the watch
bush lied, people died. escalate nonviolence.

Evict Bush!

Saturday, March 29, 2003  

Around the blogosphere

Kos of DailyKos decided to move on up to a deluxe apartment in the sky yesterday. He will be taking his increasingly popular blog to a dedicated server, thereby avoiding server overload. Since Atrios has experienced similar problems, he may do the same down the road.

Matthew Yglesias is surprised I described him as pinchable cheeked. It seems to me the most common adjective used in regard to Matt's appearance among lady bloggers is "cherubic." Agreed?

Kevin Drum, the CalPundit, is having difficulty supporting his claim that the Democratic party is no longer centrist. I've tried to help him analyze the issues and reject that weird idea, first there. And, now, here. I'm sure other liberal bloggers will pitch in to save Kevin from himself.

MSNBC has a roundup article about warbloggers that includes one liberal, Eric Alterman, who happens to work for MSNBC.

Nathan Newman reminds us that American hostility to the United Nations is overstated. It appears most of us don't trust our own government in the role of rebuilder of Iraq.

-- Mac Diva

posted by J. at 6:38 PM | PERMALINK |

Friday, March 28, 2003  

Questions for Gary Hart

Gary Hart has started a blog. With comments. I think that Gary Hart was one of the superstars of the Democratic party when he was originally running for President until he tripped up on the addiction of female power groupies. I know that in the run up to this war, Gary Hart produced some of the most effective and comprehensive statements about why the war was wrong and what really needed to be done to protect us from terrorist attacks. I'd like to know what he's saying these days.

Here were my comments I left at his site (edited for clarity and my typos):

I don't know if there is anyone running for the Democratic presidency that can do what we really need to have done. I'm so disappointed in the Democrats and their cowardice. I long for someone like Paul Wellstone who I always believed would stand up for you even if you didn't always agree with everything he advocated. I wrote about what I want to see in a candidate a couple of weeks ago. I think that a leader that gets this right could win.

Mr. Hart, I know I've appreciated your speeches I've read (and have used them in some of my writings), but I need to know what your response and attitude on this war is that we find ourselves in right now. I know that Paul Wellstone would have had the moral authority to stand up against this deeply immoral and illegal war. I don't know where you stand or what you would advocate if the majority of the American public disagreed with you. (I want our troops to come home and I want the deaths to stop!) I feel like our Democratic party has become so compromised by money and "not looking out of step with America" that they have given up their ability to stand up for principles. I also feel like our country has become so convinced of its "entitlement" (it is God's country) and that we alone in the world should be free of fear or danger that we cannot see how or why we might have to equitably deal with others in the world. And this doesn't even touch what is wrong with our country domestically. Do you really understand the enormity of the fight ahead?

posted by Mary at 11:46 PM | PERMALINK |

Notable Posts:

Why Your Wife Won't Have Sex With You takes on the revolting habits of Fred Phelps, the man whose congregation picketed Matthew Shepard's funeral.

Long Story; Short Pier posts a reader email concerning how to shirk your share of the bill for the monstrosity known as Operation Iraqi Freedom by doing something nice for Iraqis.

Estimated Prophet talks about 'the big lie'.

Public Opinion tells us that Peggy Noonan's column has landed in Australia. Poor bastards.

Ruminate This points out that the US has had an overdose of its own propaganda.

Alas, A Blog on how the media shapes perceptions of how dissimilar the two parties are by focusing only on things they argue about, and ignoring all those things about which they are in agreement.

T.C. Mits points out that many Christians are for peace, just in case anyone were to get the mistaken impression that the empty warheads in the White House speak for all of them. He also leads us to this post on Unmedia indicating that Al Jazeera's english language website may have been hacked by a higher power than rogue mischief makers, as evidence for which, Slashdot is reporting that the english version of the site is unreachable worldwide. Scroll down for more on the subject, and also the news that the NASDAQ followed the NYSE in banning Al Jazeera's reporters from the exchange floor.

posted by Natasha at 10:56 PM | PERMALINK |

Remember North Korea?

They have taken issue with Japan's recent launch of two spy satellites, both of which are intended to keep an eye on the secretive and hostile regime. Japan has declared that they have no intention of preparing for any kind of preemptive attack, though prior to the launch, the North implied that such a move might prompt the test firing of a long-range missile.

However, in a striking break with longstanding sentiment in the country, the development of nuclear capability has ceased to be beyond debate in Japan. Concern over this sort of proliferation is thought to have motivated China to cut oil supplies to North Korea, as a clear message to the country to stand down from their aggressive behavior.

Ending a long streak of foot-dragging, the State Department is laying the groundwork to open talks without any preconditions. This follows a North Korean move to suspend low level military talks regularly held at the border with the South.

The EU will bring a resolution to the UN Human Rights Commission regarding North Korea's record of torture and political murders.

The leadership in Pyongyang have boosted military spending 14.4% for the year, in spite of widespread hunger and energy shortages in the country. They have expressed deep concern that after any success in Iraq, their country will be next. The move necessitated the first ever bond issue to the North Korean public.

posted by Natasha at 9:38 PM | PERMALINK |

Remember Afghanistan?

As the US launches another major offensive, a foreign aid worker is gunned down by suspected Taliban forces. The Afghans traveling with him were unharmed. In response, the Red Cross will suspend aid operations in the country.

The country has resumed it's role as a world leader in opium production. The article concludes:

...“Last year we wanted to give them some cash subsidies for their needs, but this year we are out of resources,” Yassini told The Associated Press.

Yassini said the government is exploring alternative livelihoods and crops to wean farmers off poppy cultivation. He said Iran had given $US3.5 million and the United States had given $US4 million toward the effort.

Pakistan plans to repatriate all 1.8 million Afghans over the next three years.

Over 2,000 people have been flooded out of their homes in northern Afghanistan.

BearingPoint, formerly KPMG, has won an economic consulting contract with the impoverished, war torn country.

A college group will be sending safe birthing kits to Afghanistan, in an attempt to reduce the very high infant and maternal mortality rates.

The UN Security Council has voted unanimously to extend aid for another year.

posted by Natasha at 9:08 PM | PERMALINK |

Jon Stewart on the Daily Show, March 27, 2003, speaking about the 'coalition' that the US has lined up:

And much of Central America is also in the coalition, mostly because we've already liberated them. Um, reapeatedly, vigorously, and covertly. And believe me, they don't want to go through one of these liberations again.

posted by Natasha at 8:42 PM | PERMALINK |

Should POWs light up?

Note: My apologies for the previous post of this entry. Blogger posted an early version instead of the final product. Now the entry should make more sense.

So many people can shed more light on the Geneva Conventions than I that I'm not even going to try, except for discussing a little known provision I don't know whether to be amused or bemused by.

The Geneva Conventions are four related 1949 treaties signed by about 190 nations, including the United States, Iraq and Afghanistan. The third convention, on prisoners of war, is being closely scrutinized this week as images of American prisoners being questioned are broadcast around the world. It sets out detailed rules, prohibiting torture, approving "sports and games" and requiring that tobacco be permitted and sold at local market prices.

If I interpret the last clause correctly, miserable prisoners of war, being held in jail cells at best while bombs from their own side fall outside and hatred from the enemy bombards them inside must be allowed to smoke. I guess the provision is some kind of consolation prize. Or perhaps it is a vestige from the old days when soldiers were macho men who smoked, drank and loved the smell of napalm in the morning.

I can't help but wonder how the half-century old provision fits in with the lives of contemporary soldiers, most of whom are in support positions, some of whom are women and a majority of whom are not smokers because of the reduction of smoking in American society.

In 2000, the military reported that 34 percent of the nation's 1.4 million service members smoked — down from previous decades, but not enough to satisfy the Defense Department, which was spending $930 million per year on healthcare for smoking-related illnesses and lost productivity.

I believe it is safe to assume the proportion of smokers has dropped more since.

The Geneva Conventions requirement in regard to smoking raises several different kinds of questions. Psychological: Given a choice of diversions, would the captured troops prefer something other than a Marlboro? Will some of them begin smoking while POWs just because cigarettes, in keeping with the Geneva Conventions, are made available? Legal: Should an unhealthy form of diversion be made available? If they begin smoking while in the armed forces and prisoners of war, will the government be responsible for their smoking-related illnesses down the road, when they are civilians? Social: Will this requirement provide an opportunity for American tobacco companies to raise their profiles and goodwill toward them by shipping free cigarettes to Iraq for prisoners of war? (And, no, I don't believe the tobacco industry is above such self-serving behavior.) Will that, in turn, encourage civilians to smoke?

The American military has considered abolishing smoking altogether, but gradually. Experts are concerned about both the short-term and long-term effects of smoking on soldiers.

Besides being tied to causing long-term diseases, such as emphysema and lung cancer, smoking degrades soldier readiness, said Brig. Gen. Patrick D. Sculley, the commanding general of the U.S. Army Center for Health Promotion and Preventive Medicine, Aberdeen Proving Ground, Md.

. . .The Army is now very concerned about smoking's short-term effects on soldiers, Sculley said, noting: "Smoking is a readiness issue."

"We think of endurance as being less among smokers. Smokers don't heal as well [compared to non-smokers] if they're injured. Smokers have decreased night vision. Soldiers who smoke also are more susceptible to cold injury," he added.

The military began its smoking cessation efforts at home -- on its bases.

A more than eight-year Department of Defense effort to outlaw cigarette smoking in public buildings reached a final phase on Dec. 7 [2002] as a three-year grace period ended for recreational facilities, including base bars, bowling alleys, and golf course clubhouses, to go smoke-free.

However, housing, including barracks, is excluded from the ban. That would include temporary housing in the field. So, arguably, the prisoners of war will just be doing in their cells what they could have done in their tents. But, most of them would not have smoked in their tents and may be tempted to do so as captives.

I know this is a lot of thought to give to a small, and some would say insignificant provision, but I find the 'smoking break from war' rule intriguing.

-- Mac Diva

posted by J. at 6:54 PM | PERMALINK |

The Banality of Evil

Joe Conason talks about those who predicted a cakewalk today and points to an article in the Washington Post by Thomas Edsell with some of the more callous remarks from an administration whose hallmark is that of Moral Clarity. And Salon provides a For the Record column of all those who blithely stated that this war would be a cakewalk.

I'm so glad that our noble leaders have found a way to instill a sense of confidence and purpose in the American public by reminding us all what a war-loving country we are. Forget the old wussy values, we will live under the new values of glorifying a warrior culture, unfraid to inflict death and destruction, leaving fear in our wake.

posted by Mary at 12:03 PM | PERMALINK |

Some Notes:

Yesterday Ruminate This commented on the news that Richard Perle was resigning. Liberal Oasis reports today that this is not quite true.

So Perle quit. Sort of.

In an attempt to kill the story and remove the building pressure, Perle announced he was resigning, snagging, at least initially, the headlines he sought.

But many of the early headlines were wrong. He's not leaving the DPB altogether, just giving up the chairmanship.

So my cynical thought that Perle was still planning to suck up blood money is more true than I had thought.

Josh Marshall has a interesting post today talking about Perle and he also comments on the fact that Franklin Graham, son of Billy Graham, says there are a number of Christian missionaries ready to go in and provide humanitarian help. Of course, this should really dampen down the Islamic sense of being under siege. Although I believe there are a number of Christian organizations that would do a very fine job of helping in the humanitarian work needed in Iraq after the war, I believe that the missionaries sponsored by Graham will stoke more resentment and anger. Graham has publicly stated that he believes that only through Christianity can people know God and that "Islam as a whole is evil."

I continue to dwell on the resignation of the senior State Department ambassadors. Their public acts to refute Bush's war remind me that there are still some truly patriotic Americans willing to take a stand against a policy that betrays the values of America. I found a great article about this on which adds to the story. It also has links to all the letters of resignation.

Thank you, John Brady Kiesley, John Brown, and Mary (Ann) Wright. I honor you for your brave stance and for your dedication to our country.

posted by Mary at 7:25 AM | PERMALINK |

What We're Reading:

BusyBusyBusy brings us a Catch-22 quote that seems particularly appropriate, and identifies Dubya's 'real' boss. No, not Choronzon. At least not that we can prove.

TBogg, who is usually wickedly funny, made me cry. He juxtaposed an especially bloodthirsty Andrew Sullivan quote with a link to pictures of dead Iraqis, including the very gruesome picture that Al Jazeera has since taken off of their website. The pictures are captioned appropriately for the 'joyous liberation' that the Iraqis are currently supposed to be experiencing. Also, he beats me to noticing that Mark Morford is back from vacation, just in time to remind us that we don't know jack.

At Daily Kos, which you should scan over anyway for the obituaries of US soldiers who won't be coming home again, Billmon posts a letter from an officer, Kos tells us all about our good friends in Uzbekistan, and gives us an update on how Bush's War on the World is going. Not pretty.

Jim Cappozolla of the Rittenhouse Review is thinking about running for Senate. We're all for this, and will help in any fundraising drive if he should take the plunge. My only (petty) concern: if he wins, he'll probably stop blogging.

Matt Bivens suggests that a tax cut three times the size of the Social Security and Medicare shortfalls should be subject to a reality check. Of course, if Bush doesn't get his tax cut passed, will he then get credit for not bankrupting social services? Probably, but that's a lesser evil we can work with.

Orcinus receives another response to his series on fascism.

Ted Barlow talks about the flap with Canada, a country which is on the verge of expelling their US ambassador. A reader explains why there's no way in hell that the US can afford to be as tediously petty as the mouthy Mr. Cellucci suggested.

On a related note, Canadian apartment guides can be found here and here. To paraphrase Pratchett and Gaiman, think of it as leaving early to avoid the rush.

posted by Natasha at 12:23 AM | PERMALINK |

Thursday, March 27, 2003  

Another disappointing pundit

Tonight Nicholas Kristof's column in the NY Times once again pushed one of my hyper-sensative media buttons. The overall column had the message that, gee, there are some pretty bad consequences to the war that we are just starting to realize. This is good. (Except that lots and lots of people warned about these things back before our Legislature ceded power to Bush.) But then he goes on to put a gratuitous swipe at the anti-war crowd:

Within the U.S. as well, the war has been destructive, further pulverizing the civility of discourse. Each side assumes the other is not just imbecilic but also immoral, when in truth I believe that each side is genuinely high-minded: one is driven by horror of war and the other by horror of Saddam. Neither deserves the sneers of the other. I'm also dispirited today because in some e-mail from fellow doves I detect hints of satisfaction that the U.S. is running into trouble in Iraq -- as if hawks should be taught a lesson about the real world with the blood of young Americans.

It is so frustrating to read these swipes and I wonder what is it about our national columnists that means they always have to balance their criticism of the right-wing with some swipe at the liberal side. Does this give them protection for expressing a view that is not in step in with the NRC? Whatever the reason, it always pisses me off. Tonight I decided that I'd let Mr. Kristof know that.

Dear Mr. Kristof,

In regards to your column, Hearts and Minds, you state that you are hearing from anti-war advocates (doves) having some satisfaction about things not going quite so well as planned. I must say that you yourself have expressed the most likely reason for this feeling in your next paragraph where you express the hope we can find out "how we avoid the next pre-emptive war". I'm not at all happy about the state of the war -- and I care a whole lot for our soldiers who are facing danger right now, but I must say, anything that makes this casual "let's be the John Wayne of the world" attitude that Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, Wolferwitz, Bolton, Perle, Ashcroft, et. al, not so cool, is a VERY good thing.

If everything went swimmingly, don't you think that under this administration, we would find America acting as the dictator of the world? They gambled that war would easy, it was no skin off their noses if we had a few "casualties", that the deaths of the enemy really don't count much, but they (the WH cabal) are the ones who should decide who's lives are important and which ones are expendible. And all of this is done so WE in the US will have a world where we don't have to give up our extravagant lifestyles and our SVTs, and, indeed, should always have the choice to consume far more than our share of the earth's resources. By gosh, it's our right as Americans!

Can you imagine the world we would have if this gang was able to dictate to the entire world their version of democracy? One that says the greed is good and the guy who has most dollars has more rights and votes than the average citizen? All I can say is, thank goodness, that there are just a few stumbles on this road to world hegemony.


posted by Mary at 10:24 PM | PERMALINK |

We've been dissed!

Well, maybe not. Perhaps my babies, Mac-a-ro-nies and Silver Rights are ugly. And, Natasha and Mary's, the watch. Not to omit Barry's Alas, a Blog or Emma's Notes on the Atrocities. Maybe all Oregon bloggers have ugly offspring. It appears the Oregonian thinks so. Today, it ran an article on weblogs that focused totally on the national big guys, and mainly the conservative ones at that. Except for a footnote telling readers how to search for blogs in Oregon, we are treated as unmentionable.

There is the usual genuflection to the much overrated Glenn Reynolds: The MOAB, or mother of all blogs, provides pundit Glenn Reynolds' conservative, pro-war take on Iraq. The blog also has links to dozens of other blogs.

Sgt. Stryker and Jeff Jarvis are also covered.

Our blog buddies the Agonist and DailyKos make the cut, but obviously not in the best of company.

Daily Kos: News and commentary about the war from a liberal point of view. The blog also has links to more than three dozen other blogs and has approval ratings for President Bush.

The Agonist: Straightforward, up-to-the-minute news summaries of the war, much of them gleaned from CNN. The blog also has links to several dozen blogs, sorted by political stance.

My overall impression of the Oregonian's piece is an old journalists' phrase, "quick and dirty." That is odd since I've been informed this story has been planned for quite some time. Even if the features editor or the ME decided to shift the focus from Oregon blogs to national blogs, a more diverse group could easily have been assembled. How can Atrios and Josh Marshall be missing from a piece on important bloggers? As possibly the best of the collegiate bloggers, pinchable cheeked Matthew Yglesias deserves a mention. And, Reynolds is only one of several blogging law professors and definitely not the best of the lot. Jack Balkin and Kevin Drum do more thoughtful and thorough analyses of the issues daily.

Some obnoxious bloggers should have been included. As much as I dislike the Anti-idiotarian Rottweiler, Little Green Footballs and Cold Fury, one needs to know about such blogs to get a realistic picture of the blogosphere.

Don't women blog? You wouldn't think so from "Blah, blah, blogs."

Another misperception promoted by the piece is the connection between blogging and the war. Yes, the warblogger and peace blogger camps have become significant. But, blogs predated the war and will continue to play a role in the media after it is over. Anyone who has been observing blogs for even a few weeks should realize domestic news is usually as prominent in them as foreign affairs, probably more.

Also missing from Steve Woodward's laundry list as journalism is any examination of what weblogs are and how they fit into newsgathering. My pet theory is successful bloggers become agenda setters, helping determine what public officials and the intelligentsia deem important. However, there is not a peep about what purpose blogs serve, other than as "online diaries," which few public blogs are.

I don't believe Oregon blogs are so unsightly they need to be hidden from the readers of the state's major newspaper.

Yesterday, someone needed to write an informative article about blogs for the Oregonian. Today, someone still needs to write an informative article about blogs for the Oregonian.

-- Mac Diva

posted by J. at 9:04 AM | PERMALINK |

Wednesday, March 26, 2003  

What We're Reading:

Liberal Oasis takes on the 'we never said it would be easy' claim. Turns out, that's exactly what they said, repeatedly.

Different Strings talks about Kashmir, the province where India and Pakistan are squaring off, in terms of precedents set by our behavior and the lovely news of the two countries' recent missile tests. And, just when I think that my ex-fundamentalist paranoia is getting silly, our one party state passes a resolution in favor of fasting and prayer. They can kiss my hypoglycemic, humanist, heathen ***. Will their next memorandum of encouragement suggest that we have a balanced breakfast, brush our teeth twice daily, and go to church every Sunday? Every morning I feel like I went to sleep in America and woke up in a bad Stepford family remake.

The Left Coaster talks about how our diplomatic blunders have allowed Russia and China to score big, and secure stronger alliances in the region. He mentions China moving closer to Pakistan, and in light of growing ties between Russia, Iran, and India, things could be very interesting over there. Also, it seems that Bush's tax package was cut in half, but isn't this still a case of asking for Mars and being satisfied with the Moon? Can we really afford a tax cut at all?

WampumBlog points out that the Eli Lilly giveaway that would limit compensation to families with autistic children is back, and it's worse than ever. Scroll down for the grim details.

Kieran Healy points out that Al-Jazeera knows more about CNN coverage than Aaron Brown. From a couple days ago, but if you haven't read it, check it out.

StonerWitch finds a good article about why liberals need to get more media savvy. This is a serious issue, and anyone who spends a lot of time pondering the effects of the Mighty Wurlitzer on the SCLM should go read. If that last sentence sounded like gibberish, go read anyway, because the article is the anti-gibberish.

Incadenza talks about the new government document restrictions which will extend the withholding period until 2006 for many Reagan/Bush I era files. I can't imagine why the guy who employs Rumsfeld, Cheney, and Negroponte would want to do that.

Emma at Late Night Thoughts talks about the hopelessness of translation from one language to another, and our upcoming budget catastrophe.

Body and Soul talks about Basra, and why 'thirsty' doesn't cut it when describing the situation there.

Digby makes the Vietnam comparison, and when you put it that way, it doesn't sound so far-fetched.

Ampersand's cartoon from last week is still appropriate. If there was a place to hide until everybody's gods go away, I'd be there.

A tax lawyer explains the difficult situation we are in due to the taxes are too high meme. Thanks to Ted Barlow.

The Asia Times on: the worsening public image of the US, Pakistan adds to the list of countries worried that they may be next, lessons from Afghanistan, the debate about depleted uranium continues, and Pepe Escobar wonders if Iraq will be the next Palestine. An excerpt from the last article:

...For around half a century, the anger in a way channeled by the Palestinians - who by practical experience have learned not to trust Arab leaders. Now the loss of legitimacy is total - a long decaying process that originated in the early 1990s. The street knows that all Arab regimes - from reactionary Saudi Arabia to relatively progressive Jordan - have failed. They have been incapable of achieving Arab unity and independence. They have been incapable of providing social, economic and technological development. They have been impotent in their promises to try to help liberate Gaza and the West Bank. And they have been shamefully incapable of uniting against what their populations unanimously consider a neocolonialist war in Iraq.

One of the most extraordinary developments of the war so far is how the resistance of the Iraqi population against a foreign invasion has galvanized this sentiment of anger in the Arab world. "We are all Palestinians now," as a Bedouin taxi driver puts it. One of the first things anyone mentions in Jordan - be it a Jordanian, an Egyptian, a Lebanese or a Somali refugee - is their happiness about the way the Iraqi people are resisting the "invaders" (never qualified as "liberators")...

Read this war update by Agonist Sean-Paul, and think about what the mentioned budget provision is going to mean to the taxi driver quoted above.

In the Guardian: Krauthammer says to hell with the rest of the world, and Tran wonders if Bush is the US Nero. A compare and contrast:

Krauthammer: ...If we're going to negotiate terms, it should be with allies who helped us, who share our vision and our purposes. Not with France, Germany, Russia and China, which see us - you [President Bush] - as the threat, and whose singular purpose will be to subvert any victory. ...There were wars and truces and treaties before the UN was created - as there will be after its demise. No need to leave the organisation formally, Mr President. Just ignore it. Without us, it will wither away. ...

Tran: ...In plain English, America relies on the rest of the world to finance its deficits. The rest of the world was happy to do so when the US economy was strong and returns were high, but investors will put their cash elsewhere if America looks weak economically. America borrows hundreds of millions of dollars from the rest of the world each day to cover its savings gap and, under George Bush, US dependence on foreign capital is set to increase...

One of these people is engaging in wishful thinking.

posted by Natasha at 2:32 PM | PERMALINK |

Tuesday, March 25, 2003  

Finding your way when all is dark

I posted this comment on Digby's blog.

It is definitely time to be angry and definitely a time to be outraged at the silliness and selfishness of people for all the reasons that brought us to this state [of war]. But it is even more important to throw our selves into things that negate the horrible energy of the war and that increase our caring, compassion and energy to do something positive for our fellow humans. Find a child that is afraid and help them be brave. Help someone who has fallen on bad times. Delve into what makes a person an exceptional role model (Nelson Mandela, Gandhi, MLK, Jimmy Carter) and find a way to emulate a part of them in order to become like them. It is not time to give up. It is time to look into the deepest part of our hearts and souls on what it means to be human, to be caring and to be brave so that others can take strength from us. We are not in this alone, and for me, this is one of things that helps me most to speak out and to not let the a**holes in charge win this one without a vigorous fight.

I think that we all need to realize that it is not the time to give in to our anger and sense of helplessness. There are other reactions we can have that will help us through these times and will also make a small bit of difference to the world that right now could use any positive, loving action to help counter the overwhelming negative energy of this war and this selfish and arrogant administration.

One book that I have found which helps me think about what allows people to maintain their human decency despite the most awful circumstances is Victor E Frankl's Man's Search For Meaning. Frankl survived the Nazi death camps and somehow maintained his humanity. His accounting of how he did this makes this book one that I reread when I find myself despairing of whether there is any hope. He doesn't come out and say there is hope and he doesn't believe that it is easy to withstand the negative forces that ruled the camp, but his life shows that there is always a way to commit to being someone who tries to hold back the darkness.

When you find things are too sad or depressing to act, I urge you to find whatever book, song, or story that helps you to tap into this wellspring of what makes humans strive to hold to the best values, and then read it, contemplate on it and try to incorporate the best from it into your life.

We are definitely not alone. There are some incredible voices and incredible examples of people helping keep us connected to the human values that are most powerful and most loving. And we can stand together for something valiant and compelling despite the war and deaths and concerted destruction.

posted by Mary at 11:29 PM | PERMALINK |

A passion and a pantry

As Natasha has noted, I now have a 'stash' for my columns about civil rights issues called Silver Rights. It will be supplementary to the more general blog I am trying to get off the ground, Mac-a-ro-nies. The first entry in Mac-a-ro-nies, about gun research fraud John Lott, Jr., can be read here. I look forward to making blogging a bigger part of my life, but am somewhat burdened by computer problems at present. If you would like to help, contribute to my PayPal account at either blog. I will continue contributing to other blogs since the point is for people to read one's entries, which rarely occurs with new blogs and I enjoy 'guesting.'

-- Mac Diva

posted by J. at 10:57 PM | PERMALINK |

Traveling Abroad

In these troubled times, Americans traveling outside the country may wonder, "Will people assume that I'm responsible for my government, and treat me accordingly?" In most cases, no. And until recently, this was not really a problem, as our nationality was more likely to be a status symbol than a curse.

But in this time of war, and depending on how badly it continues to be bungled*, this may change. If it's bungled very, very badly, and for some reason King George ends up winning the popular vote nationally for the first time in 2004, we may become less welcome than a newly virulent strain of pneumonia. Therefore, if you intend to go out of the country, plan ahead.

While there are a number of other english-speaking countries, I don't recommend trying to fob yourself off as either British or Australian, which are probably most people's first picks. I can guarantee you already that unless you've lived in either place long enough to have soaked up the accent, it won't work. Sophisticated english speakers in other lands can tell a Welsh from a South African, even when the people in question have clearly worked to thin their accents.

Instead, try our neighbor to the north. It's easy to get Canadian flag pins (which Canadians traveling abroad often wear so they don't get confused with us), and the nice Canadians will probably still let us visit there to gather info for a decent cover story. The peach is that you don't even have to lie about where you live, just say that you're in the US on a work visa. If you're in the tech industry, this is barely even a stretch. So lets get started...

Manners Canadians are relentlessly polite, it says so right there on the label. They may even be chipper, cheery, perky, soft-spoken, or even simply relaxed. These are states in which it's rare to find an American traveler, nonetheless, try it anyway. Your disguise will go ever so much better if you work to remember that raising your voice will not confer understanding on the listener.

Weather It's cold in Canada, which is practically frozen over entirely for much of the year. (Except for those times when it's blazing hot for a couple months.) Be aware of this, and adjust any temperature comparison remarks accordingly.

Clothes Canadians tend to own lots of sweaters, the kind that get worn over a button-up shirt, sort of goes with the territory. They may be far more likely to wear loafers than sneakers, though this is not strict. As far as I know, they don't go in for Hawaiian shirts. Other than that, they dress pretty much like us.

Speech. This is the biggie. You don't necessarily need to belly up to the bar and ask where a Canuck oot 'n aboot can catch a hockey match & a two-four uh blue, but there are a few telltale terms that will make you come off like the real thing. For one thing, 'dinner' is 'supper.' I don't know why, but it is. The letter that comes after Y isn't zee, it's zed. Our lazy I's in direct and organization become die-rect and organEYEzation. The O sounds get all tumbled aboot, withoat a doat. And, every once in a while, finish a question with 'Eh?' Not all Canadians refer to gasoline as petrol, but they won't be confused if someone uses the term in front of them.

Don't spread it on thick, Canadians living in the US eventually end up sounding pretty much like us. Also, don't even think about trying a Quebecois accent just because you took a year of French in high school. Just remember that Quebec is pronounced 'ke-beck' or 'kay-beck'. For more, go here, here, or here.

People Any Canadian worth their salt can tell you about loads of famous people who are Canadians, and you should make an effort to know of at least a couple. For instance, there's Dan Akroyd, David Frum (Mr. 'axis of evil'), Celine Dion, Shania Twain, Guy Gavriel Kay (author), Leonard Cohen (songwriter), Pamela Anderson, Keanu Reeves, etc. There are plenty more, but that's enough for starters. The insatiably curious can visit here, here, or here.

Good Luck So, there you are. Travel with a light heart, a polite attitude, and a maple leaf pin firmly attached to your collar.

* As this war was mismanaged before the first shot went off, there is no longer a 'going well' option, just varying degrees of senseless hassle.

posted by Natasha at 6:26 PM | PERMALINK |

Roving About:

dKos talks about international law, how the US has violated it, and why our troops are put in the way of more harm because of it.

Go read Eschaton, and be sure to check out the Krugman column he links to regarding Bush, Clear Channel, and the 'patriot' rallies.

Tomorrow, the Supreme Court will hear Lawrence vs. Texas, the case of two Texas men who've challenged the state's sodomy laws.

A word from Rachel Corrie's mother.

Mitchell Plitnick tells the anti-war camp not to despair.

In Brazil, Lula enjoys sky high popularity, but is now facing the precipice of previous administrations' financial mismanagement, and a value-added tax system which shifts most of the tax burden to the poor.

Respected military veterans are speaking out against the war, will people listen?

Saudi Arabia offers up a peace plan.

Nine new cases of mystery pneumonia crop up in Hong Kong, as passengers on two Air China flights become ill.

Orcinus talks about the war on dissent and how the media's obsessive focus on a certain ex-president's sex life left the nation woefully unprepared for the terrorist threat that the previous administration tried vainly to alert us to. He further gives us a postscript to his Rush, Newspeak, and Fascism series, which is well worth a read.

posted by Natasha at 11:09 AM | PERMALINK |

Around the Web:

The Agonist is in the NY Times. Way to go, Sean-Paul.

The 22 member Arab League has unanimously (minus one) declared the war to be in "violation of the United Nations Charter" and a "threat to world peace". The holdout? Kuwait, where our troops are based.

Israeli High Court orders the removal of an illegal outpost. The settlement was bulldozed, according to the account, on Monday.

Malaysia has joined a growing chorus of criticism.

Todd John thinks that by now, the answer to the perpetually rhetorical 'why do they hate us?' should be obvious.

Will Iran's neutrality survive this conflict? They deny reports that they fired on coalition forces, and have expressed concern over destroyed historical sites that used to be in Iranian territory.

China extremely concerned that North Korea may attempt to escalate the current standoff in order to force direct talks with the US, and is urging Washington to begin negotiations.

South Korea planned to vote on a bill that would send non-combat troops to Iraq to support the war in Iraq. But they have decided to delay it until 2nd April in the wake of increasingly agitated demonstrations in the capital. The force would have consisted of some 700 medical personnel.

CalPundit points out Eric Alterman's take on the neocon/anti-Semite flap.

The people of Basra are not thankful for being deprived of water and supplies, as the British declare their city a military target. Meanwhile, Hussein's appeal to lingering the resentment of colonialism seems to have worked in stiffening Iraqi resolve.

400 members of Zimbabwe's opposition party arrested, and many others are being treated in the hospital after being attacked by government security forces. The party held a recent strike to protest government mismanagement, and have been declared terrorists by President Mugabe, who has vowed to stop treating them with 'kid gloves.'

US finally admits that they plan to take sole control of Iraq once the war is over. But in a marginally promising development, they plan to set up a special military command zone in northern Iraq to address Turkish security concerns. This could keep Turkey out, and hopefully as a side benefit make it less likely that Iran will become involved.

Mystery virus in Asia continues to spread. It has made it to "Hong Kong, Singapore, Vietnam, Canada and Germany in recent weeks." For those of us eyeing the Canadian border, that country has reported 3 deaths and possibly 10 cases.

The US and Russia commence sniping.

United for Peace brings up a curious type of protest: buy Euros.

BuzzFlash brings us the good news that Al Gore still polls as the Democrat most likely to unseat Bush, according to Zogby. He even polls ahead of Clinton. Go over to the Draft Gore site and help call him back. The party leadership may be 'tired' of him, but apparently not even the biggest smear campaign in American history has kept ordinary Democrats from supporting the man we voted for in 2000.

For comic relief, go check out the Ironic Times, which like The Onion, has continued to do quite well. Near daily reports that irony has been brutally, and creatively, murdered to the contrary.

posted by Natasha at 12:56 AM | PERMALINK |

Monday, March 24, 2003  

Al Jazeera's two reporters covering the New York Stock Exchange have been banned from the floor:

The Arab television network al Jazeera said Monday two of its reporters covering the New York Stock Exchange have had their credentials revoked because of the station's coverage of the war in Iraq.

But NYSE spokesman Ray Pellechia denied the station's war coverage was the cause.

Citing "security reasons," he said the exchange had chosen to limit the number of broadcasters working at the lower Manhattan exchange since the war began, giving access only to networks that focus "on responsible business coverage." ...

It just keeps getting funnier. Ha. Ha.

posted by Natasha at 11:24 PM | PERMALINK |

Watching the war from dKos's place has made me alternately sad, angry and depressed. At times it feels like reading pornography (even without looking at the pictures). The one thing that is better than reading the newspaper, listening to the radio or (even worse) watching the TV, at least when one is outraged, Kos provides a place to express your anger and frustration. (Much better than kicking the TV.)

It is fascinating to see the people who are posting on dKos's site today. So many new people from all over the world, watching and commenting on George W Bush's "little war".

One comment that especially struck me was on the Damned if they do, damned if they don't thread. Munira brings back what is missing from the experience of most Americans who have never lived in a war zone or endured days or months of bombing:

The great news of this war has been the utter lack of significant civilian casualties -- a testament of US weapons technology. While Iraq claims 194 people have been injured in bombing raids in Baghdad, it claims none dead. That's unbelievable, especially considering the tonnage of explosive rained on that city.

Just to tell you how it works.

At first everybody runs into the shelters, taking stairs, no elevators. In there is overcrowded, becoming dirty and filthy day by day, in one word uncomfortable.

Then elderly gave up first. They can not scramble down the stars fast, sit there over night, can not hold up... (there is not "safe underwear" for adults) saying that younger should be protected and that kids will have more space to sleep.

The teenagers are next wave, with hormones raging and thinking that they are untouchable...

Families with small children are the most persistent, but even them will go down les frequently.

After 30 days of repeated bombardment of Serbia my young nephews, 5 and 6 at that time, use to sleep with plains over and sirens going on, so my sister in law "didn't have hart to wake them up, and add to their insecurity and frustration".

And then casualties happens, like 3 years old Milica sitting on the potty by open window.

By that time air forces start to give small lessons like: hitting passenger train entering the bridge (what a video game, pilot cheered for sure), caset bombs in the middle of the day on busy market (you have to eat even during the war), embassy of non involved country...

Adding those two things will increase casualties drastically!!!

We are for the most part so safe in our homes, we forget what others have experienced through human history. The 20th century was a particularly bloody century that started off with some "little wars" and it just kept giving the gift of blood, death and destruction to almost every corner of the world, except America.

Lisa's post that Natasha linked below had the words of Vicki Gray that I think needs to be reposted here in conjunction with Munira's words.

Over and over, the President has raised September 11 as the bloody shirt in this foolish adventure we're now involved in. Fact is, Iraq was not there on September 11. The terrorists were from Saudi Arabia, an ally or so we're assured. Osama bin Laden? Al Qaeda? There are no links to Iraq but plenty to Saudi Arabia.

The President, moreover, has invoked September 11 as a unique watershed. Other countries, he contends, do not understand the uniqueness of our pain. And that pain, he adds, justifies actions that, before September 11, would have been unimaginable. Oh? Fact is neither he nor the American people understand how uniquely insulated we were over the course of the last century. Indeed, the shock of Europeans and Asians at our bellicosity stems from the fact that they have endured far worse over the course of the past hundred years.

I will not, dare not, denigrate the suffering inflicted upon us on September 11, but I do sense, that in its wake, we have lost all sense of historical perspective. Indeed, it's almost as if we've lost our moral bearings in our search for revenge.

We would do well to eschew the one-liners of talk show hosts and the boycotts of French wines and recall that others have endured far worse. Yes, the symbols of our economic prowess and, much more importantly, the lives of 3,000 people -- Americans and foreigners -- were destroyed on September 11. But how many Americans recall the suffering of the millions who died in and the many more who survived not only the Holocaust, but the five-year occupation of Paris, the bombings of London and Coventry, Hamburg, Dresden and Wuerzburg, Tokyo, Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the rape of Nanking, and the over 20 million Russians killed in cities like Leningrad and Stalingrad?

We owe it to the world to reflect on these things. And we need to find ways to wake the American public from supporting this senseless, destructive war because they somehow have been convinced our deaths can only be paid for by the deaths of others and our safety is won by destroying our enemy. George W Bush tells the American public that they are right to be vengeful and frightened and that a full scale war is the answer. But he is wrong. Somehow we need to reconnect American to their basic humanity and ask them, is this what you signed up for?

posted by Mary at 9:30 PM | PERMALINK |

Stonerwitch explains the spiritual warfare meme, and how thoroughly it has spread into mainstream conversation. This was a scary post for a recovered fundamentalist like myself, to read someone else spell out so explicitly what's been nagging at me about this right wing resurgence. An excerpt:

It was the Reagan 80s, when preppy was cool and it was hip to be square. It was hip to be a right-wing Christian, too, at least as I saw it. I listened to Christian rock music, dressed fashionably conservative, handed out Jesus tracts in school and protested abortion. I was all about it.

I also listened to Christian radio. Christian radio in the 80s was something of a precursor to what squawk radio has become; an incomplete prototype perhaps, still one-way, but heavy on talk programming. It was here that I was first introduced to many of today's common political memes, then prevalent among the fringe right but which hadn't made it to prime time, at least not in central Pennsylvania. There was talk everywhere on Christian radio then of the so-called "culture wars," popularized by Dr. James Dobson and Pat Robertson. The "secular media" was also a hot topic both on Christian radio and in church. "Tough love" was Dr. James Dobson's prescription for youthful rebelliousness, expounded his book Dare to Discipline. There were others, but you get the idea.

After high school I "backslid into sin," returned to the church for a few years, and finally gave up on it for good in the mid-90s. During my first sabbatical from altered reality Christian radio memes had not quite yet made it to the mainstream. News was still the news; Rush Limbaugh's television program was on the air at 12:30 a.m., and he was considered something of a kook by most people I knew. After my second and final break with the church, when I began tuning in to "secular" TV and radio again, I was suprised to hear how much Christian radio content had found its way to the mainstream. It was polished free of overt Christianity — but it was unquestionably there.

Go read the whole thing, because there's much more, and it's all good. Thanks to Avedon at The Sideshow, where many fine posts can be found.

posted by Natasha at 5:51 PM | PERMALINK |

Perhaps she was just being modest not mentioning, but our guest poster Mac Diva now has her own blog, Silver Rights. I highly recommend that you go check it out and bookmark it. Mac Diva has been a long time commentor on many boards where she is always welcome.

We here at the watch hope that she will continue to come back and visit, and maybe even post sometimes.

posted by Natasha at 5:06 PM | PERMALINK |

Birds of a feather . . . not

My fellow Oregonian, Emma Goldman, reports on a grandstanding effort to criminalize protest by a Republican legislator here in our lovely state.

The gist of the bill is to punish people for associating with other persons who may intend disruptive activities. It is tailor-made to turn the Right Wing kant that anyone who protests against the war agrees with ANSWER or other far left organizations into law. Though the bill has little chance of passing, it is notable that anyone would be so oblivious to the constitutionally protected right of freedom of association, as to introduce it. The Oregon Constitution, which offers broader protection of free speech and freedom of association than the U.S. Constitution, seems to be a mystery to many conservatives, including lawmakers, in our state.

Congressman John Minnis hopes to win approval by riding the tide of backlash that has occurred in response to Thursday and Friday's anti-war protests in Portland. He is also playing to the anti-urban sentiment that is so virulent in states from Georgia to Oregon. Here's hoping he gets a good smackdown before this kind of demagoguery spreads nationwide.

-- Mac Diva

posted by J. at 3:15 PM | PERMALINK |

Around the Web:

As always, the freshest war commentary headlines on Warblogs:cc.

Fleischer's Friday press briefing. He says several times in response to questions about rebuilding Iraq that the UN would have an important role in that. Not the story so far, Ari, try again. And also this, another in the long string of pot and kettle pronouncements out of Washington:

...I think what's most important is that Iraq be governed by people who are able to govern Iraq in a manner that it becomes -- that all nations on earth should be become nations that are dedicated to peace, not to the development of weapons of mass destruction for the purpose of using them against their neighbors, as Iraq has done in the past...

Go read MonkeyX today, for thoughts on the war and an outline of a conservatism that even I would have to admit was compassionate.

Turkish troops massing on Iraqi border, Belgium warns them against opportunism, and Turkey joins Iran in the position of having misguided US missiles land in their country.

Lisa English talks about the latest US diplomatic resignation.

In Kashmir 24 Hindu villagers massacred by militants suspected to be supported by Pakistan. If on September 10th, 2001, you had asked many international affairs experts what the most dangerous region in the world was, they would have told you that it was Kashmir. Two nuclear powers who have been at the brink of war for years, in an area torn by two-way religious violence between Hindus and Muslims, with no easy outs in sight.

See The Forest posts a guest editorial about why we pay taxes, and why we're better off because of it.

The people of Chechnya have voted to stay with Russia in a recent constitutional referendum. The fighting in the region has gone on for several years now, with reports of brutal repression by Russian troops, 'disappeared' citizens, and the Chechen terrorist takeover of a Russian theatre last year. It's unclear whether or not the 80% vote was more akin to the Nicaraguan vote that brought the Contras into power, a tired people facing a powerful opponent, who just want the fighting to stop.

The Rittenhouse Review has a good post up on the danger that archeological sites in Iraq face from the bombing. This is, after all, the cradle of civilization as we know it. But as grievous as it is to think of the destruction of places and things that are in some sense the common treasures of all people, I was instantly reminded of another article I linked to late last year. One in which author Zeynep Toufe wonders whether or not we would worry more about bombing children in the Middle East if they were made out of stone. (For anyone still wondering 'why blog links to headlines', this is why. To create a backup brain wherein that great piece you vaguely remember from several months ago is no more than a database query away.)

Ampersand tells us about the Bureau of Indian Affairs, the most corrupt and appallingly managed portion of the US government. We can't even act as responsible fiduciaries on behalf of the few remaining Native Americans, and we want to take over a whole country that we've demonstrated an even deeper ignorance of? Two posts above, he provides a link to Steve Russell's take on what a Bureau of Iraqi Affairs would be like.

Three children shot in Bolivia in a confrontation between soldiers and unarmed coca growers. In relation to that, read this interesting article written in defense of the coca plant, which wasn't a plant that I ever used to think needed defending. Apparently, there are worlds of difference between coca and cocaine, and it turns out that it really still is the secret ingredient in Coca Cola. Indeed, a good article for unsettling assumptions.

Francis Boyle has kindly drawn up a draft impeachment against George Walker Bush. But is it a worthy case? Let's see: Hummer vs. the torture of prisoners, the violation of international laws put in place by our own efforts of 50 years ago, and the deaths of thousands. Tough call.

BuzzFlash readers report that the 'Suspected Chemical Weapons Plant' (as I saw the headline on a CNN Headline News ticker), has been a known quantity for about 12 years.

It's already going around the Arab world that the CIA is planning to target Iran next for regime change. I hear conflicting stories on this, that we would never attack (see press briefing, above), that we want to attack, that we're privately working with Iran even though no one will publicly admit it, and I'm unsure what to believe. But one thing I do know: if we target Iran, we will not even be able to get Britain's government to side with us. I don't feel that I'm exaggerating to categorically declare that this would be a doomsday scenario, where we would find that instead of creating rifts with allies, we had created a raft of active enemies.

Though it would not have been quite true to say a year ago, at present, Iran has better diplomatic standing with much of Europe than we do. Regionally, they have plenty of friends, and many nations who would support them on principle. As home to some of the largest oil and natural gas reserves in the world, to say nothing of their tremendous mineral wealth and Caspian Sea access, the country is a treasure trove. And strategically, there might not be a better spot anywhere in the area. No one, even those who aren't especially friendly with Iran, wants to see the US in control of it again. And not only would the Islamic world see it as a deliberate targeting of their faith, but I'm sure no one has forgotten that when the Shah was in power, Israel used the country as a refueling stop during their bombing runs.

A word to anyone with decision making power who hasn't yet completely lost their minds: Don't even think about it. Don't talk about it. Don't touch it.

101st update: Captain Seifert. My deepest sympathies to his family.

posted by Natasha at 12:50 PM | PERMALINK |

Was Rangel right?

I just received this message from a friend:

Here is the link to the POW pictures of those that are alive. Americans should be seeing this so they can see this maintenance company, which appears to be majority non-white, with Asians, Hispanics, and Blacks among the five living prisoners, is just as involved in this conflict as anyone else. With the unbalanced strength of the forces, these people are very much at the same level of risk as combat forces, primarily to accident or capture, unlike a battle with higher, more even casualties between the two sides. White America and all of America should see who is fighting for America, and that, unlike in wars past, unequal treatment should not resume apace with the ending of the war.

(The article is from the Times of Oman. Perhaps we should be reading more of the foreign press to learn what is really going on in this war.)

Before the war began, Rep. Charles B. Rangel, D-N.Y, was criticized for suggesting minority Americans might be disproportionately injured, captured or killed. The evasion used was that combat troops are still mainly white. However, the distinction between combat and support is not clearcut, as my friend pointed out above. It is still possible minority groups will be impacted disproportionately.

The Christian Science Monitor says the current fighting force is different in composition than any previously fielded.

They will be older and more experienced - on average 27 years old. They will serve in a military that is one-third smaller than the one that existed just 12 years ago in the Gulf war. Most important, they will be far more diverse than almost any military force of the past.

A record number of women will be serving on the front lines, for instance, as will a higher percentage of Latinos. Perhaps most unusual for a war in the Middle East, more Muslims would be taking up posts on aircraft carriers and pitching tents in the Iraqi desert.

African-Americans, alone, make up 29 percent of the Army. The American population is about 12 percent black.

Another way this war will differ from others will be in the ancillary effects. The four young helicopter crew members who were the first reported casualties left behind at least three children under the age of 12. Three of the men were or had been married. Most troops killed or captured will bereave spouses because military personnel are more apt to marry and to marry young than the rest of the population.

Unlike soldiers a quarter-century ago, soldiers are more likely to get married rather than stay single. While the population as a whole keeps getting married later, service members are marrying at a younger age. Today, a majority of enlisted personnel and 70 percent of officers are married. That could have ramifications at home if there are US casualties in war.

"It means there will be more widows," says professor Charles Moskos, [a military sociologist at Northwestern University in Evanston, Ill.] "Instead of the mother crying, it will be the young bride."

Reflecting concern about disparities in harmful effects of the war as well as disapproval of the invasion of Iraq itself, Rangel and other African-American Congress members were well-represented among the minority of their peers who refused to endorse the war now that it is a fait accompli Friday.

On the 11 House Democrats who voted against the "unequivocal support" resolution, eight were members of the Congressional Black Caucus: Conyers; Ohioan Stephanie Tubbs Jones; Californians Barbara Lee, Diane Watson and Maxine Waters; New Yorkers Charles Rangel and Edolphus Towns; and Virginian Bobby Scott. They were joined by California Democrats Mike Honda and Pete Stark, as well as Washington state's Jim McDermott.

Fifteen members of the CBC, including Lewis, CBC chair Elijah Cummings, D-Maryland, and CBC vice-chair Eddie Bernice Johnson, D-Texas, voted present. They were joined by seven other House members, including leaders of the anti-war block in the Democratic caucus, such as Congressional Progressive Caucus co-chair Dennis Kucinich, D-Ohio.

The opponents of the resolution emphasized they were opposed to this war because they support the mainly working-class people who make up the armed forces and believe the war is not in their or the civilian population's best interest. They are not alone in wondering why working-class people, many of them minorities, are expected to bear a disproportionate share of the risks of military engagement. If any segment of the population is missing from today's military, it's the children of America's elites, says Professor Moskos.

Rangel has proposed remedying that situation by bringing back conscription.

At the beginning of this year, Rep. Charles B. Rangel, D-N.Y., along with Rep. John Conyers, D-Mich., introduced the Universal Service Act 2003, a bill requiring two years of compulsory military or alternative civilian service from all American men, women and legal permanent residents ages 18-26. The president would determine the number of people needed and the means of selection. Deferments would be limited to those completing high school, up to the age of 20, with no exemptions for college or graduate students. The bill, introduced in the Senate by Fritz Hollings, D-S.C., remains in committee and is unlikely to come to a vote in the near future.

Attention has been focused on the question of whether minority soldiers and their families suffer disproportionately in times of war by the early death of Staff Sgt. Kendall Damon Watersbey, 29, one of four Marine crew members killed on the U.S. CH-46 Sea Knight helicopter that crashed Friday in Kuwait. Watersbey's father faulted the president for his son's death in an interview: "George Bush, take a good look at this man, cause you took my only son away from me," Michael Watersbey said, holding up a picture of his son.

It will be interesting to see if discussions of disproportionality continue after hostilities have ceased. Of course, if minority Americans had the same educational and employment opportunities as white Americans, the issue of disproportionate impact as a result of military service would not even arise.

-- Mac Diva

posted by J. at 11:27 AM | PERMALINK |

...And The Horse You Rode In On

From Mark on a dKos comments board, reason #127 why within a very short while, American lives will no longer be worth spit in large parts of the globe. Look at the picture of the little boy at the top of the page and ask yourself honestly if you would ever forgive the people who did this to a child of yours? [Update: The picture in question has been removed from the page. I haven't gone looking for it, as I doubt that anyone who'd seen it once would ever forget. There are several other photos of Iraqi victims remaining at the above URL.]

The whole Arab world is seeing these pictures, and they will see in this one a child who probably reminds them of their own, or maybe a relative's. With so much of the inside of his head blown away that what's left looks almost plastic, with his eyes closed as though he were a doll made to look like it was napping. Take a good look, a long look. One that takes in the details of how that loose flap of scalp looks now that there isn't a skull underneath to be stretched over. As William Rivers Pitt said on Friday, today we are all terrorists.

Saddam Hussein just gave a speech that was broadcast over here. He talked a lot about faith, following god, and fighting evil. In short, except for the bits about jihad and mujahideen, you could have almost forgotten that you weren't listening to our Dear Leader instead. And he said of the British and US forces that "this time, they have come to occupy and invade our land..." Think anyone might believe him?

Do you think, maybe, that his words will have even more credence as our 'precision' munitions seem to keep landing in Iran, mysteriously targeting a government building and an oil refinery. Is it possible that after we 'accidentally' hit one of their oil trucks last year when we were busy bombing Afghanistan, these folks might start to see a pattern? That their neighbors will begin to wonder when we're coming for them?

And we can share the horror all around, as dKos reminds those of us that needed reminding that our boys are dying, too. Way to go, all you just warriors. Will you support the families of these young people as much as you supported the leaders that sent them to their deaths? Will Clear Channel set up college trusts for the children they left behind? Will the 'patriot' rallies go to DC to insist that their comrades in arms come home to a fully funded veterans administration? Yeah, that's what I thought.

"So what have you found, you disciples of the Devil?" - Saddam Hussein on Monday, 24th March, 2003

"All I have to say is, once this is over, the Iraqi people better be the freest fucking people on the face of the earth. They better be freer than me. They better be so fucking free they can fly." - Get Your War On

Alcohol update: Out of Frascatti (damn Berlusconi anyhow), located last dregs of a bottle of good scotch. When that runs out, will have to learn how to make gin martinis (recipes, anyone?), and I can toast the British public for vainly continuing to pretend as we do that they live in a democracy. Alternately, I can support the French by buying a nice beaujolais. A light and fruity wine that reminds me of margaritas, is best when 2 years or younger, and is reasonably priced.

posted by Natasha at 1:33 AM | PERMALINK |

Sunday, March 23, 2003  

Around the web:

Wampum points us all to a site that will help us send a message of support for our troops: Bring Them Home.

dKos with a war update, and a discussion of the Geneva Convention (a treaty which our forces have never had much regard for) as it relates to our captured soldiers.

ReachM High kindly pointed out several good bloggers which I hadn't all heard of (and was good enough to include this site among them), and I was particularly happy to stumble on the Mahablog.

The Asia Times talks about the worst of all possible domino effects, and China consolidates its influence in Asia.

Before going on vacation, SF Gate columnist Mark Morford left this parting shot at the lie that our soldiers are over there in Iraq to protect the freedom of undeserving liberals. He says that at present, the situation is rather the reverse.

From the Guardian, Robin Cook talks further about his serious reservations about American, and now British, foreign policy. Pentagon pettiness sends Claire Short home empty handed as she tried to negotiate a UN role in running Iraqi schools and hospitals, a project which a select group of US companies have been invited to bid on. And Richard Dawkins makes the no longer trite case that the terrorists have scored big, an argument we will continue to hear more of, no doubt. He says this, in part:

...Like sin and like terror (Bush's favourite target before the Iraq distraction) Evil is not an entity, not a spirit, not a force to be opposed and subdued. Evil is a miscellaneous collection of nasty things that nasty people do. There are nasty people in every country, stupid people, insane people, people who should never be allowed to get anywhere near power. Just killing nasty people doesn't help: they will be replaced. We must try to tailor our institutions, our constitutions, our electoral systems, so as to minimise the chance that such people will rise to the top. In the case of Saddam Hussein, we in the west must bear some guilt. The US, Britain and France have all, from time to time, done our bit to shore up Saddam, and even arm him. And we democracies might look to our own vaunted institutions. Are they well designed to ensure that we don't make disastrous mistakes when we choose our own leaders? Isn't it, indeed, just such a mistake that has led us to this terrible pass?

The population of the US is nearly 300 million, including many of the best educated, most talented, most resourceful, humane people on earth. By almost any measure of civilised attainment, from Nobel prize-counts on down, the US leads the world by miles. You would think that a country with such resources, and such a field of talent, would be able to elect a leader of the highest quality. Yet, what has happened? At the end of all the primaries and party caucuses, the speeches and the televised debates, after a year or more of non-stop electioneering bustle, who, out of that entire population of 300 million, emerges at the top of the heap? George Bush. ...

And the very wing-nuttiest folks over at the WorldNetDaily are deligted over the Patriot Film Festival which will "combat a perceived left-wing dominance of the film industry" for the purpose of, in part, "[showing] pro-American, pro-military, pro-business and pro-family values films." I'm speechless.

posted by Natasha at 2:33 PM | PERMALINK |