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Thursday, September 29, 2005

When will the Canadian government show some guts? 

So now a private BC businessman is stepping up to the plate to defend the Vancouver Three.
This story -- Private B.C. citizen to file drug charges against pot activist Marc Emery -- describes the effort of a Vancouver "philanthropist and businessman" named David McCann to block the deportation of Marc Emery and his co-accused - the Vancouver Three - to the US. He wants to get charges filed against them in Canada -- a Canadian judge or jury still might find them guilty here, of course, but they wouldn't be facing the US draconian minimum-sentencing laws which would send them to prison for decades.
"Canada has been hypocritical in allowing Emery to sell marijuana seeds and collecting thousands of dollars in taxes while the city of Vancouver gave him a business licence for his pot paraphernalia store. We have let him operate and now we let the Americans walk into our country and charge a man who they will probably lock away for the rest of his natural life in the United States for doing something that the government of Canada condoned. And you know, I got a problem with that as a Canadian.
And a lot of us also have a problem with that, too, Mr. McCann. And I wonder when the Canadian government will act.

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Marching does matter 

After last weekend's anti-war marches, I have been reading blogs here and elsewhere asking whether such marches make any difference.
They do.
I have been saying for years that I thought the only thing which stopped the US from using nuclear weapons to try to win the war in Vietnam was the anti-war movement. Now, the PBS documentary The Sixties: The Years that Shaped a Generation agrees with me.
My assertion was based on the premise that there was no number of American troops, no strategy, no alliance or configuration, could ever have "won" the Vietnam war for the US. So the idea of trying to force the enemy to sue for peace by using a nuclear weapon would have been increasingly tempting as the war dragged on and on. Sure enough, Henry Kissinger describes a period in 1969 when Nixon was considering nuking North Vietnam and Cambodia and was threatening North Vietnam with this tactic.
What changed Nixon's mind was the October 15, 1969 National Moratorium nation-wide antiwar marches, when two million Americans marched in every city for peace. This convinced Nixon that the people would never tolerate the use of nuclear weapons to try to win the war.
So marching makes a difference -- maybe more of a difference than anyone at the time ever knows.

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Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Great line of the day 

From The Smirking Chimp's reprint of Gene Lyons: 'To the cronies go the spoils':
The Bush administration's fundamental problem is that it has substituted ideology for practicality and loyalty for competence at every turn. It's running the country like a business, all right. Unfortunately, that business is Enron, combining fantastical theories and astonishing greed.

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Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Welcome to Michaelle Jean 

Canada's new Governor-General:





I haven't really been following this story or the controversy, but today everybody seemed pretty happy with our new GG. The CTV news story was talking about how happy and proud Canada's Haitian community is tonight. Her speech was warm and personal and yet did not hesitate to tackle tough issues like separatism. So if she keeps on like this, she will do fine.
The time of the “two solitudes” that for too long described the character of this country is past. The narrow notion of “every person for himself” does not belong in today’s world, which demands that we learn to see beyond our wounds, beyond our differences for the good of all. Quite the contrary: we must eliminate the spectre of all the solitudes and promote solidarity among all the citizens who make up the Canada of today. As well, we must make good use of our prosperity and our influence wherever the hope that we represent offers the world an extra measure of harmony. And that is how I am determined that the position I occupy as of today will be more than ever a place where citizens’ words will be heard, where the values of respect, tolerance, and sharing that are so essential to me and to all Canadians, will prevail. Those values, which are paramount for me, are linked inextricably with the Canada I love.

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War Porn 

The most recent "war porn" story brings up an aspect of the Iraq war which hasn't really been discussed much until now -- just how sexualized this war is.
If you haven't seen anything about the war porn story yet, don't be surprised -- it was initially broken by the East Bay Express in San Fransisco, and publicized yesterday by Americablog, so the story is just starting to get national traction and is being covered by Associated Press as we speak. Be warned, these photos will make you sick -- but sicker still is the commentary from users of the porn site where these photos are posted.
Digby writes:
There is something very disturbing about the images of sexual torture we've seen and heard about in this war, generally. The forced masturbation, the pyramids, the female interrogators and the fake menstrual blood, the constant nudity, all of it. Violence against prisoners in the new Human Rights Watch report is expressed as 'fucking' instead of beating. Not 'fucking up' or 'fucking with' --- just plain 'fucking' as in 'I walking in and saw him fucking the prisoner.' I cannot help but think that something has gone terribly wrong here. From the top of the hierarchy ordering sexual humiliation techniques, to obscure web-sites selling war gore and pictures of girls next door together, this is a very sexualized war and it's damned strange, particularly coming from a regime that pretends to be an arbiter of strict sexual morals. It's clear that the leadership of this country is extremely concerned with consensual sex between two adults but they find images of sexual violence and kinky torture techniques to be thoroughly acceptable among soldiers and useful to the war effort. This is a very odd perception and one that leads us back to the conclusion that something extremely unhealthy has invaded our body politic.

One could say that all wars have their evil aspects, and that war is by definition pornographic, of course, but I think at least in part it also goes back to the particular illegality and immorality of this particular war.
For the first time, the US is fighting a preemptive war, one which did not receive any sanction from the UN, one in which no participant asked for US help, one which was based on an illegal rationale of regime change.
And it turned out to be an unjustified war, because Iraq actually posed no threat to the US at all. Neocon belief to the contrary, Iraq didn't even threaten Israel, in spite of Saddam's bombastic support for the Infidada suicide bombers.
It is an immoral war which the Bush administration is still forcing its troops to fight. There is no principle here and the troops know it. All this talk about "fighting terrorism" is just so much bunk and they know it in their hearts -- they are the occupiers, the oppressors, and the occupied just want them to leave.
So it is not surprising that the immorality of the war as a whole is now being reflected in the individual immorality of some of the troops fighting it.
I blogged last week that watching the TV series "Over There" is like watching World War II from the German side. The reality is becoming just as chilling.
Here is the Human Rights Watch report on Captain Ian Fishback's account of what happened to prisoners in Iraq and Afghanistan. Fishback wants the military leadership to accept its ultimate responsibility.
Look, the guys who did this aren’t dishonorable men. It’s not like they are a bunch of vagabonds. They shown more courage and done more things in the time that I’ve spent with them than I could cover in probably a week of talking to you. They are just amazing men, but they’re human. If you put them in a situation, which is the officer’s responsibility, where they are put in charge of somebody who tried to kill them or maybe killed their friend, bad things are going to happen. It’s the officer’s job to make sure bad things don’t happen . . . [We need] to address the fact that it was an officer issue and by trying to claim that it was “rogue elements” we seriously hinder our ability to ensure this doesn’t happen again. And, that has not only moral consequences, but it has practical consequences in our ability to wage the War on Terror. We’re mounting a counter-insurgency campaign, and if we have widespread violations of the Geneva Conventions, that seriously undermines our ability to win the hearts and minds of the Muslim world. If America holds something as the moral standard, it should be unacceptable for us as a people to change that moral standard based on fear. The measure of a person or a people’s character is not what they do when everything is comfortable. It’s what they do in an extremely trying and difficult situation, and if we want to claim that these are our ideals and our values then we need to hold to them no matter how dark the situation.
Well, of course. But your chances of getting military leadership to accept their responsibility for what is going on are pretty slim. Here is the most recent bit from the Army showing just how much it intends to back up its troops. This is from a report just published in National Review Online entitled "Detainee Details: Accountability and progress" by Army secretary Francis Harvey and Army chief of staff Gen. Peter Schoomaker
Against this backdrop of honor, service and sacrifice, a small number of our soldiers have not lived up to the Army values. Their actions, or failures to act, have brought discredit to our great institution, and worse, led to the injury or deaths of detainees in military custody. While the actions of these few soldiers were clearly reprehensible, they are not representative of Army values; nor were they in any way, shape, or form authorized by Army policy, doctrine, or training.
Sigh. So much for Captain Fishback's belief that the military leadership would take any responsibility for anything.
You're on your own, boys.
"I was just following orders" isn't going to be an option for you, either.

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"We will hold you where no one can hear your screams" 

Great lines of the day -- a Buzzflash article 'Torturous Silence on Torture' contains this quotation from Bishop Peter Storey, Central Methodist Mission, Johannesburg, South Africa, June 1981:
There is a price to be paid for the right to be called a civilized nation. That price can be paid in only one currency -- the currency of human rights . . . The rule of law says that cruel and inhuman punishment is beneath the dignity of a civilized state. But to prisoners we say, 'We will hold you where no one can hear your screams.' When I used the word 'barbarism,' this is what I meant. The entire policy stands condemned by the methods used to pursue it. We send a message to the jailers, interrogators, and those who make such practices possible and permissible: 'Power is a fleeting thing. One day your souls will be required of you.'

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Bumping into the furniture 

Cary Tennis' Since You Asked column in Salon is actually OK this week -- not particularly profound, but maybe helpful. The question is about how to deal with the anger felt toward Bush and the Republicans. Cary's answer is to read philosophy and to protest. Sounds OK to me.
The column is titled I'm filled with rage:
Dear Cary,
I have an emotional problem. I walk around with a rage inside me that I don't know how to address. I fantasize about things that, were I to describe them to you, I would be visited by black-suited men at my apartment one night and, if not taken away, at least placed on a list I'd rather not be on.
I don't know what to do with my rage. I can't hold it inside me like this, but every time it seems to dissipate, and I've forgotten, as I have the luxury of doing, what a sorry, sad, unjust and, yes, despicable state of affairs we've galloped merrily into, something dramatically and heart-wrenchingly demands that my rage be acknowledged. And frankly -- it's necessary to be reminded of these things.
My problem is this, I just never felt interested in or comfortable with political action. I can't stand the excruciatingly slow pace of it. I can't stand the one-step-forward, two-steps-back inevitability of it. I can't stand that progress is measured in generations and not years, in shades of brown and not in lives enriched.
I'd rather sing a song than write a letter. I'd rather nuzzle a belly than immunize a child. I'd rather build a tree house than a shelter. But I have to do something with this rage. I can't walk around wanting to inflict pain and suffering on the people in charge, who seem to have neither brains between their ears nor eyes in their heads nor hearts in their chests.
I don't like being angry. It's a pathetic cliché, but I'm a lover, not fighter. Especially when the fight is as heartbreaking and insurmountable as this. Where can I put this energy that is poisoning me?
Lover, Not a Fighter
Dear Lover Not Fighter,
You seem to be describing an overwhelming state of emotion that is linked to politics but not directly tied to one particular act -- as though world events had accumulated like snow on the roof and then crashed through, covering you to the chin. Your natural reaction is to struggle mightily against being engulfed. It's hard to find a target, though. You are immersed.
That makes it difficult, at first, to know what to say to you -- aside from "Grab the rope! Grab the rope!"
But I think I know what you are going through. There comes a time when we are so overwhelmed by events that we lose faith in orderly, sequential action toward moderate goals. Our situation seems so desperate that we need to do something right now or we will suffocate. Signing up to man a phone bank just doesn't cut it.
You are not alone. Your letter reminds me, actually, of the situation prior to last year's election when readers began saying they felt out of control and anxious; they were thinking of leaving the country. They were feeling apocalyptic. It was unthinkable that George Bush would be elected again. And yet it happened. We staggered out into the night.
I found myself trying to understand how human beings get themselves into these insane situations of mass hysteria, fascism, Nazism and so forth. One of the questions I had was why we in America seemed to be so deeply freaked out, torn, betrayed, as though having internalized some ideal notion of our country, as though it were a father or mother -- while those in other, older civilizations would shrug it off, or hunker down, or do something pragmatic like emigrate. And I came across the writing of Jacqueline Rose, who talked about how citizens of a democracy are uniquely vulnerable to feelings of unbearable inner contradiction when their countries act in unconscionable ways.
Anyway, during my investigations into the symptoms of our national disease, I myself fell ill; I had some kind of attack; I collapsed and was taken to the hospital, where they found nothing wrong.
It turned out that to get well I would have to stop taking everything so seriously.
So actually, believe it or not, to counter the effects of today's political climate, I have begun (again) reading Fredric Jameson's "Postmodernism; or, The Cultural Logic of Late Capitalism." His is a mind so energetic, so engaged and so amusing in its speculations, so wide in its knowledge, that it acts as a tonic for one's befuddlement and outrage. Also, for the same reason, Terry Eagleton has been helpful. "The Illusions of Postmodernism" can also been taken like a vitamin to correct our deficiencies and relieve some of our symptoms.
Not that I understand what these brilliant men are saying, mind you. It's more like reading Sartre in junior high: You sense some marvelous energy and intelligence at work, eager to tutor you into being if you can only walk alongside and listen.
And it is helpful for outside voices to diagnose us as well, for we cannot always recognize our own symptoms. Jonathan Raban in the recent New York Review of Books:
"I have been visiting the US for more than thirty years and have lived here for the last fifteen: during the last four of those years, America, in its public and official face, has become more foreign to me by the day -- which wouldn't be worth reporting, except that the sentiment is largely shared by so many Americans ... Under Bush's self-styled 'wartime presidency,' the composition of the American landscape is steadily altering. What was once in the foreground is moving into the background, and vice versa. Our world is being continuously rearranged around us in deceptively small increments. Though we like to pretend that the emerging new order is 'normal,' that daily life proceeds much as it always did, with a few small novel inconveniences, we keep on bumping uncomfortably into the furniture."
The sense of disorientation that he describes strikes me as central to what many of us are feeling: It is not so much that we disagree with specific policies as that, as he puts it, someone keeps rearranging the furniture. It would be tempting, if also paranoid, to consider us as the victims of a kind of shock-and-awe campaign, orchestrated not with bombs but with media and a planned concatenation of events, a bombardment from all sides on all our privileges and freedoms, beliefs and assumptions, wholly ideological in its content but military in its precision and its strategic concentration of force. The purpose of such an assault would be not just to win a series of individual battles but to systematically demoralize and disorient the left so that it becomes ineffective for a generation or two to come. After all, a confused and enraged enemy without a plan is a weak enemy indeed. The fact that we increasingly wander alone in the night, dumbly wanting only to club somebody with a stick, is evidence that, intentional or not, such a strategy seems to be working.
It is good to feel crazy about politics. It is a good signal. It means we must act. But act how? If you are feeling crazy and nearly violent with anger, protesting is good for you -- and good for the country! We saw this during the period of the Vietnam War: It was possible for a time to believe in the necessity of the war. One by one, though, people began to crack. One by one they sought a cure. It could only be found in action. People of all stripes took to the streets. Once that began to happen, the old regime was finished.
Lastly, a warning: Your symptoms may not be exclusively political; there is the possibility that you may require medical intervention. I am not particularly frightened for you, for I am well acquainted with the extremes to which one can go before one really needs to be checked in somewhere. Still, if the voices begin telling you to do things, harmful things, seek psychiatric help.


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Monday, September 26, 2005

Signs of the times 

From Voices from the Frontlines of Protest, Washington D.C., a sampling of the protest signs in the Washington march this weekend:
Yeeha is not a foreign policy
Making a killing
Ex-Republican. Ask me why
Blind Faith in Bad Leadership is not Patriotism
Bush is a disaster!' (with the President's face in the eye of a hurricane)
He's a sick nut my Grandma says (with a photo of an old woman in blue with halo-like rays emanating from her)
Osama bin Forgotten
Cindy speaks for me
Make levees not war
W's the Devil, One Degree of Separation
Dick Cheney Eats Kittens (with a photo of five kittens)
Bush busy creating business for morticians worldwide
Liar, born liar, born-again liar
Dude -- There's a War Criminal in My White House!!!
Motivated moderates against Bush
Bored with Empire
Pro Whose Life?
War is Terrorism with a Bigger Budget.
And here is what some of the people said about the signs they carried and why they marched. I wasn't surprised at the references to Cindy Sheehan, but I was surprised at how many people made the Hurricane Katrina connection:
What if they gave a war and nobody came? [And on the back it says] What if they gave a hurricane and nobody came because they were all at war? "I was absolutely infuriated after the hurricane. All our resources were at war. There was nothing to help our people here."


Not with my sons "Like Cindy Sheehan said, we have to get back to our humanity, and so we mothers have to begin to be teachers. We've lost our way."


Sex is back in the White House. Bush is screwing us all! "I just think that the war in Iraq is a big mistake. Especially when I saw New Orleans and thought about the money for the levee system diverted to Iraq. That was upsetting. Even before that, though, I got the impression that the ones pushing the war were really planning for the best-case scenario, that they hadn't planned for anything but the best outcome. I think what they're doing is creating more terrorism."


Bring the soldiers home [part of a campaign to hand out toy soldiers] "The other night in New York at a Cindy Sheehan event, we were handing these out and I gave a packet to one of the mothers there. She recoiled. She said, ‘My son's in Iraq. I can't take those. I used to hide them from him.' But you know what she said then? She said, ‘Keep going. But keep going!' People get very excited about putting them in places and then other people find them. The other day we got an email from a cop who had found one in the Federal Courthouse in New York and he was so moved he wrote us."


New Orleans Evacuees for Peace "All of our National Guard troops were off in Iraq instead of rescuing people here. Instead of being here to help out, they were off making problems in the rest of the world."


No Iraqis left me on a roof to die "I've been thinking and thinking, trying to figure out how to make my people understand the direct correlation of this war and our well-being and I just thought this put it succinctly."

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Sunday, September 25, 2005

Here's the real "talk like a pirate" day 

If you want to get a bit of an understanding about the meaning of the IAEA motion to report Iran to the Security Council, check out Jerome a Paris's Iran Nuclear Showdown article on Daily Kos.
Jerome also urges everyone to read Kos diarist Antifar's Smoke O'er The Water -- a brilliant piece of work:
So far, talk of stopping the war has cost most Americans little. Some discretionary income for yellow ribbons and now for gasoline, and some leisure time for perusing opinion columns for or against the war.
Blithely voting with our pocketbooks, we drive to protests and performances and marches and meetings all alone in a big V8 vehicle; we critique concepts like clashing civilizations over salads flown in from New Zealand and guacamole trucked up from Mexico. We blog over broadband about the better than six billion members of our species who live very close to the dirt, on less than a dollar a day, and always will. And we worry about our weight.
It's a bloody good life, compared to some others.
Which is to say, livin' large as we do is the opposite of stopping this war, or the coming wars over other resources we will also need to keep comin'. This war is for that salad, that SUV, and that guacamole, and for all the comfy, free and easy we still enjoy in America, currently courtesy of some grunts sweating out their second or third tours in Baghdad. Comfort isn't free or painless.
What will stop this pirate war, and future resource wars over water, food, lebensraum,and whatever else gets scarce -- is for Americans to look at this harsh thing we are doing to Iraq in order to keep our creature comforts, and turn away from it, even at the cost of some of those comforts. It certainly won't kill us. It certainly is killing them. The only way home from Baghdad is for enough Americans to decide that this nation will live on what we can make, not what we can take.
Bringing our troops home without making that decision will not solve the deeper problem, the root cause of these resource wars.
Aye. There's the rub. There's gold and grub enough for foreign wars. There's nary enough for us all to live like kings and queens, away out in the suburbs, driving to work and back, flying around the world when we feel the fancy, burning up twenty times the oil of the average citizen of Earth as if God said we were better than them.
That lifestyle was built on cheap oil, cheap food, cheap travel, and it's only going to be maintained in the future at the barrel of a gun, in the hands of your son. It's going to cost you that.
Is that comfortable? . . . Are we stuck on war without end, killing to keep it comin'? Is loot n' scoot really us? Are we the Vandals and Visigoths this time around? Are we the Huns who torture and rape and burn whole villages? Our troops have been doing things that we excoriated the Wehrmacht for doing when my Dad was a dogface back in `45. Inhuman things, unspeakable things, done in our names.
Is that acceptable? Is that us? Are we pirates?
Not facing this choice is choosing. Not choosing is choosing. Until we reduce our worldwide first-strike military machine to a national defense army we won't even have the means, motivation or mentality to stop stealing for a living. Our problem is oil, not terror. Our problem in Iraq is that we took our problem over there. We're fighting in someone else's house, over their possessions. We're a pirate nation while we do this, and the world at large will not put up with that for very long.
Will we choose to live more simply, here at home, or keep marching our men down to the sea with bloody theft in mind?
Well add it all up, me buckos. It will be one way or the other. Meanwhile, raise a black flag and sharpen your swords! Set every sail on a course for the Strait of Hormuz -- this time Bush is after the treasures of Tehran! Send him your sons and daughters; it's the yardarm for anyone who holds back now! The red white n' blue is the scourge of the sea, and there's no turnin' back for you or for me!
`Tis a pirate's life from here, `til we all meet Davy Jones or they hang us on high. It's glory and gold -- or smoke o'er the water an' a chilly grave.
There's the truth of it, and here's a guinea coin to the son of a whore who sings it out plain and simple:
America will not stop these wars.
America will be stopped.
Sorta puts the rest of the world on notice, doesn't it?

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Now here are Christians I can respect 

This news story Cdn activist preaches reconciliation for Iraq led me to this website: Christian Peacemaker Teams: committed to reducing violence by "Getting in the way" -- a unique organization of Mennonites, Brethern and Quakers who have been working in Iraq since the fall of 2002. It is dangerous work because they have been operating outside the Green Zone for all that time. They also insert themselves into other dangerous places in the world, with the idea of reducing conflict and violence -- they work in Arizona on immigration issues, in Palestine on Iraeli/Palestinian conflicts, even in Canada on conflicts between First Nations and the Canadian government. Its a remarkable group.

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The Frog talks about the Lame Duck 

In That Lame Duck Moment: September 15, 2001 Frog begins -- "Inevitably, predictably, George Bush took only four years to go from the highest approval ratings of any president in my lifetime to the lowest, and he did both while on vacation." -- and goes on from there in a terrific post about how Bush's Andrew Jackson Square appearance revealed the lame duck moment in Bush's presidency. "History will not be kind to the man who used his presidency for legacy-making in an attempt to best his father."

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Saturday, September 24, 2005

Great line of the day 

"The central role of America-hating kooks in the anti-war movement is why Vietnam went on for so long- what patriot was going to side with people like that? The opponents of the current war seem to have fallen into the same trap."
This is the opinion of someone writing at the right-wing site The Corner which was posted at the Daou report.
I'll just pause for a bit while you wrap your head around the reasoning here . . . dum dee dum dee dum . . . finished?
Can you believe it?
What this guy thinks is that if only the anti-war people weren't so . . . well. . . ANTIWAR, why then the true patriots could join them and then, of course, the war would end lickety-split.
So actually the war is really the fault of the people protesting against it.
So there!
Pogo said it --

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Door number one, or door number two? 

William Pfaff from the International Herald Tribune writes a pretty clear summary of what is going on now in Iraq and the choices which remain to be made by the Bush administration.
There is inevitability to what is happening in Iraq that was visible from the start. The Vietnam war had been, so to speak, an honest war. The Iraq war is a dishonest war. The outcome will be identical.
President Lyndon Johnson, the Bundy brothers, Robert McNamara and Dean Rusk really did believe that the Chinese Communists ran the Vietnam war, and would exploit victory there to motivate Communist uprisings throughout Southeast Asia and beyond.
They didn't appreciate that the world isn't so simple. The Communists won and nothing happened.
The people who invaded Iraq didn't care whether the Iraqis had weapons of mass destruction. They wanted to control Iraq for economic and strategic reasons (and possibly for personal ones, in the case of both the Bush family and Donald Rumsfeld, who had dealt with Saddam Hussein when the United States backed Iraq's war against Iran).
Like their Vietnam predecessors, they could not imagine that the United States wouldn't easily prevail. They learned that the Pentagon is incapable of successfully fighting a war that is not the high-technology war for which it stubbornly prepares, despite the absence of an enemy capable of fighting such a war.
The most deadly enemy weapon against American convoys in Iraq is the buried or camouflaged roadside bomb (or "IED," as the military bureaucracy prefers: "improvised explosive device" - the acronym making it sound like a high-technology innovation).
The Pentagon countermeasure, reportedly already being tested by the aerospace industry, is "a power source (which would project) a big spike of energy from a truck or aircraft-borne emitter, (to) fuse the circuitry of a blasting cap or pre-detonate it before the convoy gets there."
The lower-technology counter-countermeasure, of course, would be for the enemy to go back to mechanical detonators.
Iraq is identified as "a new kind of war." It actually is a peculiarly vicious and indiscriminate form of guerrilla war, used by the American colonies against British troops in the revolutionary war, by Philippine nationalists against American occupation (1899-1901), the SOE, OSS and European Resistance forces against the German army in World War II, and the Vietnamese against the United States three decades ago. In every case, national integrity versus foreign occupation was the issue.
The force of American public opinion now is turning against the Iraq war. The latest NBC/Wall Street Journal poll says 55 percent of the public disapproves of George W. Bush's leadership, and only 39 percent wants U.S. troop levels in Iraq maintained.
The discovery that the vast array of American military power simply isn't working in the real world had the Bush administration near panic even before Hurricane Katrina. It was understood for the first time that the United States risks defeat in Iraq. This is interpreted as bringing with it terrorist triumph throughout the "Greater" Middle East and catastrophic loss of American credibility, not to speak of defeat in "World War IV" (as the more alarmist neoconservatives call it).
The latter insist that the United States must press on or be revealed a "pitiful, helpless giant," as Richard Nixon said of defeat in Vietnam. However, the sky did not fall then, and the United States survived Vietnam - only to put itself in exactly the same situation 30 years later, attempting the same remedies.
"Iraqization" of the war is current U.S. policy, on the model of "Vietnamization," with similarly unpromising results. Some analysts want Iraq partitioned into three states. That would make a gift of Shiite Iraq to Iranian influence, could bring Turkish intervention to prevent an independent Kurdistan, and would continue to be resisted by the Sunni Arabs.
The best-publicized recent proposal has been that of Andrew F. Krepinevich Jr. in Foreign Affairs magazine, endorsed by David Brooks in the New York Times as "blindingly obvious." It is an "oil spot" strategy, which envisages extending a fully secured zone in Iraq from the present Green Zone in Baghdad (and similar places in other cities), neighborhood by neighborhood, and village by village, until all of Iraq is secure. (Does he know how large Iraq is?) This, Krepinevich says, "would require a protracted commitment of U.S. resources, a willingness to risk more casualties ... an enduring U.S. presence (of at least a decade) and hundreds of billions of dollars."
Indeed it would, and it was tried and failed in Vietnam (one version was the notorious Phoenix program), since there is no way to assure that the "secured" zones are not full of unsecured people. Not even Saddam Hussein's secret police could deliver zones purged of insurgents, their sympathizers, friends, families and fellow-tribesmen. Nor could the country function under such circumstances. Like Phoenix, it is another version of the "strategic hamlet" program applied successfully in the (then) British Federation of Malaya just after World War II when a part of the Chinese minority rebelled. The Chinese were forcibly moved into secure hamlets, isolating them from the population and their foreign supporters. Considered a China-sponsored Communist revolt at the time, no one seems to remember that it was also an old ethnic-based conflict between two readily identifiable peoples. If the insurgents in Iraq were Chinese, Krepinevich's plan might work.
Since they are not, and since the Iraq war is all about the American presence in Iraq, opposed by both Shiites and Sunni, the real choice is between negotiating a schedule to leave now - which might still be feasible - and staying on for "decades" and billions of dollars more, and leaving then, defeated, with the American electorate in revolt.

Pfaff doesn't get into what effect the war with Iran will have on this equation -- but in the end it won't be any more effective than was Nixon's decision to get Cambodia involved in the Vietnam War.



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The reporters are not afraid anymore 

The protests are now, finally, being described as "massive" -- they always were massive, but the media would never describe them that way. The reporters don't seem to be afraid to report -- they're describing the crowd sympathetically rather than focusing on freaks and conga lines and debates over numbers, and they're not trying to inflate a few dozen counter-protesters into a false equivalency.
Associated Press reports that 100,000 marched in Washington:
In the crowd: young activists, nuns whose anti-war activism dates to Vietnam, parents mourning their children in uniform lost in Iraq, and uncountable families motivated for the first time to protest. Connie McCroskey, 58, came from Des Moines, Iowa, with two of her daughters, both in their 20s, for the family's first demonstration. McCroskey, whose father fought in World War II, said she never would have dared protest during the Vietnam War. "Today, I had some courage," she said. While united against the war, political beliefs varied. Paul Rutherford, 60, of Vandalia, Mich., said he is a Republican who supported Bush in the last election and still does — except for the war. "President Bush needs to admit he made a mistake in the war and bring the troops home, and let's move on," Rutherford said. His wife, Judy, 58, called the removal of Saddam "a noble mission" but said U.S. troops should have left when claims that Iraq possessed weapons of mass destruction proved unfounded. "We found that there were none and yet we still stay there and innocent people are dying daily," she said. "Bush Lied, Thousands Died," said one sign. "End the Occupation," said another. More than 1,900 members of the U.S. armed forces have died since the beginning of the war in March 2003.
Here is Washington:


Seattle:


In Los Angeles, Ron Kovic ("Born on the Fourth of July") led the march:


London:




Baghdad

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The tyranny of events 

The apocalypse is tumbling toward us, and writers like Joe Conason are still writing about how the US could avoid "perceived defeat" in Iraq by getting the UN to help with a negotiated settlement "which could eventually persuade the Sunni nationalist rebels to lay down their weapons and enter the nascent political system". Joe, are you writing from some parallel universe where John Kerry won the election? Wishful thinking is not a policy.
Events keep marching forward. The events in Iraq and elsewhere are overtaking anyone's ability to negotiate anything with anybody.
The Saudis are running around with their hair on fire -- warning "everyone who will listen" that Iraq is "hurtling toward disintegration" and will take the region with it.
According to Moon Over Alabama, Seymour Hersch is saying that "the US administration promised to take care of Israel's assumed biggest strategic danger - Iranian nuclear weapons. Meanwhile, Pakistan is developing small nuclear weapons in the kiloton range, essentially at landmine size, transportable. Pakistan is protecting OBL. Pakistani hardcore leadership is afraid they will be next after Iran. And now AFT is reporting that the rationale for war with Iran is being advanced.

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Friday, September 23, 2005

Great line of the day 

From "Justin Case" commenting on Steve Clemont's post "Time to do some Outing in Vatican City" from The Washington Note: "Christianity has nothing to do with Christ and probably never has, unless Christ was a close-minded, misogynistic, war-loving, imperialistic, aggressive hater of anything he didn't understand or agree with. "

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Jokes of the day 

From the website Late Night Political Jokes:
In New York a man has set the Guinness World Record for being a couch potato. He spent 68 hours and 48 minutes straight watching TV. So nice to see FEMA director Mike Brown landing on his feet. --Jay Leno
Martha Stewart is with us tonight and she's going to show us how to dig a tunnel with a melon baller. --David Letterman

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Thursday, September 22, 2005

Thanks, Cindy 

Well, its about time.
Here is this AP story - Antiwar protesters going on offense - actually talking about the big anti-war protests this weekend, in advance and without implying that anyone participating is a traitor.
Antiwar groups are using a $1 million ad campaign and a demonstration they say will attract 100,000 people to try to re-energize their movement and pressure the Bush administration to bring troops home from Iraq. Organizers of Saturday’s protest, which will take marchers past the White House, say it will be the largest since the war began more than two years ago. Cindy Sheehan, the woman who drew thousands of protesters to her 26-day vigil outside President Bush’s Texas ranch last month, is among those planning to participate.
Its about time the antiwar movement got some attention from the press.
They have this idea that there was no anti-war movement in the US, that the movement needed to be reenergized.
This is wrong, wrong, wrong. There have been people doing their own protests for years -- beginning, of course, with the millions of people around the world who protested Iraq before it even started, but continuing on to the people setting up crosses every weekend on beaches and to people picketing Walter Reed. Its been going on all over the United States and the world, but with the press determined to ignore it.
The media wants to pretend now that they weren't covering the anti-war movement because it didn't exist. Well, OK, if that's what you need to believe. At least you guys are covering it now. What Cindy Sheehan reenergized was the press and their willingness to provide coverage to the movement. Thanks, Cindy.

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Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Over There 

We have been watching FX network's Over There on History Television and we think this is one of the series which we will try to watch each week -- though, as I said tonight to my husband while we were watching Episode 3 tonight, its sort of like watching a show about the German side in Occupied France.

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Monday, September 19, 2005

Great line of the day 

"And who says the Pentagon doesn't believe in fairies?"
This is the question asked by John from AMERICAblog after reading the Pentagon's latest TinkerBell thesis: "Chief Pentagon spokesman Lawrence Di Rita urged people not to gauge the war based on the volume of rebel bombings. "That's not a good way to determine how good or bad things are going -- by (counting) how many things are exploding," Di Rita said."

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Avast, me hearties! 

Aaarrrrhhh!
This be it -- today be the international Talk Like A Pirate Day at last! Dave Barry writes:
Every now and then, some visionary individuals come along with a concept that is so original and so revolutionary that your immediate reaction is: "Those individuals should be on medication."
Today I want to tell you about two such people, John Baur and Mark Summers, who have come up with a concept that is going to make you kick yourself for not thinking of it first: Talk Like a Pirate Day. As the name suggests, this is a day on which everybody would talk like a pirate. Is that a great idea, or what? There are so many practical benefits that I can't even begin to list them all.
Baur and Summers came up with this idea a few years ago. They were playing racquetball, and, as so often happens, they began talking like pirates. And then it struck them: Why not have a day when EVERYBODY talks like a pirate? They decided that the logical day would be Sept. 19, because that -- as you are no doubt aware -- is Summers' ex-wife's birthday.
Since then, Baur and Summers have made a near-superhuman effort to promote Talk Like a Pirate Day. As Baur puts it: "We've talked like pirates and encouraged our several friends to, every Sept. 19, except for a couple where we forgot."
And yet, incredibly, despite this well-orchestrated campaign, the nation has turned a deaf shoulder to Talk Like a Pirate Day. In desperation, Baur and Summers turned to me for help. As an influential newspaper columnist, I have the power to "make or break" a national day. You may recall that almost nobody celebrated Thanksgiving until I began writing about it in the 1970s.
I have given Baur's and Summers' idea serious thought, looking for ways to improve it. One variation I considered was Talk Like a Member of the Lollipop Guild Day, on which everybody would talk like the three Munchkins in the film version of "The Wizard of Oz" who welcome Dorothy to Munchkin Land by singing with one corner of their mouths drooping down, as though they have large invisible dental suction devices hanging from their lips. But I realized that would be stupid.
So I have decided to throw my full support behind Talk Like a Pirate Day, to be observed this Thursday, Sept. 19. To help promote this important cause, I have decided to seek the endorsement of famous celebrities, and I am pleased to report that, as of today, Tom Cruise, Julia Roberts, Britney Spears, Brad Pitt, Oprah Winfrey, the Osbournes, Tiger Woods, Ted Koppel, the Sopranos, Puff Doody and the late Elvis Presley are all people who I hope will read this column and become big supporters. I see no need to recruit President Bush, because he already talks like a pirate, as we can see from this transcript of a White House press conference:
REPORTER: Could you please explain either your foreign or your domestic policy?
PRESIDENT BUSH: Arrrrr.
To prepare for Talk Like a Pirate Day, you should practice incorporating pirate terminology into your everyday speech. For example, let's consider a typical conversation between two coworkers in a business office:
BOB: Hi. Mary.
MARY: Hi, Bob. Have you had a chance to look at the Fennerman contract?
BOB: Yes, and I have some suggestions.
MARY: OK, I'll review them.
Now let's see how this same conversation would sound on Talk Like a Pirate Day:
BOB: Avast, me beauty.
MARY: Avast, Bob. Is that a yardarm in your doubloons, or are you just glad to see me?
BOB: You are giving me the desire to haul some keel.
MARY: Arrrrr.
As you can see, talking like a pirate will infuse your everyday conversations with romance and danger. So join the movement! On Sept. 19, do not answer the phone with "hello." Answer the phone with "Ahoy, me hearty!" If the caller objects that he is not a hearty, inform him that he is a scurvy dog (or, if the caller is female, a scurvy female dog) who will be walking the plank off the poop deck and winding up in Davy Jones' locker, sleeping with the fishes. No, wait, that would be Talk Like a Pirate in "The Godfather" Day, which is another variation I considered ("I'm gonna make him an offer that will shiver his timbers").
But the point is, this is a great idea, and you, me bucko, should be part of it. Join us on Sept. 19. You HAVE the buckles, darn it: Don't be afraid to swash them! Let's make this into a grassroots movement that sweeps the nation, like campaign-finance reform or Krispy Kreme doughnuts. I truly think this idea could bring us, as a nation, closer together.
But not TOO much closer. Some of us will have swords.

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Sunday, September 18, 2005

Reality bites 

The aide said that guys like me were ''in what we call the reality-based community,'' which he defined as people who ''believe that solutions emerge from your judicious study of discernible reality.'' I nodded and murmured something about enlightenment principles and empiricism. He cut me off. ''That's not the way the world really works anymore,'' he continued. ''We're an empire now, and when we act, we create our own reality. And while you're studying that reality -- judiciously, as you will -- we'll act again, creating other new realities, which you can study too, and that's how things will sort out. We're history's actors . . . and you, all of you, will be left to just study what we do.''

This always was a complete crock.
It is from Ron Susskind's article, Without a Doubt about Bush's faith-based administration.
I don't mean that the Susskind story was a crock, but rather, this idea that reality could be ignored. This is the "Bush Bubble" that George Bush lived in, the belief that Bush was infaliable, always right and that reality, if it conflicted with Bush's belief, was wrong.
Like all the bubbles which came before it - tech stocks, dot coms, Hawaiian time-share condos -- it did seem to have substance. A few people did make a few dollars. But when the bubble burst, then everyone said -- hey, its empty! There's nothing there!
The bubble has now burst.
Combine this story: Bush Katrina Ratings Fall After Speech -- with this one: Rove Off the Record . And the truth whacks you upside the head -- everything the Bush Administration believes to be true is JUST NOT TRUE ANYMORE, and they can no longer make people believe it just by saying it.
With Bush's speech last week, the media echo chamber and the Washington pundits seemed to think that Bush did OK -- not really Churchillian great, but not too bad, really.
But Rasmussen shows that Bush's poll numbers with the general public actually fell four points more after his speech, from 39 per cent in favour to 35 per cent in favour. So people saw through all the Disney castle lighting and the compassionate-sounding tripe and the Rove-in-charge reassurance, and turned off. We don't believe you anymore, George.
In the Rove story, it says Rove talked about the issues du jour to a bunch or power-brokers:
On Katrina: The only mistake we made with Katrina was not overriding the local government...
On The Anti-War Movement: Cindy Sheehan is a clown. There is no real anti-war movement. No serious politician, with anything to do with anything, would show his face at an anti-war rally...
On Bush's Low Poll Numbers: We have not been good at explaining the success in Iraq. Polls go up and down and don't mean anything...
On Iraq: There has been a big difference in the region. Iraq will transform the Middle East...
And as I was reading this, I realized -- this is just tripe! Completely. NONE of these things are true. And just saying these things will NOT create a new reality. Not anymore.
"We create our own reality"? Oh yeah? You and what army? Get real! Grow up!
We don't believe you anymore, Karl.

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Terrific 

Congratulations to Meg Brubacher and Bonnie Deekon -- this news story "CTV.ca | Canadians mount dog rescue effort in New Orleans" notes that they drove to New Orleans and returned late Thursday night with 15 dogs, including seven puppies. Deekon is director of the Cambridge & District Humane Society, where the dogs will be put up for adoption.

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Only in Canada, eh? 

"Hamilton (2-10) remains last in the East, its playoff aspirations literally hanging by a thread."
This sentence in the Globe and Mail coverage of the Calgary-Hamilton game gave me a chuckle -- because where but in the CFL could a team with a 2-10 record still have "playoff aspirations"?
Only in Canada, eh?

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Now we know 

Well at last. Now we know. In Spinning the war -- off to the state level, Oregonian columnist David Sarasohn from the Oregonian explains who is really to blame for all that trouble in Iraq.
A high-level White House official explained today that problems in the war in Iraq have been largely caused by state and local government failures. 'All the Americans over there come from a state,' said the official, speaking on condition of anonymity. 'There are real limits to what you can expect the federal government to do.' The idea that having a U.S. Department of Defense makes war an exclusively federal responsibility, he noted, is as mistaken as the impression that having a Federal Emergency Management Agency means that a federal agency should manage emergencies. 'Look at the problems we're having in Iraq,' he said. 'Public safety, utilities, running elections. Those are state and local responsibilities. The federal government has been trying to help out, but those things aren't really our job.' The official, who insisted that the initials of the country he works for not be published, noted that the Bush administration has not wanted to stress the failures of state and local governments in Iraq, which he called 'Fallujah finger-pointing.' But, he pointed out, 'People talk about all the garbage in the streets of Baghdad, but collecting garbage is a state and local responsibility. And I don't want to even get into the question of who's fallen down on Iraqi mass transit.'
Thanks to Today in Iraq for the link.

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Joke of the Day 

Today in Iraq with the joke of the day:
Q: What's Bush's position on Roe v. Wade?
A: None. He didn't care how people got out of New Orleans.

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Saturday, September 17, 2005

The great photos from New Orleans 

In our society, we capture and realize the significance of an event through the photographs it produces. Here are some of the photos from New Orleans which I found to be the most powerful.

A man carrying his cat and searching for help: to me, this photo summarized everything that New Orleans people went through to leave their city.

AP photo/ Roger Deforest

August 31 - a family with no place to go

Times-Picayune /David Grunfeld

This was the photo which brought home to many Americans the reality of Katrina:
Finding the woman in the photo

Matt Rourke /Austin American-Statesman

The marines arrive at the Dome at last

AFP/File/James Nielsen

Life goes on -- the Decadance Day parade on Sunday, Sept. 4 in the French Quarter had only about two dozen participants, but still, it went on.

AP Photo/Rick Bowmer

The "Here lies Vera" photo, which made people realize how many bodies were lying on the streets.

AP Photo/Dave Martin

Canadian navy arrives in Biloxi

AP Photo/Rob Carr

The big-dog-ugly-woman guy:

Michael Democker / Times-Picayune

Johnny White's Sports Bar and Grill never closed

AP Photo/Cheryl Diaz Meyer

See hundreds of other Times-Picayune photos here.

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Say it ain't so, Joe 

It's painful, isn't it - nails-on-the-blackboard painful.
Just about every news story you will read about New Orleans recovery over the next two years could already be written.
Like this one: Money Earmarked for Evacuation Redirected -- oh, who would not have guessed?
And this one: FEMA, Slow to the Rescue, Now Stumbles in Aid Effort -- so now, no one can get through to FEMA to apply for help.
Here's what will happen next:
The FEMA applications for help will be delayed for months and months, both because applications will just be lost outright and because every non-perfect application will be "returned to sender" and get lost in the mail.
Then, whenever people actually do get their cheques, there will be such serious shortages of repair goods that people won't be able to repair their homes before winter. ie -- lumber, electrical wire, flooring, windows. Predictably, there will be calls to get more Canadian softwood lumber by dropping the tarrifs, which the US lumbermen will resist with every fiber of their being
Undoubtedly, there will be a huge land-grad in New Orleans, with developers pushing the city, state and federal governments to assert "eminent domain" over vast areas of property to prevent a lot of low-income housing from being rebuilt. Every level of government will try to get in on the action.
Finally, there will be a perfect storm of shoddy home-repair outfits stealing people's money left and right.
And for every single one of these happenings, someone in the Bush administration will say "Gee, we never expected THIS to happen! We don't have any plans to deal with it."

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Good Better Best 


Tab, The Calgary Sun


Tab, The Calgary Sun


Cam Cardow, Ottawa Citizen

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Being poor is crying when you drop the mac and cheese on the floor 

There has been a lot of talk lately about poverty, because of Katrina of course and the horrendous disproportionate impact that storm had on poor people.
John Scalzzi writes about the reality of Being Poor. This is a painful list to read:
Being poor is knowing exactly how much everything costs . . . Being poor is hoping the toothache goes away . . . Being poor is living next to the freeway . . . Being poor is coming back to the car with your children in the back seat, clutching that box of Raisin Bran you just bought and trying to think of a way to make the kids understand that the box has to last . . . Being poor is a heater in only one room of the house . . . Being poor is hoping your kids don't have a growth spurt . . . Being poor is Goodwill underwear . . . Being poor is not enough space for everyone who lives with you . . . Being poor is thinking $8 an hour is a really good deal . . . Being poor is an overnight shift under florescent lights . . . Being poor is finding the letter your mom wrote to your dad, begging him for the child support . . . Being poor is stopping the car to take a lamp from a stranger's trash . . . Being poor is making lunch for your kid when a cockroach skitters over the bread, and you looking over to see if your kid saw . . . Being poor is people angry at you just for walking around in the mall . . . Being poor is the police busting into the apartment right next to yours . . . Being poor is hoping you'll be invited for dinner . . . Being poor is people thinking they know something about you by the way you talk . . . Being poor is needing that 35-cent raise . . . Being poor is your kid's teacher assuming you don't have any books in your home . . . Being poor is six dollars short on the utility bill and no way to close the gap . . . Being poor is crying when you drop the mac and cheese on the floor . . . Being poor is picking the 10 cent ramen instead of the 12 cent ramen because that's two extra packages for every dollar . . . Being poor is a box of crayons and a $1 coloring book from a community center Santa . . . Being poor is hoping the register lady will spot you the dime . . . Being poor is a cough that doesn't go away . . . Being poor is a lumpy futon bed . . . Being poor is knowing where the shelter is . . . Being poor is seeing how few options you have . . . Being poor is having to live with choices you didn't know you made when you were 14 years old . . . Being poor is people wondering why you didn't leave.


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Friday, September 16, 2005

I have an email from this African fellow whose funds are frozen , , ,  

Well, I was listening to parts of the Bush speech on the news last night and heard things like Bush actually talking about how racism had held people back and I thought, hey, maybe Katrina was a wake-up experience for more than just a few CNN and Fox reporters.
And then tonight I read Digby and gave my head a shake:
I cannot believe that any liberal in the country would take George W Bush's word about anything at this point, but apparently we all haven't learned our lesson yet. I'm not sure what it will take, to tell you the truth. But for those of you who believe he has somehow capitulated to liberal ideals, I would like to introduce you to a friend of mine from an African nation whose funds have been frozen ....


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Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Place yer bets! 

Justin Raimondo says Next Stop: Syria
This administration will stop at nothing - nothing! - to advance its Middle Eastern agenda, and that agenda consists of a single simple word: conquest. Anyone who really believes that Hurricane Katrina will divert this administration and the neocon cabal that has seized control of our foreign policy from pursuing their dreams of Empire is a fool. A new conflict will divert attention away from the incompetence surrounding the response to Katrina: the devastation and Bush's clueless efforts to ameliorate it will only encourage the White House to leave us with a lasting legacy of fresh horrors in the Middle East. Why are we in Iraq? All the better to go after Syria, then Iran. Saudi Arabia, too, is 'on the table' - and the feast has just begun.

Earlier, the betting seemed to be that Iran would be next, but the US isn't getting much traction right now on making Iran into the world's enemy du jour -- this Washington Post story says the US has created a powerpoint -- a powerpoint, for crying out loud! -- which unnamed US "presenters" have been shopping around the UN. The goal is to get the International Atomoc Energy Agency next week to as the Security Council for sanctions -- which the IAEA probably won't do anyway, but which Security Council certainly won't do because look how burned they got over Iraq -- fool me twice don't fool me again.
But anyway, the Bolton folks are trying -- very trying:
. . . titled "A History of Concealment and Deception," (the powerpoint) has been presented to diplomats from more than a dozen countries. Several diplomats said the presentation, intended to win allies for increasing pressure on the Iranian government, dismisses ambiguities in the evidence about Iran's intentions and omits alternative explanations under debate among intelligence analysts.
Sounds like a typical Bolton project, doesn't it - clumsy and clueless and assuming that everyone else is stupid. The story continues:
. . . Several diplomats said the slide show reminded them of the flawed presentation on Iraq's weapons programs made by then-secretary of state Colin L. Powell to the U.N. Security Council in February 2003. "I don't think they'll lose any support, but it isn't going to win anyone either," said one European diplomat who attended the recent briefing and whose country backs the U.S. position on Iran . . . Robert G. Joseph, undersecretary of state for arms control and international security, acknowledged last week that despite European support, the Bush administration has traveled a tough road in persuading others that Iran should face consequences for a nuclear program it built in secret. "There's a great deal of resistance . . . on the part of many governments who don't seem to place, quite frankly, nonproliferation and Iran, a nuclear-armed Iran, at the top of their priority list," he told a congressional panel last week.
Gee, maybe somebody should tell them that the smoking gun might be a mushroom cloud. Then they'll take it seriously, I'm sure.
At the end of the story, the WP provides some more information about the powerpoint which just makes it sound increasingly pathetic:
With little new information from the [IAEA] probe, the Bush administration put together its own presentation of Iran's program for diplomats in Vienna who are weighing whether to report Iran to the Security Council. The presentation has not been vetted through standard U.S. intelligence channels because it does not include secret material. One U.S. official involved in the briefing said the intelligence community had nothing to do with the presentation and "probably would have disavowed some of it because it draws conclusions that aren't strictly supported by the facts." The presentation, conducted in a conference room at the U.S. mission in Vienna, includes a pictorial comparison of Iranian facilities and missiles with photos of similar-looking items in North Korea and Pakistan, according to a copy of the slides handed out to diplomats. Pakistan largely supplied Iran with its nuclear infrastructure but, as a key U.S. ally, it is identified in the presentation only as "another country." Corey Hinderstein, a nuclear analyst with the Institute for Science and International Security, said the presence of a weapons program could not be established through such comparisons. She noted that North Korea's missile wasn't designed for nuclear weapons so comparing it to an Iranian missile that also wasn't designed to carry a nuclear payload "doesn't make sense."

And the article also notes that Pakistan leader Pervez Musharraf "refused to speculate on whether Iran, whose program was secretly aided by Pakistan's top nuclear scientist, had been designed for weapons production. But he said he feels confident Iran's aims are now peaceful and there was no need for Security Council action." So all in all, the Bolton program of demonizing Iran isn't going anywhere, so maybe Raimondo is correct and Syria is next up.




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Canadian reporters are reporting the wrong news about emergency departments 

Canadian reporters are all atwitter about the news in the new CIHR emergency room study that 57 per cent of emergency room visits are for non-life-threatening conditions. But the story they missed is what is happening to the people who DO have life-threatening conditions. From the Conclusion section: "Overall, physicians saw just over half of all patients with a cardiac arrest, major trauma, or other condition that represents a threat to life or carries an immediate risk of deterioration within five minutes of their arrival in the ED in 2003-2004. On the other hand, the report also shows that that 1 in 10 patients with these types of health problems waited 45 minutes or longer to be seen." [Emphasis mine]
UPDATE: In fact, the more I think about it, the more I wonder why this significant Conclusion was not listed in the "highlights" section from which the reporters got their stories. If I was a real reporter, I would be phoning up the report publishers tomorrow to ask them.

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Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Living high 

One of my favorite writers, Garrison Keillor, is writing for Salon again. Its an easy, gentle kind of writing, conversational, discursive, folksy -- nahhh, not really, just on the surface. Underneath, Garrison bites. Maybe it could be summed up by just saying that Garrison Keillor doesn't suffer fools.
Here is a section from his latest Salon column, Looking for higher ground:
Blanche DuBois said she always had depended on the kindness of strangers but that was before last week. Last week showed you pretty clearly that you should never ever get in a situation where you're trapped and don't have food or water. Nobody's going to come. Lower taxes and less government means you better live on a high bluff above the river and have plenty of money . . . I like New Orleans but I'd never live there. I enjoy the streetcars and the gumbo and the little gardens behind the high walls in the French Quarter and the easy view of life. It's a city where you can find people to talk to late at night and nobody is in a rush to get home . . . The downside of being the Big Easy is that visitors feel encouraged to show you a side of themselves you'd rather not see, the blithering drunkenness and bare-breasted ladies and plastic gewgaws of Bourbon Street and Mardi Gras. You don't have to be Baptist to find the company of drunks discouraging and New Orleans is a mecca for alcoholics. Big Easiness, however, is not conducive to good government and the city hasn't gotten much of that. There are large sections of town where the tourist is warned never to set foot. The schools are wretched and services are lousy and in a high-water-table city where even high ground is low and low ground is below sea level, the flood control system wasn't ever more than modestly adequate, and so last week the Big Easy got to know George Bush. You don't have to be drunk to be stupid. Here was a patronage appointee, the pal of a pal, in charge of the federal response to Katrina and he sat and waited to see what would happen and when it happened, he froze. As Mr. Bush said, he had no idea that the levees wouldn't hold. Truly. It's not how we used to do things, back when there was a sense of shame attached to government incompetence that costs lives, but it's different in America these days. Don't ever get in trouble, is my advice. Head upriver and look for high ground.
A completely irrelevant aside is that Keillor also narrated the famous Briish Honda Accord commercial -- watch it here, and if you want more info about it, see here.

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Please God . . . we promise not to piss it away this time 

One of the jokes going around in the 1970s oil shortage period, when the formerly-wealthy Houston oil barons were going bankrupt, was a bumper sticker which went something like this:
"Please, God, send us another oil boom. We promise not to piss it away this time."
I was reminded of this reading Ian Welch's hugely significant piece "American Genuis" on The Blogging of the President -- he talks about why the American empire-bubble will end.
No society that is not led well over long periods can prosper. The US appears to be in the last frenzy of looting of Empire. The end days are nigh, the looting has extended to eating the seed corn and twenty years from now, seed corn gone, Americans will find that America is not unique and that the sun does set on every great nation. As usual they will have been destroyed from within by the home grown rats, fat upon the grain of their fellow citizens.
I would like to hear Ian's opinions about what will happen to Canada when the bubble bursts.

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Supersize me 

You know how land is supposed to be a great buy because they're not making any more of it. Well, maybe they are: CNN.com - Growing land bulge found in Oregon Hmmm -- I'm trying to think of a line here . . .

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Great line of the day 

Regarding Bush's announcement accepting (sort-of) responsibility:
"The President has done the obvious, only after it was clear he couldn't get away with the inexcusable." -- John Kerry, as quoted by Josh Marshall.

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Coy? Oh, how cute 

Roberts Repeatedly Dodges Roe V. Wade
I don't get it.
At some point, like when he starts ruling on cases, Roberts will have to make up his mind where he stands on some of these issues. Hasn't he given them some thought to date?
This news story implies that Roberts thinks the purpose of the hearings is to avoid revealing his judicial philoosphy or the basis for his opinions: "The questions quickly jumped among hot-button issues of the day — abortion, gay rights, war powers, torture of enemy prisoners among them. And Roberts, known for his unflappability when under questioning, seemed ready. He tried to reassure senators about his views on the issues without revealing too much. "
How could they be "reassured" if he won't tell them anything?
That said, it is stupid for Senators to think that there is any question about what Roberts will do on the court.
OF COURSE he will vote to overturn Rov V Wade -- Bush would never have nominated him elsewise. And its not because of political strategy and rewarding his base and all that, but simply because Bush personally is pro-life. He has never made any secret about this. Bush doesn't believe that women should have the right to choose to have an abortion. So why would he ever nominate to the Supreme Court a justice who did not share that view? It is his legacy.

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Monday, September 12, 2005

Great line of the day 

Is from Juan Cole at Informed Comment. He is writing about Tal Afar:
The latest US/Iraqi offensive in Tal Afar petered out on Sunday, as the invaders discovered that the guerrillas in the city had used tunnels to escape. The Iraqis and the US had been saying that they wanted to prevent the guerrillas from getting away, but now they just have to declare victory and go home. Most of the city has been emptied out. Most of the residents had not been guilty of any thing, but now they are refugees. These sweep operations such as have been conducted several times at Tal Afar and also at Qaim and even the Sunni parts of Baghdad have never really succeeded. It is like attacking water; it just flows around you and the situation ends up the same as before. Operation Lighting in early June in Baghdad was supposed to put an end to Sunni Arab guerrilla operations in Baghdad. It did seem to impede them for a brief period, but then they roared back. It seems possible, perhaps likely, that Tal Afar will revert again, too, when people come back to the city. The US/Iraqi government policy now appears to be to de-urbanize the Sunni Arab heartland by destroying Sunni cities one after another. The problem with such a tactic is that it will not actually reduce attacks on the US military or the Iraqi police. It will just seed ethnic hatred for decades to come.

The line I like is the one in bold, about attacking water. But I thought the whole post was worth quoting.
I haven't blogged much about Iraq because of the New Orleans tragedy, but I don't think things are going any better now than they were in mid-August. Cole also notes that the constitution is still a mess and the UN doesn't yet have a document that it can print for the vote which is supposed to be held in four weeks.
Also, it struck me as passing strange to hear reports that the US is blowing up bridges along the Tigris River, I think it was, to prevent Syrians from moving south. Isn't blowing up bridges something that armies do when they are retreating?

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Its a sin to kill a mockingbird 

In this editorial, the Vancouver Sun concludes that Irwin Cotler should refuse extradition of Marc Emery.
Why? Basically, because what Emery did is NOT wrong here:
Whether [Cotler] wants to admit it or not, selling viable cannabis seeds is de facto legal in Canada, and Cotler can therefore refuse to surrender Emery on the grounds that what he is charged with in the U.S. is not an offence in Canada . . . the federal government was referring medical marijuana users to Emery's website until two years ago. The actions and inaction of the federal government make it abundantly clear that the feds didn't -- and still don't -- consider Emery's operation illegal. Hence the prospect of sending someone to a country that considers such conduct an offence would appear to violate the principles of fundamental justice. Cotler seems morally and legally obliged to exercise his discretion and refuse extradition.
I hope other newspapers take up this same approach.
In the end, only one thing matters, I think. Just this: it would be morally wrong for Canada to send Emery and his two companions to jail in the United States for doing something which Canadians do not think is illegal.

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Sunday, September 11, 2005

Good 

I had been intending to study up on the Shariah law issue in Ontario and post something on it, but I guess the debate is now over. McGinty's decision is, I think, the right one: McGuinty rejects Shariah law --
McGuinty announced his government would move quickly to outlaw existing religious tribunals used for years by Christians and Jews under Ontario's Arbitration Act. 'I've come to the conclusion that the debate has gone on long enough,' he said. 'There will be no Shariah law in Ontario. There will be no religious arbitration in Ontario. There will be one law for all Ontarians.' McGuinty said religious arbitrations 'threaten our common ground,' and promised his Liberal government would introduce legislation 'as soon as possible' to outlaw them in Ontario. 'Ontarians will always have the right to seek advice from anyone in matters of family law, including religious advice,' he said. 'But no longer will religious arbitration be deciding matters of family law.'
I think framing it on the basis of having a single law for everyone in Ontario is the correct approach. It follows the basic principle of democracy -- if people don't like that law, then elect a different government to change it, but until then the same law applies to all.

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Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster 

From Huffington Post comes notice of this Telegraph story about the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster:


His Noodliness

In the past few weeks, the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster has become perhaps the world's fastest-growing "religion" and maybe its most improbable. While no one can be sure of the exact numbers of "Pastafarians", as acolytes are called, they may number in the millions.

This all started out as a letter to the Kansas City school board from an unemployed Oregon physics graduate Bobby Henderson demanding that they teach Flying Spaghetti Monsterism as well as Intelligent Design and Evolution. "I think we can all look forward to the time when these three theories are given equal time in our science classrooms across the country, and eventually the world; One third time for Intelligent Design, one third time for Flying Spaghetti Monsterism, and one third time for logical conjecture based on overwhelming observable evidence."
And it has turned into just a... a ...a Monster!
See more at this website: http://www.venganza.org/, including this information on why this church is so much better than the rest: "1. Flimsy moral standards. 2. Every friday is a relgious holiday. If your work/school objects to that, demand your religious beliefs are respected and threaten to call the ACLU. And 3) Our heaven is WAY better. We've got a Stripper Factory AND a Beer Volcano."
Oh, is there NOTHING sacred these days?

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Great line of the day 

General Honore describes the media who are covering the New Orleans recovery efforts: " 'I can't swing a dead cat without hitting a reporter,' Honore said."

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Batshit crazy 

Associated Press reports that an updated US preemptive war doctrine now says it would be OK to use nuclear weapons as long as the US is sufficiently scared.
First, the news story tries to reassure us
The "Doctrine for Joint Nuclear Operations," which was last updated 10 years ago, makes clear that "the decision to employ nuclear weapons at any level requires explicit orders from the president."
Please forgive me if I don't trust Cheney's judgement on this anymore -- this is a guy who still wants to believe that Iraq was behind 911.
Then the article continues
"A broader array of capability is needed to dissuade states from undertaking ... courses of action that would threaten U.S. and allied security," the draft says. "U.S. forces must pose a credible deterrent to potential adversaries who have access to modern military technology, including WMD and the means to deliver them." It says "deterrence of potential adversary WMD use requires the potential adversary leadership to believe the United States has both the ability and will to pre-empt or retaliate promptly with responses that are credible and effective." It says "this will be particularly difficult with nonstate (non-government) actors who employ or attempt to gain use of WMD. Here, deterrence may be directed at states that support their efforts as well as the terrorist organization itself. However, the continuing proliferation of WMD along with the means to deliver them increases the probability that someday a state/nonstate actor nation/terrorist may, through miscaluation or by deliberate choice, use those weapons. In such cases, deterrence, even based on the threat of massive destruction, may fail and the United States must be prepared to use nuclear weapons if necessary." It notes that U.S. policy has always been purposely vague with regard to when the United States would use nuclear weapons and that it has never vowed not to be the first to use them in a conflict. One scenario for a possible nuclear pre-emptive strike in the draft would be in the case of an "imminent attack from adversary biological weapons that only effects from nuclear weapons can safely destroy.
In other words, when we tell a "state/non-state actor nation/terrorist" what to do -- and that terminology seems to include just about everybody -- then they'd better do it. Or else we'll think that maybe they are getting ready to attack us. And if we think they might attack us, then we'll nuke 'em and let God sort 'em out.
These people are hysterical batshit crazy, aren't they? It just goes to prove the statement that if all you have is a hammer then every problem looks like a nail.
I think the Pentagon just cannot understand it -- that even though they are the strongest nation in the world with all sorts of nuclear weapons, why is it that they still don't feel safe? So now they think that not only can they somehow use nukes to stop someone from dropping a vial of anthrax into the water supply -- but they think also that they have the moral right to do this.
And what will it take to get other nations to step forward and try to stop this craziness? China? India? Britain? Saudi Arabia? Even Canada? It's long past time for you guys to say something.

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Saturday, September 10, 2005

Another great line for today 

Peter Daou posts on Bush at 39%. I will quote the whole thing, because this may be behing the Salon subscription wall for some people.
Like something out of Greek mythology, three women have brought Bush to his (figurative) knees: Valerie, Cindy, and Katrina. The first was betrayed, the second's son had his trust betrayed, the third brought an ill wind that betrayed the rot at the core of a political philosophy that wants to 'drown government in a bathtub.' On the political left, a half-decade of frustration is slowly turning into a glimmer of hope that fellow Americans see the emperor's nakedness. On the political right - as Bush enters the Watergate job approval zone - there is fury at what is seen as blind hatred of a great leader. But what really matters now is the reality on the ground. Cheerleading with a bullhorn on a sacred gravesite may substitute for leadership to some, but real leadership (or in this case the lack of it) has real-world consequences. And an increasing number of Americans don't like the consequences they see.

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RCALF is at it again 

RCALF is at it again - Cattle group wants another chance in court
And in looking through the Google News list of articles relating to this story, I also saw the link to this CattleNework story , which provides some additional perspective on the overall issues in the cattle market and notes the negative impact on the American cattle industry overall if RCALF is successful in what it is trying to do.

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Great line of the day. 

Toronto Star columnist Rosie DiManno writes 'U.S. must examine its soul' and includes this comment: "Twenty-five thousand body bags have arrived in New Orleans. Perhaps, just this once, for the first time in two weeks, the city will have too much of what it needs." Its a good article.

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Cry me a river 

Its interesting to see the level to which journalists will sink just to put a story on the wire. Here is an example of gonzo journalism at its finest: Brown Sent Candid E-Mail to Family. So I guess the reporter thinks Brown should have been left in charge just so his widdle feelings wouldn't be hurt?
Let's think of some other fanstatical stories which could be written about undeserving people who think they should catch some slack. How about: "Stockwell Day's feelings hurt because conservatives are mean to him" or "Republicans should let Nixon run for president again", "Ken Lay feels pretty bad about Enron, demands stock exchange let him sell shares in a new company" "Karla Homolka seeks no conditions on parole" . . . hey, wait a miniute . . .

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Its not working 

Judging by some editorial cartoons, the Bush administration efforts at damage control following Katrina aren't working worth a darn. Here are a couple:
Mike Keefe, Denver Post:


R.J.Matson, The New York Observer

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Freaks at the circus 

In THE NEWS BLOG, Steve Gilliard has a couple of very thoughtful posts about the racism of the core of the Hurricane Katrina crisis -- it is also, of course, at the core of the inner city mob myth I just posted about below.
Gilliard makes the point that the humanitarial disaster of Katrina has ripped away the mask of America --
The funny thing about crisis is that you have to put your cards on the table. The NRO [National Review Online] Klavern put theirs out. Straight up and with no question: Niggers suck, and they're proud to say it. Barbara Bush's mask of amiability was also ripped off this week. Her colonialist attitude towards her fellow Americans was recorded live. Anyone want to call Kitty Kelley a liar now? And the sheriff of Gretna, LA proved that every country has war criminals. most just don't have a war to commit crime in . . . The nation's leading black conservative commentators have been as quiet as door mice since this happened . . . Mehlman would be laughed out of the room if he said the GOP was a party of inclusion. Please. You had the President's mother speaking like a Kenyan colonist in a village . . . Bush showed he's a human clusterfuck and his government seems to run on the political prinicples of Mobuto Sese Seko, creator of Zaire, the world's first kleptocracy. So the old joke about seeing a nuclear explosion and kissing your ass goodbye seems appropriate. Too bad the same can be said for hurricane warnings as well. After 9/11, FEMA as dumping ground was not such a good idea. Now, after Katrina, we know it can kill people.
and he also notes how poorly the right blogosphere has responded.
. . . Sometimes the world changes before your eyes. December 7th was such a day, November 22nd was one, so was July 4th. Those days didn't just change America, they changed the way we saw the world. The right blogosphere, used to defending Bush, is caught on the wrong side here and not only do they don't know it, they keep digging deeper . . . Everyone from the Southern Baptist Convention to MTV are helping to raise money and feed people. The only people not doing anything are the righties . . . This is the most serious domestic crisis since Pearl Harbor, and these folks are acting like it's still Ok to be Bund members. They don't get that everything changed after Bush failed to help the Katrina survivors. The right bloggers are treating this as politics. A lot of people, left and right, realize the implications here, and Bush is being hammered because of this. If there had been a terrorist attack on a chemical plant or if an LNG tanker, FEMA's inaction would have killed thousands of people from untreated trauma injuries. This is no longer about politics, but survival . . . New Orleans is gone. I mean, a unique way of life is gone. It doesn't get much more serious than this. And the right bloggers are making jokes and arguing about buses . . . In this most serious of times, the right bloggers are looking like freaks at the circus.



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The inner city mob myth 

I remember noticing, at the beginning of the horror last Tuesday, that the US media were obsessed with looting. The reporters on the ground were trying to talk about a broad range of evacuation problems, while the anchors sitting in their New York studios kept focusing on looting -- how's the looting, any signs of looting, where are the looters, did you get any video of looting...on and on and on.
I remember noticing, at the height of the horror last Thursday, that it was very odd and tragic that people didn't just walk out of New Orleans by themselves. I thought maybe some had but there were just too many old people and babies left to make it.
Now both the things have turned out to be part of the same story -- the inner city mob myth. An inordinate and excessive fear of looters caused good-ole-boy police in the suburban neighbourhoods surrounding New Orleans to set up barricades which prevented the poor people of New Orleans from walking out to safety. Kevin Drum posts "Savagery...a followup..." which covers some of the details.
Its all part of this "inner city mob" myth in American culture -- the apparently primal fear of suburbia that a mob of rampaging, looting, screaming, tire-iron-clutching black people are going to come running down their street -- breakin' windows and rapin' women and crushin' the flowerbeds and tailored lawns.
Disaster planning in the US doesn't seem to have acknowledged the power of this myth. It may well have been a major factor in the disaster that was New Orleans, and certainly would be a factor in many many other US cities -- where the central areas of the city are populated primarily by poor black people while wealthier white people live in the surrounding suburbs and have white police forces who know their job is to protect suburbia from the black mobs. So in American cities, if something disasterous happens which creates refugees in the city core, the disaster will be compounded because the suburbs will be too afraid to let their neighbours in.
And I call it a myth because it is -- I am no expert on American history but when was there ever an example of an inner city mob which rampaged around the suburbs? I can't think of one. All the mobs I remember seeing on TV -- Detroit, Watts, the Rodney King riots, etc -- actually destroyed just their own neighbourhoods, not anyone else's.
In New Orleans, there were no mobs at all. Just desperate, suffering people.
The Wikipedia article on inner cities points out that in other areas of the world like London and Paris it is the wealthier and higher-class people who live downtown. But even in Canadian cities, which follow the American model where poor people live in downtown neighbourhoods, there is not this same kind of dynamic at all. In Canada, we have escaped this particular myth and thus this type of fear -- maybe this is why we also have escaped the American gun culture as well.

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Thursday, September 08, 2005

Great line of the day 

In 'They look just like little bugs...' d r i f t g l a s s concludes "In the end, Bush failed the only test of leadership that matters, on the only platform he every really ran on. Character. But Character is what you are in the dark. And it was awfully dark in New Orleans last week."

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The tourists are talking 

And it ain't pretty:
Holiday in hell: Sask. pair recount ordeal in New Orleans
While New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin appealed to the masses to get out of the city, Mitzel and Johnson tried everything they could to escape. They bought plane tickets and tried to rent a car, and when those plans failed, they holed up for four days in the Monteleone Hotel with Mitzel's cousin, Eugene Herman of Regina. When all hotels were ordered to evacuate, they appealed to National Guard personnel for help in getting out. "The first four days were spent trying to contain us, to herd us," Johnson said. "There was no thought given to evacuation. It was all police and National Guard, and it was all, contain, contain, contain. Focus on the looters. Shoot to kill anybody after dark. Get everybody together under one roof so we can control them. We didn't need that. We needed out of town." Officials directed them to the Superdome, where conditions were unsanitary and reports were leaking out of lawlessness and death. "I think it was very frustrating for people to keep hearing 'get out, get out,' when all we were trying to do was get out and nobody could take us," Johnson said. Johnson didn't see many signs of disaster planning or emergency preparedness. Although guards told them repeatedly buses were coming to "take them to safety," the buses never materialized. "We didn't believe it any more," Mitzel said. "We made a joke of it," Johnson said. After spending a night on the streets of New Orleans, finally, buses and trucks picked up the pair and their companions. They took the tourists to a holding area in nearby Jefferson Parish that Mitzel describes as a "refugee camp." "The conditions in that refugee camp, I don't think you want to think about that," he said. "They were horrible." Mitzel and Johnson describe the camp as a swamp where 5,000 people waited in the blazing heat for more buses to evacuate them. A mere four portable bathrooms to serve the masses were overflowing. There were no garbage containers, and people of all ages and their animals were wading through ankle-deep excrement and Louisiana mud. Some had been there for 32 hours. A breakthrough came when two bus drivers got lost, and some helpful Louisiana State Troopers directed them to a back lot where about 100 tourists were loaded on and taken to Baton Rouge and Alexandria, La. In Alexandria, Johnson and Mitzel bought new clothes and luggage and secured flights to Atlanta, and then Saskatoon. Although Mitzel said the American government was the "bottleneck" holding people back from getting help, Johnson said she's disappointed in companies who could have stepped up to help thousands escape before the hurricane hit. "There should have been an immediate plan for evacuation," Johnson said. "Instead of Greyhound (buses) pulling out at 6 o'clock on Saturday, 36 hours before the hurricane, they should have brought in 100 more buses and started taking people out. Instead of Northwest (Airlines) cancelling their flights at 9 a.m., fully 24 hours before the hurricane struck, they should have been putting on more flights and evacuating people."
Two paramedics write about Hurricane Katrina - our experiences -- note that parts of this story were posted on Daily Kos a few days ago, too:
What you will not see, but what we witnessed,were the real heroes and sheroes of the hurricane relief effort: the working class of New Orleans. The maintenance workers who used a fork lift to carry the sick and disabled. The engineers, who rigged, nurtured and kept the generators running. The electricians who improvised thick extension cords stretching over blocks to share the little electricity we had in order to free cars stuck on rooftop parking lots. Nurses who took over for mechanical ventilators and spent many hours on end manually forcing air into the lungs of unconscious patients to keep them alive. Doormen who rescued folks stuck in elevators. Refinery workers who broke into boat yards, "stealing" boats to rescue their neighbors clinging to their roofs in flood waters. Mechanics who helped hot-wire any car that could be found to ferry people out of the City. And the food service workers who scoured the commercial kitchens improvising communal meals for hundreds of those stranded. Most of these workers had lost their homes, and had not heard from members of their families, yet they stayed and provided the only infrastructure for the 20% of New Orleans that was not under water [there follows an incredible description of three days of needlessly abusive, gratitiously insulting treatment by NO police and military.]official treatment was in sharp contrast to the warm, heart-felt reception given to us by the ordinary Texans. We saw one airline worker give her shoes to someone who was barefoot. Strangers on the street offered us money and toiletries with words of welcome. Throughout, the official relief effort was callous, inept, and racist. There was more suffering than need be. Lives were lost that did not need to be lost.
From the Herald Sun newspaper in South Carolina, 3 Duke students tell of 'disgraceful' scene describes the journey of three students who piled into a car and went to New Orleans to help:
. . . the students saw four or five bodies. National Guard troopers seemed to be checking the second and third floors of the building to try to secure the site. "Anyone who knows that area, if you had a bus, it would take you no more than 20 minutes to drive in with a bus and get these people out," Buder said. "They sat there for four or five days with no food, no water, babies getting raped in the bathrooms, there were murders, nobody was doing anything for these people. And we just drove right in, really disgraceful. I don't want to get too fired up with the rhetoric, but some blame needs to be placed somewhere." By about 7 p.m., the students made their way back to the boy on Magazine Street. He directed them to some people "who really needed to get out." The resulting evacuation began at a house at the corner of Magazine and Peniston streets. The first group included three women and a man. The students climbed into the front seats of the four-door Hyundai, and the evacuees filled the back seat. They left the city and headed back to Baton Rouge. There they deposited the man at the LSU medical center and took the women to dinner. The women later found shelter with relatives, and the students got about four hours' sleep inside the LSU chapel. At 6:30 a.m. Sunday, they made their second run into New Orleans, returning to the house at Magazine and Peniston streets. This time they picked up three men and headed back to Baton Rouge. Two of the men were the husbands of two of the women evacuated the night before. The students reunited them with their wives and put the two families on a bus for Texas.
The BBC reports Briton slams US rescue 'shambles':
Without their driving licences they were unable to hire a car and flee the city ahead of the storm and decided to remain in their hotel after being warned the Superdome would be too dangerous. The handling of the relief operation had been "horrendous", Mr Scott added. "I could not describe how bad the authorities were - taking photographs of us as we are standing on the roof waving for help, for their own personal photo albums, little snapshot photographs." He said at one point a group of girls was standing on the roof of the hotel lobby and called to passing rescuers for help. "They [the authorities] said to them 'well show us what you've got' - doing signs for them to lift their t-shirts up. The girls said no, and they said 'well fine', and motored off down the road in their motorboat. "That's the sort of help we had from the authorities," he said. Mr Scott added: "The only information we got from anybody in authority was if a policeman came past and we shouted to them out of the windows. "The only information we ever got off them was negative, 'Do not go here. Do not go there'. "There was no, 'Are you OK? Are you safe? Have you got water?'. "Most of the time they would ignore us." At night, the police presence disappeared altogether, leaving the stranded guests and staff to defend themselves. "You would hear shots ringing out during the night and that was one of the most worrying things, because we had no security," Mr Scott said. "We patrolled the halls and checked the doors throughout the night in the hotel - but if someone had wanted to come in, there was not much we could have done about it." They had a torch - but, Mr Scott said, "you knew if you went down in the dark the torch would only make you a better target". Nevertheless, the staff and guests had managed to chase one group of looters from the building, he added. He then had had to wade waist-deep through the filthy water to barricade the hotel's doors. "It was like wading through an open sewer. "It reeked to high heaven and made you want to vomit. Outside I could see bodies floating in the water." Mr Scott told BBC News he had ripped wires attached to speakers from the walls of the flooded hotel bar and tied tables and chairs together as makeshift barricades . . . When they were finally rescued it had been by Louisiana game wardens, who had entered the hotel with rifles and fixed bayonets, Mr Scott said.

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