Saturday, June 23, 2007

Stupid T-Shirt Tricks

I'm with the field negro: I'm not feeling this one.

Now the secret's out

This blog is simply a series of cleverly coded anti-Ann Althouse messages. Curses, Jon Swift! Our plot has been foiled!

Today's Example of the Dolchstoßlegende

First, the blurb by Kevin Drum:

STAB IN THE BACK WATCH....Here's the latest from Instapundit, in its entirety:

IN THE MAIL: Col. Buzz Patterson's War Crimes: The Left's Campaign to Destroy Our Military and Lose the War on Terror.

I don't think that the left wants to lose the war on terror, exactly — they just want Bush to lose the war on terror. I suspect, however, that Patterson's theme is one that we'll hear more in the future, especially if things go badly in Iraq.

Oh yes indeedy, I too expect we'll be hearing more of this in the future, especially if things go badly in Iraq. Lots more.

You can almost smell the stink of desperation from the pro-war crowd. The next couple of years is going to be a nonstop frenzy of books, articles, TV shows, op-eds, radio segments, blog posts, and white papers about how everyone except George Bush and his enablers were responsible for our catastrophe in the Middle East. Anyone will do, as long as it's not them.

As I've noted before, the Dolchstoßlegende is a rhetorical device that dates back to the various Nazi propagandists during the Weimar era, as a way of blaming Socialists, Jews, etc., for the German loss in WWI. The Dolchstoßlegende later served the Nazis to suppress dissent upon taking power in the early 1930s. The same approach has been taken by a number of right-wing types over the years, including the post-Vietnam War era in the US (one can find some early pop cultural usage in the 1980s Rambo movies). No doubt, we've already seen the Dolchstoßlegende rear its ugly head over the last couple years (primarily by Republicans) as it has become increasingly obvious that their beloved Iraq War has been nothing short of a disaster, and I'm expecting its practitioners to become ever more shrill and violent in their rhetoric in the coming months and years.

See also, INSTAPUTZ.


Looks like Congress is fixing to lay the foundation for a Korea-style occupation of Iraq. Good catch by Jim Lobe. The US doesn't of course do "permanent" military bases - rather its various Preznits and Congress Critters prefer open-ended arrangements that just coincidentally tend to last for decades.

Say Hello To

Death and the Maiden. Looks like a relatively new anti-torture blog - and one well worth perusing.

There is NOTHING to take back

Dennis Perrin sez:
"There's a film that I'm sure many of you have seen. It's called 'Network', and though it was first released about 30 years ago, there is much in it that remains very pertinent today. I'm thinking primarily of the scene in which the head of the corporation that owns the fictional network explains global political reality to his top star, who has urged his massive audience to protest and stop a financial deal between the US and the Saudis. As the character Arthur Jensen put it:

"'You think you've merely stopped a business deal -- that is not the case! The Arabs have taken billions of dollars out of this country, and now they must put it back. It is ebb and flow, tidal gravity. It is ecological balance. You are an old man who thinks in terms of nations and peoples. There are no nations. There are no peoples. There are no Russians. There are no Arabs. There are no third worlds. There is no West! There is only one holistic system of systems, one vast and immane, interwoven, interacting, multi-variate, multi-national dominion of dollars. Petro-dollars, electro-dollars, multi-dollars, Reichmarks, rins, rubles, pounds and shekels. It is the international system of currency which determines the totality of life on this planet. That is the natural order of things today. That is the atomic and subatomic and galactic structure of things today!'

"'There is no America. There is no democracy. There is only IBM and ITT and AT&T and DuPont, Dow, Union Carbide and Exxon. Those are the nations of the world today . . . The world is a college of corporations, inexorably determined by the immutable by-laws of business.'

"Beautifully put, both by Paddy Chayefsky who wrote it, and by Ned Beatty who delivered it. And of course, the next Dem president will serve this enduring reality, especially if it's Hillary Clinton.

"I quote from that film, not only because it speaks to us more strongly today, but because on Digby's site, she features the image of Peter Finch as Howard Beale, the man to whom reality must be explained. Yet, when Digby posts about 'reclaiming' America, she appears to genuinely believe that there is an 'America' that can be reclaimed. This is childish nonsense, and as I said earlier, dangerous, because it furthers the fantasy that keeps us locked into this fixed system, a system owned and run by those who do see the world as it actually is, and operate accordingly. We will never even begin to break free of this system if so-called 'progressives' insist on speaking a mystical language, one that can be and is regularly ignored by our rulers. By doing this, we are essentially policing ourselves for their benefit. We may not, in our lifetimes, seriously undermine, much less dismantle, the corporate stranglehold on the planet. But we sure as hell have no chance if we cannot even identify what it is that holds us down, and speeches like Digby's, while all nice and good, helps to keep us obedient and docile to this system.
Found via IOZ. There is nothing to "take back" unless one still buys into the mythical notion of American Exceptionalism, and that somehow a Democrat-run exceptionalist empire (oops, "democracy") will with the wave of a magic wand make all the bad guys go away - and we can all go back to the glory days of the 1990s when there was endless credit, an over-abundance of cheap goods from Bangladesh sweatshops, ad nauseum. America will then be in the business of bombing and starving other peoples' families with the best of intentions, as opposed to those evil Rethugs who wear their imperialist fantasies on their sleeves. Of course to really believe the Exceptionalist mythology, one must somehow ignore some of the nation's greatest hits, including genocide, eugenics, Jim Crow, the nuking of Hiroshima & Nagasaki, napalming of civilians in Vietnam, and so on. One would have to ignore centuries of human rights abuses that were just "good business". If you can successfully do that, as I've said before, I have a bridge in Brooklyn I'd love to sell ya.

Friday, June 22, 2007

Hitting it right on the head!

Podhoretz and Krauthammer are like Goebbels, but without the personal charm. Check it out:

Via Glenn Greenwald, here's Norman Podhoretz explaining what will happen if we bomb the hell out of Iran:

Well, if we were to bomb the Iranians as I hope and pray we will...It's entirely possible that many countries, particularly in the Middle East -- the Sunni countries like Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Jordan, who are very worried about Iranian influence and power -- would at least secretly applaud us. And I think it's possible that other countries in Europe, for example, and elsewhere, would be relieved...

As I've said before regarding Charles Krauthammer, it would be easier not to compare these guys to Nazi propagandists if everything they said wasn't straight out of Nazi propaganda:

The future of Europe hangs on our success in the East. We are ready to defend it...There are many serious voices in Europe that have already realized this. Others still resist. That cannot influence us. If danger faced them alone, we could view their reluctance as literary nonsense of no significance. But the danger faces us all, and we must all do our share. Those who today do not understand that will thank us tomorrow on bended knees that we courageously and firmly took on the task.

Lord High Executioner

Apparently, the Zany half of the Lush/Zany regime has declared his office a fourth branch of government unaccountable to anyone else. Those wacky neocons! Only in the US does the Vice President wield absolute power above even the President. This is the sort of "democracy" that these folks would love to export across the globe. If only Cheney et al were consigned to duking it out with styrofoam guns in padded rooms in order to prevent them from being a danger to themselves and others.

Quick update: well, one way of explaining the Veep's zany antics: lack of oxygen to the brain. That takes care of him - now about his followers, um, um, um, they're a whole other kind of crazy (in that weird cult kind of way).

US to the world: Urbicide is "reassuring"

Yeah, that's the ticket. Found the following LAT quote at Lenin's Tomb:
James Phillips, a Middle East and terrorism expert at the Heritage Foundation, said even if large operations such as this one did not capture many insurgents, they could disrupt their activities.

"I think probably the more fruitful raids are the small, pinpoint attacks," he said. "But one possible benefit of the big operations is it reassures the population, and maybe they will provide you the intelligence that you can use to hit insurgent leaders."
Reassurance for whom? I seriously doubt large-scale attacks destroying lives and livelihoods are reassuring to the vast population of urban dwellers being attacked (yeah, if you're willing to buy Phillips' line, I've got a bridge in Brooklyn I'd like to sell to you). Such actions may be "reassuring" to the elites responsible for the acts of state terrorism being perpetrated against Iraqi civilians. Those are the last folks I'd want reassured.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Urbicide in Iraq: Another Way to Say Genocide

First an excerpt from one of my previous essays:

Arguably the best definition of genocide is that of Raphael Lemkin (1944, p. 79). The origins of the term genocide come from the Greek root genos (meaning "type" - think along the lines of tribe or race) and the Latin word cide (meaning "killing"; Lemkin, 1944; see also Churchill, 1997). Lemkin describes genocide as having “has two phases: destruction of the national pattern of the oppressed group; the other, the imposition of the national pattern of the oppressor. This imposition, in turn, may be made upon the oppressed population which is allowed to remain, or upon the territory alone, after removal of the population and colonization of the area by the oppressor's own nationals." Lemkin states further that, “genocide does not necessarily mean the immediate destruction of a nation, except when accomplished by mass killings of all members of a nation. It is intended rather to signify a coordinated plan of different actions aiming at the destruction of essential foundations of the life of national groups, with the aim of annihilating the groups themselves (even if all individuals within the dissolved group physically survive). The objectives of such a plan would be a disintegration of political and social institutions, of culture, language, national feelings, religion, and the economic existence of national groups, and the destruction of personal security, liberty, health, dignity, and even the lives of the individuals belonging to such groups. Genocide is directed at the national group as an entity, and the actions involved are directed at individuals, not in their individual capacity, but as members of the national group" (p. 79). Genocide could thus be seen to include a wide array of actions that contribute to the annihilation of a target group, including destruction of the target group’s crops (e.g., via fire or chemical agents), destruction of the target group’s infrastructure, the mass murder of women of child-bearing age and children, forced sterilization of members of the group, indoctrination into the dominant group’s cultural practices at the expense of the target group’s own traditions, forbidding the target group from engaging in its traditional religious and cultural practices, etc. (Churchill, 1997, 2003, 2004; Sartre, 1974). From the above definition, a number of events can be labeled genocide, including Nazi Germany’s Holocaust, the annihilation of numerous indigenous societies in the Americas by European colonialists and later the US government, the Israeli government’s treatment of the Palestinians, the mass killings of Tutsis by Hutus in Rwanda, the humanitarian crisis in Darfur, and the US government’s combination of wars and sanctions aimed at the Iraqi population, to name but a few (Chomsky, 2004; Churchill, 1997, 2003, 2004; Friedberg, 2000; Sartre, 1974; Stannard, 1992).

Next let's check what Claudia Card has to say regarding "social death":
Specific to genocide is the harm inflicted on its victims' social vitality. It is not just that one's group membership is the occasion for harms that are definable independently of one's identity as a member of the group. When a group with its own cultural identity is destroyed, its survivors lose their cultural heritage and may even lose their intergenerational connections. To use Orlando Patterson's terminology, in that event, they may become "socially dead" and their descendants "natally alienated," no longer able to pass along and build upon traditions, cultural developments (including languages) and projects of earlier generations (1982, 5-9). The harm of social death is not necessarily less extreme than that of physical death. Social death can even aggravate physical death by making it indecent, removing all respectful and caring ritual, social connections, and social contexts that are capable of making dying bearable and even of making one's death meaningful. IN my view, the special evil in genocide lies in its infliction not just of physical death (when it does that) but of social death, producing a consequent meaninglessness of one's life and even of its termination.
Now let's check out a definition of urbicide, and the scene in Baqubah, Iraq:

The currently ongoing "pacification" of Baqubah, a city with 300,000 inhabitants, by some 10,000 U.S. troops is using the same methods as documented in the NGO report with regard to Fallujah and a dozen other Iraqi cities. From the executive summary (pdf):

US Coalition forces have attacked and destroyed a number of important Iraqi cities, on grounds that they were “insurgent strongholds.” The attacks have resulted in the massive displacement of people, large civilian casualties, and colossal destruction of the urban physical infrastructure. In addition to Falluja, there have been assaults on a dozen other cities including al-Qaim, Tal Afar, Samarra, Haditha, and Ramadi. The attacks include intensive air and ground bombardment and cutting-off electricity, water, food and medicines. The attacks have left hundreds of thousands of people homeless and in displacement camps.

This tactic is "urbicide." The destruction of the urban fabric of a city as a cultural and social entity. The deeper intend of urbicide is to split the population into fractions. The original definition, first used in relation to Bosnia:

Urbicide is the destruction of urban fabric insofar as it comprises the conditions of possibility of urbanity. Urbanity is characterised by an agonistic heterogeneity in which identity is constituted in relation to difference. Urbicide, in destroying the conditions of possibility of urbanity denies such heterogeneity. This denial is accomplished by transforming agonism into antagonism and thus giving the impression of having dissipated the relationship of identity to difference.

In 2001/2002 urbicide has been heavily used in the Israeli occupation of the West Bank. Armored Caterpillar D-9 bulldozer as strategic weapons destroyed major city centers and infrastructure in Jenin, Nablus, Hebron and Ramallah. This approach has transfered to the U.S. military in Iraq.

The local resistance against the occupation is labled "Al-Qaida" or "terrorists" to justify its suppression and the elimination of the city as "terrorist infrastructure."

Today's New York Times gives a glimpse into how this is happening now in Baqubah:

In the first hours of the American military assault, after midnight early Monday, helicopters flew two teams of American troops and a platoon of Iraqi scouts so they could block the southern escape routes from the city. Stryker armored vehicles moved along the western outskirts of Baquba and then down a main north-south route that cuts through the center of the city.

By the time dawn broke on Tuesday, the insurgent sanctuary in western Baquba had been cordoned off. Then, the American forces established footholds on the periphery of the section and slowly pressed in.
The problem of collaring the Qaeda fighters is challenging in several respects. Unlike Falluja, where most of the population fled in advance of the battle, thousands of civilians remain in the western section of the city.
[T]he Americans intend to take fingerprints and other biometric data from every resident who seems to be a potential fighter after they and Iraqi forces have gained control of the western side of the city.
This American counterinsurgency operation has some of the firepower associated with conventional war. American forces have already fired more than 20 satellite-guided rockets into western Baquba. Apache helicopters have attacked enemy fighters.

Warplanes have also dropped satellite-guided bombs on suspected roadside bombs and a weapons cache, which produced spectacular secondary explosions after it was struck. M1 tanks have maneuvered through the narrow city lanes. The Americans have responded to insurgent attacks with mortar fire.

(note: the NYT says in Fallujah "most of the population fled." Fact is 50.000 stayed while the rest camped in the desert under unbearable circumstances.)

Instead of Caterpillars, the U.S. is using bombs, rockets and tanks.

Part 6 of the NGOs explains the major steps taken in Fallujah and elsewhere which are now applied on Baqubah. Excerpts (with sources and footnotes omitted):

Sealed-off Cities and Heavy Curfews
Coalition troops seize control of all movement into and out of the cities, including goods and supplies, water, food, medicines and emergency assistance of all kinds. This “sealing off” strategy seeks to isolate insurgents and show ordinary civilians the heavy cost of not cooperating.
Coalition forces subject residents to intensive screening at check points, where they are required to present special identification cards. At the checkpoints, troops arrest and detain some Iraqis (often arbitrarily), while routinely denying access to others on grounds that their documents are not in order. “We are like birds in a cage,” said a resident of Abu Hishma to the New York Times, complaining of the humiliation endured.

Forced Evacuation and Those Who Remain
Among those who flee, the most fortunate are able to seek refuge with out-of-town relatives, but many flee into the countryside where they face extremely difficult conditions, including shortages of food and water.
While many leave the cities at the time of warnings, significant numbers remain – an estimated 50,000 in Falluja and more than 100,000 in Ramadi. Coalition forces assume that they are insurgents or sympathizers. But those staying behind have included large numbers of non-combatant civilians – unable or unwilling to abandon their homes, including children, the sick, the elderly, and those fearful of a worse fate that might await them beyond the familiar protection of their city.

Cutting Off Water, Food and Electricity
Along with water, the Coalition has cut off electricity (which may power pumps and local wells). They also have cut off food and medical supplies, creating a “state of siege” and imposing a humanitarian crisis on the entire remaining urban population.
In some cases, the Coalition has used the siege openly as a bargaining tool. In Ramadi, US and Iraqi forces reportedly told residents that they would not get water, electricity, telephones and other services back unless they would hand over “the terrorists.” According to Lieutenant Colonel Hassan al-Medan, the Iraqi spokesperson for the operation in Najaf, “if we allow the entrance of food and medicines to the city we are just feeding the insurgents” – this in spite of thousands of civilians still within the area.

Confinement of Journalists and Blockage of Media Coverage

All media workers not “embedded” with US forces have been banned for the duration of the battle and usually a long time afterwards. Sometimes, even embedded media have been refused access. This gives the Coalition almost complete control over international public perceptions of what is happening on the battlefield.

Massive Bombardment

Coalition forces have inflicted prolonged and intense air and ground bombardment on these cities, destroying thousands of homes, shops, mosques, clinics and schools, and – inevitably – killing and injuring many civilians. The strategy of indiscriminate and massive bombardment, in advance of ground offensives, has reduced the number of Coalition casualties, at a heavy cost in life and injury to the remaining Iraqi city residents.

Urban Assault, Snipers and Violent Searches

After extensive bombardment, Coalition armed forces storm into the cities with columns of tanks and other armored vehicles. Heavy tank fire blasts into many structures, widening the urban desolation.

Troops seize remaining buildings and carry out house searches in those structures still standing. The soldiers often use violent methods to enter houses, such as setting off explosives or knocking down part of the front wall with a military vehicle.

The US military has increasingly relied on snipers to back-up infantry patrols. Commanders portray snipers as a precision method to avoid civilian casualties, but in fact sniper teams often fire at anyone moving in the streets, in gardens or even inside of buildings. Everyone is treated in the besieged cities as an enemy.

Attacks on Medical Facilities and Prevention of Humanitarian Assistance

Coalition troops have targeted medical facilities during urban offensives, and repeatedly destroyed and confiscated ambulances, making emergency care nearly impossible.
Further UN reports have spoken of Coalition snipers stationed on the roof of the Ramadi General Hospital, troops quartered in the hospital garden, and fearful residents avoiding the hospital altogether. In Tal Afar, the UN reported that the city hospital had been “occupied” by Coalition forces for six months.

Civilian Casualties

US-led military operations in populated areas have caused scores of civilian deaths and injuries. People have been killed by ordnance explosions, collapsed buildings, fires, sniper shots and many other violent causes. While Coalition forces claim that most of those killed in attacks are men of military-age, reliable reports suggest that many, if not most, of the victims in these operations have been non-combatants.

Massive Destruction
Heavy bombardment has caused great destruction in the cities under attack, including historical and religious sites, as well as water, electricity and sewage systems. US-led forces have bombed and even bulldozed numerous buildings, either as part of offensives or as retaliation against civilians who do not give information about insurgents.
With power, water and sewage systems dysfunctional and most buildings in ruins, many of these cities will remain only marginally habitable for a long time to come, in spite of announced (but largely un-implemented) reconstruction programs.

“Joint” Military Operations and Criticism by Iraqi Authorities

Increasingly, US commanders have portrayed military operations against Iraqi cities as joint operations between US and Iraqi forces.
In fact, Iraqi government authorities have often been critical of the operations and condemned the conduct of US forces.


International law sets clear standards for the conduct of military operations. The Geneva Conventions prohibit attacks which do not clearly distinguish between military targets and civilians, or have a disproportionate impact on civilians. Coalition military operations have clearly violated these laws, with massive displacement of populations, indiscriminate killings of civilians, and large-scale destruction of habitation and urban infrastructure, including historic buildings and religious sites. Coalition forces have violated further provisions of the Conventions by deliberately targeting hospitals, stopping emergency medical care and blocking the delivery of humanitarian aid. In further violation of the prohibition of “siege tactics,” they have deprived civilians of food, water, electricity, medical supplies and vital services. Such practices have inflicted collective punishment on Iraqis. Taken together they represent a grave violation of international humanitarian law.

As usual the U.S. media is not covering the obvious law-breaking characteristics of the tactics used by U.S. forces.

Basically, what makes urbicide genocidal is that it destroys whole patterns of existence - not only in terms of actual blood spilled (although that turns out to be quite substantial), but also economic and social patterns that formed the cornerstone of existence for the urban denizens of Baqubah (and Fallujah); to an extent what Claudia Card would call social death. Likely, among the rulers of the US empire, this was the plan all along. Indeed, the contention that not only is there a culture of atrocity among the occupiers in Iraq, but also embedded in the American Zeitgeist is quite reasonable given the sheer horrific scope of available evidence.

Um, about that "sanctity of human life" thing

Junior Caligula talks out of his ass again:
``Destroying human life in the hopes of saving human life is not ethical, and it is not the only option before us,’’ said Bush
Meanwhile, back in Iraq, that "sanctity of human life" pose proves to be merely a pose:
Pregnant Iraqi women who have been forced from their homes by worsening violence are obtaining illegal abortions because they are unable to get medical care for themselves and their unborn, according to a new report by a national humanitarian group.

A record number of Iraqis -- most of them women and children -- are fleeing their homes to escape the bloodshed of sectarian violence and anti-U.S. attacks, according to a new report by the Iraqi Red Crescent organization, the largest aid group operating in Iraq.

Health care is inadequate and difficult to access for those people, according to the IRC report.

"Pregnant women, infants and children are unable to get...required medical care," states the report, which was translated from Arabic, "and criminal abortion became [sic] the norms."

Rape, theft and drug addiction have also become "commonplace" among the displaced, who live in government buildings, at relatives' homes, tents, or squat in abandoned homes or makeshift huts on empty land, according to the report, which was first noted on the Iraq news site

Hat tips to Liberal Street Fighter and No Capital.

The only Clinton I'd ever vote for:

George Clinton, of course. Here's One Nation Under a Groove from an April 1981 gig:

Of course if you don't have the whole One Nation Under a Groove album, you're missing out. As one of that album's song titles goes, "Think! It ain't illegal yet!"

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Fuck tha police

First, a news story out of Waxahachie, Texas:
Man calls for EMS, gets police Tasers

Waxahachie resident Allen Nelms says a call to 911 to get medical attention for his diabetic seizure got him Tasered by police instead.

He said he still has no answer as to why police broke down his door with their guns drawn before shooting him multiple times with a Taser as he lay in bed.

“One of the officers said I ‘lunged’ at him. I asked him, ‘How can I lunge at you from my back and on my bed?’ ” Nelms said in an interview with the Daily Light.

All he’s received, he said, is a one-paragraph statement from police that indicates the department concluded an investigation into his allegation of excessive force in less than five days, with Assistant Chief Brett Colston saying the officers operated within policy guidelines.

The 52-year-old partially disabled man - who also suffers from rheumatoid arthritis - was having a diabetic seizure during the early morning hours of April 28 when his girlfriend, Josie Edwards, called 911 to request paramedics.
As Rafael over at Ruins of Empire notes, the pigs tasered this cat and laughed about it. Now for a little musical inspiration - courtesy of Rage Against the Machine (covering the NWA classic, "Fuck Tha Police"):

I get some of the funniest spam email

Attention To Your Eductaion

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CALL US 24-7 - This Special Enrollment Ends Wednesday June 20, 2007 @ Midnight.


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That message header really gives me confidence in the academic integrity of whatever diploma mill sent that one!

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Quotable: Mark Twain

"The loud little handful will shout for war.Then the handful will shout louder. A few fair men on the other side will argue and reason against the war with speech and pen, and at first will have hearing and be applauded; but it will not last long; those others will out shout them and presently the anti-war audiences will thin and lose popularity. Before long you will see the most curious thing: the speakers stoned from the platform, and free speech strangled by hordes of furious men. And now the whole nation will take up the war-cry, and shout itself hoarse, and mob any honest man who ventures to open his mouth; and presently such mouths will cease to open.

"Next the statesmen will invent cheap lies, putting the blame upon the nation that is attacked, and every man will be glad of those conscience-soothing falsities, and will diligently study them and refuse to examine any refutations of them; and thus he will by and by convince himself that the war is just, and will thank God for the better sleep he enjoys after the process of grotesque self-deception."


"But what does it amount to?" ... You gain nothing. You always come out where you went in. For a million years the race has gone on monotonously propagating itself and monotonously re-performing this dull nonsense - to what end? No wisdom can guess! Who gets a profit out of it? Nobody but a parcel of usurping little monarchs and nobilities who despise you; would feel defiled if you touches them; would shut the door in your face if you proposed to call; whom you slave for, fight for, die for, and are not shamed of it, but proud."
Found in War Foretold: Mark Twain and the Sins of Our Race, by Ramzy Baroud.