Friday, May 28, 2004

If you haven't heard or read Al Gore's speech, do so now. I just read it today-- I've been offline at home for several days, having experienced both PC and phoneline problems, and I don't have cable tv at home. I suppose it's a wonder I have dial-up...

Saturday, May 22, 2004

My parents told me I was from New Jersey, but we left when I was a year old. When I was 36 I drove up from Texas to visit my grandmother in Connecticut,driving through New Jersey, but I did not see any towns or cities, only trees alongside the New Jersey Turnpike and occasional signs indicating the names of towns and cities that were allegedly located alongside said turnpike, but I didn't stop and investigate, as I was running late.

Here in Texas, by contrast, you can see Dallas and Fort Worth and Austin and San Antonio directly from the highway as you pass through, as they don't have tree buffers and the interstate(35) passes right through the middle of town, even in Temple.(The only city that I was able to see directly from the interstate when I was up north was Baltimore, which may say something for how Baltimore is regarded.)

So, strictly speaking, I still don't know if New Jersey exists, although I suspect it does.
I want to note this article in Thursday's Washington Post,New Details of Prison Abuse Emerge", as a reminder for the future, when I hear conservatives dismiss the Abu Ghraib scandal as just so much hijinks:

Previously secret sworn statements by detainees at the Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq describe in raw detail abuse that goes well beyond what has been made public, adding allegations of prisoners being ridden like animals, sexually fondled by female soldiers and forced to retrieve their food from toilets.

The fresh allegations of prison abuse are contained in statements taken from 13 detainees shortly after a soldier reported the incidents to military investigators in mid-January. The detainees said they were savagely beaten and repeatedly humiliated sexually by American soldiers working on the night shift at Tier 1A in Abu Ghraib during the holy month of Ramadan...

Eight of the detainees identified by name one particular soldier at the center of the abuse investigation, Spec. Charles A. Graner Jr., a member of the 372nd Military Police Company from Cresaptown, Md. Five others described abuse at the hands of a solider who matches Graner's description.

"They said we will make you wish to die and it will not happen," said Ameen Saeed Al-Sheik, detainee No. 151362. "They stripped me naked. One of them told me he would rape me."


Most of the detainees said in the statements that they were stripped upon their arrival to Tier 1A, ...They also described beatings and threats of death and sexual assault if they did not cooperate with U.S. interrogators.

Kasim Mehaddi Hilas, detainee No. 151108, told investigators that when he first arrived at Abu Ghraib last year, he was forced to strip, put on a hood and wear rose-colored panties with flowers on them. "Most of the days I was wearing nothing else," he said in his statement.

Hilas also said he witnessed an Army translator having sex with a boy at the prison. He said the boy was between 15 and 18 years old...

Friday, May 21, 2004

Staff Sergeant Jimmy Massey talks to the Sacramento Bee: 'I killed innocent people for our government'

Q: I would like to go back to the first incident, when the survivor asked why did you kill his brother. Was that the incident that pushed you over the edge, as you put it?

A: Oh, yeah. Later on I found out that was a typical day. I talked with my commanding officer after the incident. He came up to me and says: "Are you OK?" I said: "No, today is not a good day. We killed a bunch of civilians." He goes: "No, today was a good day." And when he said that, I said "Oh, my goodness, what the hell am I into?"

via Skimble.

Tuesday, May 18, 2004

I'm going to quote this Skimble post in full:

Congratulations to U of Illinois senior Devon M. Largio, who graduates this weekend.[5/14]

Her thesis, “Uncovering the Rationales for the War on Iraq: The Words of the Bush Administration, Congress, and the Media from September 12, 2001 to October 11, 2002,” identifies the 27 faulty rationales put forth by the Bushies in their rush to war.

Monday, May 17, 2004

And, "30 per cent off the top" another swell post by Steve Baum at Ethel. (The number refers to the presumed percentage of our tax dollars and borrowed tax dollars that are going to the so-called "independent contractors" in Iraq. Can't call 'em mercenaries! Shh!)
Drew Vogel at Terminus has a terrific post up, "Why Abu Ghraib is Bush's fault":

...Regardless of the media response to the scandal, the fact is that Bush is involved in this up to his eyeballs. We now know that policies reviewed and approved personally by Rumsfeld and Wolfowitz concerning the treatment of POWs in Iraq and Afghanistan violated the Geneva Conventions. [And, since the Geneva Conventions were signed and ratified by the United States, that means that they also violated U.S. federal law.] We also know that White House Counsel Alberto Gonzalez sent a memo to Bush in early 2002 declaring the Geneva Conventions "obsolete" and their provisions "quaint". Regardless of the judgment of the White House's top lawyer, they remain the unambiguous law of the United States of America (something that Gonzalez probably should have mentioned to his "client")...

Friday, May 14, 2004

More on Nick Berg and the unanswered questions related to his disappearance and execution, from Dave Neiwert, here.

Wednesday, May 12, 2004

Hesiod(Counterspin) takes note of the Nick Berg assasination/beheading,here. H fails to note that Berg's captors claimed that they were willing to release him in trade for the release of unnamed detainees from Abu Ghraib, and said they were rebuffed. Whether this is true or not I have no idea, but it is clear that the actions of American torturers at Abu Ghraib do have consequences.(at Abu Ghraib, and elsewhere, such as Guantanamo Bay.)

I also wanted to take note of this from Hesiod:

1. As Atrios points out, before the Iraq war, the Bush administration passed up several chances to get Zarqawi (the culprit behind this latest murder), because if they destroyed his terrorist camp in Northern Iraq, it would've undercut their justification for going to war!

2.Sun_Sentinel story:The Berg family is angry with the Bush administration.

from the Sun-Sentinel:

Michael Berg said he blamed the U.S. government for creating circumstances that led to his son's death. He said if his son hadn't been detained for so long, he might have been able to leave the country before the violence worsened.

"I think a lot of people are fed up with the lack of civil rights this thing has caused," he said. "I don't think this administration is committed to democracy."

The Bergs last heard from their son April 9, when he said he would come home by way of Jordan.

Berg had traveled several times to Third World countries to help spread technology, his family said. He had previously traveled to Kenya and Ghana, where they said he had purchased a $900 brick-making press for a poor village, the family said.

Berg's mother, Suzanne Berg, said her son was in Iraq to help rebuild communication antennas.

"He had this idea that he could help rebuild the infrastructure," she said.

Michael Berg described himself as fervently anti-war, but said his son disagreed with him.

"He was a Bush supporter," Berg said. "He looked at it as bringing democracy to a country that didn't have it."

Monday, May 10, 2004

New David Brock book, excerpted in

...the creation of right-wing media, and of the strategies by which the right wing has penetrated, pressured, co-opted, and subdued the mainstream media into accommodating conservatism, was not an accident. Once upon a time, right-wing strategists, operatives, and financiers believed that they could never win political hegemony in the United States unless they won domination of the country's political discourse. Toward this end, a deliberate, well-financed, and expressly acknowledged communications and deregulatory plan was pursued by the right wing for more than thirty years -- in close coordination with Republican Party leaders -- to subvert and subsume journalism and reshape the national consciousness through the media, with the intention of skewing American politics sharply to the right. The plan has succeeded spectacularly.

from "The Republican Noise Machine"

Christian Science Monitor story,"How terror groups vied for a player" about Shadi Abdallah, who was wooed by two rival terrorist groups...

Saturday, May 08, 2004

I didn't know this:The Ratings Mirage:Why Fox has higher ratings--when CNN has more viewers. from Fair.Org, and thanks to Micah "Linkorama" Holmquist.

Friday, May 07, 2004

and from Salon, "Sometimes they pretended to kill me", the story of Suhaib Badr al Baz, a cameraman for Al-Jazeera...
Factivism takes note of this exceptionally disturbing story of one Sadiq Zoman Abrahim, and suggests that US abuses and outright torture in Iraq may in fact be fairly widespread.
Kerry puts his finger up in the air: - Kerry dismisses Rumsfeld apology, because it's the au courant thing to do...

what Kerry really needs to talk about is the changes in US policies towards POWs, including the creation of the "enemy combatant" status created by the Patriot Act-- which he voted for-- this would be an ideal time for him to show some backbone and be a "flip-flopper" and call attention to it-- by apologizing himself, for his support of legislation that, ultimately, helped bring about the Abu Ghraib fiasco. Still, that's probably expecting too much. Do you think any legislator* who voted for the Patriot Act back in the fall of 2001 would apologize for it, and acknowledge that, just maybe, they had a hand in throwing our regard for people's rights out the window, and emboldening the authoritarian and brutish elements in our government and our military that helped create the necessary conditions for Abu Ghraib? (And while I'm dreaming, is it too late to draft Russ Feingold for president? )

*Actually, if you know of one, whether from the left or the right, I'd like to know about it.

Thursday, May 06, 2004

"Oh, ok, I am sorry. Sheesh."

May 6, 2004 | Washington -- President Bush apologized Thursday for the abuse and humiliation of Iraqi prisoners by U.S. soldiers, saying the scenes of mistreatment had made Americans "sick to our stomachs."

A day after he stopped short of apologizing, Bush told Jordan's King Abdullah II: "I was sorry for the humiliation suffered by the Iraqi prisoners and the humiliation suffered by their families..."

(especially since you refused to be seen in public with me If I didn't say I was sorry, and that sure would make look foolish, what with me inviting you to Washington and not getting my photo-op...)

"...I told him I was as equally sorry that people seeing those pictures didn't understand the true nature and heart of America," Bush said, standing in the Rose Garden alongside Abdullah..."

(equally sorry, got that? I'm equally sorry that people don't see us as Really Swell White Folks Who Can Do No Wrong. In other words, if I'm equally sorry that people don't see us as generally wonderful, a comparatively trivial matter, than I guess I'm not that sorry about the first thing...pretty clever, huh? )

[by the way, did you see the interview Dubya did with US-patsy-al hurra tv where he said "good job" to the interviewer when he was done? How come they don't take al-hurra tv seriously? Don't they know how much better it is? And how come they don't like us when we pat them on the head? Geez.]

Billmon has a valuable (and link-thick) post up: "The Ghost Detainees of Abu Ghraib"

Monday, May 03, 2004 Technology | E-voting oversight overwhelms U.S. agency:

May 3, 2004 | SAN JOSE, Calif. -- As alarm mounts over the integrity of the ATM-like voting machines 50 million Americans will use in the November election, a new federal agency has begun scrutinizing how to safeguard electronic polling from fraud, hackers and faulty software.

But the tiny U.S. Election Assistance Commission says it is so woefully underfunded that it can't be expected to forestall widespread voting machine problems...