Saturday, July 9, 2005

Wake up and smell the coffee

The weekend brew:

Late in the week we learned that Iraq and Iran are forming closer military ties.

Judith Miller has been serving up three decades' worth of disinformation.

Toyota would rather build their new manufacturing plant in Canada than in Mississippi or Alabama. Why? Canada's healthcare system actually makes labor costs lower than in the US (wow: there's a concept! Pay workers a living wage and make sure they all have adequate access to healthcare. That's something that the ostensibly richest nation in the world refuses to do for its own people!). Add to that, there's a little matter of literacy - or the lack thereof among the residents of Mississippi and Alabama. We have politicians who will shell out billions of taxpayer money to tilt at windmills in Iraq, but can't be bothered to adequately educate their own nation's children. That's just pathetic, and it's costing us, whether we want to believe it or not.

Want to read European Newspapers' coverage of the London attacks?.

Lenin's Tomb offers interpretations of the London explosions. Well-worth reading. Also check out Galloway, Monbiot on Democracy Now.

Chalmers Johnson's article The Smash of Civilizations, about the looting of Baghdad's museum, deserves to be read carefully.

Report of 180 Types of US Human Rights Violations Since 9/11 offers up some more of those inconvenient truths that we Americans need to face for our own good.

Italy is set to start withdrawing troops from Iraq. Can't say that I blame the Italian government. Not only did the vast majority of Italians want nothing to do with occupying a sovereign nation, Bu$hCo has taken a stinky old dump on the Italian allies ever since.

Some stories and commentary on Plamegate - part of the continuing soap opera that passes for government in Washington. While we're on the topic of GOP corruption, check out the growing Tom DeLay bribery scandal.

Friday, July 8, 2005

Food for thought

"When the earth has been ravaged and the animals are dying, a tribe of people from all races, creeds, and colours will put their faith in deeds - not words - to make the land green again. They shall be known as the warriors of the rainbow - protectors of the environment."

- Hopi Indian Prophesy

That passage was the text to an old poster from my punk rock days, that currently hangs on the back of my office door. The paper is yellowing a bit from age, but the words and images (contrasting images of indigenous tribal symbols from native American dwellings and Stonehenge with images of environmental decay caused from ages of coal and oil use) are every bit as powerful to me as they were back in the day.

Yet another reason why I have such profound dislike of right-wingers


Fred Phelps: Thank God for the bombing of London's subway today - July 7, 2005

Add to that the Faux News reporter who distinguishes in Archie Bunkeresque fashion between Arabs and "regular" Londoners and Fox News: London Attacks a Good Thing.

George Galloway on the London Attacks

Statement on the London bombings by George Galloway on behalf of Respect:
We extend our condolences to those who have lost their lives today and our heartfelt sympathy to all those who have been injured by the bombs in London.

No one can condone acts of violence aimed at working people going about their daily lives. They have not been a party to, nor are they responsible for, the decisions of their government. They are entirely innocent and we condemn those who have killed or injured them.

The loss of innocent lives, whether in this country or Iraq, is precisely the result of a world that has become a less safe and peaceful place in recent years.

We have worked without rest to remove the causes of such violence from our world. We argued, as did the Security Services in this country, that the attacks on Afghanistan and Iraq would increase the threat of terrorist attack in Britain. Tragically Londoners have now paid the price of the government ignoring such warnings.

We urge the government to remove people in this country from harms way, as the Spanish government acted to remove its people from harm, by ending the occupation of Iraq and by turning its full attention to the development of a real solution to the wider conflicts in the Middle East.

Only then will the innocents here and abroad be able to enjoy a life free of the threat of needless violence.

Some thoughts on the UK bombings

I only got to briefly read about the bombings that occurred earlier Thursday in England, and briefly saw a bit of coverage on the television later this afternoon. Too much going on during the day (e.g., interviewing prospective faculty candidate, etc.), so I'm trying now to catch up on the news. I know I have a couple readers who reside in the UK who I was thinking of when I heard the news. One thing that one of my British friends told me in the aftermath of 9-11 was that it's good to keep your wits about you rather than to panic. Hopefully the Brits in general will keep their heads.

I haven't yet read enough to know whether or not the attacks can be definitively pinned on any particular organization. The speculation I had heard briefly was that it might have been an Islamic terrorist organization, perhaps Al Qaida. In any event, my thoughts are with those who have been harmed as well as their families.

It is also worth noting that although the policies of Bush and Blair have certainly exacerbated poor relations between the Anglo-American world and the predominantly Muslim Middle East, those poor relations are embedded in a social, political, and cultural context that is hundreds of years in the making. The American and European view of the Muslims as backward, barbaric infidels goes back to at least the Crusades if not earlier. Reading about the development of the concept of race in Medieval Europe, it is quite clear that those of Middle Eastern descent were somehow less than human - regardless of whether or not they converted to Catholicism - and as subhumans could remain chattel. The brutal wholesale slaughter of women and children by Crusaders was quite common, as has been the brutal wholesale slaughter perpetrated by the US and UK against relatively defenseless civilians in locales such as Fallujah. It's easy to perpetrate all manner of atrocity when one is convinced that one is merely exterminating vermin. In that context, it is equally unsurprising that some of the targeted peoples will push back, with whatever means they have available. The cycle of violence will not be ended by adding more violence to the mix. Part of the solution will enevitably require a willingness to humanize one's opponents, rather than dismiss them as savages or barbarians. Regrettably, that message is one that neither Bush nor Blair are likely to grasp.

Some apt commentary comes from Chris Floyd of the blog Empire Burlesque:
In any case, there was Blair - with Bush at his side - raining contempt and condemnation on all those who would use violence to advance their cause, on "barbarians" who think nothing of killing innocent people to get their way.

What a vertiginous, wrenching disconnection from reality in those words! Here were two men responsible for the deaths of up to 100,000 innocent people if not more; two men whom - as the Downing Street Memos prove - knowingly launched a war of aggression based on "fixed" intelligence, in defiance of the laws of their own nations and international law as well. Today's violence and destruction in London - horrific, sickening, indeed barbaric - still pales in comparison to the epic destruction, looting, chaos and death that Bush and Blair have inflicted upon Iraq. The hour of destruction and fear in London, and a day of partial paralysis (already easing as I write, at 5 p.m.), while terrible in its own right, especially for those left grieving or injured, again pales in comparison to the daily horror Bush and Blair have engendered in Iraq, particularly Baghdad, where the simplest actions of daily life have become a dance with death, where the people live and breathe fear, ruin, terror and strife every day of their lives.

Bush has done this. Blair has done this. They didn't have to do it. There were no compelling reasons of national security or national survival that compelled them to launch this murderous action - a war of aggression in the very heart of Islam, a war that the US-UK intelligence services admit has engendered more terrorism. They have made senseless, violent, barbaric war on others; and now others make senseless, violent, barbaric war on them. This not to excuse the terrorists in any way. Their crime is as heinous as the war made by the great Christian statesmen. Murder is murder - foul, brutal, the all-devouring of a unique human consciousness - whether it is carried out wholesale in aggressive war and state terrorism, or in the "asymmetrical," piecemeal attacks of stateless terrorists, or one on one, between individuals. But you cannot make war and not expect war in return. Once you set the red wheel of slaughter in motion, you can't control it, now matter how powerful you are - or think you are.

I wrote some lines the day after September 11 that still hold true, I think, on this new day of infamy, July 7: "Blood will have blood; that's certain. But blood will not end it. For murder is fertile: it breeds more death, like a spider laden with a thousand eggs. And who now can break this cycle, which has been going on for generations?"


Zander offers a comparison between England and Iraq for July 7th. Placing the tragedy in England in the context of the events unfolding in Iraq, and it becomes clear that the Iraqis are facing a considerably greater and more widespread crisis - one largely induced by the US and UK.

Thursday, July 7, 2005

Wake up and smell the coffee

Some links and whatnot with your morning coffee.

First, let's serve up something amusing: Natalie Portman is apparently a threat to national security! I kid you not. Good thing our authorities are keeping the streets safe from actresses with unorthodox hairstyles. More here.

Joe Wilson on Sentencing of Judith Miller, in which he aptly sums up the whole sad spectacle:
The real victims of this cover-up, which may have turned criminal, are the Congress, the Constitution and, most tragically, the Americans and Iraqis who have paid the ultimate price for Bush's folly.


Avedon Carol has some sensible things to say about leisure time.

Katherine Harris, the Florida Secretary of State who helped Junior Caligula steal an election, apparently believed that karballah water would treat citrus canker. I'm sure plenty of Florida taxpayers are pleased to know that their now-congresswoman and future Senatorial candidate takes a faith-based approach to agriculture.

Democrats call for Rove to come clean or resign. I say, how about he do both!

The Biscuit Torturers of the U.S. Military - behavioral science used for evil is what it amounts to.

Wednesday, July 6, 2005

Oklahoma 2006 Governor's Polling

Looks like incumbent Brad Henry is sitting pretty:

Tulsa World. 5/23-27. MoE 3.6% (No trend lines)

Henry (D) 48.5
Watts (R) 33.9

Henry (D) 48
Fallin (R) 27

Gov. Brad Henry's approval ratings

Approve 72
Disapprove 18


If these numbers keep holding up, he's practically a shoo-in for a re-election bid.

Tuesday, July 5, 2005

This is just lovely

UK aid funds Iraqi torture units :
British and American aid intended for Iraq's hard-pressed police service is being diverted to paramilitary commando units accused of widespread human rights abuses, including torture and extra-judicial killings, The Observer can reveal.

Iraqi Police Service officers said that ammunition, weapons and vehicles earmarked for the IPS are being taken by shock troops at the forefront of Iraq's new dirty counter-insurgency war.

The allegations follow a wide-ranging investigation by this paper into serious human rights abuses being conducted by anti-insurgency forces in Iraq. The Observer has seen photographic evidence of post-mortem and hospital examinations of alleged terror suspects from Baghdad and the Sunni Triangle which demonstrate serious abuse of suspects including burnings, strangulation, the breaking of limbs and - in one case - the apparent use of an electric drill to perform a knee-capping.

The investigation revealed:

· A 'ghost' network of secret detention centres across the country, inaccessible to human rights organisations, where torture is taking place.

· Compelling evidence of widespread use of violent interrogation methods including hanging by the arms, burnings, beatings, the use of electric shocks and sexual abuse.

· Claims that serious abuse has taken place within the walls of the Iraqi government's own Ministry of the Interior.

· Apparent co-operation between unofficial and official detention facilities, and evidence of extra-judicial executions by the police.

[...]

Privately, there is a growing belief that complaints are being stonewalled.

The investigation raises questions about the British government's commitment to denying aid to governments that tolerate or encourage human rights abuses.

International and Iraqi officials claim the use of torture has become more extensive since the country's first democratically-elected government was sworn in.

Steve Crawshaw of Human Rights Watch,said: 'There has been the attempt to suggest that because Saddam's regime is over now everything is rosy in Iraq. What is happening in official places in Iraq is simply horrific and must be stopped.'

Via Thoughts of a straw dog.

Say hello to

Blogtemps, a fellow Okie blogger.

Wake up and smell the coffee

An early morning and a day's worth of driving await me this fine Tuesday. That's okay. I'll have some coffee brewing to get me revved up, and I'll of course pick up the occasional cup o' joe at some of the truck stops along the way to and from the OKC area. For those of you who stumble (intentionally or otherwise) on to my little corner of blogtopia, here's some links for your consideration:

Alan Bock makes the case that the US is in a state of serious long-term decline, in his column, Signs of Decline. One line of evidence, according to Bock, is to look at the caliber of the nation's leadership. The last few decades have been marked by a series of corrupt and/or inept presidencies. Certainly some food for thought. For those unfamiliar with Mr. Bock, he's a libertarian who writes some very thought provoking and interesting columns. I first became familiar with his work through the Orange County Register while I spent the last half of the 80s and first half of the 90s behind what Southern Californians call "The Orange Curtain." Bock was something of a voice of reason in what was and still largely is a rabidly GOP area.

Speaking of inept and corrupt political scene in Washington DC, check out The Republican Scandal Scorecard. The GOP-led White House and Congress really are that corrupt.

Susan Hu links to the Veterans for Peace Declaration of Impeachment & Petition. Although I certainly don't expect the GOP's congress critters to suddenly grow a conscience and do the right thing with regard to impeaching the most corrupt President of my lifetime, getting the word out to these folks is still important (at least they can't claim ignorance if they keep getting tons of petitions from justifiably angry Americans).

Update: A few more for the road!

Looking around Kos, Lawrence O'Donnell Update: Karl Rove's "I Didn't Inhale" Defense, Brits to Withdraw from Iraq!, Armando catches the 101st Fighting Keyboard Brigade celebrating the 4th the only way they know how.

Leonard Clark's blog is about to be shut down.

Monday, July 4, 2005

Happy July 4th!

This day marks two anniversaries: the birth of a nation as well as the birthday of my wife. As is customary in my household, we celebrate both. I've certainly made no secret of my reverence for the words, principles, indeed the spirit behind such documents as the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution. Indeed, as I've noted before, those documents made their mark on my young mind in the mid 1970s. Later, I would learn that these documents were crafted by men who were themselves products of the Enlightenment era. Heck, I myself am something of a throwback to that era in many respects, making me a bit of an old fuddy-duddy I suppose in an age when the philosophies that made the Enlightenment possible are looked upon with contempt. Indeed, my more faith-based peers seem to view the Enlightenment's products, such as our Constitution (as well as the sciences, etc.) as mere inconveniences to be discarded at the whim of predominantly Republican officials under the rubric of a "war on terror" among other half-baked excuses. To me this day serves as a humble reminder of the courage to create a new nation, based at least partially on Enlightenment ideals and as a humble reminder of just how fragile the principles and practices of a relatively democratically elected government really are.

In the process of living and learning, I've also come to realize just how much our nation's founders borrowed from North America's indigenous peoples in the process of creating these documents. To give you an idea, here's an excerpt from David Stannard's excellent book, American Holocaust:
Perhaps the most common association that is made with the congregations of northeastern cultures concerns their sophisticated domestic political systems and their formal networks of international alliances, such as the Five Nation confederacy of the Iroquois League, founded in the middle of the fifteenth century and composed of the independent Mohawk, Oneida, Onondaga, Cayuga, and Seneca peoples. Many writers, both historians and anthropologists, have argued that the League was a model for the United States Constitution, although much controversy continues to surround that assertion. The debate focuses largely on the extent of Iroquois influence on Euro-American political thought, however, since no one denies there was some influence. Indeed, as numerous historians have shown, overall American Indian political and social organization had a powerful impact on European social thought, particularly in seventeenth- and eighteenth-century France. In any case, however the controversy over Iroquois influence on the U.S. Constitution eventually is decided, it will not minimize the Iroquois achievement, since - as one of the originators of the notion of a connection between the League and the Constitution, J. N. B. Hewitt of the Smithsonian Institution, admitted when he first proposed the hypothesis more than fifty years ago:

Some of the ideas incorporated in the League of the Five Nations were far too radical even for the most advanced of the framers if the American Constitution. Nearly a century and a half was to elapse before the white men could reconcile themselves to woman suffrage, which was fundamental to the Indian government. They have not yet arrived at the point of abolishing capital punishment, which the Iroquois had accomplished by a very simple legal device. And child welfare legislation, prominent in the Iroquois scheme of things, had to wait for a century or more before the white men were ready to adopt it.
(Stannard, 1992, pp. 28-29)

The passage goes on, but you get the idea. Surely there is a lesson to be learned regarding the dismissal of those who are culturally different as "savages" and "backward" when indeed these very same peoples produce highly sophisticated and forward-thinking political and social ideas and practices. Such a lesson is needed more now than ever.

This July 4th, as we find ourselves facing another tyrannical George, it's time to re-read and reflect on the words and ideals behind two of the most precious documents ever crafted by Americans.

Read the Declaration of Independence, The Constitution, and The Bill of Rights.

PBU27

Sunday, July 3, 2005

Shades of '65

This account by Daniel Ellsberg, LBJ's speech writer in 1965 caught my attention:
Drafting a speech on the Vietnam War for Defense Secretary Robert S. McNamara in July 1965, I had the same task as Bush's speechwriters in June 2005: how to rationalize and motivate continued public support for a hopelessly stalemated, unnecessary war our president had lied us into.

Looking back on my draft, I find I used the word "terrorist" about our adversaries to the same effect Bush did.

Like Bush's advisors, I felt the need for a global threat to explain the scale of effort we faced. For that role, I felt China was better suited as our "real" adversary than North Vietnam's Ho Chi Minh, just as Bush prefers to focus on Al Qaeda rather than Iraqi nationalists. "They are trying to shake our will in Iraq - just as they [sic] tried to shake our will on Sept. 11, 2001," he said.

Same shit, different decade.

Welcome!

To all of you who are visiting here from Avedon Carol's wonderful blog, The Sideshow, I wish to welcome you to my little corner of blogtopia! Also a welcome to new visitors from Blogexplosion. What you're seeing is a fairly good representation of this blog's vibe. I have a running series of posts under the title of "Wake up and smell the coffee" that point out some interesting links that I hope will function to get you going in much the same way as a good shot of espresso. About the only thing missing over the few weeks have been some jazz entries, which is something I'm sure I'll correct before too long! Feel free to pour yourself a cup o' joe and sit a spell.

P.s. Before I completely forget my manners, check out the blogroll. Although a number of blogs that I link to are well known, many more are obscuroid bloggers just like me. There's some good stuff on those blogs that's just under the radar.

Something else to look at

The Iraq Group, which adds some more meat to the Plamegate and DSM scandals.

Rove to be frog-marched?

It sure is starting to seem more likely. For your consideration: O'Donnell: TIME Doc Dump Implicates Rove in Plame Case. VIDEO UPDATE!!. From O'Donnell's own words:
Rove Blew CIA Agent's Cover

I revealed in yesterday's taping of the McLaughlin Group that Time magazine's emails will reveal that Karl Rove was Matt Cooper's source. I have known this for months but didn't want to say it at a time that would risk me getting dragged into the grand jury.

McLaughlin is seen in some markets on Friday night, so some websites have picked it up, including Drudge, but I don't expect it to have much impact because McLaughlin is not considered a news show and it will be pre-empted in the big markets on Sunday because of tennis.

Since I revealed the big scoop, I have had it reconfirmed by yet another highly authoritative source. Too many people know this. It should break wide open this week. I know Newsweek is working on an 'It's Rove!' story and will probably break it tomorrow.

This has to be the most corrupt White House to exist in my lifetime. The Plame leak and the DSM are but two examples of what passes for "leadership" these days.

Wake up and smell the coffee

Seems like there's plenty of eliminationist rhetoric to be found here in our aching nation. David Neiwert highlights some of it in The hunting of the liberals. Kurt Nimmo, of course, has been a periodic target of some of these right-wing goons, most recently chronicled in a post titled Horowitz-Savage Clone Makes Violent Threats, where some blogger going by the handle "American Jihad" goes beyond merely threatening Nimmo:
The time has come for AMERICAN CITIZENS to form MILITIA GROUPS that are solely intended to ENFORCE THE LAWS ON SEDITION and EXECUTE THESE TRAITORS if the Government refuses to do so. It would certainly be a great tragedy if one or more of these treasonous liberals were to meet an untimely end as payback for his sedition but hopefully OUR PRESIDENT and OUR US GOVERNMENT shall understand that AMERICANS ARE SERIOUS about eliminating the ENEMY WITHIN—THE TRAITORS IN THE UNITED STATES.

What can you do?

a.) Clean and load your guns and stock up on high velocity ammunition and heavy rope 2
b.) Organize and Prepare for Armed Militia Action if it is needed
c.) Call Talk Radio, utilize the Internet and News Outlets to Urge our President and Senators to

ENFORCE THE LAWS ON HIGH TREASON BEFORE IT IS TOO LATE

THIS IS A REAL WAR and THIS IS REAL TREASON

LET AMERICANS BE AMERICANS AND END THE LIBERAL TREASON NOW!

Brave leaders like David Horowitz, of DiscovertheNetwork.com John Spencer of Jihadwatch.org, Daniel Pipes of Middle East Media Watch, Michael Savage and more continue to champion the truth and the prudent observer now can see that the ENEMY IS WITHIN as well.

Never mind that Nimmo is no liberal (I'm willing to wager that if he were to label himself it would be along the lines of something a bit more radical), it is worth keeping in mind that this is the right-wing mindset in all its glory. If the tone has that "last days of Weimar" feel to it, well, there's a reason for it. "Americanjihad" is definitely of a genuinely fascist mindset, as a visit to his (I'm assuming the person's a male) livejournal will quickly reveal (see Kurt's post for the link). It seems rather fitting that as we celebrate the July 4th festivities that there is a proportion of our population that is openly hostile to the ideals upon which the US was founded, and the likes of "Americanjihad" are oozing anti-American fascism.

Take some espresso shots if you must, but wake up and take a look at what's going on, and shine the light of day on our own nation's fascist element.

Priceless


Some G8 Protest Photos to check out. Susan Hu also noted that The Guardian has a collection of Live 8 photos. As I was home this afternoon I caught some of the coverage of the Philly and London concerts on MTV and later the ABC affiliate. I have mixed emotions and thoughts regarding the whole spectacle. On the one hand, I suppose good intentions should count for something - and I don't doubt that cats like Bob Geldof, Bono, Madonna, etc. have a sincere desire to do something good. That's nice as far as it goes. However, my guess is that the plight of many who live in the continent of Africa is not going to be solved with a few donations or by imploring the leaders of the G8 to be a little more sympathetic. Instead, the roots of the current cycle of poverty, disease, and violence that we see in Africa is to be found in centuries of colonialism and neo-colonialism, which has effectively raped the land's rich resources and decimated cultures and social structures that functioned prior to the arrival of the Europeans. The sort of neoliberal mentality that guides the G8's leaders is one that will only serve to perpetuate the misery experienced by so many in Africa. As long as the G8 is insisting on controlling access to Africa's natural resources and viewing Africans as at best sources of extremely cheap labor to be exploited, nothing will change other than a continued pattern of grinding poverty, disease, and death. Heck as I read around a bit, I can't help but wonder if given the economic realities and the epidemics such as AIDS if we are witnessing the steady extinction of much of Africa's indigenous peoples and cultures. I'm sure that such an eventuality would generate nary a tear from Bush or Blair. Instead, a land largely emptied of indigenous natives would be "ripe for the picking." But hey, Madonna looked and sounded lovely.

Speaking of the Madonna segments, I noticed a big to-do about an Ethiopian woman who apparently was a beneficiary of some of the funds raised by Live Aid back in 1985. Apparently, she's one of those very fortunate human beings who managed to go from near starvation to finishing up her studies in agriculture. She appeared on stage with Madonna, had a mike in her hand, but we never got to see her speak! It's as if she were little more than a stage prop. Surely this woman had some insights that could have been shared with an international audience. If she indeed ever got to say anything, it was edited out. If her appearance was little more than part of an effort to make a western audience "feel good about themselves" and the "good" they're presumably doing then I guess the purpose was served. Somehow I couldn't help but think that an opportunity for educating that audience was lost. Anyhow, that's something that bothered both me and my wife.