Friday, July 21, 2006

Purity of Essence


Do you get the feeling Big Time is about a half step away from speeches about sapping and impurifying our "precious bodily fluids?"*

"This conflict is a long way from over," Cheney said at a fundraising appearance for a GOP congressional candidate. "It's going to be a battle that will last for a very long time. It is absolutely essential that we stay the course."

He went on:

"Yes gentlemen, they are on their way in and no one can bring them back. For the sake of our country and our way of life, I suggest you get the rest of SAC in after them, otherwise we will be totally destroyed by red retaliation. My boys will give you the best kind of start, fourteen hundred megatons worth, and you sure as hell won't stop them now. So let's get going. There's no other choice. God willing, we will prevail in peace and freedom from fear and in true health through the purity and essence of our natural fluids. God bless you all."

Pentagon spokesperson Turgidson noted, "Then he hung up. We're still trying to figure out the meaning of that last phrase."

Maybe they should ask Lynne. Or Group Captain Lionel Mandrake.
Friday Cat Burglar Blogging


Seriously:

As if the gardeners of Pelham don't have enough to worry about, with the rocky soil and the slugs and the big trees casting too much shade, a feline felon has been sneaking into their back yards and carrying off gardening gloves.

Goche's flower-patterned number may soon take its place on the clothesline that's strung across the front fence at Willy's home, which he shares with Jennifer and Dan Pifer, their 19-month-old son Hudson and a mutt named Peanut Chew.

Above the line is a sign that says, in words and pictures, "Our cat is a glove snatcher. Please take these if yours."

On Thursday morning, nine pairs of gardening gloves and five singles were strung up, nicely framed by the Pifers' flourishing tomato and basil plants. Willy, looking innocent, was playing with a beetle under the Subaru in the driveway and occasionally dashing after Hudson.

"This all started about the time people began working in their gardens, I guess March or April," Jennifer Pifer said. "Willy would just show up with a glove, or we'd see them on the front steps. I guess it's better than if he was bringing home dead birds."

A friend, Claudia Bonci, said she was in the Pifers' kitchen recently and had noticed a single gardening glove on the sidewalk.

"Jennifer was telling me all about how Willy was bringing home all these gloves, and there was a small pile of them outside the door, and then here comes the cat with a glove in its mouth, proud as could be, like he was giving me a gift."

Some of the gloves really are gift-worthy.

"A lot of these looked brand new," said Pifer. "Some of them are really nice."

She doesn't know how far afield Willy goes to find a glove, but she has learned it takes him two trips to bring home a matched pair.

Willy, born to a stray last spring and taken in by the Pifers as a newborn, stays out some nights but seems to assemble his collection in daytime raids.

"Mostly it happens on weekends, I guess when people are out gardening," Pifer said. "Can't you just imagine people saying, `The gloves were right here, where'd they go?'"

John Cassone, who lives and gardens across the street, said he isn't missing any gloves. He uses "the big, heavy leather kind" and figures Willy, a wiry type, isn't strong enough to drag them away.

Guess again: There's a pair of the big, heavy leather kind among Willy's trophies.


And, staying on subject here, The Editors linked to this You Tube video that goes a long way in proving that your average felis catus is truly a mix and match of pure grace and utter goofiness (as I've discovered from experience)

"The Crazies"


The Price of Fantasy
By PAUL KRUGMAN

Today we call them neoconservatives, but when the first George Bush was president, those who believed that America could remake the world to its liking with a series of splendid little wars — people like Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld — were known within the administration as “the crazies.” Grown-ups in both parties rejected their vision as a dangerous fantasy.

But in 2000 the Supreme Court delivered the White House to a man who, although he may be 60, doesn’t act like a grown-up. The second President Bush obviously confuses swagger with strength, and prefers tough talkers like the crazies to people who actually think things through. He got the chance to implement the crazies’ vision after 9/11, which created a climate in which few people in Congress or the news media dared to ask hard questions. And the result is the bloody mess we’re now in.

This isn’t a case of 20-20 hindsight. It was clear from the beginning that the United States didn’t have remotely enough troops to carry out the crazies’ agenda — and Mr. Bush never asked for a bigger army.

As I wrote back in January 2003, this meant that the “Bush doctrine” of preventive war was, in practice, a plan to “talk trash and carry a small stick.” It was obvious even then that the administration was preparing to invade Iraq not because it posed a real threat, but because it looked like a soft target.

The message to North Korea, which really did have an active nuclear program, was clear: “The Bush administration,” I wrote, putting myself in Kim Jong Il’s shoes, “says you’re evil. It won’t offer you aid, even if you cancel your nuclear program, because that would be rewarding evil. It won’t even promise not to attack you, because it believes it has a mission to destroy evil regimes, whether or not they actually pose any threat to the U.S. But for all its belligerence, the Bush administration seems willing to confront only regimes that are militarily weak.”

So “the best self-preservation strategy ... is to be dangerous.”

With a few modifications, the same logic applies to Iran. And it’s easier than ever for Iran to be dangerous, now that U.S. forces are bogged down in Iraq.

Would the current crisis on the Israel-Lebanon border have happened even if the Bush administration had actually concentrated on fighting terrorism, rather than using 9/11 as an excuse to pursue the crazies’ agenda? Nobody knows. But it’s clear that the United States would have more options, more ability to influence the situation, if Mr. Bush hadn’t squandered both the nation’s credibility and its military might on his war of choice.

So what happens next?

Few if any of the crazies have the moral courage to admit that they were wrong. Vice President Cheney continues to insist that his two most famous pronouncements about Iraq — his declaration before the invasion that we would be “greeted as liberators” and his assertion a year ago that the insurgency was in its “last throes” — were “basically accurate.”

But if the premise of the Bush doctrine was right, why are things going so badly?

The crazies respond by retreating even further into their fantasies of omnipotence. The only problem, they assert, is a lack of will.

Thus William Kristol, the editor of The Weekly Standard, has called for a military strike — an airstrike, since we don’t have any spare ground troops — against Iran.

“Yes, there would be repercussions,” he wrote in his magazine, “and they would be healthy ones.” What would these healthy repercussions be? On Fox News he argued that “the right use of targeted military force” could cause the Iranian people “to reconsider whether they really want to have this regime in power.” Oh, boy.

Mr. Kristol is, of course, a pundit rather than a policymaker. But there’s every reason to suspect that what Mr. Kristol says in public is what Mr. Cheney says in private.

And what about The Decider himself?

For years the self-proclaimed “war president” basked in the adulation of the crazies. Now they’re accusing him of being a wimp. “We have been too weak,” writes Mr. Kristol, “and have allowed ourselves to be perceived as weak.”

Does Mr. Bush have the maturity to stand up to this kind of pressure? I report, you decide.
Callous Disregard, Part II


While I can't say I've got ANY measure of respect re: Team Bush's response to New Orleans flooding and Hurricane Rita, I suppose it's a tad better than the latest when it comes to the Middle East. Innocent people suffering is just part of the official administration package, and corpses are, to a president Billmon aptly describes as a psychopath, just so much cordwood to stack:

One former senior administration official said Bush is only emboldened by the pressure from U.N. officials and European leaders to lead a call for a cease-fire. U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan demanded yesterday that the fighting in Lebanon stop.

"He thinks he is playing in a longer-term game than the tacticians," said the former official, who spoke anonymously so he could discuss his views candidly. "The tacticians would say: 'Get an immediate cease-fire. Deal first with the humanitarian factors.' The president would say: 'You have an opportunity to really grind down Hezbollah. Let's take it, even if there are other serious consequences that will have to be managed.' "


I guess "managed" in this case is an equally sterile substitute for "collateral damage"--that's awfully (pun intended) easy to say when your family or friends AREN'T the ones being damaged.

Then again, this is part and parcel with Shrub's other "project" in the region, which is ensuring the complete breakdown of any semblence of order in Iraq--and then steadfastly denying there's a problem. And, as I noted a couple of days ago, the sports journalists are once again shaming their "serious" counterparts, providing a far more thorough investigation of Pat Tillman's death (Part II of a series)--and the associated lies--than I've seen anywhere else.

All lies, all the time. It's as if the administration is compulsively unable to play it straight with the American public, and the world at large. Instead the ongoing special is bullshit-on-a-stick, dutifully served up by the pathetic wait staff that is the modern press corps. Big lies, small lies...it's ALL lies.

Again, as I noted yesterday, if this was merely political gamesmanship, that'd be one thing--it'd still be appalling, but hey, I'm cynical enough to understand that politics ain't bean bag. However, we're dealing with issues that have massive ramifications. Real people are really suffering, here and abroad. Tbogg really got it right when he closed a post today with the following:

It is truly stunning to survey how much damage this shallow stupid man has done to the world in six short years, and to realize that we will be picking up after his mess for generations to come while he and Laura go back to Crawford and drink their dullwitted selves into oblivion.

And, besides, who likes being lied to?

Thursday, July 20, 2006

"Callous Disregard"

"Hands off, Buster!"

Governor Meemaw (and is it just me, or does Blanco bear more than a mere passing resemblence to Angela Merkel?) is taking Preznit Perv to court:

The suit seeks to block the federal Mineral Management Service from holding a scheduled Aug. 16 lease sale of 4,000 blocks in the western Gulf of Mexico for oil and gas exploration, accusing the agency of disregarding the environmental damage caused by the drilling. In a written statement, Blanco said the agency plans to hold the sale before getting adequate information about additional damage done to the coast last year by Hurricanes Katrina and Rita.

"This action shows a callous disregard for the serious concerns the state has articulated in letters requesting the lease sale be postponed," Blanco said...

Although the suit does not seek money, it represents Louisiana's latest attempt to get a larger share of the royalties. State officials have argued for years that Louisiana deserves a far bigger cut of the royalties that oil and gas companies pay to the federal government — partly to pay for roads leading to the coast, partly to pay for restoration of the coast.

"The governor has made clear all along, this is her card to play," Sidney Coffee, Blanco's adviser on coastal issues, said of the lawsuit.

Louisiana now get less than 2 percent of federal royalties, and the state's congressional delegation has brought the issue up annually on Capitol Hill, trying to increase that percentage.

The House is considering a bill to give Louisiana and other Gulf states 50 to 75 percent of the royalties — a level the White House considers too high. A Senate bill offers a more modest revenue sharing program, giving the four oil and gas producing Gulf states 37.5 percent with another 12.5 percent to go into a conservation fund and 50 percent to the U.S. Treasury.

The planned lease sale includes 3,787 unleased blocks covering about 20.4 million acres offshore from Texas and in deeper waters off of the coast of Louisiana. MMS said the sale could result in the eventual production of up to 262 million barrels of oil and 1.44 trillion cubic feet of natural gas.


If nothing else, perhaps this action will shed some well-needed light on the Gret Stet's national economic contribution, in addition to agriculture (staples and speciality commodities), fishery/seafood production, trade via the ports...and intangible-but-priceless things like the NOLA culture...the equally interesting, unique and fiercely independent Cajun culture...the "Sportman's Paradise" (recreational hunting/fishing--ask Deadeye Dick Cheney, his buddy Fat Tony Scalia...or numerous others who are far less odious about that) etc.

Louisiana is both a place of pleasure--great or simple, depending on your preference--AND a place of work...a quick search, for instance, yielded the interesting fact that in 2005 the Gret Stet actually outproduced Texas as a source for domestic supplies of oil (on average over 100K barrels per day more, despite Texass being five times larger geographically, and, coincidentally, in population as well).

If the nation has grown "tired" of hearing about the flood following Katrina--and Hurricane Rita--then perhaps we in the Gret Stet should show an equal fatigue in helping keep gasoline prices from REALLY going through the roof of their SUVs. Or maybe what they really want is $5 dollar a gallon gasoline...and heating/cooling bills of over a thousand.

Their move.
...And War Without End, Amen


The Editors point to an interesting essay by George Healy. In it, Healy points that it's process, not product, at the core of the neo-cons' particularly sick ideology:

...the same people who helped lead us into the biggest foreign policy disaster in 30 years trying to push another war (or wars) on us without so much as a prefatory “sorry about the whole Iraq thing, old boy.” But the current squawking also strikes me as a useful reminder of how very, very important war is in the neoconservative vision. It is as central to that vision as peace is to the classical liberal vision.

For the neoconservatives, it’s not about Israel. It’s about war. War is a bracing tonic for the national spirit and in all its forms it presents opportunities for national greatness. “Ultimately, American purpose can find its voice only in Washington,” David Brooks once wrote. And Washington’s never louder or more powerful than when it has a war to fight.

In 1997, Fred Barnes pouted about the “ennui” accompanying that decade’s peace and prosperity:
“The last great moment in Washington was Desert Storm…. It was exciting to follow and write about … Every press conference, I watched. Desert Storm was all I thought about or talked about. My stories concentrated on President Bush’s heroic role in the war.”

Indeed, for many neoconservatives, the 1990s were about the search for an enemy. Who it was didn’t much matter. That can be seen in this 1996 Foreign Affairs article by Bill Kristol and Robert Kagan, in which they seem distinctly unsettled by the apparant lack of anyone for the U.S. to fight:
“The ubiquitous post-Cold War question — where is the threat? — is thus misconceived. In a world in which peace and American security depend on American power and the will to use it, the main threat the United States faces now and in the future is its own weakness.”

To dispel any notions of weakness, a little therapeutic bombing is sometimes in order. As AEI’s Michael Ledeen apparently put it some years ago:
“Every ten years or so, the United States needs to pick up some small crappy little country and throw it against the wall, just to show the world we mean business.”

It could be the Serbs. It could be Iraq. If we’re really feeling our oats, it might even be China. Even now, when the United States faces a genuine enemy in Al Qaeda, some neoconservatives are hedging their bets: If we wrap up this war on terror thing too quickly, let’s give great-power conflict a chance.

Who we’re fighting is secondary. That we’re fighting is the main thing. To be a neoconservative is to thrill to the sound of gunfire. (From a nice, safe distance, generally.)


If you've got time, I urge you to check out Healy's post--yes, I've cut and pasted quite a bit here, but the original has additional links worth looking at.

There's also more here.

If this were MERELY a question of political gamesmanship, that would be one thing. However, the process pursued by these sick fucks causes genuine suffering...and will just as genuinely come back to bite us, and none too softly. We're already seeing this along the Gulf Coast, where the Scrooge-like stinginess on the part of government is matched only by their mad profligacy in pursuit of a non-existent pot of god at the end of an equally non-existent Mesopotamian rainbow.

Though there sure as hell is one massive, ongoing shitstorm...of their own making.
As Long as They Don't Publish a Cookbook...


WIIIAI comments on Shrub's veto:

As promised, Bush has exercised his first ever veto against medical research using embryonic stem cells. His veto statement says that science “offers temptations to manipulate human life and violate human dignity.” Stem cells got dignity? Like, they get embarrassed if their cytoplasm is showing?...

It would also “encourage a conflict between science and ethics”. And he somehow sees a threat that humans would become “slaves to technology.” Actually, after 5½ years of the Bush presidency, I’m kinda looking forward to serving our robot overlords.
Incompetence by Color


YRHT cites C.B. Forgotston's suggestion for incompetence alerts.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

As If He Has Any Moral Boundries to Cross...


I see the Chimpgroper took out his veto pen for the first time today, claiming some sort of moral boundry on "the taking of innocent life."

Hmmm...you mean like the 50,000 or so Iraqi civilians killed while you've ignored the legal and moral responsibility of providing and maintaining order over a region you militarily occupy? No, I guess there's no moral boundry there...

Or maybe it's like the hundreds of Lebanese civilians you've allowed to be killed in order for Israel to "save face." Nope, not there either.

Or maybe like the 1500 plus people who were killed due to criminal negligence in the design and maintenence of federally built floodwalls and levees in New Orleans...while you took a vacation from your vacation...well, maybe moral boundries...have a few boundries of their own.

Or maybe we've got a pathetic bullshitter in chief.

Anyway...it's been one of those days for me...sorry for the lack of posts. However, if you don't mind an eclectic mix and match of several things that caught my eye...well...

Mesopotamia might get a bit messier if Turkey REALLY intends to move into Kurdish regions.

Want to know how to strengthen a political movement like Hizbollah? Keep doing EXACTLY what you've BEEN doing for the past week.

WetBankGuide points out that Google Maps have post-Katrina imagery of New Orleans, as did Jeffrey. Folse, Adrastos, and Dangerblond also have some things to say about Foti's grandstanding re: the alleged "mercy killings" in the aftermath of the disaster--and they all make for good reading. Too bad the AG's office isn't doing just that.

Boyd Blundell has another good post up at After the Levees--unfortunately, a commentor named "Ellen" continues to offer the "F.U. NOLA" line in response...well, I suppose it's important to know there are folks like that out there (and, to be honest, I actually hope one day they themselves get to experience personally the "pleasure" of being abandoned by their government).

Once again sports journalism manages to shame the supposed "real" journalists--ESPN has an extensive report on Pat Tillman's death.

And finally, to end with something that would be a hell of a lot less depressing if it was merely about a two-term Texass governor and failed candidate for president: the "genius" of Dubya (google video).
Raising the Bar


I think we can, no pun intended, permanently put to rest any nonsense about having invaded Iraq in order to "ease the suffering of the Iraqi people:"

More than 14,000 civilians have been killed in Iraq in the first half of this year, an ominous figure reflecting the fact that "killings, kidnappings and torture remain widespread" in the war-torn country, a United Nations report says.

Killings of civilians are on "an upward trend," with more than 5,800 deaths and more than 5,700 injuries reported in May and June alone, it says...

The report lists examples of bloody suicide bombs aimed at mosques, attacks on laborers, the recovery of slain bodies, the assassinations of judges, the killings of prisoners, the targeting of clergy -- all incidents dutifully reported by media over these three-plus years of chaos in the streets...

The U.N. agency says it has been made aware since last year of the targeting of homosexuals, "increasingly threatened and extra-judicially executed by militias and 'death squads' because of their sexual orientation."

The intolerance propelling the anti-gay prejudice extends to ethnic and religious minorities and others whose manner of dress doesn't meet the standards of religious extremists.

"On 28 May, an Iraqi tennis coach and two of his players were shot dead in Baghdad allegedly because they were wearing shorts. Similar threats are said to be made to induce men to conform to certain hair styles or rules regarding facial hair," the report says.

Women face intolerance -- and violence -- as well.

"In some Baghdad neighborhoods, women are now prevented from going to the markets alone. In other cases, women have been warned not to drive cars or have faced harassment if they wear trousers. Women have also reported that wearing a headscarf is becoming not a matter of religious choice but one of survival in many parts of Iraq, a fact which is particularly resented by non-Muslim women."

Academics and health professionals have been attacked, spurring them to leave the country or their home regions, causing a brain drain and a dislocation in services.

"Health care providers face difficulties in carrying out their work because of the limited supply of electricity and growing number of patients due to the increase in violence," the report says...

In late June, the Ministry of Health "acknowledged information stating that since 2003 at least 50,000 persons have been killed in violence and stated the number of deaths are probably under-reported." the report says.

"The Baghdad morgue reportedly received 30,204 bodies from 2003 to mid-2006. Deaths numbering 18,933 occurred from 'military clashes' and 'terrorist attacks'" between April 5, 2004, and June 1, 2006.


Iraq--like everything else Team Bush gets their hands on--is a showcase of utter failure (hmmm...no wonder Merkel reeled from Shrub's, ahem, touch). This administration demands absolute fealty, and unprecedented power...but throws epic fits and temper tantrums when called on to demonstrate any degree of responsibility.

How many more examples do we need?

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Shrubvert

Gropinator in Chief

Taylor Marsh and Billmon both offer some perspective.

(and Oyster has something equally creepy)
Movie Minute


I neither admire nor despise Brad Pitt--I've not seen a single movie of his in a theater...I did stumble upon Seven--oh, I guess it's officially Se7en--one night on cable tv years ago, but still don't know if I remember any particular scenes (maybe I'm thinking of one or more different movies).

But I'm not entirely a cultural illiterate--and when I saw Pitt last night on Countdown (Amb. Joseph Wilson was also interviewed), of course I recognized the debris in the background. Yep, he was in the city, promoting some sort of contest for "green, energy efficient design"...and expressing shock about the scope of destruction (h/t Harry Shearer for the link):

"I was not prepared," the actor said, describing how he drove for miles and saw street after street of devastation.

OK, maybe I AM a LITTLE culturally illiterate: I assumed most people were aware of the devastation in the city and throughout the region. But I guess I'm wrong.

Well, regardless of whether you have a positive or negative opinion of the actor (or his partner), at this point ANY publicity about the scope of destruction that STILL defines the city (Adrastos rightly calls it "Debrisville"), in my mind, can't hurt (similarly, you'd like to think an understanding of what the average Iraqi--and now, the average Lebanese--is going through would go a long way in opening eyes, minds, and perhaps even hearts). Indeed, watching the boatloads of money poured down the dry hole in Mesopotamia, while seeing the absolute neglect (by the government), or the mendacity (by private insurance companies, etc.) and watching the excruciatingly slow pace of progress in New Orleans as it clings to life is like...well, watching a REALLY, REALLY bad movie. Only you can't just get up and walk out.

So, here's hoping that perhaps a few folks who otherwise might not be aware now have a better understanding of the situation.
Will the Twitnuts Bark About Buses?


Scout Prime notes Jack Cafferty's remarks on the (sound familiar?) sloooow pace of evacuation for U.S. Nationals in Lebanon:

There are an estimated 25,000 Americans there and presumably a lot of them would like to leave. Good luck with that. Remember Katrina?

Cafferty also notes the, quite frankly, ugly, "pay for play" policy adopted by the State Department...but, then again, maybe that'll help pay for the extra guards along our, ahem, Mexican-but-not-Canadian border.

But I'm veering off topic...staying with the theme of "geez, this sounds eerily like New Orleans," Juan Cole posted an email he received from a friend in Beirut:

' The university has fuel (and power) for only 12 days; after that we will have a real crisis at the hospital which is already stressed with many wounded people. Refugees from the southern suburbs are now visible in Ras Beirut.

I spoke to X in Saida [Sidon]. The city is almost completely cut off, and it is flooded with refugees from the south. X is volunteering to help distribute food and clothing to these people who are now in schools and shelters. Food seems to be running low.

Last night there were many loud explosions in Beirut and the air was thick with smoke. Beirut is rife with rumors, conspiracy stories, and panic. But so far, there is absolutely no sign of Lebanese people turning on each other. While many are disturbed that Hezbollah's actions seem to have triggered this war, the brutality of the Israeli attack has united the country. People are speculating on what the endgame will be. '
Paging Mullah Omar--White Courtesy Telephone, Please


I guess the Taliban must not have gotten the message about them being, you know, defeated, routed, evicted, gone, kaput, game over:

Scores of Taliban militants chased police out of two southern Helmand districts near the border with Pakistan. Afghanistan's deputy interior minister accused two Pakistani Islamic groups of taking part in the militant operation.

"The Taliban extremists have taken control of the areas of Garmser and Naway-i-Barakzayi. However, coalition forces do have them under observation," military spokesman Col. Tom Collins told reporters in Kabul. "Decisive operations will begin soon," he added, without saying when...

Afghan officials have said scores of Taliban fighters, many crossing into Afghanistan from neighboring Pakistan, fought Garmser's small contingent of policemen -- holed up in a concrete compound -- for 16 days before the police withdrew.

While Taliban militants have long operated freely in former southern stronghold provinces, their capture of two towns highlights the weakness of Afghanistan's police forces in remote areas, and the challenge ahead faced by international forces to restore order in the country.

"The Taliban have reconstituted and dispersed, but this is certainly not about the Taliban being strong. The reality is that the government has not yet extended to the far-reaching areas of the country," Collins said.

Deputy Interior Minister Abdul Malik Sidiqi accused Pakistan-based Islamic groups Lashkar-e-Tayyaba -- an outlawed militant organization, and Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam -- a pro-Taliban political party, of taking over Garmser.

"They burned the Afghan flag and raised the Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam flag in the (Garmser) district," Sidiqi told reporters. "The government of Afghanistan has technically and temporarily left Garmser. We did so to prevent casualties to civilian people."


Burned the flag? Well, it was an Afghan flag, but still...you'd think the entire GOP Senate Caucus would be ready to mobilize and personally restore the honor and dignity of the Grand Old, um, Afghanistan Flag.

Wonder what's keeping them...it's not like they've actually been in session all that much.
Moral Calculus From a Mental Zero


Bolton shrugs his shoulders and says "shit happens, deal with it." How diplomatic:

Lebanon civilian deaths morally not same as terror victims--Bolton

"I think it would be a mistake to ascribe moral equivalence to civilians who die as the direct result of malicious terrorist acts," he added, while defending as "self-defense" Israel's military action, which has had "the tragic and unfortunate consequence of civilian deaths".


The "ambassador" then proceeded to a sumptuous lunch...

Monday, July 17, 2006

Rounding Up The Not So Usual Suspect


Well, there's really no good thing that could possibly come out of the horrible attack...on Jean Charles de Menezes not quite one year ago.

So, have you forgotten him? Yeah, I did too--at least I'd forgotten his name. But not what happened--Mr. Menezes was the victim of a terrorist attack, one that left him dead from a bullet fired at point blank range.

The person firing the gun...was a Metropolitan London Police Officer:

A year after the police shot and killed a Brazilian electrician in the subway after mistaking him for a suicide bomber, prosecutors said today that they would not charge any individual officers in connection with his death.

But because the man’s death was the “cumulative result” of police errors, they said, the office of the Metropolitan police commissioner, Sir Ian Blair, would be charged with failing adequately to protect the health and safety of the Brazilian, 27-year-old Jean Charles de Menezes...

Mr. de Menezes’s family said they were shocked by the decision not to prosecute any officers individually.

Referring to the health and safety laws under which the commissioner’s office is to prosecuted, Mr. de Menezes’s cousin Patricia da Silva Armani told a news conference that “we did not expect they were going to hide behind another law that has nothing to do with my cousin’s case.”

She added: “By using these laws to cover up their own mistakes, they are treating my cousin like a dead animal."...

The shooting appeared be the result of a series of errors, starting with the misidentification of Mr. de Menezes — who lived in the same building in Stockwell, south London, as a terrorist suspect — as the suspect himself. Leaving home to go to work, Mr. de Menezes was trailed by officers as he boarded a bus and as he got off the bus en route to the Stockwell subway station.

Despite an order to the officers on the ground that they should stop him before he entered the subway, Mr. de Menezes proceeded unchallenged through the turnstile and down the escalator. Once he took his seat on the train, antiterrorist officers burst into the car, pinned his hands to his side and shot him point-blank in the head.

The police originally said he was a terrorist who vaulted over the turnstile and ran down the escalator as officers shouted at him to stop. But within days, they acknowledged that not only was he blameless, but also that he had walked calmly through the station.


And...while this is totally unrelated, but...speaking of England, the Times UK has an interesting article about Lebanese blogger reactions to the ripping apart of their country, which makes for compelling reading. You know, it's one thing to think about the numbers of dead, but when you read someone's written reaction to the thunderous noise of fighter jets, missile attacks, etc., it really has a way of hammering home the insanity...insanity the twitnut faction is celebrating, which proves just what sort of sociopaths occupy that particular side of the aisle.

Hell, just the other day a fighter jet from what I presume was the local Air National Guard buzzed my house as part of the 4th of July celebration. Scared the shit out of both myself and the cat...and it was only a single jet on a single pass without the added "bonus" of bombs, guided missiles, or cannon fire. Imagine how relentless an assault on the senses, not to mention the sheer terror, a full-scale aerial bombardment must be like.

And remember--that's THEIR program. Well, that...and a not-so-benign neglect of things like the disaster along the Gulf Coast.
Being "pResidential"




Billmon:

The BBC has posted a transcript of the chat between Bush and Blair that was accidently captured on tape. The completely non-surprising thing about it is how inarticulate and scatter brained both Bush and Blair sound -- like a couple of dopeheads discussing their favorite recipes for hash brownies, instead of two world leaders trying to deal with a serious Middle East crisis.

I find this particularly inexcusible on Blair's part -- after all, English is his mother tongue.

But the really crucial part of the dialogue, I think, was this bit:
Blair: Look -- what does he think? (It appears from the context that the PM is talking about Syrian President Bashar Assad) He thinks if Lebanon turns out fine. If you get a solution in Israel and Palestine. Iraq goes in the right way . . .
Bush: Yeah -- he's [indistinct]

Blair: Yeah . . . He's had it. That's what all this is about -- it's the same with Iran.

This is fascinating as well as terrifying. It suggests that Bush and his faithful water carrier both really believe their own bullshit -- not just in terms of viewing Hezbollah and Hamas as the mindless tools of Syria and Iran, but also in their rosy-lensed assessments of how things are going in the Middle East these days.

Consider what Blair seems to be saying, and Bush grunting between mouthfuls of food (Yeah . . . Yeah.) These fools actually seem to think that Syria and/or Iran ordered their Hezbollah and Hamas minions to stir up trouble with the Israelis because Assad and/or the mullahs are worried that:

A.) The "Cedar Revolution" will create a strong, united Lebanon (Presumably one in which Syrian influence and Hezbollah muscle vanish into thin air.)

B.) There will be a peace settlement between the Israelis and the Palestinians. (Due, no doubt, to the heroic efforts of these two great humanitarians.)

C.) Things in Iraq will "go in the right way."

I mean, how much more out of touch with reality could the killer Bs possibly be? Their own wishful thinking about the consequences of their own pathetic follies appears to have left them with some wholly fantastical ideas about what motivates their enemies in the region. Either that, or they've completely bought the sugar coated lies being spoon fed them by their subordinates. My guess is that it's probably a bit of both -- creating a perfect, impenetrable feedback loop of flattery, deception and wish fulfillment.

Juan Cole says reading the transcript left him "shaken and trembling." I guess I would be too, if I hadn't already come to the conclusion that we're completely fucked. Pessimism does have it's advantages.

Still, it's hard not to be impressed with the level of delusion picked up by that treacherous microphone. I hate to violate Godwin's Law (and you all know how much I hate it) but this conversation reads, psychologically at least, like table talk between Hitler and one of his remaining puppet allies, circa the winter of 1945.


I'll add my own .00002 cents worth by noting that Nero's supposed fiddling or aria-singing while Rome burned seems relatively enlightened in comparison.

Besides, once the conflagration died, Nero, according to the evidence, rushed back to the city (he'd been...on vacation...hmmm) and began to assist the relief effort.

Meanwhile, according to First-Draft and FDL, other countries are busily evacuating their citizens in Lebanon...while the US outsourced the job to a cruise ship (and is planning to charge evacuees "a commercial rate". At the very least, they expect "a promise to pay." How charitable...but don't you think they could've taken some money that would otherwise go to Halliburton on a "sailboat fuel" contract?).

They say tragedy is eventually repeated as farce...what then?
Memory Lane

Hey, is that a light up ahead?

March of Folly
By PAUL KRUGMAN
Since those who fail to learn from history are doomed to repeat it — and since the cast of characters making pronouncements on the crisis in the Middle East is very much the same as it was three or four years ago — it seems like a good idea to travel down memory lane. Here’s what they said and when they said it:

“The greatest thing to come out of [invading Iraq] for the world economy ... would be $20 a barrel for oil.” Rupert Murdoch, chairman of News Corporation (which owns Fox News), February 2003

“Oil Touches Record $78 on Mideast Conflict.” Headline on www.foxnews.com, July 14, 2006

“The administration’s top budget official estimated today that the cost of a war with Iraq could be in the range of $50 billion to $60 billion,” saying that “earlier estimates of $100 billion to $200 billion in Iraq war costs by Lawrence B. Lindsey, Mr. Bush’s former chief economic adviser, were too high.” The New York Times, Dec. 31, 2002

“According to C.B.O.’s estimates, from the time U.S. forces invaded Iraq in March 2003, $290 billion has been allocated for activities in Iraq. ... Additional costs over the 2007-2016 period would total an estimated $202 billion under the first [optimistic] scenario, and $406 billion under the second one.” Congressional Budget Office, July 13, 2006

“Peacekeeping requirements in Iraq might be much lower than historical experience in the Balkans suggests. There’s been none of the record in Iraq of ethnic militias fighting one another that produced so much bloodshed and permanent scars in Bosnia.” Paul Wolfowitz, deputy secretary of defense and now president of the World Bank, Feb. 27, 2003

“West Baghdad is no stranger to bombings and killings, but in the past few days all restraint has vanished in an orgy of ‘ethnic cleansing.’ Shia gunmen are seeking to drive out the once-dominant Sunni minority and the Sunnis are forming neighborhood posses to retaliate. Mosques are being attacked. Scores of innocent civilians have been killed, their bodies left lying in the streets.” The Times of London, July 14, 2006

“Earlier this week, I traveled to Baghdad to visit the capital of a free and democratic Iraq.” President Bush, June 17, 2006

“People are doing the same as [in] Saddam’s time and worse. ... These were the precise reasons that we fought Saddam and now we are seeing the same things.” Ayad Allawi, Mr. Bush’s choice as Iraq’s first post-Saddam prime minister, November 2005

“Iraq’s new government has another able leader in Speaker Mashhadani. ... He rejects the use of violence for political ends. And by agreeing to serve in a prominent role in this new unity government, he’s demonstrating leadership and courage.” President Bush, May 22, 2006

“Some people say ‘we saw you beheading, kidnappings and killing. In the end we even started kidnapping women who are our honor.’ These acts are not the work of Iraqis. I am sure that he who does this is a Jew and the son of a Jew.” Mahmoud Mashhadani, speaker of the Iraqi Parliament, July 13, 2006

“My fellow citizens, not only can we win the war in Iraq, we are winning the war in Iraq.” President Bush, Dec. 18, 2005

“I think I would answer that by telling you I don’t think we’re losing.” Gen. Peter Schoomaker, the Army chief of staff, when asked whether we’re winning in Iraq, July 14, 2006

“Regime change in Iraq would bring about a number of benefits for the region. ...Extremists in the region would have to rethink their strategy of jihad. Moderates throughout the region would take heart, and our ability to advance the Israeli-Palestinian peace process would be enhanced.” Vice President Dick Cheney, Aug. 26, 2002

“Bush — The world is coming unglued before his eyes. His na├»ve dreams are a Wilsonian disaster.” Newsweek Conventional Wisdom Watch, July 24, 2006 edition

“It’s time for Democrats who distrust President Bush to acknowledge that he will be the commander in chief for three more critical years, and that in matters of war, we undermine presidential credibility at our nation’s peril.” Senator Joseph Lieberman, Democrat of Connecticut, Dec. 6, 2005

“I cannot support a failed foreign policy. History teaches us that it is often easier to make war than peace. This administration is just learning that lesson right now.” Representative Tom DeLay, Republican of Texas, on the campaign against Slobodan Milosevic, April 28, 1999.
Moral Relativity

God's will...

I remember reading something Noam Chomsky wrote at least ten or fifteen years ago--paraphrasing here, it was about often having to schedule lectures quite a bit in advance. Because current events, by their nature, tend to be fluid, this made coming up with a working title for these lectures somewhat challenging; however, Noam wrote that his workaround was to generally go with "The Ongoing Crisis in the Middle East."

Sadly, it seems that as long as we've got the luxury of even being able to consider going to forums on current events, we'll have an "ongoing crisis" in the Middle East. I suppose this is marginally better than the alternative, which in wingnuttia seems to be gushing, salivating phraseology (and a bit of one-upmanship) as to which World War they'll soon be marching gloriously into...um...commenting upon from the comfort of the nearest teevee studio or wood paneled sitting room (while conveniently patronizing, ignoring...or, even blaming those unfortunate enough to have to live through the hell-on-earth conditions).

It's a pattern I keep seeing--they've done the same with the Iraqi quagmire, and they did pretty much the same with the Gulf Coast, singling out New Orleans for particular scorn because the city had the audacity to flood so visibly, which caused great pain and embarrassment...to the codpiece-in-chief (pResident Codpiece took care to embarrass himself all on his own today, sparing the need for his handlers and synchophants to come up with a convenient scapegoat).

Anyway, at the risk of making this even more disjointed, this morning I was thinking about just how awful it must be for the folks caught up in the various crossfires over there (I seriously doubt most of these people, to borrow Mr. Codpiece's expletive, could give a shit about the political machinations they use to justify continued mass death and/or destruction, disruptions, and whatnot)...when I noticed Moldy City's latest concerning the pace of recovery in NOLA.

No, there are no missiles raining down along the Gulf (of Mexico) Coast--thank heavens--but it's part and parcel of the same contempt for ALL of us that drives their thinking: on the one hand, "collateral damage," which has a somewhat sterile, clinical ring to it...as long as you don't know the victim personally, on the other hand, there's a barely concealed contempt for "those people" in New Orleans, who should have "known better," even as the Gulf Coast suffers from neglect from Washington and worse from vicious, bastard insurance companies (do you get the feeling I don't like insurance companies? I hope so, and have a damn good reason of my own for that...but).

There's a certain sort of moral relativity that seems to affect--or infect--some, and I came across this little (warning: irony alert) nugget of "wisdom" this morning while on my usual sojourn around the internets. It's actually regarding religion and politics in light of Barak Obama's appeal for Democratic courting of the "religious" vote, and it's from a decidedly twitnut persuasion, but it's nonetheless an interesting insight into the mindset:

They have taken God and country out of the classroom and taught youth that anything is acceptable as long as you can rationalize it. There is no judgment; no right or wrong.

Well, leaving aside the "God and country" nonsense, I'd say that the last few days--and, for that matter, the last few years of Codpiece rule--have been little more than a lesson to ALL "that anything is acceptable." War with no pretext: hey, just come up with a catchy, scary theme (WMD, anyone?), make sure you don't "introduce new product in August" and bombs away. Ignoring a national calamity like the flooding of a major U.S. city? No problem, especially if the victims can be stereotyped as ignorant minorities. Allow Hizbollah, Hamas and Israel to play tit-for-tat at the expense of hundreds of innocent lives, not to mention the disruption/devastation the survivors are now forced to deal with? Bring it on, they say...because among other things, NONE of these assclowns will ever have to deal with the consequences. Hell, if anything, they might even profit from it...

You know, I wish I could end this on an uplifting note, with some words of hope about the general public seeing through the bullshit and saying "enough." However, I'm afraid the only thing I can think of is how the 2nd International fizzled away during World War I. Damn.

(Oh, and ignore the timestamp on this post--I started out this morning, but then got caught up in work-related stuff...yeah, I actually have to work sometimes).