Monday, May 24, 2004

What do lesbians do on a second date?

Kevin and I were discussing how long it would take for Abu Ghraib to become the basis for a reality tv show. ‘Cause you know there was a Fox executive looking at the tv thinking “Naked human pyramid, say....” And the lovely Corp. Graner has thoughtfully provided the show’s title: “I Love to Make a Grown Man Piss Himself.”

What a great time for the US and UK to be trying to get the UN to give their troops immunity for war crimes or whatever after the so-called handover. The draft resolution also allows the military to do whatever is necessary to restore order, and has no expiration date. I wonder how this wording compares to the UN resolution sending troops into Korea in 1950, if that one was quite so Gulf-of-Tonkin-Resolutionesque.

Last Friday I asked, “What is it with the military and thumbs up?” I thought that was rhetorical, but in fact in that list of cultural do’s and don’t’s they all get--always accept a cup of tea when offered by an Arab, don’t point the soles of your feet at them, nudity really humiliates them, etc--is the fact that in the Arab culture, the thumbs-up is very very obscene.

Saw some of Shrub’s speech. First, in case you’re looking for symbolism, he was wearing heavy makeup to cover his scrapes. He said very little (and he will say it 4 more times), and certainly nothing new except that we’ll build the Iraqis a brand spanking new dungeon and tear down Abu Ghraib (with the Iraqis’ permission, he muttered under his breath). The problem, and the reason he would need permission, is timing; obviously it can’t be built by June 30, and so Abu Ghraib poses a problem: handing over the keys to Iraqis on June 30 is bad symbolism, keeping control over is bad symbolism. If it’s going to be destroyed, that would be the day to do it.

In the space of 3 sentences he pronounced Abu Ghraib 3 different ways.

It just struck me... Another quote: “Under Saddam Hussein, prisons like Abu Ghraib were symbols of death and torture. That same prison became a symbol of disgraceful conduct by a few American troops who dishonoured our country and disregarded our values.” It struck me that no one ever says that the prison’s prior history of death and torture disregarded Iraqi values.

Brahimi will wonder about the precise nature of Bush’s claim that he “fully” supports his work, coming as it did immediately after a sentence referring to the “full” sovereignty Iraq will be getting on June 30th.

He wants credit for his great restraint in Fallujah.

Bush says “Iraqis can be certain a free Iraq will always have a friend in the United States of America,” but doesn’t say who that friend will be. Whoever draws the short straw, I suppose.

A Guardian columnist notes that under international law, “sovereignty” is not George Bush’s to transfer, but always inhered in the Iraqi people. Said so in the UN declarations, too.

Actually, reading over the text of Bush’s speech, you see a lot of things like that, where he suggests that the nature of his authority in Iraq is exactly the same as it is in the US (where it also illegitimate, of course, but for entirely different reasons). “We want Iraqi forces to gain experience and confidence in dealing with their country's enemies.” Those people are Iraqis. George Bush doesn’t get to decide which Iraqis are their country’s enemies. Sadr commands “an illegal militia”. Illegal under whose laws? The US is an occupying power; its authority derives from force, not law.

John Kerry responds with the strength and vision we’ve come to expect from this big loser: “What's most important now is to turn these words into action by offering presidential leadership to the nation and to the world.”

I have a suggestion for Brahimi: since his list of the caretaker Iraqi government (puppet-lite, I will be calling it) will also serve as a hit-list for, well, pretty much everybody not in the caretaker Iraqi government, why not combine the administrative chart with the beloved deck-of-cards symbolism. In fact, instead of using the titles president, prime minister, etc, let’s call them King of Hearts, Jack of Spades, etc.

In the NYT Monday, Elisabeth Bumiller has a piece referring to those times when Bush talks at Republicans for 35 minutes, takes no questions and leaves, meets foreign ministers of the G-8, speaks at them for 8 minutes, takes no questions and leaves, and notes that Bush’s 5 Iraq speeches follow in this mould of one-way communication. The article is titled “The Other Long Occupation: Bush in a Bubble.”

In Britain, a baby was born (2 years ago; we’re just hearing this now) from an embryo created with sperm frozen 21 years before. Which means he or she was born with the right to vote and drink, I’m guessing. And the guy’s wife was 9 when he banked his sperm, which is also kinda creepy.

Israel admits that the protesters it killed were innocent, and not armed.

The Post notes, not surprisingly, that the vast majority of same-sex couples getting marriage licenses in SF, Portland and Mass. have been women.

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