bush lied, people died. escalate nonviolence.
Bill Moyers interviews Chris Hedges
What a breath of fresh air to have NOW on the air. Such a remarkable program and Moyers is such a sane and intelligent man.
Hedges goes on to say that the thing that is very frightening about our current fascination with war is that so many people are totally unaware about the consequences of the war. The last Gulf war was so antiseptic that the American public had no idea that tens of thousands of civilians died in Iraq. And this war would be even worse as the shock and awe campaign would target the cities and cannot be justified simply because Saddam is a wicked man:
Hedges warns that losing touch with what consequences come with war is a great danger right now. Using God to justify war is also seriously wrong: But I think anybody who believes that they understand the will of God and can act as an agent for God is dangerous. He believes that war does not only harm our enemies, it damages us as well.
Who we are as a people is profoundly affected in how and why we go to war. On how we think of our enemy. And whether we understand and mourn the consequences for the innocent bystanders caught on the killing fields.
As we head into war, it seems like there is no end to the wars we face. The Bush administration envisions using America's military might to make the world safe for America, stretching from the Phillipines to the Middle East and with North Korean on the horizon. Seeing no deaths on our TV screens and believing our actions are justified, it does seem war's narcotic attraction is strong. And sadly, our future seems tied to death, destruction and despair for countless people. When will we awaken from this opiate induced dream?posted by Mary at 12:40 AM | PERMALINK |
Friday, March 07, 2003
Middle East & War News Roundup
The University of Michigan Institute for Social Research says that the main ideological divide between the western and Muslim worlds is gender equity. Basically, their societies are more likely to harbor attitudes on the subject closer to the 700 Club crowd. (By which allusion I don't mean to insult Muslim culture, but only to make a single point of comparison for reference. Seriously.)
Young Saudis talk about the tradition of marrying cousins. Again, I would present the fact that they're beginning to talk about these issues in public as a sign of social progress. The best that can be asked of a society is that they try to improve and move forward. Which I say without irony, as I've become the proud part-owner of a country where the social clock is being forcibly turned back almost every day.
Iran has leapt at the chance to get out of the axis of evil and is planning to host Iraqi refugees, something that until recently they were unsure they could afford. But as they jump into international diplomacy with both feet, voter malaise is setting in, on a scale hardly seen in modern democracies outside the US.
In a revelation sure to destroy what little credibility Britain had left after their plagiarized 'report' delivered by the now also discredited Colin Powell, Mohammed El Baradei's testimony this morning indicated that Britain's claims of Iraqi attempts to purchase uranium were fabricated. Though, of course, he did not name them directly. After this, I just have to wonder, what the hell is it that we've got on them that they're so willing to humiliate themselves like this? It doesn't get worse than being proven a liar on the floor of the UN in a hearing listened to anxiously all over the world.
In a move that must gladden the hearts of the Iraqi equivalent of the NRA, if such a thing existed, Baghdad residents are purchasing firearms like they were going out of style. They're concerned that they may have to defend themselves from score-settling neighbors, looters, and foreign invaders in the event that their city becomes a mass shooting gallery. But in a revelation that will surely be ignored by our NRA, it turns out that countries where almost every household owns a gun do not magically turn into polite and peaceful utopias. Who would have guessed?
The White House has formally announced to congress its desire to repeal the ban on nuclear testing for bombs under 5 kilotons. It's understood that this move comes as the Pentagon ponders the use of low yield weapons in the Iraqi theatre of war. Two questions: 1) Why isn't this front page news everywhere, and 2) how long will it take me to scour up something tranquilizing so I can get to sleep tonight?
Rich Cowan gives a very thorough accounting of 13 (only 13?) myths about war on Iraq. This article is simply packed with good links and references to add to your store of anti-war information.posted by Natasha at 11:21 PM | PERMALINK |
Who We Pissin' Off Now?
According to this Krugman column and Daily Kos commentary, Mexico.
Media Whores gives us the Vietnam II Preflight Check. Unsurprisingly, it includes quite the tally of bad vibes.
The Korean peninsula continues the slide from pre-Bush thaw to present day escalating standoff. Way to go, guys.
Even the Irish are getting into the act.posted by Natasha at 10:18 PM | PERMALINK |
Thursday, March 06, 2003
Dave Pollard takes on the important task of creating an introduction to Environmental & Social Economics, a developing study which takes into account the true net costs of commercial activities as well as some of the benefits of non-market activity.
Orcinus has some good posts up. Start here, where he talks about 'conservationist' conservatives (which are exactly the same as 'compassionate' conservatives), a plea for help with the Limbaugh transcript project, a link to a good article by Sherman Alexie, and couple wrenching posts on the era of lynchings.
Back to Iraq points out a disturbing possibility regarding the Turkish parliament's rejection of US basing rights, and explains here how seriously FUBAR the situation has become. And, as he mentions at the end of one post, why is it that no one has been willing to issue gas masks and protective gear to the Kurds?
Ruminate This informs those of us with less-than-perfect credit that we may find ourselves on government watch lists, and may have difficulties with air travel. I don't even what to go into what I think about that right now.
Casus Belli takes a first pass at debunking the evenings Bushwhacking. I'm glad he sat through it, I decided to be kind to my blood pressure.posted by Natasha at 11:13 PM | PERMALINK |
Recently, on a thread over at the Agonist, it's been argued back and forth whether the US was perfectly justified in every Cold War era action it took, among other things. Then today, I read this post on Late Night Thoughts regarding torture, and whether or not it's ever acceptable. It opens with a quote from an eyewitness account of torture in Latin America:
The people who did this, or at least the people who ordered it, were almost certainly trained at what was formerly known as the School of the Americas. A 'service' provided by the government of the United States to Latin American right wing paramilitary groups and dictators which ensured that their troops would be well versed in every art of keeping a population in line.
If the United States government was not responsible for these acts, then the leaders of organized crime syndicates are not responsible for the murders they delegate to their subordinates.
This was done in the name of a war on communism. Something that turned from being about the geopolitical goal of outfoxing our biggest rival, and became a war on every type of moderately egalitarian suggestion that was brought up in US client states. Many of whom were saddled with a long history of colonialism, slavery, and massive inequality. It was done in an era where, with US support, Latin America was turned into a slaughterhouse from one end to the other. Done while the American public averted their collective eyes.
You want land reform in a country where the majority are poor and landless? Must be a commie. You want progressive taxation to pay for social programs? Commie. You want rights for indigenous peoples that equal the rights of the often european descended elites? Commie. You want to nationalize the holdings of multinational corporations that have essentially been stealing your country's resources while leaving no more within the borders than bribes to those elites? Damn commie.
This woman (among many other people) was brutalized under the slogan 'better dead than red.' She was subjected to something that makes me sick even to read about. Was she a social worker? A peasant organizer? A nun or church affiliate ministering to the poor in the area? Had someone in her family done something for which the later appearance of her maimed corpse was meant to be retribution? Could it really matter what she did?
There is, in my mind, no good reason for it. None. There is no ideology, religion, or way of life that deserves to exist if it can only flourish by means of this sort of inhuman cruelty. There is no excuse for taking otherwise normal people and twisting them into the kind of monsters who can do something like this. It is indefensible.
But people continue to try defending it. Every time someone says that the Cold War justified the overthrow of Allende in Chile, of Lumumba in Zaire, Mossadeqh in Iran, or Arbenz in Guatemala, that's what they're defending. That woman on the metal bed, praying to god, and answered by a torturer. They're trying to say it was justified to unleash real life horrors on the world to fight over ideology. Remind them what "any means necessary" really means.
Maybe it's time for us to start wondering why no matter what form of government or religion we try, someone will use it as an excuse to allow atrocities. Maybe the point should no longer be the -ism or the -ocracy, but about absolutely refusing to excuse these perversions no matter what the crisis of the moment. About refusing to authorize 'our' people to commit these acts, even if it may be true that 'their' people did it too.
Is it any use to fight terror with one hand, and cause it with another?posted by Natasha at 9:43 PM | PERMALINK |
Wednesday, March 05, 2003
Religion on the road to war
There has been a lot of press lately about religion and whether those who are opposed to the war somehow don't understand that there is a strong religious sense directing the President and his supporters. This week Nicholas Kristof excoriated the media for not recognizing the huge appeal of conservative religion in the United States. He quotes Robert Fogel of the University of Chicago saying that America was in the midst of another great revival.
The President is openly using religion to justify his decisions. He tells people, "... he is at peace with his plans for a potential war with Iraq - he has thought long and hard of the risk to U.S. troops and is sustained by the Bible and prayers of the public." In February, Bush spoke to a prayer meeting and indicated that he thought that he had been chosen by God for this time:
Of course, the problem is, Bush sees himself as an arm of a vengeful, triumphal God, the God of the Old Testament.
But Bush and the conservative right do not have sole proprietary claim to religion any more than they do to what it means to be a patriot. The world's most recognized religious leader, the Pope, is actively combating the drive to war with a compelling drive to peace. Along with the Anglican bishop in Great Britain, he has called the faithful to an Ash Wednesday dedicated to fasting and praying for peace.
Although Bush had been unwilling to meeting with mainstream religious leaders before, he did meet with the Pope's envoy, Cardinal Pio Laghi. And as Ari says, he listened:
The language the Vatican uses is anything but kind (and probably not inclined to make Bush very happy):
The Pope practices a form of religion much closer to the spirit of Jesus than Bush, and this battle for the hearts and minds of the world is a compelling one, because one vision of God leads to a much bleaker future for humanity.
Karen Armstrong, in her incredible book, A History Of God, describes the problem with conservative, fundamentalist religions, a problem that all the three monotheistic religions share.
She notes, "Christian fundamentalists seem to have little regard for the loving compassion of Christ. They are quick to condemn the people they see as the 'enemies of God'."
She goes on to say that one of the key characteristics of the three religions of God are the calls to practice compassion.
The radical rightwing base that looks to Bush as a leader, believe and follow a bleak and harsh God, limited by what they can imagine. And as Armstrong points out, "To make such human, historical phenomena as Christain 'Family Values', 'Islam', or 'the Holy Land' the focus of religious devotion is a new form of idolatry. ... It must be rejected as inauthentic." (pp 390-392, hardback edition)
Whose vision of religion wins out will ultimately have a lot to say about the type of world we will leave for our children and for future generations.
And it is long past time to reread Mark Twain's War Prayer.
Followup to Karen Armstrong's thoughts: Bad religion, as we saw on 11 September, can result in actions that are wholly evil.
I can't help but feel that we are on the verge of one of those really evil acts ourselves and that it will have a profound effect on who we are a nation and what we stand for in this world.
Thanks to Benedict@Large, for the tip that Karen Armstrong has written further on this subject.
Today is the last day to sign the MoveOn petition to the UN in opposition to the war. Go now, it only takes a couple minutes to fill out the form. Even if Bush isn't listening to us directly, every show of public sentiment for peace emboldens other opponents of the war. Staying silent allows them to win by default.
Thanks to Cowboy Kahlil for reminding me, which I'll repay him for by reminding you :)posted by Natasha at 5:13 PM | PERMALINK |
My morning dose of CNN Headline News proved to be less jarring than usual, with a reporter actually going to the site of one of the college protests, and speaking to two peace activists who looked utterly normal and could speak coherently. The two gentlemen mentioned the following points: the war and military budget are going to take away from needed domestic priorities, it seems like a bad idea to inflict what happened to us on 9-11 on another country, and that while Hussein is undoubtedly a bad guy, democracy doesn't come from bombing people. It was emphasized that at least one of the two (they didn't specify regarding the other) had never been involved with a protest before, and he said that this was representative of the depth of protest.
While from their viewer email, the messages they quoted that came across more forcefully were the pro-war messages, I can't complain. They gave my view at least equal time, and took the unprecedented step of noticing and speaking to ordinary Americans who are clearly aware of the issues, and still oppose this war. The reporter on the scene & the two in the studio were respectful of the protestors, and let their statements stand without sniping or mockery. What more could be asked than that they report from both points of view on the topic, and give us a hearing in a public forum?
Update: My lunch-time dose of news was equally surprising. There were so many non-party-line items, I could hardly believe my ears.
They talked about city council resolutions. That over 100 cities had passed anti-war resolutions, saying that city governments were concerned about the waste of resources and were also on the frontlines of citizen complaints. They also mentioned that 46 cities had passed resolutions condemning the Patriot Act, 'which some say curtails civil liberties.'
The death by blunt force trauma of two Afghani detainees at Bagram Air Force Base was touched on. It was noted that the cause of death was listed as homicide, though it was unclear if charges would be filed.
The White House has new evidence against Iraq, which Colin Powell is presenting at the UN today, but it will be a hard fight for votes, and the US still maintains that war could still be avoided through complete disarmament. UN approval was said to look uncertain after France, Germany, and Russia made a joint statement of opposition to any attempt to pass a use of force resolution. In his press conference today, though, Ari Fleischer said that this should not be assumed to imply a veto.
They revisited the student protest story, introducing it by saying, "Tens of thousands of students concerned about their country" had marched against the war today. They showed a further clip of a student activist (one of the same that they'd interviewed this morning) saying that he'd visited Iraqi students, and that the US had no credibility with the Iraqi people.
Shortly following that, it was mentioned that the Pope is using this Ash Wednesday to send a message of support for peace to Catholics around the world. (This BBC article discusses the Pope's opposition and planned activities in support of peace in more detail.) Having mentioned yesterday a very negative effect of religion in public affairs, it seems only fitting to point out when there's such a positive act. The article linked above mentions that the ailing Pontiff seems to be more focused and vigorous lately, as he works to head off a conflict.posted by Natasha at 8:56 AM | PERMALINK |
Tuesday, March 04, 2003
This is why, no matter how much humanitarian work and championing of human rights they do, I just can't reconcile myself to liking the presence of religion as a political force. (Emphasis mine)
If it happened to this little girl, how many others has it happened to? In a country where she and her parents could be tried for preventing a nine-year-old from having to become a mother. At least it was an example of how lawyers can actually be a force for good in society.
I just dare some anti-feminist cretin to try and tell me that this violated the rights of the rapist and would-be father. B*******.posted by Natasha at 4:41 PM | PERMALINK |
Having given up on tying Chavez to Al-Qaida, some are now attempting to tie him to FARC, a Columbian militant group. Let's see if anyone bites.
Reuters hams it up while describing Chavez' telling off of world leaders he accuses of being involved in coup attempts, putting charges against arrested walkout leaders in quotemarks, and speaking of their 'silver hair.' But even they could not avoid letting slip that in fact the ambassador of Spain was present applauding the April coup, and that Colombia openly celebrated, where Chavez was secretly detained until mass popular uprisings insisted that their elected leader be returned.
Carlos Ortega, the other walkout instigator, is also now under house arrest. The arrests have been public, and charges and sentencing are being left to the courts.
Two days later, the Colombian and Spanish embassies were bombed in the middle of the night, as previously mentioned.
The Carter Center strongly condemns the violence in Venezuela. The article states that Carter's peace proposals (offered after taking a fishing trip with a major opposition leader) weren't able to resolve the crisis. It neglects to mention that both proposals were simply two different routes of action as specified in Venezuelan law. Also, there was this:
If we are now accusing other leaders of bombing embassies because of "verbal attacks" on the international community, George W. Bush and all his henchmen should be in the most miserable maximum security lockdown in the US. The Christian Science Monitor joins the fray, deliberately slanting the article to perpetuate the media myths surrounding the country. Repeating again the complaint that his 'autocratic' behavior was all lawful, darn him. Though they included one sane Weisbrot quote down at the bottom, after having included no support for his perspective in the rest of the article, and they prominently featured this:
Hey, Mr. Shifter! We have a leader here in the US who has zero respect for the rule of law and institutions, and he wasn't even elected. What do you think about that? This Liberal Oasis interview with Greg Palast said it best:
Monday, March 03, 2003
Donahue and the failure of liberal voices
The cancellation of Phil Donahue this past week seemed to be the final nail in the coffin for Liberal voices on shock TV. The reason given was the Phil Donahue didn't have good enough ratings to beat Bill O'Reilly. The strong message sent to all of us liberals is that our arguments are boring, our spokespeople just don't get it, and besides which, no one wants to hear what we have to say.
Well, there might be just a bit more to the story than that. This weekend, NPR's On The Media [RealAudio clip] talked about the cancellation of Donahue's show and it appears that there might be a much stronger argument that MSNBC was afraid to have any anti-war voices getting air time during these days when they might be labeled terrorist sympathizers and Saddam lovers.
Rick Ellis received a report from someone at MSNBC that stated the following:
The report studied what the Media should do to garner the highest ratings. And they decided that although Donahue was more popular than Chris Matthews, he was trouble:
[Ed: emphasis added]
Don't miss Donahue's answer.
In my eyes this says that all attempts to use the media to present an alternative to war will be blocked by the powers that be.
The fact that MSNBC can decide that their ratings matter more than honest, truthful information for the American public is purely despicable. Add to this the fact that Michael Powell (and the silent, complicit media) plan to destroy our ability to have a so-called "free press" by guaranteeing media monopolies without ever letting the American public in on their scheme (via Steve Soto), and I'd say we are on the path of no return. The American media is so compromised that it is almost impossible to believe that the citizens of this country can get the information they need to make good decisions. The only hope we have is that the internet is world wide and pretty darn hard to shutdown these days. Keep blogging y'all and keep shining the light on the slimy dark creatures in bed with the radicals in charge.
If you are angry enough, go to Media Whores Online to send an email to Bill Gates (the owner of the MSN part of MSNBC) to tell him how well you think these guys are supporting our democracy at home.posted by Mary at 9:38 PM | PERMALINK |
Around the web:
Guardian: It seems that all Blair's efforts have only succeeded in turning the British public against war all the more firmly. Naomi Klein talks about civil disobedience. And, is wealth any good in the absence of values?
Mark Morford explains how hippie crap can save the world.posted by Natasha at 4:02 PM | PERMALINK |
Easter Lemming has the latest bribery rundown.
Body and Soul talks about useful interventions, why she likes getting news from blogs, and below that some interesting news links.
The Sideshow has good links today, which introduction does them injustice.
To The Barricades discusses Right To Work laws, and immediately below that gives some of many good reasons for opposing this war.
Daily Kos brings us, 'who're they pissing off now?' The press, apparently. Which just goes to show that even total mindless submission isn't always enough to stay on Bush's good side. Also, more on Turkey, a country that appears disinclined to revisit the issue of allowing American troops in. I suspect that part of that is a fear that like houseguests from hell, once we get in, we'll stay for good.
Also, Eschaton has more about the pilfering of the California economy by the energy companies. A move which, in our current economic situation, looks about as smart as bragging publicly about friendship with Kenny Boy Lay. The national press is mostly asleep on this, and the Justice Department seems way more interested in (as Atrios mentions) bongs and hookers. Also, we are pointed to a refutation of Pollack's case for war.posted by Natasha at 3:17 PM | PERMALINK |
Sunday, March 02, 2003
Billmon subbing at Daily Kos talks about the administration's gamble with Iraq, and why the neocons are so desperate to believe the promises of democracy.
The Agonist talks about our recently leaked plans for wiretapping ambassadors with swing votes at the UN. Every time you think these guys couldn't possibly embarass the country further, they prove that they're more ingenious at it than you gave them credit for.
The solution to rape and sexual harrassment in the military? Get rid of the 'radical feminists' who complain about it.
Slactivist doesn't see any further need to be polite about the application of the death penalty.
Life Outtacontext discusses how the guided by god rhetoric is going down overseas. As should be expected, not well.
South Knox Bubba talks about how to tell (no, really) when Bush is lying, and the picture to prove it. Also, there's a good fuzzy shot of Dick "Mr. Burns" Cheney in the background.
TalkLeft on why slavery isn't over.posted by Natasha at 12:37 PM | PERMALINK |
And now for something completely silly, as befits the hour, and breaks up the seriousness of recent posts. If you didn't already know, I'm a geek:
Thanks to Not Invented Here, who is a 'geek liaision'. (ie, a normal who speaks geek)posted by Natasha at 3:05 AM | PERMALINK |
The President's Job
Saturday morning before leaving the house, I turned on MSNBC to see what kind of crazy stuff I would hear now. It used to be that I had to go on Fox to reliably get serious disconnects with reality, but now, not so hard to find. Let's take this paraphrase & comment by a Washington Post correspondent in regards to Iraq's agreement to destroy the Al-Samoud missiles.
To dispense with the latter comment, was there any doubt about the absence of anti-war sentiment in the White House? But the thing that really got me was their assertion that Iraq's compliance with one of the Bush administration's publicly stated goals makes Bush's 'job' harder. His job!? Really? What job, precisely, would that be?
Clearly, it doesn't interfere with his primary job, which is to be the executive decision maker for the US. In fact, if Iraq disarms peacefully, it will save taxpayers billions of dollars. Considering that we are currently saddled with the most economically clueless administration in history, we need all the breaks we can get. It doesn't interfere with his job of keeping us safe because, hey, fewer usable missiles in the world makes everybody safer. It doesn't interfere with the administration's stated mission of disarming Iraq, for the benefit of the international community of course, because it would appear that they're getting their way.
The only possible job that could be made more difficult by Iraq's compliance with the public demands of the US and the UN is the self-appointed mission to ram a war down the world's throat. You know, the job that appears to be on the verge of effecting regime change in our ally, Britain. And possibly, Mexico.
This is not the work that Bush was put into office to do. This is not the work of a 'humble nation.' And it isn't the work of a nation that claims to speak for everyone's best interests, when all indications are that heels are digging in all over the world.
This president needs to get back to his job of focusing on the people's business, because as much damage as they're doing inside our country, most of it can be reversed by cooler heads in the future. We might recover from this fit of national insanity within a decade of sending him packing. But it's a safe bet that the kind of international damage done by Bush's new job may be landing fallout on our heads for the next fifty years.
I keep thinking, "If this guy was working for me, he would be SO fired." And then, as always, I remember that indeed he IS working for me. By some egregious and uncouth stretch of the word 'work'.posted by Natasha at 12:59 AM | PERMALINK |