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Wednesday, August 31, 2005

New Orleans refugees 


Bit by bit, I think the news media is getting it. I'm not sure if government officials have got it yet.
This is a disaster.
There was a bit of a "blame the victim" thing starting up yesterday in places in the media and the blogosphere, to the effect that people in New Orleans should have known better than to stay behind so anything that happened to them was their own fault.
But the magnitude of this disaster has overwhelmed that excuse. Aaron Brown was going on tonight about how uncomfortable he was calling his fellow Americans "refugees" -- but finally concluding he had to use that term because that is exactly what they are. Joe Scarborough and David Schuster on MSNBC were talking about how many people in Biloxi died because they didn't have $20 for a tank of gas and so couldn't leave town. The New York Times editorial ripped Bush a new one:
George W. Bush gave one of the worst speeches of his life yesterday, especially given the level of national distress and the need for words of consolation and wisdom. In what seems to be a ritual in this administration, the president appeared a day later than he was needed. He then read an address of a quality more appropriate for an Arbor Day celebration: a long laundry list of pounds of ice, generators and blankets delivered to the stricken Gulf Coast. He advised the public that anybody who wanted to help should send cash, grinned, and promised that everything would work out in the end. We will, of course, endure, and the city of New Orleans must come back. But looking at the pictures on television yesterday of a place abandoned to the forces of flood, fire and looting, it was hard not to wonder exactly how that is going to come to pass.
I think the media are beginning to ask, and in increasing strident tones, "What the hell are you doing to help?"
Personally, I am tired of hearing FEMA people talk endlessly during TV interviews about how nice they are to have come so far -- I want to ask them "Yes, but what are you getting done? Are you making these people's lives easier or are you harassing them with BS red tape?"
In Houston, apparently, the Astrodome will be open to refugees -- but only the refugees who came from the New Orleans dome, not any refugees who got to Houston on their own but now have no place to stay. And there seems to be a lot of fuzziness about how that evacuation is being done and how long it will actually last.
And I hear the FEMA director talk about how people don't have any money, and then he calmly announces that they really should get some from somewhere, like maybe from the Red Cross -- so I guess it was OK for the American government to hand out cash in Baghdad, but not in New Orleans.
Joe Scarborough had a very sensible idea tonight (the polarity of the earth is reversing, I know, but he DID!). He said people close enough to the disaster area should just load up their trucks with supplies and drive down and drop them off, then turn around and go get some more. I guess this is what people were doing during another recent disaster that Joe covered in Pensacola, Florida, and these acts of kindness made all the difference to the desperate people there.

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Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Don't you know me, I'm your native son? 

Now it will hit the fan: Editor And Publisher reports on Times-Picayune stories about how the Pentagon transfered to Iraq some of the funds which the Army Corps of Engineers wanted to use to improve New Orlean's levees -- the ones now breaking.
Watching CNN and MSNBC coverage today was heartbreaking. The beautiful, historic city of New Orleans survived the story but is now dying because of its infrastructure. Hundreds of people will die with her. Armando is also asking why the levees failed.
Broken levees in New Orleans:


People escaping:


People waiting for rescue. Look at the oil slick on the water surrounding this house:


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Monday, August 29, 2005

Great line of the day 

"The Rolling Stones are about to go out on tour. Tickets are $100 a piece. But the good news is -- Medicare will kick in half." --Jay Leno, from Late Night Political Jokes

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What an awful guy! 

'Venezuela to sell cut-price heating oil to U.S. poor' Oh, that Chavez, what a terrible guy! How dare you sell stuff cheaper to the poor -- why, they might start to think that everyone should do this. Its positively COMMIE!

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Monster mash 

In 'Got Morals?' Dibgy notes
Breaking treaties, throwing off old friends and partners, ignoring our own constitution and the rule of of law creates an impression that the United States is unreliable, immoral and aggressive. It makes us less safe. Only shallow people think that our country can fight off the whole world. Only delusional people would want us to try. Our moral authority is not an impediment that we can or should toss off when it is inconvenient. It is an absolutely nevessary component of our national security.
Well, duhhh!
As obvious as it is, I guess it still needs to be said.
It occurred to me the other day that the Bush administration has created a monster -- an America which believes the president can do whatever he wants, and the administration can do whatever it wants, regardless of court rulings (ie, Gitmo) and treaties (ie softwood lumber). This may come back to bite the Republicans in the ass someday.
As for the rest of us, living next to the 400 lb gorilla has never been as much fun as it looked, but it becomes even more challenging when the gorilla thinks he can just take whatever he wants from any of the other cages, and throw his garbage everywhere too.
He did the mash
He did the monster mash
The monster mash
It was a graveyard smash
He did the mash
It caught on in a flash
He did the mash
He did the monster mash

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Smoke Out  

Barb promotes the Mark Emery Smoke Out: Come out! Come out! Wherever you are!! to a demonstration to stop the extradition of Mark Emery and the Vancouver Three.

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Sunday, August 28, 2005

Another smart dog story 

I love stories like this AFP storyWell-trained dog bags a free ride home
When Archie the black labrador lost his owner on a lonely Scottish station, he proved his well-trained pedigree and jumped aboard the first train home. Not only did the dog catch the right train, he got off at the right station, the Mail on Sunday newspaper said. Owner Mike Taitt lost sight of Archie at Inverurie station, near Aberdeen in eastern Scotland, and was hoping someone would spot his tag and return the much-loved mutt. "He is a very intelligent dog," Taitt said. "When he could not find me, he simply took the right train home. He's been on that train before. I am convinced he knew it was the right one. But who knows?" Closed-circuit television footage shows the dog waiting for his master at the station before watching the Aberdeen to Inverness train pull in. Unable to find his owner, the black labrador decided to avoid a long walk home by nipping aboard the 20:38. He got out at the right stop, Insch, twelve minutes along the line to the bemusement of signalman Derek Hope. "There was a train conductor standing with Archie on the platform saying he had got on at Inverurie but didn't have a ticket," Hope said.
And I searched for a photo of Archie but couldn't find one on the web.

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Shorter Brooks 

Winning in Iraq: THIS strategy will WORK, I tell you!

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Great line of the day 

From the Binghampton, New York newspaper storyPeaceful siege makes chicken hawks squawk.
In an example of a great mind getting right to the heart of a matter, [Fox commentator] O'Reilly wrote last week: "No one in their right mind would want Michael Moore, George Soros or Cindy Sheehan calling the shots in the war on terror." Granted. Then again, could they botch the job any worse than the people now calling the shots? [emphasis mine]

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Next year country 

This National Post story - Klein must share: expert is simply unbelievable. "Thomas Courchene, senior scholar at Montreal's Institute for Research on Public Policy and a professor at Queen's University, said yesterday a portion of Alberta's projected $7-billion surplus should be shared with the other provinces."
Now I haven't checked with anyone because I don't want to ruin my amateur standing, but I think we have a formula for this. It is the federal-provincial equalization formula and it makes sure that the "have" provinces share with the "have-not" provinces.
If Ontario falls into the have-not category, then Alberta will share with them (unlike, say, Newfoundland, who negotiated their own deal outside the formula).
Now, I realize it is contrary to the rules of the universe that Ontario would ever fall into a "have not" category in comparison to Alberta, but take it from me, folks, from a province which has bounced back and forth depending on resource revenues, being a "have not" province is no shame -- its just the way things are that particular year.
There's always next year.

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Saturday, August 27, 2005

Chickenhawk is as chickenhawk does 

I'm not sure that I was very clear about what I meant in my recent post about America's new chickenhawk policy in Iraq.
First, let's define chickenhawk. A chickenhawk isn't just someone who supports a war, or someone who evades the military during a war. Rather, a chickenhawk is someone who does both -- who vocally and 'hawkishly' promotes a war, to the point of deriding the patriotism of anyone who opposes it, but who then deliberately finds excuses to chicken out of fighting in it. Thus the term "chicken'-'hawk'
Bush was chickenhawk about Vietnam, defending it in college debates but then getting Daddy to arrange a spot for him in the National Guard so he wouldn't have to go and fight overseas. Cheney was another vocal Vietnam supporter, who engineered five deferrments because he had better things to do with his life than fight the war. Most of the top people in the Bush administration can be called chickenhawks because they derided the patriotism of the anti-war protestors while also purposefully avoiding fighting in Vietnam. In my opinion there is nothing wrong with any American boy who avoided the Vietnam slaughter any way he could -- just don't go around at the time, or 30 years later, boasting about what a big-time patriotic war supporter you were!
Second, let's look at the reason Bush now gives for keeping the war going in Iraq. As he said in his weekend radio address "if we do not confront these evil men abroad, we will have to face them one day in our own cities and streets . . . the safety and security of every American is at stake in this war . . . By advancing the cause of liberty in a troubled region, we are bringing security to our own citizens and laying the foundations of peace for our children and grandchildren." So Bush's policy now is that war in Iraq must continue so that terrorists will stay in Iraq instead of attacking Americans in America.
Third -- and now we reach my point -- to me, this is a chickenhawk policy, both cowardly and cruel.
Bush is promoting a war in which Iraqis will die so Americans don't have to. He is saying that innocent Iraqi men, women and children should continue to deal with terrorist car bombs and suicide bombers and mortar attacks and gun battles, so that Americans can stay safe at home. The only Americans who risk death are the American soldiers unlucky enough to be stuck in Iraq as bait.
Now, I am not saying that this is a policy that Americans either want or endorse. Americans in general have always fought their own battles. But Bush and his gang are chickenhawks -- always have been -- so its not surprising that they would come up with a policy which turns all Americans into chickenhawks too.
Bush has said numerous times since 911 that he thinks his job is to keep Americans safe -- I am sure he is quite sincere in thinking that he is doing his job if he can get terrorists to kill Iraqis instead of Americans.
But I ask, and the world should ask -- who gave Bush permission to use Iraqis as human shields? How cruel it is for America to force Iraqis to fight and die, just so that Americans themselves can be safe. Only a coward could come up with such a policy.

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Thursday, August 25, 2005

If you cannot remember their names . . . 

I have my own Statue of Limitations for when an historical outrage should be answered with a derisive "get over it!"
I believe that history is Officially Over when it happened to relatives whose names you can no longer remember.
I thought of this again when I read Driftglass's hypothesis that Iraq is another example of the American tendency to fight the Civil War again and again:
. . . war always shows up brightly in the emotional spectrum, and certain wars – lost wars -- burn like the fire of a thousand suns. Some people (most notably and locally, certain Red State citizens) obsessively re-fight them over and over again, generation after generation. Losers forever stand on the neck of history, jumping up-and-down, demanding a do-over. And when the banner the losing side fought under was hateful and repulsive, the lies and delusions that the defeated use to radically revise and prettify a murderous history and ideology into a glorious and noble “Lost Cause” also get passed down, father to son, like hemophilia. So look at the brief and bloody history of Iraq and note that...
...it is a war began by a Southern President.
...it is a war began by rich men and fought by the poor.
...it is war sold to Americans as a Noble Cause.
...it is a war of pre-emption against a hated enemy that we were told we HAD to attack before it was too late.
...it is a war sold on the defense of our “way of life” rather than a specific, measurable, strategic objective.
And come the 2004 election -- an election was all about Iraq -- look how the nation split, right down the Mason-Dixon Line.
If this is correct, then the Civil War now falls well beyond my Statute of Limitations rule -- it happened to the great-great-great-great grandparents of the soldiers now in Iraq.
It may be surprising to our American friends, but many other countries in the world are actually somewhat ashamed of their wars -- war is usually just a failure of diplomacy and, even when successful, most people aren't very happy to have had to fight them. They blame them on their leaders, and often boot these leaders out of office as soon as they can once the war is over.
But Americans show a tendency to romanticize their wars, and Iraq is no exception. So maybe Driftglass is correct, that Iraq is just another metaphorical do-over. And if so, I would ask just how many people have to die so the good ole boys can whoop and holler? How high does the price of oil have to go and how far into the tank does the world economy have to sink before the do-over lust is satisfied? There's a limit to how many generations the world can continue to tolerate this egotistical self-indulgence.
America, get over it!

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Great line(s) of the day 

From the Smirking Chimp: Phil Rockstroh: 'Listen up, you Christo-Fascist bullies':
. . . The time is long past due the rest of us ceased our cowering and stood up to you Christo-fascists bullies. The hour has come round that we look you straight in your bulging, true believer eyes, and told you that we've had it with your smugness, with your blood-drenched crusades, with your victim mentality . . . It's high time someone told you outright that you must be suffering from holy water on the brain, if you think we can't see you for what you are: a klavern of counterfeit prophets waxing psychotic for other cretinous hypocrites. Also, you can cease playing the persecuted party, whenever someone stands up to you -- because we're no longer buying that ploy. . . . When did the golden light of the sun abandon its position in the eastern horizon and begin rising, each morning, from out of your silly, neo-Iron Age asses? . . . every last one of you Apostles of Perpetual Psychosis -- listen up. Given the self-evident fact that your beliefs bring little relief to your own troubled souls and have, on the whole, served to engender tragedy worldwide, don't you think it's time you gave it a rest for while. In other words, this is a polite way of suggesting to you that you shut your pie-in-the-sky hole and take stock of the things you're saying -- because your utterances are becoming sicker and sadder, by the hour. If not, you could, at least, in the words, of Tom Waits, 'Come down off the cross -- we can use the wood.'

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Glory, glory 


Brian Gable, Globe and Mail

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Wednesday, August 24, 2005

The 400 lb gorilla as emperor 

Pogge notes Lloyd Axworthy's latest rant -- Time to redefine ties with U.S. I'm not sure whether I agree with Axworthy's advice, to dump NAFTA and pursue global trade instead, but I can certainly agree that the 400 lb gorilla is throwing its weight around:
. . . we are dealing with an American political system currently steeped in the ideology of "empire." It recognizes few rules, adheres only to those treaties that are expedient to basic interests, and believes that the only political currency that counts is the exercise of raw power. In its mildest form, it practises a la carte bilateralism, co-operating only when it wants to, and when it suits short-term domestic or international objectives. In its bad days, it simply follows a strategy of "take no prisoners," "damn the torpedoes, full steam ahead," "don't tread on me," "America First," or any other of the clichés used by ultra-patriots. These are the extant policy directives from the White House. While most Canadians responded with dismay to the U.S. invasion of Iraq, few could quite grasp that the same cavalier, imperial attitudes exemplified in Washington's rejection of various agreements on disarmament, its fierce opposition to the International Criminal Court, its indifference to climate-change warnings, and its undermining of the U.N. would prevail in our continental relationship as well. There is a chronic and dangerous failure to fully appreciate the shift going on in the political demographics of the U.S. and how this change affects attitudes not only toward Canada but also to the broad U.S. approach to its international role. The reality is that political power is shifting to the south and west of the United States, bringing with it less understanding or interest in our country and certainly an anti-internationalist notion that the U.S. can and should go it alone. Growing, as well, is the attitude — especially prevalent amongst congressional Republicans — that the U.S. should legislate extraterritorially to compel other countries to abide by its decisions. Anyone who thinks that neighbourly proximity brings favours or privileges is living in a dream world. In the changing landscape of U.S. politics and policies, Canada lacks the necessary traction . . . Let's face it: This is a painful and uncertain time in our relations with the United States. Muddling through from crisis to crisis won't work. Neither will listening to the chorus of continentalist claptrap promoting more U.S.-Canada integration — look no farther than the present disputes to see where such policies have landed us — or the calls for protectionism and retaliation that can still be heard from the Left. It's time for new policies and tough action to shift our trade and security strategies away from a preoccupation with continental matters to a more global footing.
I think we will need more than just new trade policies to deal with this challenge.

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Joke of the Day 

Today in Iraq notes the WP's reference to many versions of the Bush Lightbulb Joke. Here's one:
How many members of the Bush administration does it take to change a light bulb? Ten.
One to deny that a light bulb needs to be changed;
One to attack the patriotism of anyone who says the light bulb needs to be changed;
One to blame Clinton for burning out the light bulb;
One to announce to the nations of the world that they are either for changing the light bulb or for eternal darkness;
One to give a billion dollar no-bid contract to Halliburton for the new light bulb;
One to arrange a photograph of Bush, dressed as a janitor, standing on a step ladder under the banner 'Bulb Accomplished';
One administration insider to leak how Bush was literally 'in the dark' the whole time;
One to viciously smear the insider;
One to write the talking points about how George Bush has had a strong light-bulb-changing policy all along;
And finally, one to confuse Americans about the difference between screwing a light bulb and screwing the country.

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For what it's worth 

There's something happening here. What it is ain't exactly clear:
A Very Slight Change in the Script

There's a man with a gun over there telling me I got to beware :
Legionnaires Condemn War Protests, Pledge Support for President, Troops

Stop, children, what's that sound? Everybody look what's going down:
Iraq Shi'ite militias fight as splits emerge

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Tuesday, August 23, 2005

"Who would Jesus assassinate?" 

First, lets make no mistake about what Pat Robertson actually said:
We have the ability to take him [Chavez] out, and I think the time has come that we exercise that ability. We don't need another $200 billion war to get rid of one, you know, strong-arm dictator. It's a whole lot easier to have some of the covert operatives do the job and then get it over with.
"Who would Jesus Assassinate?" asked Keith Olbermann at Countdown tonight.
One question raised by the whole Pat Robertson episode is whether being a religious extremist cause you to become mentally ill, or whether being mentally ill leads to religious extremism? Either way, Robertson now qualifies (see also Phelps, Fred).
But today's most remarkable non-denial denial statement came from Donald Rumsfeld. The AP story 'U.S. dodges Robertson comments on Chavez' includes a pretty lackluster distancing from Robertson's remarks and quotes Rumsfeld as saying "Our department doesn't do that kind of thing. It's against the law. He's a private citizen. Private citizens say all kinds of things all the time."
Oh, that Rummy -- just so coy, isn't he? Lets take a closer look at that remarkable statement:
"Our department doesn't do that kind of thing" -- baldfaced balderdash. Remember, for example, the Phoenix program in Vietnam. And the CIA has admitted to political assassinations like that of Allende in Chile. Bush's Herod Doctrine now OKs US preemptive strikes. And don't forget Ari Fleisher's remark in October, 2002 about how one bullet for Saddam wouldn't cost very much.
"Its against the law." Well, yes, it is contrary to international law as well as being a completely short-sighted and self-defeating policy. Of course, the US isn't a member of the international court, and the invasion of Iraq was against the law too. . .
"He's a private citizen." Yeah, like Saddam Hussein is now a private citizen. Pat Robertson hosts one of the most popular TV shows in the world, the 700 club; he tried to run for president 18 years ago, and still has influence in both the White House and Congress. So please excuse the world for thinking that maybe someone got him to run up a flag to see if somebody salutes.
"Private citizens say all kinds of things all the time." --well, yeah, but that doesn't mean remarks like this are just ignored. There is such a thing as hate speech, and the Secret Service is supposed to keep track of 'private citizens' who go around making threatening remarks about government leaders.
It just goes to prove how right Chretien was: "If you start changing regimes, where do you stop, this is the problem. Who is next? Give me the list, the priorities."

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Credentials? Need some nice credentials , fella? 

Why, yes, don't mind if I do.
Thanks to The Poorman, I now hereby claim the title of Distinguished Senior Fellow (DSF) of The Poor Man Institute.
To demonstrate the quality of this fine institution, I also want to inform both of my readers about the Institute's latest cause celebre -- The Elder Lifestyle. Watch out, everyone!
It is impossible to look at today’s society and not notice that something is wrong. There is a sickness at the core of our culture, a rot, a decay. There is a fetid odor rising from the stangnant sewer of American society, and it smells suspiciously like that weird funk at grandma’s house. I’m referring, of course, to the practitioners of the trendy, and morally dangerous, elderly lifestyle. There is no doubt that the numbers of the elderly have grown, and will continue to grow, unless something is done to stop it. While elderly advocacy groups claim they are not trying to recruit new members, the numbers speak for themselves. More and more people are dropping out of the workforce, picking up Social Security checks, and planting themselves in front of the PAX channel at taxpayer expense. Many people feel that we should be tolerant of the elderly lifestyle. They say that it isn’t hurting anybody, that they can’t help it, that it is “natural”, etc. “What’s the big deal if we just lay down and do nothing while old people ruin everything that’s good and true in the world?” they ask. The elderly lifestyle is a choice. No one is born liking Antiques Roadshow. No one is born wanting to hike their pants up to their armpits and turn the heat up to 87°F and babble endlessly about how much things used to cost and how no one ever visits them and how much better everything used to be. Admittedly, most people are born wrinkly, toothless, whiney and incontinent, but that’s just the point! How are we supposed to teach our children to be responsible adults when the media keeps pushing a hip and resposibility-free elderly lifestyle of adult diapers, free money, and all the pills you can pop? And study after study has shown that “going old” is a gateway to the dead lifestyle. The Poor Man Institute for Freedom and Democracy and a Pony recommends that Congress enact a law making 47 the maximum age allowable by law. After you get to 47, you have to stop. Enough is enough. For, as the Bible teaches: “Old […] people […] are […] wicked”. (Genesis 5:32 - 19:7)
Pretty good, except, for obvious reasons, I disagree with the "Stop 47" law.
Personally, I think it would be much better just to enact a constitutional ammendment in both Canada and the United States which simply disallows skin wrinkling and all other kinds of interior organ deterioration whatsovever. That way, we can all just stay young forever.
Great idea, huh? That's the kind of high-quality thinking you will be getting now on this blog, now that I am a Distinguished Senior Fellow (DSF)!
-signed, CathiefromCanada, DSF

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There ain't nobody here but us chickens 

Speaking of chickenhawks, take a look at some of these liberals, trying to get Martin to break his election-in-30-days promise, just so they can hang onto their seats for a few more months. The Globe story -- 'Martin faces pressure to put off election call' -- quote "a senior Liberal" as saying "there are hints that the other parties would agree to a motion to delay any election until the spring. 'The question is, who puts forward that motion?' the Liberal said."
Well, it had better not be Paul Martin.

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Well, that explains it then 

Time magazine's article 'Inside Iran's Secret War for Iraq' quotes numerous unnamed sources and senior US military officers, as well as an "informed Western observer" and "western diplomats", and also intelligence officials (some of whom are "top", as in "top diplomats and intelligence officials").
A lot of these people seem to think that the Sunni/Baathist insurgency was actually, really, all along, an Iranian-backed Shia insurgency with training camps in Lebanon and some relationship to Hizbolla or something. And they're sneaking arms across the border and "Businesses, front companies, religious groups, NGOs and aid for schools and universities are all part of the mix". Too many Iraqis now have a "shared world view with Tehran".
So it seems pretty definite . . . whatever it is, its all Iran's fault.

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Portrait of a Lost War 

I had been wondering what the US military was actually doing in Iraq these days.
Not very much, I think. The Americans military seens to be playing a static, zero-sum game, hoping that no one in Washington notices their lack of progress.
Recent news stories about US soldiers have talked about how some never left their Iraq bases at all. And I haven't noticed any stories anymore about military types - or anyone else for that matter -- going around constructing schools or hospitals or rebuilding electrical substations or water works. They're doing busywork like staffing checkpoints to protect the Green Zone in Baghdad, and they're operating huge prisons, and they're trying to keep the airport open. When American bases are fired on by insurgents, they still seem to be sending out expeditions to try to find the attackers, and they also still seem to be undertaking occasional patrols, though as described by even the cheerleading embedded reporters, these patrols don't seem to have much purpose. In general, it has been my impression that the American troops are hunkered down in their bases and aren't making much progress on anything in Iraq.
This Guardian story confirms that scenario -- Under US noses, brutal insurgents rule Sunni citadel
. . . There is no fighting here [in Haditha] because there is no one to challenge the Islamists. The police station and municipal offices were destroyed last year and US marines make only fleeting visits every few months . . . A year ago Haditha was just another sleepy town in western Anbar province, deep in the Sunni triangle and suspicious of the Shia-led government in Baghdad but no insurgent hotbed. Then, say residents, arrived mostly Shia police with heavyhanded behaviour. 'That's how it began,' said one man. Attacks against the police escalated until they fled, creating a vacuum filled by insurgents. Alcohol and music deemed unIslamic were banned, women were told to wear headscarves and relations between the sexes were closely monitored. The mobile phone network was shut down but insurgents retained their walkie-talkies and satellite phones. Right-hand lanes are reserved for their vehicles. From attacks on US and Iraqi forces it is clear that other Anbar towns, such as Qaim, Rawa, Anna and Ramadi, are to varying degrees under the sway of rebels. In Haditha hospital staff and teachers are allowed to collect government salaries in Ramadi, the capital of Anbar, but other civil servants have had to quit . . . DVDs of beheadings [of accused 'spies'] on the bridge are distributed free . . . One DVD features a young, blond muscular man who had been disembowelled. He was said to have been a member of a six-strong US sniper team ambushed and killed on August 1. Residents said he had been paraded in town before being executed. The US military denied that, saying six bodies were recovered and that all appeared to have died in combat. Shortly after the ambush three landmines killed 14 marines in a convoy which ventured from their base outside the town. Twice in recent months marines backed by aircraft and armour swept into Haditha to flush out the rebels . . . the insurgents withdrew for a few days and returned when the Americans left . . . their strategy appears to be to wait out the Americans, calculating they will leave within a few years, and then escalate what some consider the real war against a government led by Shias . . . The constitution talks, the referendum due in October, the election due in December: all are deemed collaboration punishable by death. The task now is to bleed the Americans and destabilise the government. Some call that nihilism. Haditha calls it the future.

What a pointless excuse for a war this has turned into. And the biggest betrayal is this -- those Iraqis who believed in America and supported the troops and tried to work in the new regime are the ones now being shot or beheaded by the insurgents -- just like Vietnam, eh?

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Monday, August 22, 2005

Columnist Carlos Pietri, at V Headline (a Venezuala electronic news service) writes about Rumsfeld's recent visit -- and it looks like Rummy has been making himself just as well loved there as he is in the capitals of Europe. In a column entitled 'Not Chavez, Castro or Morales who undermined US influence in Latin America' Pietri says
. . . Definitively his stupidity is so great that he does not see what is evident to every one: the true causes of the Bolivian crisis was the influence of the United States in the region ... they have promoted poverty, war, corruption, drugs trafficking, historical injustice, exclusion and especially the displeasure of the Bolivian people . . . It is evident that President Chavez "has influenced" the people of Bolivia, but not to destabilize it or to promote some king of illegal activity, but to encourage Mr. Morales to fight for the well-being of his people, in which I do not see anything wrong . In Latin America, the United States has had bad antecedents through supporting dictatorial regimes if they favor of their USA interests. The United States has always forgotten that they will gain more by policies of rapprochement rather than promoting divisions ... that help offered must be directed to the interests of the needy and simply not to their own greed. The "proof" that Rumsfeld said exists on Cuba and Venezuela influencing the situation in Bolivia is as nebulous as the "intelligence" relating to the existence of arms of mass destruction in Iraq. . . . Will Rumsfeld not be thinking about a possible invasion of Bolivia ... or Venezuela? It's clear that Rumsfeld, Bush, Cheney, and Condoleezza are only interested in continuing to rob Bolivian petroleum and gas ... THAT is the real subject ... anything else is pure lies and falsification. . . . I reiterate, it is not Chavez, Castro or Morales who have undermined the influence of the United States in Latin-America ... it has been the immorality of the people who govern the country of the north.



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Saturday, August 20, 2005

Revealed at last: the "American Chickenhawk" Policy 

NOW I get it.
The 101st Fighting Keyboarders got it all along, while the progressive bloggers did not.
And no wonder Bush can't meet with Cindy Sheehan.
Bush said in his radio address today "if we do not confront these evil men abroad, we will have to face them one day in our own cities and streets . . . the safety and security of every American is at stake in this war . . . " and he continued with the newest American buzzwords: "By advancing the cause of liberty in a troubled region, we are bringing security to our own citizens and laying the foundations of peace for our children and grandchildren."
In other words -- as long as Afghanistan and Iraq are battlefields then the Unites States itself will not be. Iraqis and Afghans must fight so that the security of the United States will be protected. Their men, women and children must die so that Americans don't have to. Casey Sheehan and 1800 other American suckers were collateral damage to the main goal, trading tens of thousands of 'Haji' lives for American ones. Bush is waging an illegal war in the Middle East so that Americans can stay home and stay safe.
All those young republicans and upper-class American twits who won't sign up for military service have got it exactly right -- why should they waste their their beautiful minds on something like that?
This policy will make sure that all Americans are just like Bush and Cheney and Rummy and Wolfie and Condi -- chickenhawks.
Hey, reminds me of a song:
There ain't nobody here but us chickens
There ain't nobody here at all
So quiet yourself,
And stop your fuss
There ain't nobody here but us
Kindly point that gun,
The other way
And hobble, hobble hobble off and
Hit the hay. . .

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Good, bad, ugly 

Good.

Non-Sequitur

Bad

Cam Cardow, Ottawa Citizen

Ugly

Brian Gabel, Globe and Mail

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Friday, August 19, 2005

Iraq in 7 acts - its a one-way trip 

I love the Smirking Chimp. I don't know where they find this stuff, but it is a terrific daily round-up of lots that is important or interesting or funny.
For example, this article today by writer Rich Procter: 'Iraq: A drama in 7 acts (4 down, 3 to go)'
Act One - The Glorious National March to Victory!
Act Two - Things Go Wrong
Act Three - Turning Points that Aren't
Act Four - "Oh Shit" Moments Mushroom
Act Five - Sickening Realization that We've Already Lost. Panic. Dread. Denial.
Act Six - Call Defeat "Victory", Get the Hell Out
Act Seven - Blame, Demonize and Punish the Innocent, Reward the Guilty
Here's how he describes Act Five, where, he says, the US is today:
Presidential poll numbers tank. "Hoo-Yah!" War Hawks begin issuing measured statements in the passive voice ("Mistakes have been made. Tough choices cloud exit scenarios. New approaches are being considered.") Members of the President's own party inch away from him, fearing collateral damage. The most deluded Hawks fall back on the ultimate piece of political boilerplate, "We must win because we can't afford to lose" (without revealing how we achieve this miracle.)
And for all of you too young to remember, this is exactly what happened in Vietnam, too. Proctor finishes the article by saying
Any chance we can head off another decade of war? Another 10-20,000 deaths? Not
with War President "Never Made A Mistake, Won't Change Course, Everything's
Hunky-Dory, Get Outta My Driveway, You Peaceniks!" As Edward G. Robinson said in
"Double Indemnity," (We've) "got to ride this streetcar to the end of the line,
and it's a one-way trip and the last stop is the cemetery."

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Getting out 

In her demand for real answers, Cindy may also have inspired a new focus on realism about Iraq -- as shown by these two major posts today.
This is why I read Eschaton:
. . .conventional wisdom of 'liberal hawks' and 'liberal not hawks' regarding Iraq is basically about the same. We need to get out. The latter emphasize the importance of 'getting out now' while the former epmhasize 'getting out as soon as we can subject to things being better in some undefined way,' but the positions aren't really so different. The 'hawks' are just more wedded to the idea that we have to be able to 'declare victory' while the 'not hawks' think that little chest beating is not actually all that important. But, none of these people are George W. Bush. As we know, but no one talks about, we have no intention of getting out now or ever . . . .It's time for the Biden Democrats, in one of the infinite Sunday show appearances, to raise the issue of the administration's long term intentions in Iraq. If the stubborn George W. Bush intends to leave troops in that country forever, then no talk of getting out, either on a rigid or flexible timetable, is relevant.
And this is why I read Kevin Drum:
. . . they [he's talking about some liberal hawks], and many people like them, keep telling us that we need to stay in Iraq even though they seemingly agree that no one has a credible plan for accomplishing our goals there. This doesn't make any sense. Either you believe that there's a way we can win in Iraq — a real way that involves the leadership of George Bush and his staff, not some fantasy scenario in which he suddenly turns into the reincarnation of FDR — or you don't. And the only reason to stay in Iraq is if you think we can win . . . no one, neither Democrat nor Republican, has presented a convincing plan for winning in Iraq under the present circumstances. The insurgency is not going to give up, the Army doesn't seem to have any kind of consistent commitment to using counterinsurgency techniques against it, we don't know for sure that they'd work anyway, and let's face it: the track record of major powers beating large-scale overseas insurgencies is close to zero in the past half century. So what's the plan? I happen to think a timed withdrawal is probably the best bet left to us, although I admit that I suspect Iraq is going to end up in chaos no matter what we do. That would be a disaster, but if we can't stop it anyway there's no point in making things worse by staying. For now, that's pretty much where I'm at, and anyone who disagrees really needs to give the chin scratching a rest and tell us clearly and concisely what they'd do differently to turn the tide in this war. Time has run out.

I cannot tell you the number of useless, pointless articles and editorials I have read in the last three years which went on and on about how, if Bush and Rumsfeld and Cheney would only do W, X,Y and Z in Iraq, then everything would work out just fine.
The trouble was, the W,X,Y, and Z solutions always involved things that nobody in the Bush administration had any intention of doing -- like turning the occupation over to the UN or solving the Israeli/Palestine problem or letting the Iraq government decide for themselves whether they wanted American troops to stay or not. It was great today to see both Atrios and Drum demand that people start demanding real answers -- and from the Bush administration, not from the Senate minority leadership and Michael Moore.

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And just when George was likely driving down the road to see her! 

Cindy Sheehan had to leave her antiwar camp this afternoon to go to her ill mother.
Quick, cue the batmobile -- so the right wingers can now say that Bush WOULD have talked to her if she had just BEEN there.

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Thursday, August 18, 2005

If we don't remember the past, are we doomed to repeat it? 

The CTV headine says CMA supports parallel, private health system, the Globe says CMA backs private care, and the CBC headline reads CBC News: Doctors support parallel private health system at CMA meeting in Edmonton> Now, I didn't think that the doctors themselves were really quite as definite as these headlines imply, and indeed the CBC story also reports that the incoming Canadian Medical Association president Dr. Ruth Collins-Nakai said the motion "merely reflects a recent Supreme Court decision, which upheld the right of Quebecers to turn to private health insurance if the public system fails them."
But when headline writers can so blithely write off the public health care system, it does indicate that our beloved system is losing the public relations battle.
These headline writers, and reporters, and I think most of the doctors too, likely do not remember a time when medicare was not available.
I do. Or, at least, I remember the doctor's strike in July of 1962 in Saskatchewan. I was a teenager at the time, and I remember how scared we all were without doctors. And a baby died of meningitis because his parents couldn't find a doctor to care for him. I remember my parents, both CCFers, talking about how important it was that the government hold fast and keep up the fight.
According to a doctor in Prince Albert, who was one of the few at the time who supported medicare, the first summer medicare was in force he saw dozens of people with medical conditions they had neglected for years, because they couldn't afford a doctor and had been too proud to ask for charity.
We need to remember all of this -- how painful and dangerous and humiliating it was to be unable to afford a doctor; and how hard it was to bring medicare into existence. We simply cannot loose it just because we take it for granted now.

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Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Cindy leads the way 



New York


Nebraska


Kansas City


Portland, Oregon


Los Angeles


Las Vegas


Washington


Jackson, Miss.


Milwaukee


Philadelphia


Durhan, North Carolina


Pawtucket, Rhode Island


Notice how many of these protesters were my age and older?
Like I said before, it's the parents who are leading the anti-war movement this time. We now know a bright shining lie when we hear it.

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All we are saying is give peace a chance 

An AP story which, for a change, gives sympathetic coverage to anti-war protests: Vigils Calling for End to Iraq War Begin"More than 1,600 vigils were planned Wednesday from coast to coast by liberal advocacy groups MoveOn.org Political Action, TrueMajority and Democracy for America. A large vigil was also planned in Paris . . . Some 200 people joined a peace vigil in Cincinnati's Fountain Square. Demonstrators softly sang "Give Peace A Chance" and lined one side of the square with signs, drawing honks of support from some passing motorists."

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Monday, August 15, 2005

It was all Poland's fault! 

In The Steam is turned on Rigorous Intuition has created a brilliant and chilling post.
He quotes William Shirer's journal entry for August 10, 1939:
How completely isolated a world the German people live in. A glance at the newspapers yesterday and today reminds you of it. Whereas all the rest of the world considers that the peace is about to be broken by Germany, that it is Germany that is threatening to attack Poland over Danzig, here in Germany, in the world the local newspapers create, the very reverse is being maintained. (Not that it surprises me, but when you are away for a while, you forget.) What the Nazi papers are proclaiming is this: that it is Poland which is disturbing the peace of Europe; Poland which is threatening Germany with armed invasion, and so forth. This is the Germany of last September when the steam was turned on Czechoslavakia. For perverse perversion of the truth, this is good. You ask: But the German people can't possibly believe these lies? Then you talk to them. So many do.
RI then notes that Shirer also said most Germans were opposed to the war, feared it, and didn't really expect it to come. But it came.
As RI points out, it only takes a few people in key positions to make a war happen, regardless of how insane a misadventure it seems to everyone else. "I've seen nothing to suggest that real men no longer want to go to Tehran."

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And now for something completely different 

Ok, lets lighten up! Here, just for fun, is the Yawn of the Tiger:

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Enormous, mendacious, disembodied . . . 

The Poorman is the funniest person on the internet, left OR right. On Sunday, the internets rocked with his "Lying asshole" tune -- he created it in response to right-wing blogger John Cole calling him a lying asshole because he defended Cindy Sheehan after RedState's calling her a media whore -- follow that?
Anyway, just sing this to the tune of “Kokomo”:
Enormous, mendacious, disembodied anus
You rectum, fifth column, objectively pro-Saddam
Half-Swedish, pro-moorish, deceptive chocolate starfish

On the internets
There are lying assholes
And they say I said all these things I never said at all
Dead body in the sand
If his mom don’t like it she’s a “media whore”
Hey don’t you dare get mad
It’s just a metaphor!
You lying asshole
CHORUS
Ooo I really hate those lying assholes
They say I’m all talk
Because I won’t go to the recruiter
That’s cuz I’m fighting on my computer!
Lying assholes
Nine eleven, a little slice of heaven
Guantanimo Bay
Is a luxurious get-away
Eat lemon chicken in the Sun all day
They call me a wingnut
Because my party bashes faggots
I’ve got an answer for that:
Michael Moore is fat
Lying asshole
CHORUS
And then today he writes The Parrot Sketch :
When the Bushies should have been putting together a national security strategy, they decided to put on an ad campaign for the war. (This is an administration, after all, that has Karl Rove crafting policy.) Fortunately for them, none of their supporters understand the ass-elbow distinction between policy and talking point, so, even though the case never got much penetration into the wider public, it was enough to get the war started. But, as time drags on, and the casualties and costs keep mounting, the ad campaign is starting to feel a bit hollow. (Why, then, was the war fought? Good question. Really, really, really good question. Go hang out with Cindy Sheehan down in Texas and maybe the President will deign to give you an honest answer. But pack your big suitcase.) The American public was sold a dead Norwegian Blue nailed to its perch. The people who sold it to them have endless excuses for why it's not really dead - and have you noted the beautiful plumage! - but they are starting to reach levels of absurdity that even the most gullible and trusting among us can recognize as bullshit. Cindy Sheehan is banging the parrot's stiff corpse against the counter, screaming in its ear, and about to reel off a very long list of synonyms for 'dead'. This war is an ex-parrot.

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Just a small war, really 

One thing we must all remember is this -- you don't need many troops to fight a nuclear war.
In 'Social Security Lessons' Krugman identifies two looming Bush iniatives: Iran, and tax cuts. He thinks tax cuts are on the horizon but about Iran he blithely writes: "Despite the tough talk about Iran, I don't think [Bush] can propose another war - there aren't enough troops to fight the wars we already have."
But you don't need troops to fight Iran, not really -- all you need are bases close enough to allow quick, decisive and massive bombing runs, using small, tactical nuclear weapons to utterly destroy as much as possible of Iran's military capacity and uranium enrichment facilities.
Now we have those bases built in Iraq.
As discussed in a comment thread downstream, I think America would have used nuclear weapons against Hanoi to "win" in Vietnam except that the strength of the anti-war movement at that time in the US convinced the armed forces leadership and Nixon that they could never get away with this.
Now we have the Bush administration, who don't care what anyone does, says or thinks.
So the stage is set, just waiting for a script, and a cast and crew.
At the end of July, we had a short but scary note in Pat Buchannan's American Conservative magazine, when former CIA agent Phillip Giraldi describes the main elements of the script -- how Cheney has decided that the next terrorist attack on the US will be the excuse for an attack on Iran:
The plan includes a large-scale air assault on Iran employing both conventional and tactical nuclear weapons. Within Iran there are more than 450 major strategic targets, including numerous suspected nuclear-weapons-program development sites. Many of the targets are hardened or are deep underground and could not be taken out by conventional weapons, hence the nuclear option. As in the case of Iraq, the response is not conditional on Iran actually being involved in the act of terrorism directed against the United States. Several senior Air Force officers involved in the planning are reportedly appalled at the implications of what they are doing—that Iran is being set up for an unprovoked nuclear attack - but no one is prepared to damage his career by posing any objections.
Nice to know that so many senior military officers put their own careers ahead of hundreds of thousands of lives, isn't it?
Anyway, the information about the cast and crew is contained in a rather odd publication called the Executive Intelligence Review, where self-described intelligence expertJeffrey Steinberg notes that on inauguration day Cheney had appeared on the Imus show: "Using language identical to his earlier lies about Iraq, Cheney accused Iran of pursuing "a fairly robust nuclear program" and of sponsoring terrorism. "That combination is of great concern," he declared, warning that Israel could be expected to launch preventive bombing attacks on Iran's alleged nuclear weapons sites, if the Iranians don't abandon those supposed nuclear efforts." Steinberg also notes a number of other relevant events:
[In November, 2004] Dr. Jerome Corsi, a leading player in the Karl Rove-inspired dirty-tricks apparatus known as Swift Boat Veterans for the Truth, suddenly emerged as the new head of the Iran Freedom Foundation (IFF), promoting regime change in Tehran. Corsi was touted by Sen. Rick Santorum (R-Pa.) as being the driving force behind the Iran Freedom and Support Act of 2005, which calls for $10 million in funds to be handed out to Iranian dissident groups . . . In March 2005, Corsi published another propaganda book, Atomic Iran, peddling scare stories about Iran's imminent possession of nuclear bombs. From May 15 to May 18, Dr. Corsi led an "Iran Freedom Walk" from Philadelphia to Washington, where a rally was addressed by neo-con Richard Perle, and where Corsi was congratulated, in a written statement, by Dick Cheney. In April 2005, Regnery Publishing, Inc. released another fractured-fairy-tale propaganda piece, promoting pre-emptive war on Iran, this one by Rep. Curt Weldon (R-Pa.). Sources familiar with the book report that Weldon was snookered by ex-CIA Director and leading neo-con war party operative James Woolsey, and self-proclaimed "universal fascist" Michael Ledeen, into buying fake intelligence, pushed through a former Iranian minister under the Shah, who has more recently been a business partner of discredited Iran-Contra gun dealer Manucher Ghorbanifar. Representative Weldon concealed the identity of his high-level "source," referring to him only as "Ali." But "Ali" was soon identified as Fereidoun Mahdavi, a former commerce minister, who fled Iran shortly after the 1979 Islamic Revolution, and never looked back. In an interview with The American Prospect's Laura Rozen, Mahdavi professed shock and outrage that his "information" had formed the basis for Weldon's shrill book. He confirmed that all of the information he passed on to the Congressman had, in fact, originated with Ghorbanifar, a notorious disinformationist, and Iran-Contra ally of the Washington neo-cons. Weldon's saga with "Ali," as recounted in his book, Countdown to Terror-The Top-Secret Information That Could Prevent the Next Terrorist Attack on America ... And How the CIA Has Ignored It, began in March 2003, at the very moment that the Bush-Cheney regime was about to launch its Iraq invasion. In late June of this year, Kenneth Timmerman, a propagandist for the neo-cons and for right-wing Israeli circles around former Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, published another book, Countdown to Crisis: The Coming Nuclear Showdown With Iran, which makes a string of preposterous claims, all based on information provided by the Mujahideen-e-Khalq, an Iranian exile group on the U.S. State Department's list of Foreign Terrorist Organizations. Timmerman asserted that: Iran was behind the 9/11 attacks; Iran is safehousing Osama bin Laden inside the country; and Iran has all of the elements to produce nuclear weapons, and possibly provide them to terrorist cells already infiltrated into American cities.
When the Timmerman book was published, the Washington Times ran three days of excerpts, along with an editorial touting the book and calling for action against Iran. If all of this sounds remarkably similar to the propaganda run-up to the Iraq invasion of March 2003, that's because it is. The same Michael Ledeen/Richard Perle/Dick Cheney circles that brought you Operation Iraqi Freedom, are aggressively pushing war against Iran. But this time, with 170,000 American troops bogged down in Iraq, Cheney, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, et al. are now pushing their decade-old plan to conduct pre-emptive nuclear strikes.
Horrifying, isn't it. And what would the world do? Is there any way to stop this madness?
Just how much can anti-war supporters in the US expect Cindy Sheehan do all by herself?

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Sunday, August 14, 2005

Look foolish and leave 

It's pretty clear now that the US is just trying to declare victory and leave. But the more Bush babbles about defeating the terrorists and all that, the more foolish he looks. He had better develop a grasp of reality and leave before the world laughs him out of Iraq.
Frank Rich at the New York Times, in his column Someone Tell the President the War Is Over says:
What lies ahead now in Iraq instead is not victory, which Mr. Bush has never clearly defined anyway, but an exit (or triage) strategy that may echo Johnson's March 1968 plan for retreat from Vietnam: some kind of negotiations (in this case, with Sunni elements of the insurgency), followed by more inflated claims about the readiness of the local troops-in-training, whom we'll then throw to the wolves . . . Thus the president's claim on Thursday that "no decision has been made yet" about withdrawing troops from Iraq can be taken exactly as seriously as the vice president's preceding fantasy that the insurgency is in its "last throes." The country has already made the decision for Mr. Bush. We're outta there . . .

And here's page one of the Washington Post:
The United States no longer expects to see a model new democracy, a self-supporting oil industry or a society in which the majority of people are free from serious security or economic challenges, U.S. officials say . . . Washington now does not expect to fully defeat the insurgency before departing, but instead to diminish it, officials and analysts said. There is also growing talk of turning over security responsibilities to the Iraqi forces even if they are not fully up to original U.S. expectations, in part because they have local legitimacy that U.S. troops often do not. "We've said we won't leave a day before it's necessary. But necessary is the key word -- necessary for them or for us? When we finally depart, it will probably be for us," a U.S. official said. Pressed by the cost of fighting an escalating insurgency, U.S. expectations for rebuilding Iraq -- and its $20 billion investment -- have fallen the farthest, current and former officials say.

And here's the result of it all -- the US president has shot himself in the foot in Iraq and so has squandered the capacity to play a leadership role in setting the world's military agenda.
Earlier this week, Bush told Israel television that he wouldn't rule out war with Iran. The reactions to Bush's comments found by Antiwar.com indicate that Bush made a fool of himself, in the world's opinion, by saying this and he is simply not being taken seriously as a military leader anymore. The BBC quotes Germany's Schroeder:
"Let's take the military option off the table. We have seen it doesn't work," Mr Schroeder told Social Democrats at the rally in Hanover, to rapturous applause from the crowd. Mr Schroeder said it remained important that Iran did not gain atomic weapons, and a strong negotiating position was important. "The Europeans and the Americans are united in this goal," he said. "Up to now we were also united in the way to pursue this." Mr Schroeder reiterates his views in an interview to be published Sunday in the German weekly Bild am Sonntag, labelling military action "extremely dangerous". "This is why I can with certainty exclude any participation by the German government under my direction," Mr Schroeder tells the paper.

And the Times has the British reaction:
The Foreign Office reacted swiftly. “Our position is clear and has been made very, very clear by the foreign secretary,” a spokesman said. “We do not think there are any circumstances where military action would be justified against Iran. It does not form part of British foreign policy.” So soon after the invasion of Iraq, which has led to so much political turmoil for Tony Blair’s administration, [British foreign secretary Jack Straw] is anxious not to be seen trying to talk up any future forays.

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Saturday, August 13, 2005

With a bag on their head and the noise machine blaring 

In general, people expect governments to be responsive to things they care about. Its not a perfect system, of course, but the usual pattern is that reporters will write stories about the outrage of the day and then the local or provincial or federal government takes notice, and, if enough people are upset, then the appropriate government starts taking the issue more seriously and maybe it even gets dealt with.
In Canada, this is still the way things work because our governments are, for the most part, willing to listen to what people care about. Ideology can always have a distorting effect of course, as can lopsided elections. But in general we perceive a limit to how much government can ignore the concerns of its citizens, and how heavyhanded it can be in implementing its own agenda.
One of the scary things about the Bush administration is that they don't work this way. They govern with a bag over their heads, and the earphones blaring the right-wing noise machine. The media doesn't seem to have realized this yet. Reporters could save themselves a lot of work if they just stop bothering to write "outrage of the day" news stories about all of the things which the Bush administration doesn't care about. Here's the list so far, in no particular order, of the things to which the US can wave bye-bye:
- Teaching evolution in high schools
- Allowing women the right to choose abortion in the US
- Restricting political activity by ministers and religions
- Permitting or requiring equitable treatment of gay people or gay couples
- Developing or enforcing government regulations to prevent pollution, protect wildlife, conserve energy, or save the environment
- Regularizing the status and/or preventing the exploitation of illegal immigrants
- Decriminalizing any drugs
- Enforcing any government regulation which would promote unions or restrict the ability of companies to decertify
- Allowing any part of the Patriot Act to expire.
- Responding to Freedom of Information Act requests
- Complying with international trade regulations which disadvantage American businesses
- Permitting equal rights for women in Iraq and Afghanistan
I even wonder if its worthwhile for anyone to blog about these issues anymore -- they're just so gone.
The world will be lucky if it can get the US out of Iraq, stop them from starting a new war with Iran, and maybe convince the US to follow its own constitution and close down Guanatnamo and its secret prisons. I think that's the best we can hope for.






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Were you there? 

Live-blogging Cindy.
A woman who was with Cindy Sheehan on the first weekend of the encampment writes a powerful and moving description of what she experienced, posted at ePluribus Media Community:
Cindy Sheehan's trip to Crawford to talk to President Bush started out as just a small idea Wednesday evening. None of us thought for even a minute that it would snowball into the media and historic event that it has now become. Cindy, Dede and I thought the journey would be made by the three of us and maybe some veterans from the Veterans for Peace convention we were attending. Saturday morning we boarded the VFP Impeach Bush bus, along with a platoon of vets sent by VFP to go with us. A caravan of cars followed behind, filled with vets and others who had come to support us. The vets on that bus are some of the most inspiring, honorable and heroic men I have ever met. They inspired me and helped to heal my broken heart. These are people I had to explain nothing to because they know how I feel. They've been there. They've buried their buddies and seen the worst of humanity. I will forever have a warm spot in my heart for them . . . The local Sheriff of Crawford escorted us to the location for our demonstration . . . They made us walk in the bar ditch in knee high weeds full of bugs, fire ants (really nasty little things) and possibly snakes. The walking was hard. The sun beat down on us in the 100 degree Texas heat in the middle of the day. Conditions were miserable. But we pushed on. Cindy, Dede and I were in the front, leading our supporters. I don't know for sure how far we walked, and I've heard various reports from a half a mile to a mile. I couldn't help but feel we were the peasants going to the castle to ask for an audience with King George, only to be stopped and told the King wouldn't see us. So, we protested. We shouted. I met a mother who had come to support us whose son is in Iraq. We hugged and I told her I hope he comes home safe and whole. We cried together . . . Saturday night [Aug 6] we camped out in our cars, in tents, in chairs, on the ground. Wherever we could fall asleep, we slept. I think that when I went to bed there were about 5-6 people with us. We watched as Secret Service vehicles drove by going 50 mph all night long. Some other traffic came by, locals probably. We always knew the locals from the Secret Service because the locals slowed down when they went past us. We heard, via our cell phones, reports of bloggers keeping the pressure on the media and politicians. They blogged for us and about us all night long. We heard reports of candle light vigils, people lighting candles in their windows and on their front porches across the country. We felt the love, the energy and the prayers sent our way. It was comforting out there under the big star-filled Texas night, in the middle of nowhere, knowing that people around the world cared about us, watched us the best they could. None of us felt alone . . .
Liveblogging is also being done by William Rivers Pitt at Truthout where these photos are posted:

2 sons lost: Cindy Sheehan with Bill Mitchell at a Crawford, Texas, vigil. Both have lost sons in the fighting in Iraq. (Photo: Jason Reed / Reuters)
Other images from Camp Casey:



The Bush motorcade.

On Joe Trippi's blog, a post from former Dean campaign organizer Japhet Els from earlier today.
In the last 24 hours over 600 people have arrived at #43’s vacation retreat. The Crawford Peace House is a buzz with volunteers, organizers, veterans, republicans, democrats, greens and everyone in between. During the night, exhausted activists crowd the floor as the tiny air conditioner pumps out what little cool air it can. During the day signs are perpetually being made, banners painted and buttons and schedules passed around. The sign in sheet at the front door resembles a rough draft of a thesis paper as pages are tacked together for new arrivals. And there is a line forming behind it. People are pouring in from San Diego to Boston, Portland to Miami and everywhere in between. A guy just rolled in from Argentina ready to give us the shirt off his back. Its hot. Its humid. But the enthusasim and energy are rampant.

And Trippi is apparently taking on O'Reilly on Monday night. Give 'em hell, Joe.
All I can think of is this song: "Sometimes it causes me to tremble, tremble, tremble"

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Good Better Best 

Good

Cam Cardow, Ottawa Citizen

Better


Best

Both from Raeside, Victoria Times-Colonist

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Thursday, August 11, 2005

And this is why its a party now 

Stirling Newberry on BOP has a pretty good analysis of why the Cindy Sheehan story is so big right now:
The real story is that the Neo-cons have just lost the 'everyman' narrative. Before 'everyman' was an enraged patriot - angered at 911, and angry that such a villian as Saddam was left unpunished. The loss of that narrative is what makes Cindy Sheehan a story, or rather, what makes her story a story . . . Never have fewer Americans supported Iraq . . . only recently has the option of 'withdrawal all' been the largest single preferred choice. Most damningly - the 'has made the US safer' number is sinking like a stone. Since the Bushite program was 'connect everything to 911', this means that the political line of support that he relies on, is now fraying to a thread. What this means is that 'cut and run' is now the growing wave of consensus. The people who want to send more are now a tiny minority, the people who want out are a majority . . .

It strikes me there is a horrendous disconnect growing, and its going to happen quite differently from the way the Vietnam war protests happened. In the New York Times, Bob Herbert writes about the Bush administration's increasingly blatant lying:
Administration types and high-ranking members of the military have recently been teasing the media and the public with comments that are designed to give the impression that substantial numbers of American troops could be brought home next year. Not only are these comments hedged with every imaginable caveat - if the transition to a permanent government goes smoothly, and if the Iraqis prove capable of providing their own security - but they are coming at a time when the U.S. is planning to increase American troop strength in Iraq in anticipation of elections scheduled for December.

Like, what are they THINKING? Don't they realize that people will notice? With Vietnam, the protests began with the young people facing the draft, who said that America's leaders were lying about the war. It was several years before their parents realized that the kids were right.
This time, the protests are beginning with the parents, who are mostly people who grew up during Vietnam themselves, and who already know that governments can lie.

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The party this summer is in Crawford 

Norman Lear, Tom Hayden, and Gary Hart, among many others, are blogging today on The Huffington Post blog about Cindy Sheehan's Crawford vigil. Its a Sheehan-fest.
AfterDowningStreet.org manager David Swanson writes:
. . . Crawford, Texas, is where the party is. By calling it a party I don't mean to make light of the seriousness of the mission or the horrible grief of Cindy Sheehan and other military families there to protest this war. Rather, I mean to say that through the sadness and the hardships and the thunderstorms, it comes through on every voice my telephone line has carried from Camp Casey that no one will leave there without having been enriched with a sense of solidarity. . . . Going to Crawford will be fun. It will also be effective. At this point, Bush's stubborness is influencing his stupidity. He doesn't think that he, the President!, should have to speak to anyone he doesn't feel like speaking to. This is a very bad PR move for him -– at least as long as Camp Casey continues to grow. An arrest will be a disaster for Bush. A growing crowd through the month will be a disaster for Bush. His only way out -– given his refusal to meet with Cindy -– is to hope that people get tired and go away. Don't let Bush off the hook. Join Cindy in Crawford. You'll love her and the people with her, and they will welcome you as family.

It reminds me a bit of the Terry Schiavo pilgrims -- perhaps the teenage girls will have "Peace" on the tape across their mouths, rather than "Life", though "Life" would also be appropriate, I think.

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Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Great line of the day 

Well, its a little more than one line, but I think its pretty good.
Here's the setup. In What Will We Have Wrought? Digby notes a "shameful column" by the Washington Post's David Ignatius which makes the "increasingly common rightist argument" that someday things will probably work out in Iraq so everything the US did will have been right in retrospect. As Digby then says
Similar logic would have one believe that because Czechoslovakia is now a thriving democracy, the invasion of Hitler in 1938 was all for the best. And hey what's 30 years of human suffering? Eventually things will probably get better --- as long as the "national identity" survives. Dear God. This argument reveals something very fundamental about the way that the war hawks see this as a game of Risk rather than a catastrophic upheaval in which actual human beings are being killed and maimed and in which the everyday lives of those who live on that piece of land are affected in the most consequential ways possible. Who but the most arrogant, spoiled, pampered, elitist American could write such a thing?[emphasis mine]

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Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Happy happy joy joy 

This news story - Congressman: U.S. Intel Knew 9/11 Plotters - quotes a Republican congressman saying that defense intelligence officials identified four of the 9/11 hijackers in 1999, but didn't tell the FBI about them.
And the Republicans are just thrilled -- now they can finally blame 9/11 on Clinton!

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Nobody asks why 

Juan Cole points to this story by an embedded reporter in Iraq -- he is from a Massachusetts newspaper and was reporting on a Massachusetts national guard unit.
Now, Cole didn't point this out, but see if you notice what I noticed:
During my first night at [Forward Operating Base]Speicher, Col. Francis McGinn received a midnight phone call and raced off. A Humvee patrolling the perimeter of the base had taken small arms fire, and had been unable to locate its origin. Two Apache helicopters were scrambled and were above the scene in four minutes. Despite using their advanced night vision equipment, they were also unable to locate the enemy. Nothing causes an Army base commander in Iraq to lose more sleep. "My first priority is avoiding a catastrophic event,'' the 42-year-old McGinn, a Braintree resident, said. "For example, an insurgent penetrating the base perimeter at night wearing a suicide vest of explosives.'' Promoted to colonel on June 9, McGinn is responsible for overseeing a sprawling base in hostile territory. Tikrit is the hometown of Saddam Hussein.
Did you notice? The colonel of this unit thinks his most important job is just to protect his men. So basically, I wonder what good are they doing there? Why are they there at all?
Its a question which nobody seems to be asking, either in the army or in the media.
I think this is another indication that the military is just marking time in Iraq, waiting for the politicians to come to their senses and trying to survive until they can all go home.
And later on, the reporter describes a grim little vignette about how the colonel went to visit the family of an Iraqi interpreter who had been killed by insurgents.
We were being watched, and [Sgt.] Carrigan knew why. ‘‘Every home we stop at, the insurgents will come by some time over the next few days, drag the men outside, threaten all, and beat some,'' he said. ‘‘They will try and find out if we were just questioning them, or are they cooperating with us?''
So what good it did do for these American troops to visit this family? It just brought them more trouble. But again, nobody asked.

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Bring it on, Raquel! 

Another good one from Tom Burka - "Bush To Determine Scentific Curriculum Of American Schools Based On His Own Experiments"

The White House announced today that President Bush would henceforth determine the scientific curriculum to be taught in America's schools. The announcement came immediately after Bush endorsed the teaching of intelligent design. President Bush apparently wants to adopt a modified pre-Copernican view of astronomy, to start. "This whole notion that the universe does not revolve around our great nation, our great planet, seems kind of crazy," he told reporters yesterday. Bush was also skeptical about what he called "the notion of gravity." "I'm uncomfortable with teaching our children that bodies are attracted to each other," he said. "That seems like an unwholesome idea to put into children's heads, don't it?" He speculated that objects fall to the ground because "God wants them to." Dr. James Dobson, founder of the rightwing Christian group Focus on the Family, applauded Bush's plans to eliminate scientists from science. "It just puts all four of my humours into complete harmony," he said. Critics were less sanguine, however. "If George Bush is for teaching intelligent design in schools," said Professor and biologist Byron Glick, "it proves that there isn't any."
And I presume that the geology curriculum will consist of One Million Years BC? Well, the boys sure will like that.


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Great line of the day 

Juan Cole posts Joke of the Day: "They keep talking about drafting a Constitution for Iraq. Why don't we just give them ours? It was written by a lot of really smart guys, it's worked for over 200 years and we're not using it anymore."

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Sunday, August 07, 2005

'They forfeit. Cool.' 

"That sound you hear is the 'pop' of several billion Chinese and Indian economic planners getting simultaneous erections . . . " begins Kung-Fu Monkey's brilliant blog post 'The President and Intelligent Design'.
He continues
Here you are, Tsui or Sanjay, looking at a new cenury . . . In which only the most intellectually nimble countries, best able to master new information technologies and couple them with manufacturing bases with high levels of technical training, will survive. And you're looking at that big bastard across the ocean, the US of A. First to build the Bomb. First to master the secrets of the atom. First to build the semiconductor. First and only tribe of humans who actually put men on the GODDAM MOON, to have stepped on another rock in space. Decoders of the human genome, the VERY BOOK OF LIFE !!! How will we ever stop -- Wow, they forfeit. Cool. . . .
[The radical rightists] strip away the idea that there is indeed a rigorous scientific process through which certain non-negotiable physical truths can be ascertained. They have suffused the county with an intellectual laziness and a terrifying narcissism. Opinion has been enshrined as superior to fact. No longer need a person take into account the way the world works when forming their worldview -- they can instead hunt down "facts" and "theories" which support their own comfort zone . . . You wouldn't trust your children to an airplane pilot who did that, or a Scoutmaster. If your doctor said "You know what, we're going to blow off all the currently available research and treat your child's cancer with a completely untested, never scientifically proven bit of guesswork which, however, reinforces my world-view. Because what does science really know?" you'd be pulling out of the parking lot before he finished the sentence. But when it's public policy, it's OKAY? . . . this is bigger than budgets, or how to fight wars, or how to manage our environment or resources, because where we stand on facts, reason, science, that informs every other decision we make in all those fields and every other. This is what determines whether societies live or die. Again, our motto at Kung Fu Monkey: "Everybody who wants to live in the 21st century over here. Everybody who wants to live in the 1800's over there. Good. Thanks. Good luck with that."

Thanks to James Wollcot for the link.
UPDATE: A commenter on the Kung Fu Monkey blog said about this post "Creationism is God's way of ensuring that somebody other than the US will be running the world by the end of this century."

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Vancouver Three: political martyrs 

So the Vancouver Three prosecution isn't political, eh?
The prosecution's own words prove it is.
Here, as quoted by the Seattle Post-Intelligencer columnist Joel Connelly is why the DEA went after Marc Emery. And it has nothing at all to do with a few seeds. It's aimed at taking Emery DOWN. It's personal and it's political. And pathetic. DEA boss Karen Tandy said:
Today's arrest of Mark (sic) Scott Emery, publisher of Cannabis Culture magazine and the founder of a marijuana legalization group, is a significant blow not only to the marijuana trafficking trade in the U.S. and Canada, but also to the marijuana legalization movement . . . Hundreds of thousands of dollars of Emery's illicit profits are known to have been channeled to marijuana legalization groups active in the United States and Canada. Drug legalization lobbyists now have one less pot of money to rely on.
And here is how Connelly describes the impact of that statement
In their search for proof that Bigfoot exists, researchers ought to take hair samples from the Washington, D.C., offices of Drug Enforcement Administration boss Karen Tandy. Tandy has left giant footprints on the drug prosecution of Vancouver, B.C., mail-order pot entrepreneur, and B.C. Marijuana Party founder, Marc Emery. With an ill-advised statement politicizing the case that also misspelled Emery's first name, the DEA boss may help transform a publicity seeker into a Canadian martyr. Seeking to stop his extradition to the United States -- where he faces charges of trafficking in marijuana seeds -- Emery's legal team could use Tandy's words to telling effect: Their client is being prosecuted for his beliefs.

Well, yes, he is. And that's exactly what Canadians are beginning to realize.

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Watch your mouth! 

Don't say it! Don't, for the love of humanity . . . oh . . . too late . . . she said it: Rice: Insurgency Losing Political Steam
Every time some American political or military leader announces the insurgency is getting weaker, last throes, whatever -- there immediately follows an uptick in suicide bombs, police executions, random shootings, and attacks on US military.

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No more mocking 'honouring' Aboriginals 

Steve Gilliard points to this Driftglass post which discusses the Illinois reaction to a recent NCAA ruling barring the use of Aboriginal stereotypes in mascots and team nicknames at NCAA championship events.
It is the best reply I have ever read to all the whining we hear whenever anyone suggests that an Aboriginal team name or mascot should be changed -- and just about every Canadian city has at least one.
"But we can still mock the Coloreds, right? Sorry, not 'mock'. Didn't mean 'mock'. What's that other word? 'Honor'! Yeah...that's it.
. . . the University of Illinois ' the Fighting Illini ' has a mascot, 'Chief' Illiniwek, who gambols festively around in fake war paint and fake headdress to get the kinder fired up at football games . . . Various members of the alumni and student body cannot understand why anyone would find having a fake Chief offensive. The love their lil' mascot. He dances so damned purdy and delights the children with his funny, Injun antics. Various other members of the human race cannot understand how alumni, students and the Board of Trustees - degree-holders all - can possibly be such fucking, racist morons. Petitions were filed. Protests were staged. Embarrassing local and national stories were written...and it didn't matter one little bit . . .
And there is nothing quite so bile-churning as seeing a fat-assed, pasty-white Archie Bunker with a diploma and an ill-fitting suit lecture Native Americans on what they should and should not find offensive. After all, ordering brown people around, and killing as many of them as necessary to get the job done when they forget their place and start getting uppity...this is the White Man's Burden. We've got a hundred million ungrateful sand niggers to kill or 'democratize' or Manifest Cuisinart or 'globally struggle against' or whateverthefuck brand name we’re using to market our Saint Petro’s Crusade to the rubes this week...so where the Hell do these red devils get off screwing with the White Man’s Privilege of making them dance by proxy for the White Man’s amusement.
. . . I swear, these people are just hopeless. A different and impregnably ignorant species. From flying the American Swastika as a sign of Southern Pride to shit like this, they burn with a bright, white flame for the good, old Antebellum days of Caucasian License to do whatever they damned well please. Like the water empires of a different age – these self-contained racist niche-ecologies, large and small, never ever change without a boot in the ass. As long as bigots are free to keep handing down the reigns to the Sons of Bigots unmolested, simple appeals to conscience and humanity will always fail. Their consciences are damaged – perhaps irreparably -- and in their hierarchy of humanity, they believe that God or Evolution or Daddy (who is a little bit of both) has placed them at the very tippy-top of the apex, and that "good”, “bad” and “hateful” are whatever they decide they are.

Yes, we've seen the same arguments and excuses across Canada when anyone dared to suggest that a team's Aboriginal-based name might be just a bit, well, insulting? demeaning? unacceptable? dare I say, racist? - unless its a team representing a reserve school or an Aboriginal organization or the team is more than half Aboriginal kids.
And don't tell me "well, then we have to change all the names because maybe the Irish are upset about the "fighting Irish" type of names, too." Yes, so go ahead and change these names too, if you want. But that other ethnic groups may also be upset about other derisive nicknames is hardly an argument against changing the Aboriginal names.
And don't tell me "well, the [Aboriginal organization/students] said they didn't mind!" Oh yeah, I'm sure they don't feel any pressure at all when the local radio talk show host or the mayor or the school board chair calls them up and says "Everybody wants to keep the name XXX and it would cost a lot to change it now and people would be really pissed off, so you don't mind us keeping it, do you?"
It takes leadership just to go ahead and change it, just because its the right thing to do.

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The Oops! Award 

And the winner of this week's Oops! Award goes to: President's Council on Service and Civic Participation.
A link on Eschaton led me to Roger Ailes blog, where I found this little gem: "A spokesman for the President's Council on Service and Civic Participation said that neither the council nor Bush had any way of knowing that the person they were honoring was a condemned multiple murderer."

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Answering a scurrilous charge 

RossK in 'Defusing The Google Bomb' resents anyone calling Canadians "gutless" (as some mixed-up BC politician apparently did recently). Ross says:
. . . calling us, the Canuckistani People, gutless is a scurrilous charge that cannot go unchallenged. To whit:
Was it gutless when we went to Afghanistan to fight the real terrorists?
Was it gutless when we did not go to Iraq to kill people that were not?
Was it gutless to say no to a thoroughly offensive missile defense program?
Was it gutless when we had the guts to pass a same sex marriage law?
Are we gutless because we still protect our pension funds?
Are we gutless because we can still go to any hospital in the country?
Are we gutless because we still have a social safety net?
Are we gutless because we still have (a few) public institutions that serve the public?

Right on, Ross! And I might add, are we gutless because we have the fearless Gazetteer posting truth to power?

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Saturday, August 06, 2005

Great line of the day 

First it was Global War on Terror (GWOT)
Then it was Global Struggle Against Violent Extremism (GSAVE)
Then it was Global War on Terror (GWOT) again.
But now, Billmon has the best one yet:
"War of Heroic Action against Terrorism for the Future of a United Christian Kulture -- WHATtheFUCK"

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