This entry was made solely so y'all can use the comments section to speak your minds about whatever. Go to it!
In the 10+ days since the war on Iraq began, U.S. missiles have managed to hit targets (intentional or accidental) in:
Not satisified with being the "world's policeman," the Unite States has decided to also become its judge, jury and executioner.
"U.S. officials vowed Friday to vigorously prosecute members of the Iraqi military who they charge are committing a wide range of war crimes... the United States intends to conduct the prosecutions for crimes against U.S. combatants, rather than turn the defendants over to an international court or tribunal."
Yes, why bother with an International Criminal Court to prosecute war criminals when we can just bring them home to the good ol U.S. of A. and prosecute em here? Jesus, what a sham.
As soon as I flipped the TV on and saw President W about to give a speech while surrounded by veterans, I knew there was gonna be trouble.
He was praising them and thanking them, and the veterans seemed proud and pleased.
I couldn't believe Bush was doing this, since he cut veterans' benefits as part of his last budget. Instead of beating his ass for this disrespect, the veterans were helping the man look impressive, allowing the president to wrap himself in their pain and glory.
The speech pretty much played out like you'd expect.
Our veterans are good.
Our soldiers are good.
America is good.
The war on Iraq is good.
Congress should pass my $75 billion wartime supplemental appropriations bill
Our veterans are really, really good.
Wait a minute.
Why exactly is the president simultaneously asking for a $726 billion tax cut and a $75 billion handout? Acting with some fiscal wisdom, Congress decided to lower the tax cut by $100 billion to pay for the war.
Looking at how this $75 billion will be spent is interesting.
- "$63 billion for fighting the war, including replenishing used munitions and other matériel to prewar levels"
- "$8 billion for relief efforts and immediate reconstruction"
- "$4 billion to better protect the United States against what the administration says is the increased likelihood of terrorist attacks."
That first figure is very shady. Restocking our ammunition should be covered under regular military spending, unless this new ammo is going to be sent right out again to shoot at Iraqis. Sounds like a way to further enrich military contractors while hiding it from the balance sheet.
The second figure is also shady, as $5 billion of the "relief effort" is actually "aid for what the administration official said were 'supportive' countries in the region affected by the war, like Pakistan, Israel, Jordan and Turkey." In other words, our bribe money for their support in the war.
And that last number could mean just about anything.
I have no good way to end this entry. Good night.
When interviewing peace activist and Pentagon Papers whistleblower Daniel Ellsberg, CNN's Aaron Brown made an obvious play to smear the entire anti-war movement as pawns of Saddam Hussein:
BROWN: The Iraqi political strategy is in large part to use the anti-war demonstrations around the world to create political pressure on the coalition governments to stand down, cease fire and stop the war. In that regard, are you playing into the hands of what I think you would even acknowledge is a very bad regime.
Ellsberg refuses to be drawn into that trap. Brown tries again. Ellsberg sidesteps and defuses the trap, and also manages to imply that Brown is either naive, or an idiot. Brown is then a bit cowed, and lets Ellsberg say whatever he wants.
Go read the transcript, it's fun.
Fox News Channel, the most respected name in objective, unbiased reporting continued its tradition of neutral, unpoliticized behavior at the anti-war protests in New York City yesterday.
Demonstrators outside of Fox News headquarters decried the media's role on the war in Iraq, and the little electric news ticker sign on the outside of the building switched from displaying headlines to displaying... commentary.
"War protester auditions here today ... thanks for coming!"
"Who won your right to show up here today? Protesters or soldiers?"
"How do you keep a war protester in suspense? Ignore them."
"Attention protesters: the Michael Moore Fan Club meets Thursday at a phone booth at Sixth Avenue and 50th Street"
Mmmm boy, that's some good objectivity.
"Reached for comment Thursday afternoon, Fox spokeswoman Tracy Spector was unaware of the messages on the news ticker and said she would look into it. Spector said the network 'didn't mean to insult anyone.' Spector did not return calls for further comment by early Thursday evening. "
If the issue is pressed, I imagine Fox News will scapegoat the person who mans the news ticker controls and say that s/he was the "lone gunman" of this incident. And maybe s/he is. But the fact that they felt comfortable enough to go ahead and do something so obviously biased in the name of a news agency, I think that speaks volumes.
Found this amusing.
On the Common Dreams website, I found this boldly-worded headline from a Toronto Star editorial:
Courageous stance, Canada opposes the war and will not budge from its position.
Then, I went over to the Toronto Star website to look at the original source, and in the process, ran across this frontpage headline:
But it is a little more complicated (or at least confusing) than that. Canada still opposes the war, but has "Canadian soldiers in the British army as well as the Australian army and they may be in Iraq at this time." The Canadian soldiers have guns, but are only allowed to fire them in self-defense. They aren't allowed to attack, but they are taking part in spy and logistical efforts that will allow others to attack. Which isn't really a much more morally superior position than doing the killing yourself.
Apparently Morocco has joined the "coalition of the willing."
Morocco's contribution to the war effort:
I have referred to Richard Perle on this site many times. He is the head of the Defense Policy Board, which advises the president and Pentagon about all things military. His nickname (not given by me) is the "prince of darkness." He's sort of like Henry Kissinger lite, minus the sense of decorum. He is one of the architects of the "let's overthrow the whole Middle East" policy currently favored by the Bush administration (he also argued back in August that the U.S. could successfully defeat Iraq with only 40,000 troops. Compare that with today's headlines).
Anyhow, in some excellent news, Perle is resigning from his post as head demon of the DPB, allegedly because he doesn't want "controversy" about his "business dealings" to affect his furher, Donald Rumsfeld, from his prosecution of the Iraq war. Or, loosely translated into English, "they caught me, I'd better make a run for it."
What "controversies" are we speaking of?
- He is on the board of venture capital company Trireme Partners LLP, a company that "invest[s] in companies dealing in technology, goods, and services that are of value to homeland security and defense."
- He is also a paid consultant for Global Crossing, " the bankrupt telecommunications company" that is trying to "overcome Pentagon resistance to its proposed sale to a joint venture involving a Hong Kong billionaire."
Some people might see those as, y'know, conflicts of interest. People like The Law.
Upon Perle's resignation announcement, Donald "Skeletor" Rumsfeld said, "I should add that I have known Richard Perle for many years and know him to be a man of integrity and honor." And to properly interpret that, we should remember that Henry Kissinger once referred to Rumsfeld as "the most ruthless man I've ever met."
So, dear Richard Perle, you blood-drenched chickenhawk scumfuck, don't let the door hit your ass on the way out.
Sigh. Atrios alleges that Perle resigned as DPB head, but might remain as a DPB member.
Oh for fuck's sake.
(Man, am I getting tired of having to say that)
House Approves National Day of Prayer- both the House and Senate have passed bills calling on the president to decree a specific date to be a "a national day of humility, prayer and fasting in a time of war and terrorism."
(obviously residents of Washington DC will be exempt from the "humility" part)
Seems to be a pretty obvious violation of the First Amendment to me. The government passes a law telling us to pray? Next thing you know American women are going to have to don their star-spangled burqas (well, since the U.S. is the opposite of conservative Islam in many ways, American women would probably be forced to wear skimpy outfits, not all-covering ones. Like perhaps the "burkini")(yes, terrible joke, I apologize).
Says Democratic Rep. Dennis Kucinich, the resolution "may be seen by some as an attempt to inject religion into this war at a time when some of America's enemies abroad are asserting that this indeed is a war about religion." But surely it would only appear this way to those enemies who have theyr eyes open.
Just heard about this one:
Appears to be a site dedicated to distributing free anti-war mp3s (and a few anti-war graffitti stencils), and is allegedly run by members of Sonic Youth.
Haven't listened to any myself (except the recently-released Beastie Boys track). It also appears to be interactive. If you're a musician, you can submit your own mp3s. Go save the world, rock star.
1) I was completely right about the journalist "embedding" process. The reporters out in the field with their new U.S. military comrades are telling the tale from the point of view of the soldiers, just as the Pentagon surely wants them to. They self-censor, they use goofy military jargon, and in the end, they actually do a pretty good job of telling you what it's like to be a U.S. soldier fighting this war. What they don't do is tell you anything resembling NEWS.
2) It seems clear that the Iraq war is being reported on so differently in the U.S. and abroad that each presentation would probably be unrecognizable to the other.
3) Anyone who can't easily understand that I can oppose the war and not be an evil human hell-bent on the deaths of all Americans, is probably not worth arguing with.
4) My current fear is that Americans have bought into the myth that the U.S. invaded Iraq to liberate the people, and that is going to lead to trouble. As more and more average Iraqis are revealed to be against the U.S. "liberation," these Americans are going to start being angry at how "ungrateful" the Iraqis are being. "Our troops risked their lives to free you, and this is the thanks they get?!" I can easily see an anti-Iraqi backlash for their ungrateful response. And in the resulting backlash, Americans won't care so much if the new Iraqi regime is a democracy or a junta.
5) "Support our troops" can mean many different things, and you will generally have no idea which meaning a person is using when they speak the words:
The term has come to mean so many things that it is essentially meaningless. If you want to ask me something about my feelings on the troops, you'll have to choose different words, because I'm no longer going to respond to the phrase above.
Polls Suggest Media Failure in Pre-War Coverage- one of the more disturbing stories of the day, if poll results can be trusted (and, well, they can't). The stat in this report that most unnerves me:
32% of those supporting an attack cited Saddam's alleged involvement in supporting terrorists as the "main reason" for endorsing invasion. Another 43% said it was "one reason."
In other words, 75% of Americans who support the U.S.' war on Iraq did so based upon information that is totally wrong. There is no public evidence that Saddam Hussein supports "terrorists" in the way that Americans define the term (we think "terrorist" means "Arab who is out to kill Americans"). Thanks to poor journalism and White House sleight of tongue, a large segment of Americans see "terrorists," Al Qaeda, 9-11, and Saddam Hussein as one big ominous group. And therefore fighting Iraq is obviously protecting ourselves from terrorism. It saddens me that if the American people had been better educated about the Middle East that this war might never have even gotten off the ground.
Television agendas shape images of war- press coverage of the war in the U.S., U.K., Arab world and Iraq compared and contrasted.
Media giant's rally sponsorship raises questions- I could've posted this article days ago, but I was looking for a little more information. Since I haven't been able to find it, here's the article anyway. Radio giant Clear Channel is reported to have been "sponsoring" pro-war/pro-troop/"patriotic" rallies across the country. I hestitated to post the article because I couldn't really discover what was meant by "sponsor." Does that mean they endorsed it, organized it, paid for it, what? One interviewee in the article speculates that CC's involvement is simply "manufacturing the news," while others have argued that this is simply a way for CC to suck up to the Bush administration so that CC is looked upon favorably and allowed to continue its monopolization of the radio industry.
'It's more than exciting, Christiane'- "Most TV correspondents reporting from Iraq are attached to combat units and adopt the military viewpoint, so who is giving us the other side of the war?"
White House prepares to feed 24-hour news cycle- the word "feed" should be replaced with "dominate." Claims that the White House is scheduling several press conferences a day at times that will serve best to distract journalists and keep the government's message at the top of the heap.
"Precise" and "Surgical": NBC's Bombing Claims Lack Verification- FAIR notes that the media are using descriptive terms that the Pentagon would like them too, without knowing whether or not those terms are very fitting.
Got another email from FAIR today about the media setting up a fiction in which "pro-war" and "pro-troops" are the equivalent, and where "anti-war" and "against the troops" mean the same thing. But that article does not appear to be posted on their site yet.
1) Of course, the first thought is: what a terrible fucking idea this war was.
2) Many pundits and armchair generals are already saying "there needs to be a change of tactics/this is a quagmire." But really, this is probably pretty average results for a military invasion. Just because it's not the cakewalk we were promised doesn't mean that this is Vietnam II (yet).
3) A local news station began tonight's broadcast saying "there is now proof that Iraq is hiding chemical weapons." They then went on to say that the military had taken control of a hospital which had 3000 chemical protection suits. That isn't proof of anything, you bastards.
4) When Aaron Brown and Wolf Blitzer are on the same CNN news segment, they subtly battle each other for airtime. It's funny.
5) What's up with Al Jazeera these days? Pre-Afghanistan, it was lauded for it's "get in every regime's face" style. Then it got bashed by the White House for it's non-pro-U.S. stance. Now it seems to be getting bashed by everyone. I don't watch AJ. Is this bashing justified, or is it propaganda? Is Al Jazeera a good network, did it used to be, did it change?
6) The Iraqis really don't seem to be buying into this "America as liberators" thing. Which is quite rational. A country's been starving and bombing you for ten years, then guys from that country with big guns walk into your village and say "we're here to rescue you"? I'm thinking that the U.S. will conquer Iraq, and then be attacked by Iraqis guerrilla-style for months and months afterwards, until the U.S. pulls out or until the resistance is massacred.
(via Eat the State!):
"Our armies do not come into your cities or lands as conquerors or enemies, but as liberators."
--British Lt. Gen. Stanley Maude, after his army, advancing from Basra in 1915, conquered and seized the city of Baghdad, inaugurating decades of British rule and plunder
Lack of Skepticism Leads to Poor Reporting on Iraq Weapons Claims- new report by FAIR which points out how the media is jumping to conclusions and getting the facts wrong in the Iraq war. It's like I keep saying, don't trust any heady sounding news report until some time passes, because the facts don't usually come to light right away.
When are facts facts? Not in a war- God bless the Guardian. Excellent follow-up to the above article, examining the "Claims and counter claims made in the first week of the media war in Iraq." This is all I've ever asked for in the media. Skepticism. Research. Synthesis. Conclusions.
This Is Gulf War 2- awful pictures you won't want to see (and probably won't if you only watch American television) of the Iraq war. Not as one-sided as you might guess, images of Iraqi injuries and deaths as well as images of American deaths and POWs.
U.S. Trying to Stop U.N. Session on War- members of the UN General Assembly are trying to arrange a vote to condemn the U.S. attack on Iraq. It seems that there's a fair chance that they would get enough votes to pass the resolution. And in a diplomatic move that's become utterly predictable, the US is trying to pressure these countries to vote against the resolution.
U.S. Is Assembling a Civilian Team to Run Iraq- "The United States is preparing to establish immediate sole control of postwar Iraq, initially without recourse to the United Nations, with a civilian administration under the direct command of the military, according to senior administration officials." Military-controlled occupation by a foreign nation = freedom and democracy.
Bush Drafting New Executive Order on Declassifying Documents- so what stance do you think Bush takes on declassifying government documents? He takes the "don't declassify" and even the "REclassify" points of view. You just gotta wonder what skeletons this administration has in its closet (I mean apart from the horrific ones that we already know about).
The Secret Weapon: CIA- the CIA is involved with the war on Iraq? I am shocked and awed.
"ENLARGE YOUR COALITION! GUARANTEED!"- concluding on the lighter side. Yet another clever spam spoof that takes the crap that we all get emailed every day and twists it into a skewering political satire.
Point-Counterpoint: The War On Iraq- from The Onion. "It's funny cuz it's true."
Le Tigre- Bang Bang!
Los Desaparecidos- Happiest Place on Earth
Faith No More- A Small Victory
Mr. Lif & Edan- Get Wise '91
Queens of the Stone Age- You Think I Ain't Worth A Dollar, But I Feel Like A Millionaire
Zack de la Rocha- March of Death
MC5- The American Ruse
DJ Shadow & Cut Chemist- Product Placement (Jake's Atomic Cafe mix)
Nerve Agents- The War's Not Over
Ralph Stanley- O Death
Public Enemy- Shut em Down
The Yeah Yeah Yeahs- Miles Away
The Magnetic Fields- Let's Pretend We're Bunny Rabbits
The Vines- Get Free
The Sugarcubes- Motorcrash
Pistol Grip- Running from the Gun
REM- Welcome to the Occupation
2 Many DJs- Salt n Pepa vs the Stooges
Anti-Flag & the DONOTs- Protest Song
Moxy Fruvous- Gulf War Song
System of a Down- War
The Donnas- Police Blitz
Seat Belts- Tank!
Sean Paul over at The Agonist is doing a really amazing job of sorting through the news of the Iraq war and presenting it as brief summaries, denoting sources and probable authenticity. But it made me think that this is the sort of news source that we really want. News that we might even be willing to pay for.
Go check out Sean Paul's site. And I say if you find it worthwhile, click on his "donate" button in the upper left and give the man a buck or five. He's obviously putting a ton of work into this, and we should show him our appreciation.
Now U.S. bombs have apparently falled on Iraq, Iran and now Turkey. I haven't seen any word on damage or casualties.
Some local anti-war groups called for a protest outside the Academy Awards in Hollywood tonight. Knowing how severely the police lock down events like this, I thought it was pretty much a lame idea, but I went anyway. Figured I'd go see what the post-war peace movement was looking like.
Had to get off the subway one stop early because the stop right near the Kodak Theater was closed down (for security reasons, of course). Began the trek west, keeping an eye out for protesters, cops, and barricades. It's funny how it's become commonplace around here to see people walking down the street holding placards denouncing war, the president, the media, and multinational corporations.
As I walked, the numbers of cars on the street dwindled and the number of people on the sidewalks increased. More cops, more traffic cones, more limos. Haven't seen this large a police presence since the Democratic National Convention in 2000, when the city was an abosolute warzone, no joke.
About three blocks from the Oscar ceremony home, the street was obstructed, so I had to walk down some side streets to get closer to the alleged protest location (one block past the theater). Ended up turning down Highland, and got a good view of some of the Oscar night absurdity.
From the corner of Highland and Hollywood to the corner of Highland and Santa Monica (about four large city blocks), the street was filled with nothing but limousines, taking their passengers to the Oscars.
Apparently dealing with these limos was one protest strategy. A number of demonstrators were on the sidewalks along the street, imploring the cars' inhabitants to speak out about the war. "You have a platform to speak to millions," they cried. If begging celebrities to mention your particular issue on television is your best hope of success, you're in trouble. Or maybe you're just not very imaginative. As most of the limos kept the tinted windows rolled up, it was hard to tell if these activists were having any luck.
The air above was teeming with motorized life: police helicopters, news helicopters, a Saturn blimp, and two airplanes dragging banners for Commiwood.com (which I presume would bash away at lefty actors, those Red bastards. But I can't get that url to work, maybe I'm intentionally remembering it wrong).
After much zigging and zagging, I came to the protest site. I honestly found it pretty sad. There was a flatbed truck serving as a stage, giant balloons which read "no war" (or something like that), and lots of booths selling anti-war t-shirts. And as I arrived, the speaker on the stage was imploring us to give donations to "keep the protests alive." Excuse me, but you know what you need for a protest to happen? People need to show up. That costs about $zero. Yeah yeah, to rent flatbeds and sound systems and file for permits you need money. But really, do any of those things factor in much to changing government policy? Hell, does any rally-style protest where people stand around and listen to speakers reflect that audience's own views and then tell them that they need to embrace socialism, or become a vegetarian or free Mumia to succeed?
Sorry, the seeming consumerist, monetary bent of the protest irked me.
I now walked past the protest and began circling back on Sunset, towards the limousine gauntlet. After walking several blocks, I was crossing a small side street when a small riot gear-clad policeman stepped into my way. He pulled his baton out of its holster (holster? Sheath? Scabbard?), held it in front of him like a barrier and said "you can't go this way."
I was very taken aback. It's not like it's common knowledge which streets they're going to arbitrarily close around the Oscar theater, it wasn't marked or anything. He would've just had to politely tell me to turn around, yet here he was in full defensive mode. Well, I suppose he was polite, except that he was obviously ready to shove me backwards with the broad side of his billy club. I backed away a step, hands in the "I'm unarmed" position, saying "sorry, didn't know!"
As I turned around, I saw another cop immediately to my left who was re-sheathing his own club. Was this for real? Were two cops seriously preparing to beat my ass with clubs because I didn't know that I wasn't allowed to cross the usually anonymous North Mansfield Avenue? I didn't even look threatening, no signs, no slogans on my t-shirt, no punk rock mohawk, nothing. Just a nerdy looking dude with glasses in a brown shirt and jeans. These dudes were fucking twitchy.
I'd seen about as much as I could, so I retraced my steps. When I got near Sunset and Highland, I saw a burst of movement. A large crowd of protesters was on the southwest corner of the intersection, by the McDonald's, when a swarm of riot cops sprinted over to the mob. I tried to see what was going on, but couldn't get close enough. Then the sirens came. About six cop cars, a phlanax of bicycle cops, and no fewer than twenty motorcycle cops appeared on the scene. Cops en masse freak me out. From several eyewitness reports on the LA IndyMedia site, it would appear that the cops beat a bunch of people there. I can't verify any of the claims made there, of course. But cops beating protesters is a lot more common than most people think.
Also more common than most people think are mass, unjustified arrests at protests. Ever since the WTO protests in Seattle, cops seem to think it's okay to surround a bunch of people, accuse them of failing to disperse (sometimes they tell them to disperse and won't let them out, sometimes they don't even bother doing that) and mass arrest them. When I saw this battallion of cops, that's what popped into my head.
Since I couldn't get any closer to the source of the trouble, and I wasn't in the mood to be arrested, I decided to head on home. On the long walk back, I saw a building with a line of well-dressed folks stretching around the block. I beleive these people were "seat-fillers." You see, during an awards show, the people in the audience might have to go to the bathroom or do a line of coke or something, and it would be so unseemly if there was an empty seat in the auditorium that the TV audience could see. So many "seat-fillers" are hired to make that nasty emptiness go away. The people in this line were wearing fine suits, fancy dresses with wraps, a few tuxes. Sadly, no one was around to hear my witty remark: "Look, it's the prom!"
Upon arriving home, I heard about Michael Moore's Bowling for Columbine movie won for best documentary. As expected, Moore gave a speech which bashed the war and the president. Apparently his win was applauded and his speech was booed. I just hope that some of the hundreds of millions of foreigners who watched the show will see that as proof positive that not all Americans support this president or his policies, and will prevent them from carrying out suicide bombings upon our populace.
A number of musicians have released free anti-war songs onto the net.
Anti-Flag & the DONOTs- Protest Song- a punk band from Pittsburgh and a punk band from Ibbenbueren, Germany join forces for a spirited acoustic song encouraging their fans to make the jump from consumers of rebellious music to involve themselves in rebellious movements.
System of a Down-Boom!- quirky metal band System of a Down recorded this song several years ago, but found it prophetically relevant today. They recorded a music video for this song with director Michael Moore, depicting the massive international peace protests of February 15, 2003. The video has allegedly been banned from MTV because it shows casualty estimates for the Iraq war. Don't know if your computer can handle video streams, but I'd recommend giving it a try, because I think it is a great video. If you can't handle streams, you can download an mpeg version of the video here
To amuse you:
Movies we would see if the MPAA censored everything down to a G rating- series of hilarious photoshopped images from the weirdos at the Fark community.
Why They Matter- LA Times film critic Kenneth Turan tries to explain why the Academy Awards ceremony is important to America, especially in a time of war. And fails miserably. Really hilariously bad.
RUMSFELD: 900 NATIONS NOW IN COALITION- "Defends Inclusion of Disneyland, Carpet World"
Stray Missiles Land in Iran- it appears that at least one and possibly as many as three US or UK missiles aimed at Iraq accidentally hit Iran.
RAF Tornado downed by US missile- it appears (I'll be using that phrase a lot these days) that a US Patriot Missile emplacement accidentally shot down a British fighter plane. The search for survivors has begun.
Soldier detained in fatal grenade attack on Army base- take this with even more skepticism, as it's a crime taking place in a war setting. One American soldier was killed and twelve wounded when several grenades detonated at an army camp in Kuwait. The current allegations are that the grenades were thrown by a disgruntled American soldier. Other reports I saw claimed that the soldier was a recent convert to Islam. Whether its true or not, if that version of the story spreads it will just add to the anti-Muslim/anti-Arab sentiment many Americans already hold. Speaking of which...
Illinois mosque attacked as Muslims pray inside- someone shot at praying Muslims inside their mosque through the mosque's large front window. I received an email that recounts this story, as well as two other attacks on Muslims in California and Michigan, although they were of the more threaten-and-discriminate variety. Since I could not find links for those, you only get the first story. Email me if you want the other one and I'll send it your way.
Now I can't find the link again, but I also read an article earlier today about a pro-war rally in which a Muslim man got up to speak. The Muslim praised the war for the liberation of Iraq and then read a passage out of the Quran; to which his fellow pro-war folks responded by yelling anti-Arab and anti-Muslim comments at him. That's something that I hadn't thought much about. How much of pro-war sentiment can be attributed to just good ol' racism and hatred?
Lawyers' hotline set to tell Iraqis: Know your rights- that headline should probably read "Iraqi-Americans." The FBI is apparently going around and interviewing Americans of Iraqi descent and Iraqi immigrants. This article is specifically about the FBI investigation in the Bay Area, and advises Iraqi-Americans to call the local chapter of the National Lawyers Guild if they think they need help- (415) 285-1055
Turkey denies push into Iraq, but sticks to intervention plans- earlier today the AP and BBC both reported that Turkey had sent thousands of soldiers into northern Iraq, but Turkey claims that their soldiers are only on the border, ready to deploy in case of a mass influx of refugees. In all likelihood, they actually want to enter northern Iraq, fight the Kurds, and retake Kirkuk, which could spark a massive conflict between the Kurds and the Turks. This would be bad.
A few in military refuse to fight 'wrong war'- America gets its own refuseniks? A small number of U.S. military servicemen are apparently refusing to serve in the war against Iraq.
I spent two hours in a doctor's office waiting room yesterday, forced to watch the war coverage on the Fox News Channel. No matter how I turned my seat or tried to distract myself with a magazine, I had to inevitably watch at least some of it (I appreciate your condolences).
Lots of coverage of the aerial bombardment, AKA "shock and awe." Footage of Baghdad aflame in color, and in grainy green monochrome. But all from a distance, a blazing skyline, people-less, as though the footage was of a model a young boy had set ablaze for his own amusement.
You know what would have made all this coverage worthwhile? One little phrase:
"People live here."
Thousands of tons of explosives had been dropped on a city of 5 million people, with roughly the same population density of Seattle.
Imagine a natural disaster in any major world city--an earthquake in Mexico City, an inferno in Delhi, a tsunami in Melbourne-- and this would be a major catastrophe. The Red Cross would fly in. People around the country would take up donations for the victims. Even if it was the capitol city of a tyrannical, hated governments--floods in Pyongyang, locusts in Riyadh, tornados in ... Paris?-- and the sympathy would still remain.
But this sort of disaster in Baghdad is okay. Because Saddam Hussein is a bad man, you see.
As I write this, the "official" casualty count is 3 dead and 207 wounded in Baghdad, a figure that I simply cannot believe. Of course, many of the city's 5 million certainly fled as war approached, and I'm sure that the city does have bomb shelters and the like for people's protection. I certainly hope its true, that these bombs are miraculously finding targets free of human beings, and that such miracles continue. But I fear that the death toll will rise when and if searches are made, unburying the bodies in the rubble.
I also couldn't help but notice that the Fox News Channel anchors kept saying things like "the war to liberate Iraq is on" and so forth. I must be getting old, I remember back when this was a war to overthrow Saddam Hussein. Then a war to force Iraq to accept weapons inspectors. Then a war to enforce UN resolutions. Then a war to disarm Iraq. And now, finally, a war of liberation. What a difference six months make.
So how much time do you think the media is going to spend asking "when will the military start the 'shock and awe'?" and "is Saddam Hussein really dead?" instead of, y'know, reporting on the war?
I am getting tired of hearing about this "coalition of the willing" of 30+ countries that "supports" the U.S. in its holy crusade against Iraq. And couldn't they think of a better phrase than that? Couldn't they have at least been the "coalition of freedom" or "righteousness" or something?
The White House is claiming that they have 30 nations supporting them, and another 15 that support them but won't go public about it (which is telling in itself, really). By my math that means that 45 countries support the war and 147 countries don't.
And when we take a look at those 30, a grand total of six are actually sending troops: the U.S., UK, Australia, Romania, Bulgaria, and Albania. And of those six, only the UK, UK and Australia are sending any large numbers of troops. Romania is sending 278. Albania is sending 70. That's not a hell of a lot of support.
So of this coalition of 45 semi-public supporters, it's more or less a coalition of three countries. Gotta love that doublespeak.
Reuters has a few things to say on the subject, more specifically regarding the recent Rumsfeld comment that "The coalition in this activity is larger than the coalition that existed during the Gulf War in 1991."
In 1991 at least 33 countries sent forces to the campaign against Iraq and 16 of those provided combat ground forces, including a large number of Arab countries.
In 2003 the only fighting forces are from the United States, Britain and Australia. Ten other countries are known to have offered small numbers of noncombat forces, mostly either medical teams and specialists in decontamination, making a comparable alliance of about 13 countries.
U.S. officials have named 33 countries which support the U.S. invasion of Iraq but this includes countries which are providing overflight and basing rights and which are giving only diplomatic or political support for the invasion.
President Bush said on Wednesday that 35 countries have chosen to "share the honor" of supporting the campaign but U.S. officials could not name more than the 33.
They say some 15 other countries are cooperating with the U.S. war effort behind the scene, mostly by giving access to bases and airspace, but they do not want to be named.
In 1991 the United States and its allies did not count countries which provided overflight rights or political support because the campaign had the overwhelming support of the U.N. Security Council, which had voted 12-2 for the use of force.
Salon also has an article on the topic, but you have to do that "yes, I will watch your four page advertisement before I can read the article" thing, and I'm currently in no mind to do so, so I can't tell you if the article's any good.
In the war furor, this important story got missed (well, by me anyway).
The IMF is the International Monetary Fund, an institution that lends money to countries in desperate need. In return, they demand that the countries follow "structural adjustment programs," which call on the countries to make themselves more friendly to foreign investors. Which means cutting social services spending, privatize national industries, charge money for public services, etc. In other words, fuck the nation's poor hard, because then wealthy foreign investors will want to swoop in, buy up the industries and resources, and maybe plunk down some factories to exploit the desperation of some of the world's poorest people.
Yeah, it's a bit more complicated than that (isn't it always), but that's the jist of it. The IMF and its sister organization the World Bank have done massive damage to many a Third World country, and that damage doesn't ever seem to heal.
And now, a new IMF study finds that the "trade liberalization" policies that the organization espouses don't actually help the countries like they're supposed to.
So what's next, IMF? Ball's in your court.
Please make a note of it.
Going to be on the air at Kill Radio again today, spreading the anti-war, anti-lies, anti-stupid gospel the way that I do. Click here to tune in to Kill Radio, I'll only be on from 4-6pm PST.
It'll mostly be about Iraq and war. Our own Greg the DJ says he might stop in with some "audio clips that provide a sound bite historical perspective of the complicity of the u.s. in creating this situation" (if he can get out of work in time).
We'll also be taking calls from folks protesting here and Los Angeles. And if you want to give a call, no matter where you are or what you're doing, feel free, I'll put you on the air live.
The number's 213.252.0998
Found another website of news and perspective inside Iraq.
Kevin Sites Blog- "First-person account of a solo journalist's life on the front lines of war... Kevin Sites is a CNN correspondent, but this is a personal website not affiliated with, endorsed by, or funded by CNN. "
Kevin is currently in northern Iraq. His blog has photos and audio reports as well. Only downside is that he seems to be kinda... I dunno. In his own words, speaking about reporting, "it seems somewhat cyncial, unforgivingly opportunistic to feed a career on carnage of war. But we do... It's both an avocation and an addiction. A search for moral absolutes in uncompromising violence. War corrspondent Chris Hedges explains beautifully in his book, WAR IS A FORCE THAT GIVES US MEANING."
He sounds like kind of a journalistic fanatic. But he's there and we're not, so his stuff might be worth a read.
We've also got the BBC's "Reporters' Log: At war in Iraq, a cooperative weblog with reporters submitting entries from Baghdad, Kuwait, Amman, northern Iraq, Washington DC (?), Jerusalem, Cairo, etc. So it's not strictly an "inside Iraq" source, but that material is there.
Also, if you're looking for up-to-the-minute news coverage of the war, it looks like The Agonist weblog is doing a good job of summarizing reports from the major mainstream media as they come.
I'll go ahead and start adding these Iraq news sites into a section of the menu bar on the right.
Heh. Fanatical Apathy is the only weblog I know that is made up primarily of hilarious political skits in script form. It's also got other satire and photo cartoons, but the skits are what impress me most.
The latest skit:
Saw this idea over at the Daily Kos blog.
Every day, Kos posts an entry for the sole purpose of the readers having a chance to write about whatever, converse, bitch, etc.
Seemed like an interesting idea, so I'm experimenting with it.
Use the "comments" section of this post to write about whatever, the war, Bush, the media, your cat's sex life, whatever.
The part of the war that the Bushies haven't talked much about, what comes next The general story is that after expelling Saddam, then comes the rebuilding, then comes the new government, then the Americans leave. Details? There aren't many. On one hand, that's smart; why make plans before you've had a chance to assess the situation. On the other hand, it's a catastrophe; after the country has been invaded, damaged, and its government nullified, basic problems like food, water, medicine, transportation, electricity, refugees and possible retaliation will become vital concerns within hours of victory.
Is the U.S. military and Bush administration up to this task? The following articles argue, "no."
A bringer of liberty can soon become an occupier- history professor Eric Rauchway draws a parallel between President Bush's war to liberate Iraq in 2000s with President McKinley's war to liberate the Philippines in 1900s.
As Senator Henry Cabot Lodge mildly noted: "Those people whom we liberated down there have turned against us." An army of 75,000 Filipinos began to fight a guerrilla war against their benevolent occupiers. The Americans had the advantage of superior firepower; the rebels enjoyed the privilege of camouflage that accrues to an occupied people. The well-armed Americans hunkered in groups while stealthy guerrillas sowed terror among the coloniser troops - who then retaliated against the populace at large. This pattern culminated in an ambush on the American garrison at Balangiga - the worst massacre of US troops since Custer. In reply, US forces laid waste to the surrounding country.
News of such terrorism and indiscriminate response brought the war to a sputtering halt - although US troops stayed in the islands and rebels remained in the wilderness, as they do today. The Philippines did not attain independence, let alone democracy, until 1946.
I believe the U.S. repression in the Philippines resulted in the deaths of about a million Filipinos.
The War After the War- lengthy (but pretty much mandatory if you want to be informed about this) article about the troubles the U.S. will face in the rebuilding/transformation of Iraq. Largely based upon "The Day After: The Army in a Post-Conflict Iraq, " an "unpublicized U.S. Army War College studies being read with increasing interest by some Pentagon planners" back in December, the article paints a very grim picture due to the amazing complexity of the situation, coupled with the U.S. military's general ignorance of Iraqi society, culture, politics, and needs. The report argues that the U.S. would need 65,000-80,000 troops stationed in Iraq for 5-10 years (even with UN support) to stabilize the country. Stop reading my summary and go read the article.
All of this has got me worried. A violent and unstable post-war Iraq would make the U.S. look bad, because it would reinforce the world opinion that the war was a bad idea.
Which got me thinking that maybe the U.S. won't be as concerned with Iraqi democracy--even a facade of it--as they will be with a U.S.-friendly leader who will "keep the peace," even if that "peace" means violent repression by the new leader.
But won't a new dictator in Iraq make the U.S. look bad too? Well, you probably won't hear about it. When was the last time the mainstream press covered oppression in allied countries like Saudi Arabia, or Turkey, or Pakistan?
Justice Bans Media From Free Speech Event- "Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia banned broadcast media from an appearance Wednesday where he will receive an award for supporting free speech."
War Means Rights May Be Scaled Back- "The government has room to scale back individual rights during wartime without violating the Constitution, Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia said Tuesday. 'The Constitution just sets minimums,' Scalia said after a speech at John Carroll University in suburban Cleveland. "Most of the rights that you enjoy go way beyond what the Constitution requires.'" In other words, shut your cry-hole and be thankful that you have any rights at all.
Supreme Court Justice Scalia Is Sleeping With Your Mother- nah, I'm just kiddin.
As I write this, the "time to make the war" deadline has passed, and already today there have been two major news rumors that appear to have been untrue:
- This morning, rumors swirled that Iraqi Deputy Prime Minister (and frequent spokesperson) Tariq Aziz had either defected to the Kurdish forces in northern Iraq, or had been killed. Aziz appeared in a live press conference to argue that he was not dead.
- And geopolitical analysts Stratfor apparently reported earlier that American B-52 bombers were airborne and heading towards Iraq, and are now claiming that those bombers actually are still at the airfield. Now I don't know which is true.
First off, with any breaking news, the first reports are frequently wrong. One on of the first days of the O.J. Simpson media circus, on the day that OJ was driving down the freeway in the famous white Bronco, an acquaintance of mine ran up and told me that he'd just heard on the radio that OJ had stopped the car, confronted the police, and been shot and killed by them. Needless to say, that was untrue. It usually takes some time for all the facts to be properly sorted and the "truth" (or as close as we can get to that) to be revealed.
Add to that the confusion of military conflict, language barriers, military censorship, and the powerful propaganda machines that will be in full force by the U.S., U.K. and Iraqi governments, and you've got a whole lot of work ahead of you if you want to know what's actually going on. Hell, maybe you won't be able to know what's going on ever.
I'm just saying remain skeptical, remain vigilant, and wait a while before you start thinking that any news story you hear is true. And make sure to be skeptical of me too. I try my best to be accurate, and to let you know when I'm unsure, but good intentions won't always save me.
According to London's "The Evening Standard," US and UK soldiers are fighting Iraqi soldiers near Basra in southern Iraq.
I don't know if that's considered "the start of the war" per se, but....
I'm really hoping that all the "shock and awe" stuff we heard about was just a scare tactic and not a real military plan.
Wow a couple of things from Bush that I hadn't previously heard.
"War against Iraq will be as short as possible but Americans must be prepared for loss of life."
That's the first I can remember him mentioning casualties, ours or theirs. Now that the war is metaphysically certain, I guess he can start saying that sort of thing.
"Bush met with his war council and the White House sent Congress formal notification of justification for war. In two separate documents, Bush said diplomacy has failed to protect America's security, linked Saddam's regime with the al-Qaida network and — laying out a new rationale for war — said captured Iraqi officials could identify terrorists living in the United States."
Oh, that's right. It's not a war for weapons of mass destruction, or the sanctity of the UN or liberation of the Iraqi people or oil or revenge, it's because captured Iraqis might have info about terrorists in America. It's all so simple now! Why didn't I realize that earlier?
A few comments about George W. Bush and truthfulness.
Lies, Damned Lies, and Ultimatums- The Weekly Lowdown dissects Bush's recent ultimatum to Saddam Hussein, verifying the truth or falsity of each segment. They find 20 lies.
Bush Clings To Dubious Allegations About Iraq - "As the Bush administration prepares to attack Iraq this week, it is doing so on the basis of a number of allegations against Iraqi President Saddam Hussein that have been challenged -- and in some cases disproved -- by the United Nations, European governments and even U.S. intelligence reports."
And looking over Bush's speech, you have to give him some credit. How many times can you say "we need war for peace" without vomitting?
The Republican speaker of the House of Representatives accused Senate Democratic leader Tom Daschle on Tuesday of coming "mighty close" to giving comfort to U.S. foes and undermining President Bush's march toward war with Iraq.
Rep. Dennis Hastert of Illinois ripped into Daschle for saying on Monday: "I'm saddened, saddened that this president failed so miserably at diplomacy that we're now forced to war."
"Giving comfort to U.S. foes" is part of the legal definition of TREASON!
So let's understand. According to Dennis Hastert, saying that the president failed at something is "mighty close" to treason, the betrayal of the United States of America and its people.
Um, no. No it isn't.
I hope Daschle sues Hastert for slander.
Sigh, I hate having to correct hysteria. Also not real thrilled with discussing popular country music, but here goes.
A member of the band "The Dixie Chicks" recently made a comment at one of their shows in London, said to the audience, "Just so you know, we're ashamed that the president of the United States is from Texas." As you can imagine, stupid symbolic patriotic outrage ensued, with all kinds of talk about boycotting the DCs, pulling their songs from the radio, etc.
There is one happy story out of this. Country station KFKF had an online poll in which site visitors (many of whom didn't listen to the station, just wanted to bash the "traitors), voted 4 to 1 to ban DC songs. But the station manager decided to ignore the poll results, arguing that America is a land of free speech, even when unpopular. He urged them to boycott the DCs or even KFKF if they disagreed, but that everyone should be able to make their voices heard. Big thumbs up to KFKF station manager Dale Carter for that decision.
But now to the debunking. A mistitled news story is panicking the left with regards to this issue, "Dixie Chicks axed by Clear Channel." Clear Channel owns a gajillion U.S. radio stations (and billboards and concert venues and a few television stations), and if they decided to ban a song, that would be a massive act of censorship. Bloggers are already decrying the act, and denouncing the corporate media that wants to silence all dissent and eat our children.
If you read the article, it actually says, "The group's records have been pulled by dozens of country-music stations across the country, including two Clear Channel-owned stations in Jacksonville, WQIK 99.1-FM and WROO 107.3-FM." So of the 1200 Clear Channel-owned stations, the song has been pulled by two of them.
Obviously, none of that's a good thing, banning songs because they express unpopular opinion, but we're not at Farenheit 78RPM just yet.
You've always gotta read the articles folks. The headlines are often contradicted by the information within.
On Sunday, when it looked certain that war would be upon us before the next weekend, without even trying, I ran across a horrifying list of news articles (mostly from Antiwar.com) that make the Iraq war look scarier and scarier. And the unexpected discovery of those headlines has continued through today.
War Fears Bring Fundamentalism to Secular Iraq- as war approaches, more and more Iraqis turn to religion for comfort, some to fundamentalist Islam. Meanwhile, Saddam Hussein increasingly uses religious language and metaphor in his speeches, which could help his inevitable downfall into a martyr's tale.
Iraq War Will Be Great al-Qaeda Recruiting Tool- kinda goes without saying. "The American infidels will kill all of us Arabs, just look at Iraq! You must join al-Qaeda and blow things up!"
Kurds Prepare for War with an Old Enemy- one of the hugest possible catastrophes of this war would be potential conflict between the Kurds and the Turks. There is an unofficial region of the Middle East known as Kurdistan, an area populated primarily by Kurds that stretches from southeastern Turkey, through northern Iraq, and even into parts of Iran and Syria. The Kurds would love for this region to become its own state, or at least an area with its own autonomy. The Turks would fight this outcome, and has been fighting its own Kurdish population on it for a long time. There is fear that if the Turks enter northern Iraq, it will lead to a civil war.
Shiite Opposition Vows to Act Independently of US- just another example of how things could take unexpected turns. Not only are members of Iraqi Shiites planning to do their own thing during this war, but they are being blostered by aid and volunteers from Iran. Another wild card.
War Party Getting Ready for New Targets- the same warhawk "neocons" who through their support into the Iraq war in the name of U.S. geopolitical domination are already looking for the next coutnry to invade. Iran? Syria? North Korea? Lybia?
Bush Has Audacious Plan to Rebuild Iraq in a Year- "audacious" is the journalistic word du jour, apparently. This article is disturbing for two reasons: 1) the idea that Iraq could be rebuilt in a year shows me that either Bush does not understand the situation in Iraq, or that he has no real intention of rebuilding Iraq. The country was bombed to fuck 12 years ago, and due to the sanctions, not too much was rebuilt. Add to that the additional damage caused by a decade of sanctions, and the upcoming assault, and I cannot imagine how this rebuilding could be done in a year. 2) the rebuilding plan seems to consist of giving money to American corporations to go do the work, with a tiny portion going to non-profit humanitarian organizations. Of course, the goals of the two parties differ--profit vs. helping people-- which could lead to work done at cross purposes. In addition, I worry about how much input the Iraqi people will have into the rebuilding. Iraqi man: "We need to rebuild the water purification center." American businessman: "Hogwash! What you need is a couple of Taco Bells!"
History's deadliest night of airstrikes will start the war- stop me if you've heard this one... and if you've ever read this site before, you have.
Baghdad Ready to Take Up Arms- "'Only for Americans are they buying the weapons,' insisted Nadhir Qahtan, 35, the owner of a gun shop in Mansour who said business, especially for ammunition, has doubled in the past few days. But privately, customers and gun store owners hint at the anarchy they believe is likely if government authority collapses. That anarchy, perhaps more than the government itself, may pose the most serious challenge to U.S. forces that attempt to enter Baghdad, where residents boast that every family has at least one assault rifle and one pistol. Many Iraqis expect bloodletting, score-settling and lawlessness in the weeks ahead."
Sectarian tensions rise in Iraq as US attack looms- "A war to topple Hussein could unleash a revolt of Iraq's long-repressed Shiites."
Iraq Arming Troops With Chemical Weapons- well, I wouldn't be surprised if this one was untrue, but it is a scary scenario.
So it goes.
And let's finish with two longer, multi-faceted predictions for the outcome of the Iraq war and beyond, starting with Robert Fisk:
American and British forces use thousands of depleted uranium (DU) shells – widely regarded by 1991 veterans as the cause of Gulf War syndrome as well as thousands of child cancers in present day Iraq – to batter their way across the Kuwaiti-Iraqi frontier. Within hours, they will enter the city of Basra, to be greeted by its Shia Muslim inhabitants as liberators. US and British troops will be given roses and pelted with rice – a traditional Arab greeting – as they drive "victoriously" through the streets. The first news pictures of the war will warm the hearts of Messrs Bush and Blair. There will be virtually no mention by reporters of the use of DU munitions.
But in Baghdad, reporters will be covering the bombing raids that are killing civilians by the score and then by the hundred... By now, in Basra and other "liberated" cities south of the capital, Iraqis are taking their fearful revenge on Saddam Hussein's Baath party officials. Men are hanged from lamp-posts. Much television footage of these scenes will have to be cut to sanitise the extent of the violence.
Far better for the US and British governments will be the macabre discovery of torture chambers and "rape-rooms" and prisoners with personal accounts of the most terrible suffering at the hands of Saddam's secret police. This will "prove" how right "we" are to liberate these poor people. Then the US will have to find the "weapons of mass destruction" that supposedly provoked this bloody war. In the journalistic hunt for these weapons, any old rocket will do for the moment...
Baghdad is surrounded and its defenders ordered to surrender. There will be fighting between Shias and Sunnis around the slums of the city, the beginning of a ferocious civil conflict for which the invading armies are totally unprepared. US forces will sweep past Baghdad to his home city of Tikrit in their hunt for Saddam Hussein. Bush and Blair will appear on television to speak of their great "victories". But as they are boasting, the real story will begin to be told: the break-up of Iraqi society, the return of thousands of Basra refugees from Iran, many of them with guns, all refusing to live under western occupation.
In the north, Kurdish guerrillas will try to enter Kirkuk, where they will kill or "ethnically cleanse" many of the city's Arab inhabitants. Across Iraq, the invading armies will witness terrible scenes of revenge which can no longer be kept off television screens. The collapse of the Iraqi nation is now under way ...
And finally, a long essay on the subject by "retired U.S. Army Special Forces Master Sergeant Stan Goff", which is too long for me to excerpt here, but is worth a look.
My own prediction is that the war itself will be fairly quick and painless (for the Americans), while the deaths of tens of thousands of Iraqis will be swept under the rug as best as possible. As Fisk describes, I imagine there will be a speedy capture of a city so that the U.S. can declare victory and begin a propaganda assault which comforts Americans by showing how we liberated these people. Then caches of weapons of mass destruction, both genuine and fabricated, will be discovered, showing Americans the wisdom of our attack and "prove" that the anti-war protesters were wrong all along. Many will surely recant.
I really don't know how the fighting in northern Iraq will play out between Turkey and the Kurds. I'm going to guess that U.S. forces will try to separate the two, and then bribe Turkey into withdrawing... for now.
I am curious as to what will happen to Saddam Hussein. Will he be killed in the attacks? Will he flee? Will he commit suicide rather than be captured?
Then we enter the post-Afghanistan phase. The U.S. military will occupy Iraq and oversee the "rebuilding," in whatever form that might take (I'm fairly certain it will include the construction of several military bases for U.S. use, or the refurbishing of existing bases for U.S. use). The various rivalries and divisions within the country will start to intensify into outright violence. I can't say for certain, but it seems that al Qaeda might begin to enter Iraq to strike at U.S. targets in Iraq. The U.S. will try to cobble together a coalition of pro-American Iraqis to rule the "transitional government," most likely individuals that don't really represent the Iraqi people. Over time, the Iraqi people will begin rebelling against the occupation, and against the American puppet government.
But then, I am a very cynical and depressed person. I can't rule out the possibility that the war will be a quick win, and that contrary to all I've heard, the Iraqi people will be ecstatic, and that the rebuilding will be a success, and that the new government will be a beacon of democracy. That's the best we can hope for. But I don't think we can honestly expect something so rosy.
Today's LMB Radio show is going to be a rantfest. Tune in, 2pm PST (so long as you can tolerate/enjoy a little punk & hiphop with your political commentary).
Even as President Bush struggles against robust international opposition to launch a regime-toppling invasion of Iraq, some of the strongest and earliest supporters of military action against Saddam Hussein are already looking ahead to the next target.
Some hawks outside the government are beginning to turn up the rhetorical heat against Iran and Syria, both of whom are Iraq's neighbors, and both known to be funneling aid to Middle East terrorist groups. Others are focusing on North Korea and its rapidly mobilized nuclear weapons program, or the North African country of Libya.
I've also heard chatter about attacking Yemen and, if things got out of hand, Venezuela. And we've already got troops in Djibouti and the Philippines.
To quote the great GYWO:
"Can't we just build a fucking bomb the size of the earth and cut a hole out of the middle of it in the shape of the United States?"
A few info/opinion sources inside Iraq that will surely give us some alternative points of view in the weeks to come.
Back to Iraq 2.0- former AP and NY Daily News reporter Christopher Allbritton is working as an independent reporter in Iraq, and has created his own blog with which to report. Pretty good stuff.
Actually, it looks like I was mistaken about that. Allbritton made a trip to northern Iraq this past summer (click here for some of his photos), but is currently in New York, trying to raise money for another trip to Iraq in early April. So technically, his site does not belong on this list because he is not in Iraq at this moment. But since he will be in a few weeks, I'll leave it up with this caveat.
Iraq Peace Team Diaries- the Iraq Peace Team is a group of activists who are working to nonviolently oppose the U.S. invasion of Iraq. A member of the team seems to update their "diary" section every 7-10 days. They've been there since September 2002.
Where is Raed?- Raed is just another blogger, who happens to be an Iraqi living in Iraq. Don't know much else about the guy. As you might guess, he's a little pissed off about being bombed, about sanctions, about Western "human shields," Islamic fundamentalists, incompetent British reporters, etc. It's largely political, but it's got some photos, poems and personal stuff too. Of course the opinions of one dude from Iraq can't be seen as representative of those of the entire country, but his opinions are more representative of the country than, I don't know, ANYTHING THAT YOU WILL SEE IN THE AMERICAN PRESS.
I misunderstood the blog. The author is not named Raed, but Salam Pax (obviously a psuedonym, which if I'm not mistaken means "peace peace"). I'm not sure who Raed is or how they fit into this. Anyway.
If you know of any other first-hand sources inside Iraq, please comment or email me and I'll add them in. Thanks.
"Tony Blair has told his Cabinet to brace itself for war on Iraq as early as Wednesday"
"President Bush said Sunday the opportunity for a diplomatic solution to the confrontation with Iraq would end Monday"
"Assuming that no peaceful resolution is found to the confrontation with Iraq, the concept of the rolling start gives the coalition's commanders the option of starting at any time"
When I first started this weblog, I had every intention of making it solely about the news media-- its failures, biases, effects and so on. However it became my main outlet for discussion of all things political. Sure, it has a lot of content about the media, but it really is quite the grab bag. I am completely comfortable with that, but sometimes I find that blogs that are more focused, that confine themselves to a single subject, can be very informative and effective.
Today, I discovered a brand new blog dedicated to the subject of war profiteering. It's called Arms And The Man. It's off to a good start, doggedly researching the seemingly unethical alliance of Dick Cheney and Halliburton. The most recent article links Halliburton, an oilfield firefighting company, a failed amusement park in New Mexico, and Scientology. While that sounds like a lunatic conpsiracy theory, it seems to be backed up by official business documents sent to the SEC.
Granted, most major corporations are probably so huge and multi-tentacled that they have links to all kinds of craziness. I'd say that these current AATM topics show a bit of profiteering, but speak a lot more to the issue of shady business dealings that are probably quite common.
His point is summed up, appropriately, in the concluding paragraph:
"I want our troops to return home safely. I want them to live. Like a good German watching my countrymen march into Poland and Belgium and Luxembourg and France, I don't want them to win and I don't want them to lose."
I think that's how a lot of us feel. The U.S. is committing good, brave men and women (and assholes too. Let's not forget that all kinds of people join the military, and putting on a uniform doesn't magically dissolve any of your negative qualities) to the vulgar goal of forcefully expanding American dominance over a sizable region of the globe.
We don't want these soldiers to die or suffer. Many of us know soldiers, they are our friends and neighbors and family, and we want our friends and family to come back alive. And we fear what the consequences of losing a war might be for our country and ourselves personally.
But at the same time, we don't want innocent people in another land to die or suffer. And we fear what the consequences of winning a war might be for ourselves and the world.
But that's kind of the point, I suppose. The "Support our troops" slogan was an absolutely brilliant PR move by the U.S. government during the first Gulf War, which left the public with only two possible stances: supporting the war, or wanting your countrymen to die.
We're human beings with brains, and can have all sorts of multi-faceted and nuanced opinions. You can support, oppose, or be confused about any aspect of any issue. Support the troops and hate the war. Support the war but oppose individual tactics. Oppose the war because you disagree with the concept of countries and want a borderless, peaceful utopia. It's okay. You can do that.
Don't let anyone box you in.
Editorial from the New York Observer, Smug President Has Painted U.S. Into a Corner
The callow, smug, inarticulate man [George W. Bush] who was the lead player in a farce called "White House News Conference" gave us no new reasons to go to war, no sense of the dangers involved and no confidence in his leadership. The television appearance itself—more a blustering tape loop than exchange with the press—could only be called a national disgrace; President George W. Bush’s performance in front of a docile collection of game-show hosts posing as reporters ought to frighten all of us. We live in terrible times, dangerous times, and all this man can do is mouth platitudes and assertions put on his podium cards by his war-crazed handlers...
Amazingly, in the immediate aftermath of the President’s disgraceful performance, news outlets described him as "solemn" and "determined." These pieces must have been put together before the President actually spoke, because there was nothing solemn or determined about him; "clueless" and "lost" would have been closer...
Somehow, the Bush administration’s cowboys have done the unthinkable. They have alienated friends, ruined international relationships, squandered the good will and sympathy that the Sept. 11 atrocities inspired, and turned America into a global villain. All of this, while Saddam Hussein smiles and watches the world turn in his favor, inheriting the gusts of international opinion that Mr. Bush has mind-bogglingly forfeited. Rarely in modern times has such a blundering swap taken place...
With its Reagan-era bluster and frat-house machismo, the Bush administration has played into the hands of terrorists, breaking apart NATO and fracturing half-century-old relations with Europe that have persevered through all the roilings of post–World War II history. And the administration did it at just the very moment when the West has been targeted—not by that wretched despot Saddam, but by the murderous followers of Osama bin Laden. Thanks to the President and his hubristic crew of ideologues, America and Europe are not united, as they should be, in the face of global Islamic militancy. Instead, many people talk about the end of America’s strategic alliance with Western Europe. Instead of France and Germany, some say, we will simply align ourselves with the post-Communist states of Eastern Europe—like, say, Bulgaria.
Osama bin Laden did not create this sad state of affairs. George W. Bush did...
These are hyperbolic and misinformed times. So it was hardly surprising to hear a television commentator report, just before the President’s press conference, that Mr. Bush was not expected to use the opportunity to declare war on Iraq. It did not occur to the reporter—any more than it has to Mr. Bush and his bunch of crusaders—that no President has ever declared war, because no President has ever had that power. Congress declares war; it’s in the Constitution.
So even the U.S. State Department doesn't buy into the "war for democracy in Iraq" argument.
A classified State Department report expresses doubt that installing a new regime in Iraq will foster the spread of democracy in the Middle East, a claim President Bush has made in trying to build support for a war, according to intelligence officials familiar with the document.
The report exposes significant divisions within the Bush administration over the so-called democratic domino theory, one of the arguments that underpins the case for invading Iraq.
The report, which has been distributed to a small group of top government officials but not publicly disclosed, says that daunting economic and social problems are likely to undermine basic stability in the region for years, let alone prospects for democratic reform.
The other thing to note is that this report is "classified." How is it that so many classified documents and secret reports are being leaked these days? I think Bush has rubbed too many people the wrong way, and they're looking to covertly oppose his stupid plans.
I'm a little pissed about this.
Y'know where I live? Los Angeles.
Where did I have to go to read this story about Los Angeles? London.
Check this story from CNN:
Man, do I hate this bullshit. Happens on an irregular basis, the press does something colosally bad (usually in post-media circus situations like O.J.), and then as a tiny foil, they'll run a story something like "Does the media go too far?"
"The media"? You're the media! Say "we", asshole! Is it that hard? "Did we, the media, including myself standing right here before you, go too far?"
Some critics blame "TV news" for making the American people think Saddam and Osama are pals, eh? YOU! WE BLAME YOU, CNN!!!
Dammit, now I'm using exclamation points again. I hate those things.
The article is pitiful. The article basically admits that there is no connection between Iraq and Al Qaeda. But this fact that is rarely mentioned doesn't get its own article, it gets relegated to a meta-topic in an article about media performance.
New York Times columnist Paul Krugman said he thinks the TV networks' news coverage has helped sell the Saddam-al Qaeda connection. "Suddenly, it was Osama, Osama, Osama ... Saddam, Saddam, Saddam ... and the networks -- the broadcast media -- simply picked that up [and] transferred our feelings of alarm and anger from one villain to another..."
Some critics blame the cable news networks for helping make Iraq the new enemy. "They use essentially the kind of logos, martial music, and so on that we saw after Gulf War One had started," Krugman said. "So, from the point of view of the American public, Iraq is already the enemy; we're already at war."
Obviously, Krugman's got a point. The media have helped pave the way for this war, making it easier to swallow, helping divert our anger, and making the invasion seem inevitable. And they don't own up to it, they don't admit that the criticism is aimed at them, they don't try to defend their actions, and they sure as hell don't try to take responsibility for them.
Blind eye-turning motherfuckers.
My mind boggles at the level of anti-French sentiment in the U.S. right now. While the press might like to make sweeping generalizations that "Americans hate the French," I think it's a safe bet that most Americans don't give a fuck about the French one way or the other. Americans who intensely desire the Iraq war probably do, as do rather dumb people who like jumping on angry bandwagons, but I don't think that many other people put much thought or energy into the issue. The anti-French people just happen to be exceptionally loud.
Part of this is arrogance. We Americans are told from the day that we're born that America is the greatest country on Earth, and since we live here, we must be the greatest too. And we've got all kinds of evidence for that: American military power, technological advances, economic success, and popularity of our entertainment products. Add to that the country's immense size (many Americans will live their lives without ever leaving the country's borders), few neighbors (just Canada and Mexico), and huge distance to other nations, and you get a "we are the best" myth with little counter-evidence.
So when an "inferior" country starts "telling us what to do," some folks will get angry. It's the anger of the powerful who faces opposition. It's like in Bush's recent press conference when he said that the U.S. was "at the mercy of Saddam Hussein." Hussein's a tin-pot dictator of a ravaged country with maybe a supply of chemical weapons. And he has the most powerful nation in history "at his mercy?" When you're in absolute control, even the tiniest threat to that control can seem like a catastrophe.
(The France-haters do get one thing right though, that anti-war folks are happily ignoring: the French leadership is not opposing the Iraq war because they are more moral than American leaders, they are opposing it because of national politics and their current economic ties to Iraq. Nobody's a good guy here)
So that's the story, France. You're getting bashed for disobedience and insubordination. Since we're the best, you're supposed to do whatever we tell you. Refusing to do so is an insult of the highest caliber, and therefore loud American dumb-asses are playing some serious symbolic hardball.
It started off simply, with calls for a boycott of French goods.
Then local restaurants started renaming their foods with the word "French" in the title. "French toast" becaome "freedom toast," and so on.
Then, Congress followed suit, renaming all the "French" food in their cafeteria. "French fries" became "freedom fries" (presumably to be served with "Look At Us, We're Fucking Idiots Burgers"). Asked about this bold new potato-naming policy, a puzzled French diplomant said "'French fries did not originate in France, they came from Belgium."
(There was a similar burst of food nomenclature-based patriotism in the U.S. during WWII. "Hamburger" became "Salibury steak," and "sauerkraut" became "liberty cabbage." It astounds me that France is facing the same sort of backlash as THE NAZIS because they didn't want to vote for our war)
And now, the absolute most godawful, stupid-ass, batshit-crazy anti-France action to date....
"A Florida congresswoman has proposed that the government pay for families who might want to bring home from France the remains of Americans who fought and died in the world wars."
"I, along with many other Americans, do not feel that the French government appreciates the sacrifices men and women in uniform have made to defend the freedom that the French enjoy today," Rep. Ginny Brown-Waite said in introducing legislation providing financial help for the reburial of veterans from the two world wars."
To quote blogger August, "I'm going to repeat that now. A congresswoman is pushing a bill.... that funds the government... to dig up... bodies... because we're mad... at France"
Could someone please find me Ms. Brown-Waite's email address? I'd like to send her a message:
Dear Rep. Brown-Waite,
Having heard about your proposed plan to use my tax dollars to unbury American bodies from French soil and bring them back to the United States and rebury them, I can only conclude that you are the stupidest human being ever.
So, in conclusion:
1) Many Americans are dumb and like having a place to focus their anger.
2) The French people are okay, the French government probably isn't
3) Don't get huffy, the American government sucks too
4) Symbolic politics are stupid.
5) You can be elected to office even if you are clinically insane.
Thank you, goodnight.
You'll want to read this.
The Dubya War Glossary
by our pal Geov Parrish
peace n. The mythical state achieved when the United States has a complete global monopoly on the use of military force. Not to be confused with "democracy," "freedom," or "justice." See: empire
The reporter, Jonathan Weisman, was writing about a White House economic advisor. But the White House press office gave him some conditions for the interview:
The catch was this: The interview would be off the record. Any quotes I wanted to put into the newspaper would have to be e-mailed to the press office. If approved, the quotation could be attributed to a White House official. (This has become fairly standard practice.)
Okay, first of all, we should be a bit shocked that journalists are forced to get permission from the White House press office to quote any member of the White House about anything. If we remove the pretty words, this is outright GOVERNMENT CENSORSHIP. If you want to talk to a reporter, fine. If you don't, fine. But you can't talk to him, and then tell him what he can and can't say. Well, let me back that up. You can tell him what he can say, and if he does as you command, he is collaborating in his own censorship.
Weisman then wanted to use a direct quote from his interview subject, the sentence "This is probably the most academic proposal ever to come out of an administration." But...
The press office said it was fine, but the official wanted a little change. Instead, the quote was to read, "This is probably the purest, most far reaching economic proposal ever to come out of an administration." I protested that the point of the quote was the word "academic," so the quote was again amended to state, "This is probably the purest, most academic, most far reaching economic proposal ever to come out of an administration."
What appeared in the Washington Post was, "This is probably the purest, most academic ... economic proposal ever to come out of an administration." What followed was an angry denunciation by the White House press official, telling me I had broken my word and violated journalistic ethics.
Okay. HE'S PRINTING STUFF THAT'S NOT TRUE. The original source said nothing about the purity or far-reaching-ness of any Bush policy. He said it was "academic, " which maybe means smart, or detailed or wanky or something. It doesn't mean "pure" and it doesn't mean "far reaching." But a "pure, far reaching" policy does sound pretty positive, doesn't it? Wouldn't you rather support one of those policies than one that's just "academic"? The power of words.
"Journalist" Weisman and the Press Office worked together to fabricate and publish a quote by a third guy, a quote that the third guy never said. This is our news reporting. Falsehoods masquerading as facts. Reporters and spin doctors negotiating what version of the "truth" the reporter is allowed to print. I put most of the blame on the White House for this, but jeez, reporters don't have to go along with it!
I don't mention this story because it's important in and of itself. I don't care that a news article I didn't read about an advisor I've never heard of had an incorrect quote. I mention this story because this practice appears to be THE NORM. This White House quote control is a constant. We can't say that as definitely about the made-up quotes, but that seems fairly likely.
I guess we can take some comfort in the fact that Weisman has come forward and feels terrible about what he's done. He sent this letter to a forum for journalists, encouraging them to take a stand and not consent to these shady White House policies. I hope he inspires others.
Head Games With Media's Help- ugh. The U.S. is giving American journalists amazing access to the Iraqi battlefield by "embedding" them within specific military units. As I predicted, some of these journalists are now identifying with their military cohorts and are therefore self-censoring. A British officer has referred to this tactic as a form of "white psyops."
AP Protests Gov't Seizure of Package- "Government agencies opened a package mailed between two Associated Press reporters last September and seized a copy of an eight-year-old unclassified FBI lab report without obtaining a warrant or notifying the news agency."
Spoon-Feeding the Press- examination of massive and increasing secrecy on the part of the Bush administration, and the sad acquiescence of the press to the trend.
Media Misquote and Excise Bush Comment About "Scripted" Press Conference- during Bush's press conference last week, he made a slip in which he alluded to the fact that the conference was scripted, that the reporters, and possibly even their questions, were pre-determined. While the White House put the slip into the conference transcript they posted on their website, most press outlets conveniently editted it out, or changed Bush's comment from "this is scripted" to "this is unscripted."
The "War on Terrorism" at Home- amateur video reporter arrested for "disorderly conduct" and "impeding a police officer." The reporter claims that he did nothing wrong-- except maybe videotape police brutality at a peace protest in southern Oregon.
New York Times Deletes Mention of Police Snipers- on February 15, the NY Times posted an article about local anti-war protests in which they described a massive police presence. The next day, the NYT replaced the story on their website with a new version which omitted the mention of police snipers and undercover officers in the crowd.
This article pretty much sums up my feelings about the Iraq war.
All of the arguments about liberating the Iraqi people, about human rights, about the validity of the UN, about oil are pretty meaningless to me, because I don't think any of them are the real reason that the U.S. wants to invade so badly. I believe those are all smokescreens for the real reason: regional and global dominance. I am happy to see that a number of other lefty folks seem to be shifting to this interpretation rather than the popular "it's all about oil" interpretation.
That's why I can't support this war. Because it threatens to kill thousands of people so that the United States can establish a military force within striking distance of all of the world's major oil supplies, ensuring its own access to oil and giving it some control (via intimidation) of all of the governments in the region. "No Blood for Empire" has been my anti-war slogan of choice, no blood for control.
Not sure if I'm making much sense, as I'm really tired right now, but read that article above, and it should explain what I'm talking about.
Well this is just disgusting.
Late last month, the Los Angeles police went down to Skid Row, where many homeless folks make temporary shelters out of tents and a few personal belongings.
Using bulldozers and streetsweepers, the LAPD destroyed these dwellings. I would be skeptical of this tale, except that the article above has photographs of it going down. As the author's article says, "The city sweepers basically threw away homes that were as permanent as they can get living on a street. WHO benefits from taking away a tent and a blanket from the homeless?"
Oh for fuck's sake.
Yesterday, I mentioned that the White House was trying to make a "smoking gun" out of an Iraqi drone aircraft. "But it could spread chemical and biological weapons from the sky" screeched Bush & co.
Now that plane has been photographed, in all its terrible glory!
Behold, and tremble!
I'm not shitting you. That's really it. It's a Reuters photo on Yahoo News, check it out for yourself.
I don't think that plane could carry a six-pack, let alone steel cannisters full of nerve agent. According to Salon, the plane "appears to be made of balsa wood and duct tape, with two small propellors attached to what look like the engines of a weed whacker."
This is it? We're supposed to rain fiery death upon the heads of the Iraqi nation because of a device I could personally destroy with a stout 2x4?
Man, the Bush administration is just one, long horrifying blooper reel, isn't it?
Bush One Vote Away from Arctic Drilling OK- Mmmm.... petroleum-covered caribou....
U.S. Stocking Uranium-Rich Bombs?- in the last Gulf War, the U.S. used tank shells with heads made of depleted uranium (DU) to allow them to betteer penetrate armor. With the unintended side effect of putting large amounts of toxic uranium dust into the air. Now one researcher thinks he has evidence that the U.S. is planning to use huge amouts of DU in "bunkter buster" bombs. Since uranium is radioactive, and the contents of the bomb will explode and spread the uranium, it seems that the U.S. may be planning to use the terrifying and evil "dirty bomb" tactic on Iraq. Lovely.
The Thirty-Year Itch- good article about Gulf War v2.0 as a decades-old hawkish plot to increase U.S. dominance worldwide.
A Theory: What if there’s method to the Franco-German madness?- crazed American Enterprise Institute scholar argues aloud that maybe the French and German opposition to a war with Iraq means that they've formed an alliance with militant Islamists against the U.S. Well, he's probably not crazed, this is probably just a simple smear campaign.
You know those little discount cards you can get at all the big grocery store chains these days? They let you save money on a number of products, but also build a database of your buying habits for the store to use in their marketing. I often wanted to get one of these cards, but decided against it. Then I thought I should get one and then trade it with others to fuck up the store's records. But I didn't know how I was going to convince total strangers to trade cards with me, and swapping with my friends probably wasn't going to make much difference.
Now there's a way.
Some fella named Rob has started a plan to create The Ultimate Shopper.
Basically, if you email him, he'll send you a barcode sticker to place over the existing barcode on your Safeway discount card. He's giving out this sticker with his own barcode to dozens or even hundreds of people. Now Rob's product history is a conglomeration of his own shopping trips, melded with the shopping trips of a multitude of people around the country. The Ultimate Shopper, buying dog food in Boise, charcoal in Hoboken and mustard in Tempe.
If you shop at Safeway, visit Rob's page and join his Clone Army. If you shop at some other chain, think about starting your own clones.
Jake's results for the "Which political sterotype are you?" quiz.
Michael Savage is a right-wing racist and zealot who also happens to have his own daily talk radio show. He is also supposed to have a TV talk show on MSNBC in the near future.
Take Back the Media tells us the scary tales behind Savage's rise to fame.
Michael Savage (real name Michael Weiner. I mention it only because it's funny) achieved success when his show was picked up by Talk Radio Network. I am having trouble finding concrete numbers, but TRN seems to be a series of stations owned and operated by one Roy Masters (real name Reuben Obermeister. Again, the funny), with over 300 affiliated stations. I couldn't help but notice that TRN hosts some of the nuttiest right-wing fruitcups in the nation. People like Bob Dornan (stark raving mad former Congressman) and Lucianne Goldberg (Monica Lewinsky-wiretapper turned ideologue).
Now things start to get wierd.
Near as I can figure, FHU is some mixture of Christianity, hypnosis, mediatation, psychology, and paying money to FHU. It also may or may not involve wearing Cool Whip on your head (c'mon, check out his picture and tell me it doesn't look like he's got a mound of whipped cream on his noggin!).
So in other words, Microsoft and General Electric (owners of NBC) are working together to broadcast a regular TV show by a mean-spirited racist homophobe who's radio shows are heard on a radio network owned by a cult leader.
God bless America.
If you want to join the GLAAD-sponsored boycott of Savage/Weiner's show, click here.
Just flipped past CNN, where they were apparently re-broadcasting the day's edition of Moneyline. But instead of the expected scene of talking heads and economic graphs, there was a handsome young fella strumming a gee-tar and drawling a country tune. His song was accompanied by a montage of footage of U.S. soldiers gearing up for battle, and gripping shots from the 9-11 aftermath.
The twangy singer was Darryl Worley. The song was "Have You Forgotten?" The reason the economic news show played a country-western music video is anyone's guess.
As captain of my neighborhood media criticism team, I was aghast that a country music song was being pitched as news, and financial news at that. CNN.com explained the performance thusly, "Members of the music industry remain split over war with Iraq. Country music singer Darryl Worley tunes in with his hit song 'Have You Forgotten?' and explains why he supports U.S. military action." So that's apparently the connection to international finance, Darryl is part of the music industry. But then, my dad's part of the construction industry, so I guess it would be just as valid to interview him.
I was even more aghast at the blatant propaganda that was going on. A moving country song calling for war, its emotional power boosted by the CNN-supplied video footage of brave troops and iconic, heart-rending 9-11 footage. That's amazingly biased. Imagine if CNN had let a fellow perform an anti-war song, and supplied their own footage of carnage in Afghanistan and starving children in Iraq. Same thing (well, the same except in the latter case it would be a scandal proving that the media had a liberal bias, and someone would be fired).
And I was pissed at the song's lyrics' guilt-by-non-sequitor argument. The song seeks to be a response to any criticism of the war in Iraq or any U.S. policy by reminding the listener of the anguish Americans felt at the 9-11 attacks. That's it. Think the war is a bad idea? "Have you forgotten how it felt that day / To see your homeland under fire / And her people blown away?" And so on. The song is either a guilt-trip towards those who disagree with American policies, or a distraction ploy to change the subject from Iraq to 9-11.
But there is one odd nugget in there:
"Some say this country's just out looking for a fight
After 9/11 man I'd have to say that's right"
Yeeeeeeee-haaa! U-S-A!! U-S-A!!!
As a writer, I have to say that those lines really fuck up the song's message. Most of it has a tone of remembered pain, or quiet determination, or noble adherence to core American values. Then it suddenly concedes that maybe America is out to kill because it's angry, and that that's okay. Poor writing Darryl (well, Darryl and rarely-mentioned co-writer Wynn Varble).
So my first thought was, "hmmm, I wonder if Darryl Worley is on an AOL-Time Warner-owned record label." Nope, he's on Dreamworks Nashville, and I can't find any links between the two companies.
Maybe Moneyline's ratings are sagging, and they hope to capture the country-western fan demographic, the young women who like attractive men demographic and the let's bomb the bejeezus out of the brown people demographic. Maybe Lou Dobbs owns stock in Dreamworks. Maybe Darryl has a keen instinct for investment and trading. I dunno.
According to the Washington Post, it looks as though the "Partial Birth Abortion Ban Act of 2003" might be enacted into law this week.
Those of you who oppose partial birth abortion, don't start cheering yet.
As with so many sneaky fucking Congressional bills, the title is a misnomer. The "Partial Birth Abortion Ban Act" does not ban partial birth abortions. It bans most second trimester abortions performed by a method that is not "partial birth."
You can read a good analysis of the bill and what it means over at Ampersand's blog. His key points:
News media abdicate role in Iraq war- says San Diego Union-Tribune columnist James O. Goldborough. He claims that the press accepted Bush's arguments for war immediately, and therefore didn't "question, question, question" like they were supposed to. And therefore the public is confused about all this Iraq stuff because the media never did a very good job of explaining it.
But maybe it's a good thing that the media "abdicated their role" because
Pentagon Threatens to Kill Independent Reporters in Iraq- BBC war correspondent Kate Adie claims that a "senior officer in the Pentagon" told her that his forces would destroy any television signals or satelite uplinks that they detected in Iraq. This means that any broadcast journalist inside Iraq who tries to transmit their story to their home news agency is a potential target of U.S. attack. While there is certainly the possibility that Iraqi soldiers might use such equipment, the Pentagon is allegedly saying that they will make no effort to differentiate between broadcast journalists reporting the news, and the enemy. Both will be killed. And much less important in the context, Adie also claims that the military is quizzing reporters about their feelings about the war, and is giving little access to those who have skeptical views.
While most are cleverly suggestive/dirty, I think my favorite is this completely clean one:
"I don't care about North Korea, all I care about is you, baby."
Firm linked to Cheney wins oil-field contract - of course they did. Dick Cheney was chariman of Halliburton Co. until 2000. Kellogg Brown & Root Services is owned by Halliburton. And KB&R just got a contract with the U.S. government to deal with any Iraqi oil fires that may erupt if Saddam Hussein tries to sabotage them after the war starts. No one will say how much the contract is for, and Dick Cheney won't comment (or maybe they just couldn't contact his secret bunker on Saturn or wherever).
Bush Sr warning over unilateral action- I always knew that George H.W. Bush was a bleeding-heart Saddam-lover. In a speech he gave to students at Tufts University in Massachussetts, HW essentially said that unless the U.S. works with allies, that the Iraq war is going to fuck up the Middle East. And given the fact that the U.S. is not doing much of that, the implied argument is that current U.S. plans are going to end badly. Must suck to have your dad embarass you in public like that. In related news, another ex-president is unhappy with the war. Which one? I'll give you a hint: it's not the one that's a drooling vegetable.
Rupert Murdoch's Birthday- today is the 72nd birthday of billionaire tyrant and media overlord Rupert Murdoch. Turn on the Fox News Channel and moon your television in his honor.
13 Questions We Wish They'd Asked At President Bush's Press Conference Thursday Night- from Editor & Publisher magazine. Pretty decent list of questions, any of which might have actually forced Bush to answer with new information.
Documents linking Iraq to uranium were forged- did I mention this already? Apparently the "evidence" floating around that Iraq tried to buy uranium from Niger for a nuclear weapon were forged documents. Who forged these documents? Good question.
Restraint is dead, warns Hamas- the Palestinian group Hamas claims that Israel is targetting its leaders, and that therefore it will adopt the same strategy and target the Israeli leadership. I gotta admit, part of me likes the idea of wars being fought in which it is the leaders who pay the cost, not the countless soldiers or civilians. But the rest of me knows that this will just lead to an acceleration of bloodshed. A leader who thinks that his own life is at stake will be much more likely to order his men to their deaths than one who is not so fearful.
Irish Folk-Punk/ War & Death show
The Liars- Grown Men Don't Fall in the River Just Like That
Against Me- Baby, I'm an Anarchist
David Bowie- Heroes
Nas- Made You Look
Dead Can Dance- I am Stretched on Your Grave
Flogging Molly- The Kilburn High Road
Ozomatli- Mi Alma
Bill Hicks- We Live in a Dangerous World
Sonic Youth- Youth Against Fascism
Dropkick Murphys- Barroom Hero
Cypress Hill- Pigs
MO7S- Shake, Rattle & Rot
Dropkick Murphys- Skinhead On the MTBA/TNT (live)
The Pogues- Streams of Whiskey
The Transplants- Romper Stomper
Ewan McGregor et al.- Tango de Roxan
Powerman 5000- Megatronic
Black 47- Irish Drinking Song
Damon Albarn- 4Am at Toumanis
Flogging Molly- Drunken Lullabies
Scapegoat Wax- Aisle 10 (Hello Allison)
Anti-Flag- Die for Your Government (live)
The Donnas- Take Me to the Backseat
Evolution Control Committee- Rebel without a Pause
Oingo Boingo- Goodbye Goodbye
"Under democracy one party always devotes its chief energies to trying to prove that the other party is unfit to rule-- and both commonly succeed, and are right."
I have just discovered that it is national "Cover the Uninsured Week", a campaign to raise awareness about the 42+ million Americans who have no health insurance. Blogger Ross the Bloviator is dedicating all posts on his site this week to news and information about this issue. Sounds interesting, make the Bloviator a daily reading this week.
Of course, I can only mildly agree with the "insure the uninsured" battle cry, as I'd prefer something much more radical. It's no secret that there are massive problems with the American medical system, and while making sure everyone has health insurance so that they can get treatment is a good start, it's only that-- a start. For-profit medicine seems like an idea that is doomed to public catastrophe.
First of all, I think that there should be a massive effort to educate people about health and nutrition, which could lead to more personal preventive care and general healthier lifestyles. Then, at the very least, a nationalized health care system, and the decapitation of all former health insurance CEOs. And we should probably put those heads on pikes. And those pikes should be put outside the New York Stock Exchange.
Here's a headline:
And a quote from it:
The British and US ambassadors plan to demand that Hans Blix reveals more details of a huge undeclared Iraqi unmanned aircraft, the discovery of which he failed to mention in his oral report to Security Council foreign ministers on Friday. Its existence was only disclosed in a declassified 173-page document circulated by the inspectors at the end of the meeting — an apparent attempt by Dr Blix to hide the revelation to avoid triggering a war.
And a quote from Blix's oral report:
Inspectors are also engaged in examining Iraq’s programme for Remotely Piloted Vehicles (RPVs). A number of sites have been inspected with data being collected to assess the range and other capabilities of the various models found. Inspections are continuing in this area.
That doesn't look like a "failure to mention" to me.
The Times article above even accuses him of keeping this information out of his report as part of a political ploy to prevent war. Someone needs to tell the Times and White House to turn up their goddam hearing aids. Or stop smearing people and lying in order to get their war, one or the other.
[thanks to Population: One]
The "special relationship" between the U.S. and U.K. expressed through the magic of song.
You will need Quicktime to view.
I simply cannot stand watching or listening to the president speak anymore, so when he gives a major address or interview or something, I just twiddle my thumbs for a few hours and then read the transcripts. Thanks to this strategy, both my television and my living room window have remained damage-free for the first years of the W administration.
Bush spoke tonight, in his eighth presidential press conference ever. By this point during his own term, Bill Clinton had given 30 press conferences. Reagan had given 16, George Bush I 58. But W rarely takes questions, because his handlers know that putting him in front of an army of reporters is like sending a toddler outside with a flame-thrower. Nothing good is going to come of it, and the best you can hope for is that the he’s not going to burn anything irreplaceable. The topic of this stately monotonous event was Iraq.
Bush lays out with simpleton logic the reason that the U.S. must remove Saddam Hussein from Iraq:
Saddam Hussein has a long history of reckless aggression and terrible crimes. He possesses weapons of terror. He provides funding and training and safe haven to terrorists -- terrorists who would willingly use weapons of mass destruction against America and other peace-loving countries. Saddam Hussein and his weapons are a direct threat to this country, to our people, and to all free people...
The attacks of September the 11th, 2001 showed what the enemies of America did with four airplanes. We will not wait to see what terrorists or terrorist states could do with weapons of mass destruction.
We are determined to confront threats wherever they arise. I will not leave the American people at the mercy of the Iraqi dictator and his weapons.
That's it, really. Saddam Hussein is an inherently bad person who does bad things (although Bush's claims about Hussein's links to terrorism are misleading at best). And since he is a bad person, he might attack the United States. And if he attacked the United States with weapons of mass destruction, the result would be much worse that September 11. And since another September 11 is not acceptable, we must remove Saddam Hussein from power.
Go read the speech yourself, that really is his argument. He gives an alternate one about violations of UN Security Council resolution 1441, but that's even weaker.
The Saddam-terrorism link above is overstated. It is true that Saddam Hussein gives money to the surviving families of Palestinian suicide bombers, but that's about it. While that's plenty bad, Palestinian terrorists are attacking Israel and Israel alone. Hardly a threat to "all peace-loving countries."
Which essentially leaves us with the argument that since Saddam Hussein is bad and has weapons that could conceivably do great damage to the United States, that we should invade Iraq and overthrow Saddam Hussein.
I think Bush might even believe his own arguments. Scary.
What was most striking to me was the near constant repetition of the word "disarm." How far our little president has come from his days of yelling “regime change” to his mature days of solemnly calling for disarmament. I have this image in my mind of a prep session where Bush was strapped into a Clockwork Orange-style brainwashing device, receiving painful electric shocks while Donald Rumsfeld and Ari Fleischer stood on either side of the president shrieking "SAY IT!!! SAY 'DISARM'!!!"
Mexico is currently one of the rotating members of the UN Security Council, meaning it has a say in the vote about invading Iraq. Which also makes it a target for U.S. bullying.
Then came President Bush's Monday interview with Copley News Service. He alluded to the possibility of reprisals if Mexico didn't vote America's way, saying, "I don't expect there to be significant retribution from the government" — emphasizing the word "government." He then went on to suggest that there might, however, be a reaction from other quarters, citing "an interesting phenomena taking place here in America about the French . . . a backlash against the French, not stirred up by anybody except the people."
And Mr. Bush then said that if Mexico or other countries oppose the United States, "there will be a certain sense of discipline."
In other words, Bush strongly implies that if Mexico opposes the war resolution, Americans will start boycotting Mexican products, American sentiment will turn against Mexico and Mexican people, and then adds that ominous bit about "discipline."
Then, a bit of context and aftermath:
These remarks went virtually unreported by the ever-protective U.S. media, but they created a political firestorm in Mexico. The White House has been frantically backpedaling, claiming that when Mr. Bush talked of "discipline" he wasn't making a threat. But in the context of the rest of the interview, it's clear that he was.
Moreover, Mr. Bush was disingenuous when he described the backlash against the French as "not stirred up by anybody except the people." On the same day that the report of his interview appeared, The Financial Times carried the headline, "Hastert Orchestrates Tirade Against the French." That's Dennis Hastert, the speaker of the House of Representatives. In fact, anti-French feeling has been carefully fomented by Republican officials, Rupert Murdoch's media empire and other administration allies. Can you blame Mexicans for interpreting Mr. Bush's remarks as a threat to do the same to them?
We can't entirely put the anti-French sentiment on the heads of Republicans, but they have certainly fanned the flames here and there.
I suppose in one way, this is a good development. Before 9-11, Bush was acting as though the U.S. and Mexico were equals, that he and president Vicente Fox were compatriots working together on the problems facing both countries. This current treatment should expose that previous perception as the fraud that it was.
How much longer till we overthrow this White House bastard?
It was certainly good news when the U.S. captured Al Qaeda mastermind Khalid Shaikh Mohammed.
But really, Mohammed's capture raised as many questions as answers.
First of all, it managed to demonstrate press fallibility. Back in October 2002, it was reported "definitively" that Mohammed had been killed.
Then, there were reports that Mohammed was in U.S. custody. Then that he was in Pakistani custody. And then I even read a report that Mohammed was being shipped off to an unnamed country for "interrogation."
So for the hell of it, we'll assume that Mohammed is indeed alive, and not worry about where exactly he's being held right now.
How is this guy involved in Al Qaeda? One columnist points out that before his arrest, Mohammed was rated last on a list of 22 dangerous terrorists. Now that he's in custody, he's seen as #2 or so on the list. The columnist makes the reasonable argument that Mohammed was not an important figure but is being portrayed as one now to make the U.S. government's "war on terrorism" appear more successful.
Reporter Robert Fisk also writes in a highly cynical and skeptical tone. Fisk points out that the last known Al Qaeda position held by Mohammed was as "media adviser to the marriage of Osama bin Laden's son in Kandahar in January of 2001." Fisk also refers to the ISI, the shady Pakistani intelligence agency. They are, quite literally, the organization that brought us the Taliban. ISI has its own motives and goals, which are sometimes at odds with those of the Pakistani government and the U.S. government. According to Fisk, Mohammed was turned over to the Pakistani authorities by the ISI, which Mohammed used to work for.
And let's even go one degree shadier. According to the Christian Science Monitor, when Mohammed was captured, he was staying at the home of a representative of the Pakistani parliament. Which should remind us that although officially a U.S. ally, many folks and factions inside Pakistan are not U.S.-friendly, or even support its enemies like Al Qaeda.
With the information available to me, I really can't draw any sorts of conclusions. I certainly hope that he was a major Al Qaeda player and that his arrest and interrogation will be a devastaing blow to the terrorist group. But I can't help but be suspicious of government claims, especially when they are coincidently self-serving.
Read a fairly appallling story this week about last year's efforts by the Pentagon to eliminate the Defense Department Advisory Committee on Women in the Services. The Committee was meant to deal with issues of sexual harassment and assault inside the U.S. military, but conservatives really hate it when women tell them what to do about anything. The department still exists, but its charter and membership were changed so that it does not deal with the same issues.
The article then goes on to talk about a number of female Air Force cadets who recently came forward who claim that they were assaulted by their superiors in Colorado Springs. The article also talks about the horrific case of a male cadet molesting a 13-year old girl who was visiting the base for summer camp.
And it gets worse.
The number of rapes and assaulted uncovered by a recent investigation of the Air Force Academy is up to 54. And of course, the number of rapes and assaults not reported is probably much, much higher. And between the two articles, it appears that even when these cases are reported, the perpetrators are usually acquitted, or face no substantial penalties.
Frankly, the military is probably the one place that should be the most watched for sexual assault. The US military (and most likely) are built on foundations of coercion, obedience, self-sacrifice, and de-personalization. Factor in the idea that you're taught to dominate and kill other people, and you've got a perfect fucking recipe for abuse of one kind or another.
Senate Majority Leader (and former cat mutilator) Bill Frist has a poll on his website:
"Should the United States use force to remove Saddam Hussein from power?"
He was a thin, dapper fellow, maybe in his late 50s, smartly trimmed goatee, sweater, sipping white wine with a friend at a table near mine in the cozy Italian diner.
"When I was in Europe, all of the fervently anti-American people I met had real problems with authority. They all hated their fathers."
Take that, you silly Europeans! This wily American has figured you out. You don't hate America because of its government or policies or culture. You just have personal, unresolved Freudian issues.
I've written quite a bit about Charlotte Beers on this website. In the wake of 9-11, this successful PR exec signed up with the government to convince the Middle East that the U.S. is actually a dandy place through the use of poorly thought-out advertising campaigns.
I hate PR people in general, but had a special anger in me with regard to Beers. Her campaign was particularly nauseating because it aimed to persuade Arabs and Muslims to ignore the U.S.-sponsored horrors around them and embrace the Superpower to their bosom, based upon some TV ads. That level of gall and contempt is nearly off the scale.
Well, this will probably be the last time we mention Charlotte at LMB, because Ms. Beers is resigning.
According to PR Watch, Beers departure was sneeringly cheered on the PR industry website O'Dwyer's PR Daily, with comments like "Good riddance!" and "About time! She was horrible and the U.S. has lost all post-9/11 support." Unfortunately, O'Dwyer's has become a site requiring paid subscriptions, so I can't read the insults myself.
I'd like to give her a mean-spirited farewell myself, but it appears that Charlotte is quitting because of health problems, and that rouses my sympathy. Good health to you, Charlotte, and I hope we never hear from you again. Once the White House selects your replacement, I will renew beating the ass of your sorry office of professional liars.
My friend Leah Wells works for an organization called the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation, a group that promotes nonviolent resolution to conflict. Leah teaches a program of nonviolence to young people in the Ventura area of California.
Leah just returned from Baghdad, where she also shared these lessons with Iraqi children. She has encouraged her American students and students at this Iraqi school to write to each other, as a means of encouraging peace and understanding. I just received this email from Leah in which she shares the several dozen letters of the Iraqi students.
Letters from Al-Adamia Secondary School for Girls
As-Shebab Street, Al-Adamia neighborhood, Baghdad, Iraq.
Founded in 1937. 700 students, ages 15-20 years old, 48 teachers and staff. 80% of the students come from the neighborhood, 20% commute from other neighborhoods (through their parents). al-Aadamieh is one of the best public schools in Baghdad, with consistently high test scores. There are 43 students who wrote letters from this class.
Ms. Salwa al-Sharbati, principal (since 1978)
quotes from Principal al-Sharbati:
"When you have deep culture, deep history, it's like a motive to push you to do anything - you'll be ready for anything... The embargo itself is a challenge to us. Really, you have a lack in everything: chalk, desks, books, computers... We have another problem, that the students catch new diseases, especially cancers. This is effecting girls even more, they catch cancer of the breast and other disease."
5 out of 700 girls at this high school have cancer.
Al-Aadamia Secondary School for Girls
March 3, 2003
Dear American Student,
My name is Naba'a Riad. I'm 18 years old. I say to you, How are you and want to you best wishes. At first all I want or all I wish is to be a doctor in the future and all the morning I hope this wish came true. I have a friend in my school who everyone carried their wishes. We want to live in peace. So how these wishes came true if you threaten us. Please let us live in peace and to be your friend.
With my best wishes,
[drawing of a heart and flower] let this flower grow up.
Dear American Students,
My name is Thuraya El-Kaissi. I am in fifth class. I hope that we will see each other and talk about our dreams and hopes and our future ... I am really hope that, inshallah.
We love American people but the government they hate us and want to done this war on us.
I hope that you will send me your photos and letters to me and my friends in our school ... all my friends want your addresses and photos ... and any things about you all. What do you want from us? Ok!? See you soon, and keep in touch.
Note: I am 17 years old. How old you are?!
Note: I love the band:- N'Sync and (Anthony Hopkins)
Dear American Student,
I am Zainab from Baghdad. I'm 18 years old. I'm very happy to sent you this brief letter, and I hope to everybody good life and they become what they want. And I like to tell you what my desire is to be (doctor).
The Bird of Peace [drawing of a bird with a flower in its beak]
Dear American Student,
I am Sara ... I live in Baghdad and I want to live in peace here ... and I am 17 years old.
So I don't know what I say. I am very sad and I am very confused. I like you to understand me what I want to say, and you have to forgive me because my English language is not good ... but I hope you understand my pain ... Just my tear could describe my pain ... I love you very very much because you want to help Iraqi children ... I want to be your friend ... I'm so sorry again for my English language is bad ... I'm so sorry.
[drawing of a flower] This flower is for you
For my dear friends in the world,
I am very happy for your letters sent to my school, and your opinion about the Iraqi people, and I hope to live in peace and I hope to live in calm life in my country, and I'm thank you with my love for you.
My name is Baidaa Suad, 18 years old, and goodbye with my love.
Dear America Students,
I send this message to any one of you to know us (Iraqi pupil) as it should be! I really glad to make a friendship with the U.S.A. student.
My name is Sarab and I'm 17 years old and I have no mother because she died in cancer last year... So I think this friendship will help me to get out from this sadness that I'm gonna through... I hope I met someone of you face to face and to still friends forever... What I hope is our problems solve... In fact I really love American people from all my heart. I swear it's true... I wish I can visit America and see you and you have to promise me that we will be a friends forever and ever.
I like dogs and I have one. It's german shepherd dog, his name is Bone... Tell me what you like, like I do...
I love Backstreet Boys, specially (A.J.)
I feel we'll contact with each other so in the second time tell me what you like to know you better.
Friendship forever [inside a heart]. Keep in touch and don't forget me... your friend, Sarab Taha El-Anne
Dear Friends in U.S.,
My name is Hiba Monther. I would like to tell you that I want to be like any people in the world. Well, I live with my family and from my house watch T.V. and read many books about the nature. Write to me and tell me about your feeling about this world. And I want to tell you that every night when I saw the moon and I feel that I am one of the stars in the sky.
Best wishes to you and your family,
Hiba Monther, 17 years old.
Hello also from Hiba's friend Rokoya (who doesn't know English very well).
Dear U.S.A. children,
I am Safa Emad Jihad Al-Rawi from Baghdad and my age is eighteen years old. I want to tell you that I'm very happy to send you this letter and I want you to know that Iraqi children want to speak with you about their life and their school and they live in very normal live and we love American people with all of threatenings of war on Iraq. We love you always and want to live in peace with all the world because the Iraqi people love peace for them and for other countries in the world.
I am student in sixth stage, secondary school for girls. I want living with peace in the world. I will be a doctor in the future, and I very like of them before the end. I hope the Peace of Iraq and America.
Zianab Munther, 18 years old.
Dear American Student,
My name is Rasha. I'm 18 years old. I want to say that I love the world and I love peace. I don't want war. Why do you want to kill the smiles on our faces? We want to learn and live in peace. I want to be a dentist, so how could I make that if the war happened? We are a peaceful people. We love peace. We love American people, so why do you want to kill us? I pray for the God to avoid us the war, and I hope for whole the world the peace and love. I want to be friends and keep in touch with you. Let us spread love among us.
With all the best,
Rasha Ali Abdul-Raheem
My name is Haneen Hamid. I have 18 years old. I want to thank you. I want to be a doctor.
Dear American Student,
My name is Summer. We love you people America. I am 18 years old. I don't want war. We want peace. We want to learn. I love you. We want to succeed in our examinations. I want to be friends with you. So as love you because you love us.
With my best wishes,
We are a group of 4 girls. We love the people of the world. We want to live in Peace.
I, Reem, I want to be a doctor. I, Aseel, I want to be a doctor. I, Halla, I want to be a doctor. I, Hadel, I want to be a doctor. I wish that I can visit U.S.A.
Reem, 18 years old.
Aseel, 20 years old.
Halla, 19 years old.
Hadel, 20 years old.
We are love the people U.S.A. We hope go to U.S.A to meet to people and explain my feeling to you. Our hobbies listening the music and swimming. We hope becoming engineers. We are 18 years old. Our names Mary and Daniah.
Dear U.S.A. student,
We are friends, and we like them. We have two arms are peace and success. We know our feeling toward our country and we thank our feeling. Thank you and goodbye.
Huda Shakoor, 18 years old.
I send them my best wishes and I hope them the success and all the happiness to them and to them families.
Your close friends,
Wasnaa & Hanan
Call me please! We are 18 years old.
Dear U.S.A. children,
Hi. I'm from Baghdad. My name is Saba. I want to tell you I am very happy to speak with you. You can understand me. I hope to learn and I hope to live in peace.
Saba Ihsan, I am 18 years old.
Dear pupil of America,
.. We are Sara and Meas .. We are two pupils in Iraq .. We hope to live in peace .. and we want to learn only .. We love the people in America but we are against Bush.
Sara and Meas
We are 17 years old. Thank you for your solidarity.
Dear American People:
Thank you very much to meeting's. I love you the best people. My name is Kother. 18 years old. I am pupil. I want to live in peace. Do you think the Iraqi people not good? I refused all the war in the world. I love you peace.
Dear U.S.A. Student,
We are friends, and I love for love. This we are one that called for peace and no for war. Thanks for your feeling.
Raghed Salah Al-Deen, 18 years old.
Dear U.S.A. student,
I like your situation with us because together we have one aim - that we want peace and refuse the war in my country. I like to express my feeling towards America people - we love them but we hate America government, and in the end I thank you.
Marwa Ali, 18 years old
A letter for America's students,
I'm Saja Waad. I love to say hello to all one who is my age. I'm 17 years old, and I'm Muslim and I'm love peace. I have friends in Palestine and Jordan and I love to have another in other country because I love communication with other people in all of the world. I hope you can understand me what I want to say. This idea very beautiful that we be friends. I really wish I have internet to talk with some friends in the world. My wish is to be a doctor in the future. Can you tell me your wish when you send a letter to me? I will be very proud if this idea will be successful.
With all my love,
Saja Waad Ali Al-Rubeay, 17 years.
Olive branch is a symbol of peace [drawing of an olive branch] we love peace
To Friends in U.S.A.,
I love people but I hate to the government (U.S.A.), and we love to be friend in school U.S.A. I hope to meet the people and I hope you can come to Iraq and visit us.
Hadeel Esam, 18 years old.
Dear American Student,
My name is Duha. I'm 18 years old. I love people America. I don't want war. We want peace. I hope to live in peace. I'm very love pupil America and I want to see somebody and I want to say for somebody pupil America. I want to be in touch with you always. I hope to love for me so as you love me for love you.
Dear Friend in U.S.A.,
My name is Surowr. I love you for people America. I wish to visit America and I help to people America and I wish Doctor to help the children for people.
Surowr Muhammad, 20 years old.
Dear American people,
I would like to tell you that I love the American students. I want to tell you everything about the education in Iraq. We are proud of ourselves and we don't want war against our country. If you visit Iraq you saw that the Iraqi people are kindness and generosity. We hope to do this really to know your comment about us, how we are brave.
Finally, just we want that we live in peace and succeed in our examinations without war, and Iraq will be victorious.
note: I'm 18 years old.
Dear American Student,
I am 17 years old. I want to tell you that everybody in Iraq love everybody in the world. Only my wish is to continue my studies.
We love you and want to see you and we hope all the world live in peace and love each other like the flowers in one garden in heaven. Please urge your government to let us live in peace.
Somiea, Anfal, & Yasamin
we are 18 years old
Dear American Student,
I am 17 years old. I have beautiful family and we all want to live in peace, and I want to continue my study in the future. I wish to be an engineer.
Dear America's children,
My name is Muna Khalid. I love America's people and children. I want to live in safety and the other people in Iraq. Iraqi people love America's people because the Iraqi people love peace.
We love the world.
Dear American Students,
All the Iraqi people love American people ... but we hate the war.
My name is Noor - 18 years old.
Thank you. Best wishes.
Dear America's Students! -
My name is Rasha. I have (19) years old. I hope to live in safety. I hope to a good study. I want to thank you about your feeling. You are good people.
Dear America's students,
My name is Israa Adel. I am from Iraq. I have 19 years old. In the beginning I want to thank you about your feeling. So in the first I want to talk about my wishes. I want to be a doctor and I hope that my God help me.
I love all the world.
"The name of God"
For All American people,
I'm Marwa. I'm 18 years old. I'm in sixth lesson. I have my dreams .. I hope to finish my studies. I want to be a doctor. I hope to learn more than that .. I have a large number of friends and I hope to find more. Do you like to be my friend? I love all who love the peace. I love all who love the Iraqi people .. If you want to be my friend then tell me when we meet ..
[drawing of a heart and flower]
"We live in one world"
Love destroy the war
Dear pupils in U.S.,
I am Lubna Saad. I am seventeen years old. I am student in Al-Aadamya Secondary School for girls. I live near the school and I love watching TV, and specially the movies. I hope I will be a lawyer in the future and to travel to America and I want to told you something - when I get out my house in the night I saw the moon and I believe that all the people in the world would see it even in different times. So I wish that we all live in peace and visit each other. Thank you.
The U.S. has been dropping propaganda leaflets onto Iraq to demoralize the people or encourage them to surrender or overthrow Saddam or whatever. Wanna see em? Of course you do.
Read them right to left, as you do in Arabic.
MC5- The American Ruse
The Black Keys- Do the Rump
Echo and the Bunnymen- Killing Moon
Bad Religion- Against the Grain
Richard Cheese- Baby Got Back
The (International) Noise Conspiracy- The Reproduction of Death
The Exploited- I Believe in Anarchy
The Fugs- Kill for Peace
Eric B & Rakim- In the Ghetto
Blackalicious- Alphabet Aerobics
Against Me- What We Worked For
Lightning Bolt- Thirteen Monsters
The White Stripes- Dead Leaves and the Dirty Ground
Mr. Lif and Edan- Get Wise '91
The Sundays- Wild Horses
Radiohead- No Suprises
Chemical Brothers- Setting Sun
Hot Hot Heat- Bandages
Marilyn Manson- The Dope Show
During an election debate earlier this month, one of Kelly Benjamin (the DJ)'s opponents tried to smear him by pointing out his illegal behavior to the audience. Benjamin replied by explaining his actions with regards to America's history of civil disobedience. The audience cheered him mightily, and the sleazy politico who raised the question changed her expression from a smirk to a sneer.
Election's tomorrow, no idea who will win. But to any of my Tampa readers, I say back the pirate.
I guess I shouldn't be surprised.
The Observer newspaper claims to have a leaked document from the US National Security Agency which ordered intense surveillance of the UN Security Council members who are undecided about the decision to invade Iraq.
"The memo is directed at senior NSA officials and advises them that the agency is 'mounting a surge' aimed at gleaning information not only on how delegations on the Security Council will vote on any second resolution on Iraq, but also 'policies', 'negotiating positions', 'alliances' and 'dependencies' - the 'whole gamut of information that could give US policymakers an edge in obtaining results favourable to US goals or to head off surprises'."
This surveillance also seems to include tapping the home and office phones of UN delegates.
Not the sort of thing that's going to win you friends.
But like I said at the beginning, I shouldn't be surprised. I imagine all governments do their best to spy on all relevant aspects of other governments, both ally and enemy.
[thanks to Atrios]
Very good post over at Body and Soul about important and highly relevant historical facts that the New York Times consistently leaves out of its modern Iraq war coverage.
Go check it out.
Our pal Wayne Grytting has a new edition of his irregularly published column "American Newspeak" out, filled with the insightful commentary and wry mockery of which we (well, I) have become so fond. Unfortunately, Wayne seems a bit slow to post his columns to his website (no updates since November). I'd recommend going to Wayne's site and signing up for an email subscription to his column (address near the bottom of the left-hand frame)(yes, Wayne's site still uses frames), and in the meantime, reading his most recent column that I'm reprinting here.
American Newspeak: The Orwell Awards
Word Collisions By Wayne Grytting
The "pre-emptive strikes" on logic and the English language by politicians, CEOs and the media has turned into one of our Empire's major industries. In recognition of the cutting edge advances being made today in American Newspeak, we are offering these awards to deserving individuals. Entries were judged by an exacting standard -- how many times their utterances would make George Orwell roll over in his grave. Here are this month's winners.
Father Knows Best Dept.
The U.S. Justice Department broke new ground with its crafting of the Domestic Security Enhancement Act of 2003. Among it's finer encroachments on civil liberties, revealed by the Center for Public Integrity, is Section 501. It would allow the government to strip U.S. citizenship away from anyone giving "material support" to any group designated as terrorists.
Some of you may recall the U.S. Constitution forbids depriving Americans of their citizenship. A minor point. Justice Department lawyers adroitly found a loophole -- the Constitution allows to voluntarily give up their rights. The bill's authors then reasoned that, "an intent to relinquish nationality need not be manifested in words, but can be inferred from conduct." Thank god, we have enlightened people making those inferences.
Getting the Visuals Right
When Secretary of State Colin Powell addressed the UN, his background "visuals" consisted of blue draperies neatly trimmed by a row of flags. Few knew the draperies had to be installed that morning to cover over a work of art that normally stands there -- a massive tapestry reproduction of Picasso's famous anti-war painting "Guernica."
Speaking in defense of the cover-up of Picasso's images of dying women, children and animals was UN spokesperson Stephane Dujaric, who stated, "We
needed the right background that would work on television." (If only Picasso had painted happy faces.) Unbeknownst to himself, Powell was presenting the world with a perfect metaphor of how our policies and language of "collateral damage" cover over the realities of human suffering.
Term Paper Enhancements
The British government was forced to admit that large sections of their "up-to-date" report on Iraqs deception had been lifted word for word from an article by a postgraduate student in California named Ibrahim al Mirashi. The plagiarism was so blatant that even spelling and punctuation errors from the original articles had been repeated.
However, our English colony deserves praise for a number of key improvements upon Mr. Marashis prose. Where the student described the Iraqi intelligence agency as "monitoring foreign embassies in Iraq," the British upgraded that to "spying on foreign embassies in Iraq." Much better. And where Marashi referred to Iraq "aiding opposition groups in hostile regimes," British Intelligence improved this to "supporting terrorist organizations in hostile regimes." Same evidence, just more "up-to-date" conclusions, which is undoubtedly why Colin Powell relied on it in his U.N. speech.
Terrorists under the Bed Dept.
Denver's police force has taken the lead in local efforts to fight terrorism. The American Civil Liberties Union disclosed that Denver's intrepid crime fighters had surveillance files on 3,200 people and 208 organizations who could pose security risks. The diligence of the police was paid off with the discovery of what they described as a "criminal extremist" organization -- the American Friends Service Committee.
The detective work that finally "exposed" these Quaker pacifists and their subversive prayer and potluck meetings deserves recognition. However, it should be pointed out, the Denver police missed the League of Women voters. An inexplicable oversight.
Benefits from Big Brother
The state of Florida found yet another creative use for our surveillance satellites. Under pressure from Florida orange growers, they have plans to aim their lenses at Brazils orange groves to count how many trees they have producing oranges. Florida orange growers have complained that Brazils crop forecasts are too inaccurate and drive down prices for Florida oranges.
Top honors go to Bob Crawford, director of Floridas Dept of Citrus, for this insight in defense of the surveillance proposal. "Its creating a database," he said. "I think it will bring us closer together." Don't we all feel "closer" when we see cameras focused on us?
Let us end these award presentations with a random thought from Dr. Sigmund Freud which I'm told is very significant for the Bush era. "By accepting the universal neurosis," he wrote, "the individual is spared the task of forming a personal neurosis." Amen.
Well, this one may have gone down the memory hole.
On his blog yesterday, Thomas Spencer found a nice segment in an MSNBC article that I planned to link to today. However that URL has now been replaced with an updated story that leaves out the segment in question, so I can only quote it here:
“MY ATTITUDE about Saddam Hussein is that if he had any intention of disarming, he would have disarmed,” President Bush said in an interview with USA Today. He added: “We will disarm him now.”[emphasis mine]
Bush’s press secretary, Ari Fleischer, denied that Bush’s comments suggested war was inevitable but said the Iraqi announcement was irrelevant.
“The president views this as continued trickery, continued deception. I think it’s fair to say that the Iraqi regime is a deception wrapped in a lie inside a fraud,” he said.
You've gotta love that, when Ari has to come onstage to tell you that you didn't hear what you just heard. Bush infers pretty strongly that the U.S. is going to invade Iraq now, and Ari Fleischer--who remembers that they're not supposed to say things like that-- has to cover for him.
Another person who badly needs a PR handler is defense advisor Richard Perle. That dude shoots his mouth off in the most bellicose of ways on a regular basis. Check out this article, in which Perle calls for regime change not only in Iraq, but in Iran, Lybia, Syria "and a few others besides."
Granted, I can't verify Perle's quote (the article claims that Perle made these statements to "London-based author and analyst Amir Taheri," who did not author the article), but he has been making such grandiose claims quite frequently when speaking to the European and Asian press.
I think that Perle's extremist views do represent a healthy portion of the Bush administration, but the White House has to keep such imperial plans under wraps if they want anyone who's not a warhawk to buy into the Iraq war.
Lying Media Bastards is both a radio show and website. The show airs Mondays 2-4pm PST on KillRadio.org, and couples excellent music with angry news commentary. And the website, well, you're looking at it.
Both projects focus on our media-marinated world, political lies, corporate tyranny, and the folks fighting the good fight against these monsters.
All brought to you by Jake Sexton, The Most Beloved Man in America ®.
March 28, 2003
Aaron Brown is a Failure
When interviewing peace activist and Pentagon Papers whistleblower Daniel Ellsberg, CNN's Aaron Brown made an obvious play to smear the entire anti-war movement as pawns of Saddam Hussein:
BROWN: The Iraqi political strategy is in large part to use the anti-war demonstrations around the world to create political pressure on the coalition governments to stand down, cease fire and stop the war. In that regard, are you playing into the hands of what I think you would even acknowledge is a very bad regime.
Ellsberg refuses to be drawn into that trap. Brown tries again. Ellsberg sidesteps and defuses the trap, and also manages to imply that Brown is either naive, or an idiot. Brown is then a bit cowed, and lets Ellsberg say whatever he wants.
Go read the transcript, it's fun.More Media News
Jake Jake Jake
Fake "Ha-Ha" News
"Under democracy one party always devotes its chief energies to trying to prove that the other party is unfit to rule-- and both commonly succeed, and are right."
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Columnists Of Note
Squiggles of Insight
CreditsDesign and Layout by Mark McLaughlin and Quang Tang
LMB Logo by Quang Tang
Alt "One Hell of a Leader" logo largely stolen from Obey Giant.
All other material by Jake Sexton (unless otherwise cited)