Friday October 31, 2003
NYTimes takes on Condi
In an article about Condoleeza Rice's latest attempts to pin the Iraq debacle on the Cllinton administration, the NYTimes calls the current administration's behavior into question, as well:
"The attack on the Marine barracks in Lebanon in 1983, the hijacking of the Achille Lauro in 1985, the bombing of Pan Am 103 in 1988, the World Trade Center in 1993, the attacks on American installations in Saudi Arabia in 1995 and 1996, the attack on the U.S.S. Cole in 2000: These and other atrocities were part of a sustained, systematic campaign to spread devastation and chaos. Yet until Sept. 11, the terrorists faced no sustained, systematic and global response."
Ms. Rice's comments make no reference to what the Bush administration itself did between Mr. Bush's inauguration on Jan. 20, 2001, and the Sept. 11 attacks.
In the past she has said that a detailed plan to counter Al Qaeda and other terrorist groups was on her desk, approved, when the attacks occurred. That plan became the basis for the decision to drive Al Qaeda out of Afghanistan and topple the Taliban.
But Mr. Bush himself made little reference to the threat of Al Qaeda, the need to topple the Taliban or other terrorism-related issues prior to the Sept. 11 attacks.
"The path of least resistance would have been for the United States to engage in bilateral talks with North Korea," she said, failing to add that the State Department had advised that the Bush administration do exactly that. "But this would have simply repeated the failed experience of the past, when North Korea accepted — and then systematically violated — an agreement offered in good faith by the United States." Ms. Rice referred to the 1994 accord that froze, but did not dismantle, North Korea's nuclear program.
Democrats note that in the case of both Iran and North Korea, it appears that weapons-making has accelerated in the first two and a half years of the Bush presidency.
If the AG redacts text in the woods...
You'll love this. A report on attorney diversity in the Justice Department, released under the Freedom of Information Act but heavily redacted, was given out in PDF format, in which all the text was still in the document and searchable, although redacted with big black bars! Memory Hole has recovered the text, and instead of redacting it has highlighted it to show what was hidden from the public. (PDF format - large file.) Here are some of the juicy, previously redacted bits from "Support for the Department in Conducting an Analysis of Diversity in the Attorney Workforce". All the text below was redacted, except that in brackets. Bold parts were bold in the document:
However, the department does face significant diversity issues...
Minorities perceive unfairness in a number of human resources practices, such as hiring and promotion...
There is widespread perception, especially among minorities, that HR practices lack transparency.
[Minorities] are significantly under-represented in management ranks.
That's only within the first five pages!
Thursday October 30, 2003
For the record, I agree with Donald Luskin's contention that Donald Luskin stalked Paul Krugman.
Wednesday October 29, 2003
Two more soldiers were killed today when their tank was hit by an explosive device of unknown type.
The foot (at Salon.com). Not for the weak-stomached.
Monday October 27, 2003
4, and 18; clever but primitive; 9/11 subpoenas; voting scam hits GQ, MSNBC; death of a town
From CNN: 4 soldiers were killed in separate incidents around Baghdad on Sunday, and 18 people were killed in separate incidents when a Red Crescent van laden with explosives was blown up outside of the offices of the Red Cross, and when guerrillas attacked two Baghdad police stations. You can read more on this at The Guardian. Jack Straw calls the security situation in Iraq "unsatisfactory".
UPDATE: The NYTimes is reporting that 37 people were killed in the attacks yesterday.
More information about the attack on the hotel yesterday was also brought to light. The attackers had fired from a primitive hand-made multiple-tube rocket launcher from a van 1300 feet away from the hotel. Brig. General Dempsey called the device "clever, but 'rather primitive.'" The Hotel, by the way, was the headquarters of the occupation authority in Baghdad -- in case the reporting wasn't clear. 7 American civilians, 5 non-U.S. civilians and two Iraqi security guards were also wounded in the attack.
The 9/11 commission is threatening to subpoena the Bush administration from records that the commission says are being witheld from them. I doubt that there is anything incriminating in the files (and if there was, it has been expunged long ago). It's simply comes down to the question, "Who is in control?" This White House feels that by giving up any information they are ceding a little of their control over the situation. This has been clear from the beginning, when Cheney bottled up the documentary evidence regarding the Energy Task Force. They have avoided pressure from the CBO, from Judicial Watch, from the Senate, from the 9/11 commission; the only information they want coming out about their machinations is that which they feel is politically advantageous to release. Reporters time might be better spent trying to butter up potential leaks; the staffer that leaked about the outing of Plame could be the tip of the iceberg as Bush's Titanic nears its fateful end.
GQ talks about how your future election will be stolen, on page 256 of their November issue. And be sure to check out blackboxvoting.org to find out more about the whole touchscreen voting scam. MSNBC also has an overview at their website.
The Guardian reports on how the town of Rafah in the occupied territories is being systematically dismantled by the Israelis. Israel has declared Rafah a war zone, partly as a way to justify the 280 people who have been killed there since the start of the uprising. "One in five of the dead are children or teenagers."
Sunday October 26, 2003
Wolfowitz under attack -- literally
Iraqi guerrillas stage a brazen attack on the hotel where Paul Wolfowitz was staying in Baghdad. One soldier was killed, and 15 wounded, and Wolfowitz was able to get out of the hotel unharmed. More at CNN.
What was Wolfowitz's response? "These terrorist attacks will not deter us from completing our mission, which is to help the Iraqi people free themselves from the types of criminals who did this and protect the American people from this kind of terrorism." Again, it's all about the terror. So, when people of a country attack the occupying force in said country, in order to repel that force, they are terrorists? No, that's not what he meant. So, did he mean that when people fire weapons into civilian populations in the process of trying to defeat their enemy, they're terrorists? No, he probably didn't mean that either.
What did he mean, then?
He meant, folks, that we entered Iraq because of 9/11, because Iraq was responsible for 9/11, and we're never to forget that, not for a moment. He meant that terrorism is everywhere, and that every act against the will of the US aids the terrorists and is a de facto terrorist act.
Polls of Americans haven't asked the question "Are the French and Germans to be considered terrorist organizations because of their unwillingness to lend military and financial aid for the ongoing American war effort in Iraq?" I fear the results of that poll.
UPDATE: Josh Marshall thinks there *may* have been some coordinated effort to take out Wolfowitz, given that an Apache helicopter was downed in Tikrit just hours after Wolfowitz had left that city by helicopter.
UPDATE2: Here's an interview with David Ignatius (in RealAudio), in which David gives his firsthand account of the attack.
Saturday October 25, 2003
Via Eschaton, Paul Krugman on BookTV. A "must see" if you have access to a good connection. It might even work on dialup. Requires RealPlayer. One hour and 16 minutes long. (Click the "WATCH" link).
I usually don't post about my personal life much, and this isn't even a very personal note, but I have to say, Rolling Stone placing David Gilmour so far down the list of greatest guitarists is a fucking crime. You just have to listen to the live Pink Floyd album, "Is there anybody out there?" and you'll see why. He produced some of the most exquisite tone that you're ever going to hear come out of an electric guitar. And he was able to reproduce his tone everywhere. Then try to find a live version of Dogs somewhere, and you'll see that his soloing style is unique, melodic, and damn-near timeless.
I know there are more important things to be talking about, but it's a fucking crime.
clueless in Bali; Radical Muslims and Norquist; reason for disliking our President #2,945; Diebold in Florida?
Reader lh writes in with this story from the NYTimes about Bush in Bali: "Minutes after President Bush finished an hourlong meeting with moderate Islamic leaders on the island of Bali on Wednesday, he approached his staff with something of a puzzled look on his face. 'Do they really believe that we think all Muslims are terrorists?' he asked, shaking his head. He was equally distressed, he told them, to hear that the United States was so pro-Israel that it was uninterested in the creation of a Palestinian state living alongside Israel, despite his frequent declarations calling for exactly that."
CBSNews is reporting the indictment of a high-level Muslim activist here in the US, charged with trying to funnel money from Libya into the US illegally, and with being involved with groups that finance terrorist organizations. His name is Abdurahman Alamoudi, and he is also the man who set up the Muslim Chaplain Program, of which we have heard about from the spying charges at the Guantanamo detention center. What's interesting is that Grover Norquist's name is coming up, too. Below is an excerpt from the Keith Olbermann show last night, but you can also read more about this at Talking Points Memo.
About a year-and-a-half ago, people in the intelligence community came and said-guys like Alamoudi and Sami al-Arian and other terrorists weren’t being touched because they’d been ordered not to investigate the cases, not to prosecute them, because there were being funded by the Saudis and a political decision was being made at the highest levels, don’t do anything that would embarrass the Saudi government. So, of course I immediately volunteered to do it and I filed a lawsuit, against al-Arian charging him with being a major terrorist for Islamic Jihad, most of his money came from Saudi charities in Virginia.
Now, Alamoudi’s headquarters were in the same place, he was raided the same day, on March 20. An hour after I filed my lawsuit, the U.S. government finally got off its butt and they raided these offices. And, the stuff that they’re taking out of there now is absolutely horrendous. Al-Arian has now, finally been indicted, an along with Alamoudi, today.
But, who was it that fixed the cases? How could these guys operate for more than a decade immune from prosecution? And, the answer is coming out in a very strange place. What Alamoudi and al-Arian have in common is a guy named Grover Norquist. He’s the super lobbyist. Newt Gingrich’s guy, the one the NRA calls on, head of American taxpayers. He is the guy that was hired by Alamoudi to head up the Islamic institute and he’s the registered agent for Alamoudi, personally, and for the Islamic Institute.
Grover Norquist’s best friend is Karl Rove, the White House chief of staff, and apparently Norquist was able to fix things. He got extreme right wing Muslim people to be the gatekeepers in the White House. That’s why moderate Americans couldn’t speak out after 9/11. Moderate Muslims couldn’t get into the White House because Norquist’s friends were blocking their access.
Mark Crispin Miller notes a strange discrepancy in the voting tallies in Florida during the 2000 presidential election. And wouldn't you know, there's Diebold, right in the thick of it. Mark makes a very good point: "The fact that 'negative votes' could be applied to a candidate's total demonstrates such a fundamentally flawed software model that it calls into question the competence and integrity of the programmers, the company and the certification process itself."
Friday October 24, 2003
"The Selective Service System wants to hear from men and women in the community who might be willing to serve as members of a local draft board."
UPDATE: OK, that said... I've caught my breath. What if these draft boards were filled with thoughtful people instead of warmongers? We might want to seriously consider this.
Thursday October 23, 2003
So, what have I been doing over the past few days? Well, in addition to working and studying, I have been pondering the subject of the paper from my Italian History & Literature course, and I think I have settled on a study of Eugenio Montale's poem I Limoni (The Lemons). I Limoni is one of his earlier poems (~1922), and very evocative, resonating with a rather Buddhist aesthetic. Mind you, there's no indication that Montale was knowledgable about Eastern philosophies (although he read and translated T.S. Eliot, who studied them at Cambridge), and I don't think that's necessary. There is no mandate that insight into our nature is available only to those who are familiar with philosophies X, Y or Z. Here is the poem (translated by Jonathan Galassi, but a small change to the final verse's translation that I think is more authentic -- maybe less poetic, but I think more in line with the intention):
Listen to me, the poets laureate
walk only among plants
with rare names: boxwood, privet, and acanthus.
But I like roads that lead to grassy
ditches where boys
scoop up a few starved
eels out of half-dry puddles:
paths that run along the banks,
come down among the tufted canes
and end in orchards, among the lemon trees.
Better if the hubbub of the birds
dies out, swallowed by the blue:
we can hear more of the whispering
of friendly branches in not-quite-quiet air,
and the sensations of this smell
that can't divorce itself from earth
and rains a restless sweetness on the heart.
Here, by some miracle, the war
of troubled passions calls a truce;
here we poor, too, receive our share of riches,
which is the fragrance of the lemons.
See, in these silences where things
give over and seem on the verge of betraying
their final secret,
sometimes we feel we're about
to uncover an error in Nature,
the still point of the world, the link that won't hold,
the thread to untangle that will finally lead
to the heart of a truth.
The eye scans its surroundings,
the mind inquires aligns divides
in the perfume that gets diffused
at the day's most languid.
It's in these silences you see
in every fleeting human
shadow some disturbed Divinity.
But the illusion fails, and times returns us
to noisy cities where the blue
is seen in patches, up between the roofs.
The rain exhausts the earth then;
winter's tedium weighs the houses down,
the light turns miserly - the soul bitter.
Till one day through a half-shut gate
in a courtyard, through the trees
there appears the yellow of the lemons.
and the chill in the heart
melts, and deep inside
the golden horns of sunlight
pelt their songs.
Tuesday October 21, 2003
Sorry for not posting recently; I've had a lot on my plate. I hope to have another post ready sometime this afternoon.
Friday October 17, 2003
3; Bush's news filters; loans not grants; Krugman
Sorry, some server problems here...
Michael Kinsley on Bush and his filtered "unfiltered" news. "Every president lives in a cocoon of advisers who filter reality for him, but it's stunning that this president actually seems to prefer getting his take on reality that way."
Half of the Iraqi reconstruction $20 billion will be in the form of loans, not grants, unless a significant portion of the Iraqi debt is forgiven by other countries.
Tuesday October 14, 2003
You might find interesting this photo of Bush, his head haloed by an out-of-focus presidential seal.
Will he be deified before all of this is over?
Rundown on how our next election will be rigged
The Independent has a great overview of the electronic voting machine debacle that will soon be plunging our country into perpetual Republican majorities. If they can get through this election without scrutiny, it's all over folks, because the opposition won't hold enough seats to challenge any potential vote manipulation schemes that arise. From the article:
If much of the worry about vote-tampering is directed at the Republicans, it is largely because the big three touchscreen companies are all big Republican donors, pouring hundreds of thousands of dollars into party coffers in the past few years. The ownership issue is, of course, compounded by the lack of transparency. Or, as Dr Mercuri puts it: "If the machines were independently verifiable, who would give a crap who owns them?" As it is, fears that US democracy is being hijacked by corporate interests are being fuelled by links between the big three and broader business interests, as well as extremist organisations. Two of the early backers of American Information Systems, a company later merged into ES&S, are also prominent supporters of the Chalcedon Foundation, an organisation that espouses theocratic governance according to a literal reading of the Bible and advocates capital punishment for blasphemy and homosexuality.
The chief executive of American Information Systems in the early Nineties was Chuck Hagel, who went on to run for elective office and became the first Republican in 24 years to be elected to the Senate from Nebraska, cheered on by the Omaha World-Herald newspaper which also happens to be a big investor in ES&S. In yet another clamorous conflict of interest, 80 per cent of Mr Hagel's winning votes - both in 1996 and again in 2002 - were counted, under the usual terms of confidentiality, by his own company.
You really need to read this whole article.
Sunday October 12, 2003
U.S. Soldiers bulldoze farmers' crops as punishment
US soldiers driving bulldozers, with jazz blaring from loudspeakers, have uprooted ancient groves of date palms as well as orange and lemon trees in central Iraq as part of a new policy of collective punishment of farmers who do not give information about guerrillas attacking US troops...
Nusayef Jassim, one of 32 farmers who saw their fruit trees destroyed, said: "They told us that the resistance fighters hide in our farms, but this is not true. They didn't capture anything. They didn't find any weapons."...
The children of one woman who owned some fruit trees lay down in front of a bulldozer but were dragged away, according to eyewitnesses who did not want to give their names. They said that one American soldier broke down and cried during the operation. When a reporter from the newspaper Iraq Today attempted to take a photograph of the bulldozers at work a soldier grabbed his camera and tried to smash it. The same paper quotes Lt Col Springman, a US commander in the region, as saying: "We asked the farmers several times to stop the attacks, or to tell us who was responsible, but the farmers didn't tell us."
Informing US troops about the identity of their attackers would be extremely dangerous in Iraqi villages, where most people are related and everyone knows each other. The farmers who lost their fruit trees all belong to the Khazraji tribe and are unlikely to give information about fellow tribesmen if they are, in fact, attacking US troops.
Asked how much his lost orchard was worth, Nusayef Jassim said in a distraught voice: "It is as if someone cut off my hands and you asked me how much my hands were worth."
Saturday October 11, 2003
Voting irregularities in CA; more racist ties for the new Governor of CA; 10,000 Shiites
Mark Crispin Miller posts about some curious voting irregularities in CA, specifically in the counties using Diebold voting machines. "The California recall shows Diebold trying to affect the election outcome by moving votes from high ranked candidates to low ranked candidates. By doing this, Diebold keep the total number of votes cast constant but rob some candidate of their votes. Before anyone makes this a partisan issue - it could
be a Republican victim next time."
Also via Mark, a link to another Arschkarotte racist connection. Apparently Schwarzenegger sits on the board of U.S. English, a group whose leader, John Tanton, said the following in "an official (although private) memo":
"In this society, will the present majority peaceably hand over its political power to a group that is simply more fertile? Can homo contraceptives compete with horno progenitivo if our borders aren't controlled? ... Perhaps this is the first instance in which those with their pants up are going to get caught by those with their pants down. As whites see their power and control over their lives declining, will they simply go quietly into the night? Or will there be an explosion?"
According to this Washington Post article from August (yes, August. But you didn't hear a peep about this during the campaign, did you?) "Schwarzenegger is still on the advisory board and an active member." From the article: "'Arnold Schwarzenegger is on our board of advisers... He joined in 1987. He was invited to join. He supports official English and he supports U.S. English as an organization.'" David Horowitz is also on the board of U.S. English.
10,000 Shiites marched and chanted "No, no to America," signalling a new front of opposition to the American effort. As the article states, "If the Shiites turned in large numbers against the American occupation, the effect could be explosive."
short Kill Bill review
Take this review with a grain of salt, because I didn't like Pulp Fiction either.
Kill Bill was interesting, the crowd was juvenile and loved it, but what new did it show me? What was so new and fresh about it? It seemed like the only new thing it offered was that it took the sudden extreme, uncomfortable violent situations from Pulp Fiction and took it up a few notches, and turned on garden hoses of blood. It had a decent soundtrack, but aren't we tired of southwestern music and heavily vibrato-ed surf guitar lines yet? And excessively clever dialog? The movie seemed as much a tribute to the style he fostered (and Robert Rodriguez ran into the ground) as it is to the styles of past B-movies. It was funny, I'll give it that much. And the choreography of the fight sequences was top notch. But Uma Thurman, while convincing in her fight sequences, in her exertions and pain, had taken on a strange affect in her dialog sequences, so she came off like some sort of lithe, blonde Clint Eastwood. "If you're still feeling raw about this, I'll be waiting." I guess the fault is as much Tarentino's dialog as Thurman's delivery.
In the end, the movie suffers from the same fault as Pulp Fiction: no moral center. The "moral" decisions that Uma Thurman makes are arbitrary; not killing the adolescent boy in the final act was not as much sympathy as capriciousness -- she had just killed an insane 17-year-old mace-wielding maniac moments before. There's shock, bang, gush, and not one thoughtful thing to carry with you out of the theatre. That's not the point, I know. But that's too bad. I thought Jackie Brown was a new direction worth exploring. Guess not.
And what's with the little red dots that I was constantly seeing on the screen? Red dots in groups of 2, 3, 4, in inappropriate places (even in black and white sequences)? I read somewhere that these are some sort of thing to limit third-party recording in theatres, because it would appear in recordings. But what help is it when the audience can see them everywhere?
Friday October 10, 2003
Someone got to my site by Googling the following terms:
"grover norquist evil pathological son of a bitch"
I am posting this only to ensconce that series of words in Google's memory so that when it finally becomes sentient, if the name Grover Norquist ever breaks the surface of its vast consciousness, the words "evil pathological son of a bitch" will always be swimming alongside.
The rundown: 2; Frontline documentary; Krugman; Bush loyalty oath; traitor Robertson; abject failure; Cuba next?
Two soldiers were killed in an ambush in a Baghdad slum, just hours after a car bomb, a station wagon filled with explosives, was driven into a police compound there, where it exploded, killing 8 and wounding at least 40. The area was predominantly Shiite. The Washington Post has a followup account of the killing of the Spanish diplomat. As these atrocities were occurring, Bush was in New Hampshire touting his successes in Iraq.
The Frontline documentary was devastating. If they replay it this weekend, be sure to watch. And they had the video documentation to go along with the massacre of the abd al-Kerim family that I talked about in August. This story made my skin crawl.
Paul Krugman shoots and scores! "...no administration in memory has made paeans to the president's character — his "honor and integrity" — so central to its political strategy... Surely... Mr. Bush's critics have the right to point out that the life story of the man inside the flight suit isn't particularly heroic — that he has never taken a risk or made a sacrifice for the sake of his country, and that his business career is a story of murky deals and insider privilege."
Apparently the loyalty oath means loyalty to the Bush administration and not to the country, as you may have been led to believe. How else, David Neiwert asks, could the administration be more interested in ferretting out the official who confirmed the leaks to the Washington Post than the actual leakers themselves? The coverup is proceeding apace.
Are we surprised that the latest overture to the Security Council ended in abject failure? Bob Herbert isn't.
What's the next military escapade for the Bush administration? It's gotta be something easy, something that can be handled quickly and cleanly, something that can give a quick win for the administration in advance of the coming campaign. How about Cuba? Yeah, that'll do the trick.
Thursday October 09, 2003
The Rundown: 1; Bad news for Bush?; Progressive taxation = holocaust?; "no criminal intent"?; Rumsfeld burned!
A US soldier died of his wounds today after an RPG attack on his convoy near Ba'qubah. In a separate incident, 8 iraqis were killed in the suicide car bombing of a police station, and a Spanish diplomat was shot in the back of the head as he tried to escape assassins near his home in Baghdad.
The election of Arschkarotte in California should not be seen by the Bush administration as a positive development, but of course it will be seen that way. Californians were so fed up with the economic situation that Bush has been fostering that they hired a man with no qualifications other than the fact that he is big and can pretend to beat up people "real good". If that kind of dissent carries over to the next election, how does the Bush administration think it's going to fare?
Yes, Grover Norquist actually did equate progressive taxation to the Holocaust. "The argument that some who play to the politics of hate and envy and class division will say is, 'Well, that's only 2 percent -- or, as people get richer, 5 percent, in the near future -- of Americans likely to have to pay [the estate tax].' I mean, that's the morality of the Holocaust." If you were wondering if our discourse could get any lower, I think it's safe to say that we've finally reached the ground floor.
David Neiwert hits the nail on the head: we can expect the Justice Department, even if they find the leakers (and I'm reasonably sure they've already found them) that they will refuse to prosecute because there was no "criminal intent" to leak the information. That's been the entire goal of the Republican talking points since day one of this investigation. Bob Novak was right on board, insisting that the outing of Plame was an "offhand" remark, and by no means a deliberate leak. It's a safe bet that nothing comes out of it -- no convictions, no firings -- even if we find out who the leakers are.
Condi Rice is heading up a new NSC group which will oversee reconstruction in Iraq. She lied and said that Rumsfeld had been involved in the setting up of the group, when in fact he had not been involved (poor poor boy!). Brad DeLong asks the salient question: Is there nothing that they won't lie about? Remember, Brad, they know the truth, it's not important that anyone else know! UPDATE: The State Department is apparently gloating about screwing over Rumsfeld. Who wouldn't be?
Wednesday October 08, 2003
Congratulations, Governor Arschkarotte!
My heartfelt wishes go out to you, Governor, and your lovely wife Maria. You are bringing a dignity and seriousness to a Governorship that so, uh, desperately needs it. I hope Dee can play at your inauguration, too!! And maybe if you could play some more air guitar there, that would be great, man. And if you could have these one-liners ready that I have written down in this notebook, you know, it would really help me get my foot in the door.
And, uh, I've heard you're such a generous soul on the set, I'm hoping you'll do me this one wee favor. I have a great script in my backpack that I've, uh, like been shopping around to all the studios but they just won't bite. But I know you -- we're practically buds now! If you were to give your stamp of approval, I know it would be the most rockin' Arnold vehicle since True Lies. When you swing in on the live telephone wire to save the emaciated heroine from jackals, people will be goin' crazy!
Could you just take a quick look at the script? I have it right here! My wife and our three kids would really love it if you could at least sign it. That might be enough. Just write, "To whom it may concern, I love this! Arnold."
Thanks so much, Governor.
Oh, and by the way: you've been served.
You probably wouldn't believe it, but the picture doesn't lie. JCPenney, KB, and Etoys were offering "Forward Command Post", a "battle-worn" playset:
The rundown: 3; Iraq says no Turkey on that; blood clots; Blair on the ropes; Arafat falls from heart attack; Bus 174
I've decided to title these posts "The Daily Rundown," because they both list the relevant news items of the day and give you the impression of being run over with a Mack truck. On to today's Rundown:
3 soldiers died yesterday in separate incidents outside Baghdad, all in explosions.
And in a harsh setback to the Bush administration, the Iraqi Governing Council has said no to Turkish troops in the region, following Turkey's vote to send 10,000 peacekeepers. (from the same article above.)
Soldiers in Iraq are dying of mysterious blod clots. Many are blaming the anthrax or smallpox vaccines. "'Bill just dropped. They thought he had been shot. That is how suddenly it happened,' said Rose Hobby, the woman whose 39-year-old brother-in-law William Jeffries collapsed in Kuwait. After being evacuated from Kuwait to Rota, Spain, he was in intensive care for a week before dying... A doctor in Spain said Jeffries had "the largest pulmonary embolism he had ever seen... Jeffries also had a swelling of the pancreas, often caused by heavy drinking or some drugs. Jeffries was not a drinker... Jeffries was back in the United States just days before his death to attend his own father's funeral. He had a scab on his arm from his recent smallpox vaccination. Hobby said she does not know if he got anthrax shots also, like most soldiers in the region."
Geoffrey Wheatcroft has a great opinion piece in the NYTimes on the battered Tony Blair.
An aide to Arafat admits that Arafat has suffered a heart attack.
Salon has an interview with the director of Bus 174, a Brazilian documentary about a bus hijacking in Rio. I suppose I'll see it someday on DVD or in a free arthouse showing on campus, because it will never come to theatres here.
Tuesday October 07, 2003
Wesley Clark in Iowa
Tom Harkin's Town Hall meeting with Wesley Clark is now available on CSPAN's website. Click here to watch (requires RealPlayer).
A US soldier's letter to his Senator
Here's the latest bitter news regarding the whole retention issue in Iraq. The following is a letter sent to Senator John Rockefeller from Camp Doha, Kuwait:
Subject: one year boots on the ground
To: Sen. John Rockefeller
August 29, 2003
Dear Mr. Rockefeller,
I am writing to you as a resident of the state of West Virginia, and as reservist on deployment in the Middle East.
My reserve unit was mobilized in mid-March, and have been in Kuwait since April 20th. We were originally told we would return home in July, then given a more concrete date of October 1st. This date has now been taken away, with talk of keeping us "in theatre" until February or April 2004. Soldiers are utterly devastated by this news, and the fact that this date is still speculation. In fact, there seems to be a class structure in the middle east, with reservists as the lower class and active duty as the upper class. Reservists are delegated to open bays with no privacy, and no separate areas for men and women soldiers. There are inferior conditions in almost all aspects. Including the fact that active duty soldiers are given more concrete dates on when they expect to go home, and active duty soldiers whose contracts have expired are also allowed to return home. Reservists who are past their ETS dates are being held here indefinitely. Why the disparity? If this is supposedly an "Army of One" why are soldiers treated differently?
One thing I can say for certain is this: soldiers are at the end of their rope, not knowing what to tell their spouses and children about when they will see them again. The thought of spending an entire year in such a hostile environment is almost too much to even comprehend. We have lived up to our end of the bargain, we have done our job, without the benefit of a clearly defined mission. The very least that we are owed is honesty on when we will get to see our families again. If this "one year boots on the ground" is being debated in Congress, I plead with you to think of the soldiers and their families. This is a very short-sighted policy, that does not bear in mind the sanctity of the family, and is all but guaranteeing that soldiers will NOT re-enlist when the time comes.
We see the themes that I touched on before: low morale, shifting departure dates, complaint about a disparity between the treatment of active duty soldiers and reservists. This isn't a simple matter of low morale. There are systemic problems that are surfacing, and unless someone in the administration actively works to redress these concerns, we can expect that our task is going to be complicated by a mass exodus from the military.
Our President is doing more to harm the integrity of our armed services than anyone is willing to admit. It is going to be devastating when it happens, and may all but guarantee a draft or a reassessment of our obligations abroad.
Bush administration to filter Justice's discovery re: CIA leak
You've got to read this: The Bush Administration is going to have its lawyers go over the files that the Justice Department requested, before turning those files over.
I kid you not. For reasons of national security, of course.
From Mark Kleiman's website: "So the Bush team plans to give itself two weeks to plan its cover-up, having as a starting basis a full set of the relevant documents, so that they can make sure that any lies they tell can't be easily disproven. Note the headline: "Decision...riles Democrats," as if no one but a Democrat could object to giving the criminals the first look at all the evidence.... And how about you, dear reader? Are you going to hold still for it? Have you written to your senators yet? And, while you're at it, how about writing a check to the Wesley Clark campaign, or to the campaign of whichever Democrat you prefer?"
Here's Kleiman's latest article about the Plame scandal at Open Source Politics.
WMD boondoggle; Tehr-meen-ait heem; life without Camille; Mideast Miscalculation #425; Botulism 101; Labor lumps; Graham out
- Colin Powell's efforts to spin David Kay's WMD report fail to account for the fact that his administration neglected to secure important known sites containing raw uranium stores and various conventional weapons. These conventional weapons are now being used to shred our soldiers in ambushes throughout Iraq. It fails to account for the overhyping that the Bush administration engaged in. And in the end he overhypes the implications of Kay's non-find: "This was an evil regime, lethal to its own people, in deepening material breach of its Security Council obligations, and a threat to international peace and security." (emphasis added) Sadly, everything from "in deepening" on now seems like pathetic overreaching. And the first two phrases could be applied to at least one of our "coalition" allies.
- It was fascinating to see Arnold on the campaign, talking about "terminating" Gray Davis, shouting "Hasta la vista, baybee!" It's true, there's really nothing there. Orrin Hatch would favor altering the constitution to allow Arnold to run for President. And Hesiod over at Counterspin Central has a hilarious bit of Republican bs propaganda. Can you spot their pathological error?
- I just realized that it's been months since we've heard a peep out of Camille Paglia. I was wondering why the flowers looked a little brighter this summer.
- Here's the NYTimes on Bush's latest Mideast Miscalculation.
- Bush doesn't know Paul Bremer's name; he called him Jerry.
- Yet more WMD hype -- this about botulism. "The test tube of botulinum... was found in an Iraqi scientist's home refrigerator, where it had been sitting for 10 years... It was cited in justifications of the invasion by President George Bush and by Britain's foreign secretary, Jack Straw, who described botulinum toxin as '15,000 times more toxic than the nerve agent VX'... Mr Straw claimed after the report came out that it presented further "conclusive and incontrovertible" evidence that Saddam had been in breach of UN resolutions... The US state department even argued that the discovery of the test tube meant that Mr Kay's Iraq Survey Group (ISG), contrary to its own claim, had found a weapon of mass destruction... Mr Kay did not say when and where the botulinum had been hidden... the scientist involved said he was asked to hide the botulinum in his refrigerator at home in 1993... the most lethal form of the germ is the A strain, while the form found by the ISG was the B strain." (emphasis added)
Krugman on Labor Lump Economics.
Graham's out. Before Clark entered, when I tried to recall the 9 Dems running, I always forgot Graham.
Saturday October 04, 2003
Ok, Rightists everywhere better take note: even Bill Kristol has come to the realization that the administration is in trouble.
To govern is to choose. Only one man can make the choices necessary to get the administration back on course. President Bush has problems with his White House, his administration's execution of his policy, and its internal decision-making ability. He should fix them sooner rather than later. Time is not on his side.
What he can't see is that this administration cannot see that it has done anything wrong, therefore it will do no more than the bare minimum to make the whole thing go away. Unfortunately, the longer this scandal goes on, the harsher the bare minimum consequence will be.
California's new Governor Arschkarotte (use Babelfish German to English - I decided to be less offensive) will be supported by a Republican base that condones sexual misconduct. From this article in the Chicago Sun Times:
''He can grope me,'' one woman shouted at a campaign stop in Santa Clarita. Some supporters held signs reading: ''Gray Davis groped me . . . while reaching for my wallet.''
Update: Upon study, I think Arschkarotte is more appropriate than Eselkarotte, so the latter has been replaced above.
Could Bush's support for Rush Limbaugh be seen as a "thank you" to the Rightist who has done the most to infect our national dialog with fascist memes? Directly quoted from the Drudge Report:
"'Rush is a great American,' the president said of the beleaguered host, who has championed the conservative movement for decades. 'I am confident he can overcome any obstacles he faces right now.'"
Nothin' the ol' truncheon can't fix!
Novak broadcasts name of CIA front firm in effort to smear Wilsons again!
The Bush administration and its frontmen keep digging the hole deeper.
Bob Novak, in his efforts to come up with any way to smear the Wilsons and save his trainwreck of a career, jumped on a supposed overcontribution by the Wilsons to the Gore campaign back in the last election. At the same time, he stated that the company she had worked for was 'fictitious', and not a real company, and therefore her status as undercover was being exaggerated, because "any CIA employee working under 'non-official cover' always is listed with a real firm, but never an imaginary one." Quick note: apparently non-official cover is "the most clandestine status an officer can have" (via Open Source Politics).
Unfortunately, Novak didn't search hard enough. The company was real, although now might be defunct, and it was a CIA front company, and his revelation now puts the lives of even more CIA agents and sources at risk. From the WP article: "In fact, it appears the firm did exist, at least on paper. The Dun & Bradstreet database of company names lists a firm that is called both Brewster Jennings & Associates and Jennings Brewster & Associates. The phone number in the listing is not in service, and the property manager at the address listed said there is no such company at the property, although records from 2000 were not available. "
So was Novak fed this information by administration officials as well? Or this time did he do his ill-advised smearing/leaking alone?
(via Brad DeLong)
Thursday October 02, 2003
Ex-CIA official alludes Cheney's Chief of Staff "Scooter" Libby responsible for CIA leak
Ex-CIA official Larry Johnson pointed the blame at Scooter Libby (Cheney's chief of staff) on Buchanan and Press. Here's a quote from one of the comments from that CalPundit post:
"PRESS: Are we overblowing this in the media?
JOHNSON: Overblowing? No, not overblowing this. The person who did this in the White House--he's in the Old Executive Office Building, so that's why they're parsing words.
BUCHANNAN:How do you know that?
J: I, I, ....
B: How do you know it's in the EOB where I worked?
J: I've got a name--
B: What name?
J: I'm going to let the FBI--
B: Wait. You've got the name of an individual that did what? That leaked it?
B: Or that pushed it?
J: I know the person, the name of the person that spoke with Bob Novak.
Buchannan and Press (especially the former) then pressed him and all but got him to say it was Libby. They did get him to say it was someone connected to the VP. I got the impression that he thought he wasn't giving away much because the FBI would discover this shortly."
Another poster to CalPundit's forum mentions this article from the Washington Post from Monday, which goes into Libby's involvement in hyping evidence in the leadup to the Iraq war.
ESPN doesn't like rank Limbaugh cheese; shooting themselves in the foot
Limbaugh's out. That didn't take very long.
Republicans are realizing the potential impact of the CIA leak story. And the administration that blithely betrayed a CIA operative in order to revenge criticism of their Mideast policy, is now blithely impugning the Ambassador they sent on the mission to Niger! I'm sorry, guys, but if you think this helps your case, you're wrong. You should have seen the exchange between Aaron Brown and John King about the attacks on Wilson's character. It made the Republicans look like abject ninnies for even attempting such a stupid defense. "Treason, shmeason! He's a partisan!" Josh Marshall has more. UPDATE: Is the CIA gunning for someone in the VP's office? Josh Marshall has some interesting tidbits.
Wednesday October 01, 2003
The world is flat
Why haven't we been hearing anything about Iraqi casualties over the past few months? We hear of our soldiers ambushed, of services springing to life and being torn down again, but we're hearing little-to-nothing of the casualties of the lawlessness that's infected the country. And Afghanistan? Today in the NYTimes Joe Biden pleads with us to not forget that country as it slips back into the hands of the warlords and the Taliban. It's as if outside the world there's an place even more remote from our compassion, one where instead of simply falling back on our ignorance, we are intent on denying it.
Can it be that the great wellspring of American compassion stops at our borders? Do we reserve our store of compassion for those within our line of sight? Or is it that we have become so poorly educated that the rest of the world is no more than a movie projected onto our borders? A thin film of cellophane where we have painted in pale translucency our understanding of others? There is a veil that is standing between us, sealing us off from the seething misery, the vibrant cultures, and the thoughtful, wonderful people of the world.
There have been ample signs that Americans have become, despite the advent of the Internet (our new cognitive prosthetic), more dissociate from the world. It has ceased to become an interactive experience for us, and has instead taken on the pallor of a decrepit, peeling Disney World ride, with its passive excitement, vacuity and melodrama. The virtual tour of Afghanistan, the roller-coaster flyover of Iraq, the World of the French: that bustling shopping district where we are served by the pimpled teen with the affected accent and a desire to be anywhere other than serving us.
We have repaired the part of the screen that was recently torn, and for this lack of vision I have no one to blame but the President. When confronted with with a break in the hermetic seal, he was the first to start applying the duct tape. Those of us hoping to forge deeper ties with the world have have been busy trying to poke pinholes in our bubble, talking with those -- students mainly -- who have passed through the decompression chamber and have been granted a brief stint on this side of the plastic curtain. It's funny how lifelike they appear!
The President isn't solely to blame, because we have allowed him and his ignorance and his insouciance to be our proxy. He's another projection on the screen, as insipid as our stereotypes. We have set loose the paper man on the paper world, and his stale Wild West clichés spill out like word balloons from a comic panel. Even inside our country, our President's domestic policy doesn't depart from his two dimensional tax cut vision. If only he would say one thing unexpected, one thing that pushes through from one panel onto another on the page, one word that defies the boundaries of his existence, there might be cause to hope.
But I'm led to believe that our President does not know of the dynamism and excitement and anxious energy that awaits him in the three dimensional world. When your world is flat, your worldview is unidirectional. He is left facing out from his page-world prison, unable to comprehend those that look back in on him, turning the pages expectantly, hoping desperately for a happy ending.
Novak a dissembler? Say it ain't so!
Why is it that Robert Novak actually considers the "they gave me the name, I didn't ask for it" line a defense? In what way does it help either him or the leaker? And why is Drudge touting it on his website as if it were a major revelation? In his new vision of events, he never received a "planned leak", and that this secret apparently was now "not much of a secret" after all. So, no harm no foul, right?
Larry Johnson, a "former CIA analyst and counterterrorism official, pointed out last night on the PBS Newshour (via Atrios), that "(t)his is about a betrayal, a political smear of an individual with no relevance to the story. Publishing her name in that story added nothing to it. His entire intent was correctly as Ambassador Wilson noted: to intimidate..." and "(t)his was about a political attack. To pretend that it's something else and to get into this parsing of words, I tell you, it sickens me to be a Republican to see this."
Novak then goes on to give the impression that the CIA official that he talked to told Novak that he shouldn't use her name, but that "he never suggested to (Novak) that Wilson's wife or anybody else would be endangered." Could this be the same CIA official who recently told him that Plame was not an operative but a lowly "analyst"? (See the same article above.)
Does it seem to anyone that Novak is being used by the White House and its operatives to push a particular story line? Because here's Larry Johnson again to completely put the lie to everything that Robert Novak is saying:
I worked with this woman. She started training with me. She has been undercover for three decades, she is not as Bob Novak suggested a CIA analyst.
So the fact that she's been undercover for three decades and that has been divulged is outrageous because she was put undercover for certain reasons. One, she works in an area where people she meets with overseas could be compromised. When you start tracing back who she met with, even people who innocently met with her, who are not involved in CIA operations, could be compromised.
This woman has been an undercover operative for three decades, people! Over that period of time, think of all the various subplots of our foreign policy she could have been involved in! And Robert Novak is now trying to undercut the investigation into her "outing" by spreading the talking points of the very people under investigation, without making any effort to verify their latest lies!
It's abundantly clear that Robert Novak, who once may have been an admirable reporter, is now nothing but a partisan mouthpiece for an administration that is hellbent on turning this treasonous act into a nonstory. The words he says over the next few weeks can be considered suspect before they ever sputter out to the light. He is inherently untrustworthy.
Their other line of defense is smearing Ambassador Wilson as a partisan hack and lackey of the Kerry campaign (see the latest Drudge Report , no link). But they're not mentioning the fact that Wilson and his wife also gave to the Bush campaign a number of years back. Important point, no?
Maybe if they keep dodging the issue the American people will start to believe that it is a political hack job by Democratic candidates. But maybe they will start to see how unserious this administration is about upholding the dignity of the office that they have usurped.