Saturday, September 27, 2003

'You Lied, They Died,' U.S. Parents Tell Bush

"It is time for these troops to come home," said Mr. Suarez. "Neither my wife nor my family want more children to die in this illegal war. We are no less patriotic for wanting peace. Bush wants $87bn [£52m] for this war, but what does he give us for our schools?" he asked.

Apparently some other parents took out a full-page ad in the NYT calling for Rummy's resignation. People are more willing to call these fools out. Spread the word.

Colin Powell Is Afraid of the Truth

Asked whether Americans would have supported this war if weapons of mass destruction had not been at issue, Mr. Powell said the question was too hypothetical to answer. Asked if he, personally, would have supported it, he smiled, thrust his hand out and said, "It was good to meet you."

Props to Kos for the tip. Powell runs from the press with his tail in between his legs, indeed.

Why We Hate Bush

Check out the rant. Here's a teaser.

Bush's detractors despise him viscerally, as a man. Where working-class populists see him as a smug, effeminate frat boy who wouldn't recognize a hard day's work if it kicked him in his self-satisfied ass, intellectuals see a simian-faced idiot unqualified to mow his own lawn, much less lead the free world. Another group, which includes me, is more patronizing than spiteful. I feel sorry for the dude; he looks so pathetic, so out of his depth, out there under the klieg lights, squinting, searching for nouns and verbs, looking like he's been snatched from his bed and beamed in, and is still half asleep, not sure where he is. Each speech looks as if Bush had been beamed from his bed fast asleep. And he's willfully ignorant.

I'm now envisioning Dubya's career in infomercials: "I'm not President of the United States, but I played one on TV."

Anti-Pop Consortium Quote

synchronicity you can't hit what you can't see got a problem that I can't fix then deal with it

from "Bubblz" on the album 'Arrhythmia'

Friday, September 26, 2003

Thursday, September 25, 2003

The Battle of the Bad

And now for something completely different. It's.......


A comparison of the 2003 Detroit Tigers and the 1962 New York Mets. Which team is worse? You decide.

Wednesday, September 24, 2003

Iraq has now become the crucible of global politics

But none of that is likely to happen unless the US, the UK and their allies find the burden of occupation greater than that of withdrawal. Unpalatable though it may be, it is the Iraqi resistance that has transformed the balance of power over Iraq in the past six months, as it has frustrated US efforts to impose its will on the country and the US public has begun to grasp the price of military rule over another people.

By demonstrating the potential costs of pre-emptive invasion, the resistance has also reduced the threat of US attacks against other potential targets, such as Iran, North Korea, Syria and Cuba. Bush, Blair and the newly cowed BBC absurdly describe those defending their own country as "terrorists" - as all colonialist and occupation forces have done - and accuse them of being "Saddam loyalists".

Situation Excellent, I Am Attacking

From the wordprocessor of William Rivers Pitt:

A moment will come on January 20th, 2005. It will be cold in Washington D.C. A man who is not George W. Bush will raise his hand and swear and oath to preserve, protect and defend the United States of America. The words "So help me God" will be snatched by the wind and carried across seas and mountains to the furthest corners of the planet. When that happens, all of the Earth will be joined together in the deepest and most profound exhalation of relief. When that happens, George W. Bush will have become in his absence what he completely failed to be with his presence: A uniter.

Apparently This Is The Best The GOP Can Do In Reaction To Sen. Kennedy's Assertion That The Iraq War Was a Fraud Concocted For Political Reasons

So according to the US Congressional GOP, saying that the President's war was launched for political gain is naughty because::

1. It will somehow endanger the troops or at least will offend the virgin ears of soldiers' wives and kids (am I the only one who finds the following quote both patronizing and sexist?):

Senate Armed Services Committee (news - web sites) Chairman John Warner, a Virginia Republican, talked of a serviceman's "young wife surrounded by small children" who "hear that this whole thing has been a fraud. Is that safeguarding those put in harm's way? I say no."

2. It slurs Texas, which is apparently naughty for no discernible reason:

Republican Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison complained that Kennedy was making "a slur" on her home state of Texas "to say this plot was made up" there.

and 3. It's "disgusting":

In the House of Representatives, Majority leader Tom DeLay, a Texas Republican, called Kennedy's statements "as disgusting as they are false," and said Kennedy owed Bush and the country an apology.

Real strong stuff, eh? Okay, here's what I find disgusting: The thousands of civilian casualties as a result of the war and ensuing occupation against Iraq is disgusting. The billions of tax dollars spent on the occupation of a sovereign nation that posed no tangible threat to the US is disgusting. The continued deaths and injuries of our soldiers who no longer know why they are even over there is disgusting. That the best that the GOP can do is whine and complain about the tone of Sen. Kennedy's remarks while ignoring the substance of the problems that are mounting because of the war and occupation is disgusting. The continued effort by this president and his cohorts to mislead the public about the reasons for the war and their progress in cleaning up their mess in Iraq is disgusting. The failure to support the troops and their families in the ways they need the most: in terms of pay and benefits is disgusting.

Of course I wouldn't want to go on a rant or anything.

Cost to occupy Iraq: $4 Billion per month

Dubya's requested funds for Iraq occupation: $87 Billion

This exchange between Medea Benjamin and Richard Perle: Priceless

RICHARD PERLE: What you just heard is a tirade against American companies in the left-wing tradition that she represents. Her characterization of the situation in Iraq is not at all borne out by many conversations I've had with Iraqis, including members of the governing council she's been referring to.

MEDEA BENJAMIN: Well, I challenge to you go there with me, Mr. Perle, because I was there in July, I was there in August, I don't stay in the presidential palace, I don't go around with bodyguards and helicopters and sniffing dogs like Paul Bremer and Colin Powell. I challenge to you go with me, without any bodyguards and let's walk around the streets of the cities of Iraq and see what it looks like six months after the U.S. occupation.

RICHARD PERLE: With all due respect, your sojourns in the cities of Iraq are hardly the appropriate measure of how well we have done in restoring electricity and getting water back on track. I don't think --

MEDEA BENJAMIN: You know better sitting in Washington, D.C.?

Note: Medea Benjamin is not related to me. I do find it cool that there's yet another Benjamin out there dissing the Bush Administration's mess in Iraq.

Bush's Approval Ratings Continue Their Free-Fall

And yet another national poll has Dubya's approval rating below the 50% mark. Coupled with recent polls showing Dubya and some of the major Democrat candidates in essentially a dead heat, there is indeed reason for cautious optimism.

Keep spreading the memes: "Bush lied and soldiers died (and keep dying)"

"Where are the WMDs?"

"Those 16 words are just the tip of the iceberg."

Stakes high in weapons report

Iraq Survey Group interim report may read like this: "Tony Blair, there is no Great Pumpkin. Either you lied or you are incredibly gullible."

And Here's Another Bombshell

Some excerpts:

AUSTRALIAN investigative journalist John Pilger says he has evidence the war against Iraq was based on a lie that could cost George W. Bush and Tony Blair their jobs and bring Prime Minister John Howard down with them.

...Pilger uncovered video footage of Powell in Cairo on February 24, 2001 saying, "He (Saddam Hussein) has not developed any significant capability with respect to weapons of mass destruction. He is unable to project conventional power against his neighbours."

Two months later, Rice reportedly said, "We are able to keep his arms from him. His military forces have not been rebuilt."

Powell boasted this was because America's policy of containment and its sanctions had effectively disarmed Saddam.

Pilger claims this confirms that the decision of US President George W Bush - with the full support of British Prime Minister Blair and Howard - to wage war on Saddam because he had weapons of mass destruction was a huge deception.

A quick round-up of editorial reactions to Bush's UN address

The general gist: Bush layed an egg yesterday.

Administration stuck in an infinite loop

Josh Marshall uses 1960s sci-fi flicks and Elizabeth Kubler Ross' five stages of death as vehicles to understand the Bush & co. reaction to a clearly dying Iraqi policy (Bush & co. are stuck in the denial and anger stages).

I've got my own pop culture reference: remember those Loony Toons where Wile. E. Coyote, "Super-Genius" would smugly inform Bugs Bunny that Bugs was about to be dinner and that resistance was futile? Our genius coyote would then use all manner of high-tech gizmos courtesy of Acme in order to catch that rabbit. Somehow, the super-genius coyote ended up stumbling badly, having underestimated that screwy rabbit. The Bush Administration is the coyote. The screwy rabbits essentially have a beaten up coyote that's about ready to finally say "my name is Mud" before collapsing into a heap.

You know you're in trouble when even a large subset of Republicans are going to vote against you

Bush’s NY Poll Numbers Plummet

New York is a state that the Bushies said they'd carry next year. Things could turn around I suppose, but this is a president with a great deal of baggage trying to do carry a state that is heavily Democratic. I'm betting all five cents of the money left from my "tax relief" check against him in NY.

Monday, September 22, 2003

The Blue Series Continuum

There's some real interesting tunes out there in the world of indy-label jazz if you're willing to do a little digging. Case in point: the Thirsty Ear Blue Series. Props to Matthew Shipp, the currator for the series (and a frequent contributor) for assembling a roster of creative artists who are willing to break boundaries and stereotypes. I haven't had the coin to pick up every album in the series, but I've been impressed with the ones I have picked up.

Two of this year's releases deserve special merit: The Blue Series Continuum's "GoodandEvil Sessions" and Anti-pop Consortium's "Anti-pop Consortium vs. Matthew Shipp." The first album is a fusion of contemporary electronica and free jazz anchored by a mostly electronic rhythm section (GoodandEvil & Miso supply the electronic percussion and effects, and Shipp trades his piano for a synthesizer) which provides a terrific foundation for the soloists to engage in free flights of sound. Shipp is tight on the synth, William Parker is free and funky on bass, and Roy Campbell sounds inspired on trumpet. The overall tone of the album is dark, which seems to be the MO on Shipp's albums (and Shipp is clearly in control of this project). Challenging, but surprisingly accessible and downright funky.

The Anti-pop Consortium disc combines the talents of Matthew Shipp on piano, his usual free jazz conspirators, and the rapping and djaying of the Anti-pop crew. As the title might suggest, the artists almost appear to be at odds with each other on several tracks, but when they come together, the results are sublime. My fave track on the album is "slow horn" which ends up mixing up beat-poetry-inspired def poetry jammin' with Shipp's piano and electronics that sound like a slow fog horn. The instrumental "places i've never been" starts off with a Shipp accoustic head that quickly gets cut-up, mixed, and blended with hip-hop rhythms, and ambient-inspired electronics. 'staph" gives Shipp more room to stretch out and solo amidst the rapping. "a knot in your bop" has a nice hard-bop feel to it that gives Parker room to drop some mad bass solos. "svp" give vibe player Khan Jamal the spotlight, and his vibes blend in nicely with the electronic effects. "coda" is more latter-day beat poetry. "stream light" is a straight piano-bass duo piece (which Shipp and Parker do so well together) that is simply beautiful, and is followed up by more beat poetry on a bed of Indian & middle-eastern percussion augmented by the piano & bass interplay of Shipp and Parker. Hip-hop comes to the fore on "real is surreal", and the album is given a mad send-off of fast-paced in yo face free jazz on "free hop" where the electronics are more subdued but which still manage to augment what the jazz cats are doing. I can honestly say I've never quite heard anything like it, although the elements are striking in their familiarity. The raps really should be considered poems that owe more to beat surrealist cats like Ted Joans than to the present-day peans to bling culture found in much of contemporary hip-hop. In a word: solid.

Helping the Iraqis Without Enabling the War Addict

Shorter Simon Tisdall: the UN should play hardball with the White House now that Bush & Co. are wanting their seal of approval on the Iraq occupation. The goal: to get sufficient aid to the Iraqi people, financial backing for building the infrastructure, but on the condition that Dubya cedes control of the occupation to the UN. Don't do Bush any favors. Otherwise he stands a better chance of being re-elected, and he and his cronies will feel tha jones comin' down for more war fixes.

Sunday, September 21, 2003

How to move the Democrat party to the left

Goes back to the old principle that 90% of life is just showing up. Go to central committee meetings. Get involved, and see what happens. Activists among the Christian right-wing have been doing this for years within the Republican party -- pretty safe to say it's a tried and true approach.

Baghdad, Birmingham and True Believers

Here's a scathing column. Especially amusing is this excerpt, which I think pretty well highlights the hypocrisy in the White House:

Rice urged us, as it has been widely reported, to reject the "condescending voices" saying that Africans and Middle Easterners aren't interested in freedom and are "culturally just not ready for freedom or they just aren't ready for freedom's responsibility." And just in case we missed her point, Rice injected race into the equation with this bit: "We've heard that [blacks aren't ready] argument before, and we, more than any, as a people, should be ready to reject it. The view was wrong in 1963 in Birmingham, and it is wrong in 2003 in Baghdad and in the rest of the Middle East."

..."They're not ready for more power," said an administration official, referring to the U.S.-appointed, 25-member Iraqi Governing Council, which wants a quicker end to U.S. occupation and transfer of power. The Bush administration, reports The Post's Rajiv Chandrasekaran, wants to retain ultimate control over Iraqi affairs well into next year, when a new constitution is to be ratified and an elected government is installed. (And if the constitution is rejected or Iraq's elected leaders give the administration heartburn? Well, let's not go there).

It's hard to know what the administration really thinks of the Iraqis.

Gotta love it.

Did Rove Blow a Spook's Cover?

The continuing saga over the apparent outing of Joseph Wilson's wife as a CIA employee after Wilson publicly disputed the White House claim regarding Iraq's efforts to purchase uranium from Niger. It's one of those back-burner type stories, but it never quite goes away.

In the Northwest, Franken Gives Voice to the Muffled Left Wing

Shorter Joel Connelly: Political discourse in the mass-media is now dominated by blowhards whose idea of debating is to scream, shout at, threaten, and intimidate their opponents much like a school-yard bully who's just been denied milk money by another kid. Along comes Al Franken to not only refuse to be intimidated, but seems eager to rub their noses in the media-produced excrement that's dominating the airwaves and television sets.

From the "Do Not Feed the Animals" Dept.

U.S. Soldier Kills Baghdad Tiger After Colleague Clawed

I guess some soldiers were partying over at the Baghdad Zoo after hours, when one of the soldiers (intoxicated as it turns out) was injured while attempting to feed a bengal tiger (an animal on the endangered species list, and near extinction as it is). As the tiger's claws and teeth were deemed weapons of mass destruction, the tiger was immediately killed.

That begs the question of why troops were partying in a zoo in the first place, and if the idiot who tried feeding the tiger was jonesing for a Darwin Award. I also have to wonder why they were getting shitfaced while on patrol. Look, I realize that it's gotta be hell occupying another country and be enmeshed in a guerilla war that was not part of the original bargain, and any sort of mental escape must look attractive. But still: getting drunk under such circumstances is likely to cloud one's judgment, make one considerably more hot-headed and feeling invincible, thus leading to idiotic scenes such as this one. Sticking your hand into a tiger cage is not exactly conducive to survival or maintenance of good health. Seems like common sense right? That said, killing the tiger subsequently is a bad PR move, to say the least. I can just imagine the ordinary Iraqi reaction, and it's not exactly a pleasant image. It becomes yet another example of the arrogance and incompetence of the occupiers who are supposedly "liberating" their country.

Pride and Prejudices

How Americans have fooled themselves about the war in Iraq, and why they've had to

Argues that many Americans' reactions to Iraq war criticisms can be chalked up to motivated cognition. We "want" to believe that the war is going well; that the blood, sweat, tears, and treasure were and are well-spent. To the extent that we have tied our self-images, or sense of self-worth, to the image of America as strong, benevolent, and promoting freedom the events of the last couple years must be producing a great deal of cognitive dissonance for many here in the US.

I am a bit skeptical about the columnist's other contention that the mass media did its job in keeping the public informed. As I see it, there was certainly a good deal of media bias in favor of the war and occupation of Iraq during the run-up to war, and during the initial weeks once the first bombs were dropped. That criticism aside, I think that the author has a solid partial explanation for why the American public at large seems to show such glaring perceptual illusions regarding, e.g., the Saddam-9/11 link, and a general tendency to live in denial about the deleterious effects of the war both at home and abroad.

Definitely an interesting read.