Monday, April 30, 2007

end of the month miscellany

Earlier today Rob wrote about the contracting out of the Iraq war(below).
Some coincidences: (1)I've discussed Iraqi contractors at HZ before, here:

"Are they EVER called mercenaries?" May 2006

and here,
"30 per cent off the top" May 2004

and (2) Later in the day Karena wrote back to me regarding my plans to go to Iraq, and told me about Jane Stillwater, another blogger who did in fact go to Iraq, and was sponsored by a Texas newspaper. (In fact, she just got back.)Karena writes:

she tried for a year to get to Iraq and finally The Lone Star Iconoclast, the Crawford, TX newspaper, sponsored her. They did not pay her, but they paid her expenses and most important, they gave her a press pass. Before that, she was not considered a "legitimate" press person because she wrote opinion instead of fact, but with the press pass she got in.

I'd never heard of Jane Stillwater before. I just visited her blog, and here's something from an item from last week, in which she interviews an (ex)Iraqi contractor and evidently discusses the same article Rob references:
"After four months living in a tent pitched over an old bombed-out bunker, blood and pus started coming out of my eyes. It really scared me and I tried to get back to the states to get treated. But the moment I left Iraq, KBR canceled my health insurance. I used to be able to hang 160 sheets of drywall a day. Now I can hardly help the neighbors move their front room couch."

The contractor was very unhappy with KBR. "They promised me that I was going to get a COBRA but it never came through. I need an operation, I have severe nerve damage in my arms. I don't sleep because my hands and arms are so sore. I can take a lot of pain but this is constant. This is too much. If I ever get my hands on the KBR employee who canceled my insurance, they'd have to put me on four-way restraints!"

The contractor has lost three inches off of his biceps. What happened over there? Depleted uranium? "I wouldn't be surprised. Iraq is the most polluted country in the world. It scares the hell out of me." Then he added, "I think part of my nerve damage comes from wearing 56 pounds worth of body armor for 12 or 15 hours at a time because rather than up-armor the trucks, they up-armored the drivers."

He thought that the KBR operation was a circus run by buffoons. "They were only in it for the money."

"Do you think you will ever go back to Iraq?" I asked him. "I can't go back. I'd never pass the physical." He then gave me the names and numbers of several friends who had suffered the same experience. Scary.

After I got done talking with the contractor, I biked downtown to get a copy of the Berkeley Daily Planet, featuring an article about the Blackwater mercenaries. Even MORE scary! According to reporter Jeremy Scahill, "In February 2006 Donald Rumsfeld issued the Pentagon’s quadrennial review which lays out the Pentagon’s vision for years to come. There he classified Blackwater and other contractors as a legitimate part of the total force making up the U.S. war machine." So. The neo-cons are hopefully anticipating the day when they can contract out our entire Army -- not just the quartermaster department and the KP. I wonder if the troops know about this?
the rest is here:
"Blackwater mercenaries, West Point graduates & other contractors' tales"

Labels: , , ,

Blackwater -- Black Tidings: Tales of Deception

Here they come, it’s the democrat light brigade charging down the hill like the U.S. Calvary galloping to the rescue saving us from the marauding republican mean machine. Or is it? Would you believe a group of Boy Scouts charging to the rescue? How about one or two Cub Scouts and their Den mother, okay how about one Girl Scout selling cookies? Because the recently passed, soon to be vetoed, bill from Congress concerning withdrawal from Iraq is nothing but a dog and pony show presented for your edification and enjoyment. Well actually it is mainly to pull the wool over your eyes.

For the record and to be really, really clear about this, the bill will not stop the U.S. occupation of Iraq rather it actually allows Bush to continue with his private war in a two-fold manner.

Tom Engelhardt, once again, clears the air of smoke and mirrors with another informative post as well as a piece by Jeremy Scahill delineating the roll of mercenary forces, in particular, that part played by Blackwater.

Here are three key points concerning some huge loopholes in the legislation made by Tom Engelhardt:

1. "Protecting American diplomatic facilities and American citizens, including members of the United States Armed Forces": This doesn't sound like much, but don't be fooled. As a start, of course, there would have to be forces guarding the new American embassy in Baghdad (known to Iraqis as "George W's Palace"). When completed, it will be the largest embassy in the known universe with untold thousands of employees; then there would need to be forces to protect the heavily fortified citadel of the Green Zone (aka "the International Zone") which protects the embassy and other key U.S. facilities. Add to these troops to guard the network of gigantic, multibillion dollar U.S. bases in Iraq like Balad Air Base (with air traffic volume that rivals Chicago's O'Hare) and whatever smaller outposts might be maintained. We're talking about a sizable force here.

2. "Training and equipping members of the Iraqi Security Forces": By later this year, U.S. advisors and trainers for the Iraqi military, part of a program the Pentagon is now ramping up, should reach the 10,000-20,000 range (many of whom -- see above -- would undoubtedly need "guarding").

3. "Engaging in targeted special actions limited in duration and scope to killing or capturing members of al-Qaeda and other terrorist organizations with global reach": This is a loophole of loopholes that could add up to almost anything as, in a pinch, all sorts of Sunni oppositional forces could be labeled "al-Qaeda."

And here is a small segment from Jeremy Scahill’s piece:

The Shadow War in Iraq

While all of this is troubling, there is another disturbing fact which speaks volumes about the Democrats' lack of insight into the nature of this unpopular war -- and most Americans will know next to nothing about it. Even if the President didn't veto their legislation, the Democrats' plan does almost nothing to address the second largest force in Iraq -- and it's not the British military. It's the estimated 126,000 private military "contractors" who will stay put there as long as Congress continues funding the war.

If you like to be informed or at least understand how we are all getting the shaft I highly recommend that you read the entire post.

Sunday, April 29, 2007

Pre-determined Donkeys

I confess I am not very excited about the next presidential election. It seems as if the election is nothing more than a formality because the outcome in a sense is already pre-determined by big money and the press and at any rate I see little or no change in our situation in Iraq coming from the most prominent donkeys Clinton and Obama. This morning I scanned some of the major newspapers to see how they were reporting on our donkey hopefuls.

The San Francisco Chronicle had a fairly awful article on a recent debate in San Diego and as expected the focus is on Clinton and Obama with only passing mention of Kucinich and Gravel.

The Los Angeles Times article on the same debate seemed a tad better but again the main focus is on Clinton and Obama. Yes I know both are ahead in the polls but it seems to me that readers deserve a better look at the rest of the candidates however the LAT obviously does not agree with my sentiment.

The Washington Post article on the San Diego debate only mentions Obama and Clinton and does not even bother to mention the other candidates, well what do you expect from the Post?

The New York Times did not have an article on San Diego but focused instead on ridiculing Gravel showing him in the worst light possible regarding a previous debate in South Carolina.

According to the Times Gravel provided comic relief describing him as a former Alaskan Senator and New York cab driver though they failed to mention he has a B.S. in economics from Colombia University or the part he played in ending the draft but hey, the New York Times is no doubt concentrating on how it can get us into a war with Iran to be too bothered with details.

Here is a little bit from the Times article and it is interesting how they frame Gravel here.

Mr. Gravel was the first candidate to wander on stage, by himself, a little before 7 p.m. “Who’s that?” an audience member asked aloud. He largely eschewed the postdebate handshake, moped around for a few minutes and then headed off. “I’m not into those little niceties,” he said later.

Nice touch, he wandered onto the stage and who is that. Well who expects fair and balanced from our news media, not me. Frankly none of this probably matters as no doubt Hillary will win the nomination but it is interesting how the news media frames the way we look at candidates primarily focusing on the ones who are the most likely to continue with imperial designs and the most willing to keep us in Iraq and not afraid to nuke Iran while the rest like Kucinich and Gravel will be ridiculed into obscurity.

Saturday, April 28, 2007

Mike n' P!nk, etc

image: Mike Gravel and Pink, er P!nk

this is Mike Gravel's Myspace site. I wonder if Pink know his profile features one of her tracks("Dear Mister President"), and would she be tickled if she knew? Incidentally, Gravel was the person, back in the day, who read the Pentagon papers into the congressional record, to make sure they wouldn't "disappear into history."

Google disses Chile(and demonstrates the brave new web world isn't so infallible after all.)

speaking of Myspace and sundry web 2.0 phenomena, I've gotten word via one of my many newsletters that there's a new organization named that has created an "impeachspace" website, and has declared April 28th "the day the impeachment movement starts." Oh, A28. I get it, sort of. Why April 28th? This I still haven't figured out.

Labels: , , , , , ,

Friday, April 27, 2007

3 things

1.Riverbend has been silent for two months. She posts again, about the partially-built US wall of Adhamiya. And leaving Iraq..

2. Naomi Wolf, in The Guardian:"Fascist America, in 10 easy steps"
From Hitler to Pinochet and beyond, history shows there are certain steps that any would-be dictator must take to destroy constitutional freedoms. And, argues Naomi Wolf, George Bush and his administration seem to be taking them all...

3."The War Party" James Antle in American Conservative magazine.(via Eric Alterman, who also discusses Wolf's essay briefly.)

Labels: , , , ,

Sins of the Scribblers

Dennis Perrin gives us some good insights into the recent special on PBS with Bill Moyers and the teary eyed journalists who have confessed their sins, after which of course, they will continue in the same vein as they always have. After all there is another upcoming war to promote.

“The work Moyers is doing is important and sorely needed. But showing the perpetrators for the murderous liars they are, several years after they've committed the crime, isn't nearly enough, for you know it will happen again. And again. And again. Then every few years a media vet like Moyers can produce a special where those who were in on the deed scratch their heads and wonder how they were supposedly fooled or led astray. In a sense, Moyers helps these fuckers to justify their actions, regardless of their "self critical" posing.”

How true.

If you have not been to Dennis Perrin’s site then you are really missing out on some fantastic writing. Dennis has been very instrumental in opening my eyes to the realities of politics for which I am very grateful.

Go read Dennis now.

Right of Passage

Some of These People Frighten Me!

Says Mike Gravel.

Via a comment left by Bernard Chazelle over at A Tiny Revolution -- one of the better and most honest of blogs by the way -- I heard about a short clip of the democrat presidential debate highlighting Mike Gravel a former democrat Senator from Alaska.

You really should check this out.

Mike Gravel really lays it on the line concerning the top tier candidates and their tough talk of not taking anything off the table when it comes to Iran. I have to take my hat off to Gravel as he actually gives an impassioned and straight answer to a snide question and in doing so exposes the front runners for what they truly are, war monger monsters who would stop at nothing to climb the ladder of power by proving they can be more ruthless and more immune to the deaths of hundreds of thousands of innocent people than any other candidate. Hey, what ever it takes baby, we’ll nuke them brown bastards unless they tow the line, nobody can question America’s right to rule the world! Hail Hitler! Take a gander at Hillary and Obama as Gravel smacks them in the head with the truth, they think it’s funny, just a big joke, nuking those Iranians is no big deal. And of course to Hillary and Obama, out to prove how tough they are, willing to lie and kill as they claw their way up the food chain the death and destruction that they see as their right of passage is all part of accepted normal every day business. God, they make me sick to my stomach.

regarding "Right of Passage", above

photo: MSNBC/

I was going to leave the following as a comment to Rob's post directly above, but blogger's interface has been causing me difficulty:

I didn't see the SC debate, but I read about it in a couple of places, including this LA Times item which discusses Gravel's exchange with Obama:

The format for the 90-minute debate allowed each candidate a total of 11 minutes to talk — giving Kucinich and Gravel, both of whom have a negligible showing in polls, equal time with the front-runners, which they used to take aggressive hits at Clinton and Obama.

The dynamic produced at least one memorable exchange, in which Gravel knocked Obama for saying he would not rule out any options in responding to Iran's nuclear program.

"Who the hell are we going to nuke? Tell me, Barack," Gravel said.

"I'm not planning to nuke anybody right now, Mike. I promise," Obama said, his words muffled by audience laughter.

aside from the annoyance I felt that the LAT writers felt compelled to frame their discussion of Gravel by introducing him as a suspect non-entity, as opposed to describing him more objectively as simply a less well-known candidate and former US Senator, it occurred to me that Obama will get credit for disavowing his previous comment that "all options are on the table", while also being able to finesse his position in suggesting he was just joking, and is "just as tough as ever" in his stance towards Iran-- and undoubtedly he will do so shortly.

Labels: , ,

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Quiet Nights of Quiet Stars

As Iraq continues to burn while bodies pile up like so many cords of firewood Americans enjoy their quiet and uninterrupted lives going to work, spending their money buying mostly useless products foisted upon them by eager advertising agencies contemplating if they should spend their summer vacations with a trip to Disneyland or perhaps a camping trip to Yosemite where they can sit around campfires under the quiet stars of the great Sierra Madre mountains. Or perhaps enjoying a quick drive to the nearest MacDonald’s where their grossly rotund children fatten up stuffing their fat little cheeks with greasy and salt laden freedom fries and burgers. Then home again to catch the latest brain dead TV show or view an organized sports event, something they know more about than what is going on in the wide world around them.

If they are violent, ignorant, fat and stupid perhaps we cannot lay all the blame for this at their feet. In a way they are also victims just like the living, the dead, or the dying people of Iraq are victims though in a much different sense. They are victims of a purposeful and calculated effort by corporate America, phony two faced politicians and the ridiculous, lazy and useless national news papers, who continue to lie, leave out important facts or place said facts in unobtrusive places where they rarely if ever are read. I won’t even mention broadcast news as it is so inane and biased that one can hardly call it anything but a rather sordid and sick entertainment useful for only a moment’s distraction from the trivialities of everyday American life.

As national leaders on both sides of the isle continue to obscure the facts with their robotic obedience to American supremacy while having their palms greased in a spectacular manner they are protected by news giants such as the New York Times and the Washington Post who act as shields to our national leaders vile pastimes. The end result is a nation living in a haze and fog that obscures reality and fills the minds and hearts of Americans with unreasoning hate reducing them to drooling blood encrusted fools whose hate for anything that is not of America knows no bounds.

The last few days have seen the democrats touted as fighting the good fight against the evil George Bush II mouthing their loyalties to the people who put them in office, braying about stopping the war with their latest legislation that supposedly challenges the Bush war machine as it rolls over the dead bodies of the children, women and men of Iraq.

Fortunately for those who are interested in the true nature of this bold and aggressive legislature proposed by our less than shining democrat leadership Arthur Silber has returned from his absence with a definitive post on this bill from the democrat majority. I have greatly missed Arthur Silber during his absence and his post “Theatre of Death” is a masterful, well written and definitive piece of work exposing the grand fraud perpetrated by our democrat leaders. You do not have to believe me, just go read Arthur’s post and decide for yourselves.

Read it here.

Monday, April 23, 2007

On the Table

Having been a registered democrat for all my voting life I am surprised how easy it is for me to say I find I can no longer support the democrat party. Am I unfair in my criticism of the democrats? Perhaps, but I must admit I do not believe that to be the case. Hillary Clinton is an unabashed war monger. John Edwards admits to making a mistake but he seems quite willing to make even bigger mistakes and Obama is willing to do what he perceives as essential to becoming prez, and like Edwards and Clinton is willing to leave nukes on the table when it comes to Iran.

Norman Solomon points out the hypocrisy embodied by the top dem front runners in this column.

The Pentagon’s most likely next target is Iran. Hillary Clinton says “no option can be taken off the table.”

Barack Obama says that the Iranian government is “a threat to all of us” and “we should take no option, including military action, off the table.”

John Edwards says, “Under no circumstances can Iran be allowed to have nuclear weapons.” And: “We need to keep all options on the table.”

A year ago, writing in The New Yorker, journalist Seymour Hersh reported: “One of the military’s initial option plans, as presented to the White House by the Pentagon this winter, calls for the use of a bunker-buster tactical nuclear weapon, such as the B61-11, against underground nuclear sites.”

For a presidential candidate to proclaim that all “options” should be on the table while dealing with Iran is a horrific statement. It signals willingness to threaten — and possibly follow through with — first use of nuclear weapons. This raises no eyebrows among Washington’s policymakers and media elites because it is in keeping with longstanding U.S. foreign-policy doctrine.

These are the people that are going to stop Bush and the Iraq War? Okay, agreed, no sane person wants to see nuclear weapons proliferating throughout the world but it is it really the end of the world if Iran developed nuclear weapons? And as I have said in a previous post I have serious doubts that Iran actually is pursuing a nuclear weapons program.

And while we are on the topic of war let's connect a few dots just for yucks. The dems have done very little in any concrete manner to actually stopping the war. They have huffed and they have puffed but they have not blown down Bush’s house of war. It is also quite clear from the above quotes from Norman Solomon’s column that they are quite willing to use military measures against Iran. So if this is the case why should we expect them to bring the troops home from Iraq? If the plan is to attack Iran then it would seem much more likely that the dems would leave the troops in their present holding pattern in Iraq just across the border from Iran. However the true democrat agenda comes into play as we see all three of our dem contenders are willing to use nuclear bombs against Iran. This is nothing less than insane and there is nothing on God’s green earth that would make me vote for such candidates as this motley crew.

The dems are not against imperialism at all. In fact they tow the same party line as the republicans when it comes to the Middle East and the criminal use of the military abroad. It would seem all the dems have done so far is to assume a position that takes up Bush policy and draped it around their shoulders like Olympic atheletes passing the torch in a marathon race of endless corruption and violence.

Ségolène n' Buddy

imge: French election 2007
AFP foto

Ségolène Royal
, on the left, and Buddy Sarkozy were the two top vote-getters in the first round of the French presidential election, as you probably already know. Ok, ok, I think his name is Nicholas. But he looks like his name should be Buddy, if you ask me. You can tell how much they like each other, too.

Labels: , ,

Sunday, April 22, 2007

And you were worried maybe it'd be over soon

Cursor: 'After a White House meeting at which it was "an open question whether anything was accomplished" on war funding, Democrats were reportedly moving to make their Iraq timetable merely "advisory."'

Friday, April 20, 2007

I hate it when that happens

Thursday, April 19, 2007


This post by Chris Floyd of Empire Burlesque is nearly a week old, and needless to say many, many things have happened since. Nevertheless it's one of the most important things in the blogosphere right now, referencing a Robert Fisk article in the Independent that has otherwise gone largely unnoticed here, describing a disturbing new phase of the so-called "surge" in Iraq. Here:

"Green Zone Down"

Faced with an ever-more ruthless insurgency in Baghdad - despite President George Bush's "surge" in troops - US forces in the city are now planning a massive and highly controversial counter-insurgency operation that will seal off vast areas of the city, enclosing whole neighbourhoods with barricades and allowing only Iraqis with newly issued ID cards to enter. The campaign of "gated communities" - whose genesis was in the Vietnam War - will involve up to 30 of the city's 89 official districts and will be the most ambitious counter-insurgency programme yet mounted by the US in Iraq.

Also, apropo of Rob's previous post regarding the squeamishness of the bigshot democrats, there's this by Paul Krugman:
"...a funny thing has happened on the Democratic side: the party's base seems to be more in touch with the mood of the country than many of the party's leaders. And the result is peculiar: on key issues, reluctant Democratic politicians are being dragged by their base into taking highly popular positions."
[via Avedon, here.]

there are other things I want to discuss, including the Fisk and Floyd articles at some greater depth, but I will post later, maybe Friday. In the meantime, see Rob's post directly below.


Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Hide the Weenie

Today as the Iraq War slogs on to what ever fate awaits it the Democrats are playing a game of hide the weenie. They are the weenies and they are hiding behind slogans such as support the troops. They claim they cannot bring the troops home because well, I am not sure because it makes no sense to me at all. Logic would seem to say that the best way to support the troops would be to bring them home from Iraq, period. And just what purpose are we serving by extending our unwelcome stay in Iraq? There have been so many reasons given by the Bush administration that it is hard to keep track of them all. We began with the usual fear mongering in the form of WMD and the Condi mushroom cloud, from there we went to Saddam was a bad bugaboo then I think it was the war on terror and then it became building a democracy. Well I am sure there are others but to what purpose? It would seem that the only reason for our occupation of Iraq is that we are doing it to support the troops which somehow, some way, does not pass any kind of litmus test for reasonable thought. If it all boils down to we cannot leave Iraq because that would not support the troops then I ask you is this sane and canny?

Of course hide the weenie has another more pornographic meaning so let us consider how the democrats are fucking us.

Dennis Kucinich has this to say about that:

"’The information that Senator Clinton said she was lacking was available to anyone who wanted to see it," said Kucinich who ran 7 points ahead of Clinton in the Moveon poll released last week. "Now that she and all the others who voted incorrectly know what they didn't know then, they are still voting the wrong way," Kucinich stated, referring to votes on war funding.

Kucinich also talked about Senator Obama's presidential campaign, where Senator Obama claims to have opposed the war from the start and implies that if he had been in the Senate at the time he would have voted against it. "Senator Obama has a 100 percent record of voting for funding the war in Iraq, as does Senator Clinton," Kucinich said.’”

“Last month, in under a week, the Democrats appropriated $97 billion in supplemental funds for the war and approved the 2008 Bush budget, which not only budgeted $145 billion for the war in 2008, but allocated an additional $50 billion for 2009.

"So much for Democratic timelines," Kucinich observed. "This war needs to end now and Democrats should stop funding it now. The money's in the pipeline now to bring the troops home, and I've written legislation, HR 1234, to begin a process to stabilize Iraq as the U.S. troops leave.’"

Two items jump out for me at any rate and those are one, there is money in the pipeline now for bringing the troops home, and two, the additional 50 billion for 2009. Now wait just one minute, I thought Hillary Dillary claimed she was going to end the war if she becomes president but somehow we need money for the war in 2009? Perhaps Hillary Dillary and the rest of the dems are being a little less than truthful about their plans to end the Iraq War. Naw, say it ain’t so. Then there is that little eensie teensie item concerning the money in the pipeline because the dems have been claiming they cannot cut the funding for the Iraq War because that would not be supporting the troops as if they cut the funding the implication is that the troops would be stuck in Iraq which is patently ridiculous. No one believes that and if they do I pity them for they must be living on a different plane of existence than the one I have been familiar with. Let us face the sad and sick truth which is both Bush and his administration and the majority of democrats are using the troops for political gain positioning themselves for the upcoming election. Do you see anything wrong here? The dems are simply playing hide the weenie and they are the weenies.

Here Be Monsters

It was one of those days, a truly halcyon day of days when the universe overflowed with milk and honey. I was hiking in the verdant gently rolling hills off the coast of central California and from where I stood I could see the golden hills and valleys tumbling down to the great blue pacific ocean sparkling like diamonds in the ephemeral morning sunlight. All around me the tall golden grasses of summer waved in the offshore breeze forming patterns of dark and light mimicking the waves of the pacific far off in the hazy distance. Above me the sky resembled a huge blue china bowl inverted and unblemished. I was engulfed in a profound silence and a peace of mind that is known only to those who seize the day to explore the beauty of the natural world unaccompanied and unencumbered by one’s fellow humanity. I was entranced by the beauty and silence that held me in its bosom taking deep breaths of the cool clear air that welled up from the pacific when falling out of the sky descended the sound of the cry of a Red tail hawk, so wild, so savage and defiant that it sent chills up and down my spine. It was as if the hawk was announcing to the world the loneliness of the lone hunter of the winds. Secure in its supremacy, unafraid and at home in its world of land, air and sea. Humanity could have much to learn from the Red tail hawk. It is at moments like that when I can understand how ancient man filled the world about him with spirits, saw animals as spirits, because the universe is truly a magical place.

Modern man, unfortunately, is another story entirely. Today though most people would enjoy pursuing their lives in peace and security we are continually at war. It is a war of avarice and greed, fear and hate, manipulation and deception. For instead of living our lives the way we would choose we are the victims of terrorists. No not the terrorists we read about or hear about in the news, these are a different breed of terrorist altogether. They greet us with smiling manicured faces, eternally cajoling and complimenting us on what wise and wonderful beings we surly must be but beneath that smiling façade lays the mind and soul of monsters. For it is a truly monstrous thing to attack, murder, rend and shred our fellow humans out of a fear that is most horrible indeed because it is a fear that has been manufactured for us by our national leaders.

Upon ancient maps before the world was fully explored map makers of old would write “Here be monsters” to fill in the parts of the globe that were unknown and unmapped. Perhaps subconsciously they were thinking about national leaders, truly unexplored territory. Down through the misty paths of history leaders have instilled fear into the unwitting populace driving them to brutalities and heinous crimes that make us shudder with disgust when we read about them yet these crimes are committed by people just like us, the dupes of our mighty leaders. The fear they generate comes in many names, terrorists, communists, nihilists, and what have you. But the aim is always the same, the aim is to rout the public with fear allowing the dogs of war to spill out of their cages and wreak havoc upon the world.

Noam Chomsky has written this excellent article that explains it much better than I.

“Complex historical events always have many causes. One crucial factor
in this case was skillful manipulation of fear. The “ordinary folk”
were driven to fear of a Jewish-Bolshevik conspiracy to take over the
world, placing the very survival of the people of Germany at risk.
Extreme measures were therefore necessary, in “self-defense.” Revered
intellectuals went far beyond. As the Nazi storm clouds settled over
the country in 1935,Martin Heidegger depicted Germany as the “most
endangered” nation in the world, gripped in the “great pincers” of an
onslaught against civilization itself, led in its crudest form by Russia
and America.”

Monday, April 16, 2007


CBS News had a special 1 hour edition tonight with Katie Couric live from Blacksburg, presumably so everybody can see for themselves how much she cares. Hey, screw the ratings boost the news gets when something interesting and terrible happens. Yes, what happened today is genuinely horrible, but how are the news networks different from more run of the mill ambulance-chasers?

As I think I've written before, I don't think George Bush,jr is stupid. He's strikes me as someone who, though narrow-minded and incurious about things that don't strike him as immediately interesting, is generally shrewd with regard to things that do matter to him. He/Cheney/Rove does(do?) strike me as someone(s) who will look at the horrible events at Virginia Tech this morning and see political opportunity, and I have a certain queasy feeling about it.

I could well see the white house calling for some ostensibly benign sounding legislation, like the "Safe Campus Initiative" or something. Legislation designed to reinforce the Patriot Act and give federal officials greater powers to inspect college facilities, including the personal effects of students, college computer systems, etc. I could even see the Bushies vaguely suggesting they'd even maybe, kind of, of sort of, maybe favor some sort of gun control.. They'd do this indirectly through a surrogate, say Elizabeth Dole or Arlen Specter. Then they'd quickly backtrack, and point out they only meant on college campuses, and maybe not even there, etc. But by then, you'd have a bunch of democratic senators who'd taken the bait, finding themselves hectored by the supposedly liberal media for not supporting the administration's initiative, now only a design to enable the feds to more easily snoop on students and faculties. Dick Morris used to call it "triangulation."

Less cynically,Helena Cobban on the events at Virginia Tech, here.

Above: more from CBS's 4.16 home page.

*I understand that the notion that the Chinese character for crisis means opportunity is not really accurate, but it still makes for a nice reference.

Labels: , , ,

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Shadows on a Wall

In the days following the first Gulf War led by George Bush senior America was flush with a sense of victory seeing itself as a super power rivaled by none, perhaps the most powerful super power ever to tread the face of the earth.

A victory parade quickly ensued with tanks rumbling down the parade route twirling their turrets in an ecstasy of phallic symbolism. The ghost of our humiliating defeat in Vietnam had been erased and America was back on track, the crowds roared their approval.

Today the super power of perceived American supremacy is more akin to shattered shards of glass strewn on blood soaked earth. The grimacing gargoyle of defeat at the hands of Iraq insurgency has bloodied the nose of American might. Recent events such as the bombing of the Iraq government and the loss of a strategic bridge in the heart of the so-called green zone has tweaked the neo-con ear despite the escalation of the American occupied Baghdad.

In desperation Bush escalated the number of troops in his now miserably failed surge and has increased the length of time troops stay in Iraq from twelve months to fifteen. The armed forces are already stretched to the breaking point and seem to serve no purpose other than to provide targets as sitting ducks for insurgent snipers and bombers.

I have never been a huge fan of Iraq war critics who base their criticism in terms of tactics or perhaps more to the point failed tactics and the incompetence of the Bush administration as well as the military leadership. The reason for this is simply that I feel that imperial designs on world domination are simply inhuman and wrongheaded. Unfortunately I understand that for many Americans the desire to leave Iraq is not because it was wrong to invade another country but because the invasion has been an abject failure.

However that may be the fantasy of America’s unbeatable might has proven to be nothing but shadows on a wall and despite the fact that Bush and congress fully intend to promote this fools errand on to infinity the people of Iraq may well end the occupation for our flailing national leaders.

Tom Engelhardt of Tomdispatch who has consistently provided expert commentary as well as links to informative and top notch articles has the story.

After all these years, the Bush administration still seems not to grasp the full dangers it faces, including, as Juan Cole long ago pointed out, what might be called the Khomeini solution in which the majority Shiite population would take to the streets, a development against which the Americans could prove helpless. ("An urban insurgency/revolution," Cole wrote back in 2004, "can in fact win, and win quite decisively, as the urban crowds won out over the Shah [of Iran]. The Shah tried everything to put down the urban crowds. He had them spied on. He had them shot at. Nothing worked. The urban crowds just got bigger and bigger.") And don't forget those endless supply lines from Kuwait, so crucial for the American war-fighting and base system -- and so vulnerable.

Please go read the post.

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Illustrating a theme

possibly you've seen various lefty bloggers referring to the "SCLM" or "so-called liberal media." Eric Alterman brought this theme up in his book What Liberal Media? a few years ago. Interestingly, we see these two recent items:

1. via The Sideshow:

Bob Somerby wrote this in 1996:
By late 1995, this abusive tone-in support of an indefensible presentation-had become a trademark of the Speaker's appearances promoting the GOP plan.

After the evening's session, Franken is luxuriating in a Hyatt lounge with CNN's Robert Novak, NewsHour correspondent Margaret Warner, and House Budget Committee chairman John Kasich (R-OH), a key member of the GOP leadership. In challenging Kasich on the Speaker's argument, Franken-a humorist-manages to display the technical competence which completely eluded the press corps all year. And this evokes a reaction so remarkable that I reprint the anecdote in full:

At one point Novak was extolling Gingrich's "masterful" speech, and I objected, especially to the patronizing crap about the $4800 versus the $6700. So I turned to Kasich:

"By the way, are those constant dollars?"
Margaret jumped in. "Of course they're constant dollars. They wouldn't be that dishonest."
"Sure they would," I said. Turning back to Kasich, "Are those constant dollars?"
"Al..." Kasich's voice has a touch of annoyance, "we're increasing funding for Medicare."
"But the $4800 to $6700, has that been adjusted for inflation?"
"Al, the dollars are going up."
"I just want to know if those are constant dollars."
"Al, we're going from 178 billion [total Medicare budget in 1995] to 283 billion [total Medicare budget in 2002]." Kasich gave the others an exasperated look. When will this guy stop?
"Look. Gingrich is going like, 'Hey, you're a fucking moron if you can't see that 6700 is more than 4800.' I just want to know how big a moron am I. Are those constant dollars?"
A pause. Then. "No, Al, they're not constant dollars."
Kasich slumped in his chair and admitted, "I guess we're being a little intellectually dishonest about this one." And I took a few victory laps around the table.
Margaret was slightly embarrassed and begged me not to repeat the part about her assuming it was constant dollars. I knew she was kidding, however. She's a terrific journalist and she knows a good story.

2.from "Various items"
Glenn Greenwald [2007-04-14]
In light of recent revelations concerning the Bush administration, it is worthwhile to watch Norah O'Donnell's angry interview of Pat Leahy from the end of March, in which O'Donnell expresses a mix of anger and incredulity over the fact that Senate Democrats want to question Karl Rove under oath and in an open session with a transcript, rather than in a private "interview" with no oath.

[the youtube video is here.]

She begins the questioning this way: "Well Senator -- Tony Snow said today that you guys want the truth, and in this interview, you guys are going to get the truth from Karl Rove. What's wrong with that?" She then observes incredulously and angrily: "You don't trust the White House. The bottom line is: you don't trust the White House." What kind of monster would not trust the White House"?

Labels: ,

Friday, April 13, 2007

at the square

photo:Jonathan Versen, 2006

Occasionally I wonder how many UNT and TWU students come here and go to school, then leave without ever noticing "Old Reb", or "Old Jeb" or whatever his name is-- or do notice-- "hmm. old statue."-- without wondering about his import.

Old Reb was installed on the courthouse square in the early part of the 20th century, to commemorate Denton's confederate civil war dead. In the early to mid 90s there was a movement afoot to tear down the statue, but it ran out of steam. For my
part I'm glad the statue wasn't removed, for a variety of reasons.

Partly as a response, they put up another, less interesting statue to commemorate Denton's other war dead, through the 1st gulf war, because at the time(c. 1997, I think)we'd only had the one.*

I'm tempted to segue into a discussion of why removing Don Imus
from the airwaves is an altogether different matter(and it is an altogether different matter), but I don't have the energy at present, and I'm also kind of thinking the subject of Imus has been talked into the ground at this point.

*I believe that Denton has had two deaths thus far in Gulf War II.

Labels: , ,

Monday, April 09, 2007

Cursor fundraiser, and The Sideshow

First things first, let me note that Cursor is presently having a fund raiser, and unlike virtually all blogs, I believe helping them out is tax-deductible, even if a 2007 contribution now won't go towards the 2006 return you're presently working on. (I just automatically assume that the few regular and irregular HZ readers out there are slothful and occasionally procrastinate, because of my own capacity in those areas!)Nevertheless, helping Cursor is an intrinsically valuable thing to do, and if you can you should.

I started blogging, way back in 2002, in large part because I chanced upon Cursor and The Sideshow, some time in late 2001 or early 2002, and for me their sites were a revalation.

I hadn't even heard of blogs or blogging or the blogosphere until Andrew Sullivan, of all people, discussed them(and his blog, Andrew in The New Republic at around this time, and so I took his url from the pages of TNR and went to look at what he was talking about. From there I found his blogroll(I don't know if they were even called that at the time), which actually featured Cursor and Avedon Carol's Sideshow at the time. Whether you want to attribute this to the fact that the blogosphere was much, much smaller at the time or Sullivan's sense of fair play is your call. Maybe it was a bit of both these things.

Anyway: I don't have terribly much time for an in-depth post at this point as I'm working on other things. However, I have been wanting to post about Cursor and Avedon Carol(above, right) of The Sideshow for quite some time, and so I may make this a two-part deal. More later.

a post script: referencing the comment by Hibiscus in the previous post, I found Zakaria's interview with Nir Rosen, or at least part of it, here. (It's a roughly seven and a half minute clip, and each time I played it, it looked like it was cut in the middle of Rosen speaking at the beginning of the clip, as if it's the last 7:36 of a longer interview.)

Labels: ,

Sunday, April 08, 2007

Creed of Fareed: A Reasonable Liar

When journalists mislead, obscure the facts or just plain lie it hurts everyone. In this recent column appearing in Newsweek Fareed Zakaria either is a fool or has thrown all journalistic ethics out the window. I will admit that Mr. Zakaria is a very clever fellow as he twists reality into a pretzel with an adeptness that would make Houdini green with envy.

From a recent Fareed column:

“Last fall, the Bush administration was debating how to handle the Iranian nuclear threat. It was the now well-trodden tussle between hard-liners and pragmatists.”

This of course is the really big lie. Iran does not yet have a nuclear bomb so what nuclear threat are we talking about? And beyond that even if say in the next ten years Iran managed to manufacture a couple of warheads it would hardly make them a nuclear threat. And frankly I do not even believe they want nuclear bombs because it goes against their beliefs to kill civilians in wars, unlike another country that I know.

From an interview with Juan Cole:

“The supreme jurisprudent Ali Khamenei has repeatedly said that nuclear weapons are incompatible with Islamic law, because war, of course, in Islam, is a ritual. It’s incompatible with Islamic thinking on war that one would kill non-combatants. And nuclear weapons, obviously, would tend to mainly kill non-combatants.”

But getting back to Fareed:

“Whatever the internal politics, Iran appears to have miscalculated. Its actions will only confirm to many key countries that it is a reckless and untrustworthy state.”

Please excuse me but let us make an effort to regain a point of reality here. After our invasion of Iraq, against a majority of opinion around the world, it is the United States that is held by many foreign nations to be a reckless and untrustworthy state. Indeed everything we have done in recent times has encouraged other nations to evolve into armed camps.

Then Fareed further frames the situation that falls well within the U.S. party line that Iran is a threat and needs to be brought to heel like some errant pet dog:

“This episode is, in some ways, a metaphor for the broader relationship between Iran and the world. Namely, that pressure works, as long as you can help Tehran chart a way out. Iran is a prickly, nationalistic country with legitimate interests in the Middle East. It makes perfect sense to contain and curtail its efforts to go nuclear, destabilize Iraq and foment trouble in Lebanon and Palestine. But the United States should also think creatively about a way for Iran to get out of the box it is in. Sticks can work only if there are also carrots on the table.”

Ah, this sounds so reasonable does it not? Carrots and sticks yet amidst all this reasonableness Fareed slips in a claim that Iran is destabilizing Iraq. Who is destabilizing Iraq? Is it Iran? Really and truly? How neatly and with the precise cut of a surgeon does Fareed amputate the fact that the United States led a criminal invasion against Iraq disposing of its leader and then disbanding their army who may have played a crucial role in keeping Iraq from sinking into its present state of violence. And who is fomenting trouble in Lebanon and Palestine? Why none other than that source for all bad things in the world today Iran. Again we see facts lopped off and or seemingly forgotten as I suppose Israel had nothing to do with the “trouble” in Palestine and Lebanon. Fareed takes reality and stands it on its head because to anyone who has been following current events would know that it is the Untied States and Israel that are the greatest cause for a lack of stability in the Middle East. I also love the tidbit of wisdom Fareed lets fall that Iran has interests in the Middle East. Well, when you consider where Iran, unlike the U.S., is located that Iran has legitimate interests in the Middle East it truly becomes a brilliant piece of analysis on Fareed’s part.

Fareed continues with this:

“Iran is not some brilliant and all-powerful behemoth, destined to dominate the Middle East. It is a significant regional power, rich with oil resources but burdened by a failing economy and an unpopular and divided leadership. As long as the United States can work with other countries to contain Iran's worst ambitions but yet accede to its legitimate ones, the situation is manageable through diplomacy and not force.”

Surely Fareed has missed his calling as a stand-up comedian. He alleviates our fears that Iran is destined to dominate The Middle East which of course is the last thing America and its little rag-tag band of pay to play coalition is interested in and so here again we have those crazy Iranians while on the other hand we have the reasonable, beneficial and benign Western powers while Fareed puts on the mask of liberalism by extolling on the wisdom of diplomacy over force, tell that to the people of Iraq.

When journalists like Fareed, who is legitimatized by the fact that he writes for a well known national publication like Newsweek, spins, lies, and leaves huge gaping holes in his columns it makes him an enabler of the war of the strong against the weak. He not only does himself a disservice by being a disgrace to his calling but he is a aiding and abetting the murder, torture and thievery that is now occurring in the name of Americans everywhere. He also is endangering us all by trying to whitewash a dangerous situation that is harming not only the victims of imperialism but us as well. But that never seems to matter much to the Fareeds of the world.

This column by Fareed is the epitome of the entire party line that has been embraced by republican and democrat leaders alike which is that Iran is a threat that must be dealt with. All the debates we hear on this party line are based on a lie. Therefore any policy that is born from this party line is bound to dig us deeper into the hole we have already dug for ourselves.

And though Fareed aligns himself with diplomacy do sanctions against Iran really fall into the category of diplomacy? Our own president Bush has a habit of declaring a nation is evil and then proceeds to refuse to speak with them. How exactly is that diplomacy? Diplomacy has worked for England in getting their fab 15 back so why can’t we try the same? The answer is very likely that the reason we cannot try diplomacy is Iran does not have nuclear weapons so how can we use diplomacy to make them give up something that does not exist? In fact since we are a reckless and untrustworthy nation it would seem all we really want to do is dominate the Middle East by pounding them into submission.

Saturday, April 07, 2007

Another glowing moment in the history of advertising

Thursday, April 05, 2007


This is terrible, just terrible. Those Iranians, not fair, not fair! They are giving the Brits back to us and as far as we know they have not been water boarded, punched in the face, bitten by dogs or stacked like naked sardines. This is a disgrace to the dignity of the western world, an insult to the dignity of England, which surely reflects on the virility of Americans everywhere. Not fair, not fair.

I ask you, if we cannot terrorize the Iranians who can we terrorize? But buck-up m’laddies our virulent, er, I mean virile and manly military leaders are on top of this one. For example the good Admiral Mullen mulls over what real men would do as he speaks to us from the good ship Lollipop.

Raw story has the story.

The US naval chief said Thursday he thought US military personnel would have fought against Iranian forces and not been taken prisoner as were 15 recently freed Britons.

Asked if a situation like the one faced by the British sailors and marines who were just released after being held by Tehran could have happened to US sailors, Admiral Michael Mullen, chief of Naval operations told CNN television: "My expectation is that American sailors are never seized in a situation like that.”

"Individuals and units are guided by the right of self-defense, they don't have to ask permission to take action to protect themselves. And they go into operations like this, and missions like this, with that understanding," he said.

Obviously those Brit marines were just wimps, surrounded and outnumbered, never the less wimps according to the heroic admiral Mullen. To the admirable admiral I would just say this.“Goo, goo, gah, gah. Do it hurt and have a temperature?” By God admiral that was spoken like a real man in a man’s world where American men are men, real men, real dead men.

Alas, thwarted again by the Iranians no less. Bush must be slipping as he obviously did not act swiftly enough on this one for surely the honor of the U.S. was at stake here and nary was a declaration of WMD heard. But fear not there is plenty of time to fabricate something along those lines.

The end result of all this is the Iranians look good and we look bad as the torture and abuse of prisoners continues at Gitmo and other places. Our genius leaders have egg on their collective faces.


Imagine that, those inferior and subhuman brown people got the better of the superior and morally magnificent Westerners which of course is why they need to be destroyed. You just cannot trust those Iranians.

Admiral Mullen reminds me of this Einstein quote.

"He who joyfully marches to music rank and file, has already earned my contempt. He has been given a large brain by mistake, since for him the spinal cord would surely suffice. This disgrace to civilization should be done away with at once. Heroism at command, how violently I hate all this, how despicable and ignoble war is; I would rather be torn to shreds than be a part of so base an action. It is my conviction that killing under the cloak of war is nothing but an act of murder."

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Metacontent for an April Morning

image:unknown cutie at Cannes, c. 1979
Cannes, c. 1979. the photo above was uploaded to Wikipedia and possibly snapped by"Eric D", who is almost as mysterious as the young lady being photographed, as no one seems to know who she was.

300 the movie "that's so gay",NCAA final four april fool's jokes, major league baseball, Angelina Jolie's telephone number, brunch recipes,(1)an experiment should not necessarily be labeled as such,dendreon corp.(2)enormous breasts, donald trump,

Ocean's Thirteen, Rolexes for sale to the highest bidder, McDonalds Instant Discount;Walmart Free! Buy it Now: You know you want it; George Bush, junior toilet brush, Whetham Knauckweirst?

Lars Ulrich, don't mess with Oprah,


or the three tenors. Lindsay Lohan: click her if you don't want to see this message again. Tasting Rachael Ray requires flash player , The Rich Man being led to Hell, what is the name of the sexy mom in that ad?

King o' Zembla: Of course, the piece was much more effective at Bohemian Grove, where it was performed in the nude.(as the King would say: "hello, puzzled googlers!".)

Maha:"privatization gone wild"

who is Shatha Hassoun?(3)Modern audiences prefer to assign their own meanings and simply cannot be fooled by the girl in the dry cleaning ad.

you see, Micah Holmquist used to do this, and I've associated it with him ever since!

hater tonic(on technorati),gmail paper, youtube, joost,"crowdsourcing"

why does Nancy Grace scowl so much?
file your taxes now!

from th' BBC:
"Verka Serdyuchka, who pokes fun at middle-aged women, is loved by many people and is a cult icon in Ukraine. She was chosen as Ukraine's entry by an overwhelming majority in a public vote, but some find her vulgar and offensive."

kathy sierra (also) avalonstar, and avalonstar(ahead of the curve guy: hey, no smirking!)

Why do they hate us? property is theft:Iran, Iran

ritalia. twitter(from kathy sierra's blog)

does Marc Lynch really believe Eminem can save the Middle east?

Jack K:"9 mos. vs. 20 years" (see David Hicks)

"While most Americans believe the situation in Iraq will be judged a failure in the history books, 40% believe the U.S. should take military action to prevent Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons."-dohiyimir

and now(speaking of theft), here are some jokes:

from Your Right Hand Thief:

He walked up to me and said, "You know why Notre Dame is similar to Marijuana?"
I said "Sir, no sir."
And he said "Because they both get smoked in bowls".

From cutie El Goodo's defunct 2006 blog(a joke contest):

Do you think there are thieves who justify their actions through the ol' "God helps people who help themselves" adage?

Rob said...

But the better question is, in pantheistic religions, are there deities who go around stealing offerings meant for other deities, and justify it by saying, "Hey, people help Gods who help themselves?"

[The above comment was Rob's entry in the "world's most awkward joke contest" . . .]

A Pantheist stole an apple, and nobody said nuthin'. The wind did not whistle mournfully through the trees, even in the apple orchard. The pantheist said to himself.

This was my entry:

The thief said, God helps those who help themselves, and stole a can of potted meat. it was very good, and he was no longer hungry. God said nothing, and the thief felt vindicated. then the thief stole a Celica, with fancy wheels and a CD changer, even though the area's public transit was pretty good and he even had a bus schedule. He hit a tree and died.

Labels: , , , , , , , ,

Monday, April 02, 2007

Measure of Greatness

We hear it all the time.

Our politico’s never flagging testimony of our greatness. The words come so easily to their lips and they have repeated it so many times that one wonders if they are sincere but more to the point just what are they talking about?

What measure of greatness are they using? Is it the measure of our strength or is it about the proud heritage they so often refer to? What proud heritage is that and why is it proud? Are they talking about the U.S. Calvary who used to slaughter Native American women and children while the men were somewhere else? Are they proud of the gold miners in California who used to shoot Indians for sport? Perhaps they are talking about Custer’s last stand when the U.S. got a taste of its own medicine. Or maybe they mean Cambodia where we bombed and bombed and bombed some more.

On the other hand maybe they are talking about the way we ignore the elderly or stuff them in institutions where they are forgotten and sometimes abused. Or maybe it is the way we handled the aftermath of Katrina or it could be all the children living in poverty all left behind, every single one of them. I know -- it must be about our wonderful health care system where more women die in child birth than most other industrialized nations and where the people who have fallen through the holes left by our health insurance companies whose lobbyists write the laws, though no one voted for them, die from lack of medical care. We should be proud of the fact that people without health insurance must show up at emergency rooms in order to get any kind of treatment at all.

A number of years ago I did some volunteer work at the local library shelving books, magazines, videos and other such mundane things. I spent hours in the basement checking the archived magazines to see what was there and what was missing. One day I set up about 30 new computers that the library had just purchased to expand their services to meet the public demand for more computers. But the part I liked the best was saying hello to the homeless people that showed up every day who would ensconce themselves in their favorite spot getting out of the heat of the day or the cold of the day depending on the season. I would say hi and ask them how they were doing and I could not help but notice how surprised they were that anyone would actually talk to them, notice them -- much less ask them how they were. You know, God Damn it, but these are human beings and but for a bit of luck they could be any number of us and what is our great and proud society doing for them? Not much. has a great post on the new role libraries play in today’s America. Not only do libraries hold a wealth of information but they fill the gaps left behind by our cruel and unforgiving society that rewards only the wealthy, privileged and the bad asses.

Go ahead and read it, it might just surprise you.

Sunday, April 01, 2007

Youtubin' No. 2:George, the intervention

from Schwarz n' Gerber:"invader":

Labels: ,