Saturday, September 06, 2003

Iran, Iraq, what's the difference?

One of my favorite sites, What Really Happened, is predicting that in tomorrow's speech Bush will announce threats against Iran, part of the distraction-reaction of this administration. I'm going out even farther on a limb. I think he'll announce a summary of the conclusions of the David Kaye report on WMDs (or rather "programs" and "scientists," the administration's latest substitutes), to color them with legitimacy in the view of the gullible American public since he knows the press would tear them apart if they were merely published.
We'll see.

Friday, September 05, 2003


Finally, after more than a year of downtime, AlJazeera's English-language website is up and running. Maybe it's biased, maybe not. But in order to get a "fair and balanced" view of the news, it's vital to read it and Islam Online, and maybe others, along with Rupert Murdock, AOL-Time Warner, CNN and their ilk.

This is a test

Okay, here’s a perfect test of the media-are-sheep concept, to say nothing of the people-are-sheep truism. This story, now that it’s finally made the bigtime—the hugetime, the NYT, for God’s sake—has simply got to finally get some traction. It has wandered around the web for years (almost exactly two), but was likely thought to be so explosive that it was relegated to the Johnson-assassinated-Kennedy bin. But now that there are insiders telling of the FBI-authorized, White House approved flight that whisked Saudis and bin Ladens out of the US a couple of days after 9/11/01 (while all flights, except those given specific federal clearance were grounded) the story simply cannot be ignored any longer. Right?

The lies just keep on coming

With glee I am observing the Bushies’ twisting and turning to get UN support for their occupation in order to induce various nations to send troops and money to bail them out of the debacle they’ve created. The French and Germans are enjoying it too, rejecting out of hand the draft resolution that Colin Powell submitted to the Security Council.

But even in humiliation, the Administration lies: Wolfowitz told the Senate Armed Services Committee that the US had been seeking such a resolution all the while; and that it was only the circumstances, and the other nations’ views, that had changed because of the bombing of the UN offices in Baghdad. Amazing gall.

Dems Dogpile on Bush

I saw just a little of tonight's democratic debate on CNN. And I've read about it online. I am pleased to see that the democratic candidates have the president's number, and I'm not talking about the phones at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave.

Gephardt: "This president is a miserable failure."
Kerry: "the swagger of a president who says 'bring 'em on' does not bring our troops peace or safety."
Gephardt: "We have a president who has broken up alliances that Democratic and Republican presidents have put together over 70 years."
Kucinich: "It is time to bring the troops home. It is time to bring the U.N. in and get the U.S. out."

Dean said more troops are needed, as my blog partner has pointed out. But he said not US troops, troops from other countries. He said our troops should come home. -- Amen.

Thursday, September 04, 2003

who's running this war?

Erik, you wanna know who's running the War? I'll show you who's running this war.

Come along and sing our song
and join our family

Howard Dean Interview

The Democratic candidates are debating tonight and I'll be watching. I don't have a TV and so haven't seen them much. I did find this TV interview of Dr. Dean by PBS a few weeks before the invasion and I gotta say, the guy's impressive and pretty much right on about Iraq. I just wish he wasn't stuck on sending more troops in now that we've occupied the place. Damn, can't have everything. But I do like the guy's style, his obvious smarts, his directness.

Insanity Defined

I heard moments ago (9/4/03, 6 a.m., PDT) on BBC radio, to my astonishment as well as that of the BBC interviewer of an Iraqi official, that shortly after Bremer “disbanded” the 400,000-man Iraqi army and announced that their pay would cease after three months, he rescinded the latter portion of the order in response to mass demonstrations of the army. The result is, the official said, the army is still receiving their full pay, but is still subject to Bremer’s order that it may not carry arms.
What the hell? This means there’s presently a huge army on the ground in Iraq, trained, organized, knowledgeable—and paid by US taxpayers—but not armed, while we’ve got 140,000 people in harms way and we’re tossing about at the UN for more troops to police the place. This is absolutely insane! Who’s running this war?

Wednesday, September 03, 2003

SB Pickle Factory ... or, Bonzo Goes to Baghdad

Blogger Wars? Hardly. I agree with you. I’m not staying we should stay, just that we can’t leave. Checkmate, and the other side hardly moved a piece. Just a few pawns here and there.

Yep, it’s quite a pickle. We’re absolutely stuck in this. We can’t leave without an all-out disaster; the people we purported to be rescuing are doomed. And as long as we stay, we’re going to get our asses kicked in guerilla attacks.

You know the best way to catch a monkey? A heavy pickle jar with a small opening. Monkey sees the jar, wants the pickles, reaches in … but the only way to get his hand out is to let go of the pickle … a fist is bigger around than an outstretched hand, see? He’s stuck, we’re stuck … no way to let go of that pickle.

The only bright side is, hopefully upon hope, that come next fall the American voting public will have lost it’s taste for brine.

Santa Barbara Blogger Wars

Okay, Kyle, Blogger-buddy of mine: So we stay. Let's say for three years. We spend the billions, get their power and the water running again--their daycare centers too?--and supervise their elections (I can't wait to see that process, after Florida's debacle!) so that a fine, mild-manner group of Arabs takes over, bent on creating Iowa on the Tigris. Then we leave, right? Of course by then Iraq's oil delivery is privatized, as are their other infrastructures (already underway, these "advances"), and a capitalistic system is in place, with Western banks and pension funds the major investors. A capitalist democracy, right out of the mold of the USA.
And so we leave.
And then the first shark strikes. A bomb goes off, an election goes the wrong way, a decision is made, for example, to nationalize the oil or cell phone systems. What then? We stay away, allow things to proceed as they will? A trillion dollars and a thousand lives from now? Right we stay away, content to let Iraq go fundamentalist, communist, anti-Israel, whatever. In your dreams.
No, we get out now. We abandon empire now, whatever the cost in our own lives and dollars and in the lives of others. We announce that we aren't in the business of domination anymore, that our culture is our own and our land is ours too.
We do not, having committed one egregious wrong, convince ourselves that we must right it by continuing it, no matter how good that feels.
We fucked up. Now comes the tough time of learning to deal with it, and enduring the enmity of those who suffered because of it.

The Principle Pickle

OK, I'm with you 100%, Erik, up to a point.

Let’s say we pull out, leave them a wad of dough – maybe that dough they found stashed over there, the truckloads of $100 bills. That should cover it, probably. If not, we can print more. Where does that leave the average citizens of Iraq?

It leaves them at the mercy of a schismatic and volatile bunch of Imams and warlords. What’s going to become of the women, who under Hussein could at least go to the market without the required uniform. And the men? Required to wear beards on pain of death? How long before the new powers start trucking folks off to the nearest soccer stadium for a little moral justice in the back of the head? I’ll tell you who gets popped first: all the collaborators currently trying to form a government, and the cops, the teachers, the doctors, the bloggers. They don’t stand a chance.

We never should have invaded and occupied Iraq. Saddam Hussein is/was a fiend and nobody misses his arrogant, sadistic ass. But he served one purpose, in making the country safe for secularism. And the in face of fundamentalism run amok, that’s important. Democracy is great, I like it when it’s not running afoul of a submissive judiciary and a timid, disaffected legislature. But democracy is a process, not a product. The acorn we ideally may plant in Iraq today won’t yield shade next week.

So maybe Iraq is a country that can only be run by a dictator; or very regrettably, the US Army.

Principles before Politics

Sooo—The left’s savior, the sole Democratic candidate who opposed the war in Iraq (besides Dennis Kucinich), Dr. Howard Dean, believes that we should send more troops to Iraq in order to quell the violence and establish “democracy.” Well, I gotta tell ya, that doesn’t leave the likes of me anywhere to go, does it? Tweedledee/dum once again.
Here’s my question: Whatever happened to principle? How can the invasion have been unjust, but the continued occupation just fine?
Once, just once, I’d like a politician to take a stand. We screwed up. We admit it. Now, we hand Iraq back to the Iraqis—no WMD’s found, no Saddam in power—and place a tidy sum (certainly less than the billions we’re spending now) in trust to be doled out for reconstruction, etc., as deemed proper by a body that is chosen by the Iraqis by whatever means they choose.
Sound unrealistic? Not as unrealistic as our plans to “restore democracy.”
The point is—armed force is an evil, to be used almost never. Not, Dr. Dean, to be used to clean up the mess of our making. Let the Iraqis clean up the mess, since they sure don’t want us there any longer.
These are not original thoughts, I admit. Do they make me a Libertarian like Justin Raimondo? Maybe so. I'm getting to like government less and less.

The Ungreening of America

The Ungreening of America

This pres Bush guy is the Onceler and maybe it's time for us Barbaloots to pack up and get outta Dodge.

And so, said the Lorax,
--please pardon my cough--
they cannot live here.
So I´m sending them off.

Wait, I'm serious. This president's environmental policies are going to kill people, not just trees and animals. He said, wheezingly.

Tuesday, September 02, 2003

Beneath the Radar

The frauds of the frauds that got us into this ugly war in Iraq are falling off our TV screens. (I don't have a TV, but I can guess.) I haven't seen a syllable about Yellowcake or aluminum tubes or drones or WMD for a week or more. Could it be that the monsters are going to skate on these issues, avoid consequence for their egregious evil? Looks likely, as much, I think, because of the ineptitude of the Democratic candidates for President as anything.
But what about the continuing death toll of our soldiers? What about the ongoing expense, the wrongs our troops and our policies are visiting on Iraqis daily, hourly? Surely those haven't disappeared from our consciousness.
Wrong, camel's breath. Not a peep, other than in the alternative press and websites. And even there, not even a whisper about the continuing loss of life and limb in Iraq and Afghanistan. You have to log onto Islam Online.

Monday, September 01, 2003

Labor Day?

Mina, I don't think I understand your position on Labor Day. It's a national holiday, and most of us had the day off, with pay. We don't do May 1, though we could if we felt like it.

"Labor Day, the first Monday in September, is a creation of the labor movement and is dedicated to the social and economic achievements of American workers. It constitutes a yearly national tribute to the contributions workers have made to the strength, prosperity, and well-being of our country." [Dept of Labor Web site]

I certainly had the opportunity to go out among my fellow citizens and engage in dialectic on the subject of work. I chose to sit around and pet my dog and read poetry. My idea of Labor Day, though a cold beer might have been nice. But there were parades and demonstrations, and God bless those people too.

I think you're implying that the government ought to make sure we get out and march around or something. The government is involved in this matter very little, and that's exactly enough. You push that "we all ought to" button once or twice, next thing you know we're all out waving red banners, dressed in identical jumpsuits. I don't look good in a jumpsuit. Besides, rights aren't given, they're taken. But that's another blog.

The disposition of all power is to abuses, nor does it at all mend the matter that its possessors are a majority.
- James Fenimore Cooper

My flag is flying from my balcony, in dissent and patriotism as it pleases me. And here I am on the Internet, saying unequivocally and without fear that I dissent generally from the policies of the administration in Washington, which do not rightly reflect the ideals and peaceful intentions of the American People. The war in Iraq is wrong, and I'm voting democratic in 2004.

Nothing is more revolting than the majority; for it consists of few vigorous predecessors, of knaves who accommodate themselves, of weak people who assimilate themselves, and the mass that toddles after them without knowing in the least what it wants.
-- Goethe

Much to say tonight. I did my usual thing today, hanging out for an hour or so displaying my sign ("Hey, Hey, USA, How many soldiers died today?") at the dolphin fountain in the midst of the Labor Day tourist traffic. I figure if we can ruin our soldiers' days, day after day, I can wreck a few vacationers' moments. But today, as two days ago during the weekly peace march in SB, I noted fewer high-fives, fewer favorable horn-honks and peace-signs being directed my way.
Probably we've become complacent. Out of sight, out of mind. And since we in the US have so rarely had a war within our borders, much less our sight, our attention span is quite short. Besides, there's the tennis, the upcoming TV season and, of course, the National Football League.
I'm beginning to feel very negative about this country. I've always felt a bit out of the mainstream, but lately there's an alienation inside me, a sense of profound disquiet, about the land of my birth and upbringing. Who are these people who are "leading" us? Do they wake up each morning, trying to ground themselves in sense and goodness and fine principles? I think not. I believe they are the same Budweiser-tugging, SUV-driving, unconscious mob that we see everywhere in this nation nowadays.
I feel like one of the Roman Senators who watched the end of that empire. I feel it, deep inside, that we (the present nation, the present world) are nearing the end of our existence. And I can't say I'm sorry, because the next species will be finer. Gotta be.

A Response to Maxi

Dear Maxi,

In light of the on-going results of American interventions in Irak and in
Liberia, I find it strange to believe that there is still one person
around who seems to believe in the discourse you are propogating: America
has saved the rest of the world from the rages of war, by spreading
democracy by means of armed intervention. History, I am told, is a process
by which isolated events are re-defined on the basis of a re-assessment of
the events in question from the perspective of a point in time when the
cumulative effects of the actions of the parties involved are
reconsidered. From this point in time, the discourse you advance is
difficult to justify, especially when one considers the facts. Armed
intervention and all that it entails, i.e., the production and sales of
weapons, is a very lucrative business and has been and still is a major
source of income for America enterprises. Fact no 2: Liberia is a country
that has enormous natural resources. Fact no. 3: Irak is a country that
has enormous natural resources. Fact no 3: Hitler was able to engage in
his reconstruction of Germany thanks to enormous investments in his
reconstruction program made by American and British investors.
The USA has engaged in armed combat and armed interventions throughout its
entire history, a fact that perhaps not only explains its wealth, but also
has served to unify its citizenry, as it has continually had an "enemy" of
one sort or another, focusing its citizens' attention on the deplorable
state of affairs in Latin American, Asia, Europe, Africa. etc, while
distracting their attention from the deplorable state of affairs in the
good ole US of A. As your letter attests, despite the fact that this is
an old method, it is still a very efficient and convincing method.

Is Labor Day for Labor?

Dear All That Arises:
In many countries May 1 is a public holiday reserved for the
celebration of workers. In the USA May 1 is not a holiday on which
workers are free to assemble and demonstrate for a cause(s) that they
consider important, as is the case in many other countries.
Three questions come to mind: 1. Does the name Labor Day signify the
importance allotted to labor in the American content, while negating
the importance of workers? 2. Is not the right to assembly a rather
hollow right, when it requires that workers, in order to assemble to
demonstate for a cause, are not guaranteed the time and opportunity to
do so? 3. To what extent are rights viable strategies for citizens in a
democracy? Or, to re-phrase the question somewhat, to what extent is a
democracy obligate to ensure that its citizens have the opportunity to
excercise their rights?
[This post is from a cyberSwede, a couple of hundred klicks south of Stockholm]


An moderate, insightful piece about the process of bidding out construction work to rebuild Iraq can be found Here
It drives me crazy to see what we're doing over there to those poor folks, not letting their surviving businesses participate in rebuilding their country. I'm not sure if I'm more outraged or saddened.



Part of me really wants to get some mileage out of President Bush dropping his dog in Texas. But I can't think of anything to write about it that isn't sad or funny. And it's damn sure not funny. I guess I'll just say that sometimes bad things happen to bad presidents, and good dogs.


Mr. Bush and the Flag

In arguing against ambiguous and unconstitutional legislation banning abuse of the flag, The Washington Post explains how Mr. Bush could himself be criminally liable.

Sunday, August 31, 2003

George W. Dolls

This article in Common Dreams about Bush dolls is cute, but I wonder why it left out the most obvious doll: The George W. doll in the Air National Guard. You open up the box and it's empty.

Battle of the Baghdad Blogs

Looks like our two bloggers from Baghdad (there are doubtless more; these two are to me the most savvy and articulate), Salam Pax and Riverbend, are squaring off about the bombing of the mosque that killed the imam, al-Hakim. I'm not clear on the significance of what they're discussing (all I know is it means more chaos in a land of chaos), but I'm certain that in their dialogue we'll learn more about what's really happening while Bremer and Bush are on vacation.


At Home With Hitler

I love the Internet. Where else would you find items like this?