Saturday, April 17, 2004

On the brink

The Fallujah seige is wearing to an end. The Najaf seige is too. It's likely the chickenhawks will attack one of the cities or the other, or both, on the theory that if they get the bloodbaths over with in April the US electorate will forget about it by November. If they don't smash the rebellion now it will fester and emerge as a power once the "transfer of power" (fictitious as it is) takes place at the end of June, and this might obstruct the facade of democracy in Iraq.

We've got to stop thinking like human beings in order to figure out this administration. More like predators--raptors or the like. They'll do whatever it takes to maintain power.

Here' s a delightful story

about three deaths in Kosovo, including two American police, who were fighting with Jordanians about, you guessed it: Iraq.

If there were ever any doubt

this CNN interview dispels it. Israel is in bed with us, or we are with them, and they're turning up the theremostat on the electric blanket.

The Neocons and Sharon believe that a favorable political result can follow conquest. I don't think so, and I don't believe it ever has.

You need to read this

Billmon's sense of the inevitably of his own demise in a car-wreck, and his equating that sensation to the current situation in the Middle East--especially after Kerry appears to signed on to Bush/Blair's recent sellout of Palestine--mirrors my sensation exactly. I'm looking out the windshield with genuine curiosity; I really want to see what happens and have a surprising dispassion about it at the moment. Like a good mystery novel with forty pages to go.


This link to Mosaic TV brings streaming audio and video of broadcasts of channels in the Middle East. We Americans don't get such news, and I must say that if the bias of the media there is similar to ours, I sure understand why they hate us. From now on I'm going to watch Faux news on TV, and watch the Mosaic stream and somewhere in there, somehow discern the truth.

Bush the madman

Apparently, the recent flurry of early-campaign TV ads are intended by their proponent to define the opposing candidate. Bush's ads paint Kerry as tax-and-spend and as a "waffler." Kerry's ads, and those of MoveOn, haven't been as effective in defining Bush yet, but it's early.
My advice to MoveOn is that they do the Bush-defining, allowing Kerry's ads to focus on Kerry's positives, especially since each ad promulgated directly by the candidate must bear the audible assurance that he/she approves the ad.
Further advice to MoveOn: Subtly at first, but repeatedly and with increasing intensity, suggest that Bush/Cheney are crazy. Nuts. Driven by demons and the hearing of voices.
The recent revelations that Bush was fixated on invading Iraq from the outset of his administration, that Cheney and Rumsfeld were plumping for it shortly after 9/11 and over-riding Colin Powell's will, are well documented by former Bush administration officials including his Treasury Secretary and of course Richard Clark. Now, in a book to be published next week, Bob Woodward tells of these fixations and more. Frightening evidence that Bush is crazy, loony, over the edge.

Friday, April 16, 2004

Meanwhile, back at the economy...

The International Monetary Fund, no fount of liberal propoganda, warns the the bloated US deficits will cause a world economic downturn unless they're brought under control. The prospect of inflation, which will increase the cost of US borrowing to finance the huge deficits, is imminent. The US must act now, the IMF report says.

And of course we haven't heard a peep about this from Bush; and hardly a peep from Kerry, even though the US populace is worried about the deficits too, and would willingly swap tax decreases for decrease in the deficit.

I'm no expert

but I recall that the "roadmap" to peace in the Middle East involved the taking of tiny steps of process, leaving the substantive issues (boundaries, settlements, "right of return" and so forth) to the end, once the process for decision was in place. Now, however, the adoption by Bush/Blair of Sharon's unilateral decision to withdraw from Gaza, leave large settlements in place on the West Bank and deny the "right of return" is a complete reversal of the road map process-first method. It in essence determines the outcome before the map is even opened. Have you ever traveled by such a method?

Thursday, April 15, 2004

Voices in the wilderness

I shouldn't have gotten a TV, shouldn't subscribe to a newspaper, shouldn't even surf most Intenet sites, because their reporting and analysis of the state of the world is so pitiful, infantile and short-sighted.

Take Bush's recent capitulation to Sharon's insidious plan to give up the Gaza Strip in consideration of keeping settlements on the West Bank and denying to the Palestinians the "right of return" to their homes within Israel. Bush's decision has not simply infuriated the Arab/Muslim world, but with one stroke has not only made the prospect of any resolution of the Israel/Palestine conflict impossible and has caused eternal perpetuation of conflict in the Middle East.
Question: Who benefits from such conflict? Certainly not the populace of the Middle East. Answer: Sharon, of course. Second answer: Bush. The War President.

Badhdad Burning

and Riverbend is fuming.

If it weren't so sad...

it would be hilarious. In fact, it is hilarious.

In a BBC article, a private contractor in Iraq says that

"with the US Army unable to guarantee security, company personnel needed to travel with armed bodyguards, in convoy with armoured vehicles, and should wear body armour and helmets when travelling in insecure areas.

"And he warned that they would have to take their own food and water, organise medical care for their staff, and bring satellite phones for communication.

"On the bright side, he reported that Baghdad's hotels were open, cheap and not full - but many lacked basic services like air-conditioning."

Who Kerry's?

I've been following John Kerry's machinations lately and I gotta say I'm about as enthused about him as president as I was about Al Gore four years ago. For those of you who don't know I voted for Nader in 2000, let me inform you I thought Gore (the Democratic Party) was Tweedle Dee, only slightly better than Dum.
But it's not just Kerry that bores me to distraction, it's his campaign and his positions. Take Iraq. He sounds like Bush lite when it comes to answering "What would you do to change the policy in Iraq?" His answers are mush.
I propose that instead, (1) he would announce that he'd immediately review reconstruction contracts to allow Iraqi companies to work on their own reconstruction so that their people could have jobs and participate in their own rebuilding--and we could save money. (2) He would announce that US troops will remain only upon the explicit invitation of the duly constituted body governing of Iraq, so that the Iraqis would know that we weren't plotting to remain there forever. (3) He would invite the leaders of the entire Muslim/Arab region to a meeting to discuss the disposition of the problems in Iraq, including cooperation to help in the reconstruction, in the supply of Arabic-speaking assistants, in the sharing of Iraq's oil wealth and so forth, thereby turning the Iraq problem into a regional issue.
I have other ideas, but these are just a few, none of which have I heard from Tweedle Dee Kerry. If he keeps this up, he's gonna lose the election. Not because Bush is doing a good job, but because, like Gore, he fucks up his run for the presidency.

Wednesday, April 14, 2004

Lunatics are running the asylum

Bremer has no control over the US military in Iraq, which accounts for the Army's brusque and brutal actions against Fallujah and its criminal announcements about its intention to capture or kill the cleric al-Sadr.

It's driving me crazy

as I listen to the 9/11 Commission hearings, with all its bureaucratic bullshit and blame and so forth, grandstanding by the questioners, evasion and equivocation by the answerers. Astounding lack of focus and fact-gathering. I hope the staff that drafts the eventual report, due out in late July, will spend some energy on this burning question:
During the near two-hour gap between when the first airplane hit a tower in NYC and the last plane hit the Pentagon, what precisely was going on inside the government to take steps to prevent the latter. If I had a loved one die in the Pentagon, I'd sure as hell want to know why that plane wasn't stopped. For all of the attention on the failure to discover the plot before it was launched, how about the failure to stop it once it was well underway?
I keep remembering that five-minute gap when the President was talking to school kids as the airplane banked and turned toward the Pentagon, with almost thirty minutes left to go before impact and with the knowledge that two planes had already been used as missles. And, if it must be said, the Pentagon, and Washington D.C. at least, were obvious targets, even more obvious than the twin towers (although with the earlier attack on it, maybe not.)

Bush's press conference

I listened to a bit of Bush's "press conference" (a 20-minute speech followed by 11 long speeches that were unresponsive to 11 moderately penetrating questions about Iraq and so forth. I had to turn off the radio--couldn't handle it.

Now, however, I've watched it on TV and have seen the commentators' reactions. Not good for Bush. He's being savaged by the Left and Far Right. Many are saying he's "out of touch with reality," a label that doomed his father, recall, when he marvelled at a grocery store checkout process. But W's "nonreality" is about something more important: war and invasion and death and billions of dollars.
The initial poll, the unscientific poll of AOL that is usually pro-Bush by 20% is slightly anti-Bush, which means that tomorrow's less biased polls will be slanted against his "performance."

Kerry and Move-On and so on should jump on this "unreality" thing, really start the drumbeat that Bush is goddam crazy, going so far as to do collages of his sound bites about how well things are going in Iraq with how awful it is over there, months after the "peace."

Monday, April 12, 2004

Wait just a goddam minute

As the occupying authority, under international law, we don't have the option to "capture or kill" anybody in Iraq. That may be the choice when a nation is at war, but under occupation authority we're limited by civilian law. Even if we have evidence that al-Sadr fomented insurgency, even if we have evidence that he committed murder, we can't kill him. I don't know much about international law, but I'm pretty sure that's called summary punishment, illegal in any context except in a true wartime theater.


As a long-time civil libertarian, I've always been troubled by the fair-trial/free-press question. Who's rights are more important: The right of the public to know whazzup in our public institutions or of the defendant to have an impartial jury? What amount of pretrial muzzling of the press may be allowed in the interest of not tainting the jury pool?

A more recent conflict: between the concept of open borders (actually, no borders) as I long believed was furthered by NAFTA, GATT and other "free trade" notions; and the truth, expressed by this compelling analysis , that these treaties and the rubric of free trade are a guise for capitalist exploitation of the labor class.

I suppose someday there'll be one world, but I'm not counting on Mobil or Microsoft to create it.

"Battle Stations"

That's the phrase Condi Rice used to describe the Bush White House after the now-disclosed Presidential Daily Briefing five weeks before 9/11/01. I'd hate to think how slowly they would have reacted had we not been so alert.

King George

About 250 years ago, a previous King George probably said the same thing about those pesky revolutionaries in the colonies:

"We just can't let a few people and I say 'a few,' listen,
there was enough to cause harm - but a few relative to the rest of the people. You just can't let, you know, a small percentage of the ... people decide the fate of everybody and that's what you're seeing."

Sunday, April 11, 2004

Looming Jihad

This dispatch from Iraq throws light on the sense of chaos prevailing there, and the mindset of the "average Joe" as jihad looms ... We're talking general uprising, complete mayhem, utter disaster. Sorry, just call 'em as I read 'em.


Turns out the Iraqi security forces that the US has so assiduously trained, and on which the nation we're building is supposed to depend for ensuring peace in Iraq, has refused orders to participate in the assault on Fallujah. They apparently didn't sign up for shooting their fellow citizens.