Saturday, December 25, 2004
No matter what Holiday you celebrate, I wish you a Merry Christmas and with it all the sentiment attached. And this never gets old for me.
May the road rise up to meet you.
May the wind be always at your back.
May the sun shine warm upon your face;
the rains fall soft upon your fields and until we meet again,
may God hold you in the palm of His hand.
All the best, and all my love to all and all and all.
Wednesday, December 22, 2004
Here's how the corresponding story about the Mosul attack opens:
In one of the deadliest single terror attacks on U.S. troops since the Iraq war began, 15 soldiers were killed yesterday when a blast ripped through a mess tent at a base outside Mosul.
Hundreds of GIs had just sat down to lunch when the blast rocked the huge canvas and metal tent at Forward Operating Base Marez, likely killing at least 22, including some Iraqis, and wounding about 66 others.
Oh, that was a terror attack? I thought it was war. You know, when one country invades another country. And when the invading force has superior firepower and technology, the defending forces resort to other tactics. Was it called terrorism in Vietnam? In the American Revolution? War is terror. On all sides. This terminology paints a picture in which one side is cheating, brutal, primitive, while the other remains righteous. The words need to change for people's minds to change, and then there can be change.
My American neighbors are sent into this. For greed and power. To die and be maimed. And I have the arrogance to sit here and deconstruct the vernacular. For what?
But we can't send more boys and girls off to bleed against terrorism. It's not terrorism. It's war. They defend their country as we would ours. But I'll be quiet.
Didn't we start this war?
I cannot celebrate death wherever it comes. But war is war. What makes it a massacre when 19 Americans are killed, but it's just brave fighting when hundreds, thousands, a hundred thousand Iraqis die? It will take a basic shift in this sort of perception to save the world. And it's so easy, too. It's all massacre, so it's all equally important and unimportant.
Steve at Distance is doing something more of us should probably do more regularly: strategizing. Planning for the future and thinking about how to defeat BushCo. With Kerick down, he thinks AG nominee Alberto Gonzales should be next.
He is the architect of the torture chambers of Iraq, having signed a memo in 2002 that gave Bush a green light to obey only the laws he chooses. As a reward for this disgraceful memo, he was picked as the nation’s chief law enforcement official.
This is a winnable battle if the Democrats in the Senate can strike an alliance with Torture critics McCain and Hagel. We will see if Harry Reid has the temerity to do it.
If we write our Senators, make a few phone calls, stick together and look for groups that are fighting this guy, we can keep him out of the office. Stay on point, and talk about it with your friends. Its’ important.
And my response:
I believe you're right here, Steve. For one, we all need to start thinking tactically -- this is a battle, and we're fighting a well-trained army without even a structure on our side. We can't go for the whole cahunga, so we need to dismantle them piece by piece and take whatever victories we can get. The thing that makes BushCo so strong is its insularity (W word?), discipline, loyalty and secrecy. Forcibly removing certain components and making Bush succumb to pressure does more damage than it first appears -- imagine blocking Gonzales and getting Rumsfeld dumped. We'd be on our way to actual opposition...
Bush is the most unpopular president ever to be reelected. Iraq is a growing cancer. The country is a shambles. They're criminals and they don't have much longer before they're found out. The facade is crumbling. And now is the time to act, to put the pressure on and to show the Democrats we won't let them screw this up without some hell.
Here's a pie graph measuring the frequency with which the various InterWeb domains visit this site. Beautiful for its simplicity. So many tears.
PS. Somehow I think the word for the salty water that drips from your eyes should be spelled teers. For reading's sake.
Tuesday, December 21, 2004
Steve has the goods on a reversal of fortune for foreign dissident writers and their freedom of press here in the US of A. And here I was thinking BushCo was a bunch of fascists...
Apparently, the President, despite his Huge Sweeping ManDate, is actually wildly unpopular. Huh!
Unless there's a dramatic turnaround in public sentiment between now and Jan. 20, Bush will be sworn in to office with the lowest job-approval rating -- barely 50 percent -- of any president in the last 80 years, or since modern-day presidential polling began.
"It's striking how weak he is right now," says presidential historian Richard Shenkman, editor of George Mason University's History News Network. "You'd have to go back to Woodrow Wilson to find a president who was reelected in a position as weak as this one. There's been no euphoria around Bush's win."
Since his 3-percentage-point win over Sen. John Kerry, Bush has experienced a complete lack of bounce in the polls. In fact, in at least one national survey, Fox News' Opinion Dynamics poll, conducted Dec. 14-15, Bush's approval rating has fallen five points in the last month, to 48 percent. In other polls, including Washington Post-ABC, NBC/Wall Street Journal, Pew Research Center, Associated Press-Ipsos, Zogby, and Gallup, Bush's already soft approval numbers have flat-lined since the election. That phenomenon stands in sharp contrast to U.S. history, when presidents voted into office for a second term, even after close elections, routinely have received robust approval ratings.
According to an analysis posted on the Gallup Web site in mid-November, Bush's current 53 percent approval rating "is actually the lowest of any of the last seven presidents who won a second term in the first poll conducted after their re-election."
Then why the heck did a majority of Americans reelect him?
What? They didn't? Ohhhhh....
A man can dream, can't he?
Releasing e-mails obtained under the Freedom of Information Act, the American Civil Liberties Union said Monday one detainee was wrapped in an Israeli flag and some were shackled hand and foot in fetal positions for 18 to 24 hours, forcing them to soil themselves.
The ACLU said e-mails suggested "inhumane interrogation methods" approved by President Bush — a charge the White House vigorously denied.
The military operation at Guantanamo Bay has come under increased scrutiny as former prisoners have alleged they were tortured. The Pentagon maintains it runs a humane operation there and investigates all allegations of abuse.
The e-mails released by the ACLU include a report by an FBI agent who witnessed "numerous physical abuse incidents of Iraqi civilian detainees" including choking, beatings and placing lighted cigarettes inside ears. One detainee, according to an e-mail report, had been left in a room at near 100 degrees and had pulled out his hair during the night.
One detainee was interrogated while wrapped in an Israeli flag and bombarded with loud music and strobe lights, according to an FBI agent's account contained in an e-mail posted on the ACLU Web site.
Some of abuses were allegedly committed by military personnel posing as FBI agents, since the bureau had forged a good rapport with the prisoners. If the President approved torture, that is a clear breech of international law. But we really don't care about international law. And it would be an abuse of the system to impeach a wartime president for some harmless frat pranks, wouldn't it?
Monday, December 20, 2004
Well, here's another one of those Internet tests that tells you all kinds of stuff you already know about yourself. But who can deny the tailor-made, free electronic analysis?
Take Free Advanced Big 30 Personality Test
Advanced Big 30 Personality Test Results
Sociability ||||||||||||||||||||| 67% Aggressiveness |||||||||||||||||||||||| 79% Assertiveness ||||||||||||||| 44% Activity Level |||||||||||||||||| 60% Excitement-Seeking |||||||||||||||||||||||| 77% Enthusiasm |||||||||||||||||| 60% Extroversion ||||||||||||||||||||| 64% Trust |||||||||||||||||| 56% Morality |||||||||||| 40% Altruism |||||||||||| 31% Cooperation |||||||||||||||||||||||||||| 82% Modesty ||||||||||||||| 46% Sympathy |||||||||||| 39% Friendliness ||||||||||||||| 49% Confidence |||||||||||| 39% Neatness ||||||||||||||||||||| 68% Dutifulness |||||||||||||||||| 56% Achievement |||||||||||||||||| 60% Self-Discipline |||||||||||| 38% Cautiousness |||||||||||||||||||||||| 72% Orderliness |||||||||||||||||| 55% Anxiety |||||||||||| 32% Volatility |||||||||||| 31% Depression ||||||||||||||| 41% Self-Consciousness |||||||||||| 36% Impulsiveness |||||||||||||||||| 57% Vulnerability ||||||||| 23% Emotional Stability ||||||||||||||||||||| 64% Imagination |||||||||||||||||| 51% Artistic Interests |||||||||||||||||| 60% Introspection |||||||||||||||||| 53% Adventurousness ||||||||||||||| 50% Intellect ||||||||||||||||||||| 70% Liberalism ||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||| 94% Openmindedness ||||||||||||||||||||| 63%
personality tests by similarminds.com
Time's Person of the Year is Scum. The Person of the Year has no morals, no scruples, no dignity, no shame, no heart, no brain, no courage and no soul. He stands behind Rumsfeld, chanting some sort of abstract verse that he is doing a "fabulous, great, really fine job," while, as usual, ignoring reality and shifting the blame to others. He did it when that huge munitions cache went missing (blamed US troops), and he's doing it again now, blaming the native forces in Iraq for all their problems.
Bush warned Americans that Iraq's elections "are just the beginning of a process" and cautioned that "I certainly don't expect the process to be trouble-free."
"Yet I am confident of the result. I'm confident that terrorists will fail, the elections will go forward and Iraq will be a democracy that reflects the values and traditions of its people," he said.
Bush acknowledged that efforts to train Iraqis to take charge of the country's security had "mixed" results, and noted "there have been some cases where, when the heat got on, they left the battlefield."
"That's unacceptable. Iraq will never secure itself if they have troops that, when the heat gets on, they leave the battlefield," he said, adding that he was "confident" that training efforts would pay off in the long run.
This from the man who skipped duty flying jets drunk across the Texas skies. All those lazy Iraqi troops need is some more tough-love from the Greatest Fighting Force in the History of Time and Space, and, if their country is in total and utter tatters, it's their own fault for running away yellow when the going gets tough. This enrages me almost unlike anything else I can think of. The Person of the Year is a dull, maleable husk, like a spoilt school child: he thinks he's resolute in his heart and he believes his ideas and ideals come from within, while it's obvious to the rest of the world that he's a clean-shaven puppet. But this, this, to impugn the courage and heart of a people fighting in and for their own goddam country against foreign invaders and local insurgents is the worst kind of human debasement, cowardice and hypocrisy.
This is no man. This is not anything I can call a man. This is the Person of the Year.
David Shaw at the LA Times offers up his list of the worst news stories of the year today.
• Rather's "60 Minutes" story, based on what now appear to have been forged or otherwise fraudulent documents, saying that President Bush had received preferential treatment in the National Guard. In his zeal to beat his rivals to this juicy story, Rather failed to either properly authenticate the documents or find out the identity of the original source for them.
• Ronald Reagan was a beloved American icon, so it wasn't surprising that media coverage of his death reflected a massive outpouring of affection. But much of the media seemed to suffer from amnesia. Yes, President Reagan rightly received much credit for the collapse of global communism and end of the Cold War.
Much less attention was paid, though, to his longtime indifference to the global scourge of AIDS. The epidemic was three years old before Reagan made his first line recommendation for AIDS research funding, four years old (with more than 6,000 American deaths) before he first mentioned AIDS in public and six years old (with more than 20,000 American deaths) by the time he gave his first speech devoted entirely to AIDS. That's not the sort of record that calls for an addition to Mt. Rushmore.
He also mentions the Janet Jackson affair, and the scandal over Jack Kelley at "USA Today." I can't even remember what was this year versus last year, but I think I would put the Howard Dean scream at the top of the list. This was the most egregious example of how the media giveth and taketh away. For Dean did build himself up over the Internet and the glossy coverage it brought him, only to be ruined by the same aparatus. Whether it was a nihilistic act of destruction (one of my friends who works in public radio in Boston told me soberly one afternoon that he was depressed about the whole Dean thing; that he had to take part in it; and that the media tore him down, basically, for no other reason than because they could) or something more sinister, an exciting, invigorating candidacy was reduced to snickers overnight. It, for me, was one of the great, sighing bouts of national resignation, a feeling that there was nothing anyone could do about anything, that the Machine was unstoppable. It was proof that snotty upstarts could still be stopped dead, and that journalism was a shallow, vain and desperate affair.
I am going to think of some others from 2004, and would love to hear your thoughts.
Sunday, December 19, 2004
Like some heartwarming animated special, Iraq has to cancel Christmas this year. But I don't think it's going to be saved by any elves or reindeer or by the untouchable, loving faith of an innocent child.
After a painful year of church bombings, death threats and assassinations, Iraq's 800,000 Christians have all but canceled Christmas.
"Officially, we are not celebrating this year," said Father Peter Haddad, who is in charge of the Virgin Mary Church in Baghdad.
Fearing insurgent attacks, bishops across the predominantly Muslim country recently announced that they would call off the usual Christmas festivals and celebrations. Some churches will also forgo Christmas Eve Mass, a step unheard of even during Saddam Hussein's regime.
Christians have lived in Iraq for hundreds of years, enjoying peaceful relations with Muslims for most of that time. But after the U.S.-led invasion in March 2003, insurgents began targeting the community, accusing Christians of cooperating with American "infidels" by working as interpreters, house cleaners and merchants. Harassment by Islamists became so bad that many Christian women took to wearing head scarves to blend in.
Some churches have resorted to hiring armed guards.
It's all the tangential, spiraling ways in which people are affected by war. Sorry, no Christmas this year. Awwwww.... Laugh track. But it's true. There will be no Christmas this year in Iraq. It's too dangerous. I'm sure some well-meaning Wal-Mart shoppers will pass around a penny jug and start an internet chain mail and tsk righteously about the shame of it all, the shame, can you imagine? No Christmas? In your own country! What a shame that they would do that. Aw, shame, shame, shame, shame. Where are the stereos? And hockey sticks? And action figures? Bleep, ching, swack!
So we'll just have to find another use for Time magazine. Certainly not for learning anything or getting any news. This is fucking despicable.
Time chose Bush "for sticking to his guns (literally and figuratively), for reshaping the rules of politics to fit his 10-gallon-hat leadership style and for persuading a majority of voters this time around that he deserved to be in the White House for another four years," Jim Kelly wrote in the magazine.
Bush was also Time's choice to appear on the cover in 2000 after winning the presidential election despite losing the popular vote.
Last year the magazine picked "The American Soldier."
I don't have anything to say, really. Here we have one of the nation's top publications -- ahem -- justifying all the murder, corruption, greed and distortion of this terrible Administration, and we wonder why this monstrous thing can be "reelected."
PS. I just noticed that the cover reads "President George W. Bush: American Revolutionary." What the FUCK?! AHHHHHH!!!
Russian oil giant YUKOS was sold today to a mystery bidder. That's all we know.
A Russian mystery bidder, Baikalfinansgroup, won the auction of the main production asset of oil giant Yukos with a bid of 260.75 billion roubles (9.35 billion dollars).
Told you. Mystery bidder. That's it. This story is only minutes old, so it's a newborn mystery. What the hell is going on in Russia? No one honeslty believes Putin went after Khodorkhovsky because of those back taxes. Yes, the imprisoned CEO was involved in some shady dealings in order to scoff YUKOS up, but everything was shady in the Russian Wild West following the collapse of the Soviet Union. It was a capitalist's dream, n'est-ce pas? But now, The State is quieting dissent, arresting ambitious billionaires and carving up their corporate empires. Sounds like something is brewing, something special on the horizon. Does Russia have her eyes at another stab at world dominance? Or is she content, for now, to sit back and watch the US fall apart, while strengthening her hold at home? This really is the New World Order, and we get to watch from the center of it all.