bush lied, people died. escalate nonviolence.
Mac Diva will no longer be joining us here at the watch. I'm very disappointed, as I've often enjoyed her comments on other blogs, and her posts here on this site and on her own sites.
I found the site of this Richard Poe through my webstats, and couldn't believe as I read down the page that this person would have any conceivable reason to link to the watch. I was furious when I read his description of Mac Diva, and I was mentally composing a lengthy takedown of the post. Until I clicked on the link and read the above comment.
I don't agree with Mr. Poe, and I don't agree with Mr. Sharkansky's conclusion on affirmative action as presented. But I also don't agree with the extremely personal and condescending insult against another member of Mr. Sharkansky's family. It's quite simply beyond the pale, no matter the actual circumstances of their family. (For the record, the lady in question is an American born "attorney with degrees from Princeton and UC Berkeley," as per Mr. Sharkansky's response.)
We are not amused. I would never have noticed this, or felt compelled to remark on it, if I hadn't invited her to post here. But I feel responsible for the company this blog keeps, and even according to my extremely loose accounting of what's proper to say, this sort of comment can't pass. I'm no online saint, yet I'm really floored to think that something like this was said by someone whose opinions and insights I've come to have a good measure of respect for.
PS - But, proving that every dark cloud has a silver lining, through Poe's site I found a link to what has got to be the wackiest thing I've heard all day. The WorldNetDaily take on blogging. Now that's entertainment.posted by Natasha at 11:15 PM | PERMALINK |
Laundry Tips for Landless Peasants
Well, it's laundry time here at the watch headquarters. I'm surely spoiled, but I hate doing my wash in a communal laundry room. And I'm too wiped out today to come up with anything better to post about, so I'll share my tedium reduction practices.
First, buy new underthings. If you have to do laundry more than once every two weeks, you have a sock and underwear shortage which needs urgent correction. If you're female, stop buying underthings that shred after a single washing, it saves a bundle.
Second, save your cash on fabric freshener, extra washings, and hotter wash cycles. White vinegar is as cheap or cheaper than bottled water. Throw a half cup to a cup in with each load at the beginning. It kills germs, kills odors, and washes completely away in the rinse cycle. Washing clothes and towels only in the warm or cold cycles helps them last longer, and with the addition of a little vinegar, that's all you need. It's also a good pre-wash, having been known to completely dissolve tomato stains when left to soak overnight. If you use it as a pre-wash, don't mix it with anything else, might be hazardous to the fabric dye. In low temperatures, it's never caused anything I own to run or fade.
Third, stop hauling your detergent with you. Pre-separate your clothes, and lay out 2-3 larger items at the bottom of the pile; preferably a combination of pants, t-shirts, or long sleeved shirts. Pile everything else on top, measure out your laundry detergent (and vinegar, if you like) and pour slowly into more absorbent items at the top of the pile. Wrap everything up in the larger items on the bottom, and pack into your laundry basket/bag, just like that. If you're careful, the outside of the bundle should be completely dry. If you only do the wash every 2-3 weeks, any given pile should be easily large enough to get away with it.
Happy laundry day!posted by Natasha at 4:16 PM | PERMALINK |
Around the Web:
Steve Gilliard is on a streak at Daily Kos. Read the post asking the all-too-rare question of why no one ever makes a coherent defense of government services. And this one, talking about our slow motion foreign policy disaster in Iraq. But of course, certain elements of society have a tendency to think that if the world doesn't end five minutes after taking an ill-advised action, then you've got an unalloyed victory on your hands.
Electrolite reminds us that all this looting in Iraq was deliberately encouraged as a matter of policy by both British and American forces. Good job, guys. Making Light explains why caring about the looting isn't a valuation of things over people. In very small part:
Digby says: There's nothing wrong with the Democratic party.
Back To Iraq is in Baghdad. Go read.
ReachM High has a good round up of postings.
Estimated Prophet points out that not only are our troops called on to make that generic sort of 'sacrifice' conjured up by the idea of military service, but the very specific sort of sacrifice entailed in being dirt poor.
Developing nations lose out over textiles at the WTO. This is a major trade issue, as textiles (and their twin, agriculture) are major exports of the less developed economies.
The Better Rhetor tells us What We Need To Know, and why we need to know it.
Al-Muhajabah talks about the Constitution of Medina as set up by the Prophet Mohammad, and what it says about the rights of the Jewish citizenry.
Plucky Punk takes the question why do they hate us out of its rhetorical limbo.posted by Natasha at 11:39 AM | PERMALINK |
Pax Americana, indeed
Laura has some thoughts on trigger-happy American troops at Interesting Monstah. She says something I have been thinking: Why do Americans believe they belong everywhere in a 'police' capacity? Sometimes, it seems the imperial British have been reborn in Milwaukee, Nashville and Seattle.
Rummy gets around
My young libertarian friend Julian Sanchez is intrigued about how the same names involved in 'rebuilding' Iraq were lucratively hanging around the Middle East 20, even 40-something years ago. He isn't sounding very philosophical at Notes from the Lounge.
A Dem who has made up her mind?
Julia may have decided who she will support for President. Go to Sisyphus Shrugged to see her spill the beans. Me? I haven't a clue, except for knowing some of the candidates I won't back.
Grass rubs it in
Richard Einhorn at Tristero is quoting Gunter Grass about national pride:
Take that, Americans. And, truth be told, Grass is right.
John Lott, nice white guy?
As I mentioned previously, gun research fraud John Lott, Jr. is back in the news. I decided to look at Lott's 'research' beyond the gun advocacy issue. I've concluded Lott has also been a source of material that is anti-women and some that is rather racist. Why do I believe that? Read "John Lott's woman problem" at Mac-a-ro-nies. There are also entries about the return of POW Shoshana Johnson and the digital divide in the pantry.
posted by J. at 12:57 AM | PERMALINK |
Friday, April 18, 2003
James R. MacLean has been studying the subject of falangism for a while now. And I'm so pleased that he has offered to provide more articles for our edification. If you haven't done so, read the original post. And Benedict Spinoza had a good question regarding that article, "How well are we are we served by introducing a new term (foreign to most Americans) into the discussion at this point?" to which James answered:
With no further ado, here is James' next article.
Well, I have to say that so much that James talks about here pulls together a number of my own inchoate thoughts into a more coherent form. The world envisioned by the people of Whittier is the same as the antiseptic and well-groomed world that comes out of Walt Disney's dream for a perfect community which resulted in Celebration, Florida. It's the same faith in technology that says we can seed the oceans with iron in order to reduce the problem of too much carbon dioxide in the air. [The build-up of carbon in the atmosphere is considered the major culprit of global warming these days. The technological fix is that seeding the ocean with iron will lead to lots more plankton production, which in turn "eats" the carbon in the atmosphere and thus, stops the problem of global warming.] The technological approach is suppose to make it possible that we won't have to reduce our use of resources that produces so much carbon -- a proposition that I question. (As a firm believer in Murphy's law, I always wonder what unintended consequence will arise if we apply a totally technological fix to a problem. I'd like to do some experiments first and at the same time address to some of the root causes so it doesn't get worse.)
Another point that James raises is again one that I too am deeply concerned about. The way war is conducted these days is so risk-free for Americans that it makes it way too easy to rely on violence to solve our problems. Gulf War 2 had some moments of anxiety and fear for the Americans watching it at home, but was portrayed as a highly antiseptic and low cost war. When we can completely deny that wars are ugly things and real people are injured or die, we cheapen the lives of those who get caught in the cross-fire. George Lakoff wrote about the metaphors used to bring about Gulf War 1, but warned:
It is just as true today. And if we forget this or ignore it, we lose our ability to weigh the costs appropriately. James' essay makes it clear that one of the real moral questions we have as Americans is how do we maintain our humanity when our institutions (especially those in our military-industrial complex) run amuck?
Update: James also has been corresponding with David Neiwert, and you can find more on this subject at Orcinus.posted by Mary at 6:49 PM | PERMALINK |
Much has been said about the supposed paranoia of Arabic Muslims. Oh, say the pundits, how can they believe that it's part of some twisted western plot to stick them with oppressive regimes? Let's take Iran, just for one example. And so as not to be accused of digging up the past, because all reasonable people know that nothing that happened in the distant past (say, over 5 years ago) affects the present, let's confine ourselves for at least a while to two incidents that have occurred since I started this blog last September (it seems much longer).
The Revolt That Almost Was
As recently as December, there was a huge furor in Iran over the death sentence of Hashem Aghajari. A maimed veteran of the Iran-Iraq war who held a university professorship, and made some controversial remarks critical of the government while speaking to a group of students. First, the students protested. Then the protests spread, widely. It stopped being a student protest, and became a mass uprising with thousands of people in the streets daily from every walk of life. The sentence was so unpopular that even members of the government were emboldened to criticize it.
Indeed, it looked like the verge of a popular revolt.
Now anyone who attended the recent peace marches is aware that a lot of organizing is involved in getting even one protest off the ground, letting people know when, where, what, etc. How were they pulling it off? Courtesy of a US sponsored radio station called Radio Freedom, which had a live DJ who suspended regular programming for the occasion. Students ard organizers would call in on their cellphones from the demonstrations, have live reporting and discussion, and feeling so generally bold that people were giving their full names over the radio.
But three weeks into the protests, Radio Freedom was shut down. Two weeks later, it was replaced with 24/7 American pop music and a few minutes of canned news every hour. The White House hailed it as a triumph of information access for the Iranian people. The demonstrations continued gamely for a while, but as the numbers thinned out, the hardline Basij marchers were finally able to intimidate everyone into staying away.
At present, Aghajari himself is in a legal limbo, after Ayatollah Khamenei himself stepped in to order a review. The protests are history.
The Latest Installment
And now courtesy of Magpie, we find that this Thursday, April 17th, an Iranian resistance group based in Iraq was bombed by US forces. The Mujahideen-e Khalq were formerly falsely accused of belonging to Al Qaida (part of the 'support' for the claims about the Saddam-Bin Laden connection), but as the article she links to revealed, many in congress were aware of the true nature of the group. Even the State Department was aware, describing them as follows:
So, the government knew who they were, and where they were. And if they'd been attacking our troops during the last couple weeks, surely they would have warranted an air strike long before this. What happened to that 'enemy of my enemy' approach, anyway?
Twice Is Coincidence, Three Times...
Indeed, there are more examples, but they fall beyond the immediate time-frame. Which means that surely, the people of the region will have forgotten all about it.
Though if we were to go back to the ancient days of twenty four years ago, some would even consider the Iran-Iraq war (instigated by the US) to have strengthened the regime at a crucial time before they had consolidated their power. It didn't take very long after the revolution for people to get thoroughly fed up with a government that represented the religious leanings of what was (at the time) barely 10% of the population. But as can be demonstrated, in a crisis, countries pull together under whatever leaders seem ready to hand.
But maybe they haven't forgotten at all. If we were to look closely at the article about the start of the student protests, as linked above, we'd note that the marchers were carrying a picture of Mohammad Mossadegh. Who, some might be asking, is this guy? Well, he was picked in 2000 as the most important figure in Iran in the last century.
Dr. Mossadegh was ousted in a CIA coup about 50 years ago, a year before a similar coup plunged Guatemala into over three decades of indiscriminate bloodshed. (Go here for a CS Monitor timeline of some US led coups.) Mossadegh remains the most popular government figure in living memory in Iran, and you can bet that they haven't forgotten why he didn't get to finish his duly elected term.
Get The Message?
Apparently, Iran has got it loud and clear. The people know that they have a choice between these lousy, universally despised mullahs who require foreign mercenaries to enforce their edicts, and a US puppet. The government knows that they have no reason whatever to trust that we will negotiate in good faith, even if we keep saving their hides in the very most backhanded way possible.
And having absorbed the lessons of history, the Islamic Republic of Iran has declared that they will not remain neutral if Syria is attacked. Must have read that quote about no one being left to speak up when the stormtroopers finally come for you. Too bad our leaders don't seem to have read far enough back to even know 'why they hate us'. Which is surprising, considering that Bush II reanimated half the Ford administration for his current gig.posted by Natasha at 1:55 AM | PERMALINK |
Thursday, April 17, 2003
Around the Web
Go over to rantavation, and scroll down to see two open letters where Big Air Fred casts a pox on both their houses, which is to say, the leadership of both the Democrats and the Greens.
Lisa English talks about FCC deregulation, and one commissioner's drive to stop it.
Different Strings finds some moving words from Tim Robbins.
Syria seeks a region-wide arms ban through the UN, and promises to sign it if everyone else will. The other Arab nations are mainly in favor of the proposal.But what did our former Contra-era felon serving as UN ambassador think?
To The Barricades finds the gruesome horror story of the most dangerous president ever.
Talk left points out that Republicans are trying to make the Patriot Act permanent, and that corporations get off with a slap for trading with the enemy.
Sisyphus finds that in Arizona, homosexuality is being lumped in with "bestiality, cannibalism and human sacrifice". You don't hear that every day, and thank goodness. Let's hope this virulent little attitude isn't as contagious as compassionate conservatism.
posted by Natasha at 5:28 PM | PERMALINK |
Right demands Moore be stripped of Oscar
Someone has started a drive to revoke filmmaker Michael Moore's Oscar. According to the site set up to convince the Academy to snatch the sucker back, Moore is guilty of some rather quaint incursions.
I can't help but wonder who this person thinks the upstanding men in Hollywood, in addition to Charlton Heston, are.
One supporter of the campaign to revoke Moore's Oscar well-known in the blogosphere is Dave Kopel, the gun enthusiast currently embroiled in a scandal over apparently helping fellow Right Winger John Lott falsify information in his new book. Kopel says Bowling for Columbine was not really eligible for the Oscar because it isn't a documentary, but a 'mockumentary.'
Kopel's complaint is unconvincing since the persons awarding those prizes know much more about filmmaking than he does. But, I do like his rhyme. Doc-u-ment-a-ry. Mock-u-ment-a-ry. Not bad for a gun nut.
The Wall Street Journal's web zine, the Opinion Journal, may have initiated the cause. In fact, it would be difficult to find a far Right cause it hasn't taken up. John Fund began the drumbeat before the Oscars, claiming Moore would win because of political correctness in Hollywood. (Yes, that John Fund. The same fellow with a scandalous reputation for sexually exploiting women.)
So far, the revocation drive is a creature of the Web and, seemingly, fellows with troubles of their own. Time will tell whether it spreads to mainstream media and the hoi polloi. I would consider it ridiculous for the Academy to seriously consider taking back an Oscar because of a political attack on the recipient. But then, I never thought Shrub would be appointed president or Anne Coulter would have a book on the New York Times Bestseller List, either. Sometimes, I overestimate people.
Moore is either oblivious or undeterred. He again stated his opposition to Pres. George W. (Shrub) Bush and his plans for the country in Texas, the state Bush claims as home, Tuesday.
Moore says he mainly receives messages of support and jokes about Right Wingers who target him for boycotts -- or worse.
Note: Elsewhere in the blogosphere. A round-up of blog essays by moi at Mac-a-ro-nies. The latest on sneaky gun research fraud John Lott, same channel, different time. All you ever wanted to know about hermaphroditism and a couple sexual fetishes at Silver Rights.
-- Mac Diva
Framing the message
One of the more challenging things that we have confronting us these days is finding a way to talk to people who are not necessarily receptive to our message. I had mentioned Chris Mooney's article in the American Prospect last week as a resource to start to explore this topic. Since then, I've run into the work of George Lakoff who has done some tremendous research in this area from three different and independent sources. The first mention of Lakoff was in that article by Mooney:
Then on Monday, I received an email answer to my questions about the Commonweal Institute with the following:
My thought was, wow, another mention of this guy three times in a week! It seems like even if it was just a coincidence, it sounds like it might be good to get to know more about George Lakoff and his work.
Also, if you haven't yet reviewed these these pieces on Seeing the Forest (here and here) about the Commonweal Institute, I recommend that you do so. And if you have some spare cash, think about making a donation to them. We definitely need strong voices like the Commonweal Institute to help us to regain our country.
Wednesday, April 16, 2003
While searching Google for a couple items for the last post, I noticed that the very top ad spot on Iraq related searches shows up as an ad for the Iraqi 'Most-Wanted' Deck of Playing Cards. The same one given to soldiers in Iraq. Searches for 'Iraq news', 'Iraq museum', 'International Bible Society Iraq', and several others, all brought up this ad.
I have no idea of the relevance of this, but it was kind of interesting.posted by Natasha at 11:53 PM | PERMALINK |
The Millenium Crusade
While flipping to News World International this evening, I caught the tail end of an interview with Donald Brooker, of the International Bible Society. The IBS are the brilliant folks who've been working for nearly a century to bring frontline US troops what they need the most. Bibles.
Mr. Brooker said that they were in the process of printing up 300,000 pieces of literature to bring into Iraq, including a special booklet for those who are out of work. Arabic bibles are also on the way, and as I discovered at their website, something whipped up specially for the Iraqi people. Lucky duckies.
They've also dubbed a 'popular' video about the life of Jesus in Arabic. He explained that the region had an extremely high VCR ownership ratio, and that the videos were effective even in places where people can't read. The literacy rate in the country is about 60%, but still, it sounded pretty darned condescending put the way he said it.
And then, the interviewer asked Mr. Brooker why they were doing this in a country that's 97% Islamic. The reply was that "Islam is based on law and duty... but christianity is based on forgiveness and love." He explained that forgiveness and love would be of great comfort to the Iraqis right now.
I imagine that forgiveness and love would be of great comfort to Mr. Brooker, Mr. Falwell, Mr. Bush, and all the rest of their cronies. Yes, we encouraged and/or brought about a rain of fire and destruction on your country, now let's teach you how to turn the other cheek. But some kind of law or duty would be the only thing keeping me, were I an Iraqi, from rounding up American missionaries in a van and shipping them off to Kuwait the minute they set foot in my neighborhood. Or to Jordan. Really, anywhere they'd be willing to put up with the useless buggers.
In the meantime, the IBS would like $20 to send the bombed out, starved out, thirsty, no-pain-medication-or-proper-medical-care-having Iraqi people a few words of comfort from the faith of their enemies. Hey, at least the people that got their homes destroyed will have fuel for the campfires they'll be setting up in the rubble of their cities. Isn't that thoughtful?posted by Natasha at 11:46 PM | PERMALINK |
Compassion for the Iraqis?
Body and Soul has a post that discusses the censorship of war photos, but which I think also exposes the lie about how much the pro-war gang really care about the Iraqi people. Remember, Bush repeatedly said that we were not at war with the Iraqi people; it was just that nasty Saddam and his henchmen we were after and we were going to liberate the innocent Iraqis and magnimously bring them democracy.
dKos's threads have been full of freepers who love to say that we liberals don't care about the people of Iraq and if it was up to us, we'd let them suffer under Saddam's horrible regime. Yeah, sure. And they are active members of Amnesty International and have been working for years to free the Iraqis from that brutal regime.
Well, one thing I know is that this war has created opportunities for some strange and callous statements and actions. I found the following comment from "Jeff" under the piece I did last week on What About Aid: I am glad its finally over, but the U.S should have wiped Iraq,and Afganistan off the face of the Earth.
I cannot help but wonder where this wellspring of hate and anger for the Iraqi people arises. Is it because people refuse to see the consequences of the war? Or they would just rather the Iraqis simply disappear so they wouldn't have to consider them (it's just so messy)? Or perhaps because if we see that they suffer we might have to acknowledge our own guilt?
Body & Soul's entry talked about the reaction people had to a front page picture in the Oregonian where an Iraqi man was shown mourning over the coffins of his family who were all killed by an American bomb. The reaction to the picture was largely negative (10 to 1). Many of the complaints expressed anger because it didn't glorify our troops and was not sufficiently rah-rah. But perhaps for some the picture was a rude interruption to their war-induced fantasy, because somehow to show that our bombs kill civilians caused their conscience to cry out and so is wrong and must be denied, especially when this war was supposed to be about saving the Iraqis.
Recently I heard someone talk about how one of the worst things that will come from this war is the coarsening of the hearts and souls of the American public as they revel in how easy this war was and how little it cost. I fear for the soul of our country when war seems so easy. And as Jefferson said, "I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just."posted by Mary at 11:11 PM | PERMALINK |
Supporting The Troops
Yesterday, I blogged a link to the story about the imminent cuts in VA funding, a story which also mentioned the cuts in education funding for the children of military personnel. And of course, left blogistan has been near uniformly outraged. But what are we going to do about it?
What about getting up another Virtual March on Washington? For opposition to the war, we tied up the phone lines at the capital for two days. What about doing it for the soldiers? Tell the government that if they're going to wrap their agenda in some kind of concern for people in uniform, they better show some serious concern for people in uniform.
Let's make them put their money where their mouths are. I propose the date of Thursday, May Ist. Any takers?posted by Natasha at 6:17 PM | PERMALINK |
The Fundies are already licking their chops over Iraq. If there's anything more creepy than starving people, preventing them from getting basic medical supplies, bombing them, letting their cultural history get wrecked, and then preaching to them when they're down, I can't think of it off hand. Thank god we no longer feel inclined to napalm people in the hundreds of thousands, I guess.
In other Fundy Watch news, Franklin Graham has been called to give the Good Friday sermon at the Defense Department. Pentagon muslims are less than pleased.
This country's already thin support for the Veterans Administration is targeted for billions in cuts. This is the 'tough love' approach, we've come to expect from our compassionate conservatives. The last president to increase funding for the VA? Why, Clinton, of course.
Our boy in Iraq, Ahmed Chalabi, says that the UN is an ally of Saddam Hussein.
Britain packs up it's field hospitals, says Iraq doesn't need to import healthcare, as Iraqi hospitals are pushed past the breaking point. This compassionate conservatism is catching.
Doctrine of preemption spreads to Kashmir
Bill O'Reilly's chronic foot-in-mouth condition flares up at inner city benefit dinner.
Bush thinks war wounds are just fascinating.
Michael Moore explains the full extent of the oscar backlash. Hint: He's more popular than ever, and so are the Dixie Chicks.
Ten dead in Mosul, where troops tried to prevent the media from covering a third day of anti-American protests.
Baghdad's cemetaries are overflowing. And in response to that last item, I'd like to share something from the book "Zen Speaks", translated with wonderful illustrations from the Tsai Chih Chung by Brian Bruya:
And in that spirit, nothing could be more appalling than the many Iraqi families where parents and grandparents are burying the remains of their recently whole and healthy children in fly-infested, overcrowded cemetaries. All their future hopes for those who would continue after them rotting away in pits they had to dig themselves, sometimes two generations at once. Not through some random accident or sudden illness, but because of the intentional actions of foreign invaders.
Selfishly, I hope they don't attach blame to every US citizen they see. But really, I couldn't bring myself to judge them harshly if they did so, I'm just furious that we couldn't do more to stop it. If there is a God/dess, there's 24 million people in Iraq who could really use some grace right about now. We'll be fine over here for a while, the bitching and moaning notwithstanding.posted by Natasha at 2:00 AM | PERMALINK |
Blogging Research Study
Holy cannoli, Batman, people are researching blogging in college! So, here it is, your chance to further the beleaguered institution of American higher learning, one college student at a time. Specifically a college student who needs your help, dear reader, to complete a study on blogging. If you have time to speak up by torturing Wolf Blitzer on a daily basis, you have time to help the Media Studies Dept. at Syracuse get a wider portrait of Blogistan than Andrew Sullivan and Glenn Reynolds. Here's the request:
* Remember to substitute @ for the (at) in the given email address. What kind of warm welcome is a mailbox full of spam, anyway?posted by Natasha at 12:22 AM | PERMALINK |
What is Falangism?
Recently I’ve run across the term falangism. It is describes a type of government I’d never heard of, although it seems that it has been a form of governance that has been widely used during the 20th century. It refers to the type of government that we’ve seen operate in a number of countries in Latin America during the last century. Falangism is most closely with associated with Franco of Spain, but a number of the military dictatorships in South America during the 50s through the 80s also exhibit falangistic characteristics.
James R. MacLean has posted a number of comments to Digby’s posts that expands on what falangism is and how it might relate to the right wing politics we are encountering today. James believes that the radical right's goal is not necessarily fascistic (see Orincus’s series to get comprehensive writeup on fascism), but what he's seeing looks more like those forms of governments found in Latin America during the past few decades. James has a economics background but he’s interested in history and comparative political systems and has studied falangism from an economics perspective. And he thinks that the real problem we face in this country has characteristics of falangism rather than fascism. It seems to me that what James has to say is important, because we really need to know who are our radical right opponents. And we should understand what characterizes fascism and what would be different if they had motives that lead to falangism. I’ve asked James to provide more information and observations for us as things progress.
Here is what James has to say:
Digby's post on the Dyncorp cops provides further evidence that the trends we see within our society are more likely signs of falangism according to James:
After seeing James’ posts, I went out on the net to see what else I could find out about falangism and found that we have an active Falangist party.
I think we need to understand who is driving the right wing agenda and how to overcome their arguments. If what is driving the right-wing agenda is falangism, this requires a different response than if their agenda has a more fascistic face. Understanding the goals and techniques is important as we go about finding ways to confront our opponents and how to do so without alienating our potential allies who are distrustful of hearing concerns about fascism because it seems so extreme.
Tuesday, April 15, 2003
Lynch lore appears to be untrue
We've heard all kinds of things about Pfc. Jessica Lynch and that Iraqi hospital. (Military headquarters, according to some on the Right.) That she was being held in a torture chamber. Armed Darth Vader-like Feyadeen supposedly guarded her. A car battery was said to be next to her bed, supposedly to to be used in torture sessions. Then, there was the Loyal Iraqi story in which she was rescued by an Iraqi lawyer who loves the United States. And, the one about how Pfc. Lynch fought until her ammunition was exhausted, being shot several times herself. Each of those claims has turned out to be untrue, or exaggerated at best. Today's Washington Post further debunks of the Legend of Little Jessie Lynch.
The evidence suggests the evaporation of the Iraqi forces in Nasiriyah and other cities was pre-planned. The Iraqi leadership seems to have decided to put up a defense, but not to endanger their own lives. According to medical personnel at the hospital, the Ba'athist changed into civilian attire and walked away, blending into the general population. That process may have been repeated hundreds of times.
As for Lynch, the claim 'Mohammed' saw her being tortured and went to great lengths to save her appears apocryphal. At most, a tipster may have been involved. Her injuries seem to have occurred in in an automobile accident.
That does not mean there hasn't been a great deal of suffering in Nasiriyah.
Many injured civilians are nearly helpless in a city in which basic services such as water, lights and sanitation have been interrupted or destroyed. Medical supplies are also in short supply.
Note: I have written about my expectations for post-war Iraq at Mac-a-ro-nies.
posted by J. at 5:56 PM | PERMALINK |
Around the Web:
Apparently, I'm not the only person who sees a resemblance between the rhetoric surrounding the early days of what we now know was the groundwork for this war, and the stepped up hostility towards Syria. Today we learn that an oil pipeline that ran from Iraq to Syria has been shut down. (Which is perfectly reasonable, because after all, no one ever interprets cutting off fuel supplies as a hostile act.) Allegations of chemical weapons testing and the harboring of wanted Iraqis are already flying thick and fast.
Mars Or Bust. NASA selects Mars landing & exploration sites.
New York's Mayor Bloomberg will have to cut $1 billion from the city budget, unless they receive help from the state or federal government. Think Bush will notice when all of his firefighting 'buddies' are put out of their jobs:
From the Arab News: Thousands of Iraqi demonstrators chanted "No to Saddam, and No to America" near the talks on the future of an Iraqi government. A discussion of the dowry custom and photo IDs for women in Saudi Arabia. What's the world afraid of today? Us. And an embedded journalist talks about the touching experiences she had while living with US Marines in Iraq. Too bad such a fine bunch of people are being commanded by the Bush cabal.
Over at Body and Soul, start here and scroll down for several good posts covering the looting and mayhem in Iraq. She links to this post on Making Light, in which no light can be made over the tremendous loss of world history that has occurred right under our noses. Read the comments. (Update: Noticed somewhere down this very long thread that I'm not the alone in having actually cried when I learned about the burning of the Library of Alexandria. It'll be a while before I can digest the loss of cultural treasures that I spent hours reading about, poring over pictures of as a child, and dreaming of someday visiting. Dead and dying people are an immediate, and wrenching source of pain. But the loss of history just kind of gnaws at the mind without ever really going away, presuming you're the kind of person who cares. It's like a second death for the work and lives of generations of people.)
Ampersand posts a passage from Barbara Ehrenreich that disagrees with the premise that men are inherently war-like.
The Angry Bear finds that even the Republicans are starting to get concerned about civil liberties protections. It seems they figured that the Democrats would take care of that for them.posted by Natasha at 5:09 PM | PERMALINK |
Living It Up At The Hotel Baghdad
One of the email lists I'm on circulated a link to the story about the hotel bombing that killed two journalists in Baghdad. A French station caught the whole thing on film, including the fact that there was no gunfire at the time of the attack, and that the tank took it's time aiming. This column from another reporter staying at the hotel indicates that at least one primary purpose of the hotel was as a house arrest facility for foreigners that the government wanted to keep an eye on.
This morning, I was watching NewsWorld International (mmm, digital cable) and saw footage of what US soldiers were doing in Baghdad today. One of those things included looking for armed militia. Where were they looking? Why, the Palestine Hotel, of course. The footage showed a long hallway with a kneeling person, hands up & facing the wall, stationed outside every door.
But that isn't the only thing they had time to do, of course. There were also scenes of the inventory process of one of Hussein's son's weapons caches, found at his home. I didn't even know there was such a thing as a gold-plated AK-47, though there were several crates of more functional looking equipment. And this leads to some serious questions about what exactly is going on over there.
First, this cache of weapons wasn't touched in the looting. Now surely there must be a lot of people in Baghdad who know where the Hussein family's various residences were. So, sinks were stolen from clinics, but gold-plated AK-47s (and other more useful looking munitions) were just left for the Americans to find. Not a single person wanted even a souvenir?
In a city with widespread rioting breaking out, this would seem to indicate to me that the house in question was probably guarded. When the two national libraries, one containing the oldest known copy of the Koran, were burned down, I guess we were just too busy too notice. In fact, the US still won't spare troops to guard what's left at the looted national museum. What with taking vanity shots for the world press while undertaking bold looking but inessential duties, they must be very busy.
Second, why were these weapons not used? This can't be the only cache, and it looked like enough firepower to make some trouble with all by itself. Where are the people who were supposed to be firing them to defend the city? This is sort of a rhetorical question, but it's really getting under my skin lately. It's like the Iraqi military put up just enough resistance to slow us down, and then vanished. WTF?
He may have been a homicidal maniac, but no one has ever accused Hussein of being light in the planning and survival skills departments. Yet none of the actions that would be completely reasonable to assume would be undertaken in defense of a city ever materialized. No bridges were really blown, no booby traps, no serious defense. Even non-military minded folks like myself can think of ways to make life heck for an invader, but practically nothing more than mild stalling was in evidence.
I have a really hard time buying that they gave up just like that. It doesn't add up. And in the meantime, our troops are looking for militia members among the international press, pulling statues down, breaking up murals, and oohing and aahing over moderate (though impressive on film) stashes of fairly conventional weapons. It's damn creepy.posted by Natasha at 4:24 PM | PERMALINK |
Monday, April 14, 2003
Around the Web:
The Mahablog reviews the Orwellian 'jobs and growth' plan.
Robert Fisk writes from
Talk Left finds the goods on the role DynCorp may play in post-war Iraq. The company has previously been involved in sex-trafficking in Bosnia, but no prosecutions resulted due to a grant of immunity. Digby has more.
What now for the peace movement?posted by Natasha at 8:56 PM | PERMALINK |
Into The Breach
I talked to my mom yesterday, deciding that I was up to the inevitable sermonizing. (Bear with me, there's actually a point at the bottom of all this.) For those of you that haven't been following along, which is probably darn near everyone, my immediate family are rabidly fundamentalist Christian. My only consolation for that is their belief that voting is a sin. Political Darwinism at its finest.
As backdrop, they believe that any day now, God will wipe the wicked ones off the face of the earth in a massive fiery cataclysm which will selectively spare the righteous. While they're certain that all of those individuals will either be members of their denomination, or the rare individual that hasn't had a chance to be harassed by a member of their denomination, they are not absolutely assured that they'll be worthy to survive. Oh yeah, and everybody who dies will be resurrected in the perfect earthly paradise that will follow Judgement Day where no one will ever die again.
If the world situation is peaceful, then they're sure it will happen at any moment, because the End will come suddenly at a time when everyone thinks they're safe. If the world situation is dangerous, then they're sure it will happen at any moment, because surely God won't put up with all this for too much longer. And wasn't there a point a couple years ago when we all thought we were safe, anyway? Further, not to get caught by changing times, every few years they update their interpretation of the book of Revelations to fit current events. This is always followed by general awe that the Word of God, as interpreted by their in-house prognosticators, is so accurate. In short, they've got End Times paranoia to spare.
So, inevitably, talk turns to the war. Mom is delighted that we've liberated Iraq. To any alternative solution to the problem, she says, well Saddam was bad. (Holy sh*t! Thanks for the newsflash.) When I raise the point that the handling of the situation might make us all less safe, or that Iraq might end up like Afghanistan, she says that it isn't 'in man who is walking even to direct his step.' When talking about peopIe who might die as a result of the war or ensuing conflict, she said that they would all be resurrected in paradise. In response to other problems, I was assured that God would fix it all soon anyway.
For her, the present is the metaphysical equivalent of standing in line at the bank. You wait around, don't make any trouble, and at the end you get handed the reward for your patience. Fifty years from now, they believe, everyone now living will either have died in Armageddon or be claiming their eternal forty acres in a newly spacious paradise planet. My sisters, for instance, have (I am not making this up) decided that they'll abstain from having children until they reach the New World.
Now, except for the voting aspect, my family is pretty aligned with the intellectual groove of fundies everywhere. And the thing that really gets me about all this is the utter incapacity to think about the future in a meaningful way. To think in terms of consequences, of reactions, of the inevitable results of actions that may take years to fully play out.
So I'd like you to ponder, if you will, the political outcome of the absolute belief that at any moment God is going to wipe the slate clean of all His enemies. Even better, because you're such a righteous person, chances are that your enemies are included in the category of people to vaporize. And then you will be given (insert denominationally appropriate reward), and an eternal life at the right hand of God.
Nothing therefore needs to be done about pollution. The grandkids will be born into paradise. Nothing effective really needs to be done to correct global inequality, because the poor will get their reward as well. Endemic institutional corruption? Well, it says right here that the vast majority of people are wicked, and there's nothing that can be done about it.
Ya' Been Hoodwinked
And it occurs to me that if I were a powerful person whose goal was to commit larceny on a grand scale, I'd want as many people to believe some version of this claptrap as humanly possible. I'm not the first person to make this case, and it won't be the last time I bring it up, but it seems that the implications of it haven't managed to seep into the consciousness of mainstream society. Why not?
Probably because if you didn't grow up with it, it's seems hard to understand that so many perfectly ordinary seeming people are keenly looking forward to the end of the world. In the present, the only issues that matter are those framed as moral issues that could bump them out of line for their reward. And they genuinely believe that any long term problems are irrelevant because God will sort it all out. When?
Any day now.posted by Natasha at 7:35 PM | PERMALINK |
Sunday, April 13, 2003
About the week that was
Oh what a week for news! As a former and intermittent reporter, I am used to complaining about slow news days and weeks. Now, it looks like I might have to reverse my plaint.
Among today's most prominent stories was the release of seven American POWs by the Iraqis. All seven are in good health and spirits. This confirms my suspicion that the Iraqis are being demonized without proof. I took some flak from Right Wing bloggers for saying that, but am glad I spoke up. Read why at Mac-a-ro-nies.
Jeralyn Merritt has the goods on several important legal stories at Talkleft. These two are among them.
•John Muhammed, the accused D.C. area sniper, may claim a medical condition as part of his defense.
I am glad to hear that about conjecture, but believe this is a very long shot. There has to be some empathy for a defendant for jurors to care about a diminished capacity defense. It also helps if the crimes involved are not too heinous. Muhammad will be a beneficiary of neither of these factors.
•One of the intriguing aspects of the Portland Six terrorism case here in Puddletown is how flaky the government's informant is. Not only was he on their payroll, he seems to have suggested much of the reckless talk and actions by two of the defendants that is the best evidence the feds have. Something similar seems to have occurred in Detroit, where the informant is being described as a liar and thief.
Don't get me wrong. The nature of paid informants is that they are often not Eagle Scouts. However, because of the high stakes in terrorism cases, I believe using better than usual informants would make sense. I guess John Ashcroft disagrees.
Consider a woman who carries on with several men for two decades in order to supply classified information to the country she loves. If the accusations are true, that is the situation of Katrina Leung, 'the spy they loved.'
In addition to two FBI agents, Leung is known to have had a sexual relationship with the head of Lawrence Livermore Labs, a major nuclear weapons research facility. That is what the Diva calls loyalty. Katrina + China. Many marriages don't last that long.
posted by J. at 7:19 PM | PERMALINK |
Bush decides, the rest follow
It seems that the State Department is finding itself increasingly irrelevant.
This seems to be somewhat reminicent of the quandray the Democrats are experiencing when trying to propose alternatives to the Republican ideologically driven policies since standing for policies based on maintaining a social safety net or participating in an international forum as a partner and not as a dictator are not considered valid policy compared to the exciting policies being dreamt up by the guys ready to break apart the world to bring about Pax Americana.
How Bush makes decisions continues to be a source of concern for me since I don't see him making decisions based on a broad and comprehensive set of inputs. In the Atlantic Monthly, an interview with David Frum shows that Bush makes decisions easily (must be that MBA training).
More from Frum:
Somehow it just doesn't make me feel better knowing that Bush is out there making decisions that tend to the boldest, most risky ones. Combined with his total lack of regard for anyone who is not with him, it feels like we will all be in for a rough time while Bush battles terrorism and evil.
Update: The interview with Kurt Vonnegut earlier this year provides some insight into my own discomfort. His description of psychopatic personalities (PPs) certainly again says why it is not reassuring to hear how easily Bush makes decisions.
As one of those who is decidedly not with Bush in supporting his war or goals, my opposition comes down to his callous lack of concern about the people he is supposed to be leading -- both Americans and as "Leader of the Free World", the people of the world. We are only pawns in his bold great game, just like in the Greek myths, humans were pawns in the battle of the gods.posted by Mary at 12:08 PM | PERMALINK |
Morning In Iraq
First the German embassy, then the Iranian embassy, now the Chinese embassy falls prey to looting in Baghdad. Nothing to see here folks, move along.
The US has magnanimously suggested that the rest of the G7 forgive Iraq's debts in order to help the country rebuild faster. No suggestion has been made thus far by the US foreign policy team that Kuwait, who would like to bill Iraq for the $500 million per month they were charged by British and American companies to rebuild after GWI, should give up its claims. Nor have they suggested that any countries which owe them money, in some cases so much that the interest payments are nearly the same as GDP, should be relieved of similarly crushing burdens.
This story smells pretty fishy. A report is conveniently discovered in the bombed out headquarters of Iraqi intelligence which details that Russia was involved in connecting Iraq to Bin Laden, and that Iraq had nuclear weapons. The alleged items cover a span of at least two years. A squadron of flying pigs can't be far behind this little gem.
Deutsche-Welle has an update on progress in Tikrit, the first anti-US rally in Iraq, the discovery of the missing US troops, and several other items.
And Iraq's neighbor, Syria, gets a fresh warning from Colin Powell this morning. What's that line about misery loving company...posted by Natasha at 8:35 AM | PERMALINK |