Saturday, April 05, 2008

Saturday "What I Found on You Tube" Post

I've posted this before, but it's worth a second look, particularly in light of yesterday's anniversary.

Friday, April 04, 2008

Two Score Years

Being alive and even slightly sentient (yes, I actually have some vague, almost random memories of the year 1968, but I'll spare you the details), I nonetheless have no recollection of Martin Luther King Jr.'s assassination, but I can't help thinking both how long the struggle for civil rights and social justice is taking...and yet, how short a span of time it seems personally.

And then also I realize I've already celebrated more birthdays than Dr. King was permitted...indeed, he was 39 when he died 40 years ago. That said, he sure accomplished a hell of a lot, particularly given that there are STILL people in this world who go out of their way to try to rip him to pieces. Amazing.

Anyway...ah, I considered posting a small collage of photos plucked at random off "the google" by simply putting in the search term "1968," but, as with my childhood memories, I think I'll likewise spare you. It just doesn't seem appropriate, to be honest, although maybe I can save it for a post that's maybe a little less on the sober side. In the meantime, there are quite a lot of superb material about Dr. King on the internets are a couple I came across. (you can link to the second article from the first.)
Chain of Command

As this editorial makes clear, it all began at the top, with "the Decider."
As The Iraqis Stand Up We'll Stand Down

Fred Kagan Shows Iraqi Soldiers How It's Done

By any objective measure, this is abject failure:

More than 1,000 Iraqi soldiers and policemen either refused to fight or simply abandoned their posts during the inconclusive assault against Shiite militias in Basra last week, a senior Iraqi government official said Thursday. Iraqi military officials said the group included dozens of officers, including at least two senior field commanders in the battle.

But I'll tell you, on a certain level, it's an expected, logical outcome of a policy proulgated by chickenhawks.
Out of Our (Collective) Mind

Ira Chernus:

Voters' choices depend on a host of irrational factors. Even those who try to choose rationally have to gather their information from an ever-changing kaleidoscope of facts, spin and images, thrown together seemingly at random...

How to explain that some 60 percent to 70 percent agree with the Democrats that the war was a mistake, nearly all of them agreeing that U.S. troops should be withdrawn soon, yet only about 45 percent (give or take the margin of error) are willing to say they'll vote for Obama or Clinton rather than McCain? How to explain the recent poll (PDF) that asked the all-important independents which candidate they trust most to handle a national security crisis? Answer: Clinton 14 percent, Obama 13 percent, McCain 42 percent!

McCain's appeal may be even more irrational than most of what unfolds in our political arena. But the show will go on. And if we don't understand why the script packs the audience appeal that it does, we have no hope of changing it.

I think the entire essay is worth looking at--about all I'd add at this point is that you've also got a media that blares its stereotype reinforcing clarion call--using all available means (print, broadcasting, movies, books, and more)--at a level that Orwell never dreamed of.

Thursday, April 03, 2008

In Memorium

I only met Ashley a few times, but it was crystal clear right away that he was "good people" in the truest sense of the term. My heart goes out to his family.

Dr. Morris, you are missed, but forever remembered.

Yes, it is terrible news.

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Be Zinnful

This looks like a page turner--you can read more here.

I felt very fortunate to hear Zinn present the Harvey Goldberg Memorial Lecture a number of years ago while attending the University of Wisconsin, and even got to speak to him briefly at the subsequent reception. Zinn's the real deal.

Alas, my copy of A People's History of the United States was damaged in a mid 90s fire at the Union Transfer and Storage Building on Wilson Street (long story) day I WILL get a replacement copy, damnit. know, while I'm thinking of Madison, I'd like say goodbye to a buddy. Rest in Peace, Cosmo. You will be missed.
I Guess Size Does Matter

And no, I'm not posting this to whoop it up--if anything, I'm inclined to agree that Jefferson and Orleans Parishes might be undercounted. Not that I've got evidence, but I just FEEL like I'm in a bigger city when I make it down to, well, New Orleans (about the only place I'll stop at in Jefferson Parish is Martin Wine Cellar or maybe a gas station if I'm low on fuel).

What's sad, though, and a little infuriating, is that apparently the estimates have an economic impact, i.e., parishes will be in contention for federal funds based on these estimates...but of course the real crime is the billions of dollars being wasted on Shrub's Mesopotamian Folly, which would be better put to use in...Jefferson, Orleans, EBR, or pretty much any county/parish in the US.

Oh, and in other news, I guess bribery is sort of a family thing with the Jeffersons. Maybe we can ask them if it really IS better to give than receive...
Probably Hanging Out at an Internet Cafe in Peshawar

We've got Zawahri on the run all right--right to his cable modem:

CAIRO, Egypt -- Al-Qaida No. 2 Ayman al-Zawahri will soon answer the hundreds of questions submitted by journalists, militants and others about the terrorist network's future, its media wing announced Wednesday.

If we only had a competent administration, Zawahri--and his asshole lunatic buddy Osama--would be twice as dead without even half the fanfare you get from this administration when they trumpet the arrest of a two-bit hood in North Miami.
Oh, What a Tangled Web They Weave

This excerpt from Steve Coll's book The Bin Ladens: An Arabian Family in the American Century makes for quite fascinating reading. And I'm pretty sure I heard Coll being interviewed by Terry Gross on NPR yesterday:

The Bin Laden family saga also provides a particularly consequential thread of the troubled, compulsive, greed-inflected, secret-burdened, and, ultimately--to both sides--unconvincing alliance between the United States and Saudi Arabia during the oil age. Until Osama announced himself as an international terrorist, his family was much more heavily invested in the United States than has generally been understood--his brothers and sisters owned American shopping centers, apartment complexes, condominiums, luxury estates, privatized prisons in Massachusetts, corporate stocks, an airport, and much else. They attended American universities, maintained friendships and business partnerships with Americans, and sought American passports for their children.

According to the excerpt, they also assisted, along with King Fahd, in funding St. Ronnie's favorite thugs, the Contras, in Central America. Nice, eh?
Yoo Bad Self

This is what justification of war crimes looks like.

Meanwhile, the war in Iraq claimed the life of a local soldier.

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Hiding in Plain Sight?

Countdown mentioned something interesting last night:

Almost ignored in the coverage of his speech to the Commonwealth Club of San Francisco pleading for telecom immunity, Attorney General Michael Mukasey also said, quote, "Before 9/11, that‘s the call that we didn't know about. We knew there has been a call from someplace that was known to be a safe house in Afghanistan, and we knew that it came to the United States, we didn‘t know precisely where it went."

What? The government knew about some call from the safe house in Afghanistan into the U.S. about 9/11, before 9/11, and even though it had the same FISA courts and the same right to act against international targets in 2001 as it has does now, they didn't do anything about it?

Well, this would seem to leave only two options, either the attorney general just admitted that the government for he works is guilty of malfeasance complicity of the 9/11 attacks or he's lying.

I'm betting on lying. If not, somebody in Congress better put that man under oath right quick. You could send them to Gitmo I suppose.

Actually, I think this might well be consistent with Condoleezza Rice's own testimony to the 9/11 Commission, where she said

...Let me read you some of the actual chatter that we picked up that spring and summer: "Unbelievable news coming in weeks," "Big event ... there will be a very, very, very, very big uproar," "There will be attacks in the near future."

Troubling, yes. But they don't tell us when; they don't tell us where; they don't tell us who; and they don't tell us how.

I don't know, but if I was in a position of high office, I think I'd USE tools like FISA to be, you know, a little on the pro-active side, and not just sit around and wait for something to happen...which, as best as I can tell, is what the Bush administration DID. And no, that's not some weirdo conspiracy theory, but the facts as described by Rice...and now Mukasey (although, to be fair, the AG was a judge, not in the Executive Branch, on 9/11).

Under those circumstances, it becomes awfully ugly to use 9/11 as some sort of badge of honor and license to "sweep everything up, related or not" or whatever the hell it was that Don Rumsfeld said. 9/11 is a national tragedy--but it's also a badge of example of the sort of incompetence that subsequently brought us...Iraq, the response to Katrina and the flood, and so on.
Well, Imagine That...

Big oil claims their obscene profits are "in line with other industries."

I dunno--maybe they mean "industries" like loan sharking, drug dealing, and protection rackets.
Because Nothing Says "Presidential" Like...Bowling

I realize there are few depths to which modern punditry won't slink to with relish, but geez, this is ridiculous.

Besides, Joe, I don't doubt for a second that Barack Obama could wipe up the court with your red-faced, huffing, flabby ass if you tried to stay with him in a game of hoops.

Imagine if Lou REALLY Had to Go to the Back of the Bus

I find it instructive that Lou's gonna throw a big old hissy fit just because he thinks his views on race don't get no respect.

Monday, March 31, 2008

A Reminder...

This, according to the Bush administration, is what "success" means in Iraq:

A Modest Proposal

My suggestion/design for Alphonso Jackson's new accommodations:

A FEMA trailer, with tasteful chain-link topped by concertina wire.

Don't worry, we'll check it for formaldehyde--in warm weather, with all the windows open.
Not That It's Going To Happen, But...

...if William Jefferson wanted to salvage the last smidgen of his credibility, now would be a good time to resign:

The ruling that the Supreme Court declined to review held that the F.B.I.’s use of a "filter team" to examine the evidence from the [Jefferson's] office to determine what was clearly legislative, and therefore out of bounds, was not adequate to protect Congress’s constitutional right to operate without interference from the executive branch.

At issue was Article I, Section 6 of the Constitution, the "speech or debate" clause intended to protect lawmakers from being hounded by the executive branch while carrying out their legislative duties

And that was and is really the only "matter of principle" in this whole sordid mess. Jefferson, whether by design or accident, has made that point. Now, for the good of the Gret Stet, it would be appropriate for him to step down.

I've got a feeling, though, that I've got a better chance of seeing a flying pig.
Muqtada Al-Sadr is...The Candyman

h/t Rising Hegemon. Link:

Followers of Mr Sadr handed out sweets as a symbol of victory in his main stronghold of Sadr City, though hours later, rockets were still being fired towards the government and American headquarters in the Green Zone. The US military was shocked at the speed with which the crisis span out of control. Boasts about the ability of the Iraqi army to cope on its own are demonstrably untrue.

Prior to Mr Sadr's statement, Baghdad was under a curfew, which was expected to be lifted today.

In Basra, a mortar bomb fired by the Mehdi Army hit the palace housing the Iraqi military operations centres, killing one of Mr Maliki's top military advisers.

Of course, too bad they don't know the phenomenal success of the surge means this doesn't count.