Sorry folks, I’m so busy lately that I barely have enough time to peruse and digest the news, let alone peruse, digest, and analyze the news, and then compose blog entries to match. So here are some rather random, yet good links with some commentary.
Domestic Nepotism- short version: George W. Bush appointed one of his ex-girlfriends to head the Export-Import Bank.
There’s a bit more to it than that, she’s currently a “homemaker,” but she used to have fairly important positions at PepsiCo and Reader’s Digest. The Ex-Im Bank is essentially a government agency that gives our tax dollars to help out American companies that sell their products abroad. Why do they deserve our money? Damn fine question. Is a former PepsiCo exec qualified to take my money away and give it to large corporations? Probably.
But the author makes one Earth-shatteringly precise point: “Can you imagine what the press would be saying if Clinton did this?”
Damn. If Clinton had been found to hire an ex-girlfriend, it would be the front page of every newspaper in the country. They’d be talking about it on Crossfire and the McLaughlin Group. The Republicans would have called for Clinton’s resignation. Someone would have set the White House on fire. Saturday Night Live would have continued to suck.
But since its Bush, it’s buried in the last paragraph in a wonky “inside Washington” type column on page A21 of the Washington Post.
Matters of Emphasis- nice summary of the “the war was a lie” info, with some context that explains why no one should have bought into this war in the first place.
A long and rambling post about women and war that’s been ambling around my brain for a long time without ever settling comfortably into any known essay structure, even by the loose standards of blogs, but which perhaps can be defined as a small stab at a still developing genre — the quiet and hesitant rant- My fellow males: we suck. Blogger Jeanne d’Arc notices something that very few men (if any) seemed to notice: women were mostly absent from all of the Iraqi post-war celebrations. This should be both chilling, and depressingly prophetic. Were the women unhappy about the fall of the regime and about their future prospects? And if not, what kept them off the streets? And worst of all, why didn’t we notice this? Should’ve been pretty damned obvious, but something in our manly upbringings has put some real blinders on us. We oughtta work on that.
D’Arc points out how Iraq could easily sink into the one of the misogynist schools of fundamentalist Islam (ironically, even under the dictator Saddam, women had more rights than in most other countries in the Middle East). She also notes the lack of female representation in the coming Iraqi puppet government. That should be just as disturbing.
Can Men Be Feminists?- I’m not as interested in the title topic of the post (the answer given is “yes”), as in this quote:
When a man comes up to me and professes feminism, a lot of times, what it has meant is, “I want to be a better human being, and since you are a feminist woman, I’m going to dump it all at your feet and ask you to be responsible for my enlightenment while I pepper you with questions, demand that you explain all things feminist to me, and then when I fail to achieve the enlightenment I want, I can blame you for not enlightening me properly.”
Which is a good point.
Fellas, women go through all the trials and tribulation our sexist society can pile on them, and on top of that, they’re supposed to teach your sorry ass how to be a feminist?
A female friend of mine told me some time ago that her problem with most of the feminist movement was that it depended upon waiting around for men to change. She thought that women needed to be working on making women’s lives better, and leave the men to do whatever.
So, my Y-chromosomed brothers, if you really care, if you really want to be the better person, you’re going to have to do the work. You’re going to have to teach yourself, you’re going to have to read, you’re going to have to think, you’re going to have to change. I’m sure you have some female friends who’d be happy to share their experiences and feelings with you, and talk over some of the issues with you, but it’s not their responsibility. It’s yours.
I’d recommend starting with the book Feminism is for Everybody by bell hooks. She’s brilliant, and lays everything out in a simple, common sense way. Using her definition of feminism, I think that “anti-sexism” might be a better label. Some men think that feminism is anti-male. hooks’ feminism is not against men, it’s against the sexist thoughts, beliefs and practices that can belong to both men and women. Aspects of sexism can both help and hurt members of either gender, but they most often priviledge men at the expense of women. Hopefully that description is a little less threatening.
Surely all this sounds like I think I am King of Feminist Land, but I’m far from that. I suck, but you’ve gotta start somewhere.
The M-Wunner- excellent comic from Ruben Bolling. As those damn H2 Humvee cars increase in numbers on our highways, the cartoonist wonders what if another military vehicle became popular for civilian use?
The more regimes change, the more it stays the same- Xoverboard points out that the recent government admission that they knew that Iraqi WMDs weren’t really a threat came out almost a year to the day that the government admitted that they didn’t really have enough evidence that Osama bin Laden was in Afghanistan to justify bombing that country to hell. In August’s words from a year ago: “You are no longer hearing it from the lunatic fringe. You are no longer hearing it from racist anti-Semitic websites that claim some inner Jewish conspiracy to cause 9/11. You are hearing it from the Defense Secretary of the United States of America: We declared Afghanistan was hosting bin Laden, then mocked the people who asked for evidence. We launched a campaign that killed thousands of civilians because we assumed he was there, but didn’t have the evidence. We bombed a country because we felt like it.“
And last, but certainly not least:
U.S. Allows Iranian Group to Keep Arms- the U.S. signed a cease-fire with an Iranian terrorist group. Seriously. This means that the next time someone says something about Bush’s “moral clarity,” you have every right to kick them in the nuts.
Gza- Animal Planet
The People Who Do That- Special Wartime Fun Show
Cypress Hill & Pearl Jam- The Real Thing
Gorillaz- Clint Eastwood
The Black Keys- Countdown
Quicksand- How Soon Is Now
Propellerheads- You Want It Back
The Pixies- Planet of Sound
Golden Shower- Video Computer System
Nortec Collective- Polaris
Anti-Flag- Angry Young and Poor
The Distillers- Sick of It All
Atari Teenage Riot- Revolution Action
Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds- I Had a Dream Joe
Radiohead- Exit Music for a Film (live)
Rage Against the Machine- Snake Charmer
Justin Sane- If It’s Good for the Economy, I’m for It!
PJ Harvey- Reeling
Eric B & Rakim- Mahogany
Reverend Horton Heat- Bad Reputation
Ozomatli- Donde se Fueron?
Marilyn Manson- Great Big White World
Bill Hicks- What Is Pornography?
The Coup- Hip 2 Tha Skeme
This article is highly informative, and more than a little eerie.
Basically argues that in absolutely all aspects of military capability– nuclear weapons, navy, air power, ground forces, satelites, smart weapons, etc.– the U.S. is absolutely supreme (well, China might have more foot soldiers).
The U.S. government is like Zeus, and it can smite anyone it damn well pleases.
Excellent new piece by Maria Tomchick which actually looks at the nation-building project in Iraq. It looks bad, people. For the most part, it seems that the Muslim people of Iraq, after decades of repression, are busting with desire for an Islamic state. And the U.S. seems determined to prevent that from happening.
Reason for War?- “To build its case for war with Iraq, the Bush administration argued that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction, but some officials now privately acknowledge the White House had another reason for war — a global show of American power and democracy.”
Hmm… not exactly a left-wing source, ABC News…
Dack is all over this story.
As near as I can figure:
NY Times reporter Judith Miller writes an explosive news story with new allegations about Iraq, WMD, and Al Qaeda by “an Iraqi scientist.”
Buried within the article, comes the shaky evidence. It appears that a US military investigation team told Miller that an “Iraqi scientist” made these allegations to them. Miller has not spoken to or interviewed this man, and the military team has not identified him. All that Miller has really, is the military team’s claim, has seen the alleged scientist from a distance, and has read an Arabic letter alleged from the man to the military team about the weapons.
And it’s being heralded as a “smoking gun” and a “silver bullet.”
As always, it could be 100% true. But that’s not much “evidence,” if you ask me.
Emma over at Notes on the Atrocities wants us all to pay attention to the plight of Mike Hawash, an American citizen, not charged with any crime, who’s being held indefinitely in solitary confinement as a “material witness.” Go check it out.
And while you’re at it, read her post about the Supreme Court case in which Nike is arguing that corporations have a Constitutional right to lie in their advertisements.
New blog on the block
Oligopoly Watch- “The latest maneuvers of the new oligopolies and what they mean”
Keeping an eye on corporate power, mass mergers, and market domination. It’s a little dry, but you do really need to know about this stuff if you want to understand what’s going on in the world around you.
I’m just going to go ahead and reprint this whole article cuz you should read it.
LONDON (Reuters) - The head of the BBC launched a broadside against American broadcasters on Thursday, accusing them of “unquestioning” coverage of the Iraq war and blatant patriotism.
BBC Director General Greg Dyke said many U.S. television networks had lacked impartiality during the conflict and risked losing credibility if they persisted with their stance.
“Personally I was shocked while in the United States by how unquestioning the broadcast news media was during this war,” Dyke said in a speech at a University of London conference.
“If Iraq proved anything, it was that the BBC cannot afford to mix patriotism and journalism. This is happening in the United States and if it continues, will undermine the credibility of the U.S. electronic news media.”
U.S. broadcasters came under attack for “cheerleading” during the Iraq conflict, with what some critics saw as gung-ho reporting and flag-waving patriotism. In one example, a U.S. network described U.S. soldiers as “heroes” and “liberators.”
Dyke singled out Rupert Murdoch’s Fox News, the most popular U.S. cable news network during the conflict, for its “gung-ho patriotism.”
“We are still surprised when we see Fox News with such a committed political position,” said Dyke.
“For the health of our democracy, it’s vital we don’t follow the path of many American networks.”
Fox News declined to comment.
The British media veteran also attacked U.S. radio broadcaster Clear Channel Communication Inc. and warned against British media becoming “Americanised.”
“We are genuinely shocked when we discover that the largest radio group in the United States was using its airwaves to organize pro-war rallies. We are even more shocked to discover that the same group wants to become a big player in radio in the UK when it is deregulated later this year,” said Dyke.
Clear Channel was not immediately available to comment.
Dyke suggested the problem stemmed from the recent fragmentation of media, with no single network having the clout to stand up to the U.S. government.
“This is particularly so since September 11 when many U.S. networks wrapped themselves in the American flag and swapped impartiality for patriotism,” said Dyke.
Dyke defended the BBC in the face of accusations that the broadcaster had been soft on Saddam Hussein’s government, some of which came from the British government.
“In times of war, British governments of every persuasion have sought to use the media to manage public opinion…it’s only a problem if the BBC caves in,” Dyke said.
Well, let’s qualify a few things.
1) The head of the BBC is surely not without his own agenda
2) BBC and American news channels are increasingly rivals, as cable and satelite TV services add the foreign channels to their line-up
3) BBC is especially in competition with Rupert Murdoch and Fox, because Murdoch owns quite a bit of media in the UK
4) The first part of the speech makes me think that the BBC is receiving pressure to side more with the government line, and his rebuttal strategy is to point out how buffoonish the American media was during the war, and blame it on excessive patriotism.
5) The fact that Clear Channel wants into the UK radio market is news to me, but isn’t really much of a surprise
6) I’m not sure exactly how Mr. BBC can attack Clear Channel’s media consolidation, and then argue that the problem with American broadcast media is its “fragmentation,” where no network is powerful enough to withstand the U.S. government. Sadly, this is also the argument for deregulation, “if our huge company can’t merge with their huge company, there’s no way we can compete with the superhuge company!”
7) The second part of the speech is also self-interested, as the BBC would not want to have to compete with Clear Channel (or anyone, really) for the UK radio market.
Date: April 22, 2003
Place: I-5 freeway South, Pasadena
It was a red Nissan pickup truck with matching camper shell.
Attached to the passenger side window was a small American flag.
On the bumper was a “Drop Davis” sticker and a “Bush-Cheney” sticker.
On the camper shell window was a US Marine Corps sticker and a “United We Stand” sticker.
On the inside of the glass on the back of the camper shell was a homemade sign on white paper, taped to the window. It read:
VISUALIZE WORLD PEACE THRU AMERICAN MILITARY SUPERIORITY
The NY Times takes a stand against the Bush tax cut (although that would only take marginal logical skills to figure that that’s a bad idea), but goes further.
From the beginning, the key to Mr. Bush’s domestic vision has been massive tax cuts, which Republican ideologues see both as a reward to the well-heeled, and a key to starving the government of money that might be spent on programs like health care or housing… No matter how much the president says he wants to improve education, the deficit is an all-purpose excuse to avoid helping public school districts overcome crippling cuts imposed by local governments that are teetering on insolvency.
Nail on the fucking head. The larger the “fiscal crisis’ of the US government, the easier it is to cut the social programs that Republican politicians so despise. “Sorry, can’t fund the arts, we’ve got a deficit.” “No money for schools, we’ve got a war going on.” And when these programs are cut severely enough, we can “look to the private sector”– destroy the public good for private profit. But don’t you worry, there will always be money in the budget for corporate handouts.
And a little-known fact buried in the article:
The Department of Housing and Urban Development, for instance, recently announced plans to allow public funds to be used to help build churches, as long as part of the building is used to provide social services.
What a fucking minute. My tax dollars that are supposed to build homes for poor folks are going to be used to build some fucking churches?! Let the sky god build his own damn house.
Actually, the NYT editorial goes far beyond criticizing the tax cut, trashing Bush’s blurring of the church/state line, erosion of Constitutional rights, assault on environmental protections, and whacked out fire & brimstone AIDS policies. Sums up all the things that would make your average American scream out in fear, if they hadn’t been steeped in this relentless nightmare for several years now.
If the “paper of record” is taking a stance against Bush and his reactionary platform, maybe there’s some hope for mainstream opposition. Hell, I’m hoping for anything that’ll get that fucking simian out of the White House.
During Iraq War 2, the U.S. military allowed American (and foreign? I don’t know) reporters to “embed” themselves with individual military units and cover the invasion from there. On one hand, it was hailed as a great leap forward in press freedom. On the other, it was condemned as an attempt to control and bias reporters in favor of the military action. Personally, I think it was clearly aimed at biasing the coverage, but it also led to some good reporting as well. But here’s a host of links with other people’s stories and thoughts about the embedding process, some of whome were embedded themselves.
Gyllenhaal: Up-close coverage of war in Iraq served readers and the rank and file- “The result was layers of coverage that never existed before, from live battlefield reports to the dispatches and photos about local troops that made their way to even the smallest papers and radio stations.”
Embedded reporter comes away from front lines torn- “Look up Stockholm syndrome in the dictionary, though, and you’ll get a pretty good idea about what I was going through in those first hours away from combat. I had lived so closely for so long under such extreme circumstances with the Second Battalion, 11th Marines, fighting their way through Iraq, that I began to think and feel like a Marine. Therein lies the quandary for the hundreds of ‘embedded’ reporters and photographers who covered Gulf War II and the editors who paid them to go. Did we sell our souls as journalists for access to the death and destruction at the front lines?”
Iraq Embed Program Hailed As a Success- “The sand, the food, the physical exhaustion — NBC’s Chip Reid is glad to put those behind him. But as a journalist, being embedded with a military unit during the war in Iraq exceeded his expectations. ‘We had total freedom to cover virtually everything we wanted to cover,’ he said.”
Interview with Michele Norris- “I’m not going to say it’s been the best war journalism ever because I think there was some fantastic journalism that came out of the Vietnam war and World War II… There’ve been a lot of unsung ‘embeds’ who have been doing some incredible work.”
The embedded in Iraq: stenography for the Pentagon- “We’ve benefited from some excellent and courageous reporting, particularly from reporters in the field and in Baghdad. In some sense, we lived with them through the sandstorms and firefights, and were reminded of the hell that is war. But many of the embedded reporters also came to consider the troops their friends and protectors. They relied on them, in some cases, as their only information source. Too many reporters came to see themselves as latter-day Larrys of Arabia, wearing military-issue camouflage and combat boots.”
The media’s conflict: Experts say access to troops helped more than hurt- “With the fog - and dust - of war beginning to lift in Iraq, the media’s performance on the battlefield will be scrutinized almost as closely as the military’s. The eight media analysts surveyed for this story differed somewhat in their assessments, but a broad consensus emerged on three major issues…”
Media vs. truth: If public listens truth can’t lose- not exactly embedding, but on the same general theme of government and media. Story from a college kid who interned at the Office of Public Diplomacy, a de facto propaganda agency. I find the author pretty naive (even more than she seems to admit to herself), but she worked at the office and I didn’t, so take that how you will.
Ever see the site Googlism?
I had it do a Google-y search of the net to answer “who is Jake?”
The answers are fun.
Bush’s Aides Plan Late Campaign Sprint in ‘04- paragraphs 4 and 5:
“The convention, to be held in New York City, will be the latest since the Republican Party was founded in 1856, and Mr. Bush’s advisers said they chose the date so the event would flow into the commemorations of the third anniversary of the World Trade Center and Pentagon attacks.
“The back-to-back events would complete the framework for a general election campaign that is being built around national security and Mr. Bush’s role in combatting terrorism, Republicans said. Not incidentally, they said they hoped it would deprive the Democratic nominee of critical news coverage during the opening weeks of the general election campaign.” (emphasis mine)
I guess I shouldn’t be surprised. If Bush would try to build an unjust war on the backs of murdered Americans, why wouldn’t he try to do something comparatively minor as trying to win the presidency on their dead bodies? But still, what an incredible asshole.
Ba’athists slip quietly back into control- Once upon a time, Iraq was ruled by the evil Saddam Hussein and his evil Ba’ath political party. Then the Americans came and drove the Ba’ath party away forever… until they let the Ba’ath party members back to resume their old positions.
Secret US file: oust regime in Pyongyang- “The United States should team up with China to press for the removal of North Korea’s leadership, according to a classified memo circulated by the US Defence Secretary, Donald Rumsfeld.” Can’t verify. In fact, it might be an intentional leak to intimidate North Korea and I might be just another pawn furthering Rumsfeld’s secret agenda by mentioning it.
US warns of new global terror threats due to Iraq occupation- but… But we went into Iraq because of the… to fight against… Motherfucker! We had to go to Iraq to fight the war on terrorism… so we could increase global terrorism.
Ween- Cheese 1 &2
Over the Counter Intelligence- Automix 6 & 7
NOFX- Idiot Son of an Asshole (live)
David Bowie- Space Oddity
Cursive- The Great Decay
Beastie Boys- In 3s
Run DMC- King of Rock
Tom Waits- More Than Rain
Blur- To the End
Against Me!- Those Anarcho Punks Are Mysterious
Jake on Iraq
Siouxsie and the Banshees- Peek-A-Boo
Nas- Get Down
System of a Down- Egobrain
Mindless Self Indulgence- Bring the Pain
Ministry- Stigmata (live)
Blur- The Universal
The Coup- Fat Cats, Bigga Fish
The Black Keys- No Trust
Ozomatli- Vocal Artillery
Tom Waits- I’ll Be Gone
Bill Hicks- Easter & Marketing and Advertising
Hillbilly Hellcats- That’s Not Rockabilly
Nine Inch Nails- Burn
Pentagon Expects Long-Term Access to Four Key Bases in Iraq- “The United States is planning a long-term military relationship with the emerging government of Iraq, one that would grant the Pentagon access to military bases and project American influence into the heart of the unsettled region, senior Bush administration officials say.”
Even though there does not yet exist a new Iraqi government, the U.S. military is already planning on a deal with that new government that will appropriate some of Iraq’s military bases. If the new Iraqi government is to be truly democratic, there is a good chance that it might not want a foreign military on their soil. If the new government is less than democratic, such a deal might be easily procured…
Agonist points out an important fact in paragraph nine of that article:
In a particularly important development, officials said the United States was likely to reduce American forces in Saudi Arabia, as well.
The alleged reason that Al-Qaeda hates the United States because we have our infidel military forces in Saudi Arabia near the holy sites of Mecca and Medina. Getting U.S. forces out of Saudi Arabia could be one way of undercutting the terrorist group by removing the source of their alleged greivances.
Granted, by now they have many more reasons to hate us (attacks on Muslims in Afghanistan and Iraq), but I think that getting U.S. troops out of Saudi Arabia is a good move.
Go take a look at
Nice work by Chalmers Johnson, author of the fairly prophetic book Blowback: The Costs and Consequences of American Empire. The article is one of the most simple and complete I’ve seen to sum up the recent history of Korea and the United States.
Excellent piece from the BBC, Iraq war: Unanswered questions:
“One feature of the war in Iraq was the speed and immediacy with which many events were reported by the media. Some of these turned out to be not quite what they seemed, others are still surrounded by confusion. Was this the fog of war, effects-based warfare, propaganda, or error? BBC News Online takes stock”
Revisits questions about Iraqi Scuds, the Basra “uprising,” the market bombings, chemical weapons, and more. Good stuff.
[thanks to Dack]
Pretty nice FAQ about the Iraq war and post-war from Britain’s Independent (although I think that their answer to the final question is a bit of a cop out). Go give it a read.
Blues-ified & country-fied Rock day
The Jesus and Mary Chain- Kill Surf City
Anti-Flag- Seattle Was a Riot
The Liars- Mr Your on Fire Mr
De La Soul- A Roller Skating Jam Called Saturday
ZZ Top- Just Got Paid Today
The White Stripes- Ball and a Biscuit
The Stone Roses- I Wanna Be Adored
Muddy Waters- Nineteen Years Old
Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds- Lay Me Low
The Yeah Yeah Yeahs- Tick
Biggie & Tupac- Freestyle
The Black Keys- Have Love Will Travel
Rancid- Lady Liberty
Interpol- Obstacle 1 (live)
Cee-lo- Closet Freak
Songs: Ohia- Ring the Bell
Nine Inch Nails- We’re In This Together Now (as deep as can be mix)
Rage Against the Machine- In My Eyes
Hot Hot Heat- Talk to Me, Dance with Me
TNN is a cable television network that’s kind of vague and ill-defined. They show mostly re-runs of shows like Star Trek: The Next Generation, Blind Date, and CSI. Not too long ago, it was The Nashville Network, and catered to more rural, Southern concerns, like country music, Nascar, fishing, hunting, and Boss Hogg.
Then it became just TNN. Then TNN: The National Network. And on June 16, it will emerge yet again from its cocoon taking an entirely new form.
Spike TV, “the first network for men.”
Says TNN prez Albie Hecht, “Spike TV captures the attributes and essence of what we want the first network for men to be. It’s unapologetically male; it’s active; it’s smart and contemporary with a personality that’s aggressive and irreverent. This is a first major step in our journey to super-serving men in a way no one has done before.”
“Super-serving” is the most ass-puckering advertising buzzword I’ve heard in quite some time.
“Aggressive and irreverent”? “Unapologetically male”? We all know what this means, right? This is aimed at guys who don’t like being criticized for being sexist or for treating their wives and girlfriends poorly. It boggles the fucking mind that many middle class white guys seem to think that THEY are the ones being oppressed, by the forces of PC, which say that maybe they should treat people with respect and not feel divinely entitled to more than their fair share.
Well, let’s take a step back. TNN is not creating this channel to soothe the bruised conscience of the American male. It is creating this channel for the sole purpose of capturing advertising dollars by companies that want to aim their products at young men who want to believe that they are aggressive and irreverent and the essence of all things male. Tell young men these are the products that make you “a man” (or at least “a cool man”), and those who are insecure and desperate to fit the mold will go buy them. Sad, really.
I’m going to make a prediction that Spike TV will try to be like Comedy Central’s “The Man Show”, but the gag will quickly wear thin, and it will slowly devolve into a cross between the FX Network and ESPN.
Check out the cover of this week’s Time Magazine.
Better yet, let’s compare this picture with a Time Magazine cover from 1945:
That second set of images comes from a Time.com feature called “History of the ‘X.’” (there isn’t a link that goes directly to it, so go here and click on “History of the ‘X’” on the right side of the screen). What does History of the X say?
During the first days of May 1945, the world did not quite know what had happened to Adolf Hitler. There was no shortage of rumors: he had been arrested by Gestapo chief Heinrich Himmler, he was on a U-boat headed for Japan, he had been killed by an exploding shell. What was known for certain was that Berlin was about to fall, and as TIME reported, “Adolf Hitler had been buried, dead or alive, in the rubble of his collapsing Third Reich.” Unsure of what had happened to Hitler but certain that his rule was finished, TIME ran on its cover a portrait of Hitler with a bloody X through it.
World War II and Gulf War II, of course, are very different conflicts, and though some commentators have compared aspects of Saddam’s tyranny to Hitler’s, the two dictators belong in separate leagues of cruelty and terror. But like Hitler, Saddam became the target of a U.S.-led war, and like Hitler, he had a reign that collapsed before the exact circumstances of his downfall became known.
In Hitler’s case, six months had elapsed before a report was issued concluding that he had killed himself. No one knows for sure whether the Iraqi ruler is dead or alive. But this much was clear last week: Saddam Hussein’s regime had been “X-ed.”
So… Saddam Hussein isn’t like Hitler, and the Iraq war was different than WWII, but they’ll use the same imagery for both situations because…?
Okay, minor quibble, but it’s bothering me.
CNN reported yesterday: US: Mobile labs found in Iraq
These “mobile labs” were buried near a weapons factory outside Karbala.
Okay. What bothers me is that, with the possible exception of earthworms, when you bury something underground, IT CEASES TO BE MOBILE.
It really is amazing how little information is in the CNN article. Lucky for us, I was able to find a better article via Yahoo News.
Short version: The U.S. found 11 buried shipping containers, the kind that semi-trucks and trains haul. There was apparently “lab equipment” and lots of “documentation” inside some of the containers (no word on what topics are covered in the “documentation.” Chemical weapons, Pokemon, no one knows yet). No WMD were found in or near the containers. U.S. Army Brig. Gen. Ben Freakly says that the containers could be “dual-use chemical and biological laboratories.”
That really isn’t much information. As shipping containers are usually used to, y’know, store stuff, it is entirely plausible that these were not mobile labs of death, but a makeshift storage facility for Iraqi lab equipment. Why would it be buried? Because the U.S. was going to bomb the country.
Of course, they could very well be mobile WMD labs. I just know that to date, every claim of “we’ve found the weapons” that the U.S. has made has been proven to be false, so my skepticism shields are at maximum power.
U.S. military investigators are now claiming that the containers were probably not WMD labs
A few days back, I wrote about the Orange County Register newspaper dropping Bill O’Reilly’s syndicated column. O’Reilly claims that he was dropped for his pro-war views. The OC Register says he was dropped because his columns were becoming ego-driven self-promotion.
Soundbitten points out one line in the OC Weekly article on the subject that I missed altogether, which pretty much invalidates O’Reilly’s claim altogether: “the Orange County Register ‘dumped him last year - eight months before the war started…’”
Covering all the bases, Soundbitten finds that exactly two of O’Reilly’s columns in the pre-banning days of 2002 touched on the issue of the Iraq war. Were either of them the cause of his banning? You can read, you decide.
So if this banning occured in August 2002, why is it a news issue now?
Because O’Reilly’s been bitching about it on his TV show lately.
[Aside: I was going to title this article “More On (Moron?) O’Reilly,” only to find that I ALREADY HAVE AN ENTRY WITH THAT TITLE. Word for word. Kind of creeped me out.]
The Lying Media Bastards weblog turns one year old today.
You can read that first anemic post here.
Been an odd year for sure. Odd and depressing. And maddening, don’t forget maddening. Jeez, I’ve been writing about the US plan to invade Iraq for almost a solid year now (and ranting about it on my radio show for even longer). I should pick a new, more enjoyable topic. Like ice cream. Yes, from now on, all LMB entries will be about ice cream.
I had been away for a while. I’d spent several years working on a newsletter called “NewsWatch” (yes, sucky name, thanks), but stopped back in 1999 when overwhelmed by grad skool. After a long hiatus, I returned to the quasi-journalism biz after 9-11, because I realized that the people who were the most frightened were the ones who were the least informed. I felt that I could help educate folks about the world around them, and maybe they wouldn’t be so fearful.
I created StrayBulletins.com, which was intended as a compendium of investigative news articles. LyingMediaBastards.com was to be a place to let off steam, to set aside the objectivity and call a motherfucker a motherfucker.
As time passed, I found that I had less and less time to spend on the sort of research that SB articles would require. Add to that the fact that LMB was becoming pretty damn popular, and that LMB articles were a hell of a lot more fun to write, and, well… SB languished while LMB bloomed.
The LMB site is intended as a way of spreading news that I think is important that I don’t think many people are hearing, and a way of venting my fury at some of this news. Every day cuts me to the bone, so the least I can do is bleed on my keyboard for y’all.
Some folks lately have accused me of bias here on the site. Duh. I write about what I think is important, about what makes me angry, and about what makes me laugh. All of those are highly subjective. I work on the assumption that my readers consume heaps of mainstream media, and feel that my site is a good counterbalancing supplement to that.
Lots of people like LMB, which makes me feel good (half a million hits since I moved the blog to its own domain in early May)(which sounds so impressive, until you learn what a lousy and inaccurate statistic “hits” is). I’d probably be doing this even if no one read it, but the visits and emails help validate my work (and stroke my ego). Thanks for that. Thanks for reading.
On Emma’s site today, she talks about blogs as collectives, that single weblogs are unimpressive, but the way that your brain intersects with the various blogs that you read in a day changes the way you understand the news of the day. Interesting point. I have no real interest in musing on the nature of weblogs right now, so that’ll have to do.
I’ll also remind you that there is a Lying Media Bastards radio show. Every week. Mondays. 2-4pm PST. Hosted by me. About 75% music, about 25% the sort of material that you’d see on the site. The music’s probably about 60% political music. Maybe 50% punk and hard rock, 30% “alternative”, 20% rap. I think it’s a very good show, but, well, bias. Listen to it online at KillRadio.org, or on the air in Los Angeles at 104.7 FM (note: it’s not broadcast by Kill Radio, it’s downloaded and rebroadcast over the air by some mysterious radio pirate in the L.A. area. Don’t know who they are, but I appreciate the effort).
If you have money burning a hole in your pocket, and you want to get me a congratulatory (and educational) gift, you can click here for my “wish list” (don’t worry, that’s the first and only time I’ll plug that). Also, I’m putting a lot of thought into redesigning the site. If any skilled muchacho or muchacha would like to volunteer to help me with that, please drop me an email.
I should probably put a bunch of “thank-yous” in here, but my brain is seriously misfiring at this time of night. So my lazy-ass’ll just link to all the thank-yous and fuck-yous from my 2002 close-out post.
It’s been a rough month for me, that could possibly turn into a rough year. But I’ll do my best to keep the site in the manner to which you’ve become accustomed.
Thanks for reading.
In a bizarre coincidence, fellow lefty blog The Rittenhouse Review also turns one year old today.
The EU, Russia, UN and US have put together an Israel-Palestine peace plan. Go take a look at the above link for a summary, or you can read the text of the peace plan yourself.
The plan calls for two separate, independent, democratic states by 2005.
It seems obvious to me that an independent Palestinian state is the only rational and just solution to this conflict. I don’t think the above plan will get us there, at least not with the current leaders of the two sides. Yassir Arafat seems to have no real interests beyond maintaining his own power, and Ariel Sharon is a fucking thug who seems hellbent on defeating the Palestinians instead of protecting and improving Israel. I’d say that they’re both a bit lacking in their committment to peace, let alone a particular peace proposal.
Sure enough, Sharon and his crew are pushing peace even further away by “moving Jewish settlers into a Palestinian district of Jerusalem”. Palestinians will see that as a deliberate provocation, because, well, because it is.
I’d also like to add that the US has absolutely no credibility as a moderator or advisor on this issue. The US is the number one supplier of military equipment and aid to one of the two sides. Even if the US were totally neutral in this conflict, the arms sales issue would obviously be a conflict of interest, and any honorable nation would step down from its role and let a more impartial nation take charge. And I believe that the U.S. will continue this fairly weak effort at Middle East peace as a show for the Arabs and Muslims in the reason, to try to convince them that we are not there to pillage their oil.
Very interesting post/summary over at Politics in the Zeros that I’m going to reprint in full here (it’s short).
I was listening to Alternative Radio yesterday on KPFK, with host David Barsamian interviewing Noam Chomsky on the current Iraq invasion.
Barsamian asked Chomsky, “Many people ask, what can we do? How would you answer that?”.
Chomsky’s reply was fascinating. He said he travels worldwide, meeting many different kinds of people. He said when he’s speaking with campensinos in Mexico or labor organizers in a third world county, they never ask, what can we do? Instead, they tell HIM what they ARE doing.
It’s only elites in highly technological countries, he continued, who ask, what can we do, hoping for some quick fix so they can get back to the normal routine of their lives. The campesinos know better than that, they know struggles like this require long term dedication.
Two interesting things going on there. The first is that, in Chomsky’s experience, people outside of “the West” are figuring out how to fight their struggles on their own. I think that a lot of Americans have trouble with this because they don’t understand the struggles themselves. These labor organizers know the problem: their employers– often in concert with the police, government, organized criminals and corrupt unions– are not paying them a decent wage. The struggle is to achieve that wage, and to beat back the power of their exploiters. I think that many Americans don’t understand the forces at work in the injustices they seek to rectify. Our schools and media aren’t very good at educating us about these things.
The second is that “quick fix” thing. There’s probably some truth to that too. The best example I know is the issue of sweatshops. People want to know what companies produce their clothing in sweatshop factories so that they can avoid that company’s products. Then they wouldn’t have to worry about the issue. But it’s not nearly that simple. It’s a good bet that just about every major clothing company in some way utilizes sweatshop labor. The only fix is quite long-term: if you want to avoid buying sweatshop-made clothing, you have to join the struggle to organized factory workers and demand responsibility by corporate clothing companies to pay workers fairly. And even if you achieved that, you’d have to forever keep an eye on those companies to prevent them from slipping back into their old habits.
I think me and this columnist could be pals:
There’s almost nothing you can’t get away with doing to an American. Take away his health insurance and he’s likely to fall to his knees in gratitude. You can tell him to his face that you’re pulling funding for his kids’ schools in order to bail out some millionaire stockbroker in Connecticut who overbet the peso–and he not only won’t get mad, he’ll swell up with pride and burst out singing the “Star-Spangled Banner.” You can even steal his pension and gamble it away in Vegas, and the most he’ll do is sulk a little.
In those rare cases when an American gets mad, what he usually does is wait four years to vote for an identical candidate. Push him a little farther over the edge, and he may flirt with a hopeless third-party politician or write a sarcastic letter to the New York Times. And when he becomes disconsolate, when he finally decides to take to the streets, look out–because now he’s a real threat–standing in some park or other publicly sanctioned place, and chanting goofy slogans while carrying a poster of George Bush with a crayon-drawn forked tail.
The White House expected the Iraqis to line up like redcoats with their muskets drawn in single-rank formation because that’s what we do. Whatever they tell us the permissible means of protest is, that’s what we do. If the permit for the demonstration is at an abandoned drive-in fifty miles from the nearest town, we show up there, brows furrowed and banners waving, in huge numbers. While the generals point at high-tech maps on all the major networks, we sit there babbling into the crackly dissenter line on C-SPAN at two in the morning. There would probably still be kings playing croquet on the grounds of Versailles today if the tactics of the French revolution had been like this–better heed us peasants, messieurs, or we’ll send twice the usual amount of mail to our congressmen.
We’re so accustomed to following the “rules” of political engagement that when someone like Michael Moore breaches decorum for thirty seconds to sabotage his own Oscar acceptance, enormous numbers of us actually consider this a real act of brave defiance, and not the quixotic, colossally insufficient gesture it was.
The whole point of opposition is to make sure that the people who are making decisions know that there will be consequences if they go too far in ignoring the public, or at least a plurality of it…
After a while, it’s simply not dignified to freak out over each of these things individually. The dignified thing to do is to recognize once and for all the essential nature of what we’re up against, and then fight it. Don’t write petitions or make appeals, don’t sing songs, don’t wait for someone up there to change their “minds.” Just fight it. And make it hurt…
For years, corporate America and the media have tried to convince us that buying things is a political act, a way of expressing our individuality (Fruitopia instead of flower power, Nikes sold to the tune of “Revolution,” peace signs on the walls of Starbucks). Well, let’s call their bluff. Let’s non-participate. Let’s go on consumer strike. Pull a slowdown. We don’t have a lot of choices when it comes to voting for politicians, but when it comes to buying, where our existence is actually necessary, we have a thousand choices a day. It might be the only method we have of making the decision-making class pay attention to our concerns.
Hell, let’s try something, anyway. Because what we’re doing now is just what they expected–nothing.
It’s what I’ve been saying all along, and why I haven’t been throwing myself headlong into the “peace rally for peace” actions. They would not “make it hurt.” In a way, peace rallies help legitimize the regime in power because now they can say “see, look how tolerant we are, we allowed hundreds of thousands of people to protest.”
What would’ve made it hurt? The same sort of chaotic “shut down the city” actions that took place in San Francisco and New York City, that simultaneously disrupted the status quo and pissed off large segments of the population. Some peace demonstrators denounced the “shut it down” folks for alienating the population that the rally types had been courting for months. But it’s a trade-off, and I don’t see any way around it.
Which is not to entirely dismiss all the hard work of mainstream peace protesters. I think that the efforts and massive rallies may have helped minimize the American violence in Iraq; the Bush administration knew that it was being watched, and was probably more careful.
But I was despondent early on. I could think of plenty of actions that would “make it hurt,” but nothing that would hurt enough to get the Bush administration to back down. They had so much to gain that I could not think of any action (especially in the numbers required) that could counterbalance that gain.
So I thought that my time might be better spent researching and writing, trying to spread “the truth” via my various tiny outlets. But our columnist friend had a thing or two to say about that as well:
People like me are part of the problem, too, which is why I’m even on the subject. I could make myself feel better about things by writing glibly about this or that government lie, but that’s really what it accomplishes–making me feel better.
In fact, the whole business of keeping track of media deceptions has become an unusually ridiculous exercise, and one would need a thousand pages a week to even begin to do a decent job of it.
You have to wonder after a while whether this is a good use of my or anyone else’s time, racing to keep track of the unceasing string of sensational headlines that turn out ten minutes later to be idiotic fabrications.
Or, I suppose we can sum up all of this:
Actions Speak Louder Than Words.
O’Reilly’s column was a regular feature in the Orange County Register, the most popular paper in Orange County (among other publications, of course). This should be no surprise, as Orange County is one of the most politically conservative regions of the United States.
But, sadly, the OC Register dropped O’Reilly’s column in early March. O’Reilly bravely spoke out against this grave injustice on his TV show, “The Orange County Register dropped my column because I was in favor of the war.” And in O’Reilly’s defense (did I really just say that?) despite it’s staunch conservative editorial stances, the OC Register does oppose the Iraq war.
But the OC Register denies O’Reilly’s specific charge, and editor Cathy Taylor explains why they chose to let Bill go:
“We published a number of his columns throughout the fall and into the spring. 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.”
Heh heh heh.
Bill, they didn’t fire you because they disagree with you! They fired you because you’re a fucking narcissist! They wanted columns of political analysis, not columns where you jerk off your ego and shill for your own products!
Quit your self-obsessed whining and slink back to television, jerk.
Some weeks back, I wrote a piece debunking the popular “punch those hypocritical peaceniks” email that the makes the pro-war feel all warm and snuggly. Now, Digby the blogger has his own anti-war version, which I will reprint here for the benefit of the lazy.
With all of this talk of impending war, many of us will encounter “Pro-War” patriots who will try and convince us that we can keep America safe by exercising military force against anyone who we think might threaten us in the future. When you come upon one of these people, or one of their rallies, here are the proper rules of etiquette:
1. Listen politely while this fellow explains his views. Strike up a conversation if necessary and look very interested in his ideas. He will say that we will invade any country that even thinks of threatening us. He’ll shake his fist and get in your face. He’ll loudly proclaim that everyone in the crowd agrees with him. When a couple of his friends speak up and say that they really don’t agree, he’ll tell them to piss off and that he never liked them anyway. He will then smugly tell you that this is why working with allies weakens our country and leaves America unable to protect its citizens. He says the US can do anything it damn well pleases.
2. In the middle of his remarks, without any warning, punch him in the nose.
3. When the guy gets up off of the ground, he will be very angry and he will shove you to the ground. But then, for some reason, he’ll run into the crowd and coldcock that creepy guy from your old neighborhood who he beat up at the last rally and left with two broken legs.
4. Because he has been so rude, and his actions are so inexplicable, none of his friends will help him (except his brother-in-law, who works for him.) He’ll shout to his victim’s family (who the victim treats like shit) that he’ll give them money if they’ll help him but blood runs thicker than water. (And they can’t help noticing that he seems awfully interested in their valuable heirloom jewelry.)
5. Meanwhile, you sneak around the corner and lie low while he beats the weakened opponent into the ground. The boys from the old neighborhood get more and more angry that this guy is grabbing at the jewelry and roaring that he’s going to take down everybody they know unless they do what he wants. Gather them around you and tell them to go blow up his car, destroy his place of business and burn down his house.
6. When he sees his car explode and turns around looking alarmed and confused, sidle up from behind and hit him again, only harder.
7. Repeat steps 2-6 until the desired results are obtained and the idiot realizes that if you are going to fight back, it’s smart to fight the real enemy instead of invading a country that had nothing to do with attacking you. Keep doing it until he understands that it is stupid and counterproductive to rally everyone in the neighborhood to hate him with the same fervor as his attacker just so he can prove how tough he is.
8. There is no difference between an individual using the excuse of an unwarranted attack to attack someone who had nothing to do with it and a country using the excuse of a terrorist attack to invade a country that had nothing to do with it. It is unacceptable and results in a loss of moral authority, credibility and necessary allies in the fight against the real enemy.
We owe our military respect and must hope for as little bloodshed as possible in the current circumstances. But we must do everything in our power to vote out this administration so that these brave Americans are not asked to lay their lives on the line for a bunch of ivory tower think tank intellectuals who have always been much too willing to sacrifice others to fulfill their own dreams of imperial greatness. We either fight back VERY HARD and put these people out of power, or we will keep getting hit in the nose. Lesson over. Class dismissed!
I would also like to mention that I had my own parody of this email back when it originated with the Afghan war.
1. When you see an anti-war protester, punch them in the nose as hard as you can.
2. Then, STARVE THE NATION OF AFGHANISTAN.
Still makes me chuckle.
- I’ve been hearing comparisons of the U.S./U.K. capture of (most of) Baghdad to the liberation of France in WWII. Somehow this caused me to think about Operation Paperclip. When Germany was defeated, the U.S. illegally snuck Nazi engineers and intelligence officers out of Germany and into America, where their knowledge of technology and intel on the Soviets could be exploited. I wonder if we’ll see a similar transfer of Baath party specialists treated similarly.
- While the number of deaths caused by the U.S. attacks is much lower than some of us had feared, there have been a significant number of wounds and injuries. But Iraqi hospitals are in a terrible state, seriously lacking in just about every way. I was struck by the thought this morning that some of those numbers of wounded might join the numbers of dead as the wounded are unable to receive adequate medical treatment.
Of course, the news of the day is that Saddam Hussein’s regime seems to have up and left Baghdad. U.S. troops led an effort to tear down statues of Saddam and many Iraqis rejoiced.
As always, I am the skeptic.
Is Saddam Hussein dead? Has he fled? Or most importantly, is he going to stay gone? My concern there is that Saddam might have some loyal troops yet and be planning a counter-offensive.
As for the cheers, I am reminded of the U.S. “liberation” of Panama. TV news footage showed thousands of happy Panamanians cheering the Americans. But it turns out that the TV cameras only went to the richer, whiter, more English-speaking sections of town, not the poor areas that U.S. bombs incinerated, where the population might have had a different opinion.
I am also reminded of the U.S. “liberation” of Kuwait, where hundreds of happy Kuwaitis cheering the Americans. Then it turned out that the pro-America rally was orchestrated by shadowy American PR guru John Rendon.
Don’t confuse my skepticism with conspiracy theory. Things are always complicated, that’s all. I imagine that many Iraqis are overjoyed at the overthrow. I imagine many others are afraid of the Americans. Excitement, fear, gratitude, uncertainty, anger, sorrow, probably whopping doses of all these emotions are smeared all over that nation. Those feelings might hold steady, or they might change over time. To think that today’s celebration means that all Iraqis love America and will let us do whatever we want to their country, is folly.
My fear and grim prediction is that the U.S. plan is to ethrone a U.S.-friendly government to replace Saddam’s regime. The U.S. has a poor track record with this sort of thing, and most of the enthronees tend to be corrupt and/or dictatorial. Might the new leader be more humane and democratic than Saddam Hussein? Quite possibly. Is it morally inexcusable to wage war on a people so that you can replace one oppressor with another? Definitely.
I also fear that the strife and bloodshed might prevent the U.S. plans from even getting that far. I think that the possibility that the Iraqi people might quickly tire of the American presence in their country, and at that point things could get ugly.
One quick comment on today’s media coverage. The TV news broadcast the images of Iraqi celebration and Saddam desecration non-stop. This is “the war is over” type of imagery. The Bush administration was quick to warn America that the war was not yet over. But images speak louder than words, and I think the images may have convinced Americans that the war is indeed over, despite the White House’s disclaimer. How long can the war last once Americans start wondering why the hell troops are fighting even though the war is “over”?
There is a bit of evidence that perhaps the media images of the celebration in Baghdad over the toppling of the Saddam statue may have been exaggerated. This is allegedly* a photo of the toppling from the BBC website, taken from a distance. Compare it to the close-ups. The tight shots imply that all of Baghdad is crowded with such raucous action, but the wide angle shot shows a fairly small group of people surrounded by, well, nobody.
*I can’t verify too much about the distance photo. But you can see some of the same buildings in the close-up photos, and the presence of the tanks arguably proves that the photo was taken sometime today. I believe that the photo is accurate, but you should probably keep your skeptical guard up.
Sorry, I’m not doing too well with the article titles today.
U.S. tells Iran, Syria, N.Korea: “Learn from Iraq”- what balls! John R. Bolton, U.S. undersecretary of state for arms control and international security said “With respect to the issue of the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction in the post-conflict period, we are hopeful that a number of regimes will draw the appropriate lesson from Iraq that the pursuit of weapons of mass destruction is not in their national interest.” This is obviously intended as an outright threat against these regimes. But it is funny for two reasons: 1) the U.S. invasion of Iraq never seemed to have much to do with WMD, so I’m not sure what lessons anyone could take out of that. 2) The obvious, OBVIOUS lesson to draw from U.S. reactions to Iraq and North Korea, is that if a nation gets caught trying to develop WMD before completion, that they are fucked, but if they can complete development of WMD before anyone finds out, they have a useful bargaining chip.
Republicans Want Terror Law Made Permanent- as it stands, the civil liberties devouring USA PATRIOT Act is supposed to expire in 2005. But Republicans in Congress want to make it permanent. Yay.
Radio Giant Dumps Promoters To Avoid ‘Pay For Play’ Criticism- wow! In the music industry, record labels will hire people called “independent promoters” to go bribe radio stations to play certain songs. It’s universal, and locks many small bands and small labels out of the airwaves. Now radio behemoth Clear Channel has announced that they will no longer do business with independent promoters as of this summer. No doubt this is due to the scrutiny Clear Channel has been receiving from the gubment, but still, it’s a welcome development just the same.
Wal-Mart’s dominance exacts a growing price- examination of the harmful effects of monopolies on the lives of common people, using Wal-Mart as an example.
After Saddam: an Arab Congo?- I usually don’t like linking to other blog entries, but this one’s pretty good. Educated and thoughtful analysis and predictions about the future of Iraq. I found it most useful to skip down to the section that starts “The Shia”, then read the rest of the article, then skip back up to the top and read what I missed.
Deep Concerns- what I think is the first statement/essay from Noam Chomsky about the Iraq war since it began. Looks far down the road about the implications of the war and its related policies, and what we should be doing to oppose them.
Picking a Challenger- stuff I thought I’d never hear coming out of the mouth of our pal Geov Parrish, long-time anarchist: he more or less says “vote Democrat.” But it’s no sell-out manuever, let him say it in his own words:
For the long-term freedom, health, prosperity, and security of Americans — and the world’s other six billion people, and all its other species, too — there is no more critical task in the coming months than to oust George W. Bush, and the lunatics surrounding him, in November 2004.
And y’know, he’s got a point. I find American electoral politics repellent and hopelessly broken, I find the Democrats to be still pretty similar to the Republicans, and I’m not keen on the idea of government in general. But fuck, Geov’s right. Getting Bush out of office will probably do more good than most other worthy causes or revolutions you could think of. Which, sadly, could mean working on getting a Democrat elected to the presidency.
Whose ‘truth’ is being reported?- really good look at differences in Iraq war coverage between American and Arab news networks. The author finds that neither is “bad” or “wrong,” but each is playing to its built-in audience, Americans who want to see their troops achieve a safe victory and Arabs who are angry at the destruction caused by a foreign invasion.
The Real Face of War- up close from afar. War is an ugly thing, and if we choose to wage it, all decent people must take it all in and not look away.
Those awkward hearts and minds- a slightly out of date chart gauging worldwide opinion about the war.
Poor hardest to find on campus- I have always considered affirmative action in college admission policies to be a type of economic redistribution. If you’re a person of color in the U.S., you’re more likely to be poor. And with a college degree, you’re more likely to get a high paying job. Some folks argue that affirmative action should be based upon personal economics rather than race, and that’s not a terrible idea. The article above is good ammunition for that idea, pointing out the very small percentage of college students who come from poor backgrounds, the ones we might most want to redistribute wealth to.
For months I’ve been writing about what seemed to be the crazed warhawk plan that lead to the invasion of Iraq, a bizarre scheme for U.S. dominion over the Middle East by invading Iraq, followed by possible attacks on Iran and Syria (only if they hadn’t been properly intimidated by the example of Iraq). Even though I still think that is the reason for our current war, I guess I still couldn’t entirely believe that this was true.
But now rhetorical shots are being fired across Syria’s bow.
Last week, Donald Rumsfeld announced that military supplies were being shipped into Iraq via Syria. He didn’t claim that the Syrian government was shipping items to Saddam Hussein, but that interpretation is easily made (although it looks more likely that the supplies are being smuggled across the border [possibly with/possibly without the knowledge of the Syrian government], as it has been for years). Okay, that’s not an explicit shot, maybe Rumsfeld meant that Syria better stop the smuggling. But when asked to clarify, Rumsfeld declined.
Then, this morning, I caught part of the news-like Christian Broadcast Network, where evangelist and fool Pat Robertson was interviewing Dr. Khidhir Hamza, alleged former nuclear scientist for Saddam Hussein (I don’t intend to imply he’s untrustworthy with the “alleged,” I only put it because I haven’t researched the fellow, so I don’t know if he’s reliable). Pat asked Hamza about whether or not he thought the U.S. should invade Syria as well as Iraq. Seemed like an odd question to ask… Didn’t catch any more of it, and don’t have a link. If anyone can help me out, I’ll add the proper linkage.
And then, these two articles via Dack:
For Some, Syria Looms as Next Goal. Mainly based upon Rusmfeld’s threat above, and a comment by Deputy Defense Secretary Paul D. Wolfowitz on “Meet the Press”: “There’s got to be a change in Syria”. Then another similar comment by Richard Perle. These folks generally hope/feel/pretend that Syria’s regime can be changed non-violently in the aftermath of Iraq.
And then this article with a section towards the bottom titled “Syria, Iran: Are they next?”.
And finally, a pair of official denials by the most peaceful (and therefore most ignored) members of the “coalition,” Tony Blair and Colin Powell:
I’m not sure if those denials should make me less nervous or more nervous.
In conclusion… fuck, I don’t know. Do these actions spell war? Are they just mean-spirited rhetoric by opposing sides? Attempts at intimidation? Hard to say. I keep waiting longer and longer to write about any war-related topic, hoping that a little time and distance will bring perspective and clarity. Guess I’ll continue this discussion when/if that happens.
Myths and misconceptions about the war in Iraq- good stuff.
Bamboozled By Ads- an interview examining links between commercial advertising, political advertising and propaganda.
The Death Toll- the Iraq war: who’s been killed, who’s been wounded, and how many.
“Stupid Security” Competition”- some organization called Privacy International is having a competition for the most idiotic, mysterious and ineffective security measures for public places. Good for a laugh and a shake of the head.
Why Bush’s Tax Cut Won’t Help the Economy- what the title says.
Outrage- U.S “diplomat” Otto Reich warns the government of Barbados to shut its damn mouth about criticising the war on Iraq. Barbados government kind of pissed.
‘Saving Private Lynch’ and other tales- quick look at race, class and gender in the reporting about rescued POW Jessica Lynch.
Good photoshop contest:
Good piece by our pal Robert Fisk (or Bobby F, as I may begin calling him when the mood strikes), about the small ways in which Western journalist are collaborating with the US & UK by adopting the governments’ preferred phrasing.
Not entirely sure what they’re trying to say, but it puts an evil grin on my face just the same.
How things are shaping up for the days after the “coalition” (does the U.S., a small force of Brits and a handful of Australians really make a “coalition”?) conquers Iraq.
Britain admits there may be no WMD’s in Iraq- “Well into the war that was supposed to rid Iraq of its alleged stockpile of weapons of mass destruction, a senior British official [Home Secretary David Blunkett] admitted on Saturday that no chemical, biological or nuclear weapons of mass destruction may after all be found.” Whoops.
Red Cross: Iraq Wounded Too High to Count- “The number of casualties in Baghdad is so high that hospitals have stopped counting the number of people treated, the International Committee of the Red Cross said Sunday.”
Clash of the Administration Titans- Colin Powell vs. Skeletor Rumsfeld! The winner will determine how blatantly imperial the new U.S. puppet government in Iraq will be.
Wolfowitz says new government might take more than 6 months; U.N.-led government not likely- this article almost makes it sound as though the new Iraq will be okay, but–
Opposition groups reject US military rule plan- “As the time arrives for decisions about running Iraq, both the main Kurdish and Shia opposition groups yesterday rejected US plans to put Jay Garner, a retired general, in charge.”
Battle over who can sell Iraq’s oil- don’t forget the oil!
Iraq bidder’s apartheid past- Dear god. “Fluor Corporation, the US building firm tipped to land a massive reconstruction deal in postwar Iraq,” is being sued for hiring security guards to dress up in KKK robes and attack employees at Fluor plants in South Africa, during the apartheid era. Just when you think a corporation couldn’t sink any lower, you find another one 10,000 feet below.
So, in conclusion, re post-war Iraq:
I heard about this a few days ago, but didn’t post anything until I’d seen some confirmation.
Quick translation: American citizen Mike Hawash is being secretly detained by the U.S. government with no charges brought against him, and no bail, indefinitely.
It’s based on the material witness statute, which essentially lets a prosecutor imprison a witness to a crime who might flee before giving their evidence. Since 9-11, law enforcement has been abusing this law. Luckily for Mike, they at least let him have access to a lawyer (for the bail hearing, anyway).
For more info, or to get involved, you can check FreeMikeHawash.org
“Nearly eight in 10 Americans now accept the Bush administration’s contention — disputed by some experts — that Hussein has ‘close ties’ to Al Qaeda (even 70% of Democrats agree). And 60% of Americans say they believe Hussein bears at least some responsibility for the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks — a charge even the administration hasn’t levied against him.”
As you’ve most likely seen on a million different lefty news sites, there is no public evidence that Saddam Hussein has any ties to Al Qaeda, and logic tells you that since the two have hated each other in the past, that they probably aren’t allies. And there is even less evidence (yeah, I guess I’m saying less than zero) that Saddam Hussein was involved with 9-11.
Scarily, the poll numbers of Americans who believe that Hussein has launched terrorist attacks on the U.S. (he hasn’t) is increasing as time passes (and as the war goes on)(insert my usual caveat about the inherent untrustworthiness of poll data here). Pretty soon people will start blaming Saddam Hussein for the repression of women in Afghanistan. And Watergate. And of course for the Holocaust (I think he also tempted Eve in the Garden of Eden).
I’m going to theorize on this. I think that this adoption of this belief is a fairly subconscious effort by many Americans to stave off feelings of guilt or doubt that the war may have induced in them. If they start feeling bad when seeing footage on the TV of Iraqi refugees or bombed out homes, they can “remind” themselves that this war was necessary because Saddama bin Laden attacked the U.S. Then the guilt can be transformed into quiet determination. They’ll resolve to keep up their courage until “our boys” complete their mission.
But all of this is part of a larger American problem. It’s usually referred to in the media as “apathy,” but it’s really about powerlessness. Unless you or I try real real hard, we have no say in what goes on in our government. Any American could have done the research that would have disproven the Saddam-Al Qaeda link, but why bother? Your knowledge won’t change policy. So why go to the effort of learning about what’s going on in the world if you can’t put that knowledge to any use? Since you have no say, you might better spend that time figuring out how to alleviate your feelings of guilt at what your government is doing than trying to stop the unstoppable.
That’s not apathy, it’s recognition of the balance of power, combined with ignorance and despair. Americans are ignorant about the world because they don’t see how learning about the world is going to make any difference. And if nothing you can do will make a big difference in your country or society, why waste time trying to? Better to look out for #1, or your family, and try to get as comfortable as possible.
That’s my conclusion. Huge numbers of Americans act the way they do because deep down, they feel defeated and insignificant, unable to impact or influence the world around them, and are trying to live the most fulfilling lives they can while trying to cope with that hopelessness.
Which is, of course, why I’m an activist.
I say fuck defeat, and fuck despair. Quite frankly, this world isn’t worth living in, so I’m going to use my power, and use my time to TRY to make this world worth living in. Hell, I’m going to try to make it a paradise, because nothing else is worth that kind of effort.
Everyone has power, and everyone can use it.
Naive? Idealistic? Fucking right.
Let’s go. We’ve got work to do.
“Past and future bombing raids aside, the terrorism craze is dangerous because it consolidates the immense, unrestrained psuedopatriotic narcissism we are nourishing. Is there no limit to the folly that convinces large numbers of Americans that it is now unsafe to travel, and at the same time blinds them to all the pain and violence that so many people in Africa, Asia and Latin America must endure simply because we have decided that local oppressors … can go on with their killing … ? Is there no way to participate in politics beyond the repetition of prefabricated slogans? What happened to the precision, discrimination and critical humanism that we celebrate as the hallmarks of liberal education and the Western heritage?”
- Edward Said, 1986
We never learn, do we?
Jesus Fucking Christ.
Remember in the 2001 war with Afghanistan when the U.S. dropped food packages that looked a lot like cluster bomblets?
Well, now it’s 2003 and WE’RE DOING IT AGAIN!!!
That’s it. I am done. I can’t live on the same planet as these motherfuckers.
Chris Allbritton of Back to Iraq 2.0 has finally made it back into Iraq.
Go check out his first blog entry back inside the country.
War = hell, this one in particular. The U.S. is provoking anger around the globe, destablizing large regions, and of course, killing many innocent people.
But there’s a silver lining:
Yes, everyone’s favorite mind-bending predators, the people who earn their living via “public relations”, are having a difficult time. Why? Because there’s so much war news that they barely have a chance to get their press releases and puff pieces and false experts on the air. The longer the war goes on, the longer we’ll have to wait to learn why Exxon is environmentally-friendly, about the new brand of toothpaste we can’t live without, and the unveiling of a new fast food chain’s logo.
Although I guess the government-sponsored PR flaks are still getting work.
As reported by The Daily Show-
The four people that the U.S. military has asked to leave Iraq:
I don’t even know what to say about this.
Two leading evangelical Christian missionary organizations said Tuesday that they have teams of workers poised to enter Iraq to address the physical and spiritual needs of a large Muslim population.
The Southern Baptist Convention, the country’s largest Protestant denomination, and the Rev. Franklin Graham’s Samaritan’s Purse said workers are near the Iraq border in Jordan and are ready to go in as soon as it is safe. The relief and missionary work is certain to be closely watched because both Graham and the Southern Baptist Convention have been at the heart of controversial evangelical denunciations of Islam, the world’s second largest religion.
Both organizations said their priority will be to provide food, shelter and other needs to Iraqis ravaged by recent war and years of neglect. But if the situation presents itself, they will also share their Christian faith in a country that’s estimated to be 98 percent Muslim and about 1 percent Christian…
Graham, the son of legendary evangelist Billy Graham, has been less diplomatic about Islam than his father has been. Two months after the Sept. 11 attacks, Franklin Graham called Islam “a very evil and wicked religion” during an interview on NBC, the television network. In his book published last year, “The Name,” Graham wrote that “The God of Islam is not the God of the Christian faith.” He went on to say that “the two are different as lightness and darkness.”
On the eve of the Southern Baptist Convention in St. Louis last year, the Rev. Jerry Vines, a former denomination president, told several thousand delegates that Islam’s Allah is not the same as the God worshipped by Christians. “And I will tell you Allah is not Jehovah, either. Jehovah’s not going to turn you into a terrorist,” Vines said.
This war is looking more like colonization every day. What are they going to do next, get the Iraqis to start building missions? Start selling them smallpox-infected blankets? Put them on reservations?
[thanks to Orcinus]
The L.A. Times ran a doctored photograph on the front page of their Monday edition.
Not a huge thing, not some sort of Stalinist editting of history for propaganda purposes or anything like that. Looks like the photographer photoshopped together portions of two different photos for better drama and composition. Well, and the altered version appears to have editted out what looks like a tank in the background (lower left of the original photo on the right. Looks like a tank to me, maybe I’m wrong).
The photographer was Brian Walski. He’s been fired from the Times. But should make us a bit more wary of all photographs, because it is so easy to manipulate images these days.
from The Onion:
Government No Longer Even Bothering To Hide Halliburton Favors
WASHINGTON, DC—With last week’s announcement that it will award Halliburton a lucrative contract to put out Iraqi oil-well fires after the war, the U.S. government has officially stopped trying to hide its favoritism toward the Houston-based company. “When we first started cutting Halliburton sweetheart deals, we’d worry about how it would look, with Dick Cheney being their former CEO and all,” White House press secretary Ari Fleischer said. “Somewhere along the line, though, we just kind of said, ‘Ah, fuck it.’” Fleischer added that Halliburton has something “real juicy” coming its way when the U.S. invades Iran in July 2004.