Saturday, January 14, 2006


How many times do we have to hear this refrain before we get wise to it?: Each next "democratic development" in Iraq is going to be a "milestone" (there have been five "milestones" so far--three elections, one constitutional debate and one "coalition" formation) and preceding each of these there will be "increased violence" to disrupt it. The latest warning, today's, precedes the formation by the "elected" parliament of its eventual structure, which will, of course, continue to require as its protectors our troops, tanks and airplanes.

Why can't the MSM, for once, draw back a bit from a moment-to-moment account of this ugly, immoral scenario? Is it too much to ask in our democracy that someone wise and informed sees what is obvious?: that Iraq will now, and for decades, continue to be a propped-up state, one that will collapse if we withdraw--and that its condition is precisely what the NeoCons always wanted. A place where our military forces could rest--dug in, implanted in the oil-rich desert and adjacent to Israel--an hour away from any hotspot that might threaten our oil supply or Israel's expansion. It's a corollary to Bush's need for constant fear of attack; Iraq's need for constant American presence.

The NeoCons have won by Iraq's loss of decent statehood. The US will be embedded there--to ensure "democracy"--just as the NeoCons yearned for all along.

Friday, January 13, 2006

Not with a bang, but a drumbeat

This article talks about the increasing mentions of impeachment of Bush in the media, among the liberal grassroots, even in the halls of Congress. It isn't much, I grant, but "the longest journey..."

Our little protest group, and my ubiquitous signage, have for months called for impeachment, to get the word out, make it familiar, part of the discourse. And when we chant, "Impeach Dick Cheney, Impeach George Bush, Toss 'em out, Toss 'em out, Kick 'em in the tush!" we get an increasing percentage of thumbs-up and smiles from onlookers. It too isn't much, I admit, but consider this: It took years to chase Nixon from office, starting with someone first uttering the "I" word, then others, then others. Same with Clinton. (I haven't researched Andrew Johnson, but I'll bet that effort needed lead-time, too.)

Now, we're not likely to get a semen-stain as proof against Bush (although wouldn't that be delightful?); nor conspiratorial tape recordings, as in Nixon's case. So there's probably no "smoking gun," no sudden explosion, that will bring Bush down. But that makes the drumbeat all the more important, first to become too loud to ignore, then to be loud enough to bring down the house. The White House.

The Iran effect

Take a look at these poll numbers showing Bush's "approval ratings." Whatever bounce he may have gotten last month (and it wasn't much) due to his media blitz over Iraq and the elections there, has subsided. (A quick way to check is to compare one pollster's numbers--say, Fox or Ipsos--to its previous poll numbers, shown below on the list.)

But now Bush/Condi have another evildoer in their sights: Iran. True, Bush can't attack it with troops (maybe not missles, either), and must resort to rhetoric, but it will be interesting to see how his poll numbers react to this new "threat." My guess is, given the gullible/torpid American public, Bush will get a boost. Possibly, however, because he can only make noise, not war, the media won't give him as much air time and the public, which doesn't respond to anything on the tube that isn't "visual" won't pay much attention.

This turns my stomach

Yesterday the NYT reports that battles are raging between the Iraqi homegrown insurgency and the outlanders, al Qaeda groups and such, largely over the latter's indiscriminate killing of Arabs, including Sunnis and innocents. Today I hear on cable television that this is a favorable development for the US, because it may mean the disintegration of the insurgency. Indeed, the Pentagon and the administration is talking about this like it's a sign of victory and the cable talking heads are so touting it too.

Does anybody realize how cruel this is? We attack Iraq, attract the "terrorist" outsiders, welcoming them to "bring it on" so that we "fight them there instead of here," and then point to the internecine carnage as a hopeful sign?

I'm ashamed of my country.

Isn't it special?

In the days after Bush and Rummie trumpet the significance of the US Army's handover to Iraqi forces a major Saddam Hussein palace--the place is looted to the walls. The provincial police chief, Hiazza, blames the Iraqi soldiers, and as a result he gets transferred to a distant town.

Hiazza, the provincial police commander, said he started investigating
immediately after police first entered the palaces. "I found everything was
looted, even the electrical switches," he said.
When Hiazza formally accused
Jabara and some members of the provincial council in connection with the alleged
looting, authorities abruptly transferred Hiazza north to Baiji, an insurgent
hotbed. "The reason they transferred me is definitely I will get killed there,"
Hiazza said. He resigned instead.

Thursday, January 12, 2006

Pat Buchanan finally gets it

Actually, maybe it's just that he finally got a chance to articulate it to The American Conservative magazine, namely, that the arabs have a point: Bush is really in Iraq for the oil; Isreal is grabbing Palestinian lands; and arabs are being oppressed by both.

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Socialism and capitalism

In this piece, Robert Reich, Secretary of Labor under Clinton, in the course of discussing the present state of China's economy, makes a remarkable assertion:

For years, we’ve assumed that capitalism and democracy fit hand in glove. We took it as an article of faith that you can’t have one without the other. That’s why a key element of American policy toward China has been to encourage free trade, direct investment, and open markets. As China becomes more prosperous and integrated into the global market -- so American policy makers have thought -- China will also become more democratic.
Well, maybe we’ve been a bit naive. It’s true that democracy needs capitalism. Try to come up with the name of a single democracy in the world that doesn’t have a capitalist economy. For democracy to function there must be centers of power outside of government. Capitalism decentralizes economic power, and therebyprovides the private ground in which democracy can take root.

Oh, really? The nations of Scandinavia, Britain, India? To name a few. What's Reich talking about?

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Cost of medical attention in America

A bit off the Iraq beat. I just watched a PBS News Hour report about the astounding increase of health-care costs in the US, which coincides with an overall decrease in the quality of the care in the US. Much hand-wringing, much puzzlement during the PBS report, especially over the question of why we in the US pay more for medical care than do other western countries, and get less. Much hand-wringing, but not a single observation that we might want to look at the difference between the systems.

Theirs: single-payer plans, funded by taxes. Ours: Private insurance coverage with gigantic profit-driven corporate bureaucracies between the doctor and the patient, and private, profit-driven companies making our drugs and running our hospitals? Has it ever occurred to anyone that capitalism, for all its good qualities in making cars and speedboats, ought to get the fuck out of health care?

Risen is full of shit

Last night I watched Charlie Rose's interview of James Risen, author of a new "expose" of Bush's march to war in Iraq. (A commentary on some of Risen's assertions in the book may be found here, and of course Risen's been all over the tube lately, including The Daily Show.) What struck me was Risen's statement that "everybody" thought Saddam Hussein had WMD's before the invasion, and that, as a result, Risen opined that Bush/Cheney didn't "lie" about their existence, they just convinced themselves of that fact in spite of the absence of hard evidence, a kind of "wishful thinking."

First of all, there was plenty of evidence of the absence of WMDs, as Risen himself states in the portions of the book cited by above-linked article. In addition to the failure of the UN weapons inspectors to find any WMD despite open access to all sites in Iraq, there were repeated prewar statements by Scott Ritter and others--inside Iraq, inside the federal government and outside--that the decade-long surveillance and sanctions on Iraq made it unlikely that WMD's could have been developed. Second--and this pisses me off no end--the issue in the weeks before the invasion wasn't "does Saddam have WMD?", it was, "given that it's still not clear whether he does or not" what is the remedy, the proper course of action?

With UN inspection teams driving in their white vans all over the place (recall those images?), scurrying unannounced and unobstructed in their searches and time after time finding nothing, what should the US do? Invade and bomb, or continue with the inspections, as Blix and al Baradei and all but Britain in the Security Council urged? Saddam was surrounded by our massing forces, his every move was watched, his nation was being scoured for evidence. So--even if it was "wishful thinking" that led Bush to conclude Saddam had WMD, what should he have done as leader of the "free world": Made war--or made certain?

Moving on from

This article's right on about the war in Iraq and the position of most Democrats and their supporters, including, about what to do next to cease this grotesquery. I say, to hell with those who call for more arms and soldiers, regardless of party, regardless of their other stances. If you call for more troops, or are silent about the ongoing carnage, you're complicit in America's quest for world dominance. You're worse than a neoCon, because at least they stand for something.

I report, you decide

Was the war about Iraq's oil? (Scroll to near-bottom of article, although the rest of it's illuminating, too.)

Monday, January 09, 2006

In case you're not keeping track

the current death toll (as DOD-reported) of US soldiers in Iraq is over 2,200. In case you think there's any trend here--up or down--check out this graphic graphic.

Okay, gang, keep me posted

Let me know when/if this story of Rumsfeld's misfeasance ever reaches the MSM. How can it not, since the linked-to report is an AP dispatch? Maybe Rummie has kept his job all this while by suppressing adverse news of his performance, via blackmail from information he's gleaned from the Pentagon's spying operation. Otherwise, I have no clue how come he hasn't been fired, and, for that matter, tarred and feathered and roasted on a spit.

I smell a rat

You may recall that I predicted during the summer of 2004, in the months before the presidential election, that Cheney would resign, citing failing health, so that Bush could run with a different vice presidential candidate, given Cheney's unpopularity. It didn't happen, of course, but these latest trips by Cheney to the hospital have me speculating again. Wouldn't it be clever if Cheney "with great reluctance resigned the office due to ill health," and the neocons got a new veep to fill out Cheney's term and hence to have the inside track on the presidential nomination in 2008? They must be horrified by the prospect of loose-cannon John McCain's nomination, and this would be a handy way to come up with a strong, tested successor to their puppet, Bush.

I suggest we raid the hospital and grab Cheney's medical records from this latest visit and check them out. They probably say, "Complains of shortness of breath. Patient, however, is asymptomatic, except for a terminal case of fascist prevarication, as diagnosed on previous visits."

Sunday, January 08, 2006

The state of the nation

Not about Iraq or spying or scandals, this time. Although you wouldn't know it from the MSM, it's the economy, stupid. And once the masses get it--if they ever do--the Republicans had better run and hide.

Hearts and minds

What the hell are the US troops doing in Iraq? Raiding Sunni clerics, invading their mosques, painting crosses on the walls?

Those magnetized "yellow ribbons" to "support our troops"

have their origin as celebratory symbols to welcome home imprisoned persons. This website, "Straightdope," one of my favorites, tells the story.

So, it has come to this

Now we're building walls around cities in Iraq. Does this occupation begin to sound like the Nazis in Poland, or the Romans in Jerusalem? Or has it sounded like that for a long time?