Friday, September 24, 2004

There's a bit of Abu Ghraib in All of Them

In case anyone thought the Abu Ghraib torture/abuse was the work of a "few bad apples," take a look at this article.

The truth can only be swept under the rug for so long...
Iraq: Not at All Like Vietnam

Especially when it comes to the number of US soldiers killed in the first 18 months of combat

For more information on the graphic, click here.

Both links courtesy of The Poor Man.
Welcome to Kidnapping Country

Six more hostages have been taken in Iraq, although I don't expect the US press to focus too much on the victims, given that they're neither British nor American. However, for folks who's concern for humanity extends to those beyond the borders of the US or our western allies, here's some rather unpleasant news about the hostage taking and kidnapping phenomenon in Mesopotamia:

So why is it that the snuff movies, which are being deliberately distributed by the killers, are being snapped up in their thousands on DVDs across Iraq? A year ago Iraqis liked nothing better than buying illicit pornography or video footage of Saddam Hussein’s henchmen torturing and killing their victims. It was assumed that this lurid fascination would wear off now that, after 40 years of state television, Iraqis have access to 24-hour satellite television. But no, something more disturbing is at work here.


Richard Beeston, the author of the above paragraph, goes on to provide a glimpse of the reality for any westerner in Iraq who isn't wearing a military uniform (or employed as a private guard). It's not very hopeful.
Just Another Day at the RNC

Via Cursor and Derelection 2004, here's an example of business as usual for the RNC:

The Republican Party acknowledged yesterday sending mass mailings to residents of two states warning that "liberals" seek to ban the Bible. It said the mailings were part of its effort to mobilize religious voters for President Bush.

The mailings include images of the Bible labeled "banned" and of a gay marriage proposal labeled "allowed." A mailing to Arkansas residents warns: "This will be Arkansas if you don't vote." A similar mailing was sent to West Virginians.

This is the kind of ridiculousness that is typical of the GOP--see this Timshel post and link to the transcript--and the Democrats should do more than just complain. This sort of tripe could easily be countered--for instance, I think this editorial cartoon nicely counters a particularly ugly attempt by BushCheney to ridicule Kerry. Likewise, the scare tactics embodied in the concept that somehow Democrats would ban the Bible could be contrasted with advertising featuring progressive religious figures, of which there are A LOT.

It's time to point out that the GOP no more has a lock on religion than they do on patriotism--in fact, their actions show neither a love of country nor a particularly religious point of view.

While You're At It...

William S. Lind suggests that the Iraq debacle also has the wonderful ancillary effect of gutting the National Guard:

One of the likely effects of the disastrous war in Iraq will be the destruction of an old American institution, the National Guard. Desperate for troops as the situation in Iraq deteriorates, Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld is using the National Guard in a mission for which it was never intended: carrying on a "war of choice" halfway around the world. Most Guardsmen enlisted expecting to help their neighbors in natural disasters, or perhaps maintain order locally in the event of rioting. They never signed up for Vietnam II.

Yes, the Guard was mobilized and deployed overseas in both World Wars, but those were true national wars, in which the American people were all involved one way or another. Cabinet wars, as they used to be called, are something altogether different. As Frederick the Great said, cabinet wars must be waged in such a manner that the people do not know they are going on.

But National Guardsmen are the people. To send them into a cabinet war is to misuse them in a way that will destroy them. Even in the American Revolution, militiamen were seldom asked to fight outside their own state. When they were, they usually responded by deserting...

For many Guardsmen, deployment to Iraq means economic ruin. They have mortgage payments, car payments, credit card debt, all calculated on their civilian salaries. Suddenly, for a year or more, their pay drops to that of a private. The families they leave behind face the loss of everything they have. What militia wouldn't desert in that situation?

The real scope of the damage of Mr. Rumsfeld's decision to send the Guard to Iraq--40% of the American troops in Iraq are now reservists or Guardsmen--will probably not be revealed until units return. One of the few already back saw 70% of its members leave the Guard immediately...

The fact of the matter is that Versailles on the Potomac does not care about the rest of the country in any respect, so long as the tax dollars keep coming in. My old friend King Louis XVI might be able to tell Rumsfeld & Co. where that road eventually ends up.

The few Guardsmen I've known have been good people--however, their motive for enlisting wasn't to fight what Lind aptly calls "cabinet wars." These were folks who needed money for college, or wanted guaranteed training, or who even felt patriotic and wanted to serve their country. Deployment overseas to fight in an unnecessary war brought upon us by a vainglorious underachiever is hardly the appropriate role for them.

Thoroughly Researched

Hullabaloo has a nice collection of links that clearly demonstrate how off-base the warmongers are.

As for me, I'm still waiting for someone to offer evidence--real, genuine evidence--that Saddam Hussein was in any way a threat to the United States. Consider: The US Air Force operated with impunity in both northern and southern Iraqi airspace (which were "no-fly zones" for the Iraqis--not that they had much of an air force anyway, just a few MIG jets that were buried in the sand--it would have taken a week or so just to dig them out, much less get them in flying condition). Abu Masab Zarqawi, the terrorist mastermind now blamed for everything bad in Iraq short of high temperatures and dust storms, could've been taken out in 2002, except that Bush, for political reasons, decided to let him hang around in the Kurdish controlled autonomous provinces in northern Iraq (which means that Bush is indirectly complicit in Zarqawi's ugly acts of sadism against civilians, as well as his attacks against US and Iraqi forces). There's the whole issue of Kurdistan itself--nominally Iraqi territory, it was de facto independent from Baghdad, begging the question: if Saddam WAS going to attack something, the logical place would be the part of his country that wasn't under his control. Yet Bush persisted in the fiction that Hussein had his sights set on the west.

Airplane and satellite overflights of Iraqi territory could easily have picked out the following: troop movements, chemical and biological weapons facilities, missile silos--anything that could indicate hostile and/or aggressive intents. Where's the data? Considering the Bush tendency to publicize anything that would further the case for invasion (including classified material), why haven't they produced any surviellence information?

Finally, what's the plan? Bush can mutter, stammer, spit out, or even overenunciate terms like "freedom," "terrorists," "reconstruction," and so on, but without a definite plan--and contingencies in the even of, well, failure, he might as well be pissing in the wind. Platitudes won't do a damn thing. You can't wish the Iraqi mess away.

And this mess can be squarely laid at the feet of the Bush team. It's their damn war--they were warned as to the consequences, and they ignored everyone, including the more sober assessments of their own political cohorts.

I say send 'em there. Bush foolishly announced "bring 'em on." They're there--so why not have Bush et al get the hell over there as well.
Rumsfeld: Florida 2000 Election Model for Iraq

Donald Rumsfeld suggests that some Iraqis might not get to vote in the January election:

Nothing's perfect in life, so you have an election that's not quite perfect. Is it better than not having an election? You bet," he said.

They should know.

I wonder if Katherine Harris and ChoicePoint will be summoned from their respective dungeon laboratories to assist in determining the eligibility of the electorate and/or vote totals...and, consider the following: if we can't keep car bombs from being detonated in Baghdad on almost a daily basis (check out Today in Iraq and Juan Cole for regular updates), then how on earth do we expect to secure what would have to be thousands of precincts, many in outlying areas?

Oh, by the way: the Coalition of the Willing lost another country: New Zealand. They're pulling out the 61 soldiers they had stationed near Basra. No word on whether or not the GOP attack machine will try to paint them as yellow (off topic, but: speaking of yellow, Needlenose linked to an article that suggests young Dubya was just that--he developed a crippling fear of flying--and that's why he gave up his wings in 1972).

On the subject of attack--well, TalkingPointsMemo has the best take on Cheney dissing John Kerry because the latter dared question Iyad Allawi--"democracy in America is harmful to building democracy in Iraq." (and it looks like Marshall posted about the Florida analogy before I could finish this...damn).

And on the subject of criticizing, dissing, or otherwise listening to the Iraqi Prime Minister--last night, just before I turned in, I watched the C-Span replay of the Bush/Allawi joint statement (no pun intended)/Q and A at the White House. I'm inclined to agree with Kevin Drum when he suggests that Bush is the ultimate bubble-boy. No one wants to deliver the harsh facts of reality. Several times in the course of the Potemkin display, Bush showed his fealty to faith-based policy, noting that he "spoke to this man," (gesturing towards Allawi), who assured him that things were fine. So fine, in fact, that his Baghdad residence is surrounded by twenty foot high walls.

When the shit finally hits the fan in regards to Iraq, it's gonna make an elephant sized mess.

Thursday, September 23, 2004

Denying Reality

Michael Parenti has a book called Inventing Reality, The Politics of News Media. It's a little old, but not entirely out of date.

It's in light of remembering some of that volume that I came across the transcript of the Bush/Allawi Q and A with the press. Bush doesn't so much invent reality as he denies it. To the dauphin, Iraq not the mess that anyone with three or four functioning brain cells could see, but instead, a country that's just a scouche away from opening a Wal-Mart Super Center. Hmmm.

I think it's times like this that make folks wonder if young George has fallen off the wagon.
Compare and Contrast

Scaramouche and Bad Attitudes both link to this post from Juan Cole, and it's worth looking at. Cole asks how we'd feel if we were subjected to the same level of violence seen daily in Iraq.

Under those circumstances, does anyone honestly believe the Iraqi elections scheduled for January are anything but a farce? Foreign nationals are literally targets for sadistic torture and execution, while the authorities ostensibly responsible for security are reduced to basically offering anticipated condolences. Bombings are everyday events.

Documented attacks on pipelines--which affect Iraq's balance of payments as well as electricity generation--number in the hundreds--and no one has any plan that could possibly defend such a vulnerable target. Yet George W. Bush acts as if everything is going just fine--because we got rid of Saddam.

A first quarter touchdown by no means guarantees a win. Maybe someone should explain that to Bush.
More Items the Democrats Should Use in Advertising

In a post below, I wrote about concepts I'd like to see the Democrats use in their teleivision advertising. Murph, who writes Life Goes Off (check out a great post about our press corps there), alerted me to at least one ad the Dems ARE running that's pretty similar to one I suggested. Good, but for whatever reason, no one is talking about it--at least not like the incessant blather the SCLM devotes to the Lying Swift Boat Veterans.

With the election about six weeks away, WHY aren't the Democrats working with this appalling example of the kind of stuff George W. Bush finds funny--namely, the entire WND snipe hunt? He's willing to see more than a thousand soldiers DIE over what became a punchline at a black-tie dinner.

Think about this: since the war began, Bush has donned a flight-suit costume, barked "Mission Accomplished" and "bring 'em on," cracked JOKES about WMD--while soldiers in the field face mortar and RPG attacks, IED's, and now good old fashioned ambushes and/or close quarter combat. Finally, in a stunning display of arrogance, Bush wouldn't own up to a single mistake he's made, which evidently means he thinks "Mission Accomplished," "bring 'em on," and wars being fought over what become jokes at a formal dinner are just fine.

There's every reason to point this out to the public--and let the public judge for themselves.
Is This Gonna Be on the Test?

From Bad Attitudes, here's a CS Monitor quiz for the twelve voters in the US who are still undecided. I took the test myself, and I doubt anyone would be surprised by the "result," which was a good bit to the left of John Kerry. Feel free to give it a look.

Wednesday, September 22, 2004

Forget it for Now

I checked with Timshel, and he's not having posting issues, but Blogger is screwing with me big-time today. For the record: I did not deliberately double-post about Yusef Islam, aka Cat Sevens--and I couldn't even delete the extra one. Posts about Bush's UN speech and his "mocking" of John Kerry were lost in the ether. Yaser Hamdi, aka the Baton Rouge Taliban, seems to be another step closer to leaving the US--but you'll have to read about it elsewhere.

Kenneth Bigley, the British national siezed along with the two Americans who were executed over the past couple of days, was forced to plead for his life by the thugs holding him...and isn't it interesting that while Bush claims to be making America safer, the fact is that Americans--and westerners in general--are being killed in increasing numbers. If Bush was a doctor, he'd be talking about how his cure for cancer involved building more cemetaries.

But...Blogger is giving me the finger. So--I'm packing it in for the day and hoping for less trouble tomorrow. Later.
Anybody Remember Enron?

Amanda Colpean, a former Enron executive, is the first witness to testify in the first trial involving defendants employed by the company...

It'll be interesting to see how much play the press gives this.

Enron is to business what Bush is to politics--an example of total sleaze passed off as brilliant business--until the shit hits the fan. Then the top dogs scramble for their golden parachutes, a few lower level true believers are slapped around a bit as sop, and the common folks who invested in this pyramid scheme passed off as genuine free enterprise are still out untold millions of dollars collectively.

Then it's back to business as usual.

Speaking of "it'll be interesting," I wonder when Blogger will actually get around to posting this. It's been a slow day for me, but that's at least in part because something I added this morning still hasn't show up and it's almost 4:20pm.

Followed, but not by a Moonshadow

Daily Kos has the story and links regarding Yusef Islam's (aka Cat Stevens) short stay in Bangor, Maine.

Check out the link to The Independent if you want to read about the comedy of errors when the crew began to "explain" why they were in Bangor instead of the scheduled destination of Washington, DC. It was weather--no, wait, it was fuel--no, wait, um...well, the guy who wrote "Peace Train" is a security threat.

And yeah, I know about Yusef endorsing the fatwa against Salman Rushdie--in fact, years ago I got into a discussion about this with someone who told me I resembled Mr. Steven's (I was a LOT younger and had much longer hair back then).

The Independent's article alleges that Islam donated lots of money to Hamas, which is probably why he's on the list (he was denied entry into Israel a few years back amid these allegations). Islam maintains he "never knowingly gave money to any terrorist organization."

The whole thing sounds more punitive than effective in terms of Homeland Security. They've managed to prove that they can recognize and deny entry to someone who is relatively high-profile and therefore unlikely to be any sort of genuine threat. You know, I don't recall any of the nineteen hijackers of September 11th being former pop stars.
Followed, but not by a Moonshadow

Daily Kos has the story and links regarding Yusef Islam's (aka Cat Stevens) short stay in Bangor, Maine.

Check out the link to The Independent if you want to read about the comedy of errors when the crew began to "explain" why they were in Bangor instead of the scheduled destination of Washington, DC. It was weather--no, wait, it was fuel--no, wait, um...well, the guy who wrote "Peace Train" is a security threat.

And yeah, I know about Yusef endorsing the fatwa against Salman Rushdie--in fact, years ago I got into a discussion about this with someone who told me I resembled Mr. Steven's (I was a LOT younger and had much longer hair back then).

The Independent's article alleges that Islam donated lots of money to Hamas, which is probably why he's on the list (he was denied entry into Israel a few years back amid these allegations). Islam maintains he "never knowingly gave money to any terrorist organization."

The whole thing sounds more punitive than effective in terms of Homeland Security. They've managed to prove that they can recognize and deny entry to someone who is relatively high-profile and therefore unlikely to be any sort of genuine threat. You know, I don't recall any of the nineteen hijackers of September 11th being former pop stars.

Tuesday, September 21, 2004

Freedom of Speech Belong to Those

It's good to hear that charges were dropped against Sue Niederer, who was arrested for exercising her First Amendment Rights in the presence of Laura Bush. Niederer's son was killed in Iraq by a remote controlled roadside bomb last February. His job was to locate this type of ordnance, call for experts, and guide them to the location.

Niederer spoke to Elizabeth Weill Greenberg this past spring, and what she said is worth looking at:

When did your son join the military? Why did he join?

June 2002, right after he graduated college. He wanted to go into the FBI or CIA. He was informed by the recruiter that this would be a good way to get into the FBI or CIA. When you put it on the resume it jumps you up a little bit. His father refused to pay last 2 years in college. He was in debt. If you're looking for me to say patriotism, I'm not. They [the Army] offer you the world. They give you signing bonuses. Give you college, upfront money, health insurance ­ [recruiters are] great salesmen.

How long did he serve for before going to Iraq?

Nothing. He had just finished training at end of July. He went to Fort Drum on Monday. They told him on Tuesday, you're gone, you're out. He never had experience being in charge. He definitely did not have training in what ended up killing him.

In mid-October he started going out with his platoon on missions, on finding remote- controlled bombs. They are supposed to call for experts in explosives. By the time you call for an expert, you're deadThese guys are sitting ducks every single day. They didn't have proper vests, the helmets are questionable, they didn't have computers.


The next time you see an ad on your television or hear one on your radio about the opportunities available in the Armed Forces, remember that before you get any of those opportunities, the odds are you'll be fodder for an unbelievably cruel lottery in the Middle East--where you're one truck ride away from being horribly maimed or killed.
Democracy is "Just Around the Corner"

While Bush stammered through his speech at the UN today, promising the moral equivalent of "a chicken in every Iraqi pot, and a car in every Iraqi garage," militants in Iraq claim to have executied Jack Hensley, the other American hostage taken in a raid on a Mansur district house in Baghdad last week. There's no word on the fate of the British national kidnapped in the same raid.

And in case anyone thinks that the resistance is somehow an isolated, "Sunni Triangle" event, here's a report by the BBC about how badly things have deteriorated in the area around Basra. The majority Sh'ia population was initially open to the British troops, who sensibly took a cautious approach to their mission. However, as the violence in Iraq forces people to take sides, don't expect too many to opt for going it with the foreigners (duh--is there any sane person on the planet who would do that?).

Finally, just to show that the north of Iraq is as capable of fighting and resisting as the south, check out this piece by Canadian journalist Scott Taylor--link via Fubar at Needlenose. By mostly pure luck, Taylor survived detention by Ansar al-Islam forces, who usually don't care much for ransoming hostages...they prefer to kill them.

Let's see--there's fighting in the north, the south is simmering, and the center is, um, more or less Baghdad, Fallujah/Ramadi, i.e., the Sunni Triangle. Sounds to me like support for the occupation doesn't exist, but there appears to be support for the disparate elements of the resistance.

That's not good when you need a degree of security and stability--which is what you will need if you expect democracy to take hold. Democracy works at least in part because there is a level of civil society setting the foundation. This, combined with a consent from the governed is where compacts like constitutions derive their authority.

Iraq has nothing even remotely approaching this sort of consent--that's why Allawi has to live behind concrete barricades. That's also why the US can't begin spending the reconstruction funds. When kidnapping and hostage taking are a "growth industry," in the words of Patrick Cockburn, you're not likely to find folks willing to undertake projects that require extensive amounts of time spent outdoors--unless you're surrounded by an army of guards.

With this in mind, consider this piece, written just as the invasion began, by Chuck O'Connell. No, he didn't get it all correct--but look at his predicion number 5:

Iraq will not be rebuilt into an affluent middle class nation...the mass of people will be forgotten by the prowar crowd and the government that waged the war to save the Iraqi people from Hussein. Eventually the misery of the Iraqi people will be blamed on the Iraqis themselves.

Hmmm. (Via Atrios), Oliver Willis found Donald Rumsfeld saying basically just that:

"At some point the Iraqis will get tired of getting killed and we’ll have enough of the Iraqi security forces that they can take over responsibility for governing that country and we’ll be able to pare down the coalition security forces in the country."

No wonder Rummy seemed all smiles when he met Saddam:

Ads I'd Like to See

I watched--for a few seconds last night--a particularly shrill attack poodle of the right launch into a rote "they (i.e., Democrats) should watch what they say because it could affect the morale of the troops" bit of blather last night on The Charlie Rose Show (Rose's web page rarely has useful links, so I won't bother with it here. You can search for it if you want).

And it hit me: is there anything WORSE in terms of affecting the morale of the troops than the appalling spectacle of George W. Bush, who NEVER saw combat and for whom military service was something he did when he felt like it, saying "bring 'em on" when we first saw increased attacks on US soldiers in Iraq?

Only someone who has never seen combat could be so crass--and that alone should disqualify the candidate for high office. Inviting attacks on our soldiers--which the Iraqis have delivered--should rank as high on a list of stupid political statements as anything Neville Chamberlain ever said...

If I was someone with pull at the DNC, I'd have an ad produced more or less along the following lines:

Opening: Bush's high handed little smirk of a statement.

Cut to a shot of this news story, or others about "Stop Loss Orders," with additional cuts to still or motion pictures showing troops leaving families, in combat, dealing with the very harsh conditions in Iraq, and so on. Periodically, Bush's statement would be inserted as a voice over--i.e., "bring 'em on," "bring 'em on," "bring 'em on," etc.
Then cut to Dubya in the classroom on September 11th, when he showed all the courage of a banana slug, sitting quietly like he'd just wet his pants.

Fade to black, then close with text like: The last thing a responsible commander in chief should do is invite attack on his troops. Since George W. Bush uttered "bring 'em on," over eight hundred soldiers have died in Iraq--and thousands have been wounded. The war shows no sign of ending. What's the Bush plan? There is none. (perhaps have one final "bring 'em on" voiceover here).

Closing: (again, text on a black background, no voiceover): Support our Troops. Send Bush Home in 2004.

Another thing I've been wondering about is the Lt. Flight Suit footage, and why that hasn't been put into play by the Democrats. Again, this is footage that's almost BEGGING to be used against the Dauphin.

Opening: Cut between Bush doing his codpiece carrier strut--slapping hands, high fiving, giving his speech, and shots of soldiers engaged in fierce combat. Close with his "Mission Accomplished" smirk--then zoom towards the banner. Again, fade to black with white "Mission Accomplished" text--but add two or three question marks. Then maybe add "A President should KNOW when the mission is accomplished and when it is just beginning."

Another possibility is to use humor (and, like Timshel, I saw Kerry's Letterman appearance and thought "Dick Cheney can claim Dubya as a dependent" was the best line of the Top Ten List).

Opening: inside a diner, a customer is looking over a menu. Items like "Cheney's Waffles--full of hot air" and "The Neverending Iraq Breakfast ($200 Billion--to start) are listed. A Ken Lay lookalike is openly stealing from the cash register, The Halliburton coffee mug leaks badly, the Kellogg Brown & Root garbage cans are overflowing, and a Dubya lookalike is busy "taking" the customer's order--"You'll have the Neverending Iraqi Breakfast Special, with a side order of no-bid contracts, a ballooning budget deficit, and a net loss of jobs. Order up, Dick." (a Cheney lookalike is the short order cook).
Customer: "But that looks awfully expensive--and I lost my job a while back."
Dubya: "Ah, don't worry--we'll just charge your kids for it. They can either pay up--or go to Iraq. Sure beats washing dishes..."

Again, close with text along the lines of: "Imagine if George W. Bush and Dick Cheney owned the local diner."

Monday, September 20, 2004

Bush Losing Some Military Support

This Christian Science Monitor article reports on a small yet growing number of soldiers who are fed up with the Bush version of "liberation," and who plan on voting against him come November:

"[For] 9 out of 10 of the people I talk to, it wouldn't matter who ran against Bush - they'd vote for them," said a US soldier in the southern city of Najaf, seeking out a reporter to make his views known. "People are so fed up with Iraq, and fed up with Bush."...

"We shouldn't be here," said one Marine infantryman bluntly. "There was no reason for invading this country in the first place. We just came here and [angered people] and killed a lot of innocent people," said the marine, who has seen regular combat in Ramadi. "I don't enjoy killing women and children, it's not my thing."

The article notes that October 11th is the deadline for sending in ballots from overseas--and, on that note, I'll add a link to, a one stop shop for anyone outside the US who is eligible to vote in US elections. I forget where I first saw this (it was a blog), so forgive me for not linking there first.

Also, I'm sure a lot of folks have seen that Eugene Armstrong, a US citizen kidnapped in Iraq over the weekend, was apparently executed today by Islamic militants. This is what John Kerry has in mind when he says

Saddam Hussein was a brutal dictator who deserves his own special place in hell. But that was not, in itself, a reason to go to war. The satisfaction we take in his downfall does not hide this fact: we have traded a dictator for a chaos that has left America less secure.

Less secure both for those Americans who live and work overseas as well as those of us who live here. And let's not forget those who aren't American who've fallen victim.

Add Iraq to Dubya's Flip-Flops

Well, that might be stretching it a bit. Maybe the better analysis is that George W. Bush will say anything to get elected when he's not doing anything to get elected. To reference TalkingPointsMemo again today, Marshall is pretty much on the mark with his assertion that Bush has decided "a soldier or two a day is a reasonable price to pay to avoid admitting a mistake."

And to brag on myself, as an ex-girlfriend would say, I wrote something similar a couple of days ago (scroll down to the bottom).

This is in reference to the latest drivel to come from Robert Novak, which asserts that Bush will, um, cut and run from Iraq once his reelection is assured. Hmmm. Well, that WOULD be keeping with Bush's history of flip-flopping.

Hesiod has emerged from his retirement to post about this (and a lot of other things). He believes Kerry could hit Bush really hard on this, and I agree--the point being that, as long as the situation in Iraq festers, and as long as Bush refuses to, well, figuratively piss or get off the pot on this issue, then one can only assume that he cares more for his own political career than for the lives of American soldiers.

It's also astoundingly clear that Bush cares more about his political career than he does for the lives of ordinary Iraqis, but unfortunately, few people in this country seem to care either.

If Kerry would hit Bush on this, we could see Dubya's ridiculous position unravel more quickly than a third grade arts and crafts class pot-holder.

Kerry, to his credit, has decided to make Iraq an issue this fall, and has opened an aggressive attack. We'll see how it flies, I guess. Bush aides are attempting to play the spin game of saying "that's what we want," (scroll down about midway), but that's more of a reverse-briar patch approach--unless they've somehow convinced themselves that the US public cares as little about dead US soldiers as they do or that Iraq is anything BUT a gigantic mess--which brings us back to the possibility that Novak, for all his weirdness, might actually be right: perhaps Bush IS thinking of cutting and running...

Nah, I doubt it. Marshall and Hesiod seem to think that this is just smokescreen stuff, designed to appeal to those GOOPers who've cut through the crap and see Iraq as the boondoggle it is. And, if Bush loses these folks, well...lord only knows what he thinks about while branishing a chainsaw down in Crawford as he tears into whatever he's clearing. Given some stories I've heard about his childhood history, I really don't want to know.
By the Smirk, Ye Shall Know Him

That's the opening line from the latest installment of Jeff St. Clair's series on Bush the Younger, featured in Counterpunch:

It is Bush's identifying mark. The cruel sneer fissures across his face at the oddest moments, like an execution or a spike in the deficit or the news of a light-stick being rammed up the anus of an Iraqi prisoner. It hints at this own sense of inviolateness, like the illicit grin of some 70s porn star--which may not be so far off target if even half of what Kitty Kelley dishes in her delicious book The Family about Bush's peregrinations turns out to be true.

Flash to Bush's most famous moment, the instant when he supposedly redeemed his tottering presidency. There at ground zero, megaphone in hand, using firefighters as props, Bush squeaks out his war cry. It won't be a war of justice, but revenge, cast as a crusade against evil. Then, hands palsied with anxiety, he closes with his signature sneer and gives the game away.

The mask drops, revealing in a flash, like a subliminal cut, the dark sparkle of the real Bush. You get the sense that he detests his own supporters, those who refuse to see through the act. But perhaps that's giving Bush too much credit. He reminds me of one of the early popes or one of the more degenerate emperors, such as Domitian: cruel, imperious, humorless, and psychologically brittle.

Bush and his team turned 9/11 into a kind prime-time political necrophilia, an obscene exploitation of the dead. For example, Flight 93 was transformed into Bush's Masada, where the passengers committed group suicide by bringing the plane down into the remote Pennsylvania field in order to save the White House. Of course, this was a lie...

St. Clair goes on to note that even Bush's bloody "success" in Afghanistan is nothing more than a charade--the Taliban, far from being eradicated, operate with impunity in areas not controlled by other, equally vicious warlords. Karzai is less a president and more of a mayor. Thousands of innocent Afghans were killed and then forgotten about. And, as for Bush's own thoughts? Here's the conclusion:

As Condoleezza Rice put it, Bush, the conquistador in a jogging suit, soon got bored with "swatting flies."

(Torturing flies was, of course, a favorite past time of Domitian. According to Seutonius, "At the beginning of his reign, Domitian used to spend hours in seclusion every day, doing nothing but catching flies and stabbing them with a keenly sharpened stylus. Consequently, when someone once asked if anyone was in there with the Emperor, Vibius Crispus made the witty reply, 'Not even a fly." Domitian, that wanton boy emperor, was also the inspiration for the famous line in Lear.)

Cruel, imperious, humorless, and psychologically brittle--yeah, that's Dubya to a Tee.
TPM Has Lafayette on His Radar Screen

Marshall notes what Timshel and others reported on last week:

Vandals set fire to signs and wrote pro-President Bush messages on the front of Lafayette’s Democratic Party Headquarters, the second time the office was hit by vandals.

The remnants of a small fire fueled with John Kerry/John Edwards campaign signs remained on the front steps of the headquarters at 310 Buchanan St. in downtown Lafayette on Thursday morning.

Now, I know that not all Bush supporters are the moral equivalent of those who would chant "Ein Volk, Ein Reich, Ein Dubya!" But isn't it telling that none of them come forward to repudiate this kind of thuggery?
Is the Looking Glass Half Full or Half Empty?

The Washington Post has a report about three GOP stalwarts questioning the Bush "strategy" on Iraq, which has a Potemkin-village quality about it. While Bush tours the country with visions of Iraqi democracy dancing through his head, the reality, as evinced by the N.I.E. report, is, um, a hell of a lot bleaker--and that's putting it nicely. Atrios linked to a column from Editor and Publisher by Bob Mitchell that makes a pretty convincing case that Dubya has some things in common with Muhammed Saeed al-Sahaf, aka Baghdad Bob, when it comes to official pronouncements versus reality. Another Atrios link to something written by Mark Steyn, shows just how far removed from reality the warmongers are--Steyn crows about how in "11 of 18...provinces, not a single US soldier has died."

So, we've "liberated"--for the moment--11/18th's of Iraq. Um, I wouldn't call that a resounding success. In fact, one could easily take the position that if Americans get killed in two more provinces (and, quite honestly, let's hope that doesn't happen), then half the country could be considered hostile.

Meanwhile, the ugliness continues: car bombs, hostages, beheadings--you name it. Also, over in Afghanistan, reports are starting to surface of prisoner abuse along Abu Ghraib'ian lines (speaking of which--have you noticed how the Abu Ghraib story itself has for the most part been thrown down the memory hole? Nobody likes to air their own dirty laundry, I guess).

And, courtesy of Needlenose, we have this story about Iyad Allawi and his house in Baghdad--to get there, you have to go through a maze of concrete and submit to a level of search that would do any maximum security prision proud. Ahhh...smell the scent of Iraqi democracy--dumpster juice with a thin coating of air freshener.

By the way--Riverbend was finally able to post again (thanks to Scaramouche for noticing and writing his own post). I think about her, Salam Pax, and Raed Jarrar whenever someone waxes eloquently and oh-so-ignorantly about the "fog of war" or "collateral damage." It's awfully easy to use those terms when you're not caught up in it.

I've often wondered what the average wingnut response would be if it were possible to liberate and pacify Iraq with the loss of only a single US individual. Here's the catch: it would HAVE to be someone that said wingnut loved very much--a spouse, a relative, a good friend--and said wingnut would have to deliver the news personally to that individual. Would it be worth it? I'd love to see the response.

A day after Louisiana acceded to grass-eater wingnuttery and passed an unecessary and possibly illegal constitutional amendment regarding marriage, Angels in America wins 11 Emmy awards--including best writer. Tony Kushner, a Louisiana native, wrote the original theater version and screenplay. In his acceptance speech, he thanked his partner Mark, and expressed hope that one day they could be legally married.

Kudos to Tony, who is a friend of mine from many years back. I'm sorry that the state you grew up in showed such ugly, regressive thinking.

Your Right Hand Thief, Timshel, and Ian McGibboney all have posts regarding Louisiana's embracing of Jurassic Age. And there's the added bonus of good old incompetence or corruption as several precincts--interestingly, in areas where you'd expect strong opposition--didn't get their voting machines in place until well after the polls were open.

Timshel notes correctly this wouldn't have made much difference in the statewide referendum--and that Fox McKeithen personally took advantage of his trucker's license to deliver some machines. However, this will allow for at least one additional legal challenge. Good. The last thing we need is this ridiculous amendment.

Back in a bit with more ranting--am a little slow to post today thanks to a weekend devoted to more exercise than normal. I entered a local rec league tennis tournament and had mixed results, but yesterday I put in six sets and am feeling it today.