Saturday, February 24, 2007

The Iraq Debacle Week in Review

Saturday (Feb. 24): 110 Iraqis Confirmed Dead, Dozens More Killed in Clashes; 133 Iraqis Wounded

Friday (Feb. 23): 41 Iraqis, 3 GIs Killed; 26 Iraqis, 1 Briton Wounded

Thursday (Feb. 22): 70 Iraqis, 2 GIs Killed; 30 Iraqis, 3 GIs Wounded

Wednesday (Feb. 21): 123 Iraqis, 2 GIs Killed; 153 Iraqis Wounded; US Helicopter Shot Down

Tuesday (Feb. 20): 41 Iraqis, 3 GIs Killed; 221 Iraqis Wounded

Monday (Feb. 19): 102 Iraqis, 9 GIs Killed; 129 Iraqis, 19 GIs Wounded

Sunday (Feb. 18): 99 Iraqis, 2 GIs Killed; 157 Iraqis Injured

Quotable

A fitting editorial response to some of the partisan Dem lunacy (Creeping pacifism? Did the partisans of either the Dems or the GOP ever get the message that the Cold War ended, and that there are plenty of others on this planet who don't wish a repeat performance? Never mind, we already know the answer to that one, eh? After all, what can we expect when our country is saddled with two right-wing parties? At least we can console ourselves with the notion that the next genocidal war perpetrated by a Democratic-controlled White House and Congress will be much more "humanitarian." There'll be smiley faces on the depleted uranium bombs, and new age music blaring from the loudspeakers during military parades.).

From the mail bag

MARCH 16th, DAY OF REMEMBRANCE

One month from today we will mark the fourth anniversary of Rachel Corrie’s death. Please join Rachel’s Words in making March 16th a day of remembrance.

Below we have descriptions of four different Rachel’s Words events. They range from a small dinner party to a large production with professional actors and musicians. There are many creative possibilities in combining Rachel’s emails with current events, candle-light vigils, street theater, theatrical readings, film screenings, direct action, report-backs, teach-ins, or coffee and conversation.

Rachel’s Words can provide resources to make organizing easier. We have Rachel’s emails online and translated into several languages. Our Myths and Facts Sheet was reviewed by Craig and Cindy Corrie and addresses the misinformation often repeated in the media. It’s available online as text or as a pre-formatted pdf and is intended to be used as a handout or a media tool.

We have video footage from our event at Riverside Church, DVDs of the documentary The Killing Zone, Rachel Corrie solidarity bracelets — and we’re building a community of people to share ideas and experience. Please contact us if we can help you organize an event, large or small. Please let us know how if you make plans to mark the day.
More can be found at Rachel's Words.

Shorter Hunter to DailyKos readers

Those of you who refuse to be good little American Exceptionalists make me want to take my toys and go home.

Editor's note: given the responses, I'd say he's not going anywhere too soon. Not only is that thread replete with "please don't go" replies, but add in a few jabs at one of their French diarists (referred to as a "cheese eating surrender monkey" along with a bit more jingoistic idiocy) and one wonders what the real difference is between partisan Democrats and the denizens of such places as Free Republic and LGF.

See also Arcturus who sees a new Democratic Party slogan in the making:
OUT NOW!

(you dirty peace-niks . . .)

As the war drums beat ever louder

IOZ sez:
This is all to say: Iran has never invaded anyone and is in no position to invade anyone. It's to say that there is no such thing as an accidental war. It's to say that we aren't arming our clients in the Gulf to defend against Iranian aggression; we are preparing them as staging grounds for American aggression. It's to say that this is all hew, cry, and bullshit. And it's to say to all the pansy-ass Donkle do-gooders who wring their hands over our warmaking but won't say empire, who look embarrassed and say, "I'm not actually comparing the United States to Nazi Germany"--stand the fuck up and ask it with me: What is the putative difference between what is now occuring vis-à-vis Iran and what once occured vis-à-vis Poland? Fuck the Gulf of Tonkin. The word of the day is Gleiwitz.
With Dr. Evil who effectively pulls the strings in the White House insisting that all options are on the table with regard to waging war against Iranians, be wary.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Quotable

Without education, you are not going anywhere in this world.

Malcom X (Militant Labor Forum, NY, May 29, 1964)

Words of wisdom

Found this over at Liberal Street Fighter, in reference to the book 1491 by Charles Mann:
Much of what was here before Columbus was decimated by terrible pandemics, brought here by explorers and settlers who’s bodies had generations to develop resistances to diseases that wiped out entire peoples. Fire, steel and religious dogma helped finish the job, but so much was lost that could have been learned if only people LISTENED. If we were willing and able to subsume our cultural prejudices in order to find common ground, to see how much coexistence could enrich our lives. Despite the destruction wrought, despite the unknowable losses, the peoples of the Americas introduced great change to the wider world, if one only counts foodstuffs alone. That fact is too often forgotten.

How many conflicts take place because of exactly this sort of cultural arrogance? Look at the decimation of the legacy of the Iraqi people, wrought in the aftermath of our criminal invasion, an invasion ordered by oil men who saw fit to secure only the Oil Ministry from the ensuing chaos. How many treasures were lost when the museums were looted, treasures that had been recovered only recently by the dedicated work of archeologists and an Iraqi people seeking to reconstruct their history after centuries of invasion, war and tyranny. How much can we learn from the past of other people? Why do we so blithely turn away, especially at the urging of militarist looters acting with the power of the state?

Even now, the Bush Administration and Israel refuse to deal honestly with a people under their thumbs, willing to slowly crush a unique culture in the name of greed and prejudice, blaming their victims for the impass, as the Pope and King blamed their victims for genocide. There are so many books in the human library, so many insights and instructions, so much beauty and understanding, if only we’d be willing to take the time to translate for one another. The Aztecs actually had a similar dispair at the fragility of mortal life that the Christians had, finding solace in an afterlife:

Like a painting, we will be erased.
Like a flower, we will dry up here on earth.
Like plumed vestments of the precious bird,
That precious bird with the agile neck,
We will come to an end. - ibid: 135

Could shared comfort had been found each in the thoughts and art of the other?

My emphasis added. The initial hook for me was the reference to the Library of Alexandria, and its demise. Carl Sagan referred to its ultimate fate (which resulted in the loss of much of the Mediterranean world's written literature, science, philosophy, etc.) as akin to the region undergoing a self-induced lobotomy. What becomes clear is just how willingly, in the name of greed and power and driven by ignorance our European ancestors continued to follow suit once they set their sights on the Americas. Equally clear is how our present generation repeats the pattern today in the name of padding oil companies' profit margins in the Middle East.

I have lived largely under the impression that the Roman elites were not an especially curious lot. Yeah, the empire had its share of scientists, philosophers, and other scholars - many of whom conducted their work at the Library of Alexandria. For the most part, though, among the empire's movers and shakers, there wasn't a great deal of emphasis on knowledge for its own sake. Our current empire seems to parallel the Roman empire in that regard, hell-bent on ruling the world but having no clue regarding the languages and cultures of those upon whom the empire wishes to impose itself. In the process, the US empire appears on the road to making very similar mistakes.

Assuming that historians, archeologists, and other social scientists are around in some guise a thousand or so years hence, it will be interesting to see how they view these first years of the current millennium. Will, as if often the temptation, the history of the decline and fall of the US be one spun as a sprawling giant beset by "savages" or various stripes, or will it be noted that one of the huge failures of the empire was one of actually bothering to listen, to learn from the civilizations around it rather than merely relying on brute conquest.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

In memorium: Hunter S. Thompson

Today marks the second anniversary of Hunter Thompson's death by suicide. After a lifetime spent about as close to "The Edge" as was humanly possible, he crossed over to the other side - leaving a considerable legacy as a journalist and storyteller. Like a lot of creative people, there was an apparent madness that possessed him. With that madness, there was a method. And of course there is no doubt that when that cat was on, he was right on.

HST's writing was a merging of the profane and the profound, the trivial and the prophetic. His fans all have their favorite HST quotations memorized by heart. I too have mine:

"...The Edge...There is no honest way to explain it because the only people who really know where it is are the ones who have gone over. The others -- the living -- are those who pushed their control as far as they felt they could handle it, and then pulled back, or slowed down, or did whatever they had to when it came time to choose between Now and Later.

"But the edge is still Out there. Or maybe it's In..."

--- Hunter S. Thompson (1967) , from "Hell's Angels"

"People who claim to know jackrabbits will tell you they are primarily motivated by Fear, Stupidity, and Craziness. But I have spent enough time in jackrabbit country to know that most of them lead pretty dull lives; they are bored with their daily routines: eat, fuck, sleep, hop around a bush now and then... No wonder some of them drift over the line into cheap thrills once in a while; there has to be a powerful adrenalin rush in crouching by the side of a road, waiting for the next set of headlights to come along, then streaking out of the bushes with split-second timing and making it across to the other side just inches in front of the speeding front tires."

-- Hunter S. Thompson
Fear and Loathing on the Campaign Trail '72
As I noted in February, 2005:
Deep down, that cat was a street-level existentialist who knew all too well the fragility and absurdity of life. No wonder many of us drift over as close to the edge as possible. As I think about it, we're all damaged goods - some of us more damaged than others. More often than not, existence is filled with long stretches of tedium that maybe - maybe if one is lucky gets broken with some success or excitement. If only the buzz of success would linger a while longer. But like all good buzzes, eventually the sensation wears off, and it's back to the usual mind-numbing tedium and the sensation of being kicked when we're down.
As poet and rapper Gylan Kain (one of the founding members of The Last Poets) put it in a tune called "Look Out for the Blue Guerrilla":
You know life ain’t nothin’ but a river
Just moving through an empty hand
I said life ain’t nothin’ but a river
Moving through an empty hand
You can hold on if you wanna
But Lord when the truth hits the fan
HST knew all about the truth hitting the fan, offering up visions of what was about to go down. Take this quote, written just after September 11, 2001:
The towers are gone now, reduced to bloody rubble, along with all hopes for Peace in Our Time, in the United States or any other country. Make no mistake about it: We are At War now--with somebody--and we will stay At War with that mysterious Enemy for the rest of our lives.
[snip]
It will be a Religious War, a sort of Christian Jihad, fueled by religious hatred and led by merciless fanatics on both sides. It will be guerilla warfare on a global scale, with no front lines and no identifiable enemy.
[snip]
We are going to punish somebody for this attack, but just who or what will be blown to smithereens for it is hard to say. Maybe Afghanistan, maybe Pakistan or Iraq, or possibly all three at once.
[snip]
This is going to be a very expensive war, and Victory is not guaranteed--for anyone, and certainly not for anyone as baffled as George W. Bush. All he knows is that his father started the war a long time ago, and that he, the goofy child-President, has been chosen by Fate and the global Oil industry to finish it Now. He will declare a National Security Emergency and clamp down Hard on Everybody, no matter where they live or why. If the guilty won't hold up their hands and confess, he and the Generals will ferret them out by force.
In July 2003 (see the column "Welcome to the Big Darkness" reprinted in Hey Rube), he wrote, "Big Darkness, soon come. Take my word for it." Big Darkness is here my friends. In the years since his Sept. 12, 2001 column, what he said has come to pass. The US is in the midst of fighting Bu$hCo's Never-ending Holy War on two fronts (Afghanistan and Iraq), with a third front following shortly (Iran). The Constitution has become in Junior Caligula's words, "just another Goddamned piece of paper" to be shredded along with whatever other documents the White House chooses to keep secret. Bu$hCo spys on us, and barely a peep from Congress ensues. The draconian Patriot Act is extended, with minimal protest from our presumably elected Congress critters. Habeas Corpus is now a mere historical artifact. Maybe having seen the worst of the Abu Ghraib pictures was enough to put the fear of God into those cats - that they too could meet the same fate if they rock the boat too much. Let's just say the accomodations aren't quite up to the Club Med standards that are more to their liking.

Said it once and I'll say it again: Big Darkness has come. Whether it is a passing storm, or a more prolonged winter in America only time will tell. I'm betting on the latter, and in the meantime I'm taking Gylan Kain's advice to "look out for the Blue Guerrilla!"

Mahalo.

Sunday, February 18, 2007

File under "If it ain't broke, don't fix it."

Remember the old nuclear hazard sign?

Seems some geniuses at the Federal Government got the brilliant idea to jettison that sign, and replace it with a more ambiguous sign:

I'm not entirely certain, but the sign seems to be communicating the following:

"If a UFO drops five or more skulls and crossbones in your general vicinity, run the fuck away!"

Hope that cleared it up for you.

Tip o' the hat to Skippy, who will blogroll you if you blogroll him (and is a helluva nice guy to boot).

IOZ on American Exceptionalism

America is a land fond of its own myths, certainly, and we hold a uniquely childish view of ourselves as constitutionally (and Constitutionally) incapable of the violence and depradations of "statecraft" as practiced everywhere else, by every other people, in ever other era in the whole sordid history of humankind. Because of this, our democratic experiment is a sputtering failure. Without candid self-assessment, there can be no improvement. (In this regard, too, we prove ourselves no better or worse than the international norm.) Of course we do commit the same crimes, suborn the same criminalities, and utilize the same violence as other countries. If we are unique, we are so in that our immense economy and vast military can affect destruction on a significantly larger geographic scale than other countries can plan and/or afford. It remains, nevertheless, a matter of degree. What the US has done/is doing in Iraq, Russia did in Chechnya, and Colombia does to itself. There is a certain fractal quality to our human horrors--in their basic structure, they are the same at every scale.

Otherwise, we're extraordinary only in our capacity for self-deception. As Justin points out in his post, an unusually intelligent adult American like Glenn Greenwald, an educated, well-read, reasonably thoughtful man with a lawyer's capacity to gather and marshall evidence to an argument, a man quite clearly well above the American norm in his capacity to synthesize disparate data into a cogent whole, remains nevertheless able to deny the plain history of action by his own country because it doesn't accord with some a priori convictions about what actions the United States would or would not conditionally engage in.
Nerdified link, which riffs on a theme laid out here. Like I will repeat for as long as needed, Bu$hCo is a symptom of a disease that runs far deeper. Yeah, that collection of savage thugs will be a symptom worth removing, but the underlying Zeitgeist that would create a Bu$hCo will merely continue to metastasize.

Priorities

The US Senate can't even seem to get a vote on a lame non-binding resolution opposing Bu$hCo's escalation of the Iraq War, and more signs point to a future armed conflict with Iran. But stop the presses! Britney Spears shaved her head!

Bread and circuses, man. Bread and circuses.