I reached a moment of truth last night, and I figured I'd sit down and write about it before it faded away. It's a damn shame that it's appearing on this blog, because I know a lot of people who usually read Blah3 are unable to see it. But anyway, here goes.
I had rehearsal with one of my bands last night. The other guitar player, a long-time friend of mine, and I were sitting around after we got done playing. He had seen the Nick Berg beheading video yesterday and was bummed about it, since he is in many ways an amazingly sensitive person. He was sad that such a thing had happened to an American in Iraq, and angry at those who had done it.
He talked for a while about it, and then he said 'Those people are so primitive and savage, and that's why they did what they did.' I pointed out that their culture has waged war like this for centuries, but that hardly makes them savages. After all, I said, they were technologically savvy enough to videotape what they did.
I told him the shame of the Iraq war was that we took what was one of the most Westernized countries in the region and turned it into a potential fundamentalist state.
He argued that Iraq couldn't have been that advanced. I reminded him that ancient Iraq was where the wheel was invented, and that everyone under Saddam Hussein got a good education. That they had architects and engineers and scientists, just like us.
It was at that point that I said it - something I hadn't said before, not here or anywhere else. I said 'We should just set up an election, let them vote and get the hell out of the country.'
My friend said, 'But that would stop everything we're trying to do. They would never get Democracy if we pulled out.'
I asked him why he thought they even wanted democracy. He couldn't answer.
I told him about Ahmed Chalabi, and how he told us all the lies we wanted to hear, how we drove him into Baghdad and set him up and how we pay him a half mil a month. How we went to war on lies that Bush wanted to believe.
He said we have to get the terrorists.
I asked him where the guys who did 9/11 came from, and he didn't know. I told him that they were mostly from Saudi Arabia, and I asked him if the guys behind 9/11 came from Saudi Arabia, why did we attack Iraq?
I said that if we went to Iraq to find WMDs, we didn't find any and we should get out. I told him if we went to take out Saddam, then we did that and we should get out.
I said it looks like now the only reason we're there now is to keep civil war from breaking out and someone we don't like from taking over. And that's not a good enough reason to be there.
I told him that American kids are getting killed every day, just so we can determine who takes over Iraq. That's not a good enough reason.
When I was done, my friend looked at me and said, 'You're right. We shouldn't be there.'
The moment of truth was this - I could have kept my mouth shut, but I didn't, and i changed someone's mind.
People are waiting to be told. We have to tell them.
Since I changed stuff around with comments and the like, this site has been acting squirrely. At this point, comments don't fully load, so i'm not able to read the comments left on each post. My traffic is slowing down, because since Blogger changed their system it seems as though a lot of people can't connect to the site.
But I'm hoping that the new B3 setup, using software called GeekLog, should be in place today, at which point I can start setting it al up.
Please bear with me. I'll be back soon. I hope. posted by Don at 11:36 AM
"I look at Iraq and all I can say is I hope it comes out well, and I believe it will," the defense chief said in his first public appearance on Capitol Hill since all-day hearings on the abuse scandal on Friday when a number of Democrats called for his resignation.
Sweet home Alabama, we seem intent upon pissing everybody off, don't we?
U.S. tanks, helicopters and jets attacked fighters loyal to a radical Shiite cleric in this holy city today, partially destroying a mosque used by insurgents and setting seven hotels ablaze. Twenty-two militants were killed.
Meanwhile, large explosions were heard late Wednesday in the centre of Najaf, another Shiite holy city, and residents said U.S. forces appeared to be making an armed incursion. At least one civilian was killed and another was wounded, Iraqi authorities said.
The cleric, Muqtada al-Sadr, urged his followers to resist and compared their struggle to the Vietnam War in his first news conference since the standoff began more than a month ago.
American forces killed 22 militants, and six coalition soldiers were wounded, U.S. Brig.-Gen. Mark Kimmitt said in Baghdad. Four of the soldiers returned to duty.
In Najaf, Iraqi leaders discussed how to peacefully resolve the confrontation between al-Sadr and the U.S.-led coalition, which is seeking to arrest al-Sadr in the murder of a rival cleric. Coalition officials have said they welcome efforts to work for a peaceful solution, even though they will not negotiate with the cleric and want him to face justice.
Half of the Mukhaiyam mosque in Karbala was destroyed in the fighting. Most shops in Tal al-Zeinabiya, a central market, and three ambulances and two military vehicles also were destroyed.
I'm not giving them a link - it was bad enough that I went to look at this crap. Good for a laugh, tho.
One of the leading hosts on the unofficial radio network of the Democratic Party recommended in an apparent "joke" earlier this week that President Bush should be assassinated, reports the New York Daily News.
Comparing Bush and his family to the Corleones of "Godfather" fame, Air America host Randi Rhodes reportedly unleashed this zinger during her Monday night broadcast: "Like Fredo, somebody ought to take him out fishing and phuw. "
What, the White House says it, and that makes it true?
The White House rejected any link between the abuse of Iraqi detainees at Abu Ghraib prison and the "brutal, barbaric" beheading of US citizen Nick Berg.
A day after Berg's blood-curdling slaying by masked assailants was broadcast on an Internet site, spokesman Scott McClellan rejected their claim that they were avenging the mistreatment at the facility near Baghdad.
"Terrorists are going to seek any excuse, and try to change, their excuses to try to justify murder, destruction and chaos," he said, stressing that it was important to "separate the two" issues.
I've been trying to wrap my mind around this for 20 minutes now, but no go. How in the world can McClellan 'reject the claim?' They're in some weird-ass denial down there at the White House, I'll tell ya.
President Bush wasted international sympathy for the United States after the 2001 terrorist attacks by shifting from the search for Osama bin Laden to the ousting of Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein, former President Clinton said Tuesday.
The move alienated many U.S. allies and created a false impression among Americans that Saddam had a key role in the al-Qaida-engineered terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, Clinton said.
''I think the world was really pulling for us after 9-11,'' he said, but the Bush administration ''divided the world ... to pursue our vision not because of any imminent threat but because that's what they wanted to do.''
His strongest words were aimed at Bush's decisions to attack Iraq two years after Sept. 11.
''Keep in mind that we had unanimous support from the United Nations to do what we had to do, unanimous support for going into Afghanistan, for going after the Taliban,'' Clinton said. ''They (the United Nations) participated in the hunt for bin Laden ... they also supported giving an ultimatum to Saddam Hussein to open his country to inspections for weapons of mass destruction.
''We were in good shape. What happened?
''There was a strong group of people in the administration who believed that Saddam Hussein was more important than Osama bin Laden and believed that dislodging him was important, without regard to whether he had weapons of mass destruction.''
Clinton said U.N. chief weapons inspector Hans Blix was ''begging for four or six weeks more to finish the job'' but Bush officials cut him off and went ahead with the invasion of Iraq.
The family says that Nick Berg was held by the Coalition. Now the Coalition says, 'Nick who?'
The American man who was decapitated on a videotape posted by an al Qaeda-linked Web site was never under U.S. custody despite claims from his family, coalition spokesman Dan Senor said Wednesday.
Senor told reporters that Berg, 26, from West Chester, Pennsylvania, was detained by Iraqi police in Mosul. The Iraqis informed the Americans and the FBI met with Berg three times to determine what he was doing in Iraq.
Senor said that to his knowledge, "he (Berg) was at no time under the jurisdiction or detention of coalition forces.
A religious nut making decisions about tortureabuse interrogation.
Great. Fucking Jerry Boykin, Mr. 'Evil Cloud over Somalia,' was advising how to get information. Great.
The U.S. Army general under investigation for anti-Islamic remarks has been linked by U.S. officials to the Iraqi prisoner abuse scandal, which experts warned could touch off new outrage overseas.
A Senate hearing into the abuse of Iraqi prisoners was told on Tuesday that Lt. Gen. William Boykin, an evangelical Christian under review for saying his God was superior to that of the Muslims, briefed a top Pentagon civilian official last summer on recommendations on ways military interrogators could gain more intelligence from Iraqi prisoners.
Critics have suggested those recommendations amounted to a senior-level go-ahead for the sexual and physical abuse of prisoners, possibly to "soften up" detainees before interrogation -- a charge the Pentagon denies.
Congressional aides and Arab-American and Muslim groups said any involvement by Boykin could spark new concern among Arabs and Muslims overseas the U.S. war on terrorism is in fact a war on Islam.
"This will be taken as proof that what happened at Abu Ghraib (prison) is evidence of a broader culture of dehumanizing Arabs and Muslims, based on the American understanding of the innate superiority of Christendom," said Chris Toensing, editor of Middle East Report, a U.S.-based quarterly magazine.
One Senate aide, who asked not to be identified, said any involvement by Boykin could be explosive. "Even if he knew about the abuse, that would be a big deal," he said.
Michael Berg lashed out at the U.S. military and Bush administration, saying his son might still be alive had he not been detained by U.S. officials in Iraq without being charged and without access to a lawyer.
Nick Berg, a small telecommunications business owner, spoke to his parents on March 24 and told them he would return home on March 30. But Berg was detained by Iraqi police at a checkpoint in Mosul on March 24. He was turned over to U.S. officials and detained for 13 days.
His father, Michael, said his son wasn't allowed to make phone calls or contact a lawyer.
FBI agents visited Berg's parents in West Chester on March 31 and told the family they were trying to confirm their son's identity. On April 5, the Bergs filed suit in federal court in Philadelphia, contending that their son was being held illegally by the U.S. military. The next day Berg was released. He told his parents he hadn't been mistreated.
Michael Berg said he blamed the U.S. government for creating circumstances that led to his son's death. He said if his son hadn't been detained for so long, he might have been able to leave the country before the violence worsened.
"I think a lot of people are fed up with the lack of civil rights this thing has caused," he said. "I don't think this administration is committed to democracy."
Nick Berg, 26, owns a business called Prometheus Methods Tower Service Inc. He climbs communications towers to inspect the antennas, the electrical connections and the structure. He first went to Iraq on Dec. 21.
He stayed until Feb. 1, making contact with a company that indicated there would likely be work for him later. But he returned on March 14 and there was no work, so he began traveling. He usually called home once a day and e-mailed several times; Michael Berg is his business manager, and they needed to stay in touch.
They spoke on March 24, and Nick Berg told his parents he was coming home on March 30. Then the communications stopped, and he wasn't on the plane on March 30.
When FBI agents arrived at the Berg's West Chester home on March 31, they were relieved to know their son was alive, but in jail. The agents questioned them about various details that only they and their son would know about.
Jerri Williams, spokeswoman for the Philadelphia FBI office, said the agency was "asked to interview the parents regarding Mr. Berg's purpose in Iraq."
On April 5, the Bergs filed suit in federal court in Philadelphia, contending that their son was being held illegally by the U.S. military in Iraq.
The next day, April 6, Nick Berg was released. He told his parents he had been riding in a taxi on March 24 when he was arrested by Iraqi officials at a checkpoint in Mosul. He told his parents he had not been mistreated.
Nick Berg said he would come home through Jordan, Turkey or Kuwait. But by then, hostilities in Iraq had escalated, and Michael Berg said they have not heard from their son since.
A video posted Tuesday on an Islamic militant Web site showed the beheading of an American civilian in Iraq, and said the execution was carried out by an al-Qaida affiliated group to avenge the abuse of Iraqi prisoners by American soldiers.
The video bore the title "Abu Musab al-Zarqawi shown slaughtering an American." It was unclear whether al-Zarqawi — an associated of Osama bin Laden — was shown in the video, or was claiming responsibility for ordering the execution.
Al-Zarqawi also is said to have ties to terrorist groups ranging from Ansar al Islam in Iraq to Egyptian Islamic Jihad. He's believed to be behind many attacks in Iraq, including numerous high-profile operations.
The video pictures of the execution showed five men wearing headscarves and black ski masks, standing over a bound man in an orange jumpsuit — similar to a prisoner's uniform — who identified himself as Nick Berg, a U.S. civilian whose body was found on a highway overpass in Baghdad on Saturday.
On the Web site, one of the executioners read a statement:
"For the mothers and wives of American soldiers, we tell you that we offered the U.S. administration to exchange this hostage with some of the detainees in Abu Ghraib and they refused."
"So we tell you that the dignity of the Muslim men and women in Abu Ghraib and others is not redeemed except by blood and souls. You will not receive anything from us but coffins after coffins ... slaughtered in this way."
In the video, the speaker threatened both President Bush and Pakistani President Gen. Pervez Musharraf.
"As for you Bush ... expect severe days. You and your soldiers will regret the day you stepped into the land of Iraq," he said. He described Musharraf as "a traitor agent."
This is what we have to look forward to. Thanks a bunch, George.
Gen. Taguba was scheduled to appear alone this morning before the Senate Armed Services Committee and then later in an afternoon session. Stephen Cambone, the undersecretary of defense for intelligence, was to testify.
But according to NPR the Pentagon has "insisted" that both Cambone and Gen. Smith, who testified last Friday alongside Rummy, not only be included in the morning session with Taguba but that both be allowed to precede him with opening statements.
Taguba's shins will probably be very sore by the end of this hearing, with these two lugs kicking him under the table.
Long before the world saw shocking photos of U.S. soldiers abusing Iraqi detainees, Sgt. Michael Sindar and other military police serving at the Abu Ghraib prison saw all they wanted of them.
Pictures of abuse and humiliation of Iraqis, taken with digital cameras, were burned onto CDs that circulated widely among prison personnel, said Sindar, 25. Peeks could be had in the chow hall.
"It was like a commodity," Sindar explained. "Whatever pictures you had, whoever had the most foul picture out there, everyone wanted to see what it was."
Brutality was also in the air. Sindar recalled a 14-year-old Iraqi with a broken arm being hurled to the ground and then mocked by U.S. soldiers as the boy wept and wet himself in the prison intake center.
When you read about soldiers brutalizing a kid with a broken arm, it gets a little difficult to give them much respect.
I was busy working today when Bush said this to Rummy...
"You are courageously leading our nation in the war against terror," Mr. Bush said after meeting at the Pentagon with Mr. Rumsfeld, who stood by his side during the president's remarks. "You're doing a superb job. You are a strong secretary of defense and our nation owes you a debt of gratitude."
Arab commentators reacted with shock and disbelief on Monday over President Bush's robust backing of Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld against calls for his resignation.
Critics had called for him to quit after the furor over the abuse of Iraqi prisoners but analysts, editors and ordinary Arabs were united in their condemnation of Bush who said the United States owed Rumsfeld a "debt of gratitude."
"After the torture and vile acts by the American army, President Bush goes out and congratulates Rumsfeld. It's just incredible. I am in total shock," said Omar Belhouchet, editor of the influential Algerian national daily El Watan.
"Bush's praise for Rumsfeld will discredit the United States...and further damage its reputation, which is already at a historic low in the Arab world," he added.
Analysts have said the damage from images seen worldwide of U.S. soldiers abusing naked Iraqi prisoners in Abu Ghraib prison would be indelible, incalculable and a gift to al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden.
What people saw, they said, was the true image of the occupation: humiliation of an occupied people, contempt for Islam, sadism and racism.
"After Mr. Bush's decision to keep Rumsfeld, all their apologies seem like lip service," Dubai-based political analyst Jawad al-Anani told Reuters. "Mr. Rumsfeld would have certainly lost his job if the prisoners were American."
Don't these people think anything through? posted by Don at 8:41 PM
When reports this week named Spc. Joseph Darby as the soldier who sounded the alarm on abuse of Iraqi detainees at Abu Ghraib Prison in Baghdad, his family was proud and anxious.
"The news has been using the word 'whistleblower,' which to me sounds like a bad thing," said Maxine Carroll, Darby's sister-in-law and the family's spokeswoman. "I'm sure he wrestled with himself and decided to take the high road.
Interesting poll numbers. How a guy can have more than half the country disapproving of his job and still be leading in the poll is an interesting bit of sleight of hand.
President Bush's approval rating dropped to the lowest of his presidency in a poll taken after a week of revelations about abuse of Iraqi prisoners and questions about whether Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld should keep his job.
Forty-six percent of Americans approve of Bush's job performance in the USA TODAY/CNN/Gallup Poll released Monday. That's 3 percentage points lower than his 49% in late January, early March and last week. A majority said they disapproved of his handling of Iraq and the economy.
The Bush decline did not produce new support for Massachusetts Sen. John Kerry, the expected Democratic presidential nominee. In a hypothetical matchup among likely voters, Kerry fell 2 points since last week — from 49% to 47% — and remained in a dead heat with Bush, who was steady at 48%.
In the 16 states that were close in 2000, the new poll shows Bush with a 5-point edge over Kerry, 51%-46%, among likely voters. In mid-April, Bush and Kerry were tied at 49%. The states are Arkansas, Florida, Iowa, Maine, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Mexico, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Washington and Wisconsin.
Note the bolding of 'among likely voters.' Atrios points out that CNN's Bill Schneider said that Kerry is up 6 among registered voters, so this poll is more media window dressing for the Potemkin presidency.
If you read on in the USAToday article, you find this.
Kerry pollster Mark Mellman said the new poll shows Kerry gaining ground among registered voters, a bigger group than likely voters.
Kerry went from 47% to 50% in a week; Bush went from 47% to 44%. Mellman said that suggests Kerry's ad campaign and events in Iraq are taking a toll on Bush. He also said the only president "this far behind" at this point in an election year was Gerald Ford, and he lost.
Up to 90 percent of Iraqi detainees were arrested "by mistake," according to coalition intelligence officers cited in a Red Cross report disclosed Monday. It also said U.S. officers mistreated inmates at the notorious Abu Ghraib prison by keeping them naked in totally dark, empty cells.
Abuse of Iraqi prisoners by American soldiers was widespread and routine, the report finds — contrary to President Bush's contention that the mistreatment "was the wrongdoing of a few."
While many detainees were quickly released, high-ranking officials in Saddam Hussein's government — including those listed on the U.S. military's deck of cards — were held for months in solitary confinement.
Red Cross delegates saw U.S. military intelligence officers mistreating prisoners under interrogation at Abu Ghraib and collected allegations of abuse at more than 10 other detention facilities, including the military intelligence section at Camp Cropper at Baghdad International Airport and the Tikrit holding area, according to the report.
The 24-page document cites abuses — some "tantamount to torture" — including brutality, hooding, humiliation and threats of "imminent execution."
"These methods of physical and psychological coercion were used by the military intelligence in a systematic way to gain confessions and extract information and other forms of cooperation from persons who had been arrested in connection with suspected security offenses or deemed to have an 'intelligence value.'"
Around the halls of the Pentagon, a term of caustic derision has emerged for the enlisted soldiers at the heart of the furor over the Abu Ghraib prison scandal: the six morons who lost the war.
Indeed, the damage done to the U.S. military and the nation as a whole by the horrifying photographs of U.S. soldiers abusing Iraqi detainees at the notorious prison is incalculable.
But the folks in the Pentagon are talking about the wrong morons.
There is no excuse for the behavior displayed by soldiers in the now-infamous pictures and an even more damning report by Army Maj. Gen. Antonio Taguba. Every soldier involved should be ashamed.
But while responsibility begins with the six soldiers facing criminal charges, it extends all the way up the chain of command to the highest reaches of the military hierarchy and its civilian leadership.
The entire affair is a failure of leadership from start to finish. From the moment they are captured, prisoners are hooded, shackled and isolated. The message to the troops: Anything goes.
They put out the fire in Falluja, and what happens? Up pops another one in Baghdad.
Gunmen and commanders loyal to radical Shiite Muslim cleric Moqtada Sadr took over the giant Sadr City slum in Baghdad on Sunday, seizing control of police forces, municipal administration and schools and blocking freedom of movement in an area just five miles east of U.S. administration headquarters.
Teenagers wielding rocket-propelled grenade launchers commanded entrances to the slum, home to about a third of Baghdad's 5 million residents. The youths waved commands to visitors with one hand and slung rifles around with the other.
With the quick takeover, which was completed at dawn, Sadr City joined two southern towns, Najaf and Kufa, as bastions of Sadr's militia support.
The immediate trigger for the uprising in Sadr City was a U.S. raid Saturday night on a former office of Sadr's organization and the detention of two of Sadr's lieutenants, Amr Husseini and Amjad Saedi . U.S. officials said the men were responsible for Sadr's finances and operations in eastern Baghdad.
This country is already reeling from the first round of photos. They better be sitting down when they see these.
One of the new photographs shows a young soldier, wearing a dark jacket over his uniform and smiling into the camera, in the corridor of the jail. In the background are two Army dog handlers, in full camouflage combat gear, restraining two German shepherds. The dogs are barking at a man who is partly obscured from the camera’s view by the smiling soldier. Another image shows that the man, an Iraqi prisoner, is naked. His hands are clasped behind his neck and he is leaning against the door to a cell, contorted with terror, as the dogs bark a few feet away. Other photographs show the dogs straining at their leashes and snarling at the prisoner. In another, taken a few minutes later, the Iraqi is lying on the ground, writhing in pain, with a soldier sitting on top of him, knee pressed to his back. Blood is streaming from the inmate’s leg. Another photograph is a closeup of the naked prisoner, from his waist to his ankles, lying on the floor. On his right thigh is what appears to be a bite or a deep scratch. There is another, larger wound on his left leg, covered in blood.
There is at least one other report of violence involving American soldiers, an Army dog, and Iraqi citizens, but it was not in Abu Ghraib. Cliff Kindy, a member of the Christian Peacemaker Teams, a church-supported group that has been monitoring the situation in Iraq, told me that last November G.I.s unleashed a military dog on a group of civilians during a sweep in Ramadi, about thirty miles west of Fallujah. At first, Kindy told me, “the soldiers went house to house, and arrested thirty people.” (One of them was Saad al-Khashab, an attorney with the Organization for Human Rights in Iraq, who told Kindy about the incident.) While the thirty detainees were being handcuffed and laid on the ground, a firefight broke out nearby; when it ended, the Iraqis were shoved into a house. Khashab told Kindy that the American soldiers then “turned the dog loose inside the house, and several people were bitten.” (The Defense Department said that it was unable to comment about the incident before The New Yorker went to press.)
When I asked retired Major General Charles Hines, who was commandant of the Army’s military-police school during a twenty-eight-year career in military law enforcement, about these reports, he reacted with dismay. “Turning a dog loose in a room of people? Loosing dogs on prisoners of war? I’ve never heard of it, and it would never have been tolerated,” Hines said. He added that trained police dogs have long been a presence in Army prisons, where they are used for sniffing out narcotics and other contraband among the prisoners, and, occasionally, for riot control. But, he said, “I would never have authorized it for interrogating or coercing prisoners. If I had, I’d have been put in jail or kicked out of the Army.”
Heads goddam well better roll for this. We are a better country than this - or at least we were before Bush got his hands on the wheel.
Bush seems to be pissing off what was once the core of his party - that is, before the globalist elites and religious fundamentalists took it over.
After three years of sweeping actions in both foreign and domestic affairs, the Bush administration is facing complaints from the conservative intelligentsia that it has lost its ability to produce fresh policies.
Conservatives have become unusually restive. Last Tuesday, columnist George F. Will sharply criticized the administration's Iraq policy, writing: "This administration cannot be trusted to govern if it cannot be counted on to think and, having thought, to have second thoughts." Two days earlier, Robert Kagan, a neoconservative supporter of the Iraq war, wrote: "All but the most blindly devoted Bush supporters can see that Bush administration officials have no clue about what to do in Iraq tomorrow, much less a month from now."
"It's the exhaustion of power," said a veteran of conservative think tanks who spoke on condition of anonymity. "Ideology has confronted reality, and ideology has bent. On the domestic side, it has bent in terms of the expansion of the government embodied in the Medicare prescription-drug law. On the foreign policy side, it has bent because of what has transpired in the last few weeks in Fallujah."
Richard W. Rahn, a prominent Republican economist, excoriated the administration's telecommunications, antitrust and international economic policies in a Washington Times column April 30 along similar lines. "From the beginning of the Bush administration, sympathetic, experienced economists have warned its officials about the need to avoid some obvious mistakes," he wrote. "Unfortunately, these warnings have gone unheeded."
I remember in the 2000 presidential debates the Republican candidate being asked what he hoped to accomplish as president and he said his greatest ambition was to lead. He wanted to lead. Didn't seem to care much where. Whether into Utopia or over a cliff, as long as it was him there at the head of the column.
As good an explanation as any of how we got from Point A, with hundreds of our own good people dying in airplanes piloted by fanatics, to point Z, with hundreds more of our young people dying in the arid wastes of Iraq at the hands of a whole 'nother collection of fanatics.
Welcome to George W. Bush's version of America -- Bush Democracy. Apparently, he's had his fanatical neo-con programmers working overtime to iron out all those bothersome bugs and kinks that have been holding the United States back for the last 228 years -- exasperating glitches like openness, integrity, accountability, responsibility and the value of an informed public.
I have to admit, this new edition has been a little hard for me to get used to; it's a lot different than the America that I grew up studying -- and revering.
You might be having a similar problem, so, as a public service, I've decided to provide this helpful primer. Think of it as Bush Democracy for Dummies.
In Bush Democracy, the messy concept of the public's right to know has been replaced by the far more user-friendly "don't worry, we know what's right for you." Why clutter up the citizenry's hard-drive with all sorts of unimportant facts and information?
Which is why, just to be on the safe side, Bush Democracy comes with a helpful, one-step fact-check-and-delete program. No need to bother with taping or even transcribing important meetings like the president's three-hour appearance in front of the 9/11 Commission last week -- Bush Democracy decides what's pertinent and discards the rest into the unrecoverable recycle bin of history.
That's why the White House helpfully confiscated the notebooks of the 9/11 Commissioners as they were leaving the Oval Office. Hard copies are so 20th century.
There are articles like this one turning up everywhere. I'll list a few here while I wait for my mp3 to generate.
The question tears at all of us, regardless of party or ideology: How could American men and women treat Iraqi prisoners with such cruelty — and laugh at their humiliation? We are told that there was a failure of military leadership. Officers in the field were lax. Pentagon officials didn't care. So the worst in human nature was allowed to flourish.
But something much more profound underlies this terrible episode. It is a culture of low regard for the law, of respecting the law only when it is convenient.
Again and again, over these last years, President Bush has made clear his view that law must bend to what he regards as necessity. National security as he defines it trumps our commitments to international law. The Constitution must yield to novel infringements on American freedom.
One clear example is the treatment of the prisoners at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba. The Third Geneva Convention requires that any dispute about a prisoner's status be decided by a "competent tribunal." American forces provided many such tribunals for prisoners taken in the Persian Gulf war in 1991. But Mr. Bush has refused to comply with the Geneva Convention. He decided that all the Guantánamo prisoners were "unlawful combatants" — that is, not regular soldiers but spies, terrorists or the like.
The Pentagon will give Congress unreleased photos showing Iraqi prisoners being abused by U.S. soldiers, the chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee said Sunday.
Sen. John Warner, R-Va., said lawmakers will be allowed to view the photos in private.
"When it may get into the public domain, I'm not able to answer that question," Warner told NBC's "Meet the Press."
Sen. Lindsey Graham, also a member of the committee that heard Rumsfeld's testimony on Friday, said the Bush administration needs to make public the additional photos as soon as possible. "If there's more to come, let's get it out," said Graham, R-S.C.
"For God's sake, let's talk about it because (U.S. military) men and women's lives are at stake given how we handle this," he said.
With troop commitments growing, the cost of the war in Iraq could top $150 billion through the next fiscal year — as much as three times what the White House had originally estimated. And, according to congressional researchers and outside budget experts, the war and continuing occupation could total $300 billion over the next decade, making this one of the costliest military campaigns in modern times.
As a measure of the Bush administration’s priorities in the war on terrorism, it has spent about $3 in Iraq for every $1 committed to homeland security, experts say.
That divide may be growing.
The Pentagon says its monthly costs for Operation Iraqi Freedom shot up from $2.7 billion in November to nearly $7 billion in January, the last month for which it has provided figures. Since then, the number of troops has jumped by 20,000 to 135,000, and the bloody insurgency has grown.
Notice that last number? 7 billion dollars in January. Then they stopped providing numbers. Somebody better start demanding an account of where the fuck all this money is going - since the 'reconstruction' has been all but abandoned as the military fights to regain parts of Iraq they were supposed to have already 'won.'
Thank the genius-boys of the PNAC for being as wrong as a group of empire-building wannabes could possibly be.
Y'all know how I dislikehateabhor loathe the New Jersey Nets. Being a Knicks fan, I'll cop to being extremely bothered by their success in the East for the past couple of years. I find them to a man to be arrogant to an insane degree, considering that they've been the best team in a weak conference and they hold it up as proof that they're a great team.
They're not. The only reason they have success in the East is that they're the only team in the East that plays like a West team. They run, nobody else does.
Well, I can't tell you how much I'm enjoying the Nets getting repeatedly hammered by the Detroit Pistons. The Pistons are revealing the Nets as the one-trick pony they've always been. And judging by this article in Newsday, the Nets at this point are so arrogant that they can't even see that they're up against a team that's flat-out better than they are.
The Nets maintain their confidence is unshaken, though they have been badly outplayed in six of the eight quarters, and though they have monumental problems scoring whenever the Pistons intensify their defense.
"The reality is we're not playing well and they're playing great," Richard Jefferson said at the Nets' workout yesterday, some 17 hours after the Pistons completed their 95-80 victory in Game 2.
Kenyon Martin pointed the finger at the Nets, too. "I hate losing," he said, "and for us to play the way we did in the first half [the Nets led 46-34] and not put it together in the second half was frustrating."
Jefferson spoke of unforced errors by the Nets and explained away the Pistons' second half onslaught - they outscored the Nets 61-34 - saying "They made a run, and we didn't respond."
Why the Nets failed to respond was left unexplained, though the Pistons' defense appeared to be no small factor. Some things could not be left unsaid: the Nets' predicament.
They are down two victories to none in an Eastern Conference series for the first time in three years. Beginning tonight at Continental Airlines Arena, the Nets must win four of five games against a team that has won six of seven playoff games this season, each of the six by at least 10 points.
The Nets prefer to characterize the task ahead as something less than daunting.
"All we have to do is what they did," coach Lawrence Frank said. "We have to protect home court. We can do that. We're a special group and we'll show our uniqueness."
Yeah, go ahead, Richard and Kenyon. You and your coach and your point guard just keep talking like Detroit has nothing to do with having handed you your asses in the last two games.
Keep on thinking like that, and I'll look forward to watching the Pistons send you home. After listening to y'all yammering about what a great team you are for three years, it'll be sweet to watch you have to admit that there's somebody better in the East.
The Bush administration's hopes for a major NATO military presence in Iraq this year appear doomed, interviews with allied defense officials and diplomats show.
The Western military alliance had expected to announce at a June summit that it would accept a role in the country, perhaps by leading the international division now patrolling south-central Iraq. But amid continuing bloodshed and strong public opposition to the occupation in many nations, allies want to delay any major commitment until after the U.S. presidential election in November, officials say.
The clear shift in NATO's stance deals another blow to U.S. efforts to spread the military burden as it grapples with a deadly insurgency in Iraq, fury in the region over its endorsement of Israeli plans for Palestinian territories and the unfolding abuse scandal at the American-run Abu Ghraib prison. snip
One U.S. hope had rested with NATO. Within the alliance, there seemed to be "a sense of inevitability about the mission" as recently as a few weeks ago, said one NATO official. "But it's just not there anymore…. Any enthusiasm there was has drained away."
Compounding the allies' wariness is the fact that some countries with troops already in Iraq are unhappy with the U.S. war strategy. Some British leaders and officials of other countries in the occupying coalition have felt that the Americans have been too quick to resort to overwhelming force against insurgents, according to NATO and European defense officials. Some countries also have complained that the U.S. military has been slow to consult with coalition partners on planned moves, including some that have put coalition troops under fire, the officials said.
Thanks, George, you idiot. Thanks for stranding hundreds of thousands of American kids in a country where they are hated. Good work, punk.
I went over to Atrios this morning and noticed that he's using a nifty new comments service from Comment This! Seeing as how my old comments setup was pretty much universally hated, I figgered I'd switch over, too.
Let me know how they work for you.
Update: Well, that seems to have worked like a friggin' champ. No comments at all now. Lemme go see what I did wrong.....
Okay, I killed the emoticons, simply because emoticons deserve to die. You can put links into these comments - only you have to use brackets instead of the typical HTML '<' and '>'. If you post at Bartcop or DU, you've got this knocked already. posted by Don at 12:57 PM
Six months from the November elections, Iraq weighs heavily on the president.
April was the deadliest month yet for American soldiers in Iraq and May is off to a bloody start.
On the diplomatic front, the administration does not know who will take power in Iraq from the United States in a June 30 handover.
Costs are soaring. The administration has sent Congress an unexpected $25 billion request for Iraq and Afghanistan.
Day after day, the extraordinary apologies from the president and his top deputies dominated the news.
Pollsters and presidential experts are scratching their heads over how the prisoner scandal will affect Bush's re-election hopes.
"There's such a big question mark there, it's unlike anything we've seen before," said Andrew Kohut, director of the Pew Research Center.
"The public is very critical of (Bush's) management of Iraq. They don't think he has a clear plan for bringing it to a successful conclusion, but a thin majority of the public has been hanging in with that it was the right decision to go to war," Kohut said. "This could be the event which makes people say 'Oh, we did make a mistake.'"
That slapping sound you hear is the collective US hand slapping the collective US forehead. posted by Don at 2:01 AM
Welp, I went a did the benefit today for the American Heart Association - in the name of a friend of the band who died last month of a heart attack at the age of 32. Sad story, but it was a pretty good turnout for a good cause. My non-hangover turned into a semi-hangover by the time I was done playing - which I remedied with a trip to the buffet line and a huge plate full of food. With the exception of one beer, I drank club soda all day long.
I'm waiting for Mike to call, at which point we'll record this week's TBTM Radio. Looks as though Rummy's tap dance and the still-growing scandal over treatment of detainees in Iraq will take up the lion's share of the show again this week.
I don't mind talking about it, but it's hard to be funny when discussing such a serious subject. I guess good old fashioned outrage will have to be a substitute. posted by Don at 12:07 AM
They've said that about everyone else who has criticized Bush's War. Let's see if they say it about our own military brass.
Army Maj. Gen. Charles H. Swannack Jr., the commander of the 82nd Airborne Division, who spent much of the year in western Iraq, said he believes that at the tactical level at which fighting occurs, the U.S. military is still winning. But when asked whether he believes the United States is losing, he said, "I think strategically, we are."
Army Col. Paul Hughes, who last year was the first director of strategic planning for the U.S. occupation authority in Baghdad, said he agrees with that view and noted that a pattern of winning battles while losing a war characterized the U.S. failure in Vietnam. "Unless we ensure that we have coherency in our policy, we will lose strategically," he said in an interview Friday.
"I lost my brother in Vietnam," added Hughes, a veteran Army strategist who is involved in formulating Iraq policy. "I promised myself, when I came on active duty, that I would do everything in my power to prevent that [sort of strategic loss] from happening again. Here I am, 30 years later, thinking we will win every fight and lose the war, because we don't understand the war we're in."
The emergence of sharp differences over U.S. strategy has set off a debate, a year after the United States ostensibly won a war in Iraq, about how to preserve that victory. The core question is how to end a festering insurrection that has stymied some reconstruction efforts, made many Iraqis feel less safe and created uncertainty about who actually will run the country after the scheduled turnover of sovereignty June 30.
Some officers say the place to begin restructuring U.S. policy is by ousting Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld, whom they see as responsible for a series of strategic and tactical blunders over the past year. Several of those interviewed said a profound anger is building within the Army at Rumsfeld and those around him.
A senior general at the Pentagon said he believes the United States is already on the road to defeat. "It is doubtful we can go on much longer like this," he said. "The American people may not stand for it -- and they should not."
I give Rummy two weeks, tops. that'll be long enough for Bush to be stubborn and rigid like always, and then he'll see he's swimming against the tide and he'll cut Rummy loose. posted by Don at 11:19 PM
But power will not restrain itself. Those entrusted with it have to be watched. That is not meant as a political statement or a character assessment. It's just a basic law of nature.
The powerful have to be watched, and we are the watchers. And you don't need to have your notebook snatched by a policeman to know that keeping an eye on government activities has lately gotten a lot harder.
In fact, the government itself has actually told us so.
After the 9/11 terrorist attacks, the attorney general of the United States informed federal departments he was reversing the spirit of the Freedom of Information Act.
The essence of the FOI Act is that government information is open and accessible to the public unless there is a very good reason to keep it secret. But under the attorney general's directive, department heads were told they should treat government information as secret unless presented with a very good reason to make it accessible.
The agencies eagerly complied. Up went the barriers. Down came the official Internet sites and document databases. Gone were expedited FOI procedures for reporter requests to many agencies.
By last summer, a government study determined that nearly a third of the federal officials whose duty is to comply with FOI requests reported they had succeeded in reducing the flow of information to the public.
The states appear to have fallen in step with the new spirit of secrecy. In a survey taken last month of AP chiefs of bureau around the country, more than half told us that state and local governments are making it much harder for us to do our jobs.
Why are journalists of every stripe not screaming from the rooftops about this?
(Thanks to praktike from Atrios' comments for the link.)
Bush's blood lust, his repeated commitment to Christian beliefs, and his constant references to "evil doers," in the eyes of many devout Catholic leaders, bear all the hallmarks of the one warned about in the Book of Revelations - the anti-Christ. People close to the Pope claim that amid these concerns, the Pontiff wishes he was younger and in better health to confront the possibility that Bush may represent the person prophesized in Revelations. John Paul II has always believed the world was on the precipice of the final confrontation between Good and Evil as foretold in the New Testament. Before he became Pope, Karol Cardinal Wojtyla said, "We are now standing in the face of the greatest historical confrontation humanity has gone through. I do not think that wide circles of the American society or wide circles of the Christian community realize this fully. We are now facing the final confrontation between the Church and the anti-Church, of the Gospel versus the anti-Gospel." The Pope, who grew up facing the evils of Hitler and Stalin, knows evil when he sees it. Although we can all endlessly argue over the Pope's effectiveness in curtailing abuses within his Church, his accomplishments external to Catholicism are impressive.
According to journalists close to the Vatican, the Pope and his closest advisers are also concerned that the ultimate acts of evil - the September 11 terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon - were known in advance by senior Bush administration officials. By permitting the attacks to take their course, there is a perception within the Roman Catholic Church hierarchy that a coup d'etat was implemented, one that gave Bush and his leadership near-dictatorial powers to carry out their agenda.
Note: I don't necessarily agree with this. I was just pretty stunned when it turned up in my inbox. posted by Don at 12:27 PM
My band played a local joint last night. We sounded good and I must have played well, because everybody wanted to buy me a shot. I, like a stupid jerk, took them up on it.
And I got drunk. Like carried-out-of-the-bar drunk. Falling-over-in-my-seat drunk. Unable-to-carry-my-own-equipment drunk.
I cannot remember the last time I got that drunk. K says I never even got that smashed in our legendary trips to Drunk Heaven, New Orleans.
Surprisingly, I feel pretty good this morning. Thank goodness K was there to help drag my ass out of the bar. Coulda gotten ugly.
Coulda been worse, though. I could have ended up behaving like this:
Prosecutors have said Skilling violated his bond by being intoxicated, trying to lift a woman's blouse in search of an FBI wiretap and attempting to steal a car's license plate outside an Manhattan cigar bar.
And I have to do a benefit show this afternoon. Rest assured, no drinks for D today. posted by Don at 11:43 AM