Saturday, December 20, 2003

Democracy in Iraq, but not in US

The irony overwhelms.

A quote from a Shia cleric:

"We don't want a dictatorship of the majority to dominate," said Mr. Hakim. "But we do want to preserve the rights of the majority, which is the Shia, and the simplest right is to have the head of state come from the majority. Isn't that correct?"

Debt forgiveness

Since whiffs of it began to seep into the news, I've wondered what this "debt forgiveness" campaign by the US, lately through envoy James Baker, was about. Now I understand. (Click on the "press releases" link.)

"Creditors" who financed Hussein's regime, including the US, were unlikely to be repaid by the new Iraq, so in the guise of forgiveness, they may see some money through IMF sanction of new, albeit lesser, debt, saddling the new Iraq with the sums.

This, like so many other matters the US is "handling" for Iraq, such as the opening of Iraqi commerce to foreign ownership, is done without legal sanction from a democratically founded Iraqi entity, and is done in furtherance of US commercial and political aims, leaving Iraq's truly-constituted government with nothing to do but design the national flag and compose the national anthem.

my cat

Wanna see my cat?
Make sure your sound is turned on first.

Thursday, December 18, 2003

Even if taken with a grain of salt, a grain of truth abides

This ezine may not be unbiased, but if just one-third of its reports approximate the truth, I am ashamed for our military, ashamed to be an American.

Freepers, creepers

I will likely use the word "Freeper" or "Freepers" hereafter in this blog. An exhaustive definition may be found here. Once you read it you'll appreciate how handy the word is in my parlance.


BBC reports that Abdul Aziz Al-Hakim, the present President of the Iraqi Governing Council and a leading Shia Muslim who lived for years in exile in Iran (#2 nation of Bush's "axis of evil"), is making cozy with Iran. Much too cozy, I'm certain, for Bush, Rummie and Wolfie, who are stridently demanding that Iraq be scoured for nuclear potentiality.

Not only is Al-Hakim asserting that Iraq should pay Iran $100 billion in reparations for Saddam Hussein's war against Iran (highly embarrassing to Bush, one would think, when he's asking Iraq's creditors and other nations that are owed reparations, such as Kuwait, to forgive indebtedness from Iraq), but the BBC reporter also made this tiny observation:

"The [Iraqi invasion of Iran] claimed the lives of at least one million people, and during the conflict Iraq used nerve gas against the Iranians. The Iranian Government is preparing a comprehensive complaint against Saddam Hussein for 'crimes' against the Islamic republic, calling for the captured former Iraqi leader to be tried before an international court.
"Some Iranian observers say the US should also be in the dock with Saddam Hussein, as Washington supported him at the time of the war."

How long do you think the Bushies are going to allow these "Iranian observers" to remain so observing? For that matter, surviving?

Wednesday, December 17, 2003

Let them eat war

The psychologist author of a definitive piece about Nascar Dads is interviewed here. The article also contains a link to her original essay examining the incongruity of the high percentage of white workingstiff voters that Bush is likely to attract in the upcoming election--and the psychological underpinnings their attraction to him--unless the Democratic candidate can recoup them for the party that deserves their allegiance.

Martial Law

Do I like seeing people protest in favor of that asshat Saddam? No. As I said yesterday, I wish Clinton had succeeding in killing him. I think the support he still gets from some morons is revolting. (I continue to be surprised by President Bush's approval ratings too.)

Still it's funny I don't remember martial law being declared in Iraq by the United States. I remember reading in history class that the Nazis posted formal notices of occupation and martial law, at least in the city of Paris. I remember when Baghdad fell, a couple of US flags were seen, then quickly removed. Things are not always what they seem. To borrow a syntax from Forrest Gump, occupation is as occupation does.

"Sometimes we must interfere.
When human lives are endangered,
when human dignity is in jeopardy, national borders and sensitivities become irrelevant. Whenever men or women are persecuted because of their race, religion, or political views, that place must - at that moment - become the center of the universe."
-- Elie Wiesel

Accordingly, I question whether American troops have the moral authority or legal right, under international law, to impose a ban on speech and peaceful demonstrations by Iraqi civilians. In a democracy, the military does not fire on peaceful citizens. I realize that not all demonstrations following the capture of the despot Saddam have been peacful, but if Iraqi's are being threatened with death for any demonstrations at all, well dammit, that's not what we're about!

Does this sound like freedom and democracy to you?

Imagine being a Tikriti who happens to believe that Saddam Hussein is worthy of support even after his capture by the US forces. This is what happens if you show that support.

Silly me

In my earlier post, "A Formidable Task," I neglected to mention this obvious hurdle that the Democratic nominee faces from Bush: The public trial of Saddam Hussein next summer (why do you think they're already talking about how long it will take to assemble the evidence?), in which, with full coverage by CNN, Fox, and all other networks (and with US viewers glued to the tube, awaiting and getting daily gore--that's without a capital letter) Bush's "victory" will be incessantly trumpeted. No matter what happens in the real "war on terr'r", that trial will deflect any losses the US or the rest of the world will suffer at the hands of the terrorists. By capturing Saddam alive, Bush has bought himself months of good press, intensely covered and followed by a US citizenry that loves this Springer-Court-Reality TV madness.

God (if you exist and listen to decent humans), help us.

Monday, December 15, 2003

Good Riddance?

Ooops, our president seems confused. From his personal message to Saddam, it appears that someone has lead Mr. Bush to believe that Saddam is dead. As a Texan, he ought to know the buckboard goes behind the horse.

President Bush said when asked if he had a personal message for Saddam: "Good riddance. The world is a better place without you...." [news]

Ain’t Nuthin’ but a Family Thing

On September 26, 2002, President Bush spoke in Houston at a fundraiser for a Republican candidate for the Senate. At that time, his Orwellian rhetoric against anyone skeptical of his foreign policy was just getting warmed up, and he took the Senate – then controlled by the Democrats – to task, impugning their patriotism, for dragging their feet over Homeland Security. Then his speech shifted focus to Saddam Hussein.

The president delivered the usual litany of Saddam’s defiance of the UN, his malice toward the US, his threat to world peace, etc. Then Bush said something very interesting:

"After all, this is the guy who tried to kill my dad."

I’ll pause a moment and let that sink in. Think about it. … Yeah. You see what I mean. Remember when George the Elder went to Kuwait for his victory lap, or whatever, during the Clinton Administration? Iraqis tried to kill him. And Clinton sent them some cruise missiles for an attitude adjustment.

I gotta be honest. If somebody tried to kill my Dad, and I became president and had a chance to kick his ass, his whole country’s ass, and render him to a babbling, matted idiot living in a hovel, you better your Euphrates I’d do it. Probably. I’d make him sorry somehow. I like to think I wouldn’t expend thousands of dead and wounded to do it, but I’d take care of business.

George H.W. Bush was, after all, the duly elected and duly replaced ex-president of the United States. My political differences with him aside, you don’t try to assassinate such a person and get away with it. (Or any of us for that matter.) So I’m glad that Saddam got his ass handed to him. He got what he deserved. I wholeheartedly dissent against the war, but I’m pleased with this particular result of it. I wish Clinton had gotten Saddam with a missile, and made it all moot.

Now if Bush had stood up in front of Congress and the Republic and said, “We’re goin’ to get his bastard ‘cause he done tried ta kill Pa,” I don’t think he would have gotten the misbegotten mandate he got last Spring. I suspect the polls would be a tad more lopsided, and the vote in Congress less partisan. But at least he would have gone into the history books as making a little more sense. And eventually, rationality is going to raise it’s bewildered head and ask, “What in the wide world of sports were people thinking back in ’03? What did all those kids die for anyway?”

It’s nice he’s on ice, but it’s not worth the price. - Bush calls Saddam 'the guy who tried to kill my dad' - Sep. 27, 2002

The dollar continues to tumble

After a brief favorable bump upon the capture of Saddam Hussein, the dollar continued to slip, reaching record low levels (one euro now costs $1.23). According to this Reuters article , a selloff of the dollar will continue, only to abate with possible good economic news. Abate momentarily, but then continue, because the unsoundness of the dollar is based on structural defects in the US economy, in particular the massive trade deficit that is building up at record levels, month after month.
There may come a time when those who are keeping the dollar from free fall by making supportive purchases decide to abandon ship because of the declining value of the dollar. If so, we are in for a rugged adjustment in America and, likely, globally.
All of Bush's positives listed in the previous posts will then come to naught, and he'll be another Bush one-termer.
While I agree that the Democrats must now--immediately--stop stabbing each other in this pre-primary period (Kerry and Lieberman's recent attacks on Dean are disgusting), and must come up with a positive message in order to attract votes, it wouldn't hurt their chances if the economy should tank.
I'll keep you--and myself--posted.

A formidable task

Here's what the Democratic nominee for President must overcome in order to win election over Bush:

1. Bush's incumbency--not its effects, which are discussed below, but the mere fact of incumbency. Although incumbents don't always win (Carter, Ford, Bush I), they usually do (FDR, Truman, Eisenhower, Johnson, Nixon, Reagan, Clinton).
2. Bush's campaign chest. Nuff said.
3. Bush's clever handlers. Rove, of course, but also terrific speech writers, who've created for Bush's persona a delivery of brief, simple bursts that carry brief, simple messages. He's become a good public speaker now and will have slick, effective ads, displayed round the clock.
4. A resurgent economy, even if it's not real, and even if it unfairly distributes its largesse. The media and the markets have fallen in love with the rebound and that's all that matters, apparently, even though family income continues to fall.
5. A compliant media, plus a baldly supportive Fox-TV network. Not only do these sources trumpet Bush's achievements, he (and his minions) know how to manipulate them. Did anyone not wince when Tribune Bremer let out, "We Got Him," knowing full well that his announcement was tailored to fit across banner headlines?
6. A favorable Congress, willing and able to bury scandals, to time their deliberations and effect enactments to assist his re-election.
7. Bush's control of events. Not just a huge "October surprise," which I long ago predicted would be his announcement of a major withdrawal of troops from Iraq in the month before the election, but mini-surprises along the way. Because the media and the public are able to carry only a fixed amount of news at a time, Bush (or Rumsfeld, or Condi, etc.) can drop an announcement or create a situational crisis whenever it suits them to override some unfavorable development. Witness, for example, the announcement of domestic "alerts" whenever an untoward event (such as the shooting down of helicopters) arises.
8. The "Nascar dad" syndrome, about which I blogged some weeks ago. This is the notion--borne out, I believe, by the election of Schwarzenegger in California--that white workingstiff males are experiencing an anger fueled by their loss of status and income that translates into support for macho, angry male politicians. (A 1970's version of this syndrome could be seen in the TV series, "All in the Family," with Archie Bunker as its protagonist.) Bush portrays his war on terrorism to feed just such anger, and he's got overwhelming support among this group of voters. An adjunct of the syndrome is, I believe, seen in what I call the "Oakland Raider dad" in California, carried by Latino males.
9. Bush is a "war president." Of course he both declared it to be a war and controls its duration, in in the sense that so long as he decides it's ongoing, it is. But no matter, it engenders the fear and resistance to "change horses" that a real war does.
10. Bush's character myth. This excellent article lays out this concept, frighteningly. It's the product of media, polish, cunning and swagger, cloaked in God-phrasing.
11. Corporate support. In addition to the massive infusion of campaign funds, corporations and the wealthy who've fared so well under Bush are also influential in more subtle ways. They can suggest, through their ads and presence, that all is well with America and that thus the status quo should be maintained. They do this daily, by casting out images of a prosperous, well-functioning America, not calling attention to the gross disparities of wealth and benefits.
13. Voter turnout. Always favors the Republican candidate.
14. Luck. The guy's just blessed, let's face it. He's truly a miserable failure in all his endeavors and yet he always lands on his feet--ten rungs up the ladder from where he fell. It's the story of the "fortunate son," this time as President.

There are doubtless more reasons why Bush is favored in 2004. If you have any additions, please submit them via Comment.

The foregoing makes you wonder why we even bother.
Because, quite simply, we must.

Justice Displayed

Blog-contributor John:

The last thing we need is for Bush to crow about how it was his focused measures that brought about the capture of Saddam. We should instead give thanks that Saddam was stupid enough to be caught.

Saddam should not be tried by a military tribunal or by an Iraqi court. He should be taken immediately before the Hague and tried for crimes against humanity like Milosevic. He should not be executed because that would only make him a martyr and show the world that the state of morality of the world community is no higher than that of fundamentalist religions.

Now, more than ever, we need to turn this criminal over to the international court to show we truly are members of an international community and that there is a structure for judging and providing justice even for a ruthless and bloodthirsty dictator. If we fail to stand up for justice even for Saddam, we fail to support a major principle of democracy (for which we fought a war), namely, that world organizations are the proper institutions to adjudicate and sentence those who commit crimes against humanity.

Happy Day

Happy Day! Not Saddam, I've done enough damage on that topic. But today (Sunday) is my buddy Erik's birthday. Happy birthday, Erik. Hope it was a very nice one indeed. You'll notice that the clouds dissipated just in time after the morning rain to give you a clear and brilliant afternoon. I could take credit for that, but sadly I had no more to do with it than Bush had to do with finding whatshisname. Nevertheless, I hope you'll think of me, and this fine afternoon of birdsinging and untangled sunlight, come election day.

Captured Saddam: street party

Well, I've had a busy day. My bedroom TV comes on automatically on CNN, so I knew before I got up that Saddam had been captured. But I haven't really had time to sit down and enjoy the show. Actually, I could've watched this evening, but I was watching Dinosaur Planet with my Dad. So there.

I've had time now to read some major news reports on the capture and its aftermath, and few things come to mind:

I wonder who gets the reward, and whether they have to pay anybody taxes on it. Do they get it in a lump, and move out of the Middle East for someplace nicer, or in payments, and just buy a nicer place in Iraq?

Are the Fab Five from Queer Eye available to give Saddam a makeover? 'Cause he really needs some help.

Now, I've never claimed that the average American is exactly a high wattage bulb, but just how stupid are the people in Kirkuk? Check this out:

"In northern Kirkuk, eight people were killed and 80 wounded by shots fired in the air during celebrations of the capture, said hospital official Shehab Ahmed."

I'm sorry, I know that's offensive. But give me a friggin break. Lemmings have better odds. That's like fish in a barrel shooting themselves. Maybe we could drop some leaflets out of Rumsfelds's plane, next time he swoops in. A nice, simple, catchy rhyme:

I shot a bullet in the air
And it came down I knew not where.
But something killed my neighbor Fred
By blowing off part of his head.

That's why I get the big bucks folks. I'm here at Erik's Drive-in Supper Club almost nightly. Hold your fire, and don't forget to tip your waitress.

Yahoo! News - Captured Saddam Faces Strict Gravity

Sunday, December 14, 2003

The good news: Saddam was captured. The bad news: Osama's heading to Iraq

Now that Saddam Hussein is in custody, we will learn the extent to which his continued freedom has fueled the ongoing violence in Iraq. There will be daily revelations by the coalition and the Iraqi Governing Council, keeping the fact of his confinement in the news, especially as his pretrial and trial for war crimes proceed.

This is great news for Bush, of course, not only as a public relations coup, but because it may cause the Iraqi resistance to diminish over time. But not entirely, because, apparently, al Qaeda is on the way.

It's better Saddam was captured now, rather than six months from now, since by election time much of the bounce Bush receives will have dissipated as the expected infighting between Iraqi factions escalates and al Qaeda joins the fray. Bush's failure in the war on terr'r will be revealed for the fraudulent warmongering that it is.

I hope.