Saturday, October 2, 2004

Who knew assholes could talk.

Brought to my attention via soccerdad of The Left Coaster, this gem from Donald Rumsfeld:



“At some point the Iraqis will get tired of getting killed and we'll have enough of the Iraqi security forces that they can take over responsibility for governing that country"




The good old scorched earth policy is alive and well in our neo-con utopia. "We have to destroy the village to save it. Collective policy unethical? Well, screw ethics." Yeah, it all gets spun as "precision" or "surgical" strikes aimed at "terrorists", but somehow an enormous number of regular folks, especially women and children end up dead or maimed in the process. What does a "precision strike" look like? Here's a pic provided by soccerdad:







Yeah, that looks real precise, eh? How about some more? How about the human toll?
















Some of the recent coverage in the press:



Fallujah Strike Kills 4, Car Bomb Kills 3

Iraqi children killed in US strikes

17 People, 3 Children Killed in Fallujah Airstrike

Civilians killed in Falluja air strike

U.S. warplanes attack Baghdad's Sadr City: At least one killed, 12 injured — many of them children

US pounds Iraqi cities

U.S. Jets Pound Militant Positions in Iraq (and report a number of civilian casualties)

Iraq Wedding Film Challenges U.S. on Air Strike

Precision strikes were wide of mark: Bombers went 0-for-5O last year in efforts to kill Iraqi leaders

Iraq: Sanatized Slaughter



You can't sanitize the slaughter for those most directly affected. The fruits of Bu$hCo's labor can be found here, here, and here, for example.



Yeah, the Iraqis are damn sick and tired of being killed, which is why more and more of them are showing the US-led occupiers the door.

One of the more sensible things I've read:

Only by recognizing the terrorism of states is it possible to understand, and deal with, acts of terrorism by groups and individuals which, however horrific, are tiny by comparison.




For the context of that quote, read Time to Recognize State Terror.

From the "Tres Uncool" Department

This is a bit disturbing...



In response to a controversial analysis of the "Rathergate" documents by a professor, some folks over on the dark side of blogtopia got full of themselves, as David A notes. So the prof in question thinks the documents are the real deal, and tries to demonstrate his thesis. No big whoop. Either the prof is correct in his analysis or turns out to be wrong. That a bunch of self-righteous assholes would see the need to pressure the prof's university to decimate his career is a whole different matter.



I feel that Wizbang and its writers have every right to question research and reporting that they disagree with, I do not feel they have the right to destroy someone's career because they disagree with them. If the professor is guilty of some sort of fraud, his University should be free to investigate under their standard academic processes, not be overwhelmed and pressured by a bunch of partisan hacks who likely don't even understand all the complexities of his research.



Conservatives get very upset when you use the Nazi metaphor to describe their tactics, and I am loath to do so under anything but the most extreme cases, but let the chips fall where they may in this case. Call it McCarthyism, Nazism, Digital Fascism, whatever, but limiting debate on an issue to all but those who agree fanatically with you, and attempting to squelch any opposing point of view, represents the very traits that many of my Right Wing friends protest as metaphors for their behavior. This case... clearly to me, is a scary one for its implications, and while I agree that the Rather documents were fakes, I don’t agree that someone should have their life and credibility destroyed because they don’t happen to share my beliefs...




The wingnuts seem to dig acting like a goonsquad. And some of these cats have the audacity to wonder why a number of the rest of us view them as fascists.

Friday, October 1, 2004

Winning the war but losing the hearts and minds?

Or, losing on both fronts? September Among Deadliest Months for U.S. in Iraq



Washington - September was one of the deadliest months for U.S. troops in the 18-month-old war in Iraq, and the death toll for the first time has risen four straight months.



[...]



'Losing Slowly but Steadily'



Defense analysts said the Pentagon is struggling to forge a winning strategy against an insurgency that is intensifying and spreading.



"I personally think that the Bush administration is waiting to get through the (Nov. 2) American elections before it uses its military in a much more decisive fashion to suppress insurgent activity," said Loren Thompson of the Lexington Institute think tank.



Ted Carpenter of the Cato Institute think tank noted the number of daily attacks launched by insurgents against U.S. and other foreign troops and Iraqi security forces are surging, indicating a further deteriorating security situation.



"I think we're losing slowly but steadily," Carpenter said. "I think we're sinking deeper into the quick sand."




That doesn't even begin to cover the deaths and injuries to Iraqi civilians such as the recent 35 kids who died in recent bombings in Baghdad and the over 100 Iraqis killed by US in Samarra.

I missed the debate

A student of mine died of an apparent drug overdose Tuesday night (I got the news Wednesday morning), and our Counseling office held a discussion group for those most affected by the suicide. That clearly took top priority for me this evening. She was a very pleasant young woman, very quiet in my classes, and well-loved by those closest to her. She'll be missed. I know quite a few of us were really shaken by this. None of us had any idea that something was wrong.



I did try to catch up on some of the post debate discussions on some of the blogs and elsewhere and I was pleased to read that Kerry did well in the debate, and that Bush came across poorly. From the polls and the pundits, in the immediate aftermath, it appears that Kerry nailed the debate, and from surfing around blogtopia it looks like even the usual wingnut bloggers were a bit demoralized by Bush's sad performance. Hopefully this will take some of the piss out of the right-wing spinmeisters.



If I have one message to convey it's this: whether we're talking on a personal level or on an international level, never forget that life is fragile.

Thursday, September 30, 2004

Something else to ponder when deciding on a president

A commenter at Daily Kos has this to say about George W. Bush: He's Sick. Basically, Sabarte argues that the Prez fits the profile of someone who suffers from substance induced dementia.



Diagnostic criteria for Substance-Induced Persisting Dementia

(cautionary statement)

A. The development of multiple cognitive deficits manifested by both

(1) memory impairment (impaired ability to learn new information or to recall previously learned information)

(2) one (or more) of the following cognitive disturbances:

(a) aphasia (language disturbance)

(b) apraxia (impaired ability to carry out motor activities despite intact motor function)

(c) agnosia (failure to recognize or identify objects despite intact sensory function)

(d) disturbance in executive functioning (i.e., planning, organizing, sequencing, abstracting)

B. The cognitive deficits in Criteria A1 and A2 each cause significant impairment in social or occupational functioning and represent a significant decline from a previous level of functioning.



C. The deficits do not occur exclusively during the course of a delirium and persist beyond the usual duration of Substance Intoxication or Withdrawal.



D. There is evidence from the history, physical examination, or laboratory findings that the deficits are etiologically related to the persisting effects of substance use (e.g., a drug of abuse, a medication).




Any of that seem familiar? Sabarte goes on to suggest that Bush's history frequent bike crashes, his odd speech mistakes, and blanking out are exemplars of this condition; further, it's a condition that is progressive - symptoms continue to get worse over time even if the patient has refrained from further substance abuse, and the symptoms may ultimately become incapacitating.



This type of dementia is rarely seen in young people, usually taking many years to develop. The dementias in this category last long after the person abstains from use of the substance--hence the "persisting" dementia. The outlook for this type of dementia is usually not good even if the person remains abstinent, but there is improvement in some cases.




So, here's the question: is Bush medically fit to be president? Is he psychologically cut out for the job? In another four years, will he be even less capable of handling his responsibilities than he is now?

Another Liberated Iraqi

Wednesday, September 29, 2004

Stupid Legislator Tricks: Congressional Division

Via Corpus Callosum, Meddling in peer review? we find how our national elected legislators spend their time - apparently dissing research that they know nothing about.



First the quote from Biomedcentral:



Members of the US House of Representatives last week (Sept. 9) approved an amendment to the NIH fiscal year 2005 budget (HR 5006) that would prohibit NIMH from further funding grants "studying the decorations of dorm rooms and college students' Web pages" and "studying what makes for a meaningful day," as Rep. Randy Neugebauer (R-Tex.) characterized the grants last week.



The amendment is largely symbolic because the two grants already have been obligated. [...]




Granted, there is a farely vocal anti-science vibe (and of course a vocal anti-social-science vibe) both in Congress and in American society at large. What seems to get these folks' knickers in a knot is the lack of an obvious immediate payoff as a result of conducting the research. In my little corner of the academic universe, I've been a primary or co-author on several published manuscripts, some of which were kindly supported by university of federal grant money. Probably all of this work is fairly obscuroid to the average intelligent layperson, and devoid of context may strike many folks as downright trivial. In order to understand a grant proposal, one needs to understand the theoretical and empirical context in which the proposed study exists. What's made the various grant programs so fruitful is that there are people who do understand the theoretical context and who do have a solid grasp of the extant research in their respective fields who are well-positioned to evaluate the relative merits of grant proposals. That's peer review in a nutshell. The thing to keep in mind is that the main role of peer review is to determine if a study or set of studies are theoretically, methodologically, and ethically sound. It's a system that works remarkably well. What peer review can't do is determine in advance which proposals will have immediate or even long-term practical applications. Something that on the surface may seem rather trivial can have an enormous positive societal impact later on.



I do think that we in the sciences could do a better job of explaining our research to various lay audiences. In psychology, we're doing better on that front. The American Psychological Society, for example, lives up to its mission of "giving away the science of psychology in the public interest" by such activities as devoting one of its journals to research that has important practical societal applications (Psychological Science in the Public Interest), and by its on-going efforts to train psychologists to be better teachers - whether in the classroom or outside the classroom. The organization has been fairly effective in explaining what psychologists do to legislators (at least to most legislators). It's a step in the right direction. Some of the hostility towards the sciences I suspect is merely due to a lack of knowledge, a lack of understanding. That's something we can tackle, and hopefully we can improve our ability to explain ourselves. The rest of the hostility is likely ideological, and there's likely nothing we'll ever do that will satisfy the ideologues short of ceasing to exist. So it goes.

Stupidest Thing I've Read This Week

Flirting With Disaster, where Christopher Hitchens tries to accuse Democrats of rooting for disaster in Iraq & Afghanistan. On the contrary, if anything there is a lot of genuine outrage at having our men and women risk life and limb for the shakiest of reasons. Some fellow travelers among liberal and progressive circles (I'll include myself here) are outraged at the civilian casualty toll that's been exacted as a consequence of George Dubyah Bush's "War on Terra." Who's doing the dicking around? It sure isn't the folks who've voiced dissent, and who have the willingness to point out the disconnect between the Bu$hCo rhetoric and the reality on the ground. Rather it's Bu$hCo (and let's toss in poodleboy Blair for good measure) who've dicked the whole goddamned lot of us around.



So what's Hitchens got as a solution? I somehow get the feeling Hitchens would have us uppity liberals learn our place and go sit quietly on the back of the bus of political and social discourse. Well, I for one don't play that. If Dubyah's going to try to act like Dudley Goddamn Do-Right while giving everyone but his cronies the shaft, and cost countless lives in the process, you can be rest assured that there's some of us folks here who gonna make some noise.



Link via alicublog.

Tuesday, September 28, 2004

Too Funny

Documents Reveal Gaps In Bush's Service As President



Some clips:



We originally invoked the Freedom Of Information Act to request material relating to Bush's spotty record while in office," CIS director Catherine Rocklin said. "But then we realized that the information was readily available at the corner newsstand, on the Internet, and from our friends and neighbors who pay attention to the news."



According to Rocklin, the most damning documents were generated at roughly one-day intervals during a period beginning in January 2001 and ending this week. The document's sources include, but are not limited to, the U.S. newspaper The New York Times, the London-based Economist magazine, and the well-known international business and finance record, The Wall Street Journal.



"Factual data presented in these publications indicates that Bush took little or no action on issues as widely varied as the stalled economy, increasing violence in post-war Iraq, and the lagging public education system," Rocklin said. "The newsprint documents also reveal huge disparities between the ways Bush claimed to have served Medicare patients, and what he actually did."



[...]



House Majority Leader Tom DeLay (R-TX) is one of many Republicans who demanded an independent investigation into the authenticity of the documents.



"We're fairly confident that these so-called 'news stories' will turn out to be partisan smear tactics," DeLay said. "I wouldn't be surprised if all 11 billion of these words turn out to be forgeries. For thousands of reporters, editors, and government officials to claim that Bush compromised the security and fiscal health of this nation is not merely anti-American, but also dangerous."



In addition to the media documents, CIS examined more than 20,000 government records, which ranged from U.S. Department of Labor unemployment reports to transcripts of State Of The Union addresses.



[...]



"If the president said he did his duty, then he did," Enzi said. "Furthermore, so what if a bunch of White House staffers can't remember seeing Bush around the place? The West Wing is full of guys wearing identical blue suits. And how can anyone be expected to remember every little thing that went on 30 months ago?"

A gem or two from Left I on the News

Hell, no, we won't go!



Basically points to and covers a USA today article about the difficulty the US military is having in dragging its reactivated former soldiers to Iraq.



"Of the 1,662 ready reservists ordered to report to Fort Jackson, S.C., by Sept. 22, only 1,038 had done so, the Army said Monday. About 500 of those who failed to report have requested exemptions on health or personal grounds.



"Several of those who received recall notices have already been declared AWOL (absent without official leave) and technically are considered deserters. 'We are not in a rush to put someone in the AWOL category,' Masters said. 'We contact them and convince them it is in their best interests to show up. If you are a deserter, it can affect you the rest of your life.'




Eli's editorial comment is priceless: "Sure, someone might even bring it up next time you run for President." Surely worthy of a hearty roffle * 3. (note: for the usenet and bbs savvy readers, a roffle is equivalent to ROFL).



The other gem from Eli: Computers. Stupider than we thought, or smarter? If you can find it on Google, it must be news. Personally I was stunned to find that Dubyah's IQ was that high.

Ouch...That's Going to Leave a Mark

Crawford, Texas Paper ENDORSES KERRY



The editorial's assessment of Dubya can be summed up in four words: "He let us down."



Time to return the idiot to his village. Note to Crawford: keep him.

Kos has a writing gig at the Guardian

His first column: A different noise



The clip I'll provide is pretty much the bottom line:



Liberal groups are fighting back, working to build a parallel infrastructure. My blog DailyKos.com receives 350-400,000 visits every day - double that of FoxNews.com and comparable to the Guardian's print run. Daily Kos and other bloggers like Atrios, MyDD, TalkLeft, and Juan Cole have become a liberal counterweight to the mainstream media and the Rightwing Noise Machine. We don't have parity, but we're working on it.



We all hope to have an impact in 2004, but there's reality: conservatives have spent 30 years building their infrastructure. We can't be expected to counter that in one year. We do things with an eye to the future, all the while doing our best to spare our country (and the world) four more years of a Bush administration.

The Bottom Line

Compared with Kerry, George W. Bush is a coward. This is not a reference to their respective activities during Vietnam. It refers to the current election campaign. Bush happily benefits from the slime his supporters are spreading but refuses to take responsibility for it or to call point-blank for it to stop.





Again, this has nothing to do with Vietnam. Bush's and Kerry's rather divergent approaches to military service during the Vietnam War only serve as exemplars of lifetime patterns of behavior. When push comes to shove, the one thing we can count on is for Bush to chicken out, to hide behind others, to fail to take responsibility for his own actions or for those actions committed by his own campaigns. Bush is a coward.



To put it more humorously, George W. Bush makes Sir Robin (from Monty Python and the Holy Grail) look like Sir Lancelot.



To see the rest of the LA Times editorial rant go here.

Rethugs need to learn some manners

and how to read. Case in point (via Atrios), The Voting Rights Act:

Section 1971 - Voting Rights



(a) Race, color, or previous condition not to affect right to vote; uniform standards for voting qualifications; errors or omissions from papers; literacy tests; agreements between Attorney General and State or local authorities; definitions





(1)



All citizens of the United States who are otherwise qualified by law to vote at any election by the people in any State, Territory, district, county, city, parish, township, school district, municipality, or other territorial subdivision, shall be entitled and allowed to vote at all such elections, without distinction of race, color, or previous condition of servitude; any constitution, law, custom, usage, or regulation of any State or Territory, or by or under its authority, to the contrary notwithstanding.



(2)



No person acting under color of law shall -



(A)



in determining whether any individual is qualified under State law or laws to vote in any election, apply any standard, practice, or procedure different from the standards, practices, or procedures applied under such law or laws to other individuals within the same county, parish, or similar political subdivision who have been found by State officials to be qualified to vote;



(B)



deny the right of any individual to vote in any election because of an error or omission on any record or paper relating to any application, registration, or other act requisite to voting, if such error or omission is not material in determining whether such individual is qualified under State law to vote in such election;




The language is clear as day. Too bad Ken Blackwell (R-OH, Secretary of State) doesn't appear to either grasp the concept, or grasps the concept but doesn't care about such trivialities as violating Federal law.



Just in case you're in the mood, he can be reached at:



J. Kenneth Blackwell-R

180 E. Broad St., 15th Floor

Columbus, OH 43215

614-466-3910

E-Mail: blackwell@sos.state.oh.us



I'm sure he and his staff would be delighted to hear from you.

What's in my cd player (and mp3 player)?

Lately I've been digging a lot of late 1960s and 1970s jazz:

  • Bayeté - Seeking Other Beauty (1972, Prestige)
  • Harry Whitaker - Black Renaissance (2002, Luv N' Haight - recorded 1976)
  • Charles Brackeen - Rhythm X (1968, Strata-East)
  • Julian Priester - Polarization (1977, ECM)
  • Grachan Moncur III - New Africa (1969, BYG)
  • Frank Wright - Uhura Na Umoya (1970, America)
  • Alice Coltrane - Lord of Lords (1973, Impulse!)
  • Various - Wildflowers: The New York Loft Jazz Sessions (2000, Knitting Factory - recorded 1976)
  • Revolutionary Ensemble - The People's Republic (1975, A&M)

The Wildflowers New York Loft Jazz Sessions album apparently was originally released on five LPs back in 1976 on Casablanca, a label I normally associate with the late 1970s disco fad (think Village People, the Thank God It's Friday soundtrack, etc.). Apparently these cats were also issuing some jazz as well as some occasional proto-rap recordings (the very excellent Last Poets album Delights of the Garden was apparently first issued on Casablanca in 1977, for example). Certainly changes my appreciation of that particular label. Learn something new every day, right?

Monday, September 27, 2004

Election Dirty Tricks Roundup

It's ugly this year, folks.



Bullies at the Voting Booth, by Anne-Marie Cusac



What if Republican shenanigans tip the election? Many members of the media are looking at the dangers voting machines may pose to the integrity of the national election. Others are wondering whether voters may be disenfranchised by use of faulty felon lists, as happened in Florida in 2000. But there is another danger: Republicans may use a variety of tactics to suppress the vote of racial minorities in swing states. These tactics could determine control of the White House or the Senate.



In August, the Zogby International poll raised the number of battleground states from sixteen to twenty. In those states, notes John Zogby, "the pounding has been relentless."



Zogby was referring to negative ads, but the sanctity of the vote is also taking a pounding. In some states, Republicans are threatening to conduct widespread vote challenges in heavily minority areas. In others, recent events suggest that poll workers may wrongly turn away voters. In still others, new laws passed or enforced by Republicans have erected hurdles to trip up the minority vote. And on Election Day itself, say advocates, Republicans may direct numerous tricks at Democratic districts in an effort to confuse or frighten voters...




Politics and sleaze envelop Orlando



In Orlando, the Florida home of Disneyworld and a vital political battleground, the campaign for the November presidential election is getting sly, nasty and very, very personal. Normally, at this stage of the proceedings, Ezzie Thomas, a well-known character on the predominantly African-American west side of town, would be out chatting to the people, registering them to vote before the 4 October deadline and helping them with absentee ballots if they do not think they will have time to make it to the polls on election day. But the 73-year-old Mr Thomas, an affable ladies' man, is staying out of public view for fear of exacerbating what is already a highly controversial - and highly political - criminal investigation of his election-related activities.



A similarly low profile is being taken by Steve Clelland, the head of the local firefighters' union. Last week, he did not even dare attend a local appearance by John Kerry, the candidate he is supporting for President, in case it added to the legal troubles facing his own organisation. The firefighters are also subject to a criminal investigation, the chief allegation - for which no evidence has been produced - being that they colluded with City Hall to set up an illegal slush fund for political campaigning.



What makes the troubles facing the two men particularly sinister is that they are declared Kerry supporters, with the power to bring in hundreds if not thousands of votes for the Democratic Party. The investigations are being conducted by the state police, known as the Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE), which reports directly to Governor Jeb Bush, brother of President George Bush...




Florida Will Not Play Fair by Jimmy Carter



After the debacle in Florida four years ago, former president Gerald Ford and I were asked to lead a blue-ribbon commission to recommend changes in the American electoral process. After months of concerted effort by a dedicated and bipartisan group of experts, we presented unanimous recommendations to the president and Congress. The government responded with the Help America Vote Act of October 2002. Unfortunately, however, many of the act's key provisions have not been implemented because of inadequate funding or political disputes.

The disturbing fact is that a repetition of the problems of 2000 now seems likely, even as many other nations are conducting elections that are internationally certified to be transparent, honest and fair...




Holy Fucking Jim Crow by Chris Bowers



Remember that story over the weekend on how Democrats are crushing Republicans in new voter registration in Florida and Ohio? Well, in a move that would make a Mississippi election board from the 1950's proud, Ohio Secretary of State Ken Blackwell is attempting to block thousands of those new registrations because of paper stock (PDF)...




And one wonders why I have such disdain for the GOP these days.

Pass it on:

"A DAY IN THE LIFE OF JOE REPUBLICAN"



Joe gets up at 6 a.m. and fills his coffeepot with water to prepare his morning coffee. The water is clean and good because some tree-hugging liberal fought for minimum water-quality standards. With his first swallow of water, he takes his daily medication. His medications are safe to take because some stupid commie liberal fought to ensure their safety and that they work as advertised.



All but $10 of his medications are paid for by his employer's medical plan because some liberal union workers fought their employers for paid medical insurance - now Joe gets it too.



He prepares his morning breakfast, bacon and eggs. Joe's bacon is safe to eat because some girly-man liberal fought for laws to regulate the meat packing industry.



In the morning shower, Joe reaches for his shampoo. His bottle is properly labeled with each ingredient and its amount in the total contents because some crybaby liberal fought for his right to know what he was putting on his body and how much it contained.



Joe dresses, walks outside and takes a deep breath. The air he breathes is clean because some environmentalist wacko liberal fought for the laws to stop industries from polluting our air.



He walks on the government-provided sidewalk to subway station for his government-subsidized ride to work. It saves him considerable money in parking and transportation fees because some fancy-pants liberal fought for affordable public transportation, which gives everyone the opportunity to be a contributor.



Joe begins his work day. He has a good job with excellent pay, medical benefits, retirement, paid holidays and vacation because some lazy liberal union members fought and died for these working standards. Joe's employer pays these standards because Joe's employer doesn't want his employees to call the union.



If Joe is hurt on the job or becomes unemployed, he'll get a worker compensation or unemployment check because some stupid liberal didn't think he should lose his home because of his temporary misfortune.



It is noontime and Joe needs to make a bank deposit so he can pay some bills. Joe's deposit is federally insured by the FSLIC because some godless liberal wanted to protect Joe's money from unscrupulous bankers who ruined the banking system before the Great Depression.



Joe has to pay his Fannie Mae-underwritten mortgage and his below-market federal student loan because some elitist liberal decided that Joe and the government would be better off if he was educated and earned more money over his lifetime. Joe also forgets that his in addition to his federally subsidized student loans, he attended a state funded university.



Joe is home from work. He plans to visit his father this evening at his farm home in the country. He gets in his car for the drive. His car is among the safest in the world because some America-hating liberal fought for car safety standards to go along with the tax-payer funded roads.



He arrives at his boyhood home. His was the third generation to live in the house financed by Farmers' Home Administration because bankers didn't want to make rural loans.



The house didn't have electricity until some big-government liberal stuck his nose where it didn't belong and demanded rural electrification.



He is happy to see his father, who is now retired. His father lives on Social Security and a union pension because some wine-drinking, cheese-eating liberal made sure he could take care of himself so Joe wouldn't have to.



Joe gets back in his car for the ride home, and turns on a radio talk show. The radio host keeps saying that liberals are bad and conservatives are good. He doesn't mention that the beloved Republicans have fought against every protection and benefit Joe enjoys throughout his day. Joe agrees: "We don't need those big-government liberals ruining our lives! After all, I'm a self-made man who believes everyone should take care of themselves, just like I have."




Those darned liberals. Just messing up everything. They sure ruined my family's lives. If it hadn't been for liberals, my mom's and dad's families would still be highly successful illiterate day-laborers and sweatshop employees, both sets of grandparents wouldn't have been burdened by such terrible atrocities such as home ownership and stock options, my unfortunate dad would not have been put through such torture as getting a college education and then working as an engineer in the aerospace industry (and would never have been tormented night and day during the 1980s and early 1990s working on the B-2 project), and folks like me would not be trapped in offices filled with books and computer equipment - let alone face the torment of going to a home with electricity and running water. Curse those liberals! If only we had listened to those dear bluebloods, industrialists, and plantation owners who only care about our well-being we could be living happily working 18 hours a day every day for practically nothing, not be burdened with proper nutrition, and drop dead long before we would even have to think of retirement. It would have been paradise.



And of course, credit where credit is due: Tom Tomorrow via South Knox Bubba.

Where's the support for victims of torture?

After the outrage: Care for torture victims



A couple clips:



The continuing revelations of torture of detainees at Abu Ghraib prison in Baghdad, coupled with the latest revelations about abuses at Guantánamo, illuminate a powerful irony: Torture has been thrust into world consciousness just when private funding for treatment and rehabilitation of torture survivors has become scarce.



[...]



Yet about 500,000 refugees and asylum seekers who endured torture in their home countries now live in the United States, according to congressional data. The impact of torture on their lives is typically indelible, and experts judge that in many instances it can be addressed only through a combination of specialized physical and psychological care, with medication for chronic pain. But treatment is often unavailable to survivors. Such people are doubly victimized, suffering torture and then neglect.




Even assuming the physical wounds heal (and in many cases they don't really), there are lingering psychological issues. Being imprisoned and tortured is - and this really should go without saying - an extremely stressful event or set of events for the victim. One might expect that in the aftermath, symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) to be prevalent among these individuals and that in the vast majority of cases no one has bothered to offer any sort of treatment or support network for the victims. Something to think about the next time some blowhard dismisses the atrocities of Abu Ghraib and elsewhere as mere pranks.

Liberated Iraqis





Caption:



FALLUJAH, IRAQ: Wounded Iraqi boys wait inside an ambulance at the restive city of Fallujah to be transferred to another hospital 26 September 2004. The boys were victims of US air strikes late 25 September 2004 on suspected hideouts of a militant group in Fallujah. At least 15 people were killed and 33 were wounded in the raids. AFP PHOTO/Fares AL-DLIMI (Photo credit should read ESSAM AL-SUDANI/AFP/Getty Images)

Robert Fisk Editorial

The worse the situation in Iraq, the bigger the lies that Tony Blair tells us



While clearly focused on the political situation in the UK, Fisk could easily be describing today's Bu$hCo America.

Yes, the playing field is a long way from even

In one of my classes last week we were discussing Affirmative Action (I think the context was of all things a History of Psych class I teach, and we were discussing the work of Epicurus, who appeared to be an early advocate of social justice and something of an early utilitarian), and I mentioned Affirmative Action is important in leveling the playing field for all Americans - a policy that Epicurus would have no doubt approved of had he been alive today. One of my students then asked with this rather incredulous look on his face, "do you really think the playing field is level?" A good question, and he has good reason to be skeptical or even cynical. I did respond that no, I don't think the playing field (economically or otherwise) is even, although in many respects I think it's a far cry closer than it was four decades ago, when landmark civil rights legislation was just then being passed. Thing is, as I also acknowledged, we have a long way to go. A recent column by Henry Louis Gates, Jr., in the NYT via Truthout(Getting to Average) explains how and why we still have a long way to go at achieving anything even remotely resembling equality by looking at the current situation for African Americans in the US. It's an unsettling picture, to say the least. Not the least unsettling is the apparent lack of will among our political leaders of either party to address some critical issues that are not going to go away, and in fact may if unaddressed lead to a permanent entrenchment of the black underclass (if that hasn't already occurred). To me it seems pretty self-evident that having a permanently economically and socially disenfranchised group of people is a pretty bad thing for both ethical reasons and reasons of social stability. And yet I feel like a voice in the wilderness when pointing that out.

Take the Pill of Chilling

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Sunday, September 26, 2004

Around Blogtopia

Part 2: The Architecture of Fascism, the latest in David Neiwert's series, The Rise of Pseudo Fascism. Fascinating, thought-provoking reading.



Kevin Drum does some navel gazing regarding blogtopia in response to this Billmon LAT editorial mourning the demise of blogtopia. Personally, I think reports of blogging's death are a bit premature. Sometimes I read this stuff and become reminded of all those pointless discussions on jazz bulletin boards (such as the late, great Blue Note BBS) on the so-called demise of the compact disc - about two or three years ago there were plenty of cats touting the SACD as the medium that would drive the now old-fashioned CD to the Smithsonian, and that the CD's demise was indeed imminent. Hasn't happened, so far. As for blogging, it's still a developing medium that I think will prove rather difficult to tame by the powers that be.



Rahul Mahajan of Empire Notes discusses Donald Rumsfeld, describing him as a frustrated aesthete much like the infamous Roman emperor Nero. Rahul does give us a new question to ponder: When burning a city to the ground, does Virgil or William Carlos Williams make for better accompaniment?



Ddjangowire finished his series on progressive women on Sunday. The whole thing makes for some fascinating reading. If you're not careful, you just might learn something.



As'ad of The Angry Arab News Service reminds us that 100 Children Die Daily in Iraq. Why? Appears that much of the child mortality has to do with malnourishment and unsanitary living conditions. To take a line from a Pharoah Sanders tune from a few years ago: "save our children that are dying." Stopping the unnecessary war that the US is waging there will be a critical first step to accomplishing the goal of saving the children.



At American Samizdat, we get a taste of what Grover Norquist plans to further terrorise non-rich Americans over the next four years. Thinking about the Kerry campaign and the equally important campaigns to retake the House and Senate I am reminded of a De La Soul line (and title of a good alternative rap album): "the stakes is high."



Also at America Samizdat, we get treated to part of an interview with Arundhati Roy. Interesting, enlightening stuff, and a link to Alternet so you can read the rest.



The excellent Abolish the Death Penalty blog points out that Alabama's Senator Jefferson Sessions opposes a bill that would provide funding to local governments for DNA testing. Heaven forbid that poor folks actually get access to technology that might exhonerate them.



Ruy Teixeira doesn't think highly of Gallup's reliance the so-called "likely voter" model of polling. The bottom line: it's been a generally poor predictor of actual electoral outcomes.



Mick Arran has an excellent post at NETPOLITIK entitled, We Have Our Democracy...If We Can Keep It. You owe it to yourself to read it. Also Nick Lewis tries to categorize three primary perspecitives on war, all of which he finds lacking, in Delusions of War.



At Peace and Justice Infoasis, we learn that 82 Major U.S. Corporations Paid No Federal Income Taxes. It's what happens when we have a nation whose government consistently gives (to steal a line from Disposable Heroes of Hiphoprisy) "the rich a fat tax loophole while leaving the poor living in a poophole."



At Informed Comment, Juan Cole has some updates on the continued violence in Iraq as the situation continues to deteriorate, and catches more more Bush falsehoods about Iraq.



There's likely to be more that I have missed. Blogtopia is an ever-expanding virtual universe. Dive in. Mahalo.

Election Monitoring

Dispatches from the Motherland: Fair Deal? Africans to Monitor U.S. Elections



Some clips:



If comments from some observers are anything to go by, all American presidential elections in the foreseeable future will have international observers. Gone are the days when the United States was the gold standard and the highest arbiter of what constitutes free and fair elections.



The movement for international scrutiny of this election began earlier this year, when loud but small number of Democratic members of the U.S. Congress began calling for it. Thirteen of them wrote Secretary of State Colin Powell to insist that the United Nations be invited to send its own monitors.



The letter also pointed out the "dangers" of paperless, electronic voting machines, saying that they "could become a standard to be exported and emulated [and] should be of concern to the United Nations and the international community as a whole."



The debate in the House became extremely heated when U.S. Rep. Corrine Brown, D-Fla., accused Republicans of stealing the 2000 election from presidential candidate Al Gore. “I come from Florida, where you and others participated in what I call the United States coup d'etat,” Brown said. “We need to make sure that doesn’t happen again.”



[...]



Kadima originally was scheduled to go to Indonesia to monitor presidential elections there. “I had to choose,” he told BlackAmericaWeb.com in a telephone interview from Washington. “I realized that what is happening here is much bigger and has far greater impact on my life as an African, and the lives of people around the world. Democracy in America is in crisis. The reports I have been reading about the last election are really scary. We need to see to what extent the election is transparent and fair. We know people in Florida were disenfranchised. Up to one third of African-Americans and Hispanic Americans may have been disenfranchised there.”