. . . there is no plan to actually make an Army which can fight guerrillas, aid and protect NGO's and mobilize quickly. Instead, we're converting artillery and engineers into ad hoc infantry and MP's and sending people out to die in hillbilly armored vehicles.
Thursday, March 30, 2006
Wednesday, March 29, 2006
I know its no trick, really, to shop at Wal-Mart unnoticed by their staff, but in this game the team that goes the longest without needing to find a staff member to ask for help wins.
With all the uproar over immigration, I thought everyone might take a break for the joke now circulating around my husband's company:
It is the first day of school and a new East Indian student named Surinder enters the fourth grade. The teacher says: Let's begin by reviewing some American history. Who said "Give me Liberty or give me Death"?
She sees a sea of blank faces, except for Surinder, who has his hand up: Patrick Henry, 1775.
The teacher says: Very good. Who said "Government of the people, by the people and for the people shall not perish from the earth?
Again, no response except from Surinder: Abraham Lincoln, 1863.
The teacher snaps at the rest of the class: Class, you should be ashamed. Surinder knows our history better than you do.
She heards a loud whisper: Fuck the Indians.
Who said that? she demands.
Surinder puts up his hand: General Custer, 1862.
At that point, a student in the back says: I'm gonna puke.
The teacher glares and says: All right! Now who said that?
Surinder immediately says: George H.W. Bush to the Japanese Prime Minister, 1991.
Now furious, another student yells: Oh yeah? Suck this!
Surinder jumps out of his chair waving his hand: Bill Clinton to Monica Lewinsky, 1997.
Now almost at mob hysteria, another student yells: You little shit. If you say anything else, I'll kill you.
Surinder frantically screams: Gary Condit to Chandra Levy, 2001.
The teacher faints. As the class gathers around her on the floor, someone says: Oh shit! We're fucked!
Surinder says quietly: George W. Bush, Iraq, 2006.
Tuesday, March 28, 2006
Our government in action
Our Fearless Leader Stephen Harper is so afraid of exposing the incompetence of his cabinet ministers that he is now holding his Cabinet meetings in secret so reporters cannot buttonhole ministers in the hallway afterward and ask questions.
Well, I guess he knows these guys better than we do.
But as Yosemite Sam said, "I paid my money to see the high diving act! So I'm agonna SEE the high diving act!"
Maybe I thought of this Bugs Bunny Show comparison when I read Canadian Press quoting commenter Coyote at Small Dead Animals "I think that the government should announce to the media any topics of concern to Canadians when they come up."
Now THERE'S democracy in action, isn't it?
All us good little Canadians shouldn't have any topics of concern unless the government announces them first.
So we just won't worry about anything unless our Stevie tells us to.
To their credit, some of the other commenters on the SDA thread weren't taking Stevie's instructions to wear their Winston Smith hats just yet.
And as my son just reminded me -- wasn't this the guy that ran on the platform of accountability and transparency?
Sunday, March 26, 2006
Doing things right -- SUCH a bother, isn't it?
Here is MSNBC's Chris Matthews last week:
. . . There's a difference between chasing terrorists around the world --which we all agree we should do; in fact, the world believes we should be doing -- and going into a country to bring down a government, and then . . . to try to build the government of our liking, a Democratic government where the majority rules. But in this case, the majority simply means one faction overrules the other faction. The faction that's being overruled is fighting the majority faction . . . How do you give the orders to a young American service person, "your job is to make sure that the Shia run the show over there and that the Sunnis buckle under and take their minority role, and that’s your job, to risk your life, maybe lose your life for that purpose" . . . That’s saying we think there should be a certain kind of country here where majority rules, minority takes orders and maybe gets a piece of the action. And if they don’t accept their little minority piece of the action and start to fight the majority, we take the side of the majority and start shooting to kill them. Is that a moral right of America to be doing that?No, its not, not unless the UN asks you to.
He's getting closer and closer to endorsing Murtha's pullout plan, though he's not quite there yet.
And of course this is why Chretien spoke out against "regime change" before the war, and why he kept us out of Iraq. Thanks, Jean. Canada has had enough of its own moral quagmires over the years, we don't need this one too.
Saturday, March 25, 2006
This is the cartoon from today's Star Phoenix -- it tries to make some kind of point about how the Christian Peacekeepers want the "bloocthirsty pig dogs of the illegal occupying force" to leave Iraq even though it was the military which rescued them from kidnappers. Ho, ho, ho-- those ungrateful lefties, they're learned their lesson now, blah, blah, blah.
The stupid thing about it is this:
the four Peacemakers would not have been in Iraq, and would not have been kidnapped, if the American military hadn't been there first.
Friday, March 24, 2006
. . . so long as your paper continues to report facts they don't like . . . those conservatives are still going to attack the paper itself as being hopelessly 'liberal.' Journalism is the liberal part. From Horowitz to Hewitt to Limbaugh, these people hate you. You can't appease them, because there's no such thing as an acceptable 'level' of partisan hackery that will offset actual journalism or inconvenient facts. They'll only be happy when you kill the journalism -- or at least stop reporting the facts surrounding the more inconvenient stories . . . By all means, stand by your decision to balance someone accused of being liberal with a professionally partisan conservative; to balance those with excellent credentials with someone with none; to balance facts with spin; to balance journalism with hackery. It sounds like you've got the glimmer of understanding on just how bad an idea that was, but it doesn't sound like, even now, you understand the basis of the conservative attacks against you. They're playing you for chumps. And you're taking it . . .Emphasis mine.
Thursday, March 23, 2006
"There is not widespread violence across Iraq. There is not. Seventy-five percent of the attacks still take place in Baghdad, al-Anbar or Salaheddin (provinces). And in the other 15 provinces, they all averaged less than six attacks a day, and 12 of those provinces averaged less than two attacks a day." . . . The three provinces he cited, however, are home to about 9 million people . . . As Iraqi soldiers and police have begun patrolling more territory, U.S. forces have become less visible in many areas in the country and less easy to target. Also, the nature of the violence in the country has shifted from assaults on American troops to battles rooted in sectarian conflict between Sunni and Shiite Muslims. Well over 1,000 people have died violently in Iraq, mainly in and around Baghdad [in the last month] The sectarian-rooted deaths since then have been running at dozens a day. The bodies of hundreds of victims have been dumped after being shot execution-style, hands bound and bearing signs of torture.Here is the reality. How would we like to be living and working and raising a family in neighbourhoods that looked like these?
A makeshift refugee camp in Baghdad for people displaced by the violence.
Another body found on the street in Baghdad:
A bomb attack at a coffee house:
A car bomb attack in Miqdadiya
A patrol in Basra:
A vegetable market in Hilla, south of Baghdad:
An oil tanker truck set on fire -- the driver blamed the American military, who are probably getting blamed for everything which goes wrong in Iraq these days.
The family allegedly slaughtered by American troops:
And finally, some actual good news: three of the Christian Peacemakers were rescued
With no new "turning points" coming up, the Bush administration is really in trouble with public opinion about Iraq now. The only tactic they have is to revive the Republican talking point from 2004 about how Iraq is just perception, not reality, and its all the media's fault. Its like promoting the idea that if people just don't TALK about poverty, then it doesn't really exist.
Let's be clear here -- the Bush administration doesn't care what is actually happening in Iraq, just what gets reported. They are trying to intimidate reporters and news editors into downplaying the awful daily news from Iraq. It's Bill O'Reilly's "just shut up" line as a White House tactic.
Crooks and Liars quotes CNN commentator Jack Cafferty:
. . . if somebody came into New York City and blew up St. Patrick's Cathedral and in the resulting days they were finding 50 and 60 dead bodies a day on the streets of New York, you suppose the news media would cover it? You're damn right they would. This is nonsense . . . The news isn't good in Iraq. There's violence in Iraq. People are found dead every day in the streets of Baghdad. This didn't turn out the way the politicians told us it would. And it's our fault? I beg to differ.
Wednesday, March 22, 2006
Another hilarious example of how blogs could change the world.
This story has gone worldwide in the blink of an eye -- an Ottawa bureaucrat has set up a website called "Save a Bureaucrat" to try to raise money so he can quit his job. He writes:
I'm desperate. Desperate to escape my 9 to 5 job I've been at for over 10 years now. It's not that I don't appreciate the steady hours and the decent pay, but it's just that after a while it starts to sap the energy and soul out of you and you realize that you have become a true bureaucrat. . . . But how can I justify quitting my job and giving up my security and pension? The only way I can do it is by obtaining enough money that I can afford to quit and then have enough spare time and energy to do something that makes a difference in my life and the lives of others. Please help me in any small way you can to realize my dreams . . .So far, he has raised about $50.
The only other place I have seen this type of chutzpa was in the classified ads in Harper's magazine, where people would advertise for money so they could see the world, write poetry, etc -- I always wondered how that worked out for them.
Listening to George W. Bush's speeches for the last five years, particularly after 9/11, is like having someone sing 'It's a small world after all' over and over and over again. It was bad the first time. Now it makes you want to stab your ears with a letter opener. The press, forced to listen more often than anyone else, seems to have reached its limit as well.Emphasis mine.
These are the ages of the family members executed last week by American soldiers, according to the Iraqi police report. The report reads
At 230 of 15/3/2006, according to the telegram (report) of the Ishaqi police directorate, American forces used helicopters to drop troops on the house of Faiz Harat Khalaf situated in the Abu Sifa village of the Ishaqi district. The American forces gathered the family members in one room and executed 11 people, including 5 children, 4 women and 2 men, then they bombed the house, burned three vehicles, and killed their animals...Here is the AP story describing this massacre. Not quite as bad as MyLai, I guess, but the attitude is the same -- American military so paranoid and out of control that pre-schoolers are the enemy.
James Wolcott describes some of the chaos going on now in Iraq, quoting from Patrick Cockburn on the Iraq death squads and Robert Dreyfuss on the civil war. Then Wolcott has a suggestion for next year's invasion anniversary:
Perhaps next year on the anniversary of this glorious mission, the US could fly a transport plane crammed with the creme de la creme of warbloggers, hawkish pundits, neoconservative thinkers, and cable news and talk radio hosts, and deposit them on the site of Saddam Hussein's fallen statue--the newly christened Krauthammer Square--and let them behold the joy and splendor they have bestowed upon a grateful Iraqi people. Who, in turn, will brave the heat, dust, and danger and leave their homes to demonstrate their gratitude to their noble guests by attempting to shoot their lying asses to pieces.
No, that probably won't make for an appropriate holiday. Scratch that idea.
To earn its rightful date on the calendar, the anniversary of the invasion of Iraq should be a day of remembrance on which conscientious Americans wear mourning colors and beg the world's forgiveness, and Iraqis' forgiveness most of all.
Tuesday, March 21, 2006
During Bush's press conference today he said in response to Helen Thomas's question about why he started the Iraq war:
. . . the world said, 'Disarm, disclose or face serious consequences.' And therefore, we worked with the world. We worked to make sure that Saddam Hussein heard the message of the world.Emphasis mine. Could it be that this is really the way Bush remembers it? Saddam did let the inspectors back in, to inspect. It was BUSH who told them to leave, in March 2003, so that the war could start. And Saddam sent the UN a report, a thousand pages, describing what had happened to the weapons. It was BUSH who said this report wasn't good enough. And it was BUSH who ignored millions of anti-war protestors around the world, and who couldn't get a Security Council vote to support the war.
And when he chose to deny the inspectors, when he chose not to disclose, then I had the difficult decision to make to remove him. And we did. And the world is safer for it.
Does he really think it was Saddam who was ignoring the "message of the world"?
Frustrated at the failure of Pakistan to neutralize or capture al Qaeda and the Taliban in Waziristan, Rumsfeld has resorted to a tactic which has served to do nothing if not antagonize an otherwise benign population. He's bombing them. Never one to use the right number of troops on the ground, Rumsfeld defaults to techno-war and air strikes. Results have been less than spectacular. While few al Qaeda terrorists have been killed, tribesmen, angered by US strikes and Pakistani army disregard for their safety, have started to accept Taliban rule and an alliance with al Qaeda.This doesn't bode well for ultimate success in the Afghanistan campaign, does it? Maybe NATO should just ask the Americans to leave, so that the remaining troops can implement a strategy to win the peace in Afghanistan which will actually be successful.
NATO troops, including Canadian, British, Dutch, Danes, Estonians and an attached Australian force, in Helmand and Kandahar provinces are now under increased risk of attack. The four Provincial Reconstruction Team bases are on a direct line out of Tora Bora. Instead of being able to expand Afghan government control, which is their role, to areas outside Kabul, they will end up having to defend against the rebuilt forces of both the Taliban and al Qaeda. All thanks to Rumsfeld's interference resulting in a botched initial attack on al Qaeda and a subsequent reliance on a wholly untrustworthy ally in Pakistan.
And this is why I think the Canadian mission in Afghanistan does need frequent reassessment, to ensure that we are not being sabatoged by American bluster and blundering,
The AP story says "The White House made no attempt to screen either the audience or the questions, said spokesman Scott McClellan." Yeah, I'll bet -- just another plastic turkey. The very first question was about whether Bush thinks that terrorism is a sign of the biblical Apocalypse -- a question which would naturally occur to just about anybody, I guess...
And check out Olbermann's take on Bush denying he promoted the Iraq war by making a connection between Saddam and 9-ll -- "Who does the President think he's effing kidding?"
Monday, March 20, 2006
Daily Kos and other progressive venues have been attacked by right-wing ideologues who describe us as 'crazy or 'extremist'. Yet, the progressives base believes the rule of law applies to everyone, that science trumps wishful thinking, that our Constitution matters, and that the War in Iraq was based on lies and has been run by incompetent civilian leaders at the highest level.
Much of the conservative base makes a habit of denying scientific reality and arguing that the Constitution is meaningless when applied to George Bush or Dick Cheney. Millions of them fervently hope and sincerely believe that any day now, they and a few selected animated corpses straight from the grave will be sucked up right out of their clothes, and plopped onto heavenly ringsides seats to gleefully watch the eternal torture of every man, women, and child left behind. Tell me again, who are the crazy ones?
In the Comments to his post, Cole says "It is exaggerated for effect, and intended to show the worst-case end point of current policies."
Save this and lets see what happens.
What concerns me now is this -- what could STOP this scenario from happening? The United Nations? The Arab League?
Saturday, March 18, 2006
It's why I love blogs and I love the internet.
There's a Samuel Jackson movie coming out called "Snakes on a Plane" -- which is a pretty great title for a film, isn't it? Euuuu - think about it! Here is the film trailer.
Anyway, there's nothing that someone won't blog about -- here is the Snakes on a Blog website by Hollywood writer Josh Friedman who is trying to promote some tickets to the premiere. He has t-shirts, fake trailers, posters, etc. In his other blog, he describes being asked at one point to work on the script for the movie. Apparently he didn't end up working on it, but this was his reaction to the initial offer: "...ask Agent the name of the project, what it's about, etc. He says: Snakes on a Plane. Holy shit, I'm thinking. It's a title. It's a concept. It's a poster and a logline and whatever else you need it to be. It's perfect. Perfect. It's the Everlasting Gobstopper of movie titles." And he is right.
Not to mention all the other "Snakes on a ...." lines we can think of. Here are some of the parody posters.
What a dumb idea for Canada to consider. These types of things are just bureaucracy run amok, and government gone mad, while making us all afraid of each other.
The only real reason to stop someone from flying is because they are suicide bombers who might blow up the plan -- in which case, screen them out before they can get on the plane, then charge them and put them in jail. Otherwise, lets just leave everyone alone.
Paul William Roberts provides a scenario in today's Globe & Mail. The essay is behind their subscription wall, so here's the summary of what Roberts says:
The US scenario of an attack on Iran is that their nuclear facilities would be bombed and that Iran will grimace and take its medicine.
The Iran scenario plays out differently - "the one most likely playing to thunderous applause in the corridors of theocratic poser on Qom and Tehran" -- is that Iran has already promised to retaliate and there are nearly 1000 missiles in place that could be fired at targets around the Persian Gulf such as ships, airbases, refineries and oil terminals.
Supertanker traffic through the Gulf would halt for weeks, thus stopping 25 percent of the world's oil supply.
China and Japan would be miffed, and could vent their displeasure by dumping a few billion dollars from their foreign currency reserves to offset dolar-based oil prices by forcing a week dollar even lower.
In Iraq, the resistance would increase their attacks because US planes will be busy over Iran "which may explain why US forces there have been consolidating their bases recently." Iran would have "little compunction" about sending to Iraq "killing machines much more advanced than what they currently provide...thus far they have been cautious not to send anything easily traceable...once the bombs fall, though, the gloves will come off, and we can expect to see in Iraq such weapons as .50-calibre rifles able to punch through body armour, multiple rocket launchers, and newer kinds of shoulder-fired anti-aircraft missiles..."
Iran might blockade the Straights of Hormuz with sea mines and attack boats, and by sinking ships. "Around 40 per cent of the world's crude passes through this two-mile-wide channel, where Iranian forces are already situated, ashore at the head and on heafily fortified islands...in 1999, Iran deployed its new Russian-supplied Kilo-class submarines as part of a plan to block the Straits in times of crisis. The subs were to be used to lay mines and fire advanced torpedoes at ships attemtping to enter or leave the southern Gulf." And nearly all US military supplies to Iraq are shipped through the Persian Gulf. So if the US tried to secure the Straits by a major US amphibious landing, such an effort would need somewhere around 30,000 US troops and would involve weeks of combat.
In conclusion, Roberts speculates,
What would happen though if the invasion stalled and the straits were not reopened swiftly? The emergency oil stocks utterly vital to the economy of the industrial world would begin to run out, along with supplies to some 150,000 US troops stranded in Iraq and Kuwait. It is then not at all far-fetched to contemplate history's most ignoble and empire-quashing retret through the deserts of Iraq and Jordan and into Israel, particularly if thousands of Iranian soldiers pour into Iraq to assist in the attacks on US military camps.Roberts ends the essay by noting that it should be expected that defusing the tense situation with Iran could be done through diplomacy.
These, then, are the chilling facts that have made Iranians so cocky of late...and it is hard to say why they should not feel so self-assured. It truly is a MAD scenario, son of the Cold War, thus one only a lunatic would contemplate. The risks are too grave, the benefits not at all clear.
This will be wearyingly obvious to most world leaders -- except those in Washington, where it has become increasingly difficult to distinguish between arrogance and ignorance.
Why is it, though, that a television character is speaking out more for American democracy than the American media is? Oh, well, at least somebody is doing it.
First, you need to know that there are still some lawsuits going on between the airlines and the families of the 911 victims killed in the plane crashes.
So I guess the airlines were worried that the Moussaoui trial testimony would affect these lawsuits.
So the airline lawyers allegedly got some help from the Transportation Security Administration lawyer to try to make sure the airplane people testifying at the Moussaoui trial didn't say anything which would jeopardize the airline defense in these lawsuits -- for example, to criticize airline security screenings.
The almighty buck rules!
"I'm interested in whatever would legalize pot fastest. Part of me believes that going to jail will accelerate that process. And part of me believes that if I die in jail it will accelerate it even faster.Don't they know that its a sin to kill a mockingbird? This is what Canada would be doing if we let Marc Emery go to jail in the US for the rest of his life.
"I'm very interested to see what happens to me, because I think I am a person of destiny. I haven't been fearful since the moment I was arrested. I just felt my time has finally come. . . .
"I've already got this grand-scale epic going in my head. I am out to destroy the DEA and defeat them. And they are out to destroy me."
Friday, March 17, 2006
... I longed for ABC-TV's great Sam Donaldson to back up my questions as he always did, and I did the same for him and other daring reporters. Then I realized that the old pros, reporters whom I had known in the past, many of them around during World War II and later the Vietnam War, reporters who had some historical perspective on government deception and folly, were not around anymore. I honestly believe that if reporters had put the spotlight on the flaws in the Bush Administration's war policies, they could have saved the country the heartache and the losses of American and Iraqi lives. It is past time for reporters to forget the party line, ask the tough questions and let the chips fall where they may.Emphasis mine.
I've gone back to work part-time but I guess its just as well I'm not trying to stagger around Britain -- I wouldn't have got very far, I don't think. But damnit, today was the day we were supposed to be watching the
St. Patrick's Day Parade in Dublin -- our hotel was right on the main parade route. So, my brother is there, hoisting a pint in our honour.
And even though I know how difficult it is to see fractures on x-rays at times, I feel like phoning up the City Hospital Emergency Department and asking them WTF? Should I be taking bets on a pool of how many fracures they missed? Its now up to five -- four breaks in the ribs, one in the tibia ...
Bush's ratings are still above historical lows recorded since Gallup started presidential polling after World War Two. The approval ratings for Harry Truman, Jimmy Carter, Richard Nixon and the first George Bush, the current president's father, all dropped into the 20s.
Oh, just give him time -- Bush has got three years to go. Maybe it will even fall into the teens before he's through -- it couldn't happen to a more deserving guy.
Thursday, March 16, 2006
Finally, an idea out of California that makes some sense -- City employee in California hits his own car - then sues himself:
LODI, Calif. (AP) - When a dump truck backed into Curtis Gokey's car, he decided to sue the city for damages.
Only thing is, he was the one driving the dump truck. That minor detail didn't stop Gokey, a Lodi city employee, from filing a $3,600 US claim for the December accident, even after acknowledging the crash was his fault.
After the city denied that claim because Gokey was, in essence, suing himself, he and his wife decided to file a new claim under her name.
City Attorney Steve Schwabauer said this one also lacks merit because Rhonda Gokey can't sue her own husband.
'You can sue your spouse for divorce, but you can't sue your spouse for negligence,' Schwabauer said. 'They're a married couple under California law. They're one entity. It's damage to community property.'
Wednesday, March 15, 2006
"Senator, when you took your oath of office, you placed your hand on the Bible and swore to uphold the Constitution. You didn't place your hand on the Constitution and swear to uphold the Bible."
Canada, cut it out -- there are perfectly good reasons to be opposed to the Afghanistan mission, just as there are good reasons to support it.
None of them have anything to do with D-Day or World War II.
This TAB cartoon promotes the idea that anyone who is against the Canadian involvement in Afghanistan is just being political, or cowardly, or unpatriotic -- and that is simply wrong. It also promotes the Bush conceit that Afghanistan and Iraq are comparable to the fight against the Nazis in World War II, inflating Bush into some kind of latter-day Churchill fighting on the beaches. Silly, stupid and dumb.
This cartoon also shows the divisiveness which flows from Harper's ridiculous "we won't cut and run" rhetoric, based on the inaccurate assumption that only cowards would not support this mission.
If the only reason to support this deployment is to score points against the NDP and the Liberals, then our "mission" really is baseless and purposeless at its heart. If the Afghanistan mission ends up being used by Canadian conservative politicians to promote the same kind of mean-spirited us-against-them bullsh*t which is polluting US politics now, then lets get those soldiers out of there immediately.
Monday, March 13, 2006
He didn't wear a flightsuit, either, or carry a plastic turkey.
Sunday, March 12, 2006
Harper may be hoping opposition within Alberta will convince Klein to drop the most controversial parts of the Third Way, but [Klein spokesperson] Etmanski says there is little opposition. She said the provincial government has received 10,000 letters about stopping the grizzly bear hunt, but only about 400 about the Third Way. 'People are taking time to take a look at it.'
Mike McBane of the Canadian Health Coalition said Harper's election promise to support the Canada health act is looking insincere. 'I think this is a question of looking the other way. It's a wink and a nod to the provinces who want to privatize - Alberta, Quebec and B.C. - that the federal government is not going to stand in their way.'
I felt trememendous relief to be back home in Canada, when I got off that airplane and reached Vancouver. I was among my own. And I don't believe a word of this nonsense about how Canadian and American culture is becoming homogonized. I've lived in both worlds. I've seen the difference. To be sure, certain aspects of our culture that are less important to us are withering away or atrophing. But on the whole, Canadians talk differently, dress differently, value things differently and are generally just most "with it" (as far as I can tell) Americans are (and this is not really their fault) for the most part insulated and isolated in this huge bubble where beyond the US, the world exists, but it doesn't seem entirely real to them.
Saturday, March 11, 2006
And this one:
Basically, John McCain is a pathetic man, who long since sacraficed any principles he may have had to pander for power. He is a person of great charm, so he can go on the Daily Show and chuckle with Jon Stewart, but here's what he was saying at a Republican meeting this weekend:
. . . Mr. McCain went so far as to condemn the collapse of the port deal, saying that Congress had served Mr. Bush poorly by not permitting a 45-day review of security concerns, though he did not mention that the deal was sunk by fellow Republicans. "The president deserved better," Mr. McCain said. Mr. McCain praised the president for his failed effort to rewrite the Social Security system, said he supported the decision to go into Iraq and blistered at critics who suggested the White House had fabricated evidence of unconventional weapons in Iraq to justify the invasion. "Anybody who says the president of the United States is lying about weapons of mass destruction is lying," Mr. McCain said.
Friday, March 10, 2006
Rice's opening statement to the committee was interrupted by a man in the audience who stood and shouted, 'How many of you have children in this illegal and immoral war? The blood is on your hands and you cannot wash it away.' As he was escorted from the room by security officers, the man also shouted, 'Fire Rumsfeld.'Three years ago, before the war began, the millions who marched against it got barely a mention. Now, we have a reporter quoting what a protestor said. Better late than never.
Thursday, March 09, 2006
Or he actually does have something to hide about the Emerson floor-crossing deal.
Which is it?
Goggle News now lists 127 news stories with a headline questioning Harper's ethics.
Not exactly the coverage the Conservatives wanted, with several weeks still to go before the goodies in the speech from the throne will distract everyone.
Reminds me of a saying: I've been down so long it looks like up to me.
Today, the Washington Post has a major story about how Iraq morgues are now hiding the numbers of Sunni men being executed by Shiite militias and death squads.
Execution-style killings of the kind frequently blamed on police or Shiite militias allied with the government appear to be killing more Iraqis than bombings of government and civilian targets by Sunni Arab insurgents.Steve Gilliard writes:
Americans have been awfully naive in dealing with the kind of violence in Iraq now exploding. It isn't just the resistance any longer, but the militias we tolerated to help keep order and failed.
None of Saddam's strategic challenges have disappeared, just the means for resolving them.
When the Iranians talk about inflicting pain on the US, people think oil. Well, that may be part of it, but so is a full throated Shia uprising. And that's a lot cheaper to start and hide than slowing oil production. Toss in a few kidnappings and the recipe for anarchy is right there.
The problem for US forces is the day the Iraqi Army goes home and chooses sides, leaving them totally exposed. Saddam's former UN ambassador was on CNN last night. He was chortling at being right and predicted many of the exiles would soon be leaving with the US. But he was right and there is little to say about him being right.
The end game is coming.
. . . It is a stabilization force intended to provide protection for reconstruction teams and assist the new government of Afghanistan in defending against Taliban resistance. ISAF has full combat capability and has robust rules of engagement (ROE). Unlike the horrible ROE that come with UN Chapter 6 peacekeeping operations, one doesn't have to wait until one of his unit members is killed before shooting back. ISAF has full authority to gather intelligence, seek out the enemy and conduct combat patrols. Canada shifted from Kandahar to Kabul and ISAF in August 2003 and have had troop levels of up to 1,900 since then . . . The committment to see the transformation of Afghanistan into a full member of the world community and not a haven for terrorists has never changed.I do disagree with Dave that a vote in Parliament is unnecessary -- I think it would be worthwhile to have such a vote, to explain to Canadians what we are doing there.
The latest deployment comes at the request of NATO to have Canada command a brigade of multinational troops. It is a part of the initial committment to rid Afghanistan of the terrorist cadre that has occupied it for so long and to reconstitute that country with a government which is able to survive and provide for its own self-defence. Until they are able to do that, and until the necessary reconstruction is completed, Canada is committed . . .
Take me, for example -- I actually thought I was following this stuff, yet there was lots in Dave's post that I hadn't known about what we are doing over there and why. So for all Canadians who haven't been paying much attention, its important that we know what Dave is writing about. Thanks, Dave.
Wednesday, March 08, 2006
MSNBC reports that Canadian centre fielder Adam Stern hit an inside-the-park homer, drove in four runs and made two sensational catches in center to help win the game for Canada 8-6 over the United States in the inaugural World Baseball Classic tournament now underway in Phoenix.
We caught part of this game on TV and it looked pretty good. Here are the boys celebrating their win.
CP's Shi Davidi describes the action:
. . . Canada opened the scoring in the first when Clapp tripled and scored on Morneau's RBI groundout.There is a chance we will win the pool now, depending on whether we win the Mexico game on Thursday. Keep on cheering for Canada, everyone. (Both AP Photos by Charlie Riedel)
It looked like the lead would be short-lived when the U.S. loaded the bases with one out in the bottom of the first but Loewen made a phenomenal pitch to Chipper Jones for an inning ending double play.
That seemed to inspire the Canadians, who picked up another run in the second on back-to-back triples by Aaron Guiel and Stern, three more in the third on Pete Laforest's RBI single and Stern's two-run single and another pair in the fourth on Matt Stairs' two-run single.
Stern added an inside-the-park-homer leading off the fifth to make it 8-0 before the Americans clawed back against the bullpen.
The U.S. was all over reliever Chris Begg to open the fifth, as Michael Young singled, Ken Griffey Jr., doubled him home and then scored on Derrek Lee's single.
Begg proceeded to load the bases before reliever Eric Cyr came on, and he fell behind Jason Varitek 3-1 before the Red Sox catcher crushed a ball making it 8-6.
Somehow the Canadians held on from there and stormed the field to celebrate after Morneau stepped on first to end things.
This group, which call themselves the National Centre for Men, is promoting a lawsuit which argues that "If a pregnant woman can choose among abortion, adoption or raising a child, a man involved in an unintended pregnancy should have the choice of declining the financial responsibilities of fatherhood."
This group acts like the child is some sort of legal abstraction who will disappear if a man choses to exercise their "men's rights".
As the story also notes, however, "most courts say it's not about what he did or didn't do or what she did or didn't do. It's about the rights of the child." Exactly.
Monday, March 06, 2006
Foreign Affairs Minister Peter MacKay apparently opposes a vote in Parliament about the Afghanistan mission because some MPs would vote against it: "The last thing we want to show is any wavering or any backing away from the commitment of our Canadian troops. We have to be 100 per cent behind them."
I guess he thinks our troops are stupid, and they don't know already that, depending on the poll, somewhere between 50 to 60 per cent of Canadians do not support the Afghanistan mission anymore.
So we aren't "100 percent behind them" even now. And they know it. But personally, I would think its more important to our troops that we make sure their mission in Afghanistan is important and worthwhile. What is it, exactly, we are asking them to die for? We had better make sure that we all know what it is.
I wouldn't say I oppose the Afghanistan mission, not yet anyway -- but I sure would welcome some discussion about what our troops are doing there.
MacKay couldn't actually seem to identify a real goal for our troops, like protecting cities or villages or making sure roads are safe for travel, or running special ops against taliban and warlord areas,for example. Instead, he just talked about how "this is the type of mission demanded in this day and age", that terrorism "has its roots in Afghanistan" and that we are "committed to fight with our allies".
And Stephen Harper is just as bad -- he says "You do not send men and women into harm's way on a dangerous mission with the support of our party and other Canadians, and then decide, once they're over there, that you're not sure you should have sent them."
Well, why not?
If the troops get there and find out they don't have a mission or they're not being used effectively or they're just cannon fodder or bait (which is how Canadian troops actually have been used at other times and in other wars) or the whole Afghanistan war has become a misbegotten, poorly-executed exercise in futility that is not worth anybody dying for, then I would hope we would get our troops out of there and the sooner the better.
Sunday, March 05, 2006
GOP Shill posing as reporter: "Many are saying the reason we're not winning is because [insert reference to critics, i.e., liberals, democrats, progressives, defeatists, etc.] have been critical of the war and have eroded supp--" Cut them off right there!Emphasis mine. Exactly. This war was and is the fault of the people who wanted to fight it.
Response: "The Republicans Are Losing the War. This was a Republican War dreamed up by Republicans, packaged by Republicans and marketed like a soft drink by Republicans. It was Republicans who ignored the dangers and warnings from senior combat vets and went in too light and poorly equipped, it was Republicans who smugly assured us we would be greeted as liberators, that the oil would pay for it, and that we had to act immediately before a mushroom cloud bloomed over an American City. It was the Republicans at the most senior levels that absolutely assured us that there were Weapons of Mass Destruction and cleverly floated the implication that there were operational links between Iraq and 9/11. This is a Republican War and it's Republicans who are losing the War. And since it's the Republicans who claim it's the central front in the War on Terror, then by their own definition it follows that The Republicans are Losing that War."
If by now the panicked host or foundering discussion partner hasn't cut you off, s/he will probably try the ole bait and switch "But Democrats also supported the war, what about them?", keep piling on the painful truth:
"It was a Republican controlled Congress who enabled this Republican White House to start this Republican War, who rubber-stamped every stumble and screw-up, from rocky start to looming catastrophic finish. It has been Republican pundits and apologists who have defended it every step of the way. It was Republicans who claimed we were doing great, the whole time things were going to hell in a handbasket. It was Republican companies that hogged every tax dollar they could get and 'misplaced' billions in their greedy zeal. It was the Republicans who lied or bungled or got it dead wrong from the get-go. It was Republicans who fed tens of thousands of other people's brave sons and daughters in our armed forces into a meat grinder, to be killed or maimed for this massive Republican mistake. The only way we well ever stop these Losers is to get them out of office before the Republicans Lose More Wars."
Say it slowly, say it fast. Say it many times. The Republicans are Losing the War.
This wingnut was recently interviewed on a PBS show.
Its the first time we're heard such ridiculous nonsense since the 1970s, but not, I fear, the last. Thanks to Dibgy for alerting the blogosphere to this guy:
BILL NAPOLI: My calls have been running 3-1 in favor of this bill.
FRED DE SAM LAZARO: Napoli says most abortions are performed for what he calls 'convenience.' He insists that exceptions can be made for rape or incest under the provision that protects the mother's life. I asked him for a scenario in which an exception may be invoked.
BILL NAPOLI: A real-life description to me would be a rape victim, brutally raped, savaged. The girl was a virgin. She was religious. She planned on saving her virginity until she was married. She was brutalized and raped, sodomized as bad as you can possibly make it, and is impregnated. I mean, that girl could be so messed up, physically and psychologically, that carrying that child could very well threaten her life.
. . .
FRED DE SAM LAZARO: Democratic Representative Elaine Roberts is one of South Dakota's few pro-choice legislators. What's next, she fears, is a host of measures that regulate women's private lives.
ELAINE ROBERTS: We already have a law that says that pharmacists by conscience could refuse to fill my prescription for contraceptives. There is already a move from some groups who have worked on this to say that there should be no contraceptives, that sexual intercourse is for the purpose of reproduction.
FRED DE SAM LAZARO: Much of what she fears as an assault on basic rights Senator Napoli sees as a return to traditional values.
BILL NAPOLI: When I was growing up here in the wild west, if a young man got a girl pregnant out of wedlock, they got married, and the whole darned neighborhood was involved in that wedding. I mean, you just didn't allow that sort of thing to happen, you know? I mean, they wanted that child to be brought up in a home with two parents, you know, that whole story. And so I happen to believe that can happen again.
FRED DE SAM LAZARO: You really do?
BILL NAPOLI: Yes, I do. I don't think we're so far beyond that, that we can't go back to that.
Saturday, March 04, 2006
But the notion that this was a very bad week for Bush is only true for those who live in the world of facts. Bush followers are lucky. They have an outstanding capacity to create their own fantasy world where any facts which reflect negatively on the Leader are simply discarded and ignored.Emphasis mine.
I wonder how long they can keep this going -- "No clothes? Why, he's wearing simply beautiful clothes. Just look at all those gorgeous colours. And the fabrics, oh the fabrics..."
So when our soldiers get attacked, the tone of the media coverage is, how surprising! Like, how could they attack our guys? Don't they know we're just trying to help?
. . . Lieut. Trevor Greene was chatting with dozens of elders near his forward base in Gumbad when an Afghan villager pulled an axe with a 60-centimetre handle from inside his clothing. The villager, in his 20s, held the axe high over Greene's head and yelled "Allah Akbar" - God is Great - the signature call of an Islamist suicide attacker.
The man fulfilled his destiny. He delivered his nearly lethal blow and then died where he stood, his body riddled with bullets from Capt. Kevin Schamuhn and two of his fellow soldiers . . . . The notion the act was of a lone maniac quickly disappeared.
While villagers scattered in all directions, enemy small-arms fire broke out from across the river. Canadians and their Afghan allies returned fire. Then, as things calmed slightly, another man moved toward coalition forces and tossed a hand grenade.
The Afghans and Canadians returned fire again as the grenade exploded harmlessly. Schamuhn believes the man was hit but the grenade attacker scurried away in the mayhem.
As things calmed down, a U.S. Blackhawk helicopter whisked Greene away to a Canadian hospital at Kandahar Airfield. He remains there in serious condition, awaiting a plane ride to Germany and home.
The Afghans and Canadians went into the village to find answers. All they found were seven old men and some women and children.
"There were no fighting-age males there," said Schamuhn.
"The leaders we had been speaking to earlier had disappeared and all the young men that we were talking to had disappeared."
No villager would say who the dead attacker was.
The platoon from Company A of the Princess Patricia's Light Infantry brigade in Afghanistan was making a series of stops in small villages Saturday from their forward operating base 70 kilometres north of Kandahar.
Moving into rural areas is a key part of Canada's plan to bring security and reconstruction to Kandahar province.
Villagers in a meeting hours earlier welcomed them with blankets and bread and meats.
The meetings with local leaders are known as shura and are key to getting anything done in rural areas.
The fateful meeting was off to a good start when the
attacker struck, Schamuhn said.
The first hint of trouble could only be seen in the light of hindsight, he said. "About two or three minutes prior to the incident, all the children that were present were escorted away, about 20 to 30 metres away," Schamuhn recalled. "But none of us picked up on this, there was no weird feeling, no gut feeling that something was about to go down."
Schamuhn has grown to trust villagers through dozens of encounters. He and Greene had removed their helmets and set down their arms in a sign of respect and trust. "I'm sure I've shaken hands with some people who have plotted against us," he said.
"You can't tell."
Schamuhn said he had started to believe the oft-repeated Afghan contention that foreigners are causing all the trouble. He doesn't believe it now. "This guy, he was a local villager from this village who was coerced or persuaded by some outside force to do this against us," Schamuhn said. "We were completely vulnerable to them and they took complete advantage of that. There was a lot of people who knew what was about to happen."
Well, that would be because there's a war going on over there.
Didn't we already know this?
. . . neither the new Conservative government in Ottawa nor its previous Liberal governments seem troubled by [Guantanamo]. . . Not only has there been no Canadian demand for it to close, but Canada's special-forces units in Afghanistan continue to hand terrorism suspects over to U.S. forces who ship at least some of them to Guantanamo. "Canada's silence on Guantanamo is related to the fact that we are complicit in the whole process'" of seizing and holding suspects "in a twilight zone," NDP defence spokesman Bill Blaikie said yesterday. "This is typical of the way both the Liberals and Conservatives have handled the whole issue of Guantanamo," instead of joining with other governments and calling for its closing . . .
Think of the movies now considered classic . . . such as Mean Streets, Taxi Driver, Dog Day Afternoon, Serpico, The Last Detail, Five Easy Pieces, Blazing Saddles, McCabe and Mrs. Miller, Nashville, The Wild Bunch, Straw Dogs, A Clockwork Orange, on and on--do these movies speak to the pieties and platitudes that William Bennett holds dear? Even back then during all the noise and excitement I remember sweet old ladies wondering why they didn't make nice movies like The Sound of Music anymore . . . Get over it, grandma! They're not going to make movies like Sound of Music anymore, they barely made them back then.
The heartland issue is such a crock, especially when it's taken up by pseudo-populist pundits who cling to both coasts and wouldn't move to the middle of the country unless the name of that middle was Chicago. Fuck the heartland. It doesn't exist. It's a metaphor for all the simple good things Americans would believe in if they flattered themselves by believing in simple good things. (Go reread Sherwood Anderson or Sinclair Lewis if you want to savor the loneliness and cultureless vacuity of so much of the bedrock America we insist on coloring with Norman Rockwell nostalgia.) It's true that more Americans than usual are unaquainted and uninterested in the Oscar pics this year, but how many Americans saw McCabe and Mrs. Miller when it came out? Or Mean Streets? Not that long ago, the Oscars noms were panned because for being an index of popularity, not quality; now quality prevails in the judging, tastes have improved even at the Golden Globes, and the kvetching chorus is complaining that the finalists chosen aren't commercial enough, and don't reflect the interests and values of average Americans. There's no such thing as an average American anymore (if there ever was), unless by "average American" you mean (as news producers and pundits seem to do) white, middle-aged, heterosexual Christian small-towners and suburbanites who won't even be watching the Academy Awards because it'll be past their bedtime and they have elk to milk the next morning.
Friday, March 03, 2006
Sounds like the United States is going to "win" in Iraq by bombing it back to the stone age, killing everyone they can kill.
When everything looks like Fallaujah does -- see above -- then they can declare victory and leave.
They tried this in Vietnam, too -- at least then the anti-war movement was strong enough to stop Nixon from using nuclear weapons to "win" that war, though it was a near thing -- and it didn't work there either.
But they get despicable when they're desperate. AP is reporting that AC-130 gunships are now returning to Iraq:
The left-side ports of the AC-130s, 98-foot-long planes that can slowly circle over a target for long periods, bristle with a potent arsenal - 40 mm cannon that can fire 120 rounds per minute, and big 105 mm cannon, normally a field artillery weapon. The plane's latest version, the AC-130U, known as 'Spooky,' also carries Gatling gun-type 20 mm cannon. The gunships were designed primarily for battlefield use to place saturated fire on massed troops. In Vietnam, for example, they were deployed against North Vietnamese supply convoys along the Ho Chi Minh Trail, where the Air Force claimed to have destroyed 10,000 trucks over several years. The use of AC-130s in places like Fallujah, urban settings where insurgents may be among crowded populations of noncombatants, has been criticized by human rights groups. . .They're buying more depleted uranium shells, too.
But what's one more war crime as far as today's Pentagon is concerned?
The Cargo Cults, as I understand it, arose in the islands of Malaysia and Indonesia after WWII when the Americans left -- the island tribes believed that the airplanes were operated by gods and these gods would return if the islanders worshipped them in the right way, so they constructed runways and "airplane" icons to which they prayed.
And here's a few more Bush jokes:
"On Wednesday President Bush will fly to India. See, last week he met with American workers. This week he will go to India and visit their old jobs." --Jay Leno
"President Bush is on his way to India. I guess he had to go, he lost the number for tech support." --Jay Leno
"After Afghanistan, President Bush flew to India, where he was greeted by 10,000 angry protestors. As a result, most Americans spent all day on hold with computer problems." --Conan O'Brien
"He was only in Afghanistan for four hours. That may not sound like much, but it's more time than he spent in the Texas National Guard." --Jay Leno
"President Bush also going to visit Pakistan. I think he wants to put them in charge of our airport security." --Jay Leno
"President Bush is so unpopular now, in fact Dick Cheney has a higher approval rating among quail." --David Letterman
"Actually, they're going to hold off on that Dubai ports deal for 45 days while Congress debates it. 45 days, well that's good. Those problems in the Middle East tend to clear up pretty quickly." --Jay Leno
"Looks like some kind of civil war brewing in Iraq. Well, who could have seen that coming? That came out of left field, huh? They say it is total chaos over there. People are roaming the streets with guns. It's like everyone is Dick Cheney now." --Jay Leno