Wednesday April 30, 2003

Atrios and especially Hesiod are all over the ChoicePoint story. Check out this at Eschaton and this at Counterspin Central. From the Guadalajara Reporter:

A probe has been launched into how the Atlanta-based corporation ChoicePoint Inc. was able to purchase data on Mexico’s 65 million registered voters as well as six million licensed drivers in Mexico City.

According to an investigation carried out by the Mexico City newspaper Milenio, ChoicePoint was commissioned by the U.S. government to obtain the data.

Posted at 09:00 PM | Comments (1)

Why Jon Stewart should be knighted:

Bush vs. Bush

Posted at 04:52 PM | Comments (0)

Damn, Janeane Garofalo goes on a tear in an interview with The Progressive magazine:

The mainstream media has, in my opinion, been so grossly negligent, so disturbingly devoid of authentic debate, and actual dissemination of information. They are, in theory, the custodians of fact, the watchdogs of government. That's the theory. At a time as important as this, they have absolutely rolled over to the conservative hawkish agenda.


That brings us to some of the rightwing pundits who dominate the radio, like Mike Savage, or some of the commentators at Fox--the Ann Coulters, what have you. I think what they do is they turn their own personal issues--whether they be racist, homophobic, sexist, xenophobic, or imperialistic--and they wrap them in the flag and hide them behind Jesus.


I never imagined that I would never care about dumb things anymore. I never imagined I'd be a person who could transcend that kind of nonsense. But beyond that, I never imagined I would be penalized for speaking out in favor of social justice. I never thought that anyone who spoke out for peace, and diplomacy, and social justice would be pilloried.

I'm frequently depressed, just have a general malaise. And I don't mean a malaise of indifference, I mean a malaise of sadness and fear. I've always been alarmed by some of the things that the mainstream media does and by what the government does, no matter who's in office, but the broken heart is new.

Posted at 12:48 PM | Comments (2)

Putin lays the smack down on Blair. Stay tuned for tomorrow's diplomatic cage-match free-for-all in the Garden! Quotes from "We are not with you and we don't believe you", at the Guardian:

Tony Blair's first public attempt to heal the diplomatic wounds of the Iraq war suffered a humiliating rebuff yesterday when Vladimir Putin, the Russian president, refused to lift UN sanctions and mocked the possibility that weapons of mass destruction existed in Iraq.

Mr Putin also clashed with Mr Blair by demanding UN weapons inspectors be allowed back into Iraq and challenged Mr Blair's vision of a new world strategic partnership, arguing it would be unacceptable for the US to dominate the international community.

The public dressing down for Mr Blair came during a 63-minute press conference staged by the two men at Mr Putin's private residence outside Moscow. The two men had a fabled special relationship and Mr Blair had high hopes he would be able to wean Mr Putin away from his new anti-war alliance with France and Germany.


But Mr Putin said Russia and its partners "believe until clarity is achieved over whether weapons of mass destruction exist in Iraq, sanctions should be kept in place". Almost mocking Mr Blair, he went on: "Where is Saddam? Where are those arsenals of weapons of mass destruction, if indeed they ever existed? Perhaps Saddam is still hiding somewhere in a bunker underground, sitting on cases of weapons of mass destruction and is preparing to blow the whole thing up and bring down the lives of thousands of Iraqi people."

He added that sanctions could not be lifted since they had been introduced because Iraq had weapons of mass destruction."It is only the security council that is in a position to lift those sanctions, after all they introduced them."

He also derided Mr Blair's talk of a new world order, saying: "If the decision-making process in such a framework is democratic then that is something we could agree with, but if decisions are being made by just one member of the international community and all the others are required to support them that is something we could not find acceptable."

Posted at 07:11 AM | Comments (1)

Tuesday April 29, 2003

Hmm... Paul Krugman seems to be getting at a point that I touched on yesterday -- all these "We've found 'em!" WMD reports are probably nothing more than an effort to convince an unquestioning public with false evidence:

One wonders whether most of the public will ever learn that the original case for war has turned out to be false. In fact, my guess is that most Americans believe that we have found W.M.D.'s. Each potential find gets blaring coverage on TV; how many people catch the later announcement — if it is ever announced — that it was a false alarm? It's a pattern of misinformation that recapitulates the way the war was sold in the first place. Each administration charge against Iraq received prominent coverage; the subsequent debunking did not.

Sadly the newspaper that he works for is just as responsible for the " loud assertions and muted or suppressed retractions."

Posted at 06:39 AM | Comments (0)

Monday April 28, 2003

Oh, and those barrels that were full of chemical warfare agents?

They weren't full of chemical warfare agents. From the NYTimes:

In northern Iraq, a military chemical-analysis team said today that a cache of barrels and two mobile laboratories found near the village of Bayji were most likely not used for chemical warfare purposes, countering earlier reports from an Army officer at the site.

What they're doing is putting so many of these stories out there that people are just going to assume that they're all true and that chemical agents were found, and that the French were collaborating, etc. etc. -- when in reality, it all seems to be completely fabricated. And the NYTimes, by burying the revelation in the middle of that article, seems to be actively collaborating to obscure the truth.

Posted at 02:12 PM | Comments (0)

Seems like almost everything coming out of Iraq being reported as true turns out to be bullshit. Here's some more from the Guardian:

Western intelligence officials are playing down the significance of documents appearing to show that Saddam Hussein's regime met an al-Qaida envoy in Baghdad in 1998 and sought to arrange a meeting with Osama bin Laden.

"We are aware of fleeting contacts [between Baghdad and al-Qaida] in the past, but there were were no long-term official contacts," a well-placed source told the Guardian yesterday. "The documents do not take things further forward"


Intelligence sources also played down the significance of documents found by the Sunday Times in the Iraqi foreign ministry which suggest France gave the regime regular reports on its dealings with American officials.

The sources described them as ordinary diplomatic traffic from the Iraqi ambassador in Paris.

Posted at 09:56 AM | Comments (0)

Sunday April 27, 2003

Via This Modern World

So much for the Geneva Convention:

American soldiers were witnessed stripping four Iraqis they'd detained, then parading them through a park. The men were seen to have the words "Ali Baba - Thief" scrawled on their chests.

Wha? Don't believe me? Check out these photos courtesy of a Norwegian newspaper.

Here's an English-language AP story detailing the incident as recounted in the newspaper. According to Amnesty International,

The article quotes a US military officer as saying that this treatment is an effective method of deterring thieves from entering the park and is a method which will be used again; another US military officer is quoted as saying that US soldiers are not allowed to treat prisoners inhumanely.
Posted at 11:07 PM | Comments (0)

Saturday April 26, 2003

If you had any doubts about why we went into Iraq, this article puts them to rest:

Beyond that, the Bush administration decided it must flex muscle to show it would fight terrorism, not just here at home and not just in Afghanistan against the Taliban, but in the Middle East, where it was thriving.

Officials deny that Bush was captured by the aggressive views of neo-conservatives. But Bush did agree with some of their thinking.

"We made it very public that we thought that one consequence the president should draw from 9/11 is that it was unacceptable to sit back and let either terrorist groups or dictators developing weapons of mass destruction strike first at us," conservative commentator Bill Kristol said on ABCNEWS' Nightline in March.

The Bush administration wanted to make a statement about its determination to fight terrorism. And officials acknowledge that Saddam had all the requirements to make him, from their standpoint, the perfect target.

Including, no doubt, that it was the easy target.

Then here's some rambling from James "give me a slice of the pie!" Woolsey, in which he uses an opening to take a swipe at the French:

JAMES WOOLSEY: We had current evidence of several French trucks that had been turned into biological weapons laboratories.

I guess he just wanted to contrast them with the American biological agents that were used. We might as well get credit where credit is due.

Posted at 12:45 PM | Comments (0)

Friday April 25, 2003

More fun with Tricky Dick Santorum, courtesy of

Me: "Well I just wanted you to know that my wife and I are big supporters of the Senator, but we have just one question..."

SSO: "Yes?"

Me: "Does oral sex between a husband and wife, when they're both
consenting... does that constitute sodomy?"

SSO: "Umm.. no. It does not."

Me: "HOT DAMN! (calling out to wife:) HONEY? GREAT NEWS!"

Posted at 04:50 PM | Comments (0)

Hmm. This isn't a good sign (via the Agonist by way of Stratfor):

U.S. Forces in Iraq have been under attack for the past 11 days by fighters with the recently formed National Front for the Liberation of Iraq (NFLI), Al Jazeera television has reported. The unconfirmed attacks have been widespread, occurring in Baghdad, Basra, Babylon, Mosul, An Najaf and Kirkuk, according to Al Jazeera. The attacks are isolated and reportedly have resulted in the deaths of more than 20 U.S. and British soldiers and damage to eight coalition tanks and armored personnel carriers. The NFLI has threatened to kill retired U.S. Gen. Jay Garner, in charge of reconstruction efforts, in an effort to protect Iraqi oil interests. The NFLI also has demanded that U.S. supporters vacate all Iraqi government premises they occupy "illegally."
Posted at 09:59 AM | Comments (0)

Paul Krugman day.

Watch his presentation at The New School. (RealPlayer required)

And read his latest column at the NYTimes. A brief quote:

So why should tax cuts take priority over health care? I know the party line: tax cuts for high earners are the key to economic growth, and a rising tide lifts all boats. But there's not a shred of evidence supporting that claim. More than two decades after the supply-siders launched their tax-cut crusade, ordinary workers have yet to see a rising tide. The median real wage is only 7 percent higher now than it was in 1979, with all of that increase achieved after Bill Clinton raised taxes for the top bracket.

If American families knew what was good for them, then most of them — all but a small, affluent minority — would cheerfully give up their tax cuts in return for a guarantee that health care would be there when needed. And even the affluent might prefer to live in a society where no sick child was left behind.

Posted at 09:47 AM | Comments (0)

Wednesday April 23, 2003

Funniest joke so far about Trickie Dick Santorum, courtesy of Jon Stewart (paraphrasing from a commercial):

"Rick Santorum said that? But I always thought that he was..."

Posted at 10:59 PM | Comments (3)

Yet another indication that our Iraq war plan was nothing but a plan for war, not a plan for maintaining the peace after demolishing the country:

As Iraqi Shiite demands for a dominant role in Iraq's future mount, Bush administration officials say they underestimated the Shiites' organizational strength and are unprepared to prevent the rise of an anti-American, Islamic fundamentalist government in the country.

The burst of Shiite power -- as demonstrated by the hundreds of thousands who made a long-banned pilgrimage to the holy city of Karbala yesterday -- has U.S. officials looking for allies in the struggle to fill the power vacuum left by the downfall of Saddam Hussein.

As the administration plotted to overthrow Hussein's government, U.S. officials said this week, it failed to fully appreciate the force of Shiite aspirations and is now concerned that those sentiments could coalesce into a fundamentalist government. Some administration officials were dazzled by Ahmed Chalabi, the prominent Iraqi exile who is a Shiite and an advocate of a secular democracy. Others were more focused on the overriding goal of defeating Hussein and paid little attention to the dynamics of religion and politics in the region.

Posted at 07:56 AM | Comments (0)

Tuesday April 22, 2003

Read James Carroll's latest opinion piece at the Boston Globe. Here's a bit from the article:

Photographic celebrations of our young warriors, glorifications of released American prisoners, heroic rituals of the war dead all take on the character of crass exploitation of the men and women in uniform. First they were forced into a dubious circumstance, and now they are themselves being mythologized as its main post-facto justification -- as if the United States went to Iraq not to seize Saddam (disappeared), or to dispose of weapons of mass destruction (missing), or to save the Iraqi people (chaos), but ''to support the troops.'' War thus becomes its own justification. Such confusion on this grave point, as on the others, signifies a nation lost.
Posted at 03:36 PM | Comments (0)

Monday April 21, 2003

John Stossel is such a sack. Here's an example of his logic, from his show that's airing now on ABC:

Heroin-addicted Vietnam veterans were tracked for 3 years after leaving Vietnam, and 88% had successfully quit heroin without the need for therapy or clinics. This suggests that people are capable of quitting on their own.

Of course he forgets one thing. They were in fucking VIETNAM!!! One would think that the move from the Vietnam war back to your home in America would be akin to visiting a detox clinic on Mt. Olympus and being nursed back to health by naked virgins. If they were in Vietnam now, still fighting, would they still be addicted? Yeah, well... no, they'd probably be DEAD! (and not from overdose...)

What he doesn't want to see is that addiction doesn't occur in a vacuum. The point he wants to make is that addiction isn't a disease, it's a choice. Never mind the brain scans of addicts showing depressed dopamine levels, never mind genetic predisposition, never mind soul-crushing circumstance, never mind peer pressure, never mind studies showing abused and bullied monkeys imbibing cocaine like Lik-m-Aid. It's a choice. And he has testimony of a handful of former addicts to prove it (who seem to engage in the same ludicrous logical flights-of-fancy as Stossel).

Presumably the point is that we need to turn these addicts from victims into simply people who are unable to control themselves. Presumably it's impossible to be both. You grow up in a crackhouse and you become an addict, you're not a victim of circumstance, you're just a loser, man! You have as many options as the kid jetting his way to Florence for the weekend with his family, you've just chosen to smoke crack, and he didn't.

And apparently we can't draw any conclusions about society from addicts, because it's all in their heads.

Thanks, Mr. Stossel, you pillar of integrity.

Posted at 09:01 PM | Comments (1)

Saturday April 19, 2003

From Maureen Dowd's latest column:

Instead of hectoring those who expressed any doubt about the difficulty of occupying Iraq, the conservatives should worry about their own self-parody: pandering to the base by blessing evangelical Christians who want to proselytize Muslims; protecting their interests by backing a shady expat puppet; pleasing their contributors by pre-emptively awarding rebuilding contracts to Halliburton and Bechtel; and swaggering like Goths as Iraq's cultural heritage goes up in flames.

Talk about a baptism by fire.

Posted at 11:23 PM | Comments (0)

On MSNBC, I just heard Washington Post reporter Mike Allen say that the administration had always steered away from the words "tax cuts" when talking about their plan because people might mishear it as "tax increases", and this is the reason that they're now re-branding their tax-cut package as a "job creation" package.

Mike Allen: journalist? His statement runs so contrary to the facts and common sense that it sounds as if he's reading the administration's talking points directly. How could he even say that with a straight face?

Posted at 10:15 AM | Comments (1)

Thursday April 17, 2003

Our inability to protect the National Library, the Museum of Antiquities, and the Ministry of Religious Affairs in Baghdad might be not only one of the biggest mistakes of the war, but one of the largest foreign policy blunders in American history.

In one act of malign neglect, our failure to protect these three treasures of the Arab world resulted in their decimation. Here's a snippet from an article in the April 15th NYTimes:

This morning, the ashes were still smoldering at the Ministry for Religious Affairs, where a building housing thousands of Korans, many of them illuminated and hand written, several a thousand years old, had been burned to a charred shell. It was another severe blow to Iraq's 10,000 years of cultural history, along with the looting of the National Museum and the burning of the National Library, in which countless priceless artifacts and books were lost.

"When Baghdad fell to the Mongols in 1258, these books survived," said Abdel Karim Anwar Obeid, 42, the ministry's general manager for administration. "And now they didn't survive. You can't put a price on this loss.

While Bush might proclaim that the goal of liberating Iraq was the core reason behind war all along, the preservation of Arab dignity was never part of the equation. The misapplication of security throughout Baghdad has been so marked -- the Oil Ministry secured while even hospitals fell prey to looters and thugs -- that one is left to wonder if this posture isn't intentional. Could it be that the political equation required not only removing Saddam from power but excising Arab history and undermining the dignity of the Arab world so drastically as to leave it powerless against wholesale restructuring, with 2003 as year 0?

The problem is that the living heart of a culture is always more than a collection of artifacts. But they come to embody the soul of a culture in such a concrete way that their destruction can be as significant as civilian death tolls. Imagine the long-term ramifications that would accompany the wanton destruction of the Constitution or Declaration of Independence. How would Americans behave if theose responsible for protecting these documents deemed their destruction merely an "untidy" aspect of democracy!

We were worried about the post-war issues, restoring services, bringing back governing bodies, re-animating the population in a civil manner after years of oppression. But now we have a whole new pandora's box that has been opened up, one that could, in the end, have a whole region allied against us. And although our administration is already refusing to be held accountable, we have no one to blame but ourselves.

Posted at 07:45 AM | Comments (0)

Tuesday April 15, 2003

Post-war, the first thing that Bush does....

Push for more tax cuts

He's really a one-note pennywhistle, isn't he?

Posted at 03:36 PM | Comments (0)

What will happen if the Iraqi people choose to model their new democracy after a European country? What if they choose a democracy where people are guaranteed health care, affordable housing, or healthy food and clean water?

What if, when presented with the Neoconservative version of democracy being promoted by the current White House -- with its shrill pro-business anti-regulation rhetoric, secret detentions, secret meetings made more secret by an erosion of public access, its overt militarism and its philosophy of might makes right -- what if the Iraqi people demand more for themselves? What if the country that they end up with is qualitatively more free than the war-state that the Bush administration is driving? What if they even try? Would the Bush administration allow the Iraqi people to get away with it?

What kind of democracy does this administration have planned for the region? It has seemed from the beginning that this sojourn into Iraq was an experiment -- an experiment to see how the neocon view of foreign policy could be implemented on a grand scale. I don't think the experiment is going to stop simply because the bombing has. Iraq, in the end, might be a warning to us. Because it could end up being the America that the neocons wish they had - a state where the line between church, state and business is erased, and the people are left at the mercy of wealthy theocrats and CEOs fighting to preserve their ability to run (or simply profit from) their country without accounting to the people.

Posted at 06:45 AM | Comments (0)

Monday April 14, 2003

Working out the logic here....

If the care of the Iraqi people -- protecting them from looting and reprisals -- isn't part of the gameplan, then why the fuck are we there in the first place?

If it is part of the plan, then why are our soldiers protecting the Oil Ministry while letting the hospitals be razed?

If we have enough soldiers in Baghdad to keep the situation under control, then why aren't we (at least) protecting the hospitals?

If the reason that we aren't keeping the situation under control is that we don't have enough soldiers to accomplish the task, why are we insisting that we do and that the looting is just an "untidy" manifestation of democracy? And if it's to be expected, and part of the plan, why are we only now supposedly starting to crack down on looting?

And if we're really cracking down on looting, why did we open up two bridges only to watch looters parade across into a previously inaccessible part of the city and trapse back across with their ill-gotten gains?

In either case, egregiously derelict in our duties or woefully ill-equipped, no one is claiming responsibility. The administration doesn't really care about public opinion at all (neither here nor in Iraq). Whether they're doing things right or not is of no consequence to them, because they disdain and deny the validity of any criticism.

To understand that last sentence, you only need read Rumsfeld's disavowal of responsibility for the looting of the National Museum of Antiquities.

Posted at 08:28 PM | Comments (0)

Finally, before I drop off into blissful slumber, Best of the Blogs has a partial transcript of an BBC interview with Lawrence Eagleberger, former Secretary of State under George Bush the infirm (er... elder). The surprising bit is that Eagleberger actually speaks of impeachment of the President if he were to invade Syria and Iran...

"You’re talking to somebody who frankly wishes we could knock Syria around a bit because I think they have been absolutely outrageous for years in terms of their support for terrorism. But, because I happen to believe that, doesn’t mean it’s going to happen. If President Bush were to try it now, even I would feel that he ought be impeached. You can’t get away with that sort of thing with this democracy. It’s ridiculous."

That sorta kicks Bush's gung-ho "you're next" rhetoric right in the teeth. And it brings a whole new dimension to the battle that is to be waged over the propriety of the administration's next actions.

Yet I think they're going to hit Syria. And probably soon. They have the forces there, they have the momentum, they have the momentary surge of public opinion. As soon as any of those three elements begin to lose energy, it will be hard to push through the inertia and get the ball rolling again. The problem is that the Bush administration talks a tough game that they refuse to back down from, which brings out even more bellicose rhetoric... and soon they've talked themselves into another military confrontation. And they've been talking a tough game with Syria -- first Rumsfeld, then Powell and now Bush. They're itching for it. We might not go in with troops, but I expect they will have some strategic bombing runs on potential WMD sites and terrorist training camps. They might consider it just a little intimidation, but the message it sends will not be well received, and I'm afraid of what the response might be.

Posted at 12:35 AM | Comments (2)

Sunday April 13, 2003

Arabs are being driven from their homes by our Kurdish allies in norther Iraq.

Ms. Muhammad and her trembling infant are victims of a new wave of intimidation and crime in northern Iraq. They are among thousands of Arabs expelled from their homes by armed Kurds — among the United States' most exuberant allies in this war — and ordered to move away within three days.

Forced expulsion had long been a tool of the Iraqi government. Since the late 1960's, Saddam Hussein's Baath Party relocated huge segments of Iraq's population from place to place, either to suppress uprisings or to skew demographics near oil fields in favor of the ruling Arab class.

Now, days after seizing control of Kirkuk, an ethnically diverse city located astride Iraq's northern oil field, Kurds are forcing Arabs in outlying villages to move from their homes, leaving entire hamlets nearly abandoned and crowding some families into wheat fields that have become hastily erected camps.

Posted at 11:50 PM | Comments (0)

Happy Birthday Blog!

Yesterday my blog turned 1!

I took it out and got it liquored up and some floozy took it home and I haven't seen it since.

Posted at 01:25 PM | Comments (0)

Thanks to Gabriel Demombynes of the blog A Berkeley Economist Against Empire and People Against Empire for this article at the Mercury News on Richard Perle and his ties to Autonomy, a company that recently received "significant contracts" (their words, not mine - follow the link) with the Department of Fatherland Security. Apparently Perle's hoping to profit from every aspect of America's anti-terrorism campaign. From the article:

As the war in Iraq appears to be nearing an end, some Bay Area activists are turning their focus to privacy rights and civil liberties, which they say are coming under assault.

On Tuesday, six protesters dressed in business suits entered the San Francisco offices of Autonomy, a British software firm that has contracts with intelligence agencies and the Office of Homeland Security. While others marched outside, the six were swiftly arrested and ushered out of the Howard Street building.

Richard Perle, widely regarded as an intellectual force behind the war on Iraq, is one of six people on Autonomy's board of directors. A former Assistant Defense Secretary under President Reagan, Perle resigned as chairman of the Pentagon's Defense Policy Board in late March because of controversy over his contract with Global Crossing. He remains a member of the group.

The San Francisco activists, calling for Perle's resignation, say they worry that his numerous Pentagon connections will result in lucrative contracts for Autonomy. They also wanted to call attention to Autonomy's role in producing technology that monitors e-mail messages and phone conversations.

Gabriel also has a great page titled "The Field Guide to Richard Perle: Prince of Darkness, Mastermind of Empire, and War Profiteer", which has links to background articles on Autonomy.

Posted at 10:05 AM | Comments (0)

Saturday April 12, 2003

Rightist and harbinger of doom Cliff May on the looting and pillaging engulfing Iraq (via MediaWhoresOnline):

"As for the looting...I'm not against all the looting to tell you the truth. If you're talking about looting Saddam's palaces, or Tariq Aziz's homes, I say go for it! You're just taking back what's yours."

It's all part of the most-clever-military-plan-ever-conceived(tm)!

Posted at 07:53 AM | Comments (1)

Conservative Orange County Register dumps Bull O'Reilly's column.

...we’re left with Cathy Taylor, editorial director at the paper, to tell us what really happened. In a March 30 column, Taylor explained that she initially pursued O’Reilly as a columnist in October 2001 because of "his porcupine-offense style." But she dumped him last year—eight months before the war started—simply because his columns sucked.

"We published a number of his columns throughout the fall and into the spring," said Taylor. "Then we started to notice something. The columns were more and more about Bill O’Reilly and Bill O’Reilly’s television show and what happened to Bill O’Reilly on Bill O’Reilly’s television show."

Posted at 07:44 AM | Comments (0)

Friday April 11, 2003

Another look at the scene of the tearing down of the Saddam statue in Baghdad, this from a camera with an overhead perspective on the plaza. Looks like they also may have carted in some Iraqi exiles to help 'em. Combine that with the acknowledgement by the Marines that the American flag draped over the statue was the same one flying at the Pentagon on September 11th, and you have the makings of a staged for-TV event whose goal was to cement the Iraq-9/11 connection forever into the minds of Americans. 20 years from now we may find that 95% of Americans believe that Iraq played a role in September 11th, and the government will never disabuse them of that notion.

Posted at 08:11 AM | Comments (0)

Wednesday April 09, 2003

On CNN's front page is the optimistic headline "Stocks go up on Baghdad news", but the American investor is fickle, and the headline links to this page: Wall Street Stumbles: U.S. Stocks lose on uncertainty facing war's end. Maybe they're afraid that Bush is going to turn his attention back to the economy again.

Posted at 01:10 PM | Comments (3)

Monday April 07, 2003

You should see this, but only if you have the stomach. Via the Daily Kos. Visit that site to read the boy's words.

What if this was your son? What if a foreign power was trying to rid your country of an unelected madman, and bombed your home leaving your son orphaned, burned, amputated?

And for all you sunsobitches out there saying something akin to "this is a price we're willing to pay," all I can say in retort is "What do you think this boy would say? Is this a price that he's willing to pay?" The sad thing is that the fight isn't even a greater-good thing. It's toppling a tinhorn dictator in a thirdworld backwater who didn't even have the resources to put up a measure of a fight on his own soil. In order to curb the possibility that someday in the future he would unleash such-and-such a weapon on an unassuming American population, thus incurring the wrath that he is now receiving.

So the equation runs thus: X number of innocents like Ali lost in conquering Iraq via bombs and other sundry weapons of mass destruction is of less value than an equivalent X number of Americans possibly killed at a future point by another weapon of mass destruction (and more narrowly one that was created by the Saddam regime.) We're able to accept the definitive loss of life and unimaginable suffering of others in order to spare us a fraction of a remote possibility of having the equivalent inflicted upon us in the future (noting that not even the takeover of the entire world would prevent a rogue faction or individual from performing a horrendous act killing thousands, the relative safety that we gain via this action is infinitessimal.)

Oh, but I must have forgotten where I was. This isn't a war about weapons of mass destruction. It's about liberating the Iraqi people from an oppressive dictator. And if only Bill Clinton had...

And now to the words of Barbara Bush on the current conflict:

"[W]hy should we hear about body bags and deaths and how many, what day it's going to happen, and how many this or what do you suppose? Oh, I mean, it's, not relevant. So why should I waste my beautiful mind on something like that?"
Posted at 09:15 PM | Comments (0)

Seen at Eschaton, Pentagon Defends Use of Civilian Clothes

The Pentagon on Friday defended the use of some civilian clothes by U.S. special operations forces, a tactic used to help them blend in with the local population.

Alleging war crimes, Bush administration officials complained bitterly last week that Iraqi paramilitary forces dressed as civilians, faked surrenders and used other battlefield ruses to kill American soldiers.

Posted at 07:05 AM | Comments (0)

Thursday April 03, 2003

I watched 30 seconds of Hannity and Colmes this evening, and I'm now convinced that we got the President we deserved.

It was disgraceful.

This isn't the USA anymore, it's World Wrestling Entertainment.

Posted at 10:05 PM | Comments (5)

Media Whores Online, back from vacation, points out the moral squalor in which dwells Christopher Hitchens. Here's Hitch on Kosovo:

The "line of the day" among administration spokesmen, confronted by masses of destitute and terrified refugees and solid reports of the mass execution of civilians, is to say that "we expected this to happen." They did? (They never told anyone.) If they want to avoid being indicted for war crimes themselves, these "spokesmen" had better promise us that they were lying when they said that.
Posted at 08:30 PM | Comments (0)

Wednesday April 02, 2003

More on the story of the shooting at the checkpoint, from The Sydney Morning Herald:

An Iraqi mother in a van fired on by US soldiers says she saw her two young daughters decapitated in the incident that also killed her son and eight other members of her family.

The children's father, who was also in the van, said US soldiers fired on them as they fled towards a checkpoint because they thought a leaflet dropped by US helicopters told them to "be safe", and they believed that meant getting out of their village to Karbala.

Bakhat Hassan - who lost his daughters, aged two and five, his three-year-old son, his parents, two older brothers, their wives and two nieces aged 12 and 15, in the incident - said US soldiers at an earlier checkpoint had waved them through.

As they approached another checkpoint 40km south of Karbala, they waved again at the American soldiers.

"We were thinking these Americans want us to be safe," Hassan said through an Army translator at a Mobile Army Surgical Hospital set up at a vast Army support camp near Najaf.

The soldiers didn't wave back. They fired.

"I saw the heads of my two little girls come off," Hassan's heavily pregnant wife, Lamea, 36, said numbly.

She repeated herself in a flat, even voice: "My girls - I watched their heads come off their bodies. My son is dead."

US officials originally gave the death toll from the incident as seven, but reporters at the scene placed it at 10. And Bakhat Hassan terrible toll was 11 members of his family.

Hassan's father died at the Army hospital later.

Posted at 08:48 AM | Comments (0)

Tuesday April 01, 2003

Did James Woolsey have any idea this was coming? Could it be that this is why he's been so gung-ho for war?

Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld has rejected a team of officials proposed by the State Department to help run postwar Iraq in what sources described as an effort to ensure the Pentagon controls every aspect of reconstructing the country and forming a new government.

While vetoing the group of eight current and former State Department officials, including several ambassadors to Arab states, the Pentagon's top civilian leadership has planned prominent roles in the postwar administration for former CIA director R. James Woolsey and others who have long supported the idea of replacing Iraq's government, according to sources close to the issue.


The Pentagon had listed Woolsey for the Iraqi information ministry, sources said, until the White House suggested he might be inappropriate because of his CIA background and close association with one faction of the incohesive Iraqi opposition. Sources said that he is still in consideration for a variety of jobs. Asked yesterday whether he is joining Garner's team, Woolsey said he felt such information should come from the government rather than from him.

(italics added)

Posted at 09:15 AM | Comments (0)

Some prescient words in the Washington Post from Cakewalk Ken Adelman, assistant to Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld from 1975 to 1977, and arms control director under President Ronald Reagan.:

I believe demolishing Hussein's military power and liberating Iraq would be a cakewalk. Let me give simple, responsible reasons: (1) It was a cakewalk last time; (2) they've become much weaker; (3) we've become much stronger; and (4) now we're playing for keeps.
Posted at 08:12 AM | Comments (0)

Here's the Washington Post's account of the shooting at the checkpoint:

"Fire a warning shot," he ordered as the vehicle kept coming. Then, with increasing urgency, he told the platoon to shoot a 7.62mm machine-gun round into its radiator. "Stop [messing] around!" Johnson yelled into the company radio network when he still saw no action being taken. Finally, he shouted at the top of his voice, "Stop him, Red 1, stop him!"

That order was immediately followed by the loud reports of 25mm cannon fire from one or more of the platoon's Bradleys. About half a dozen shots were heard in all.

"Cease fire!" Johnson yelled over the radio. Then, as he peered into his binoculars from the intersection on Highway 9, he roared at the platoon leader, "You just [expletive] killed a family because you didn't fire a warning shot soon enough!"

Posted at 08:09 AM | Comments (0)

A lot of news today.

A reader of The Guardian, informed by Robert Fisk of the "cage code" found on the fragments of the missle that destroyed the marketplace in Baghdad, was able to look up the numbers and confirm that they belonged to a munition manufactured by Raytheon.

Posted at 08:07 AM | Comments (0)
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