Bushists don't care. America is nothing to them but a cash cow and a billy club. Let the stupid rabble worry about war-trained Nazis in the streets; the Bush elite will be safe and cozy in their gated, guarded mansions.

Israel-Gaza-Lebanon reading assignment

If you'd like some perspective from places other than a state-run media that calls the capture of enemy soldiers "kidnapping" and the bombing of civilians "defense," try these: Chris Floyd, of course. And Billmon. And Robert Fisk. Also, Juan Cole and The Nation point out that Bush insisted that Syrian troops leave Lebanon, which they did, but that Bush now blames Syria for not controlling Hezbollah in Lebanon--by remote control. (An interesting bit of pundits not wanting to take credit for an idea: On Juan Cole's blog, he credits The Nation for this observation--but The Nation presents it as a quote from Cole.)

Saturday, July 15, 2006

Gay marriage? No.

Gay diplomacy, on the other hand...What the leaders of the no-longer-free world do in the back seat of a Soviet crapmobile is their own business.

I dunno--somebody might get jealous.

Quote du jour

From Pooty-Poot:
"I talked about my desire to promote institutional change in parts of the world, like Iraq where there's a free press and free religion, and I told him that a lot of people in our country would hope that Russia would do the same," Bush said.

To that, Putin replied, "We certainly would not want to have the same kind of democracy that they have in Iraq, quite honestly."
I must say, that is SOME BUBBLE aWol has. I consider it to be at least marginally insane to have any optimism about Iraq ever having real democracy, freedom of the press, or freedom of religion--especially at the hands of our fascist neocons. But considering Iraq, currently, to be a model for ANYONE is beyond crazy. Freedom of religion, in a country where dozens of people are killed each day for their religion--Sunnis kill people because they're Shiites, Shiites kill people because they're Sunnis, Americans kill people because they're Muslim. And anyone who thinks there is freedom of the press in Iraq hasn't read this interview with Newsweek's Baghdad bureau chief.
The restrictions on [journalists’] movements are very severe. It is extremely dangerous to move around anywhere in Iraq, but we do. We all have Iraqi staff who get around, and we go on trips arranged by the U.S. State Department as frequently as we can.

But the military has started censoring many [embedded reporting] arrangements. Before a journalist is allowed to go on an embed now, [the military] check[s] the work you have done previously. They want to know your slant on a story—they use the word slant—what you intend to write, and what you have written from embed trips before. If they don’t like what you have done before, they refuse to take you. There are cases where individual reporters have been blacklisted because the military wasn’t happy with the work they had done on embed. But we get out among the Iraqi public a whole lot more than almost any American official, certainly more than military officials do.
George! If you really want to promote democracy, start in the country where you actually have some authority. Get rid of the electronic voting machines, promote runoff voting, and stop shredding the Constitution.

BTW, a couple of days ago Chris Floyd wrote about the whackos W is backing to bring "democracy" to Russia. Not too much different from those other guys who tried to "liberate" Russia back in 1941 with Panzer tanks.

Labels:


From Mike Keefe.

Talk about failing to recognize Israel!

Bush blames Hezbollah for Mideast violence:
"The best way to stop the violence is for Hezbollah to lay down its arms and to stop attacking. And therefore I call upon Syria to exert influence over Hezbollah," Bush said.
And while Bush clues us in on one of the reasons as to why Israel has decided to destroy largely defenseless Lebanon (Syria), the Israelis helpfully point us to the other half--Iran.
A missile fired by Hezbollah, not an unmanned drone laden with explosives, damaged an Israeli warship off Lebanon, the army said Saturday. Iranian troops helped fire the missile, a senior intelligence official said.

One sailor was killed and three were missing.

The intelligence official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitive nature of the information, said about 100 Iranian soldiers are in Lebanon and helped fire the Iranian-made, radar-guided C-102 at the ship late Friday.
It seems pretty obvious to me that neither Bush nor the Israelis fear that this already horrible war will escalate to include the entire Middle East. Instead, that seems to be its real purpose. The WMD ploy is stale after Iraq, especially since there is no evidence of an Iranian weapons program, and since everything Iran has done has been within the bounds of the non-proliferation treaty, which it signed years ago (and Israel didn't). So now the plan is just to provoke somebody in the Middle East to respond to Israel's aggression with an act horrible enough that it will "justify" the war on Iran--just as 9/11 was used to "justify" the pre-planned wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Friday, July 14, 2006

And you Lebanese obviously don't

From the WaPo:
Lebanon's prime minister asked Bush, during a phone call Friday, to pressure Israel for a cease-fire. But Bush told Prime Minister Fuad Saniora that Israelis have a right to protect themselves.
Meanwhile, Tony Snow demonstrates why he's the perfect spokesmodel for W:
"We think it's important that, in doing that, they try to limit as much as possible the so-called collateral damage, not only on civilians but also on human lives," Snow said.
Civilians AND humans?

What they said

Selections from other bloggers' posts on Israel-Gaza-Lebanon:

Chris Floyd:
Israel's two-front war of collective punishment will only increase the amount of sectarian extremism in the powder-keg region. It will only split Lebanon into warring factions again – or else unite them in anti-Israeli fury. It will without doubt only increase the support for violent resistance and religious extremism in Palestine, which will of course result in many more Israeli civilian deaths, though always on a level far below the slaughter of Palestinian civilians. And it will only further degrade Israel's standing in the world, leaving it more isolated and threatened than before.

All this is just on the local level; but if we may once more evoke the Bronze Age deity who has spawned the three primitive sects at the center of this relentless maelstrom of blood and suffering, God only knows how the Israeli incursions will reverberate in the wider world. But fresh hell is coming – that's guaranteed.
Billmon:
If I had to pin it down, I would say the big difference between this crisis and similar past episodes is how completely off balance the Israelis seem to be – lurching from reaction to reaction without any clear plan or strategy. The Gaza incursion was thrown together, more or less on the fly, which led to some embarrassing public squabbling within the Israeli cabinet. The attempt to decapitate Hamas’s civilian leadership by arresting the entire Palestinian cabinet smacked of improvisation, and largely failed. Hezbollah’s intervention clearly took Jerusalem by surprise, which is probably why the response has been so disproportionate: the Israelis are rather desperately trying to regain the initiative.
Many more insights at both of those links.

Might as well laugh while the world collapses


From Red Meat.

Thursday, July 13, 2006

$77.90

Oil got as high as $78.35 a couple of hours ago. You've got to figure that if the US keeps vetoing UN resolutions against Israel, a new Arab oil embargo is a real possibility. Then oil goes over $100 a barrel, easy.

Well, of course we do

U.S. vetoes U.N. condemnation of Israel. Demonstrating the UN's slide into irrelevance, I guess.

Right. But it's Israel!

Israelis fire on Fox News, according to Fox News.

Incredible comments from the Fox News clowns back in the studio:
Dark-haired clown (comparatively sane): Clearly, shooting at the press, too. He's wearing a flack jacket that says "press" right on it.
Blond clown (insane): Yeah, but if you're somebody and you're a long ways away and you just see something and you don't know who it is, sometimes you just start shooting.
Dark-haired clown: Really?
Then later, after the reporter from Gaza says he's pretty sure that it was Israelis who fired at him...
Dark-haired clown: I don't understand. It says "press," it's that color, it's international...
Blond clown: Bad guys shoot at anything...
Dark-haired clown: Right. But it's Israel!
Obviously a moment of cognitive dissonance for dark-haired clown. As the American flag flies in the corner, celebrating the freedom of American press hacks to go anywhere on earth and have American bullets fired at them.

Lebanon--and on and on

From Dennis Perrin:
War is what Israel does best, and we're about to get a full bloody plate of it.

Well, not we good Americans -- not directly, anyway. Not until some pissed-off jihadists decide to answer our bankrolling of this present round of aggression with God knows what. Because, like it or not, every Israeli missile that hits residential Beirut (and elsewhere) comes courtesy of our collective pocket. Might as well have "Howdy From The USA!" painted on each shell. When Israel attacks, we attack, a reality that a lot of Americans either ignore, dismiss, or in some corners, celebrate.

What's going on at this very moment is quite serious, both for the Middle East and for the world. And far from this being a "defensive" war (the only kind Israel fights, according to its apologists), the present escalation in Lebanon, as in Gaza, is part of a larger strategy that goes beyond kidnapped soldiers and Qassam and Katyusha rockets launched at Israeli border towns. This is about hitting Syria and ultimately Iran, since Israel will not allow any other country in the region to even taste nuclear power. The right to bear nuclear arms is Israel's alone, and they'll keep it that way, no matter how many cities they have to bomb and civilians they have to slaughter. You need only to listen to the words of Israeli commanders. Far from sounding cornered and defensive, they are openly boasting about bringing extensive pain to their selected targets. As stated in a Ha'aretz news analysis, "According to the [senior IDF] officers, if the kidnapped soldiers are not returned alive and well, the Lebanese civilian infrastructures will regress 20, or even 50 years."
...
Israel employs violence because it can. It outguns every state in the region and does not hesitate to brutally remind everyone of this fact. Its leadership rejects any peace agreement that might put even the lightest curb on its use of force, which of course guarantees endless cycles of bloodshed, since Hamas and Hezbollah do not turn the other cheek.
AWol and Condi are, of course, blaming the whole mess on Syria and Iran.

Sustainably stealing the world's oil

The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), the folks who helped Al Gore invent the Internet*, are studying the possibility of using biofuels to power America's full-spectrum dominance:
The Defense Department has been directed to explore a wide range of energy alternatives and fuel efficiency efforts in a bid to reduce the military?s reliance on oil to power its aircraft, ground vehicles and non-nuclear ships. DARPA is interested in proposals for research and development efforts to develop a process that efficiently produces a surrogate for petroleum based military jet fuel (JP-8) from oil-rich crops produced by either agriculture or aquaculture (including but not limited to plants, algae, fungi, and bacteria) and which ultimately can be an affordable alternative to petroleum-derived JP-8. Current commercial processes for producing biodiesel yield a fuel that is unsuitable for military applications, which require higher energy density and a wide operating temperature range.
Here's a better idea--turn those jets into plowshares or something.

Also in the "Good ideas for bad people" category, as well as the "Al Gore" category, there's this story:
Wal-Mart Stores hosted former Vice President Al Gore at a conference Wednesday evening that the company said is the next step in its efforts to improve the environment.

The company said the conference at its Bentonville, Ark., headquarters, dubbed the quarterly sustainability network meeting, included Gore's presentation on the dangers of global warming, as well as one from officials of the Rocky Mountain Institute and the Evangelical Environmental Network.
So what's next? Was Ken Lay taken to his final stealing place in a hybrid hearse? Is W now writing his pro-torture signing statements on 100% recycled paper? Are we now using ultra-low-sulfur fuel in our napalm? Composting the bodies of our victims?

* Yes, I know Gore didn't invent the Internet, and I know he didn't claim that he did.

$76.35

I went past the local Speedway gas station about half an hour ago--the price for regular was $2.99.9. I'm guessing that's the last I'll ever see of sub-$3 gasoline.

From Emad Hajjaj.

From Pat Bagley.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Forcing Armageddon


A fireball and a column of smoke billow above a Lebanese village hit by an Israeli airstrike today. (Reuters via WaPo)

While Condi whines about Kim Jung Il and Ahmedinajad, nuclear-equipped Israel is doing everything possible to start World War III. Olmert makes those two clowns seem like models of sanity. Of course, so does Bush.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

If I get abducted, don't send the Israelis to look for me

They don't seem to have any qualms about killing the hostage in order to save him:
Israel has been hammering Gaza with artillery and airstrikes in what it says is an effort to find army Cpl. Gilad Shalit, who was abducted June 25 in a cross-border raid by Palestinian militants.
Are they following up their attacks by taking DNA samples to see if any of the carnage might have been part of Cpl. Shalit? Their latest raid killed at least seven Palestinians and wounded fifteen, including children.

Zidane's headbutt explained

Big News! U.S. to follow law!

Top story on the NY Times, WaPo and CNN right now--the U.S. has decided to follow the Geneva Conventions, something it hasn't done for nearly five years, even though according to the Constitution they should be the "highest law of the land." But don't get too excited--what the Bushies say and what the Bushies do are two wildly different things.

US threatens to democratize Cuba

Not starting at Gitmo, to be sure. Clearly going for the gold medal in imperial arrogance, the Bushies have developed a Compact with the Cuban People to let them know that when Fidel dies we'll be right there to replace their nightmare of good education, healthcare, and well-organized hurricane relief with Coca Cola, sweatshops, and maybe a lot of violence. Oh--and flooded cities, too!

WIIIAI has more to say about the Compact.

Humanitarian crisis in Gaza

GENEVA, July 10 (KUNA) -- The UN Co-Ordination Office for Humanitarian Affairs (UN OCHA) on Monday called for the continuous and unimpeded access for humanitarian assistance and fuel supplies to Gaza as the strip is drowning into a humanitarian crisis.
...
With the bombing of the electric plant, the lives of 1.4 million people, almost half of them children, worsened overnight. The Government of Israel should repair the damage done to the power station," said the OCHA statement. Civilians, said OCHA, are disproportionately paying the price of this conflict. In the immediate future, OCHA expressed fear that the humanitarian situation could easily deteriorate, with continued Israeli military operations and artillery shelling, which could damage the remaining infrastructure and essential services. Other UN agencies working in Gaza joined UN OCHA in warning that unless urgent action is taken, a humanitarian crisis will unfold that will have far reaching consequences for the communities they work in and the institutions they work for. Those agencies working in the occupied Palestinian territory are alarmed by developments on the ground, which have seen innocent civilians, including children, killed, brought increased misery to hundreds of thousands of people and which will wreak far-reaching harm on Palestinian society. "
via Juan Cole, who recommends contacting Congress, which makes possible Israel's criminal policies of collective punishment by providing billions of dollars of assistance every year.

From Don Wright.

From Matt Davies.

From David Horsey.

She probably already has


From Chan Lowe.

News from your DOD

U.S. and Iraqi security forces will go after any rogue band or group that preys on innocent Iraqi citizens, a senior U.S. officer said in Baghdad today.

"That is something that we're not going to tolerate," Army Maj. Gen. William B. Caldwell IV, a Multinational Force Iraq spokesman, told reporters in Iraq's capital city.
-- American Forces Information Service

To simplify command and control, Caldwell IV didn't add, the U.S. forces will be chasing down the Iraqi security forces, while the Iraqi security forces will target the U.S. military. Rogue Sunni and Shiite militias seem to be doing an adequate job of targeting each other already.

Terrorist Attacks Kill Iraqi Civilians
Terrorists fired four mortar rounds at an open field in the northern Baghdad district of Khadimiyah on July 7, killing four Iraqis and wounding 38 children. Iraqi children frequently use the field as a playground, officials said.
A terrorist spokesperson said that the casualties were "regrettable collateral damage." "Unfortunately, this type of thing happens in war," said Ahmed al-Caldwellah IV. "But this is a fight that must be won, and we will stay the course. We will not cut and run, as some would suggest we do."

And then there's this: Rumsfeld says Taliban will be defeated. He heads the world's largest ever military, and nearly five years after going to war with a rag-tag bunch of ninth-century warriors armed with Nissan pickups and AK-47, he has the unmitigated gall not only to claim that he can beat them, but not to commit hari-kari as well. He also is begging Europe to put a stop to Afghanistan's heroin trade, something only the Taliban has ever been able to curb. Rummy knows exactly what the "militants" don't want:
Rumsfeld said militants "don't want to see a country like Afghanistan have a successful democracy. They won't succeed."
It's amazing these liars still get away with this nonsense about democracy, especially now that the US has effectively vetoed the somewhat-democratically-elected governments in both Iraq (Jafari) and Palestine (Hamas).

And it wouldn't be Rummy without some Rummy-speak:
Rumsfeld, who arrived unannounced in the Afghan capital, also said regional cooperation with Afghanistan's neighbors to stop Taliban and al-Qaida movements entering this country "has been helpful, but it has not reduced cross-border" activity.
Um--what would unhelpful look like?

Monday, July 10, 2006

Update from Bush Quagmire I

Christina Lamb writes for the Sunday Times (UK) about the never-ending disaster that is Afghanistan:
Far from Afghanistan being a model for Iraq, Iraq has become a model for Afghanistan. There have been 41 Afghan suicide bombings in the past nine months, compared with five in the preceding five years. IEDs — improvised explosive devices — have become a fact of life. Three were left in roadside handcarts in Kabul last week to detonate as buses went past.

According to United Nations officials, not a day passes without a school being burnt down or a teacher being murdered, often in front of schoolchildren.
...
The southern third of the country, which British troops are supposed to “secure for development”, has long been ungovernable and a no-go area for aid agencies. It is all too easy here for the Taliban to tell local people that the West — and the pro-western government in Kabul — promised aid but has done nothing for them. Where the Taliban are not openly controlling districts, they have set up shadow administrations that assume power as soon as dusk falls.

More alarmingly, the Taliban are no longer just in the south but have even moved into the province of Logar, 25 miles from Kabul. Among their Afghan victims they particularly target police and their relatives as well as guards, road builders and interpreters for western contractors. About 1,500 Afghans were killed by the Taliban last year; 400 have died this year.
...
Yet while ISAF commanders regard the warlords as part of the problem, the Americans have seen them as the best source of local intelligence and paid them millions of dollars.

Just as damaging have been the continuing air raids across Afghanistan, sometimes on wedding parties or innocent villagers, which have led to the loss of thousands of civilian lives. In May this year there were an astonishing 750 bombing raids, according to American Central Command.

Karzai has repeatedly complained to the Americans about the bombers and the lack of cultural sensitivity of raids on the ground — doors kicked down in the middle of the night, male soldiers entering women’s quarters or taking in dogs which are considered unclean.

Another bitter complaint is of American convoys driving too fast and not stopping when they run someone down. It was such an incident in Kabul that provoked a six-hour riot last month — yet two weeks later a US truck ran over a child in exactly the same place.
...
Just as the international community has not been committed or consistent enough in its military support, so there has been chaos in aid for economic development. The amount of aid has not been enough. At about £5 billion, it is far less than that spent in East Timor, Haiti or Kosovo; yet Afghanistan has a much bigger problem.

There has also been a lack of co-ordination and a focus on First World priorities such as gender rights rather than basic health or infrastructure. There has been an endless stream of American feminists intent not only on sweeping away the tyranny of the burqa but also on introducing western concepts of sexual equality. Yet in a country where children regularly die of malnutrition, all the Afghan mothers I know are far more interested in food, clinics and security. Liberation can wait.
...
Not a single new dam, power station or water system has been built in the five years since the Taliban fell. Only one important highway has been completed. Kabul still has no sewerage system. Its streets remain piled high with rubbish and running with green effluent. Only 6% of the population has electricity and Afghanistan remains at the bottom of all social indicators.
...
The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime estimates that Afghanistan earned $2.8 billion from opium production last year — more than it received in aid.
Bigger problem than Haiti, green effluent running in the streets--now that's liberation.

Generosity kills

Jonathan Schwarz reminds us that the most dangerous people in the world are generally those claiming to be generous. He cites a recent Michelle Malkin comment:
The manipulative detainees at Guantanamo Bay reportedly used the generous civil liberties protections we gave them to plot their suicide pact. Are you surprised?
Schwarz refers to a previous post of his on The Iron Law of Generosity, which features these incredible quotes from the self-anointed kings of generosity:
"Rightly considered, the policy of the General Government toward the red man is not only liberal, but generous." -- President Andrew Jackson, 1830

"In [our] treaties we have been more than just to the Indians; we have been abundantly generous... No other conquering and colonizing nation has ever treated the original savage owners of the soil with such generosity as has the United States." -- Teddy Roosevelt (and if you've ever admired TR, reading a few paragraphs from that link should cure you of that affliction)

"What the United States is doing in Vietnam is the most significant example of philanthropy extended by one people to another that we have witnessed in our times." -- David Lawrence, editor of US News & World Report.

"If we Germans have a fateful flaw in our national character, it is forgetfulness. This failing speaks well of our human decency and generosity, but not always for our political wisdom or intelligence. We think everyone else as is good natured as we are." -- Joseph Goebbels, 1943.
Jonathan concludes:
[W]hen people get righteously worked up about how wonderful they are, and their enemy's lack of gratitude, you really need to keep an eye on them.

One way to end a career


France's Zinedine Zidane was apparently just tired of playing in yesterday's World Cup final, so he head-butted his Italian opponent in the chest. Italy won the Cup in a shootout.

Sound familiar?

His primary rules were: never allow the public to cool off; never admit a fault or wrong; never concede that there may be some good in your enemy; never leave room for alternatives; never accept blame; concentrate on one enemy at a time and blame him for everything that goes wrong; people will believe a big lie sooner than a little one; and if you repeat it frequently enough people will sooner or later believe it.
-- From an Office of Strategic Services profile of Hitler, written during World War II.

Quote du jour

The corporate masters of astroturf PR and industry-funded junk science are in much the same position as their White House colleagues: Still firmly in control on the bridge of the Titanic, even as the forward compartments gradually fill with sea water.
-- Billmon, in a post about Al Gore's movie.

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Saturday, July 08, 2006

Escape hatch

Strange world. If you were a black hip-hop producer facing a four-year sentence in Dubai for cocaine possession, who would you call for help? I'm not sure how I would answer that question, but I'm pretty sure that the name of Orrin Hatch, wingnut Republican senator from Utah, would never come up. Nevertheless, it was apparently Hatch who gave Dallas Austin a get-out-of-jail-free card, allowing him to come home to Atlanta rather than rot in Dubai. Too bad Hatch doesn't have the same compassion for the 140,000 young Americans trapped in the Middle East in a criminal war.

Must be age--he's nowhere near that smart


From Steve Nease.

From Kirk Walters.

From Dana Summers.

Quote du jour

Right now we are borrowing huge amounts of money from China to buy huge amounts of oil from the most unstable region of the world, and to bring it here and burn it in ways that destroy the habitability of the planet. That is nuts! We have to change every aspect of that.
-- President Al Gore

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Friday, July 07, 2006

Kind of an interesting sound byte, a nice throwaway line

Ethnic cleansing, that is.

In case you missed it, our pResident is a moron. He held a press conference in Chicago to reinforce that point. He talked about immigration:
I told the workers last night that there are about 11 million people here, more or less, who have been here for a while, that are building families, and they're good workers. And they said, what are you going to do about it? And I said, well, there's two extremes on this issue. One extreme is, kick them out, deport everybody. That's not going to work. It may sound like kind of an interesting sound byte, kind of a nice throwaway line, but it's not going to work. It's impractical.

The other option is to say, well, you're an automatic citizen. That's called amnesty. That won't work. And the reason that won't work is if you grant 8 million or 9 million people who are here illegally automatic citizenship, it means another 8 million or 9 million coming.

The best way to deal with this problem, in my judgment, is to say, look, you're here illegally, there's got to be a consequence.
Isn't that what the insurgents in Iraq are telling us every day?

Here was the first question of the day: "Mr. President, Japan has dropped the threat of sanctions from its proposed Security Council resolution about North Korea. Why was that necessary? And how do you punish or penalize a country that's already among the poorest and most isolated in the world?"

Jeez! Hasn't the guy ever heard of Afghanistan? That's how it's done. And if the country isn't already poor? You go to war with it, make it suffer through 12 years of harsh sanctions, and then GO TO WAR WITH IT AGAIN! Really, aWol isn't clear about much, but if the reporter didn't already know the answer to that question, he must be from Jupiter.

I don't have the stomach to go through the whole thing, but if snide comments about the stupid stuff Bush says is your bag, WIIIAI has more.

Anatomy of a fraud

John Ross explains why he believes that AMLO won the election in Mexico.

Playing it safe

AP's Julie Watson writes about the now-officially-declared victory of conservative Felipe Calderon in Mexico.
Felipe Calderon won Mexico's presidential election not because of who he is, but because of who he isn't. After peacefully ushering in democracy only six years ago, many Mexicans were not ready to shake up the status quo and flip the country on its head with a leftist leader who promised to put its nearly 50 million poor first.

While Mexicans were largely disappointed that President Vicente Fox did not do more to improve their daily lives, he also did not make things worse. The former Coca-Cola executive's six years in office have been marked by slow but steady economic growth, without the kind of financial meltdowns that had plagued the country since the 1960s.

In the end, those who voted for Calderon opted to play it safe. Many worried his main rival, Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, would send Mexico down the path of other Latin American countries like Venezuela, where President Hugo Chavez's socialist policies have driven away foreign investment.
...
In a country closely tied to the United States and where American companies are the largest private-sector employers, many believed the risks were too great.

Some worried a Lopez Obrador presidency would return the country to its boom-and-bust years, when the peso rode a roller-coaster and many people felt their savings were better off under a mattress than in banks.
There's plenty more where that came from, but I've got so much to comment on from just these paragraphs that I'll just get started.

  • First, Calderon won, if he really did, with 35.88 percent of the vote. No process can be called democratic when the "winner" is opposed by nearly two-thirds of the voters. Yet Mexico, and almost all US jurisdictions, allow this travesty to continue. Some people actually believe that democracy is worth fighting for (which it is in some circumstances), and that that is what the US is doing in Iraq (which it clearly isn't), but that democracy isn't worth the trouble of runoff elections or other procedures to more fairly select government officials.
  • Second, Watson uses an old rhetorical trick: "Many Mexicans," "Many worried...," "Many believed...," "Some worried..." Many, some--about as nondescript and useless as you can get. Undoubtedly true--and completely meaningless. I'm sure that "many Mexicans" also believe in biblical inerrancy or that George Bush is brilliant; "many Mexicans," just like "many Americans," believe any fool thing you could mention.
  • Third, if Fox did not make things worse, then, Ms. Watson, who are these 50 million poor, and why have so many of them left their homes to sneak across the border to take crappy jobs in the US? (A sort-of paraphrase of an alleged quote from Soviet Foreign Minister Molotov when he visited Berlin in 1940. The meeting had to move to an underground bunker due to bombing. Molotov's German counterpart, Ribbentrop, told Molotov that the British were defeated--no longer a problem. Molotov reportedly responded "Then why are we in this bunker, sir, and whose bombs are these exploding all around us?")
  • Fourth, and most importantly, do "many" Mexicans actually still believe that foreign investment is the key to solving Mexico's problems, rather than a major cause of them? As in Venezuela, most foreign "investment" in Mexico in the past has been intended to rob it of its resources or exploit its cheap labor. While no longer possessing oil resources as large as Venezuela's, Mexico is still a rich country, with oil, natural gas, gold, silver, beautiful tourist areas, outstanding people, and many other assets. Foreign investment just means that foreigners benefit from these resources. Chavez determined that Venezuela's oil wealth, rather than going to American stockholders and the wealthy elite of Caracas, could go instead to improving the education, health care, and general well-being of all Venezuelans. I don't know actual percentages, any more than Ms. Watson apparently does, but I do know that there are "many" Mexicans who realize that a better future for Mexico will come from within Mexico--not from foreign investment. This is one of the key aspects of the Zapatista campaign, which began on January 1, 1994--the day NAFTA went into effect. (I realize that a big part of the reason that the Chavez comparison worked against Lopez Obrador was that Chavez dissed Vicente Fox with a televised snub last year, as Watson reports.)
Lopez Obrador is challenging the results, and apparently "many" Mexicans will take to the streets this weekend to protest the now-declared result. I don't know if there was significant fraud, but it should at least hearten AMLO's supporters to see him at least put up a good fight--not cave in as we saw Gore and Kerry do here in the face of much fishier election shananigans.

From Pat Oliphant.

Idiot quote du jour

"When history looks back, I'd rather be judged as solving problems and being correct, rather than being popular." -- George Worthless Bush, who has sometimes inexplicably been the latter, but not once in his miserable 60 years been the former. Larry King interviewed him and the worst lady yesterday.

And whereas W gets his news verbally, filtered heavily by his liars advisors, Laura apparently gets her news only from W:
I feel exactly like George does. I think it's really the right thing to do. I think if you look back and we--Saddam Hussein was still there. And nothing had ever been done, and 17 resolutions had been passed and he had never complied with any of those resolutions.
I guess I'm going to have to look up what those resolutions were--I always thought they had something to do with getting rid of weapons of mass destruction. If Laura's right, the resolutions must have been about shaving his moustache or something.

And W is apparently completely unaware of the liberal-free bubble he travels in. When asked about his low poll numbers, he told Larry King:
It's a sign, but it's not necessarily really what we see. I mean, when we travel around the country, when we visit with people, that's not what we hear all the time.
Is he really not aware that every group he speaks to is one of the following: 1) A bunch of fellow-traveling ideologues, like when he speaks at the Heritage Foundation; 2) A carefully-selected group of brain-dead Repug sycophants, with anyone remotely likely to say something negative screened out at the door--even if they have tickets; or 3) A bunch of military guys under orders to keep their mouths shut? I guess he isn't.

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Thursday, July 06, 2006

So why not Timothy, Terry and Eric, or for that matter, George, Donald and Dick?

AP:
DUBAI, United Arab Emirates - Money transfer agencies have delayed or blocked thousands of cash deliveries on suspicion of terrorist connections simply because senders or recipients have names like Mohammed or Ahmed, company officials said.

In one example, an Indian driver here said Western Union prevented him from sending $120 to a friend at home last month because the recipient's name was Mohammed.

"Western Union told me that if I send money to Sahir Mohammed, the money will be blocked because of his name," said 36-year-old Abdul Rahman Maruthayil, who later sent the money through UAE Exchange, a Dubai-based money transfer service.

Dubai-based representatives from Western Union Financial Services, an American company based in Colorado, and Minnesota-based MoneyGram International, said their clerks are simply following U.S. Treasury Department guidelines that scrutinize cash flows for terrorist links. Most of the flagged transactions are delayed for a few hours. Some are blocked entirely.
...
In Washington, U.S. Treasury spokeswoman Molly Millerwise said foreign banks have used the department's list of terrorist names to freeze $150 million in assets since Sept. 11. Millerwise didn't know the value of money transfers blocked using the list, but said frustrations endured were regrettable but necessary.

"We have an obligation to do all we can to keep money out of the hands of terrorists," Millerwise said.

The list of names, available on the Treasury's Office of Foreign Assets Control Web site, contains hundreds of Mohammeds.
Unlike the list of alleged 9/11 hijackers, which only contained one.

One Western Union worker in Dubai has figured out how to get around this, and I swear I'm not making this up:
"Mohammed and Ahmed have become problematic names because they are so common on the list of terrorists," said Nixon Baby, who runs a Western Union franchise in Bur Dubai, a neighborhood packed with South Asian businesses. "These are regulations that Western Union is required to obey. We have no control."
That's Nixon Baby, formerly Osama Saddam al-Zarqawi. He says he sends money to his sister Condoleezza all the time without any problems. Okay, that part I made up.

It's all about the backdrop

Please join me in wishing President Bush a crappy 60th birthday. Hopefully, deep crevices will appear on his body and be quickly filled with mud, as happened to the Interstate Highway System when I wished it a crappy birthday last week. To celebrate this fateful day, a photo essay, inspired by Billmon.











(Petr Panteleimonovich PARKHET: "Stalin at the 8th Conference of the Highest Council". Oil on canvas, 165 x 220 cm.)




Feeling a bit insecure at 60, are we?

From Nate Beeler.

From Olle Johansson (Sweden).

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Calderon playing by Bush's script

Note the bias towards Calderon having won the election in this AP paragraph:
Mexico began a marathon review of vote tallies Wednesday to determine whether conservative candidate Felipe Calderon really won the tight presidential race, while his leftist challenger insisted he was victorious and denounced what he called widespread irregularities.
Calderon then plays the cabinet card:
Calderon told The Associated Press that he would be willing to include his charismatic challenger in his Cabinet in an effort to avoid weeks of political impasse. But he said he didn't think Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador would accept, adding that the two men hadn't talked since the election.
Remember how aWol was naming his cabinet, including the then-somewhat-credible Colin Powell, long before the election theft process was arbitrarily confirmed by the Supreme Court in 2000. The ploy seemed to work--diluting opposition to the coup by suggesting that Bush might actually hire competent people to do his work for him. Calderon's "offer" of something he doesn't own--Secretary of Polar Regions or something--is an even more transparent ploy.

$75.40

They promised to disarm, and they haven't disarmed

This time it's true. This rogue state clearly has no intention of living up to its treaty obligations to destroy its chemical weapons by next year, suggesting, well, maybe next decade.

Okay, Chris Floyd does the satire better than I do. The rogue state in question, of course, is the United States of America, which invades other countries to rid them of imaginary chemical weapons, all while possessing 27,768 metric tons of chemical weapons itself, the second largest such stockpile in the world (after Russia).

Read the WaPo article on the $28 billion project to destroy the world's most dangerous weapons (aside from the thousands of nukes we also have), where you'll run across the bizarre image of Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY) as an environmentalist (he actually criticizes the Pentagon!). But be sure to read Chris Floyd's brilliant take on it. Floyd concludes:
President Bush ruled out a decapitation strike on the leaders of the dangerously-armed regime--"wouldn't be prudent"--but then declared that "any nation that possesses weapons of mass destruction--or even alleged weapons of mass destruction falsely reported by drunks, madmen, conmen and ideologues--deserves to have tens of thousands of its poorest and most vulnerable, most innocent people killed by the greatest fighting force that history has ever seen. And that's just what we're gonna do. The path of action is the only guaranteer of security."

A Pentagon spokesman said a campaign of air strikes and missile attacks on Liberty City, the Ninth Ward, Watts, Harlem, East St. Louis, "the entire state of Mississippi except for the gated communities," and other "pockets of the weak and worthless" will begin next week. "And we'll keep on poundin' until the regime disarms. We won't cut and run from this fight."

But...but that would mean Iraq had some sovereignty!

Iraq's puppet prime minister Nuri al-Maliki has "called for a review of coalition forces' immunity from Iraqi prosecution."
In a scathing statement, the Iraqi Islamic Party, the Sunni political movement, said the country must take a clear stand against these "immoral violations."

"The punishment for the perpetrators of this crime should be severe and they should stand trial in an Iraqi court," the group said.

"The occupation forces have continuously committed crimes and crossed the line by torturing prisoners, bombing homes, massacring families, destroying land and property and raiding hospitals.

"And now their latest crime, a heinous one, revealed -- the rape of a pure Mahmoudiya girl of no more than 16 years of age -- assaulting her, then killing her and her family and burning them; this was committed by a group of morally perverted American soldiers," the statement said.
The military, of course, defends the indefensible:
The "acts of a few should not outweigh the deeds of the many," Maj. Gen. William Caldwell, spokesman for coalition forces in Iraq, told reporters Wednesday.

These forces "put their lives on the line for Iraqi citizens" every day, he said. He compared the U.S. sense of accountability with Saddam Hussein's ousted regime, which he said was unaccountable.

Three million votes uncounted

Mexico begins recounting the votes today--and apparently counting three million of them for the first time. And according to some reports, the Federal Electoral Institute has used the preliminary election results to give the impression that the conservative Calderon has defeated the left-leaning Lopez Obrador. In true Florida 2000 fashion, these preliminary results are being used to claim victory for Calderon, trying to make Lopez Obrador's challenges look like sour-grapes attempts to "overturn" the election.

Another soldier's funeral W won't be attending

Ding Dong, Ken Lay is dead.

Not holding back

Paul Craig Roberts seems especially pissed off:
Americans who get their propaganda from Fox "News" or are told what to think by right-wing talk radio hosts are outraged at news reports that U.S. troops planned and carried out the rape and murder of a young Iraqi woman. They are not outraged that the troops committed the deed; they are outraged that the media reported it. These "conservatives," who proudly wear their patriotism on their sleeves, dismiss the reports of the incident as a Big Lie floated by "the anti-American liberal media" in order to demoralize Americans and reduce public support for the war.
...
I have made it clear in my columns that Bush supporters are not true conservatives. They are brownshirts with the same low intelligence and morals as Hitler's enthusiastic supporters. And they are just as resistant to facts.
...
Many Americans are so unsophisticated that they refuse to believe anything bad about their country. They regard acceptance of unpalatable truths as disloyalty. This failure of American character is why Bush has been able to get away with transgressions that scream out for his impeachment and trial as a war criminal.
...
To this day, the Bush regime and the neocon Nazis have not told us the reason for their invasion of Iraq, the destruction of its towns and infrastructure, and the slaughter of its citizens. Every reason Bush has given has proved to be a lie.

There is no more reason for U.S. troops to be shooting up Iraq than to be shooting up Canada, Scotland, Holland, Spain, Taiwan, Florida, Virginia, or California. We are killing Iraqis for no other reason than that they resist our invasion and occupation of their country.

Back to dependence day

Gasoline is back over $3 a gallon at the local speedway station, with crude prices nearing their all-time high again--currently $73.81. Traffic is still as awful as ever--apparently Americans would prefer to drive a lot now than at all 15 years from now.

Meanwhile, there seems to be very little intelligent debate about biofuels. Arguments for ethanol and biodiesel come from Ford CEO Bill Ford and other automakers, as well as W and other politicians. They simply cite the fact that corn and soybeans are homegrown, suggesting that this frees us from dependence on foreign oil. Critics, led by Cornell professor David Pimentel, point out that it takes a lot of oil to grown corn and soybeans. This cartoon from right-winger Chuck Asay makes this point:


Many left-wingers criticize the idea of growing crops for fuel rather than food in a world where millions are starving, pointing out that it would take pretty much all of the farmland in the US to produce enough ethanol and biodiesel to keep our motoring society running, with nothing left over to eat.

I guess we should rejoice that we have an issue which seems to pretty much ignores the general political divide in this country. Perhaps we should take this opportunity to rationally discuss one issue which hasn't completely polarized America. Unfortunately, the arguments above seem intended to do just that--divide rather than inform people. I'll try to put my two cents worth in, hoping to shed more light than heat.

First: Ford and W and the farm-state proponents of biofuels are being deceptive. American agriculture uses oil by the millions of barrels, and in many cases more petrofuels go into producing biofuels than come out (as the cartoon shows).

Second: However, this absolutely need not be the case. Biofuel-producing plants CAN be grown and processed without using fossil fuels. Much of the energy needed to make ethanol from corn or biodiesel from soybeans is either simple mechanical energy, which could be generated by windmills or solar panels, or heat, which comes directly from the sun. There is plenty of solar and wind energy available to produce lots of biofuels. And farming has been done for centuries without fossil fuels--it just requires more labor, and that it be done on a local rather than national or global level.

Third: Any notion of maintaining our present insane level of motoring must be abandoned. Biofuels should be seen as a way to run the buses, trains and ships of the future, as well as a few ambulances and firetrucks. One-hundred-plus horsepower personal transportation is incompatible with survivability on a planet of seven billion people.

Fourth: Poverty, much more than an actual lack of food, is causing starvation in the poorest parts of the world. American agriculture, supported by subsidies, actually aggravates the poverty in third-world countries. Using our surplus crops to run our cars may seem selfish, but removing the crops from world markets might well enable farmers in Mexico, Africa and elsewhere to actually make a living again.

My conclusions: Liquid fuels are the most useful and easily transportable fuels available. Most liquid fuels in current use (petroleum products) are non-renewable. Liquid fuels can be produced renewably on a fairly large scale, although nowhere near the level of current production of petro-fuels. Within a decade or three, we will have to convert to an economy which is more local and sustainable. Liquid fuels, produced and used wisely, can make this a much more pleasant existence. The research being done on biofuels now shouldn't focus on how to make vehicles which run on them (which has already been done, anyway, and is just another boondoggle to send our future tax dollars, now being borrowed from China, to the Big Three). Research should focus on developing completely sustainable ways of producing biofuels, and drastically reducing our need for fuels in general through conservation and a complete redesign of our landscape.

Tuesday, July 04, 2006


From Emad Hajjaj (Jordan).

From David Horsey.

From Steve Benson.

Garry Trudeau--One step ahead of Karl Rove


From Doonesbury.

Emphasis Added

The Declaration of Independence of the Thirteen Colonies
In CONGRESS, July 4, 1776

The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united States of America,

When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. --That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, --That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security. —Such has been the patient sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government. The history of the present King of Great Britain [George III] is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world.

He has refused his Assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good.

He has forbidden his Governors to pass Laws of immediate and pressing importance, unless suspended in their operation till his Assent should be obtained; and when so suspended, he has utterly neglected to attend to them.

He has refused to pass other Laws for the accommodation of large districts of people, unless those people would relinquish the right of Representation in the Legislature, a right inestimable to them and formidable to tyrants only.

He has called together legislative bodies at places unusual, uncomfortable, and distant from the depository of their public Records, for the sole purpose of fatiguing them into compliance with his measures.

He has dissolved Representative Houses repeatedly, for opposing with manly firmness his invasions on the rights of the people.

He has refused for a long time, after such dissolutions, to cause others to be elected; whereby the Legislative powers, incapable of Annihilation, have returned to the People at large for their exercise; the State remaining in the mean time exposed to all the dangers of invasion from without, and convulsions within.

He has endeavoured to prevent the population of these States; for that purpose obstructing the Laws for Naturalization of Foreigners; refusing to pass others to encourage their migrations hither, and raising the conditions of new Appropriations of Lands.

He has obstructed the Administration of Justice, by refusing his Assent to Laws for establishing Judiciary powers.

He has made Judges dependent on his Will alone, for the tenure of their offices, and the amount and payment of their salaries.

He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harass our people, and eat out their substance.

He has kept among us, in times of peace, Standing Armies without the consent of our legislatures.

He has affected to render the Military independent of and superior to the Civil power.

He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution and unacknowledged by our laws; giving his Assent to their Acts of pretended Legislation:

For Quartering large bodies of armed troops among us:

For protecting them, by a mock Trial, from punishment for any Murders which they should commit on the Inhabitants of these States:

For cutting off our Trade with all parts of the world:

For imposing Taxes on us without our Consent:

For depriving us, in many cases, of the benefits of Trial by Jury:

For transporting us beyond Seas to be tried for pretended offences:


For abolishing the free System of English Laws in a neighbouring Province, establishing therein an Arbitrary government, and enlarging its Boundaries so as to render it at once an example and fit instrument for introducing the same absolute rule into these Colonies:

For taking away our Charters, abolishing our most valuable Laws, and altering fundamentally the Forms of our Governments:

For suspending our own Legislatures, and declaring themselves invested with power to legislate for us in all cases whatsoever.

He has abdicated Government here, by declaring us out of his Protection and waging War against us.

He has plundered our seas, ravaged our Coasts, burnt our towns, and destroyed the lives of our people.

He is at this time transporting large Armies of foreign Mercenaries to compleat the works of death, desolation and tyranny, already begun with circumstances of Cruelty and perfidy scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy the Head of a civilized nation.

He has constrained our fellow Citizens taken Captive on the high Seas to bear Arms against their Country, to become the executioners of their friends and Brethren, or to fall themselves by their Hands.

He has excited domestic insurrections amongst us, and has endeavoured to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian Savages, whose known rule of warfare, is an undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions.

In every stage of these Oppressions We have Petitioned for Redress in the most humble terms: Our repeated Petitions have been answered only by repeated injury. A Prince whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people.

Nor have We been wanting in attentions to our British brethren. We have warned them from time to time of attempts by their legislature to extend an unwarrantable jurisdiction over us. We have reminded them of the circumstances of our emigration and settlement here. We have appealed to their native justice and magnanimity, and we have conjured them by the ties of our common kindred to disavow these usurpations, which, would inevitably interrupt our connections and correspondence. They too have been deaf to the voice of justice and of consanguinity. We must, therefore, acquiesce in the necessity, which denounces our Separation, and hold them, as we hold the rest of mankind, Enemies in War, in Peace Friends.

We, therefore, the Representatives of the united States of America, in General Congress, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the Name, and by the Authority of the good People of these Colonies, solemnly publish and declare, That these United Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States; that they are Absolved from all Allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as Free and Independent States, they have full Power to levy War, conclude Peace, contract Alliances, establish Commerce, and to do all other Acts and Things which Independent States may of right do. And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor.

Monday, July 03, 2006

How to spend Buffet's money

Alexander Cockburn has some advice for the Gates-keepers:
Let us not waste too much time here advising Mr. and Mrs. Gates how to spend Buffett's money. At the moment it seems that the Gates couple's core focus is the war on AIDS and malaria, both ravaging Africa. How to improve the Dark Continent's overall well-being? America's senators and representatives can be bought for bargain-basement sums. A modest disbursement by the Gates Foundation-let us say $50,000 for each senator and $20,000 for each rep-would most certainly buy enough votes to end the current government subsidy, $4.5 billion for 2004, to cotton growers. The entire crop that year, the last for which figures are available, was worth $5.9 billion and the subsidy en-ables US growers to export three-quarters of their harvest and control about 40 percent of world trade, thus destroying the farm economies of countries like Mozambique, Benin and Mali. The WTO found the United States in violation this spring, but the ten largest cotton growers here-virtuous Jeffersonian toilers such as Kelley Enterprises (Tennessee) and JG Boswell (California)-have the necessary political clout to keep the subsidies coming. From 1995 to 2004, JG Boswell Co of California received $16,808,427 in cotton subsidies from the US government, while Kelley Enterprises received $8,694,643.
Cockburn has other suggestions, as well. More and more, I have come to believe that the very best thing that America can do for the rest of the world is LEAVE IT ALONE. Stop loaning it money, stealing its resources, choosing its leaders, invading its territory, changing its climate, destroying its markets. We've still got plenty here in this country; we could renegotiate ourselves a very nice way of life, probably better than what we have now, based entirely on the resources within our own borders.

From Red Meat. I guess the kid hasn't served in the US military yet, where he would be offered imaginary money (US dollars) to help a ventriloquist's dummy (aWol) steal oil from a pretend threat (Iraq).

At least they don't have the electoral college--or Katherine Harris

Both leading candidates in Mexico's presidential election are claiming victory. The Federal Electoral Institute had promised results by 11 PM yesterday, but failed to deliver. Both candidates appear to have learned from Florida 2000--any wait-and-see attitude or pretense at fairness is likely to be punished. Conservative (PAN) candidate Calderon says "There is not the slightest doubt that we have won the election." The liberal (PRD) candidate Lopez Obrador goes Calderon half a million better:
[H]e maintained he was convinced he had won by 500,000 votes. "This result is irreversible," he said.
Narco News is probably your best source for information about what is really happening as this story develops.

Too many secrets

Jimmy Carter wrties about the dangerous secrecy which is the core of the Cheney administration:
Whether it's government or private companies that provide public services, access to their records increases accountability and allows citizens to participate more fully in public life. It is a critical tool in fighting corruption, and people can use it to improve their own lives in the areas of health care, education, housing and other public services. Perhaps most important, access to information advances citizens' trust in their government, allowing people to understand policy decisions and monitor their implementation.
In a democracy, it is the right and responsibility of the public to judge the government. This can't be done if the public doesn't know what the government is doing. The government "of the people, by the people, and for the people" is perishing, being replaced by one that is away from the people, to the people, and on the people.

Sunday, July 02, 2006

Olmerta

Collective punishment is a war crime, forbidden by the Geneva conventions. Israel's prime minister seems to have taken it one step further--to comprehensive punishment.
Olmert told his cabinet he had instructed the military "to intensify the force and activity of the IDF and the security elements in order to pursue these terrorists, those who send them, their ideologues and those who harbor them."

"No one will go unpunished," he said.
One would have thought that Israel couldn't possibly have found a leader more callous and brutal than Ariel Sharon. One would have thought there couldn't possibly be a worse attorney general than John Ashcroft. One is sometimes wrong.

"No one will go unpunished." That's really what the whole "war on terror" nonsense is about, isn't it?

Saturday, July 01, 2006

Book review

WIIIAI reads Ron Suskind's The One Percent Doctrine, suggesting that you and I may not want to. WIIIAI suggests that the reliance on anonymous sources makes one wonder how much of what it "reveals" about Bush and Cheney is really true:
Like a George Bush speech, it's likely to be believed by the sorts of people who are inclined to believe it, but not to convince anyone else.
As far as I'm concerned, there is way more than enough in the public record, including their own speeches and actions, to impeach, indict and impale Bush, Cheney, and most of their top aides, without having to resort to anonymous sources. Like WIIIAI, I have requested the book from my local library, but based on his review, I'll probably only read it if I don't have something better to read at the time.

The Narco News guide to the Mexican election

Michelle of the much-missed blog You Will Anyway sent me this link from Narco News predicting an AMLO victory tomorrow:
Anything can happen on Sunday, including an attempted electoral fraud, as occurred here in 1988. But this time the Mexican people will not swallow it. If Mexico's dubious Federal Electoral Institute (IFE, in its Spanish initials) tries to repeat that dark history, the revolution will begin on Monday. Those in power can't be that stupid. Or can they?

All objective signs--if the vote is to be tabulated fairly and accurately--point to a punishing electoral victory by former Mexico City Governor Andrés Manuel López Obrador. The big boys--at least the domestic ones who seem to believe their own hype that López Obrador is a "leftist" (foreign capitalists are much more sanguine about the probability of victory by the candidate with the initials AMLO)--have tried everything to stop it. In 2005, they tried to remove López Obrador from the ballot with a legal maneuver called the desafuero. They only ended up making him stronger. Lately, they’ve attempted an Election of the State to impose a whiney little man named Felipe Calderón of the PAN (National Action) party as Fox's successor, but this week they were caught red-handed trying to rig the voter lists, among other old-style maneuvers, on Calderón’s behalf. They were undone at each step through a medium known as the Internet, which did not exist in Mexico in 1988. They may still attempt to impose Calderón on Sunday but your correspondent doubts it because, if so, it bears repeating, a revolution will break out on Monday.
You'll probably want to read the whole thing, even on this holiday weekend in which the world seems to be exploding. But do what you want--you will anyway.

From Mr. Fish.

From Matt Wuerker.

From Matt Davies.