Saturday, October 04, 2003

It's the stupid economy

My posts have to date been directed at Fuehrer Bush, Tribune Bremer, ReichsMarshall Rumsfeld and the other Nazis on account of their fascist, warmongering activities. (Why don't you say what you really mean, Erik?) But for a moment, I shift to The Economy, namely, the spate of popular-media headlines trumpeting the improvement in American jobs during the last month.
For a "fair and balanced" analysis of this meager increase in payroll numbers, check out this WaPO article, the conclusion of which is that we're still in deep economic poopy and headed nowhere but deeper.

Hubris uber alles

In a recent WaPO editorial, George Will, of all people, asked of the Bushies why they didn't just fess up that they'd made a mistake about the presence of WMDs in Iraq, instead of prolonging the agony, feeding the Democrats' feeding frenzy, and appearing boneheaded. Of all people, George Will asked this of his fellow-travelers.

Same question with PlameGate. In less than a week this one-act play has become an epic. The volume of documents, the number of interviewees, the breadth of the scandal, are now worth at least three months' worth of fodder for the press and the party-out-of-power.


John asks about the facts about the facts

From occasional poster John, who is a retired USAF reserve JAG officer, comes this question and observation:

Are we getting the truth about the noncombat military casualties in Iraq? The recent suicide of an Army supply sergeant who was accused of homicide here in Pima County, Arizona, brings to mind the issue of how many noncombat deaths in Iraq are suicides or homocides. This soldier's use of deadly force to kill a thief was probably triggered by his recent combat experience in Iraq.

The military conducts an investigation in each noncombat death of active duty personnel. Yet no information is released concerning how many noncombat deaths are not in line of duty due to suicide or are related to negligent or intentional acts by other military due to the stress of being in a combat situation.

I suspect that statistics about the suicides and homocides of military personnel who have served or are now serving on active duty in Iraq may reveal a human cost to our sons and daughters comparable to the psychological damage inflicted by combat in Vietnam.

My thoughts about riot

In response to my co-bloggers request for an opinion, here's mine.

"Riot" is a crime, defined at common law, derived from Anglo-Saxon jurisprudence. It was so well known as a crime, that it had no subsidiary definition, that is, it wasn't defined as "acting without restraint, in a tumultuous, crazed manner calculated to incite anxiety in those who observe the behavior," or something. No. The crime, a felony, was "riot," the conduct self-defined.
Do I condone riot? No--although having participated in a few gatherings that might be so defined, I gotta say, it can be fun as hell. But is it criminal conduct? Sure. Felonious? Probably, in most cases, not. But nothing I say about riot, even throwing stones or bricks or epithets or slurs, transmutes the crime into one that allows summary execution.

Here's the point--and I made this point in a post a few days ago. We've sent soldiers to Iraq and are now asking them to be cops. Like Generals Zinni and Clark have said, they're not cops. They see rocks hurled at them from a crowd, they fire at the crowd. That's their job. They're warriors.

That's what recently happened, and happens all the time in Iraq. Our soldiers, in the role of cops, are firing live ammunition into gatherings of civilians--maybe even into rioting gatherings. But that's not allowed, not in our culture. That's called summary execution. That's Kent State, Soweto, the Boston Massacre.

So I don't condone rioting. But I don't condone killing rioters. That's summary execution for a noncapital crime. That, dammen und herren, is a war crime.

Two Killed as Unemployed Soldiers Riot in Iraq

Yahoo! News - Two Killed as Unemployed Soldiers Riot in Iraq

Looks like it's making the news alright.

I almost never agree with rioters. Protestors, yes, often. Rioting is just more stupid violence, serving no purpose but grief. And as much as I disagree with the war and the occupation, I don't think vanquished soldiers have a right to riot and demand to be paid.

What's your opinion?

Are CBS, ABC and NBC listening to BBC?

BBC reports (1) that US troops have fired on a gathering of Iraqi soldiers who were demanding their pay; and (2) that according to a recent economic study, Iraq will be a poor nation "for years."

I wonder if Americans will learn these things from their mainstream media.

Iraqi Oil

Yahoo! News - Iraq producing average of 1.5 million barrels of oil a day

In response to Erik's question about who is the "Iraq" that's dealing with foreign oil companies, I learned that the Iraqi Oil Ministry is run by one Thamir Ghadhban. He was director of planning for the ministry before ascending to CEO position in May. But when it comes time to take credit for imperial spoils in barrels per day, the guy in front of the mic is Tribune Paul Bremer.

Oh Mama, history is not going to be kind to US about this shit. There's no operation of representative government in this because Iraqi oil is being pumped and sold by the US government, acting as an oil company. So I wonder if the bright and shiny Iraqi government, when its fully up and running, will sue a future American generation for reparations. Or am I missing something?

Friday, October 03, 2003

I must share this

Fans, I confess: I was reading an AOL Message Board on the subject of "Is it Worth $600 million to continue the search in Iraq for WMD?", when I encountered a maxim worth repeating. It was posted in response to a series of typically inane messages by numbskull Bush supporters. It read, "Don't ever argue with idiots. They'll drag you down to their level, then beat you with experience."

Am I missing something?

Some posts ago, I pointed out that the decision to open almost all commerce in Iraq to foreign, private investment and ownership--a decision made by Tribune Bremer--was such an enormous shift of the economy of the country that one would think, in the interest of "democracy," it should be made by a duly-elected body of Iraqis, not by decree of the occupier. So far, there's been hardly a peep about this, which bewilders me.

Now, we are told that a series of conferences have been scheduled by "Iraq" with foreign oil companies, large and small, to judge such companies' involvement in Iraq's oil production, which was heretofore governed by the state.
Who is this "Iraq" that is doing these things? Where is the popular voting, the participatory democracy, in this decision?

This isn't democracy, it's government by fiat, just as was predicted by those who saw the Provisional Authority as a functionary of the Bushies and their business cronies.

Another question: Where's the analysis, where's the outrage?

Thursday, October 02, 2003


I have friends who are infuriated at Bush's constant triggering of acts and policies that inflame our enemies as well as our friends in Europe, the Middle East, the Southern Hemisphere, everywhere. Why, they wonder, does he persist in this? These acts cause nothing but friction, tension, fear and conflict. Why?
I answer--as do knowledgable others--he does this because his continued existence as a politician requires the maintenance of such condtions, particularly fear and conflict. Bush, without them, would vanish as a force.
But our salvation is this. If Bush had immediately outed the leakers of the Plame-CIA connection, thereby dousing the conflagration before it got "traction" (a mixed metaphor, I know), the media would soon have nothing to report on the subject. But no--out of his same crisis-oriented nature, Bush has determined to "stonewall" and "dissemble" (both Watergate terms), leaving the reporters with no choice but to gnaw on the story until it provides nourishment.
The promotion of conflict, the avoidance of responsibility and the absence of truth by the Bush Administration, heretofore its sustenance, will now be its downfall. As a Bush-hater, my urgent prayer is that our president keeps on lying and (I hate myself for thinking this, but honor myself for admitting it to you readers) that our troops keep on dying. If we can keep Bush in that mode for another year, we can beat him.

Comment on "A Pretty Sight"

I see one fundamental difference between Nazi occupations of neighboring European countries and the extant action in Iraq. Someone has apparently forgotten to inform our troops that they are an occupying army and not a liberating force. That perspective was undoubtedly valuable to the besetzende kraft, and it might be helpful to clue our boys in now.

A Pretty Sight

This article, with its accompanying photo of an Iraqi protester heaving a rock at Iraqi policemen during a demonstration over the absence of jobs, paints a revealing picture of this "liberated" nation. The American-trained "Iraqi police" fired on the crowd (that's real bullets, folks, directed at their fellow citizens), injuring at least one.

Just for a moment reflect on this: When we liberated France, Holland, Belgium, Germany, Italy, Japan (to name a few) after World War II, did we suffer daily casualties? Were there bombings of rival factions, acts of rampant criminality, deeply-held hatreds of our troops, rocks thrown by Dutchmen at Dutchmen?

Bush's war was not liberation. It was an invasion, just as the Nazis invaded France. The police we train are our puppets--collaborators--and our troops are Occupiers, trained in wartime skills and no better at persuading the Iraqis that we are their saviors than was the Wehrmacht in persuading de Gaulle.


Okay, so The Bushies are on the run. They've been caught lying, smearing, wrecking our economy and our civil rights, reducing our national aspirations to a base, violent response to "terror."
And so yeah, they may be undone in 2004 because of their awful, aberrant behavior (and God knows, I hope so); but in that process I hope the following is not lost in the crush of campaigning, the fury to grab soundbites: We (not just Americans--humans) have the capacity to be good; to love one another and share with each other the benefits of being alive in this time of plenty. I would love the campaign of 2004 to be one of peace and goodness vs. war and anger.

What am I, dreaming?

You Read Them Here First

Some months ago I predicted (by letter to the editor of the Santa Barbara News-Press) that there will be an "October surprise" in 2004, not, as some suggest, the declaration of a new war by Bush, but rather the declaration of "victory" in Iraq, complete with brass-band return of the bulk of our troops and Bush's flag-draped reception of them at Andrews AFB (or wherever). Okay, no big deal you say, because such a prospect has already been floated by others (after I did, however).

Well, what about this one? In July 2004 VP Cheney will announce that for health reasons (or something) he won't be on Bush's ticket after all. This will divert attention from the mid-summer Democratic Convention while the "search" for a substitute ensues, and will have the effect of enlivening the Bush/? ticket with a new face, which, by then, they will surely need.

Inevitable once one considers it, right?

Hoisted by their own petard

An entertaining prospect: The identity of the White House leaker(s) of Valerie Plame's job at CIA are at first impossible to ascertain by the usual investigative means, but are finally discovered through the operation of the intrusive provisions of the USA Patriot Act

One person's life

The story of this woman's life, lately of her time in Iraq as a "human shield," is more than inspiring, it is amazing. It makes one wonder what substance courses through her veins or what charges pulse through her sinews that cause her to act with such energy, fascination and compassion.

The Lies of George W. Bush

Looking for a new book for the coffee table? A little light bedtime reading, or a page turner for an upcoming flight? suggests:The Lies of George W. Bush: Mastering the Politics of Deception by David Corn. It might be worth checking out. Corn is Washington editor of The Nation, a venerable rag. I spent many happy hours with The Nation in my college days. A much better read than Playboy. "The Lies" may not be as fun as Franken's book, but probably just as disillusioning.

Three U.S. Soldiers Killed in Iraq

Yahoo! News - Three U.S. Soldiers Killed in Iraq Attacks

I'm confused and I've lost all sense of the number of casualties. I think that instead of news articles citing one or two or three killed on a given day, the media should just cite the running total in each story. So, given that the total now is 312, today's news might read something like this:

American Casualties, numbers 310 - 312, were killed in Iraq today, where the Perpetual War Against Fear rages on. Number 312 was a woman. Their deaths brought to 90 the number of American soldiers killed by the Ambiguous Enemy since Big Brother declared an end to major combat May 1.

Wednesday, October 01, 2003

What you don't know can hurt you.

From time to time, because of Riverbend's ubiquity and articulateness, I've grown suspicious of her authenticity. Oh, her views (generally contrary to those of Bush and, most relevantly, Tribune Bremer) accord with mine (based on her experience with the American occupation of her country, in the main) but still she oftimes seems to know too much and express it too well to be real. "Too good to be true" is the applicable adage.

But her latest post ("Sheiks and tribes"), an exposition of cousin marriage and tribal connection in Iraq, in which she critiques an article on the subject in the NYT, has convinced me, once and for all, that her Baghdad Burning blog is for real: an articulate, sensitive expression of the woman's experiences and observations during the occupation.

I wonder if the NeoCons studied up on tribal influence and considered its impact on their plan to impose the American empire on Iraq, on the world. I think not.

Tuesday, September 30, 2003

Richard suggests sources of what really happened

Just read your 9/29 post entitled, "What Really Happened" and appreciated the similarity of your observations about "oceans of cybernews" to a column I just read in the Oct. 6th U.S. News ( ) titled "The truth, the whole truth" by John Leo, a guy who's been citing Internet sources and hammering p.c. behaviors and doubletalk of faculties and politicians from coast to coast for a few years now. In this case his targets are the ..."police blotter mind-set..." American reporters in Iraq sending their ..."attacks and little else..."stories back to CNN, etc
He states, "The Internet campaign is another example of the new media going around the old media, in this case to counter stories by quagmire-oriented reporters. The campaign...has been driven by Internet bloggers...."
He cites and as sources counter to mainstream outlets.
/s/ Richard

For the record

I include posts on the blog verbatim unless otherwise noted. The word "christian" in John's post below ("Whazzup in the USA") was placed in quotes, and in lower case, by John.

Great Depression Job Losses Daily Mislead

Here's where I read about job losses being a Depression-era levels.

Feeling blue? Here's a joke:
Why did the chicken cross the road?
President Bush: "The best way to stop chickens from crossing the road is to feed people more chicken. Hey! Um boy, is sumbuddy cookin' beans?"
... Didn't say it was gonna be funny. Not bad, though, for a guy falling asleep on his keyboard.

A little trouble with the numbers

The Other One's in Trouble Too

I can go to bed now and sleep in serenity, knowing that things are looking down for Himself. The president's ratings in US opinion polls are at a record low.

I read someplace else today that current joblessness is the worst since the Great Depression. I wonder if senior White House staff will come out to man the soup lines. A little volunteering, in the spirit of Bush's dad's Thousand Points of Light. They might as well. God willing, they'll be in line with the rest of us after the next general election.

Monday, September 29, 2003

Whazzup Indeed

Wow, John, you've got it nailed down. I agree completely, except that I take a slightly different view of #4, that the US is a Christian nation. I see that Erik has it in quotes, and rightly so. I think many Americans consider this a Christian land, but the reality is that it's never been one. Many of our founding fathers were positive atheists, deists, some Christians, and God knows what.

Russia was a Christian nation until 1917. I suppose it may have been the last.

"I am persuaded, you will permit me to observe that the path of true piety is so plain as to require but little political direction. To this consideration we ought to ascribe the absence of any regulation, respecting religion, from the Magna-Charta of our country." -- George Washington

All of this changes nothing in the essential truth of your position, that a great many Americans hold religious beliefs with which their government is morally at odds.

Whazzup with the USA

A reader of this blog, John, has summed up our nation's present situation as succinctly as it could be done:

1. We are in the grips of an ideologue who has no respect for the democratic process.

2. Our masses are on the brink of demoralizing poverty.

3. Our nation is viewed as a rogue state that is not capable of rational dialogue with the other industrialized nations of the world and is bent on exploiting the 3rd world countries.

4. We are a "christian" nation that is incapable of dealing with the reality that Christ would be embarassed to identify with the secular values we have embraced.

Nuff said.

Cops vs. An Army of Occupation

This article, and scores like it, have triggered me to observe this:
If our troops in Iraq are an occupying army, like, say, German troops occupying Paris during WWII, and a handful of locals fires at them, then--as in Paris--the predicted response is a wholesale military one, with choppers and overwhelming fire in the direction of the attack, precisely like the response to a wartime attack. In other words, the predictable military response is unleashed, generalized force in the direction of the attack, regardless of who or what is in the way, regardless of the harm to property and innocents in the war zone.
But if, say, the situation in Iraq is supposed to be "peacetime" and there's an attack by a bunch of hoodlums--kinda like, say, a shooting in East Cleveland, on a cluster of cops on a street corner (of course, unlike our soldiers in Iraq, cops know better than to cluster)--the response we would expect from the cops is quite different, isn't it? Even though the same number of cops/soldiers are hurt in the attack, we expect the cops to respond as cops: To fire at targets, to chase and apprehend the criminals, and so forth. In other words, an attack on peacetime cops doesn't justify a military, no-holds-barred assault that mows down innocents and leads to mass arrests.
So--the plain fact is, our troops in Iraq are acting like Hitler's in Paris, not (even) like LAPD in Watts. No wonder they hate us.
And, I wonder, what about this: Are we legally still occupying Iraq, in the sense of international law? Occupying in the sense that the populace, like Parisians in 1943, are subject to military orders? Is that what's happening over there, in the name of democratization?
Jesus, what a mess.

Smelling blood, finally

The blood spewing from the Administration's "outing" of Ambassador Wilson's wife -- an Administration official illegally leaking Wilson's wife's identity as a CIA operative in retaliation for Wilson's statements about the absence of "yellowcake" from Niger -- has been in the water for months, literally since July. Only now, however, has it reached the mainstream media, with the resultant hue and cry.
Question: Why did it take so long for the major media to smell it?
Question two: Now that this blood is in the water, along with all the blood about unfound WMD's, nonexisting yellowcake, aluminimn tube BS, and so forth, has a critical mass finally been reached so that no longer will the media (except Faux, of course) be pussies when it comes to investigating and reporting on the Bushies?
Like Watergate, which was stuck on the back pages of most dailies for months before Judge Sirica forced the defendants to come clean, this one has languished, but once the floodgates opened (pardon the multi-mixed metaphor), Katie bar the door.

Rumsfeld's parking problems

A whistler blower has told the Army Inspector General of a practice by Rumsfeld's favorite operation in the Defense Department that allowed 20 million unappropriated dollars to be secretly padded into its budget. The method was for some unrelated military department to spread the millions around in its budget request so it wouldn't be noticed--the term is "parked" there--for later use by Special Ops.

This violates at least two federal statutes. A Congressman has said that he will question Rumsfeld about the practice, which is apparently common, when he testifies in front of a House committee on Tuesday.

Details here.

What Really Happened

I clicked Google News just now to get a handle on the most prevalently reported stories of the day, and the first two were USA Today and CNN, both headlined (and canted) something like this: "Powell, Rice, Defend PreWar Intelligence."

Of course, these two puppets had been paraded out onto the Sunday talking-head shows, then given additional exposure by followup reporting in the print media (imagine: it's now news to be on a news program!), so that for a quick twenty-minute appearance these clowns get 24 hours of exposure.

Okay, okay, that's the power of incumbency. I understand that. The Neanderthal Right was probably twisting similarly during the Clinton years while his drones made similar appearances. So, what the hell.

But what about this idea, a response to the development of global news in the Internet age: A tiny, ever-so-tiny nod to the ocean of cybernews that's available to those of us who care enough about the planet to pay attention, rather than to be fed news about its course by filtered, manufactured spoonfuls. It's this: A boxed item, maybe five columns wide, one-half page, bi-weekly in newspapers, and in weekly newsmagazines, called "UnReported News" or "The Other Side" or something.

Items gathered from Pakistan's papers or magazines, or Egypt's or Saudi Arabia's or Finland's or wherever, that bear upon our nation, our view of world events, our destiny. What about such a display? Is there is no space for it? Is newsprint so expensive? Or is it that our journalists and publishers don't know about such items? Or don't care.

Just asking.