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Saturday, September 30, 2006

Afghanistan update 

The Asia Times has an interesting article about Afghanistan -- interesting as in the old Chinese curse "may you live in interesting times". It covers a lot of ground in describing what has gone wrong there and why and is worth reading in full. Here is its section about future problems:
What lies ahead is, therefore, becoming extremely difficult to predict. Even with 2,500 additional troops [there are about 20,000 US troops there already plus about 20,000 from NATO including 5,400 troops from Britain, 2,500 from Canada and 2,300 from the Netherlands] it is highly doubtful whether NATO can succeed in defeating the Taliban.
For one thing, the Taliban enjoy grassroots support within Afghanistan. There is no denying this ground reality.
Second, the Taliban are becoming synonymous with Afghan resistance. The mindless violations of the Afghan code of honor by the coalition forces during their search-and-destroy missions and the excessive use of force during military operations leading to loss of innocent lives have provoked widespread revulsion among Afghan people. . . .
Third, . . . the non-Pashtun groups in the eastern, northern and western regions also [are beginning] to organize themselves. . . .
Fourth, at a certain point it becomes unavoidable that regional powers will get drawn into the strife . . .
I hope Canada is planning a real exit strategy, even if they won't announce one. By "real" exit strategy, I don't mean just the idiotic "whenever we win" approach, but rather a strategic plan showing both what we as an individual nation can realistically achieve over there and the fail-safe points after which we would reevaluate our military purpose.
I think we're going to need it.

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Friday, September 29, 2006

Canadian Bacon 

Harper was so anxious to get the softwood lumber deal in place by this weekend that he was going to use $1 billion of Canadian taxpayers' money to pay off the Americans.
It was part of this money that was going to create the $450 million slush fund for the White House.
The Globe reports that the deal is going to be delayed because about 20 per cent of the businesses covered by the deal - 86 out of 400 - refused to sign over their duty refunds to the government, and refused to drop their lawsuits.
Apparently, the government had thought they could "finesse" the holdouts by using federal tax revenues to pay off the Americans. However, they couldn't unilaterally nullify the lawsuits:
The agreement required Canadian firms to sign over their right to duty refunds to the federal Export Development Corp. so some of the roughly $5-billion (U.S.) could be retained by the U.S. government and American producers. The EDC would, in turn, give exporters 80 per cent of the duties they had paid.
A number of companies have refused to sign over their rights but Ottawa was expected to use taxpayer money to ensure the Americans received the guaranteed $1-billion.
However, the U.S. stipulation that all lumber-related trade cases be withdrawn was impossible to finesse, said Mr. Gray. "The last I heard, it was 86 companies out of the 400 or so had not signed," he said. "I think that's their single most important issue. Our rights are our rights in American courts and I don't know how they can take that away from us."
Emphasis mine
Personally, I'm glad the White House isn't getting their hot little hands on my income taxes just yet. I know its a pittance in the great scheme of things, but I earned it and I do care about how it is spent . . .

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Thursday, September 28, 2006

Who would be proud of what happened today? 

MSNBC describes it as the "bill on terror detainee trials" while AP calls it the "detainee interrogation bill" and CNN says it is a bill "to prosecute and interrogate terror suspects."
They've drunk the Koolaid -- they begin by assuming that everyone presently in Guantanamo is guilty, and they don't seem to realize what this bill actually does.
The blogs tell it like it is. They call it the pro-torture bill, the torture bill, the Bush/McCain pro-torture bill, the Republican Torture Ratification bill, and the USA Mengele Act, while the New York Times describes it as "a tyrannical law that will be ranked with the low points in American democracy".
Here is the New York Times' summary of what Bush and the Republicans in Congress have done:
.. . held [accused terrorists] in illegal detention, had them questioned in ways that will make real trials very hard, and invented a transparently illegal system of kangaroo courts to convict them . . .[then wrote a law which gives to the President] the power to jail pretty much anyone he wants for as long as he wants without charging them, to unilaterally reinterpret the Geneva Conventions, to authorize what normal people consider torture, and to deny justice to hundreds of men captured in error.
So I got thinking about some of the other presidents we have known. What would THEY think about Bush's torture bill and the frightened, pell-mell rush of the Republicans in Congress to endorse Krystalnacht.

Would these two be proud of what Bush and the Republican Congress did today?


I don't think so.
And I'm sure he wouldn't be:


And not him:


Nor even him:


Definitely not him:


And not even him:

who once said "No man is justified in doing evil on the ground of expedience."

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Why Conservatives Can't Govern 

Via Suburban Guerilla, we find political scientist Alan Wolfe's summary of "Why Conservatives Can't Govern". Here's the gist of it:
Contemporary conservatism is first and foremost about shrinking the size and reach of the federal government. This mission, let us be clear, is an ideological one. It does not emerge out of an attempt to solve real-world problems, such as managing increasing deficits or finding revenue to pay for entitlements built into the structure of federal legislation.
. . . like all politicians, conservatives, once in office, find themselves under constant pressure from constituents to use government to improve their lives. This puts conservatives in the awkward position of managing government agencies whose missions--indeed, whose very existence--they believe to be illegitimate. Contemporary conservatism is a walking contradiction. Unable to shrink government but unwilling to improve it, conservatives attempt to split the difference, expanding government for political gain, but always in ways that validate their disregard for the very thing they are expanding. The end result is not just bigger government, but more incompetent government.
. . . As a way of governing, conservatism is another name for disaster. And the disasters will continue, year after year, as long as conservatives, whose political tactics are frequently as brilliant as their policy-making is inept, find ways to perpetuate their power.
I'm very much afraid that Canadians will find that this applies just as well to Harper's Conservatives as it does to Bush's Republicans.

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Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Great line of the day 

From Tristero at Hullabaloo:
David Ignatius asks, in a genuinely stupid column, "How do we prevent Iraq from becoming a failed state? "
Step One: Bush and his entire cabinet leave office.
Step Two: Wait for Step One.
Until then, it is inevitable that Iraq will stay firmly on the path towards becoming a failed state . . . . And, no, it's not that Bush et al were incompetent that [the war in Iraq] failed. That's backward. The Bush administration demonstrated its total incompetence because it took a pre-emptive invasion of Iraq seriously and thought it could succeed.

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Still crazy after all these years 

So I guess the Star Phoenix thinks that improving working conditions for rural women in Saskatchewan is too 'strident" and "out of the mainstream".
And I guess the Globe and Mail thinks its more seemly and genteel to worry about museums than to worry about Canadian fiscal policy barriers to working women.
Ah, crazy feminists!
Can't we ever just be satisfied with what we've already got?
The Star Phoenix says that Status of Women Canada "too often has come to represent the more strident of the women's movement rather than the diversity or the mainstream" while the Globe says "there is no rule that existing programs must continue forever" and "Surely Status of Women Canada. . . does not need to exist in perpetuity".
Ouch -- strident AND useless.
No wonder the Harper government cut their funding -- for goodness sake, what did we feminists expect?
Well, lets just take a look-see at the crazy, irrelevant things what SOWC has been doing lately. I looked up their planning document for 2006-07, and here's what the harpies are whining about now:
Although the situation for women and girls has improved, inequality persists over time in several key social and economic areas recently measured:
- In 2001, women made up 52 percent of those graduating with a bachelor's or first professional degree.
- In 2004, women accounted for 47 percent of the employed workforce with increased representation in several professional fields and managerial positions.
- In 2004, women contributed $185 billion through wages and self-employment to Canada's Gross Domestic Product (GDP).
- Women provide two-thirds of the unpaid work time (care of children, sick and elderly) spent in Canada. Women's unpaid work constituted the equivalent of 12.8 million jobs to the economy in 1992 at a value of about one third to one half of the GDP-equalling as much as $374 billion.
- Overall, women continue to have significantly less income than men.
- Women who are immigrants, disabled, a visible minority or Aboriginal are more likely to live in poverty than men.
- Violence and abuse begin early in life for many women and girls, and the effects can last a lifetime.
Almost every indicator shows that Aboriginal women face severe barriers to equality and inclusion. According to recent Government statistics, the life expectancy of Aboriginal women is more than five years shorter than that of Canadian women in general, and they are more likely to live in poverty-36.4 percent as compared with 17.7 percent. Aboriginal women are also more than three times more likely to be assaulted by their spouses than are Canadian women in general, and they are eight times more likely to be killed by their spouses after a separation. Aboriginal women who have status under the Indian Act, and who are between the ages of 25 and 44, are five times more likely to experience a violent death than are other Canadian women in the same age category.
And here are some of those "strident" studies published in 2005 and 2006:

Hidden Actors, Muted Voices: The Employment of Rural Women in Saskatchewan Forestry and Agri-Food Industries (Posted August 24, 2006)
Equality for Women: Beyond the Illusion Final report of the Expert Panel on Accountability Mechanisms for Gender Equality (Posted July 17, 2006)
Farm Women and Canadian Agricultural Policy (Posted July 13, 2006)
Policy Research Fund Publications (1996-2006) - CD ROM(April 2006)
Gender and Trade: A Policy Research Dialogue on Mainstreaming Gender into Trade Policies(March 2006)
Report on Status of Women Canada's On-Line Consultation on Gender Equality(Fall 2005) Human Security and Aboriginal Women in Canada(December 2005)
Polygamy in Canada: Legal and Social Implications for Women and Children - A Collection of Policy Research Reports(November 2005)
Women and Employment: Removing Fiscal Barriers to Women's Labour Force Participation(November 2005)
Aboriginal Women: An Issues Backgrounder(August 2005)
Poverty Issues for Canadian Women(August 2005)
Rural Women's Experiences of Maternity Care: Implications for Policy and Practice(July 2005)
Indian Registration: Unrecognized and Unstated Paternity(June 2005)
Public Policy and the Participation of Rural Nova Scotia Women in the New Economy(May 2005)
Increasing Gender Inputs into Canadian International Trade Policy Positions at the WTO(May 2005)
Policy Research Fund Publications (1996-2006) - CD ROM(April 2006)
Retaining Employment Equity Measures in Trade Agreements(February 2005)
Making Family Child Care Work: Strategies for Improving the Working Conditions of Family Childcare Providers (January 2005)

And by the way, Mr. Globe Editorial Writer, those poor, poor museums which can "rarely obtain operational funding from other sources" can at least raise a few bucks on their own by charging admission.
Maybe Status of Women Canada can raise its own money with one of those "naked calendar" stunts -- yeah, and we'll get Belinda Stronach and Tie Domi to pose for it.
Of course, Belinda may complain that this is sexist, but what does she know? Surely sexism doesn't still really exist anymore in Canada . . .

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Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Great lines of the day 

Juan Cole:
Bush told Wolf Blitzer he thought Iraq was a comma . . . But Iraq is very clearly an exclamation point. Now you know why the whole policy has been wrong. Bush has been trying to close off a dependent clause, not realizing he was forcefully making a declarative statement.
I love grammar witticisms. Though as Steve Gilliard notes, in another Great Line, the "comma" remark from Bush was actually Fundie-speak, or, as Steve put it, dog whistle:
When Bush said Iraq was a comma, he was speaking in dog whistle to the fundies. It comes from a saying "Never put a period where God puts a comma". Which means things will get better. Which is, of course, insane.
Emphasis mine.
UPDATE: Ian WeltchWelsh explains dog whistle politics. [Thanks for the correction, POGGE]

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Shorter Canadian Press 

CP thinks this is a news story:
I can't be bothered to examine the actual merits of any arguments against the Tory spending cuts. Its just so much easier to chortle about Tory payback to the people who didn't vote for them. What other 'news' could Canadians possibly need?

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I'll stick with coffee, thanks 

What a place to find a drowned bat!
Reminds me of a story --
What's worse than finding a worm in an apple?
Finding half a worm in an apple.

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Monday, September 25, 2006

Pointy-Haired Boss 


Two weeks after 911, Bush reportedly described his job this way:
"I have to manage the bloodlust of the American people."
Well, I guess he managed this just like he managed everything else -- poorly.

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Bad idea 

Allowing this rally to be held is stupid. What is the point? To make everybody even angrier? Yeah, that will help cool things down and resolve the dispute, won't it.

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Sunday, September 24, 2006

Beliefs 

If your beliefs have turned you into a sanctimonius, judgmental know-it-all jerk, then maybe you need to change your beliefs.
“It’s time to get serious about denying Planned Parenthood funding for birth control or sex education . . . If we believe life begins at the moment of conception, we have to defend it against [this] chemical attack.” Rev. Thomas Euteneuer, president of Human Life International
Or you could consider simply NOT believing it, couldn't you?

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Don't let the door hit you on the way out 

Shorter Eddie Goldenberg:
Is there some way I can continue to screw up the Liberal party? Why yes, yes there is.

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Pining for the fjords 

My husband and I realized the other day, while watching a Monty Python episode from 1969, that we have spent our adult lives using Monty Pyton lines as our commentary on the passing scene -- "Nobody expects the Spanish Inquisition" and "Steals from the poor and gives to the rich, stupid bitch, dum dum dum, dum dum dum" and "How to defend yourself when being attacked with a banana" and "I didn't come here for an argument. Yes, you did." and "a delightful mint-flavoured burgundy", not to mention "Someday, son, all this will be yours. Wot, the curtains?"
So the line that illustrates the newest report of Osama's demise is "He's pining. Pining for the fjords!"
Glenn Greenwald notes that Osama bin Laden "has died more times than any human being in history" and, surprisingly, it often seems to happen just when things are looking a little dark for the Boy Wonder.
Here is Greenwald's list:
Jan. 19, 2002 "Pakistan's president says he thinks Osama bin Laden is most likely dead because the suspected terrorist has been unable to get treatment for his kidney disease"
July 7, 2002 "FBI counterterrorism chief Dale Watson said Wednesday he believes Osama bin Laden is dead "
Oct. 16, 2002 "Osama Bin Laden appears to be dead but his colleagues have decided that Al Qaida and its insurgency campaign against the United States will continue, Israeli intelligence sources said". . .
April 30, 2005 "A new Islamist website is reporting that bin Laden is dead"
Oct. 24, 2005 "The Pakistani newspaper 'Ausaf' which is based in the city of Multan in the Punjab Province is reporting that Osama bin Laden died last June in a village near Kandahar in Afghanistan"
Jan. 9, 2006 "according to Iranians I trust, Osama bin Laden finally departed this world in mid-December."
Sept. 23, 2006 "Saudi intelligence services have determined that terrorist mastermind Osama bin Laden died of typhoid in August . . . the report comes from an actual secret document. . . "
Then, of course, Bin Laden pops up with another video or audio tape -- just in time for another American election.
Greenwald writes:
Most of our "counter-terrorism" efforts have been like this -- like a Three Stooges routine. The reality is that we have no idea whether bin Laden is dead . . . stumbling around in the dark, dealing only with baseless, fact-free insinuations, and ignoring him (by necessity) except to grasp desperately for him when some domestic political gain can be squeezed out of him. In the hands of Bush followers, terrorism and Al Qaeda are big toys, things to be tossed around aimlessly for fun and diversion . . .

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The "model" for the Middle East 

Shattered and bloody, brutal and dangerous -- has Iraq already become a "model" in the Middle East?
When the neocons and Bush prattle on about how the American "mission" must succeed in Iraq because it will serve as a model for the whole Middle East, I don't think this was the kind of model they had in mind.
At Hezbollah's Victory Rally in Lebanon on Friday (which Juan Cole says attracted an "enormous crowd" in south Beirut) Hezbollah leader Hasan Nazrallah also talked about Iraq is a model -- of what happens to a country which is not protected as Lebanon was by Hezbollah.
Nazrallah said:
. . . before speaking about Lebanon, we as Lebanese should see Iraq as a model. Had the war in Lebanon succeeded, the Americans would have applied this model in Lebanon. They wanted to apply this model in Lebanon. In the war, we the Lebanese offered martyrs from the Resistance, the army, the security forces, the civil defence, the Red Cross, the news media, the establishments, the different parties, and all our beloved people. But how many were martyrs? Never mind, were they 1,000 or 1,200 martyrs? In Iraq, some 10,000 to 15,000 people are killed every month in a chaotic war that is administered, financed, and incited by the Americans and the Mosad. The resistance in Lebanon protected Lebanon from civil war. [Cheers]
Some say that the resistance in Lebanon pushes for civil war. Never! Had Israel won, Lebanon would have been pushed to civil war, and you would have heard voices calling for federalism, cantons, and division. The Israeli language would have become current anew.
Iraq is a model, which we must always ponder. Our message to our people in Iraq must always be: Patience, calm, unity, wisdom, communication, avoid sedition, and don't wager on the enemy . . .

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Friday, September 22, 2006

Sigh 

You know, civil rights is just so important, affecting people's healthcare and living conditions and workplaces and incomes and families and even the likelihood of going to jail.
So I wish civil rights commissions could stick to what is important instead of wasting their time on trivialities like whether city councils should start their meetings with a prayer. Why does anyone care?

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Great line of the day 

Lance Mannion writes about Reagan v. Bush:
. . . Reagan saved the Party by being, often, successful, and by being truly popular. People liked the guy; they didn't need to be told over and over and over and over and over again that not only did they like him, they had to like him or the bad guys will come and kill us.
Reagan also helped himself and the Party by being able to give up on a project or an idea that wasn't working.
Bush's reaction to being wrong is to throw all his energy into being more wrong.
He's the kind of guy who if you tell him he's driving the wrong way down a one way street steps on the gas.
Party loyalists in the back seat are forced to say, No, no, this isn't a one way street, it's just narrow, or if it is one way it's one way this direction and all those other cars coming right at us are going the wrong way but fortunately George is such a skillful driver that they'll all miss us.
We're winning in Iraq. Torture is good. Up is down, down is up, the lark's on the wing, the snail's on the thorn, Bush is in the White House, and all's right with the world.
Emphasis mine.

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Updated the blogroll 

Hi, Guys -- I finally updated my blogroll, adding these new links I have collected over the last few months:
Saundrie, Big City Lib, Cursor.Org, Echidne of the Snakes, Lance Mannion, Matthew Yglesias, Needlenose, Sadly, No! , and Sergio Leone and the Infield Fly Rule
Give them a try.
UPDATE: "Saundrie" corrected. Sorry Scotian. I should have posted your blog long ago.
UPDATE: Also added Accidental Deliberations and Suburban Guerrilla

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Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Laugh til you cry 

Vancouver's Neil Kitson writes a little ditty, in the persona of the Globe Editorial board, titled Bloody but Unbowed: Canadians in Afghanistan and I was going to just quote the funny parts and the tragic parts, but that turned out to be all of it:
Canadian troops are not in Iraq, although this newspaper has consistently advocated sending them there. As we said at the time of the Coalition intervention in 2003, "much good should flow from it." Subsequent events have proved our position to be entirely wrong. It is now clear that Iraq is in a much more desperate situation than before the invasion, that there were no "weapons of mass destruction," and that the invasion was illegal and without justification. We at the Globe are therefore satisfied, like Col. Cathcart, that our genius for ineptitude has not been blunted.
It is in this light that we wholeheartedly support the Canadian involvement in the Afghan catastrophe. We report that our troops are being killed and injured at quite respectable rates, enough perhaps to get us some credibility in Washington. It is indeed regrettable that some of these casualties have been from American bombing and strafing, but this is still honorable: war is a tough business.
Afghanistan was known to be impoverished and littered with land mines after the Soviet withdrawal in 1989, but of little interest until 9/11, The Cataclysm That Changed the World Forever. Then, when it became clear that the 9/11 hijackers were almost all from Saudi Arabia, Afghanistan had to be dealt with promptly and aggressively.
Since the subsequent, successful Afghan intervention in 2001, which even the previous lily-livered Liberal government was able to support, there has been marked improvement and benefit. Afghanistan has a democratically elected government, which is pretty influential out to Kabul's city limits, and opium production is up. Land mines are admittedly still a problem, and as reported by the Guardian (a gutless left-wing newspaper that probably supported Stalin, although Churchill supported Stalin, which is a bit of a problem for us, but nothing we can't work out), the current situation in Afghanistan is "close to anarchy with feuding foreign agencies and unethical private security companies compounding problems caused by local corruption." This "stark warning came from Lieutenant General David Richards, head of NATO's international security force in Afghanistan, who warned that Western forces there were short of equipment and were 'running out of time' if they were going to meet the expectations of the Afghan people."
Luckily, however, Operation Medusa has been a success (although there are a few flaky doubters who lower morale but can be easily ignored), and our Canadian troops will now be bravely engaged, with our UN-sanctioned NATO allies, in destroying the opium crop, and with it a major source of income for impoverished rural Afghans (the drought is taking care of the rest). We applaud this resolution. We are not deterred by the fact that European troops (and their colonial descendants) who have little knowledge of the local language, culture, or customs are once again trying to impose their objectives on a population that resents their presence. Neither are we discouraged by the lack of funding or planning for a realistic economic recovery. On the contrary, we on the Globe editorial board are determined to persevere to our objective: a democratic, stable, peaceful Afghanistan, sympathetic to the West, prosperous, and resistant to the mad mullahs in Iran and Pakistan, even though we have no idea how any of this can be accomplished. We support the Harper government's determination to see Canada's Afghan involvement through to its inevitable and disastrous conclusion.

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Death is the cash cow 

Harper seemed to say that the Canadian military is better off because our soldiers are dying in Afghanistan:
". . . It's, I think, making them a better military, notwithstanding, or maybe in some way because of, the casualties."
When asked to explain how the military benefits when soldiers die, PMO spokesperson Carolyn Steward Olson explained:
. . . she thought the remarks were clear. The military gets stronger when casualties occur, she said, because it means more money is put into equipment and recruiting.
Thanks for clearing that up, Carolyn.
Death, the cash cow for the Canadian military...

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What have they been doing to people? 

What are they afraid of?
Why are both Bush and McCain so eager to pass a law that exempts the United States from the Geneva Conventions?
When they say that the prohibitions against "humiliating and degrading treatment" and "outrages upon personal dignity" are just too difficult to understand, it reminds me of all those CEOs and politicians caught with their hands in the till up to their armpits -- the ones who prattle on about how their company's rules about stealing are "just so vague, you know, so don't blame me because how was I to know it was wrong?"
So what has the Bush administration been doing to people?
We already know about the waterboarding, the cold cell, the long-time standing, the belly slap, the attention slap. We already know they have been running secret prisons themselves, as well as shipping people off to be tortured in other countries. And we already know they have 14,000 prisoners mouldering away in legal limbo, scattered at prisons all over the Middle East and Guantanamo -- all being run, like Abu Gharib was, by people who don't appear to know anything about operating prisons and are making it up as they go along.
As quoted at Daily Kos, here is what law professor Jonathan Turley said about the Bush and McCain show now going on in Congress:


. . . why are you doing this? You don't need to redefine the Geneva Conventions - you don't have to do anything with it. It's a treaty. We're a signatory. We've never had to do this before. We've gotten along just fine, as has the world, with the language of the Geneva Convention. If we make any effort at all to try to redefine it or tweak it or to amplify it, the world will see that as our effort to lawyer the Geneva Convention to try to create some type of loophole or excuse for conduct.

I thought Bush going to grab Matt Lauer and start shaking him during that interview the other day, he was just so anxious to justify how they've been "protecting the American people".
So what conduct do they need an excuse for? What have they been doing?
Here are a few hints and portents I gleaned as I read through a variety of stories about the last three years:
Seymour Hersch was quoted two years ago talking about "horrible things done to children of women prisoners".
Here is Amnesty International's report on one of the Guantanamo prisoners:

Mohamedou Slahi had been threatened with death and "disappearance" by military interrogators. The detainee had also been told that his family was in US custody, and that he should cooperate in order to help them. For example, on 20 July 2003, a masked interrogator told Slahi that his family had been "incarcerated". Again, on 2 August 2003 he told the detainee that his family were in US custody and was in danger. A letter was given to the detainee indicating that because of his lack of cooperation, US agents in conjunction with the Mauritanian authorities would interrogate his mother, and that if she was uncooperative she would be detained and transferred for long-term detention in Guantánamo . . . a leaked subsequent interview of one of the investigators [confirmed]Slahi’s allegation that he was taken off from Guantánamo in a boat where he thought [he was to be] killed or "disappeared" . . . Mohamedou Slahi remains in Guantánamo without charge or trial. He has now been held for nearly five years. . .
An American soldier who was pretending to be a prisoner at Guantanamo during a "training exercise" was beaten so severely that he suffered brain damage:

"They grabbed my arms, my legs, twisted me up and unfortunately one of the individuals got up on my back from behind and put pressure down on me while I was face down," said Baker. "Then he - the same individual - reached around and began to choke me and press my head down against the steel floor . . . " Baker sustained a traumatic brain injury that left him with a seizure disorder.
And this happened at Bagram in Afghanistan:

Dilawar, who died on December 10, 2002, was a 22-year-old Afghan taxi driver and farmer who weighed 122 pounds and was described by his interpreters as neither violent nor aggressive.
When beaten, he repeatedly cried "Allah!" The outcry appears to have amused U.S. military personnel, as the act of striking him in order to provoke a scream of "Allah!" eventually "became a kind of running joke," according to one of the MP's. "People kept showing up to give this detainee a common peroneal strike just to hear him scream out 'Allah,' " he said. "It went on over a 24-hour period, and I would think that it was over 100 strikes."
On the day of his death, Dilawar had been chained by the wrists to the top of his cell for much of the previous four days . . . It would be many months before Army investigators learned a final horrific detail: Most of the interrogators had believed Mr. Dilawar was an innocent man who simply drove his taxi past the American base at the wrong time.
So these stories indicate they have been torturing children, threatening people's families, "disappearing" prisoners by tossing them overboard during midnight boat trips (reminiscent of Vietnam's helicopter executions) and displaying a pattern of savage and inhuman cruelty. And these are things we already know about.
Is there anything else yet to be exposed?
Though actually, I wouldn't be surprised if the Bush administration's worst fear is this one: that almost none of these thousands of supposedly dangerous characters could be convicted in a real court with a real judge under real laws, because once you discard the torture confessions and hearsay and rumours there is no real evidence against them.

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Monday, September 18, 2006

Aarrr! 



Hey, Tuesday is International Talk Like A Pirate Day. Here are the only three pirate jokes you will ever need, according to the Official Web Site :
Thar be only three pirate jokes in the world.
The biggest one is the one that ends with someone usin' 'Arrr' in the punchline. Oh, sure, thar be plenty o' these, but they're all the same damn joke.
What's the pirate movie rated? - Arrr!
What kind o' socks does a pirate wear? - Arrrrgyle!
What's the problem with the way a pirate speaks? - Arrrrticulation!
...and so forth.
The second joke is the one wear the pirate walks into the bar with a ships wheel attached to the front o' his trousers. The bartender asks, 'What the hell is that ships wheel for?' The pirate says, 'I don't know, but it's drivin' me nuts!'
And finally. A little boy is trick or treatin' on Halloween by himself. He is dressed as a pirate. At one house, a friendly man asks him, 'Where are your buccaneers?' The little boy responds, 'On either side o' me 'buccan' head!'
And there ye have it. A symposium on pirate humor that'll last ye a lifetime - so long as life is violent and short.
Ye all be havin' a jolly day, me hearties!
(h/t to The Sideshow for the link)

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Why did you say it? 

So was this just a case of "Open mouth. Insert foot"? Or was Pope Benedict actually trying to muscle himself onto the world stage by promoting George Bush's religious war meme?
I'm not sure. But I do find it odd that the Pope's remarks came in the same week as Bush started talking about the "confrontation between good and evil" and the Third Awakening.
In a Saturday Globe article Michaek Valpy describes what Pope Benedict actually said:
The Pope, quoting a 15th-century Byzantine emperor, told his audience at the University of Regensburg: "Show me just what Mohammed brought that was new, and there you will find things only evil and inhuman, such as his command to spread by the sword the faith he preached." He used the words to illustrate that violence is contrary to the nature of God . . . The prevailing theory among scholarly Vatican observers is that the Pope, rather an unworldly scholar, simply goofed and used the wrong example from religious history to make his point that violence is contrary to God's nature and therefore unreasonable.
So aren't there plenty of examples in the history of Christianity which illustrate this point even better? Why, yes, yes there are:
He could have referred to Christian authorities forcibly converting Jews in the Middle Ages, or to the Crusaders savagely sacking Constantinople in 1204 . . . Instead, because he apparently had just finished reading a scholarly treatise on a religious dialogue between "an educated Persian" and the 15th-century Byzantine emperor Manuel II Palaeologus, he cited the emperor's words about "evil" Islam spreading faith "by the sword" without indicating whether he thought the emperor was right or wrong.
Could the Pope really be so clumsy? I don't think Valpy believes it:
An alternative to the goof theory is the explanation that Benedict intended, and has intended for some time, to make a tough, provocative statement on fundamentalist Islamic terrorism and violence.
Vatican scholars and bureaucrats interviewed in April on the first anniversary of Benedict's papacy thought he was showing signs of taking a harder position on Islamic violence than John Paul II.
Frightened by the violence against Catholics, Benedict is now trying to sort-of withdraw his remarks:
Pope Benedict said Sunday that he was 'deeply sorry' about the angry reaction to his recent remarks about Islam, which he said came from a text that he insisted did not reflect his personal opinion.
So why did you say it, then? As Geraldine would say, Did the devil make you do it?

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Sunday, September 17, 2006

Repetitive Mess Syndrome 

Oh, give it a rest, will ya? We won, you lost, get over it!
As MPs return to Parliament tomorrow, Christian lobby groups and others opposed to same-sex marriage are putting the screws to the federal politicians to turn back the clock, and once again ban gay couples from the aisle and altar.
The story goes on to say how Harper is going to hold the vote but hopes he will lose. What, aren't you going to make this a confidence motion Steve? Oh, wouldn't the other parties just love to go to the polls on THIS issue -- the Intolerant Bigots vs. True Canadian Values.

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Space, the final frontier and all that 

Well, if I had a spare $20 million and I was 15 years younger and I was in top physical shape, this is what I would want to do, too.

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I read the news today oh boy 

From Robert Dreyfuss comes this summary of the latest news about Iraq:
The Sunnis, who have been the heart of the resistance to the U.S. occupation since at least the fall of 2003, are virtually unified now. A critical piece of news, overlooked but for a brief mention in the Washington Post, is that fully 300 Iraqi tribal leaders—mostly Sunni, but including some Shiites—met in a town south of Kirkuk, to issue a demand that Saddam Hussein be freed. One of the leaders, whose tribe numbers 1.5 million, said: “If the demand is not satisfied, we will lead a general, sweeping, and popular uprising.” Such a threat would mean, in effect, that the Iraqi insurgency would be adopted officially by the entire tribal leadership of western and central Iraq. This is not al-Qaida. This is Iraq.
The Shiites, meanwhile, are entering the early stages of a fratricidal splintering. Although they have long been divided, current trends would indicate that the Shiite bloc in Iraq is about to collapse. Until now, the Shiites have been the tent pole holding up the entire U.S. enterprise in Iraq—so, if they splinter, it signals the end of the U.S. occupation. It’s a kaleidoscope: The Mahdi Army of Muqtada Sadr is restless, seemingly ready to launch another uprising, as it did in 2004—and Sadr’s army itself is seriously beset by divisions, with armed, rogue elements throughout. The Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq (SCIRI) is pressing hard for partition of Iraq—which it calls “federation”—and one of its leaders (who happens to be the Iraqi education minister) laid out a scenario for full-scale civil war. “Federation will cut off all parts of the country that are incubating terrorists,” he said. “We will put soldiers along the frontiers.”
Deepening the divisions among the Shiites even further, a new warlord is emerging, Mahmoud Hassani, who has built private armies in Najaf, Karbala, Basra and Baghdad, and who is violently opposed to SCIRI and to Sadr’s Mahdi Army. Hassani, who also opposes the United States and who hates Iran, is emerging as a nationalist Shiite leader who could upset the whole Shiite apple cart.
And the pesky Kurds are openly threatening secession. Massoud Barzani, who is the real power in Kurdistan, said defiantly this week: “If we want to separate, we will do it without hesitation of fears.” Should the Kurds launch their widely expected operation to seize Kirkuk and Iraq’s northern oil fields, it will trigger a major escalation of civil war in Iraq.
Meanwhile, back in Washington:
Bush isn’t acknowledging these realities. The Pentagon is only hinting at them—though the generals know what’s going on. But inside the political class, an awareness of realities in Iraq is dawning. Last week, James A. Baker and Lee Hamilton, two consummate political insiders who happen to lead a hush-hush task force on Iraq called the Iraq Study Group, were in Baghdad, where (according to my sources) they got a heavy dose of reality. The Baker task force—which I wrote about in The Washington Monthly—includes top-level luminaries, including Robert M. Gates, Vernon Jordan and William Perry. Returning from Baghdad, Baker’s elite group, which also includes dozens of Iraq experts, met this week to consider a draft plan to exit Iraq, Jack Murtha-style, or alternatively, to stick around for another 12 months and then end up getting out anyway. Increasingly, after the elections, that will be the stark choice forced on the White House—by Washington’s political elite, by the precipitous drop in public support for the war and by the growing antiwar movement that has set up shop at Camp Democracy on the Mall.

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Saturday, September 16, 2006

Great line of the day 

At Talking Points Memo DK writes about the "torture debate" in Congress:
I am beyond being able to assess the political implications, one way or the other, of this spectacle. Regardless of which version of the bill finally passes, this debate is a black mark on the soul of the nation . . . The Republicans have defined deviancy down for the whole world, including every two-bit dictator and wild-eyed terrorist . . . In their fear and their weakness and their smallness, the President and those around him stepped over the line. To do so in the heated days after 9/11 is understandable to a point, though not justifiable. Yet they persisted, first in saying that they did not step over the line and now in seeking to redraw the line . . . They are descending from the morally reprehensible to the morally cowardly.
Emphasis mine.

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In the land of the waterboard, the home of the stress position 


Billmon writes the Great line of the day:
. . . The sadistic and/or bizarre acts committed in Guatanamo, Abu Ghraib and the CIA's secret prisons can be written off as the crimes of a few bad apples with names like Bush, Cheney and Rumsfeld -- or, more charitably, as the consequences of a string of bad and brutal decisions made under emergency conditions by men who were terrified by all the things they didn't know about Al Qaeda . . .[but] the question is now formally on the table:
Does Congress really want to make the United States the first nation on earth to specifically provide domestic legal sanction for what would properly and universally be seen as a transparent breach of the minimum, baseline standards for civilized treatment of prisoners? . . .
The answer, at the moment, appears to be yes . . . So now we'll find out, I guess, what we're really made of as a nation -- down deep, in our core . . . What this amounts to (and what Powell was really complaining about) is the final decommissioning of the myth of American exceptionalism -- once one of the most powerful weapons in the U.S. arsenal. Without it, we're just another paranoid empire obsessed with our own security and willing to tell any lie or repudiate any self-proclaimed principle if we think it will make us even slightly safer.
To put it mildly, this is not the kind of flag the rest of the world is likely to rally around, no matter how frantically we wave it.
Emphasis mine.
There have been times in the past when America found itself drowning in a moral swamp -- when Pinkertons and police were beating up unionists in the 30s, when governors were using watercannons and worse on the peace and civil rights demonstrations of the 60s -- and always before there was a vigorous American opposition to such abuses, led by fearless writers and philosophers and politicians and clergy, in whom the best part of America and the world could still believe.
Who will now stand against torture?

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Trench warfare 



So, the Iraqi government thinks it cam make Baghdad safe by digging a trench around the city. Yeah, that'll do it. Its only about 100 kilometers ....
They're desperate, aren't they?

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Pot calling the kettle black? 

Today, when Bush was asked about Powell, he harumphed:
It's unacceptable to think that there's any kind of comparison between the behavior of the United States of America and the action of Islamic extremists who kill innocent women and children to achieve an objective.
Oh no, no comparison at all --because sometimes the United States kills innocent women and children for no reason at all.


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Friday, September 15, 2006

My Canada includes the Arar family 

Reading about the Arar family's reception in Kamloops made me proud to be Canadian:
. . . The Kamloops Daily News broke the story Aug. 31 on its front page. In an accompanying column, Daily News editor Mel Rothenburger, the former mayor, wrote glowingly about the grace under pressure Mr. Arar and Dr. Mazigh had demonstrated throughout their ordeal. “It's an honour,” the editor wrote, “to have this courageous family among us.”
Mr. Arar's eyes moisten as he recalls reading the column the first time. “Words matter. I could feel the warmth of those words. It shows Canadian people, in general, do care about each other.”
People in Kamloops have been extremely supportive, Mr. Arar said, recalling that the first time the family was spotted on the street. “People wondered if we were on vacation. They were really very excited when we said, ‘No, we are moving here.''' . . . Their new house is a bit of a fixer-upper. Mr. Arar has been painting walls and putting in a small stone patio. Dr. Mazigh wants to put new plants and marigolds in the terraced garden in the back.
Mr. Arar seems to have adjusted to the role of house husband. He's volunteered at the school to help fix up the computer lab. He wants to get the children into soccer. He frets he doesn't get much exercise, and that he has developed a paunch.
There aren't many other Muslim families in Kamloops. Maybe just a dozen. Dr. Mazigh has encountered only one other person, a woman from Egypt, who wears a hijab, the Muslim headscarf.
“I know what they are feeling,” said Gurwinder Singh, a turbaned Sikh who moved here from Saskatoon four years ago. He thought Kamloops might be a cowboy town, but was pleasantly surprised by the range of amenities. “The people here are just so friendly and polite, they won't have any problems.”
Mr. Arar said Dr. Mazigh's hijab draws almost no stares on the streets, which was not the case in Ottawa.
He predicted that as more Muslims move to Kamloops, the community will develop the critical mass necessary to open a mosque and hire an imam.
Until then, he'll spend more time instructing the children in Arabic and introducing them to readings in the Koran.
Baraa has started to wear a hijab to school. It's no big deal at a school where teachers give instruction on multiculturalism as an icebreaker for the new pupils at the start of the school year. They ask the children what languages are spoken at home. Baraa was surprised to learn how many of her new classmates or their parents and grandparents speak languages such as Dutch, German and Italian. But she's the only one who speaks Arabic, English and some French, she said proudly. Each day brings a pleasant little surprise. This week the subscription department of Canadian Living finally got the new address label right.
And Mr. Arar has found a barber downtown who cuts his hair the way he likes it. Even better, the barber is also a member of the city council.
“I can complain to him about the taxes,” he said with a laugh.

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Thursday, September 14, 2006

Moderate moderating 



OK, s0 I'll give comment moderation a try -- and I'll try to be a moderate moderator.
The rowboat image refers to "rowboat" journailism -- the kind that goes "on the one hand this, on the other hand that". It isn't particularly interesting as journalism but its not a bad model for me to try to follow in moderating comments.
Two rules:
1. The comment actually discusses the post I put up (or is about something which I find interesting), and
2. No insults (though if its funny, then maybe . . . )

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Shorter Billmon 

Billmon's newest post deserves thoughtful consideration, but all I have time for now is to summarize what he says:
The obnoxious arrogance and fear-mongering of the Vast Right-Wing Conspiracy (Cheney branch) is actually creating a Vast Right-Wing Conspiracy (Islamic branch).

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Hicks 

Yeah, sure -- lets send Sean Penn a ticket for smoking in public. And then we can all mutter about how that'll teach them gol-durned New Yawk city slickers a lesson....

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Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Nobody will follow the US troops home 

As Jon Stewart asked, if winning the streets of Baghdad is so damned important, why doesn't Bush send enough troops to do it?
It just demonstrates how this "clash of civilizations" stuff is only another talking point trotted out by the Republicans as they try to save their congressional majority and also try to intimidate the Democrats into voting for Bush's Big Brother phone tap bill.
What made Bush's speech ridiculous is simply this -- the US isn't going to "win" in Iraq, no matter how many troops they send, no matter how many bombs they lob, no matter how many Iraqis they kill.
Juan Cole makes a number of good points in this post about getting American troops out of Iraq. I'll try to summarize them:
. . . the US in the Sunni Arab heartland of Iraq is not fighting "terrorists" . . . The US is fighting Iraqi nationalists and nativists, secular, tribal or religious . . . This is Washington's classical Vietnam error. They thought they were fighting international communism in Vietnam, when they were actually fighting Vietnamese nationalists . . . Just as there was no grand global domino effect from our losing the Vietnam War, so there would be no grand terror effect if we left Ramadi . . . Ramadi is not going to follow the US troops back to Ft. Bragg if they leave. Ramadi will celebrate and then go about its business.
As for al-Qaeda, we cannot make policy on the basis of what it thinks of us . . . Al-Qaeda wants to hit us, whether we are in Iraq or not . . . The French Right kept saying that France could not leave Algeria. But it could, and did, and everything was all right. It will be all right if we get our ground troops out of Ramadi. They aren't winning there, and the occupation is causing more trouble than it is worth. As for who takes over Ramadi when we leave, well, the Iraqis can work that out among themselves. We don't care who runs Rangoon. Why should we care who runs Ramadi?

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Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Great line of the day 

In a post titled "September 12th", Steve Gilliard writes:
[Bush] denied Americans the one thing they expected from him: a measure of justice. Not of the dungeon or the gulag, but of the courtroom. And they have not gotten that. Not even Osama killed in a last stand with Delta troopers gunning him down. Just dungeons, gulags and the excuse that these pathetic men are so dangerous that not only did they have to be tortured like animals, but now he needs a kangaroo court to try and execute them in. As if his word should end the traditions Americans have died for.
Bush and Cheney do not trust the courts or Congress . . . they do not trust the American people and that will be their downfall. They are not kings, but men elected by and accountable to the people . . . They rule as the weak rule, by fear, fiat and suspicion. And the weak will fail, because those who live in fear can never truly gain the trust and respect of those they attempt to lead.

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Leopard tanks 

Dave has a good article about Canadian mission creep in Afghanistan.
At 4 pm on a Friday, Ottawa announced very quietly that they're now sending Leopard tanks to Afghanistan.

Just another sign that the mission in Afghanistan is changing from a peacekeeping and development one to a "direct fire" one, without Canadians being told about the change.
But one thing gave me a chuckle. When I googled for photos of "Leopard tanks", this one also came up:



Is it sexist of me to say that no doubt many of the soldiers would appreciate this kind, too?

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Monday, September 11, 2006

"Damp Squib"? 

Maybe using the 9/11 ceremonies to try to bolster support for a controversial war wasn't such a great idea.
Maybe 9/11 is a day for rememberence and sorrow, not for trying to promote any cause.
I didn't see Harper's speech. But this Canadian Press analysis makes it sound pretty unimpressive -- "damp squib" is one description. It "lacked punch", it "felt staged", and "Harper was so obviously reading a monitor" while the speech itself was "echoing" Bush.
The Globe and Mail said that the military and 9/11 families behind Harper "sat stoically with grim faces on stage during the speech.

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Moderated comments? 

On my blog comments every now and then an interesting discussion breaks out -- look at the first eight comments for this post -- but then, like toxic mold, one of my right-wing crazies posts something stupid and the blackness descends.
And boy, am I ever getting sick of them. I must admit, I barely read anything they say, its so garbled and meaningless and rude and bigotted.
I can't understand why they bother pestering me -- why don't they start their own blog, or go read Red State or Malkin or Dead Animals or the Blogging Tories or something? I don't read those blogs precisely because I am not interested in anything these people have to say -- so why do they keep putting comments on just about every post I put up, trying to insult me and the commenters whose opinions I do value? The only conclusion I can reach is that they're a bunch of 15-year-old boys who think its "fun" to annoy the grown-ups -- that seems to be about the mental age, anyway, and that's about the level of their reasoning
Anyway, I just can't keep up with banning them -- I try, but I think they're using library machines or something, because they keep getting back, often using new names.
So should I move to "moderated" comments?
I would likely only be able to check comments two or three times a day, once in the morning and maybe twice in the evening, so it moderating the comments would really slow down the conversation, but should I try it? Would people prefer this?

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Decline and fall of the American Empire 

Shorter Billmon:
We're fallen and we can't get up.

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Great line of the day 

Kos alerts everyone to the Democratic message leading up to the congressional mid-terms:
"You -- the Voters -- have ONE DAY to hold the Bush Administration accountable for what's happened in Iraq, and here at home. ONE DAY -- election day. If you like the way things are going, vote Republican. If you think things need to change, VOTE DEMOCRATIC. Seize the day. It's your very last chance."

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Sunday, September 10, 2006

Great lines of the day 

From a comment on Kos, I found this piece from The Week magazine -- a relatively new magazine (started in 2001) which gathers up opinions and news from around the world and presents a weekly "summary". Here's their summary about Katrina:
Hurricane Katrina was the downfall of the George W. Bush presidency, said Reymer Klüver in Germany’s Süddeutsche Zeitung. The massive storm that destroyed New Orleans and ravaged the Gulf Coast last year also “cost Bush his credibility as guarantor of the nation’s security.” After the 9/11 attacks, the president looked strong and forceful, addressing firefighters through a megaphone at the smoldering rubble of the World Trade Center. Frightened Americans needed to feel protected, and Bush told them he would keep them safe. But Katrina blew away that facade. “Americans realized that the government was still unprepared for a catastrophe.” Katrina was a natural disaster, but something similar could have happened if terrorists had blown up the levees, or attacked another major city. The president’s approval ratings plummeted, and they have never recovered.
Bush had a chance to salvage the situation, said Spain’s El Pais in an editorial. When he toured the disaster zone a few weeks after the storm, the president pledged that the government would launch “one of the largest reconstruction efforts the world has ever seen.” He promised to rebuild New Orleans better than ever—just as he promised to rebuild Iraq. But “as the Iraqis discovered, allocating money and using it effectively are two different things.” A full year after the hurricane, half the residents of New Orleans are still displaced. Demolition hasn’t even begun on the rotting houses in the mostly black Ninth Ward.
It’s just another in a long string of Bush failures, said Ray O’Hanlon in Northern Ireland’s Irish News. “The man who talks so much about missions and completing them is surrounded by the wreckage of uncompleted missions.” Iraq is the most obvious, of course, but let’s not forget Afghanistan, where the Taliban is resurgent and Osama bin Laden still walks free. Even the domestic initiatives Bush tried to push, such as immigration reform and Social Security reform, are dead in the water. The real shocker would be if he had actually delivered for New Orleans.
The blame for New Orleans’ misery is not Bush’s alone, said Andrew O’Hagan in Britain’s Daily Telegraph. American aid agencies are incompetent, if not actively corrupt. Having witnessed international relief operations in Sudan, Mozambique, and India, I can honestly say that the much maligned U.N. is far more effective—and far more caring—than American-run relief efforts. It took UNICEF less than a year to build new hospitals in Mozambique after a severe flood. Yet Gulf residents are still “wallowing in mud,” and the U.S. government simply shrugs. When I went out on patrol with National Guard troops after Katrina, “I was amazed by their inefficiency and unwillingness when it came to helping people.”
That indifferent attitude comes from the very top, said Britain’s The Mirror. The president is guilty of “criminal neglect” of the hurricane victims. “And if cowboy Bush is so callous toward U.S. citizens in his Mississippi backyard, God help Iraqis and all the others he vows to bomb into freedom.”

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Saturday, September 09, 2006

Lies 

After reading all about The Path to 9/11 controversy for the last week, here's the only conclusion I can make:
Republicans and the religious right wanted 911 to be Clinton's fault. They really, really wanted Clinton to be to blame.
But there are no actual facts to support this assertion. There is nothing which Clinton or any of his people actually did or didn't do which would make anyone think he was to blame.
So they made it up. To put across the idea that Clinton was to blame, they had to lie. Sad.

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Canada rejects Pope 

The headline in the Globe newspaper version for this story is "Canada rejects God, says Pope" -- well, here's the reaction in our family: Canada rejects Pope, says God.
And by the way, Bennie -- if Catholics actually think their religious views are more important than the views of the electorate then I, like thousands of other Canadians, will never again vote for a Catholic.

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Bush wants a Mulligan 

Raw Story alerts us to this NYT story about the Bush administrations's 'reset the clock' strategy. They want to return to a "simpler time" apparently -- when the towers were still on fire and men were men and women were women and pigs is pigs and Osama was evil -- you know, the good old days when the American public created a "president" suit and shoehorned Bush into it.
Actually, I think they want to go further back than that.
They want a Mulligan on the last 60 years.
All this World War II talk means, I think, that Bush actually wants to go back to the good old days of World War II -- the ones after Normandy, of course -- when Allied troops were greeted with flowers in France and Belgium, and when the the concentration camps proved to the world for all time the evils of the Nazi regime, and when the German people quietly surrendured and then went back to work and rebuilt their country. And when everybody loved FDR and Churchill and praised them as liberators of the world.
You know, like it was supposed to be in Iraq.

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Thursday, September 07, 2006

Great lines of the day 

James Wolcott: Irrationalizations:
Twenty, thirty years from now a new generation of right wingers and armchair warriors will be contending that we could have won in Iraq had it not been for Michael Moore and prissiness over torture. . . . Robb writes, '[T]he simplest explanation for the outcome in Iraq is that we were just beaten by a better opponent (the Israeli's seem to be getting this, why can't we?).' Because such knowledge cuts too deeply into the pride of the American psyche. It's also too painful to consider that the U.S. is beatable. We'd rather believe that we beat ourselves, and then scapegoat liberals as the losers who made us lose.
Could it be possible that the whole Iraq mess might make the United States a more mature nation? Could a national discussion of lessons learned in Iraq result in a realistic assessment of America's weaknesses as well as strengths? Could their political leadership start thinking strategically about global problems instead of going off half-cocked? Could they actually become a nation that acts like most of the other nations on the planet already do, except for North Korea and Zimbabwe?
Naaaaaahhh!

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Osama Bin Hollywood 

Its just such a dull story, really, all about how a bunch of losers kill 3,000 people one sunny morning. Ya just GOTTA do SOMETHING to sex it up.
It needs yer 'narrative arc', see -- heroes and villians and drama and conflict and turning points and setbacks and tension and good guys betrayed and all that.
But I'm not sure whether turning Sandy Berger and Madeline Albright and the Washington Post into villians, and then making Bill Clinton into a coward, will be enough, really.
We've gone beyond "docu-drama" and "mocku-mentary" to reach the level of "info-tainment" -- by next week we'll be reading about how ABC has written Jason Bourne into the script to stalk Bin Laden.
Over at Hullabaloo they're promoting the 9/11 action figures give-away cross-promotion. Corrente's farmer writes about how excited all the Kewl Kids are:

I like pretty happy endings as much as the next history action movie fan. After the docu-thriller-movie-mini-series-event is over - whenever that is - me and Michael Ledeen and David Horowitz and Peggy Noonan are gonna hop in Peg's Nassau County Seclusion-3D Urban Camo-Pattern Hummer with UTV Floor Mount Kalashnikov Assault Weapon Rack and heated Sheepskin Rumble Seat and thunder on down the parkway to the local All-American drive through fast food slop-shoot for some Happy History Meals and our free ABC-Disney United Front Supreme Council for the Defense of the Motherland moveable mujahidin freedom fighter action hero figure sets which come free with each patriotic ABC/Disney Happy History Meal purchase.
You can bet your liberal ass on it . . .
if you want to get the whole Northern Alliance (United Front) moveable mujahidin action hero set you can just visit your local participating fast food All-american franchise each night following the ABC TV mini-series and get more action figures and then just keep coming back until you have all the action figures you want for your very own. Collect them all! The complete set! . . .
Can this really be true, you ask? How could ABC and Disney be so crude and cruel and crass as to turn 9/11 into a marketing opportunity? Well, who cares whether its actually true or not? Its fun! And its sexy!
The farmer continues:
... my historical pre-emptive recollections of the people and events and "overarching moments" I describe above, which follow the ABC-Disney documentary "the Path to 911," are completely true and accurate as I see them in a composite pre-emptive retrospective documatary dramatic info-tainment context.
So, that's OK then.

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Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Oops 

Non-sequitur:


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Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Brave little boy 

There are so many Katrina stories where we never find out what happened -- like, did that man and his grandchildren make it, the one who was interviewed by the CNN reporter and who told her about his wife drowning and calling to him to take care of the grandchildren as she was swept away? What about that little boy who cried so hard because they didn't allow him to take his dog on the bus? What happened to the teenager who commandeered the school bus and drove a bunch of people to Houston and they were talking about charging him with theft? What about that little group of survivors hiding in an apartment with their dogs who talked to the CTV reporter? Did that boy from the Convention Centre make it, the one who became a one-man publicist for the people stuck there?
But here's one where we find out some good news, thanks to Digby:
Sept. 5, 2005: In the chaos that was Causeway Boulevard, this group of refugees stood out: a 6-year-old boy walking down the road, holding a 5-month-old, surrounded by five toddlers who followed him around as if he were their leader.
They were holding hands. Three of the children were about 2 years old, and one was wearing only diapers. A 3-year-old girl, who wore colorful barrettes on the ends of her braids, had her 14-month-old brother in tow. The 6-year-old spoke for all of them, and he told rescuers his name was Deamonte Love.
...Deamonte volunteered his vital statistics. He said his father was tall and his mother was short. He gave his address, his phone number and the name of his elementary school.
He said that the 5-month-old was his brother, Darynael, and that two others were his cousins, Tyreek and Zoria. The other three lived in his apartment building. . . . Deamonte began to give more details to Derrick Robertson, a 27-year-old Big Buddy mentor: How he saw his mother cry when he was loaded onto the helicopter. How he promised her he'd take care of his little brother.
Thankfully, the mothers have now been found and they've all been reunited. Late Saturday night, they found Deamonte's mother, who was in a shelter in San Antonio along with the four mothers of the other five children. Catrina Williams, 26, saw her children's pictures on a website set up over the weekend by the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. By Sunday, a private plane from Angel Flight was waiting to take the children to Texas.
But, how they got separated is every parent's nightmare: The helicopter came and there wasn't room for all. The helicopter personnel told the mothers to put the kids on board and they would return for the mothers.
The helicopter never returned. The kids went flown to Baton Rouge, and the parents ended up in Texas.
Digby writes the update:
Sept. 5, 2006: Here's the kid last February, doing well in the first grade in San Antonio.


February 2006: Alan Rochkus, principal of Harmony Hills Elementary School, watches Demonte Love, first-grader, complete a math puzzle while a KSAT-12 photojournalist films him. Love rescued six children, ranging in age from 5 months to three years, in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans, La. He received a Trumpet Award for his heroism.

Digby writes:
It does your heart good, doesn't it?
Yes. Yes, it does.

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Great lines of the day 

It will be interesting to see whether any other media figures stand up to be counted the way Keith Olbermann is doing.
The Bush administration is attacking the media to get them to shut up about the Iraq war, spying on Americans without warrants, Guantanamo, the Delay/Cunningham scandals, the Katrina chaos, the housing bubble bursting, sky-high oil prices, etc. etc.
Olbermann is dishing it right back at them:
. . . the President quoted a purported Osama Bin Laden letter that spoke of launching, “a media campaign to create a wedge between the American people and their government.”
Make no mistake here—the intent of that is to get us to confuse the psychotic scheming of an international terrorist, with that familiar bogeyman of the right, the “media.”
The President and the Vice President and others have often attacked freedom of speech, and freedom of dissent, and freedom of the press.
Now, Mr. Bush has signaled that his unparalleled and unprincipled attack on reporting has a new and venomous side angle: The attempt to link, by the simple expediency of one word—“media”—the honest, patriotic, and indeed vital questions and questioning from American reporters, with the evil of Al-Qaeda propaganda.
That linkage is more than just indefensible. It is un-American . . .
Whatever the true nature of al Qaeda and other international terrorist threats, to ceaselessly compare them to the Nazi State of Germany serves only to embolden them.
More over, Mr. Bush, you are accomplishing in part what Osama Bin Laden and others seek—a fearful American populace, easily manipulated, and willing to throw away any measure of restraint, any loyalty to our own ideals and freedoms, for the comforting illusion of safety.
It thus becomes necessary to remind the President that his administration’s recent Nazi “kick” is an awful and cynical thing.
And it becomes necessary to reach back into our history, for yet another quote, from yet another time and to ask it of Mr. Bush: “Have you no sense of decency, sir?”

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Monday, September 04, 2006

And the funniest dog video

Again, so far...

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Funniest cat video ever made

So far, at least.

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Which way will it go? 

By happenstance, Juan Cole and James Wolcott are one after the other on my blogroll. So I click on Woldott and read this:
. . . despite all of the Cheneyesque bluster, the Bush administration is pursuing the diplomatic route with Iran. To the dismay of the hard nosers, Bush is also reeling back his use of "Islamic fascists", which will be interpreted as a capitulation to political correctness. You even have Rumself whining that his recent appeasement slur was taken "out of context," and calling for "constructive" dialogue regarding the situation in Iraq. And then there's the happy novelty of Rudy Giuliani blowing the whistle and calling a foul on "partisan bickering", which will not endear him to the more strident dickheads in his party.
There has been a major shift in the mood climate, one which the War Party and its bloggers are resisting at the top of their lungs. But resistance is futile. As John Robb writes in an important post at Global Guerrillas, "Playing at War", we're not going to the get the grand, conclusive World War III (or IV) that same neocon ideologues crave. Conflict is being ratcheted down, dispersed . . . What we're hearing from pundits, bloggers, and likeminded belligerents this August is a baying to a false God, a nostalgic need for motivational clarity and a macho yearning for deliverance that the facts on the ground will deny them. Their commando belts tied up in knots, their umbrellas unfolded, they can turn on Bush, or on Condi Rice (as Richard Perle has done), but who can they turn to? Nobody. That's why they're egging each other on, flexing their biceps, and clinging to Mark Steyn for warmth. It's the only way to hold on to their fading relevance.
Whew! Well, that's a relief. But then I click to Juan Cole and read this:
The Times of London details Israeli planning for a war with Syria and Iran. Richard Perle, who sold the American people the fantasy that the US could march into Iraq, install corrupt businessman Ahmad Chalabi in power, and would be greeted with garlands of flowers, is disappointed that Israel did not attack Syria during its recent war on Lebanon. Hey, Perle, in case you didn't notice, the Israeli military did not do so great against 5,000 Hizbullah militiamen. So you wanted them to compound the failure by widening the war? The man never met a war he didn't love and never let reality interfere with his power fantasies. If there were no arms industry, people like that would never get to be on television.Note especially the ending grafs of the article:
Advocates of political engagement believe a war with Syria could unleash Islamic fundamentalist terror in what has hitherto been a stable dictatorship. Some voices in the Pentagon are not impressed by that argument.“If Syria spirals into chaos, at least they’ll be taking on each other rather than heading for Jerusalem,” said one insider.
Why assume that the Syrians would stay busy with each other? If the Muslim Brotherhood managed to come to power, backed by the vast Sunni majority in the country, it could fairly quickly establish order and begin concentrating on getting back the Golan Heights and "liberating" "Palestine". The Syrian MB would be even closer to Hamas than the Syrian Baath. It would also be closer to the Salafi Jihadis fighting in Iraq. And it might well angle to overthrow the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan. Israel might end up facing a massive, militant, fundamentalist Sunni state, aiming to unify all the Sunni Arabs in the neighborhood for a final drive against Israel, using Hizbullah guerrilla tactics and rockets and missiles. Sunni fundamentalists increasingly see themselves as caught in a pincers between Israel/the US on the one side, and Iran/the Shiites on the other, and would have lots of incentive to create a united front.You wonder if that phrase, “If Syria spirals into chaos, at least they’ll be taking on each other rather than heading for Jerusalem,” is how the Neoconservatives in the Pentagon feel about what has happened in Iraq. It is an astonishingly shortsighted perspective. And when did the US Pentagon begin caring who rules Jerusalem?
I wonder which will turn out to be right? As much as I hope it is Wolcott, I'm more afraid it will be Cole.

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Sunday, September 03, 2006

Great line of the day 

Patrick at Firedoglake writesLessons from a kitchen garden. One paragraph struck me as true of Canada, too:
Pat Buchanan has said very little in his life with which I agree, but one thing he said that has resonated with me: America was a great country before it was a rich country. My grandparents scratched a living out of the earth and lived humbly. They were able to save their pennies and buy building materials over the years, and they never had a mortgage payment, a car payment or a credit card payment. To paraphrase Loretta Lynn, they were poor but they were proud. There was a time when it was not illegal to be poor, nor was it considered a moral failing. Men who took advantage of honest people to enrich themselves were not thought of as honorable men.
Emphasis mine. When we were in the Maritimes this summer, it struck us both how proud the Maritimes people are, in a way that has nothing to do with money -- perhaps it was just this kind of old-fashioned pride that we saw there.

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The story of the paper clip that turned into a house 

The paper clip


The house


The blogger


The party


The t-shirt


Kipling, Sask., throws party to celebrate paper clip that turned into house
A small piece of office stationery, an old house in need of an owner and a web-savvy Montrealer on a mission have come together to thrust a small Saskatchewan farming town into the international spotlight this Labour Day weekend.
Residents in Kipling where getting ready Friday for a weekend-long house-warming party for Kyle MacDonald, the now-famous blogger who managed to trade a red paper clip for a house over the course of the last year.
"The buzz right now is crazy," MacDonald said in an interview from outside his new home at the east end of Main Street.
"I think it's because no one knows what to expect. We just know that a lot of people are potentially going to arrive and there is a bit of a thrill to it. There is sort of that wild-card effect, you know."
Not knowing what to expect is nothing new for MacDonald, who was born and raised in British Columbia.
His adventures began last July when he put a red paper clip up for trade on the Internet - a cyber version of a swap game he played as a child.
Someone in Vancouver offered him a fish pen which promptly went on the trading block.
The pen was swapped for a doorknob, then a Coleman stove, a power generator, a keg of beer, a snowmobile, a trip to Yahk, B.C., a cube van, a recording contract, a year's free lodging in a Phoenix bungalow, an afternoon with rock icon Alice Cooper and a KISS snow globe.
That's when actor Corbin Bernsen from the one-time television series "L.A. Law" got involved. He offered a role in his new movie "Donna On Demand" for the KISS keepsake.
By this time, all the trading had caught the attention of the town of Kipling. Figuring it would be good for economic development, town council purchased a vacant house on Main Street.
Mayor Patricia Jackson said the 1920s home, built from an Eaton's catalogue kit, needed a little paint and some new drywall, but was generally in good shape.
Council offered it up and MacDonald accepted. He and his girlfriend moved from Montreal earlier this summer.
"I sort of see it as a place where I would like to base my life out of," MacDonald said. "Everyone is good here."
He plans to write a book about his experience and said there is a movie deal in the works.
He has also been welcomed with open arms by people in Kipling.
Since making the deal, Bernsen has been to town to hold auditions for the movie role and the town has been in headlines around the world.
There have been inquiries from people looking to move to Kipling and from businesses looking to set up shop, Jackson said.
"There's no way that all the businesses in the community, with all of their advertising budgets for probably 10 years, could have got together and bought this kind of publicity."
Bands were scheduled to play throughout the weekend and Bernsen was to return for a second set of auditions.
MacDonald invited the world through his blog and, as of Friday afternoon, there were already people from California, Ontario, Quebec and B.C. stopping by the house. Each of the people who made a trade were also expected to be there.
Garrett Johnson came all the way from Kansas City for the festivities. He offered up some lake-front property for the movie role, but MacDonald ended up taking the Kipling house.
"It's a beautiful town," Johnson said. "The people are all very welcoming and kind and everyone waves. They just make you feel right at home."
Kipling is about 150 km east of Regina.

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Looking on the bright side 

Its a good thing the extra border fees happened when the Conservatives were in power. See, if the Liberals were in power, the Conservatives would have blamed the fees on Liberal anti-Americanism and Martin's poor relationship with the Bush administration. But now, the blame for the fees can be placed where it belongs, on the greedy, short-sighted, incompetent Bush administration itself . . .

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Saturday, September 02, 2006

Is anyone else having trouble with Gilliard's site? 

Yesterday and again today, I click on Gilliard's site and my browser crashes. Is this happening to everyone?

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Great line of the day 

Over at Firedoglake, Jane Hamsher has a great comment on the shameful Washington Post editorial which basically said Joe Wilson shouldn't have blown the whistle on the "mushroom cloud" fantasy and has only himself to blame for his wife's trouble:
... to argue that somehow [the Armitage] leak — which played no part in the concerted Administration effort to bully, intimidate and punish Joe Wilson — should somehow excuse Scooter Libby and Karl’s Rove’s subsequent actions is a true marvel of wingnut logic. Incredibly it is somehow okay to rob the liquor store, shoot the owner, rape the cashier and spatter the walls with blood because someone else was caught shoplifting there the week before.
And how far has the Washington Post fallen, to condemn a whistleblower when whistleblowing itself is the lifeblood of journalism? That whirring sound you hear is Katharine Graham spinning in her grave.

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