Saturday, March 25, 2006

Veep visits

From Metaphor we learn of the list of requirements for any hotel suite that Cheney chooses to stay at during "downtime" when he's traveling. Check it out; and don't forget to flood Cheney's Advance Office with phonecalls as faxes, now that you have their numbers.

How to measure "civil war"

Buried in this ABC News article is this paragraph from yesterday:

South of the capital, 40 people were killed or wounded in a big gunbattle near Mahmoudiya, police said. Police said gunmen of the Shiite Mahdi Army militia were fighting insurgent forces, which are primarily Sunni Muslim.

Now, I'm no genius, but it seems that if a "militia" of one religious sect is engaging in a "big gunbattle" with rebels from another religious sect that sounds like a "civil war" is happening. So, I checked my favorite online source, Wikipedia, to see how "civil war" is defined:

A civil war is a war in which parties within the same country or empire struggle for national control of state power. As in any war, the conflict may be over other matters such as religion, ethnicity, or distribution of wealth. Some civil wars are also categorized as revolutions when major societal restructuring is a possible outcome of the conflict. An insurgency, whether successful or not, is likely to be classified as a civil war by some historians if, and only if, organized armies fight conventional battles. Other historians state the criteria for a civil war is that there must be prolonged violence between organized factions or defined regions of a country (conventionally fought or not). In simple terms, a Civil War is a war in which a country fights another part of itself.

By my reckoning, the fracas in Iraq is walking pretty malardasquely.

Friday, March 24, 2006

The career of the future in America? Divorce lawyer

This article digests an authoritative essay in Foreign Affairs, the salient point of which is that in the near future there will be a huge "sucking" sound as service jobs leave the US, just as manufacturing jobs are. Globalization and electronics are already seeing the loss of phone-bank jobs and such services as computer tech assistants. In the future, the author says, the only jobs that won't be readily out-sourceable will be crane operators, janitors and--maybe--divorce lawyers. (Contract lawyers will of course be outsourced since there's no personal attention to the client.)

A thrilling prospect for college grads: janitor or divorce lawyer. You'll never guess which I'd chose.

Permanent bases continued

I told you a few days ago that I'd keep you posted on the status of permanent military bases in Iraq. Here's the latest.

Anybody want to join me in an income-tax-refusal protest?

Thursday, March 23, 2006

For those of you who don't think war is hell...

check out this story about a particularly effective insurgent. And scroll on down the article for enlightenment about the struggle over the city of Kirkuk, and why, among other reasons, the chances of a "unity government" are truly chancey.

Body counting

Here's an article that places the number of dead and wounded American soldiers in perspective: The number of deaths has lately fallen but the number of woundeds has commensurately increased. One additional factor that I read somewhere but can't now find is this: Because this is a desert war--with less risk of infection and similar hazards of a moist environment--and because we control the theater, allowing us to remove wounded soldiers swiftly from battle to treatment facilities, the ratio of deaths to woundeds is quite low. In earlier wars our present total of 19,588 Iraq casualties (17,269 wounded, 2319 dead) would read more like 6,000 dead and 13,000 wounded. It's good news, except that it means a much greater number of severely maimed survivors who will require a lifetime of medical attention.

Me--a Dixie Chick fan?

You betcha. (If the lyrics don't inform you whazzup with the song, click onto the album site which explains it.)

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

News coverage of Iraq

Bush/Cheney and their camp followers complain that the news coverage of Iraq slants toward the car-bombings and the battles with insurgents instead of toward the positives in the country: building of schools, digging of sewer lines, whatever. Well, Bush/Cheney, you "gotta understand", you folks have conditioned us Americans to react to dramatic events, you've indeed created a political base upon such a culture of fear and destruction, that you surely can't complain that that same culture drives the media in its war coverage. After all, you're the ones who started Shock&Awe, who placed reporters in the tanks of our Army, who reveled in the filming of the toppling of Saddam's statue. Why now, when the war drags on, do you fail to understand that Americans love that stuff--the gore and violence--more than some bricklayer's tale of constructing a school?

Besides, it's gore and terror that the MSM--your best buddies--cover daily here in the US. Are you saying that the MSM should do differently in Iraq? We never learn of a new turnoff being constructed on highway 101--certainly not by TV coverage--so why should the US public be interested in such construction in Iraq? Borrrrring.

He who lives by Shock&Awe shall, hopefully, perish by it.

Postscript--Herewith is the text of a letter to the editor of the Santa Barbara News-Press that tracks the foregoing and that might, maybe, get published since it meets the 250-word limit of the paper and is, of course, brilliant.


You complain that news from Iraq is slanted toward the negative—the deaths, the violence—resulting from US occupation: car-bombings, kidnappings, insurgent attacks. You complain that sufficient coverage isn’t given to “positives”: reconstruction of schools, sewers, bridges. Well, fellas, let me tell you why this is.

First, the “positives” aren’t very positive. Most projects consist of our rebuilding—at outlandish cost—infrastructure that your invasion demolished. Second, many aren’t proceeding, because the cost of keeping rebuilders from being killed has swallowed the money.

Third—the fundamental reason the reporting focuses on violence—is because the Americans who constitute your political base relish it. They don’t tune in to watch road-building and dam-building. They want drama: violence, that’s their fare. Telecasts of government projects? Borrrring. And fellas, you’re no dummies, you know the culture of your base. Indeed, for five years you’ve exploited it. Bigtime.

You trumpeted the horror of 9-11 to justify the invasion of Iraq. You invented “Shock & Awe” to market the bombing of Baghdad and reveled in its coverage. You embedded reporters with our troops to convey the blood-rush of war. You purveyed photos of Saddam’s sons’ corpses and of Saddam’s humiliation. You touted these images and they served you well. Indeed, they’ve kept you in power.

But now, fellas, your time’s up. The marketing of violence you’ve used to support your political position will now, let’s hope, bring an end to the occupation and, let’s further hope, your tenure.

A bad rap

Senator Feingold's censure-Bush resolution has been relegated to the MSM loony-bin, and certainly hasn't become the focus of many other Democrats' urgings. But check out this Newsweek poll on the subject. (Scroll down to the second question in the Newsweek poll): forty-two percent support censure against fifty who oppose it. And that's without meaningful hearings about the wiretapping. Recall, only the author of the wiretaps, Attorney General Gonzales, has ever testified about it--and he said nothing about its breadth or details, simply mouthing its legality. Pat Roberts, Chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee, who's in Bush's pocket, wants to bury the wiretap issue with some soft "advise-the-Congress" legislation; and so the public's right to know now depends on Republican Senator Arlan Specter, who has said he's unpersuaded about the programs' legality and wants to know more. He has the power, through the Senate Judiciary Committee, to call for hearings and a full-scale investigation of the program.

We can only hope that Specter sticks to his guns, because if so the American public will come to understand that this is a vast, ongoing intrusion into our communications, all done without judicial protection, and Feingold's resolution won't look quite so wacky after all. Maybe even some of the hang-back-until-it's-safe-to-jump Democrats (I'm talking about Hillary Clinton and her ilk here) will jump on board, and maybe, just maybe, in the next Congress we'll get the resolution passed. Sometime, somebody's gotta slap the chimp's face. Just once, to see if he can handle it.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

I'm awaiting my Time magazine

for a detailed account of this massacre by our Marines, but here's a sketch, apparently supported by a videotape of the dead Iraqi victims, including a three year old child.

I might add that in addition to this atrocity from November 2005, there's apparently a more recent one, from the last day or so, that I will link to when I'm able to find the account of it on the Internet.

Here it is.

In a nutshell

Here's whazzup with Iran in the fewest possible words.

A story worth following

The House passed the huge military appropriations bill last week with a significant amendment, sponsored by the few "good guys" in that body, an amendment barring the use of appropriated funds for establishment of permanent US bases in Iraq. There was hardly a mention of the amendment in the MSM, even though it passed unanimously, and was a rare victory for California Congressperson Barbara Lee, an American heroine. (I didn't catch the news of the passage of the amendment, that's how under-reported it was.)

But of course it's not over. The bill still must go to the House/Senate conference committee, where Republicans rule, and which is supposed to "iron out" differences between the House and Senate versions of the bill, but which can often result in significant alteration of, addition to, and subtraction from, legislation. Let's keep an eye on the fate of Barbara Lee's amendment, shall we? Given the state of public opinion about the Iraq war, it's not going to be easy for the Republicans to delete the amendment in committee.

Monday, March 20, 2006

Am I nuts?

I managed (without gagging) to watch a bit of Bush's speech and Q&A session in Cleveland earlier today. Here is AP's report of the event, so sketchy and silly as to be worthless. True, Bush said very little new (although his demeanor was remarkably glib, given the seriousness of the questions he was asked by a not-entirely-friendly audience, for once). But I picked up on one item that astounded me. He said--without equivocation, without hesitation--that the US would use its "military might" to protect Israel from Iran. Now I don't know about you, but I was unaware of any treaty under which the US is bound to do so, and even if so, any such action would have to be authorized by Congress, not by the unilateral decision by the executive. Maybe I missed something, but does Bush really think he has the constitutional, or Congressionally authorized, power to make war on Iran to protect Israel?

I'm going to await the blogosphere's reaction to Bush's statement, because there's been no reaction to it yet--five hours later--by the MSM that I can find.

Sunday, March 19, 2006

deja vu

Check out this article from the NYT about the importance of the high turnout in the democratic elections in showing the viability of the new government, with many quotes about how effective it will be in overcoming the insurgency. Date: 1967. The country: South Viet Nam.

Hurray for CBS

Well, whaddya know. 60 Minutes just aired a powerful segment, excerpted here, about the Bush administration's censorship of global-warming science. The witness was none other that a NASA scientist whose credentials were impeccable, and showed the actual interlineations and deletions of his reports, handwritten by "a lawyer, a politician" in the White House, who had been an oil industry lobbyist before joining the White House staff.

At the end of the segment, the reporter said the White House had refused to comment on the segment, and the "lawyer-politician" was no longer in the White House, having left the administration a year before to be hired by Exxon-Mobil. Good stuff.

The "I" word

You see, I'm not nuts. I've been shouting and displaying a sign demanding impeachment of Bush/Cheney for many months--perhaps years--my thinking being that if that word is uttered enough times it will eventually become part of the public discourse. It's a tactic long used used by the Right, perfected by the Bush administration and it works. On this Sunday, there are numerous print articles, as well as TV interviews, in which the word appears. It's unlikely, even in the next Congress, but it "frames" the issue in terms of Bush/Cheney's failures, which, as we all know, is a large part of the process.