Sunday, July 31, 2005


One million say "U.S. Out - Now!"

Unfortunately, or fortunately (I'm not sure which), that's one million Iraqis. And talk about burying the lead! The New York Times covers the fact that supporters of Moqtada al-Sadr collected one million signatures in just three weeks (!) on a petition demanding that foreign troops leave the country in a single paragraph, and not just a single paragraph, but in the 14th paragraph (!) in an article whose headline, "Bomb Kills 2 Private Guards for British Consulate in Iraq", describes something completely ordinary and completely buries the extraordinary (and significant) event hidden in the 14th paragraph. And, in case there's any doubt, this is not some ambiguous petition that even American Congressional Democrats could sign. It reads: "I hereby declare my rejection of the forces of occupation and demand their withdrawal." Straight and to the point.

Demonstrations on Sept. 24 will give Americans a chance to add their voices to those of the one million Iraqis. Be there.

Update: Emphasizing the importance of the fact that the Times only covers this significant development in the 14th paragraph of its story is the copy of the article that appears in the paper I read, the San Jose Mercury News, which could only find room for the first twelve paragraphs of the story. In other words, the readers of the Mercury News, and no doubt of many other papers as well, will never learn about these one million signatures, because the news wasn't fit to print (or just didn't fit, whatever).

Thursday, July 28, 2005



Many liberals (and everyone to their right) profess great moral outrage when Cuba dares to arrest (and subsequently try, convict, and imprison) people for collaborating with, and taking money and orders from, American agents. This should serve as just a little reminder of why Cuba is forced to act:
"Caleb McCarry, a veteran Latin America hand and congressional staffer, was named the US 'Cuba transition coordinator' tasked with helping speed Fidel Castro's downfall, officials said.

"US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice announced the appointment of McCarry to the position created on the recommendation last year of a panel established by President George W. Bush.

"Rice said the aim of the effort was to 'accelerate he demise of Castro's tyranny' on the Caribbean island 90 miles (140 kilometers) off the US coast that the Communist guerrilla leader has run since 1959.

"'For nearly 50 years, the regime of Fidel Castro has condemned the people of Cuba to a tragic fate of repression and poverty,' Rice told a gathering of US officials and Cuban dissidents at the State Department."
Needless to say, the reporter doesn't bother to interview anyone who might rebut Rice's absurd charges, but allow me to help out -- that "repression and poverty" Rice refers to has resulted in Cuba having infant mortality rates and life expectancies at birth almost identical to that of the United States, more medical students than the U.S. (not more per capita, more), and the highest number of teachers per capita in the entire world.

Is Cuba a "poor" country? Economically, no doubt it is, although no worse than a hundred other countries around the world. In every other way, not at all. And as far as "repression", one thing is for sure. There isn't a single Cuban like Jose Padilla who has spent the last three years in jail without having any charges brought against him.


Open thread: "Over There"

Last night a new TV series "Over There", based on the current war in Iraq, debuted on American television. I didn't watch it and have no intention to; I prefer documentaries to docudramas, and the continued failure of networks to show the reality of what is going on in Iraq (see Jessica Simpson item below) is far more relevant than this series. However, I'll open up this thread in case any readers did watch it and want to discuss it.


"Give war a chance"

As readers know, I pay as little attention to commentators as possible, preferring to concentrate on the news. This may explain why, although I know my disagreement with New York Times columnist Tom Friedman is nearly total, I was unaware of just how despicable a person he is until I read the latest from Norman Solomon, in which I learn that Friedman's favorite expression, used numerous times over the years in a wide variety of situations, is "Give war a chance." Whether it's Yugoslavia, or Afghanistan, or Iraq, Friedman's answer doesn't vary. Lovely. Just lovely.


Murder in Britain

I didn't write about this here, although I meant to, but here's what I wrote three days ago in the comments on another blog (Politics in the Zeros):
"I predict that sooner or later that 'heavy jacket' is going to turn out to be just a normal jacket that a million people in Britain were wearing that day. The police have a vested interest in slanting the facts to make it appear they had SOME justification for thinking the man was wearing some kind of suicide bomb (although, it should be pointed out, as far as I know NO such bomb has ever been set off in Britain)."
And here's today's news:
"Jean Charles de Menezes, the Brazilian shot dead in the head, was not wearing a heavy jacket that might have concealed a bomb, and did not jump the ticket barrier when challenged by armed plainclothes police, his cousin said yesterday.

"'He used a travel card,' she said. 'He had no bulky jacket, he was wearing a jeans jacket. But even if he was wearing a bulky jacket that wouldn't be an excuse to kill him.'"
(Hat tip to Suburban Guerilla)

Wednesday, July 27, 2005


Misleading the American public

The top American general in Iraq was talking withdrawal today. Sort of:
"If the political process continues to go positively, and if the development of the security forces continues to go as it is going, I do believe we'll still be able to take some fairly substantial reductions after these elections in the spring and summer."
Of course, Generals and members of the Bush Administration have been making identical statements since probably April, 2003, a fact which neither the Washington Post (link above) nor AP bother to mention. But that doesn't stop both of them from spreading around the "p" word in order to help the Administration pull the wool over the eyes of the American public. The Post headlines "U.S. Signals Spring Start for Pullout" while AP goes even further: "U.S. General Seeks Iraq Pullout by 2006." But there will be no "pullout" by 2006, even if the General's promises come true; AP reports that the talk concerns a grand total of 20,000 troops out of the current 135,000, a whopping 15%. But you'll have to strain your ears trying to hear that in the media, over the din of the word "pullout".

The lead phrase in the Post was particularly interesting: "There could be substantial withdrawals of some of the 135,000 U.S. troops in the country as early as next spring." "Substantial" withdrawals of "some" of the troops? What the heck does that mean? Heck, why not "total" withdrawal of "some" of the troops? And, of course, "next spring" isn't exactly next month, another fact which isn't exactly emphasized in the coverage.

Update: Reuters falls for the spin hook, line, and sinker: "U.S. aims to sharply cut Iraq force within a year." Right.


In your face, George Bush

I'm practically speechless. Via Daily KOS, this is from a judge's statement today on sentencing to 22 years in prison a man who attempted to bomb Los Angeles International airport in 2000. Needless to say I am wise enough to know that the statement "the system works" should really be "the system works under some limited circumstances," but even so...
"I would like to convey the message that our system works. We did not need to use a secret military tribunal, or detain the defendant indefinitely as an enemy combatant, or deny him the right to counsel, or invoke any proceedings beyond those guaranteed by or contrary to the United States Constitution.

"'I would suggest that the message to the world from today's sentencing is that our courts have not abandoned our commitment to the ideals that set our nation apart. We can deal with the threats to our national security without denying the accused fundamental constitutional protections.

"'Despite the fact that Mr. Ressam is not an American citizen and despite the fact that he entered this country intent upon killing American citizens, he received an effective, vigorous defense, and the opportunity to have his guilt or innocence determined by a jury of 12 ordinary citizens.

"'Most importantly, all of this occurred in the sunlight of a public trial. There were no secret proceedings, no indefinite detention, no denial of counsel.

""The tragedy of September 11th shook our sense of security and made us realize that we, too, are vulnerable to acts of terrorism."

"'Unfortunately, some believe that this threat renders our Constitution obsolete. This is a Constitution for which men and women have died and continue to die and which has made us a model among nations. If that view is allowed to prevail, the terrorists will have won.

"'It is my sworn duty, and as long as there is breath in my body I'll perform it, to support and defend the Constitution of the United States. We will be in recess.'"


Another celebrity weighs in on Iraq

To the extent that an intellectual lightweight can actually "weigh in", of course:

"Jessica Simpson wants to know where missing footage of her and husband Nick Lachey's harrowing trip to Iraq got to - because she thinks Americans would like to see just how bad conditions are there.

"The pop singers-turned-reality TV couple travelled to the war-torn nation to visit US troops as part of a recent ABC TV variety special, and they were both left shellshocked by what they saw.

"But all the controversial moments and harrowing footage of the trip didn't appear in the fun-filled TV show.

"Simpson says, 'It was unbelievable. They didn't show a lot of what really went on with the enemy attacks and the shelling. There was so much stuff that went on and somehow the tapes got mysteriously misplaced.'"
Frankly, I find it hard to believe that she saw much hardship beyond having to do without a hair dryer, but I suppose it is possible. Certainly she's probably seen more of the reality of Iraq than George Bush.

(Hat tip to Atrios).


More swelling with pride

Another in a long-running series entitled "This is capitalism":
"The 16th annual KIDS COUNT Data Book, released today by the Annie E. Casey Foundation, shows a half million more children living in poverty in 2003 than 2000, for a total of nearly 13 million. The study also concludes that five out of 10 child well-being indicators worsened since 2000. In addition to child poverty, there was an increase in the percentage of low-birthweight babies between 2000 and 2002; an increase in infant mortality for the first time in 40 years, having reached an all-time low in 2001; and a slight rise in the teen death rate between 2000 and 2002. These findings are in stark contrast with data in last year's KIDS COUNT study that showed eight out of 10 key indicators improved from 1996 to 2001, a period of economic growth and significant expansion of public programs.

"'The nearly 4 million children living in low-income households where neither their parent(s) nor any other adult in the household worked at all in the past year is an alarming increase of more than 1 million children since 2000,' says Douglas W. Nelson, president of the Annie E. Casey Foundation in Baltimore. 'The best way to improve the future for America's most disadvantaged kids is to improve the financial security of their parents today.'"
13 million children living in poverty in the richest country in the world. I'll be waiting in vain for either the "Christians" or the extollers of the virtues of capitalism to show their concern.


Armstrong update

Sportswriter Dave Zirin tells us a lot more about Lance Armstrong and his political statements over the years:
"Armstrong in a recent interview laid out his views on a number of issues, describing himself as 'against mixing up state and Church, not keen on guns, pro women's right to choose. And very anti war in Iraq.'"
From the quotes in the article, I'd say the author overstates the extent of the "evolution" of Armstrong's views, but it's definitely worth reading.


Quote of the Day

"Hugo Chavez is a menace in our hemisphere who wishes to disrupt our lives by the influence he has with his oil and by the arrangements he's made with Fidel Castro to potentially try to do harm to the United States through any means."

- U.S. "Representative" Connie Mack IV, explaining why he amended a bill Wednesday to require a federal agency to begin beaming pro-U.S. television and radio broadcasts at Venezuela.
Any means! I laugh, but the invasion of Iraq (to mention just the latest) demonstrates what the U.S. government is capable of doing when it has the fig leaf that some other couuntry is trying to "do harm" to it by "any means".

Poor, deluded Rep. Mack. He actually thinks Hugo Chavez (or Fidel Castro) give a fig about disrupting his precious life, rather than devoting every ounce of their mental energy to improving the lives of the people of their own countries. Of course, it's no surprise that Mack thinks so:

"Mack said Chavez came to his attention earlier this year as he began to educate himself about foreign affairs."
Well, thank goodness we have such well-educated people on the House International Relations Committee; why, this one has been studying foreign affairs for almost six months! And here's what he's learned about a station about which we know so much because, after all, it has been broadcasting since...this weekend!
"Mack warned that Chavez's TV network, Telesur, was patterned after the pro-Islam network Al-Jazeera and could similarly stoke anti-American sentiment throughout Central and South America."
Gee, I just can't imagine why broadcasting the news would stoke anti-American sentiment.

Sadly, it isn't just South Florida Republicans who are so miseducated:

"Rep. Tom Lantos, D-Calif., agreed with Mack.

"'Chavez reportedly entered into a $200 million deal with China's national space administration to launch a satellite into orbit from which he could beam his anticipated hateful media content into homes across Latin America, the Caribbean and beyond,' Lantos said."
Mack gave us some idea of what he (and Lantos and the majority of the House of Representatives) view as "hateful content":
"'Chavez makes almost daily verbal attacks against the U.S. government, against freedom, calling the U.S. an 'imperialistic menace' and accusing us of trying to topple his regime and kill him.'"
The truth hurts. Unfortunately, so does U.S. foreign policy. Just ask the families of the million plus dead Iraqis killed by U.S. foreign policy in the last decade.

Tuesday, July 26, 2005


Posada's (and the CIA's) El Paso surprise

Today in El Paso, Luis Posada Carriles was denied bail in his slow-motion deportation trial. That news wasn't totally surprising, but this may have been:
"A U.S. immigration judge denied bail on Monday for an asylum-seeking former CIA operative from Cuba and asked for legal briefs on whether his role in the 1961 Bay of Pigs invasion was a terrorist act.

"Lawyers for Luis Posada Carriles called the request 'surprising' because they said if Posada is found to have engaged in terrorism, it would imply the CIA did also."
My favorite part of the story is this:
"Posada will 'work with the government in good faith' to answer the terrorism question, said [his lawyer]. 'Mr. Posada doesn't want the U.S. government to jump through hoops.'"
Well, how very very considerate of him. He's happy to see 74 people dead by his indirect hand, and his lifelong dream (and work) has been to see Fidel Castro dead by his own hand, but he doesn't want the poor U.S. government to have to "jump through hoops". How touching.

The story is indeed strange, however. Consider this:

"[The judge] said he would likely consider Posada's conviction in Panama on charges of possessing explosives as a valid prior criminal record barring him from admission to the United States -- despite a Panamanian presidential pardon last year that enabled Posada and three other exiles to walk free after being arrested in connection with an alleged plot to kill Cuban leader Fidel Castro.

"Under immigration law, a foreign pardon does not protect a foreign national from being denied admission into the country."
If the judge acknowledges that Posada has been convicted of attempting to kill Castro (making it a "plot" by the way, not an "alleged" plot), and recognizes that that plot involved enough explosives to kill dozens or hundreds of others at the same time, surely that makes Posada a terrorist in and of itself; why on earth would he need to even consider the Bay of Pigs?

Monday, July 25, 2005


Giving the finger to the purple fingers

Remember all those Iraqis risking their lives, and having to live with purple fingers, in order to vote for "democracy"? April Fools! We were just kidding!
"The new American ambassador to Iraq waded into the debate over its constitution on Monday, signaling that the United States would work to guarantee the rights of Iraqi women and to blunt the desires of ethnic and religious factions pushing for broader autonomy in the new Iraqi state.

"With less than three weeks to go before the country's permanent constitution is supposed to be completed, the new ambassador, Zalmay Khalilzad, indicated that the United States would play an active and, if need be, public role in brokering what he called a 'national compact' among the country's ethnic and sectarian groups."
That compares to, of course, the "private role" the U.S. played in influencing the elections themselves. Not to mention the completely overt role it played in influencing those elections by arresting and otherwise barring from running an entire class of people, namely, members of the Baath Party (and definitely not mentioning the really overt role it played in illegally overthrowing the previous government).

Democracy - of the people, by the people, and for the people. Just so long as those "people" are the U.S. ruling class and not the Iraqi people (or the American people, for that matter).


Quote of the Day

"The biggest downside to a war in Iraq is what you could do with that money. What does a war in Iraq cost a week? A billion? Maybe a billion a day? The budget for the National Cancer Institute is four billion. That has to change.

"Polls say people are much more afraid of cancer than of a plane flying into their house or a bomb or any other form of terrorism. It is a priority for the American public."

- Lance Armstrong, speaking after his victory yesterday in the Tour de France
I'm sure that the families of the tens of thousands of dead Iraqis, Americans, and others, and the hundreds of thousands of seriously wounded might disagree that the money is the "biggest downside", but the fact that Armstrong not only understands the corollary of spending hundreds of billions of dollars on war, but is willing to speak out on the subject, is a good thing (but note that other than the USA Today reference above, I can't find a single other paper who mentioned this statement, whereas numerous articles mentioned his completely inconsequential and totally predictable phone call from George Bush). And the fact that Armstrong is willing to also publicly state that terrorism is not the biggest problem facing Americans or the world, something that Left I on the News has discussed on more than one occasion, is also quite interesting; how many politicians would be willing to make a similar statement?

Armstrong also yesterday said "never say never" when asked if he might get into politics. What are his politics? I don't know, but the quote above is at least a start.


Fonda comes out

This just in:
"Actress and activist Jane Fonda says she intends to take a cross-country bus tour to call for an end to U.S. military operations in Iraq.

"Fonda said her anti-war tour in March will use a bus that runs on 'vegetable oil.' She will be joined by families of Iraq war veterans and her daughter.

"Prompted by a question from the audience, Fonda said war veterans that she has met on a nationwide book tour have encouraged her to break her silence on the Iraq war.

"'I've decided I'm coming out,' she said.

"Hundreds of people in the audience cheered loudly when Fonda announced her intentions to join the anti-Iraq war movement."
In a related story, right-wingers across the land died of an overdose of ectasy.

Like it or not, celebreties are important - they attract attention in a way that the most articulate non-celebrities just can't do. It is somewhat bizarre that someone who hasn't even said a word on the subject previously suddenly wants to go on a nationwide speaking tour against the war, but perhaps we can chalk this up to Fonda's "special status", i.e., wanting to avoid being a lightning rod. But here's the thing - anyone likely to utter the words "Hanoi Jane" wasn't likely to become an opponent of the war in Iraq anyway.

A majority of Americans already oppose the war; the biggest task isn't so much broadening that opposition as deepening it, and that's something that Jane Fonda may well be able to help accomplish. And her focus now, as was the case with her opposition to the war in Vietnam, on veterans, is a good one.

Sunday, July 24, 2005


Political humor of the day

From the New York Times:
After his first four days in solitary confinement at an American military prison in Iraq, Cyrus Kar was taken from his small cell and brought before two F.B.I. agents, who before questioning him gave him a sheet of paper listing his rights.

"I have the right to a lawyer?" Mr. Kar, an aspiring filmmaker from Los Angeles, said he asked as he scanned the list.

"Yes," he said he was told by one of the agents, whom he knew only as Robert.

"Do you actually have lawyers here?" Mr. Kar inquired.

"No," he quoted the agent as explaining. "The last guy who requested one is still waiting two years later, in Afghanistan."
Oh hyuk, hyuk, hyuk. Man, that's a knee-slapper! I'm sure Kar was laughing himself silly over that one for the 55 days he was kept in prison.

Saturday, July 23, 2005


Capitalism, encapsulated

Today's page one banner headline in the San Jose Mercury News:
Job gains lag; profits soar

Friday, July 22, 2005


Just makes you swell with pride to be an American...

This just in:
"The Bush administration in recent days has been lobbying to block legislation supported by Republican senators that would bar the U.S. military from engaging in 'cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment' of detainees, from hiding prisoners from the Red Cross, and from using interrogation methods not authorized by a new Army field manual."


Giving new meaning to the phrase "wishful thinking"

Here's what we're told by the AP today:
"An important gauge of future economic activity rose strongly in June and jobless benefit claims dropped last week by the greatest amount in more than two years, suggesting that the U.S. economy is continuing to grow.

"But many analysts say the expansion has begun slowing from last year's torrid pace in response to Federal Reserve hikes in U.S. interest rates."
So the economy is continuing to grow, but slightly less rapidly than "torrid", eh? Here's what actually happened this week:All in all, let Business Week sum it up:
"It's been an unusually torrid summer in terms of trimming payrolls. U.S. corporations announced plans in June to cut 110,996 jobs -- the highest monthly total in 17 months -- and July's toll could turn out to be steeper. Overall job cuts are on the rise in 2005, reaching 538,274 through June."
Yeah, something is "torrid" alright. It just isn't the "economy".


Representative government...not

According to the latest polls, only 52% of Americans say American forces should remain in Iraq until the situation has stabilized; forty-three percent say the troops should be brought home "now". As far as I know, not a single one of the 535 members of Congress takes the same position as 43% of Americans.

Thursday, July 21, 2005


FAIR remembers

The common standard in American media is that history began last week. Jim Naureckas of FAIR has a slightly better memory, as he writes about a recent reporting problem at Newsweek magazine in the August issue of Extra!:
Newsweek ran a sensational claim based on an anonymous source who turned out to be completely wrong. While one can't blame the subsequent violence entirely on this report, it's fair to say that credulous reporting like this contributed to a climate in which many innocent Muslims died.

The inaccurate Newsweek report appeared in the magazine's March 17, 2003 issue, on the eve of the invasion of Iraq. It read in part:

Saddam could decide to take Baghdad with him. One Arab intelligence officer interviewed by Newsweek spoke of "the green mushroom" over Baghdad -- the modern-day caliph bidding a grotesque bio-chem farewell to the land of the living alongside thousands of his subjects as well as his enemies. Saddam wants to be remembered. He has the means and the demonic imagination. It is up to U.S. armed forces to stop him before he can achieve notoriety for all time.
Unlike a more recent Newsweek item (5/9/05) involving accusations that Guantanamo interrogators flushed a copy of the Quran down a toilet, Newsweek has yet to retract the bogus repor about the "green mushroom" threat.
Examining the Pentagon's denials of the "Quran flushing" incident, Naureckas also brings us this excellent reminder of some other history:
As an example of the value of Pentagon denials, take the February 2003 statement of Gen. Daniel K. McNeill, the top U.S. commander in Afghanistan, that "we are not chaining peole to the ceilings...Our interrogations techniques are...in accordance with what is generally accepted interrogation techniques" (New York Times, 3/4/03). More than two years later, on May 20, 2005, the New York Times reported that just two months before McNeill's denial, at least two prisoners were beaten to death while chained to the ceiling at the Bagram air base in Afghanistan, by U.S. troops under his command.


The "exit strategy" in Iraq is a sham

With renewed attention being focused on the lack of capability of the Iraqi forces being trained by the Americans to "take their place" ("As Iraqis stand up, we will stand down"), it's time to repeat a post from May 12:
The "exit strategy" in Iraq, promoted by supporters of the invasion as well as opponents of the invasion who are now supporters of the occupation (a.k.a. the "finish the 'job' position), is one of training an Iraqi army to take over from the Americans. Once the Iraqis are ready to assume responsibility for the security of their country, the Americans will leave, or so the story goes.

But one look at the recent American offensive in northern Iraq, and before that offensives in Fallujah and elsewhere, makes it clear that this strategy is a fantasy. Because the only way in which the Americans, the best-equipped ground force in the world, have managed to score major victories against the resistance is through the massive use of aerial power, in the form of attack planes and helicopter gunships. Is there any chance at all that the U.S. is not only training Iraqi pilots, but also preparing to leave attack planes, helicopters, and cruise missiles behind for the Iraqi government to use on that mythical day when American forces leave? Are you kidding? And let them fall into the "wrong hands" when that government falls the week after the Americans leave? Not on your life. Which tells you that the entire plan for the U.S. to train Iraqi forces and then leave is a complete sham. It's not going to happen. If the U.S. forces leave Iraq, it will be because they are forced out by the combination of the Iraqi resistance and the worldwide antiwar movement, just as was the case in Vietnam.
Incidentally, this is reinforced by the recently-released Iraq Body Count report, from which we learned that 90% of Iraqi civilian fatalities inflicted by the Americans were a result of air attacks; we can only assume that the percentage of fatalities inflicted in Iraqi resistance forces is even higher.

Out now! It's the only realistic exit strategy, and the only just one.

Wednesday, July 20, 2005


Capitalism kills

Headline: "Heat wave leads to 18 deaths in Phoenix". Fourteen of the victims were thought to be homeless; three of the others were elderly women, no doubt living alone with no one to check on them, thanks to the atomization of capitalist society.

"Christians", meanwhile, are busy using their political muscle to agitate against gay marriage.


Quote of the Day

"To re-phrase the Downing Street memo: 'How will the policy ever fix these facts?'"

- Jane Wells, writing on the Huffington Post about the data released yesterday by Iraq Body Count on civilian deaths in Iraq.


Sexist Quote of the Day

"I have no problem about the money -- but my wife has a problem with that. She was worried that means less diamonds every year or something like that."

- California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, talking about his decision (under pressure) to cancel his contract with fitness magazines and forego $3.5 million still coming to him under that contract.

Tuesday, July 19, 2005


Felons in the White House

Suburban Guerilla says it all (links in the original):
So George "Says What He Means, Means What He Says" Bush changed his tune today and says "if someone has committed a crime, they will no longer work in this administration."

Except for John Poindexter, Elliott Abrams and Otto Reich. I suppose we can cut him some slack on famous unindicted co-conspirators like John Negroponte and Michael Ledeen.
Actually, SG (a.k.a. SM) is being charitable, since Bush didn't refer to felons, he referred to "committing a crime". Which would include himself and rest of the war criminals infesting the Administration. Indeed, it would be a mighty lonely place if all those who had committed a crime were to leave.


The Iraqi body count

Just in time for the death of Gen. William "Body Count" Westmoreland (see item below), Iraqi Body Count has released a comprehensive dossier analyzing and summarizing Iraqi civilian deaths that have occured between March 2003 and March 2005 (and hence sadly out of date considering the number of Iraqis killed in the last few months):And in a statistic which can be calculated from other statistics but not directly called out by IBC, 34% of the deaths were caused by airstrikes, which means that more than 90% of the civilians killed by American forces were killed by airstrikes.

Not to worry, though; Iraqis don't put the same high price on life as does a Westerner. At least, that's what George Bush, Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, CondoLIEzza Rice, and the rest of the war criminals in Washington are thinking. How else can you justify dropping bombs on places when you really have no idea who might be inside, only vague "tips" that they might be "insurgent hideouts"? And is this callous disregard for the lives of Iraqis something new? You know it's not. We need only remember the intentional bombing of the al-Ameriyya air raid shelter on February 13, 1991, in which 310 Iraqis, including 130 children, were obliterated by American bombs.

"Fighting them over there so we don't have to fight them over here"? Even if that were true (it isn't, it's absurd, as the events in London most recently proved), 25,000+ Iraqi civilians dead could only be justified as a way of preventing the potential (and very unlikely) deaths of another 3,000 Americans if you subscribed to Westmoreland's racist beliefs.


Quote of the (yester)Day

"The Oriental doesn't put the same high price on life as does a Westerner. Life is plentiful, life is cheap in the Orient, and as the philosophy of the Orient expresses it, life is, uh, is not important."

- racist (and now dead) General William Westmoreland, speaking in the film Hearts and Minds about his experiences leading American forces in the Vietnam war.
Westmoreland's sentiment is every bit as prevelant today, with the exception that the current objects of Western racism are Iraqis, Palestinians and Muslims in general. The fact that official American sources won't even attempt to count the number of dead Iraqis, and the fact that Western media sources rarely if ever mention even the names of dead Iraqis or Palestinians, nevertheless actually interview their grieving families, is just one reflection of Westmoreland's philosophy.


Terrorists and anti-terrorists

The U.S. protects the former, and jails the latter, when it suits them.


"A man tortured by order of terrorist Luis Posada Carriles in Venezuela has revealed how more than 60 people were murdered by groups supervised by that Cuban-born criminal in the South American country.

"In an article published in the weekly Todos Adentro, Bastidas recounts how Posada was one of the Cuban counterrevolutionaries hired by the Venezuelan government from 1965 to 1970 to head up the repression.

"The group also included Orlando Bosch, Ricardo 'El Mono' Fernandez Navarrete and Orlando Garca, among others."
And on the anti-terrorist front:
"The detention of five Cubans found guilty of espionage in the United States is arbitrary and in violation of international law, according to a UN panel in a finding to which AP had access.

"The ruling of the UN working group on arbitrary detentions states that the five Cubans - convicted in 2001 of trying to infiltrate US military bases and exile groups in Florida - were denied access to the totality of the evidence against them, as were their lawyers.

"The panel determined that the trial did not take place in the climate of objectivity and impartiality required to reach the conclusion that the regulations for an impartial trial were observed.

"The legal procedure in the case was incompatible with international agreements signed by the United States, which guarantee that any person accused of a crime has the right to make use, with full equality, of all the facilities necessary for preparing his or her defense, said the panel.

"The working group concluded that those deficiencies are so grave that they confer an arbitrary character to the privation of liberty of those five persons, according to the AP cable."
And will this ruling by the U.N. actually cause the U.S. to release the five Cuban anti-terrorist fighters or give them a new trial? No, only continued international pressure can do that. As of this writing, only a handful of Western media sources have even picked up this story, and the chances that we'll hear a Democrat weigh in on the subject are, in the terms of mathematicians and physicists, vanishingly small.


Today's puzzler

This lead in today's San Jose Mercury News:
"For the last four months, investors and employees of Hewlett-Packard have been wondering how new Chief Executive Mark Hurd plans to turn around the company."
Before revealing the mysterious answer that has had investors scratching their heads for four months, let's review the multiple choice options. Could it be A) layoffs? B) firings? C) reductions in force? D) redundancies? E) letting people go? And the answer is...

All of the above:

"Hewlett-Packard said this morning it will cut 14,500 jobs, or 10 percent of its worldwide workforce, over the next year and a half."
Oh but wait, there's more, that inexcusably wasn't one of the choices above:
"HP also said it will scale back its retirement benefits for employees."
Trying to make sure a company has more money? Make sure the workers have less money. It's just that simple. And for that you get paid the big bucks. Not for having the intelligence to figure this out. For having the ruthlessness to carry it out.

Monday, July 18, 2005


If only they would listen to the bloggers...

An international conference is going on in Jordan, analyzing the abysmal failures of the U.S. deconstruction "reconstruction" projects in Iraq:
"Iraqi and international officials who gathered Monday to discuss reconstruction in Iraq said the $18.4 billion U.S.-led rebuilding program has failed to provide Iraqis with adequate power, water and sanitation more than two years after the invasion."
The international community plans to do things differently than the Americans:
"While couching criticism in diplomatic language, officials from the World Bank and the United Nations made it clear that the $13.5 billion international rebuilding effort would differ from the U.S. approach.

"The international officials said they would learn from the U.S. experience by relying more on Iraqi contractors. Besides being cheaper, Iraqi contractors often face fewer security concerns, said Michael Bell, a Canadian official overseeing part of the international reconstruction effort.

"Bell said about 2 percent of World Bank and U.N. project costs are for security. The U.S. estimate for security costs is 16 percent to 22 percent."
And the Americans are at least pretending they're taking the clue as well:
"While not acknowledging any mistakes, U.S. officials at the meeting said they, too, were committed to using more local contractors with input from recently elected provincial councils."
All well and good. However, here's something that Iraqi blogger Riverbend wrote in August, 2003, just eleven days after she began blogging:
"Yesterday, I read how it was going to take up to $90 billion to rebuild Iraq. Bremer was shooting out numbers about how much it was going to cost to replace buildings and bridges and electricity, etc.

"Listen to this little anecdote. One of my cousins works in a prominent engineering company in Baghdad- we’ll call the company H. This company is well-known for designing and building bridges all over Iraq. My cousin, a structural engineer, is a bridge freak. He spends hours talking about pillars and trusses and steel structures to anyone who’ll listen.

"As May was drawing to a close, his manager told him that someone from the CPA wanted the company to estimate the building costs of replacing the New Diyala Bridge on the South East end of Baghdad. He got his team together, they went out and assessed the damage, decided it wasn’t too extensive, but it would be costly. They did the necessary tests and analyses (mumblings about soil composition and water depth, expansion joints and girders) and came up with a number they tentatively put forward- $300,000. This included new plans and designs, raw materials (quite cheap in Iraq), labor, contractors, travel expenses, etc.

"Let’s pretend my cousin is a dolt. Let’s pretend he hasn’t been working with bridges for over 17 years. Let’s pretend he didn’t work on replacing at least 20 of the 133 bridges damaged during the first Gulf War. Let’s pretend he’s wrong and the cost of rebuilding this bridge is four times the number they estimated- let’s pretend it will actually cost $1,200,000. Let’s just use our imagination.

"A week later, the New Diyala Bridge contract was given to an American company. This particular company estimated the cost of rebuilding the bridge would be around- brace yourselves- $50,000,000 !!"
As so often the case, the young woman from Iraq shows more insight than all the New York Times and Washington Post columnists put together:
"I always say this war is about oil. It is. But it is also about huge corporations that are going to make billions off of reconstructing what was damaged during this war. Can you say Haliburton?"


Missing persons report

In a nearly amazing development, former UN weapons inspectors join the lone voice of Left I on the News in calling for the release of Iraqi scientists including Gen. Amer al-Saadi, Dr. Rihab Taha and Dr. Huda Ammash, all held for more than two years without charges, and in some (perhaps all) cases, in solitary confinement with minimal priveleges and no rights whatsoever (and, I hasten to add, without the slightest legal authority on the part of the United States to hold them):
"Ex-inspector Rod Barton, an Australian biologist who was a key deputy to Duelfer, said it's 'outrageous' that the Iraqis are still held, and cited the example of Huda Salih Mahdi Ammash, a bioweapons specialist in the 1980s.

"'Huda is there accused of restarting the bioweapons program in the mid-1990s. And there was no such program,' he said."
"Facts? We don't need no steenkin' facts." - George Bush.

As a reminder of the outrageous way in which these people, who surrendered voluntarily to American authorities, have been treated, here's an excerpt from a post from May, 2004:

[Gen. al-Saadi has been] held in solitary confinement for that entire time, with the "privilege" of receiving one letter a month from his wife, and denied the right to read newspapers, listen to the radio, or watch television.
Al-Saadi, Taha, and Ammash were fortunate to escape the fate of Mohammad Munim al-Izmerly, another Iraqi scientist who was, it appears, beaten to death by American forces in February, 2004. The coverup of his death (there's an "investigation" still in progress, don't ya' know) continues.


Dog bites man

I've been amused over the amount of attention given to the New York Times story which revealed that the U.S. had approved a plan to interfere in the recent Iraqi elections, but had "rescinded the proposal because of Congressional opposition." Amused and disgusted at the same time, because in the 972-word article, there was not a hint that this was not business as usual.

In his essential book Rogue State, William Blum outlines 24 different cases of U.S. intervention in foreign elections from 1950 to 1998, and that doesn't even include interventions such as the most recent one in Haiti, in which the U.S. was instrumental not in helping to elect a favored candidate, but in removing an already-elected unfavored one.

God forbid, though, that the Times would remind its readers of that history, as a piece of significant knowledge by which the veracity of the Administration's denial (actually more of a "non-denial denial" anyway) can be judged.

Sunday, July 17, 2005


"Expert" analysis

Leslie Gelb is a longtime New York Times correspondent, editor, and columnist, president emeritus of the Council on Foreign Relations, and served in senior positions in the Departments of Defense and State. He ought have more penetrating insights into what's happening in Iraq than most of us, especially since he just spent ten days in Iraq. But, as his article in today's Parade magazine shows, he doesn't. And why he doesn't is what is interesting.

Gelb spent those ten days in Iraq "as a guest of our State Department", and had conversations with "upwards of 150 Iraqi leaders and our senior military offeicers and diplomatic officials." What is missing from this picture?

Gelb's article, "When Can We Leave Iraq?", contains some frequently made observations (Americans and Iraqi leaders only leave the Green Zone in armed SUV convoys or sheltered by tanks, only three of 81 Iraqi battalions are capable of fighting "independently", etc.). But it also contains some strange material. Searching for the "good things" that "we" have going for us, he talks about the "sense of idealism, nobility, and dedication" of the Americans serving there. But the one he chooses to quote, a Hispanic-American foreign service officer, says "The American public put me through college and law school, and I wanted to give something back." If that's the best example of "idealism, nobility, and dedication" he could find, I'm afraid I'm not too impressed. And Gelb claims that "not a one [of the Americans he talked to] complained about having to be in Iraq," which should give you some idea of the type of person he chose to (or was allowed to) talk to, since we know there are thousands of soldiers who have deserted rather than being sent back to Iraq, and even some who have committed suicide.

Gelb also talks about the "promising and impressive" Iraqi leadership. His example? The speaker of the National Assembly, who spent 25 years in exile in the U.S. and now "wants to cut political deals" and demostrates the "widespread instinct for political wheeling and dealing." "Promising and impressive" leadership?

Gelb acknowledges that water and electricity are in bad shape, but in the same breath repeats a commonplace assertion: "We proudly build many schools and hospitals." Really? Everything I've read indicates the health care system in Iraq is in crisis, and although some schools have received new paint and desks and pencils, I'm not sure that any have been "built" as Gelb asserts. He cites no evidence, and I can certainly find none to back up those claims. Gelb should stop listening to State Department boasts and ask for actual data. It's called journalism.

Illustrating Gelb's biased sourcing are two nearly identical passages in the article. First [emphasis added]: "To hear Iraqi leaders talk, it is even more obvious that the great majority of Iraqis hate the insurgents and terrorists." And, in the next paragraph, "The great majority of Iraqis do not want to see an American military withdrawal any time soon, to hear Iraqi leaders discuss the subject." Unfortunately for Gelb, those "Iraqi leaders" he's listening to aren't representative of the Iraqi people. A March survey (taken by the U.S. government) showed that a majority of Iraqis oppose having the U.S.-led multinational force in their country, and an even more recent U.S.-sponsored poll showed that an astonishing 45 percent of the population supported the insurgent attacks (and were willing to admit that to a pollster!), and that only 15 percent of those polled said they strongly supported the US-led coalition.

And the really sad part of Gelb's analysis? Even given his rosy and inaccurate sources of information, here's his conclusion:

"What are the odds for success? If the U.S. stays there in force for several more years and does a lot of hard things right, and if Iraqis see real progress and don't lose hope, the country has a decent chance."
And is Gelb willing to urge his children and grandchildren to volunteer for service in Iraq, and for the chance to be one of the thousands of Americans who will die during those "several more years", on the basis of that "decent chance" for success? He doesn't say, but I doubt it very, very much.


History is written by the victors

...and so is the administration of justice. In 1982, there was an assassination attempt against Saddam Hussein which he barely escaped; 150 residents of the village in which it happened were massacred in retaliation. Today, charges were filed against Hussein in connection with those deaths.

In 1993, there was an alleged Iraqi-based assassination plot against former President George Bush. There was no assassination attempt, and it is questionable not only whether Iraq had anything to do with it, but whether there was even a real assassination plot. Nevertheless, in response, Bill Clinton ordered an attack on Iraq, which killed an unknown number of Iraqis, among them at least eight civilians, including Layla al-Attar, one of Iraq's most gifted artists. A decade later, George W. Bush on more than one occasion talked about how "Saddam tried to kill my daddy", and there are those who believe that this was a significant factor in his decision to invade Iraq. As a result of that invasion, tens of thousands, probably well more than 100,000, Iraqis have died, not to mention more than 2000 American and allied forces and contractors.

As of this date, no charges have been filed against George W. Bush.

Saturday, July 16, 2005


Just some dead Palestinians, move along, nothing to see here...


The Washington Post headlines its story: "Israeli Strikes Kill 7 in Hamas As 5-Month Truce Comes to End" (the local paper that I first saw this story in just said "Israeli Strikes Kill 7"). Tacked on at the end of the second paragraph, almost as an afterthought (but at least it wasn't the fourteenth paragraph) comes this: "More than a dozen bystanders were also killed, according to hospital officials here."

Update: I wrote the above in a bit of a hurry yesterday, but the story deserves more comment. Take careful note in the Post story of the description of the murder of the Hamas members:

"Three Hamas fighters were killed when an Apache helicopter and ground troops fired into a hillside redoubt near Salfit, a town in the northern West Bank. Soon after, an Israeli drone aircraft fired a missile into a van in Gaza City, killing four Hamas members, the group said."
Note how "cleanly" these attacks are described. Israelis fire into "a hillside redoubt". A "redoubt" is someplace where fighters are hiding in a defensive position, hardly a place where "bystanders" would be found. Similarly, a missile is fired "into a van". Left out are the crucial details which would expose the callous disregard of the Israelis for the lives of Palestinians, like perhaps the fact that the van was in the middle of an intersection crowded with other cars and pedestrians. From the Post's description, the fact that more than a dozen bystanders were killed is almost completely inexplicable, and certainly no fault of the Israelis.

Thursday, July 14, 2005


Schwarzenegger: Fighting (for) special interests

Teachers (ok, teachers "unions", according to Gov. S)? Firefighters? Special interests. The dietary supplement industry? Obviously totally in the public interest and not a special interest at all, according to special-interest fighting Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger. Although they do have a certain special interest to at least one man: Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger:
Gov. to Be Paid $8 Million by Fitness Magazines

The publications rely heavily on advertising for dietary supplements. Schwarzenegger vetoed a bill that would have regulated their use.


Amusing headline of the day

From the Detroit Free Press:
Bush talks

"President George W. Bush said Wednesday he would withhold judgment about top aide Karl Rove's involvement in leaking the identity of a CIA operative until a federal criminal investigation is complete."
Since when did not saying something become "talking"? Oh wait, I think I know the answer.

Wednesday, July 13, 2005


Quote of the Day

"Every rule has an exception. My mama always told me to compliment the chef at dinner. But that doesn't apply when the chef pees in your soup. Likewise, there's an exception to the rule of source protection. When officialdom uses 'you-can't-use-my- name' to cover a lie, the official is not a source, but a disinformation propagandist -- and Miller and The Times have been all too willing to play Izvestia to the Bush's Kremlinesque prevarications.

"And that is what Miller is protecting: the evil called 'access.'"

- Greg Palast, writing about the jailing of Judith Miller
And this, from the same article, is right on the money and something that hasn't been said by anyone else (including myself), as far as I know:
"Part of her oddball defense is that The Times never ran the story about Wilson's wife. They get no points for that. The Times should have run the story with the headline: BUSH OPERATIVE COMMITS FELONY TO PUNISH WHISTLEBLOWER. The lead paragraph should have been, 'Today, Mr. K--- R--- [or other slime ball as appropriate] attempted to plant sensitive intelligence information on The New York Times, a felony offense, in an attempt to harm former Ambassador Joseph Wilson who challenged the President's claim regarding Iraq's nuclear program.'"

Monday, July 11, 2005


Speaking too soon

"The top U.S. commander in Baghdad said yesterday that a two-month counterinsurgency sweep has 'mostly eliminated' the enemy's ability to 'conduct sustained high-intensity operations' around the Iraqi capital.
Also yesterday:
"Wave of Attacks Kills Nearly 50 in Iraq" [the majority of them in Baghdad]
And just why is Gen. Webster so optimistic? Car bombings are down from 14 to 21 a week to seven to eight. Well, I know I'd be feeling so much safer if I were an Iraqi.


Open Thread

I'll have limited time and access to the net this week (not to mention that what little TV-watching time I have this week will be devoted to watching the Tour de France and not cable news channels!), so here's an open thread for discussion (hey, you can even take a break from politics and discuss the Tour if you like!). As usual, I recommend using the time you'll save this week reading the few postings here to become familiar with one or more of the fine sites listed in the right-hand column.

Saturday, July 09, 2005


Arianna Quote of the Day

"If Iraq is like flypaper, it unfortunately looks like we’re the ones who are stuck there."

- the oft-quotable Arianna Huffington
Of course I don't agree with Arianna, as I (and tens of thousands of my friends) plan to be out in the streets on Sept. 24 to say; we are not "stuck" there; all we need to do is leave. But, as far as the thinking of the Administration, the Congress, and the rest of the ruling class of America, she's unfortunately quite right.

She also notes this fundamental contradiction (not that they're hard to find!) in the Bush administration pronouncements about the invasion of Iraq:

"Not only was this flypaper theory empirically disproved by the London carnage, it directly contradicts the president’s other most often used justification for the war -- that we invaded to liberate the Iraqi people. So let me get this straight: we invaded them to liberate them... and to use them as bait to attract terrorists who we could fight on the streets of Baghdad rather than the streets of London and New York?"


Post spins, Africans die

Headline: "African Aid Is Doubled By G-8"

Truth (contained in the actual story, emphasis added): "President Bush and the leaders of seven other major industrialized nations pledged Friday to double the amount of aid for Africa in five years."

Truth (not contained in the story): President Bush's "pledges" aren't worth the paper they're printed on.


Tony Blair renounces imperialism, announces pullout from Iraq

Well, not quite. But here's what he evidently did have to say:
"The world must deal with the underlying causes of terrorism, British Prime Minister Tony Blair has said, insisting that security alone could not protect the country from attacks.

"'Probably with this type of terrorism the solution cannot only be the security measures,' Blair said in an interview recorded on Friday and broadcast Saturday morning.

"If terrorists were prepared to blow up people on trains or buses at random 'you can have all the surveillance in the world and you couldn't stop that happening', he said.

"'That is why ultimately, although we have to take the measures necessary, the underlying issues have to be dealt with too.'"
Unfortunately the AFP story linked above is the only one so far mentioning this, and I don't have a transcript, so whether Blair said anything at all about what the "underlying issues" are (and how he planned to "deal" with them) isn't clear. If any reader sees any more of what Blair had to say on that subject, please add it in the comments.


Quote of the Day

"Well, only a fool would say that, and only a fool would believe that. In fact, the terrorists themselves have said in the website to which your previous caller referred, that that's exactly why they carried out the act. So, only a fool believes that this came out of nowhere. It came out of a deep swamp of hatred and bitterness that we have soaked in blood these last few years. This is obvious to any sentient being."

- British MP George Galloway, responding on Democracy Now! to criticism of his earlier comments by Home Secretary Charles Clark, who said that this has nothing to do with Iraq or any other particular foreign policy, that it was about a fundamentalist attack on the way we live our lives.
Also see (hear, actually) some very pertinent comments by Tariq Ali on Thursday's Flashpoints! (now available for Podcast subscription as well as "regular" downloading and online listening, as is Democracy Now!) along similar lines and echoing sentiments expressed in posts below this one.

Thursday, July 07, 2005


The motives of terrorists

Guardian columnist Simon Jenkins, writing in The Huffington Post, claims to know exactly what motivated today's terrorist attacks in London:
"The terrorist most wants people to stop using the Tube. The terrorist wants tourists to stay away from the central area. The terrorist wants Londoners to remain at home, stop working, haul their children out of school. The terrorist wants shops and theatres to suffer, the Stock Market to crash, the Olympic spirit to fade. The terrorist wants everyone to feel perpetually terrorized, to look askance at every Arab faces and dress, to overreact, cut and run for cover from the world."
Codswollop. Leaving aside the fact that we don't even know who was responsible for this particular attack, and therefore couldn't possibly know their motives, assuming they were Islamic militants I don't believe they have the slightest objection to British children going to school, or the Olympic games, or Londoners riding the tube. They don't even want the U.S. to "run for cover from the world" - I really doubt they have any problem with EuroDisney or McDonalds in Japan. What they do object to, and have said so, is American and British troops occupying their countries, and propping up the Israeli occupation and oppression of the Palestinians. Why can't Jenkins have the intellectual honesty to say so, instead of throwing up all sorts of irrelevancies?

And what Islamic militants also object to, I feel confident in saying, is the racism which permeates the world. Today, 37 people were killed in London and world leaders (and probably every single American politician, if I had heard what each one had to say) condemned the killings and offered sympathy for the victims. Three days ago, 17 Afghan civilians were killed by U.S. bombs. Did a single one of those world leaders or politicians condemn those killings and offer sympathy for those victims? You bet your life they didn't. And "you bet your life" is almost the right expression. Except, to be accurate, it's George Bush and Tony Blair betting your life.


"When rather than if..."

In conjunction with the tragic bombings in London (no more tragic than bombings which occur daily in Iraq, of course, not that that won't mean they get a thousand times the press coverage and government attention), I keep hearing various officials claiming that "we knew if wasn't a question of if, but when" -- terrorist attacks as an "act of God" (i.e., nature), like a tsunami or an earthquake. Not once have I heard anyone in authority raise the question of maybe, just maybe, the way to put an end to these attacks is not by invading more countries, or surrounding more public places with more police, or curtailing civil liberties to the point of facism, but by simply and fundamentally changing American (and British) foreign policy, starting with an end to the U.S. occupation of Iraq and Afghanistan, an end to U.S. support for the Israeli occupation of Palestine, an end to the 700+ U.S. military bases in countries around the world, and an acknowledgement that the United States isn't above international law. You know, simple things like that.

Although no politicians or media "pundits" will make this observation, there will be tens of thousands of people who will be saying it, on September 24 in Washington, D.C., San Francisco, Los Angeles, and cities around the country and the world. Join us.


Twisting the truth in Washington, D.C.

It isn't shocking when members of the government do it. But last night, it was the reporters' (and editors') turn. Speaking on the News Hour and in a press conference, here's what New York Times executive editor Bill Keller had to say on the occasion of the jailing of his reporter, Judith Miller:
"Judy is a good, honorable, principled reporter."
Are you kidding me? This is the woman who, in describing one of her many egregious acts of reporting -- the unknown "scientist" in the baseball cap pointing at a spot in the desert and claiming that was where chemical weapons had been dumped just prior to the invasion -- said "You know what? I was proved fucking right." [Ed. note: every single aspect of that story was completely and utterly wrong] Of course, one shouldn't be surprised that Keller calls this font of inaccuracy a "good" and "honorable" reporter, since when the Times issued its mea sorta culpa on their Iraqi WMD reporting, they claimed that they had found "a number of instances of coverage that was not as rigorous as it should have been." Oh, you mean like trusting a single anonymous source with an ax to grind, or printing absurd stories like the baseball cap story in which Miller didn't even know who her source was?

Keller also claimed that "Judy Miller is not placing herself above the law." But that is precisely what she was (and is) doing. No matter what you think the law should be, Keller later admitted that, even under the 49 state laws which do provide a reporter's shield (this is a federal case, where no such law exists), that this case would not be one of those protected. And, of course, all the courts have ruled against her and that she must testify. One has to wonder what both ignoring court rulings and even ignoring one's own conclusions about what the law requires would be called, other than "putting oneself above the law"? That isn't to say that putting oneself above the law isn't sometimes justified; it certainly is (cf. Thoreau, Henry David). But that isn't what Keller claimed.

The Times wasn't the only one spouting absurdities last night. Reporter Matt Cooper, who escaped jail by agreeing to testify, claimed that it was "a sad day" when reporters "working on an important story" had to go to jail. An important story? A member of the administration is trying to use them to out a covert CIA agent in an attempt to discredit and/or intimidate her husband who dares to tell a bit of the truth about the Bush administration's lies which are being used to justify the invasion of a foreign country and the subsequent deaths of tens of thousands of people, and he calls that "an important story"? An important story would be doing some investigative reporting to back up Wilson's claims and to uncover the truth about all the other lies, before the invasion. Not serving as a mouthpiece for the administration.

Both Keller (speaking for Miller) and Cooper kept talking over and over about the sanctity of the promise between reporter and source as if it were holy writ. Nonsense. What if the source had told them, after obtaining a promise of confidentiality, that he planned to murder the President the next day? Would they think it was their sacred duty as a reporter to stick by their pledge of confidentiality? I seriously doubt it.

The ability of reporters to maintain the identity of confidential sources is important. And, despite dire predictions from some about how this case will sound the death knell of that ability, reporters have gone to prison to protect their sources long before Judy Miller (attorney Floyd Abrams claimed in the press conference last night that Benjamin Franklin's brother had been sent to prison for refusing to reveal a source even before the Revolution), and that principle is not only as strong as it ever was, but stronger, given the existence of 49 state laws on the subject. But the implication that protecting Karl Rove (or whomever else the mysterious source or sources is) is equivalent to protecting Daniel Ellsberg is just absolute nonsense. Going to jail to protect Daniel Ellsberg would mark a reporter as "honorable". Going to jail to protect Karl Rove just brands a reporter as a willing tool of the administration's lying and murderous ways. Or worse.

Update: Here's how FAIR put it a year ago:

"The First Amendment exists so that the press can be a check on government [Ed. note: and, I might add, corporate] abuse of power, not a handmaiden to it."

Wednesday, July 06, 2005


Another day, another injustice

OK, this one occured a long time ago, although its effects are still felt. In an article in the Silicon Valley Metro discussing Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's anti-immigrant words and actions, I learned about this bit of earlier immigrant bashing:
"Vazquez, 55, knows this from his own family's personal experience. His grandparents fled the Mexican Revolution and emigrated to the United States in 1914, where they migrated between Colorado, Nebraska and Missouri, picking beets and working coal mines. Vazquez's mother was born in Colorado in 1927, and was therefore a U.S. citizen. But when the Great Depression hit in 1929, America needed someone to blame, and Mexican-Americans proved handy. Under a 'repatriation' program created by President Herbert Hoover that ran from 1929 to 1940, Vazquez's mother and grandparents were deported to Mexico, along with 1 million other Mexican-Americans. Like Vazquez's mother, 60 percent of the deportees were U.S. citizens; 400,000 were California residents."
And now for the Schwarzenegger tie-in:
"Last year, responding to a lawsuit seeking damages for the Depression-era deportations, the state Legislature passed a reparations bill for the estimated 5,000 Mexican-American deportees who are still alive. Schwarzenegger vetoed the bill."
Incidentally, all this was not only in blatant disregard of human rights and the rights of U.S. citizens, it was also in blatant disregard of the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo, signed in 1848 (George Bush isn't the first American President to simply disregard treaties to which the United States is a party, not by a long shot):
"The Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo was ratified in 1848, ending the war between Mexico and the United States and effectively handing over control of the modern Southwest from Mexico to the United States. Under the terms of the Treaty, Mexican property holders were to retain full enjoyment and protection of their property as if they were citizens of the United States."

Tuesday, July 05, 2005


Dueling headlines

Headline: "DF mulls demolition of illegal houses in West Bank outpost".
Headline: "Israel razes nine buildings in Arab East Jerusalem".

No "mulling" involved. Just bulldozing. Here's what "mulling" involves:

"The construction of the houses has continued over the past months, despite an agreement between the IDF and the Mateh-Binyamin council that the settlers would not continue building the houses or move into them.

"The homes in Amuna, like the entire outpost, were built illegally, without a permit, on private Palestinian land."
And why are they even "mulling" this in the first place?
"The court's move Tuesday followed a petition submitted by Peace Now, demanding the enforcement of orders to stop the construction and to demolish the illegal houses."
In other words, it's left to private groups to demand the enforcement of the law; left to their own devices, here's the way the Israeli government handles things:
"Amuna was built on a hill east of Ofra in 1995, without the cabinet or any state or public body having allocated it lands. The demolition orders for the nine houses were issued in October 2004, but were not implemented."
Nine years later, they're thinking about demolishing the nine newest houses. Wouldn't want to rush things.


Madmen continue to want more and better WMD

That would be the madmen in charge of the United States government, of course. Did you know:And, lest you forgot, before the invasion of Iraq, the U.S. had people convinced that Iraq had "weaponized smallpox" and was so likely to use it it was worth vaccinating American troops, with the resulting deaths of at least four health professionals.

Want to know what the U.S. government is guilty of? Just take note of the accusations they hurl at others.


The U.S. - rulers of the world

The number of abuses and outrages against international law being committed by the U.S. is so great one is hard-pressed to keep track of them all. A recent issue of Workers World newspaper alerted me to one I hadn't even heard of - the case of two Yemeni citizens (and residents of Yemen, we're not talking about U.S. immigrants or even visitors here), Mohammed al-Moayad and Mohammed Zayad. In March 2003, to great fanfare, Attorney General John Ashcroft announced a major "blow" to al Qaeda after kidnapping these two men in Germany, bringing them to the United States, and charging them with conspiring to provide material support to al-Qaeda and Hamas. You can read the details in the Workers World article, which involve, among other things, the key informant setting fire to himself in front of the White House.

The bottom line is that the men were acquitted of giving money to al Qaeda, and convicted of providing funding to Hamas. Here's the catch: fund-raising for Hamas is entirely legal in Yemen and also in Germany, and the two had never done any fund-raising in the United States at all. Nevertheless they have been convicted in a United States court of sending funds to Hamas, and are currently awaiting sentencing. Just to restate the obvious - two men who are not American citizens and who had never set foot in America were convicted in an American court of breaking American law. No wonder the United States is so opposed to a International Criminal Court - they think that's what the U.S. courts are for. And, for the record, whether you consider the actions of Hamas in Palestine (and Israel) to be acts of terrorism or justified acts in support of the liberation of the Palestinian people, Hamas has never committed a single act of terrorism against the United States.

More information about the case and suggestions for action are here.


Actual journalism at FOXNews?

Yes, indeed. FOXNews carries the story today of the right-wing radio hosts who are travelling to Iraq to get the "truth" about the "success story" that is Iraq, a "truth" they'll attempt to ferret out by staying in the secure Green Zone and travelling exclusively with the troops. Yeah, I'll bet they'll be talking to a lot of Iraqis who will tell them about how much they want the Americans to leave, and how fed up they are with the lack of water, electricity, and jobs.

But, believe it or not, this story quotes both well-known independent journalist Dahr Jamail and Steve Rendell of FAIR (as well as a couple other left-of-center sources). Dahr Jamail is, of course, the most well-known and widely respected indendent American reporter to have reported extensively from Iraq, and who has been interviewed repeated on Democracy Now! and Flashpoints!. As far as I can tell from some searching, he has not been interviewed, or quoted, a single time by either the New York Times, the Washington Post, or CNN. Only by FOXNews.

And, while I've got your attention, what is the difference between "as far as I can tell" and "as near as I can tell"? As far near far as I can tell, the anwer is: nothing. Ah, the English language.


Doubletalk in Afghanistan

17 more Afghan civilians were killed by U.S. bombs. Here's what the U.S. military has to say:
"U.S. forces regret the loss of innocent lives and follow stringent rules of engagement specifically to ensure that non-combatants are safeguarded. However, when enemy forces move their families into the locations where they conduct terrorist operations, they put these innocent civilians at risk."
Let's disregard for the moment the fact that American forces have absolutely no right under international law to be marauding about another country, arbitrarily (or even not arbitrarily) designating anyone they choose as "enemy forces" and killing them. Let's even disregard the fact that this was a "suspected" enemy compound, which we know from experience means that the chances that it was were 50-50 at best. Let's ask instead what possible "stringent" rules of engagement that "ensures that non-combatants are safeguarded" could possibly allow American forces to drop bombs on a compound containing 17 civilians? As far as I can tell, the only rule the Americans follow is a simple one: "Don't ask, don't tell. Just bomb."

The idea that "enemy forces" "put innocent civilians at risk" may be true factually, in that they were facing a ruthless enemy who cares not a fig for morality or international law, but the real source of risk for those innocent civilians was precisely that ruthless enemy and their "Don't ask, don't tell. Just bomb" rules of engagement. I've used this analogy before, but I'll use it again: if a bank robber, even one who has killed the bank guard, takes everyone in the bank hostage, the idea that because he has "put those hostages at risk" that that would justify dropping a bomb on the bank and killing them all in order to kill the robber/murderer, is nonsense. And that is equally true if, as does in fact happen, the person holding the hostages was related to the hostages - that doesn't make the hostages "fair game" to be killed. Only those "stringent rules of engagement" do that.

Monday, July 04, 2005


Just when you thought you had heard everything...

The almost unbelievable statement of the U.S. ambassador to Venezuela:
"Cooperation between Venezuela and the United States to fight terrorism and drug-trafficking has run into problems and could be improved, the U.S. ambassador to Caracas said on Sunday...He said there had been problems in obtaining extradition from Venezuela of drug-trafficking suspects."
In the 363-word article discussing "terrorism" and "extradition", the words "Luis Posada Carriles" do not appear once, neither out of the mouth of the ambassador, nor out of the pen of the Reuters reporter writing the story. The same is true of the 197-word AP story on the same subject.


Iraq: the exit strategy

Today, as he did the other day, George Bush pronounced what can presumably be described as his exit strategy, although I think he refuses to use that term: "As Iraqis stand up, we will stand down." Now that's a clever little phrase that some speechwriter has put together. But what does it mean? What if Iraqis never "stand up"? Does that mean Americans will never "stand down", i.e., leave Iraq? The claim from Bush, and numerous commentators and politicians, is that setting a timetable for withdrawal would "embolden" the resistance. But doesn't not setting a timetable "enweaken" the pro-government forces, allowing them to rely on American soldiers to do the fighting (and dying) indefinitely?

Isn't it time for some prominent politicians to join newspeople like Al Neuharth and Helen Thomas (not to mention online magazine publisher Eli Stephens) in saying "Out Now!"?

Friday, July 01, 2005


"Worth it"

Left I on the News wasn't the only one to comment on George Bush's cavalier "it was worth it" comment, although cartoonist Pat Oliphant only includes American deaths in his commentary. Make sure to notice the "Some had no comment" caption in the lower left.

Pat Oliphant

Why stop here? There's more...

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