Friday, March 31, 2006

If it’s not amnesty, it’s the same thing as amnesty

Here’s what I like about this Miami Herald story about a former colonel in the Haitian army, deported from the US in 2003 because of human-rights abuses and now being sued by his torture victims for the remaining annual payments of the $3.2 million lotto jackpot which he won in 1997 because there is no God: it gives the winning numbers, just in case someone wants to play them.

Oh, ok: 5-7-10-15-25-47.

Speaking of scum, Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-Orange County, where else?), who wants to deport all illegal aliens, has this solution to the problems that would create in California agriculture: “I say let the prisoners pick the fruits.” And for Rep. Virgil Goode of Virginia – you’d think 17th-century Massachusetts with that name, wouldn’t you? – it’s all about the flags: “I say if you are here illegally and want to fly the Mexican flag, go to Mexico and wave the American flag.” But we are all united by the fact that, whether we wave an American flag or a Mexican flag, that flag will have come from the same place: China.

Also, I think we can all agree that Tom Tancredo is a dick.

Durst says Bush’s guest-worker program “is a political shorthand for: ‘Think of it as a five year slumber party, and when it's over, everybody calls their parents and gets a ride home in their jammies.’”

Dana Milbank article in the WaPo on the R’s’ attempts to use the word “amnesty” over and over. And over. Rep. Steve King (R-Idaho, where potatoes are harvested exclusively by pasty Americans) [Update: damn, I misread that, he's actually from Iowa. So corn, or something] said, “Anybody that votes for an amnesty bill deserves to be branded with a scarlet letter, ‘A’ for amnesty.” According to Sen. Jefferson Beauregard Sessions, “In every sense of what people mean by amnesty, it’s amnesty. If it’s not amnesty, it’s the same thing as amnesty.” Er, right. Imagine if the Senate hadn’t rejected him for Circuit Court and he were applying that razor-sharp logic to judicial rulings. The other side, which includes some R’s, seems to share their belief that the word amnesty is anathema to the American people, and is denying its applicability to their proposal in the same manner as the Bushies denying that the crapfest in Iraq amounts to a civil war.

Thursday, March 30, 2006

Demonization of the what now?

The Indy has seen some of the stories the Lincoln Group continues to plant in the Iraqi press, featuring such examples of journalistic excellence as “Iraqi Army Defeats Terrorism” and “The ISF has quickly developed into a viable fighting force capable of defending the people of Iraq against the cowards who launch their attacks on innocent people.”

Link of the day: the History of Circumcision website, which is associated with the author’s book, A Surgical Temptation: The Demonization of the Foreskin and the Rise of Circumcision in Britain, $35 from the University of Chicago Press. Demonization of the foreskin?

President Doesn’t-Know-What-To-Do-With-His-Arms visits some Mayan ruins (which don’t look that ruined compared with, say, Baghdad, New Orleans or American credibility in the world), does not get chased by a huge boulder like Indiana Jones, then tries to steal some guy’s hat.

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

History almost is like so far back it doesn’t count

The Afghan parliament agreed that Abdul Rahman not be allowed to leave the country, but didn’t take a formal vote, so we don’t know exactly how many members of that institution we created and protect want apostates tried and executed. Rahman is now in Italy without, in case anyone’s forgotten what set all this off, his daughters, whom I assume he’ll never see again.

The last Bush speech of the current cycle, and the weakest. First, he put blame for the crapfest in Iraq on Saddam Hussein. “[M[uch of the animosity and violence we now see is the legacy of Saddam Hussein. He is a tyrant who exacerbated sectarian divisions to keep himself in power.” He explained, in the manner of a 4th-grade oral report, “Iraq is a nation with many ethnic and religious and sectarian and regional and tribal divisions.”

Talking about the Iranian nuclear energy and/or weapons program, he repeated that “It’s difficult to negotiate with non-transparent societies.” As opposed to the wholly transparent energy task force run by Dick Cheney. Anyway,
It’s easier for a non-transparent society to try to negotiate with countries in which there’s a free press and a free political opposition and a place where people can express their opinions, because it sometimes causes people to play their cards publicly. In negotiating with non-transparent societies, it’s important to keep your counsel.
But in a transparent way, no doubt.

And when talking with Russia, it’s important to be confusing: “I haven’t given up on Russia. I still think Russia understands that it’s in her interest to be West, to work with the West, and to act in concert with the West.”

He explained the importance of history: “It’s what Americans have got to understand. We tend to forget. Ours is a society where things are like instant, so therefore, history almost is like so far back it doesn’t count.”

He explained the importance of economics. Talking about China, which he calls, a “big opportunity for democracy,” he explains, “I happen to believe free markets eventually yield free societies. One of the most -- one of the most pure forms of democracy is the marketplace, where demand causes something to happen. Excess demand causes prices to -- the supply causes prices to go up, and vice versa.” Or maybe it’s the other way around. He has an MBA from Harvard, you know. Do you have an MBA from Harvard? Well then.

The straw man is alive and well: “You hear the debate, well, they’re just imposing their values. That’s all they’re doing. Well, those are the folks who must not think that freedom is universal.”

“I want the Iraqi people to hear I’ve got great confidence in their capacity to self-govern,” which doesn’t stop him issuing orders in the very next sentence: “I also want to hear the -- the Iraqi people to hear it’s about time you get a unity government going. In other words, Americans understand newcomers to the political arena, but pretty soon it’s time to shut her down and get governing.” His “confidence” in the Iraqis was belied earlier, when he said, “If we leave Iraq before they’re capable of defending their own democracy, the terrorists will win.”

Thank you just for being you:
Q I’m Iraqi-American.


Q Thank you, Mr. President.
The suave homme du monde speaks:
THE PRESIDENT: No, that’s a great question. Thanks. It’s [immigration] obviously topic du jour. (Laughter.) Pretty fancy, huh? Topic du jour? (Laughter.) I don’t want to ruin the image. (Laughter.)
Least plausible statement: “I weep about the suffering of the Palestinians.”

There’s no penalty for having lied

Another episode of the Rummy ’n Pace Pentagon Briefing Comedy Hour today. Rummy again chided the press for focusing on the negative: “It’s far easier to report about a bomb that goes off than to note a bomb that doesn’t.” And he offered an example of good news that they should report: during the Shiite pilgrimage, only 12 Iraqis were killed, way down from 2005 and 2004. “So this year’s pilgrimage for the most part passed peacefully.” Yes, 12 dead = for the most part peaceful.

No briefing is complete without Rumsfeld admitting to having not read something he really should have read, in this case the report saying that Russia had passed intel to Saddam about American troop movements. But he doesn’t consider it that big a deal to get it right before publicly accusing another country of what is essentially an act of war: there are lots of captured documents, he says, they’re in Arabic, some of it will be rumor – hey, Pace interjects at this point, we don’t even know if the translation is accurate. Is Russia owed an explanation? Rummy: “I’m sure if anyone is owed anything, they will get it.” And what about the possibility that someone at CENTCOM gave that intel to the Russians, is that being looked into? “If it should be, it will.”

On the Mustafa Mosque Massacre: was the raid on a Shiite militia meant to announce a new policy? “that was not an announcement. It was an operation that they conducted.” Sometimes a cigar massacre is just a cigar massacre.

And they (almost) admit that the mosque was a mosque. The minaret, evidently, was the tip-off. Rummy did say that weapons including rocket-propelled grenades were found and “Those are not religious instruments.” Clearly, he’s never heard of the Holy Grenade of Antioch.

IRONY ALERT! IRONY ALERT! Rummy says that we’re not as “deft and clever and facile and quick” as the enemy at getting our message out, because they are “perfectly capable of lying, having it printed all over the world, and there’s no penalty for having lied.”

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Congress stumbles, and Bush reminds

Kadima (which means “At least we’re not Bibi” in Hebrew) wins the Israeli elections, in the sense that the Kadima party, itself an uneasy coalition, will lead an uneasy, unstable coalition government. Acting- and future-Prime Minister Ehud Olmert is talking about setting permanent Israeli borders, unilaterally or otherwise. “We are ready to compromise, to give up parts of the beloved Land of Israel... and evacuate, under great pain, Jews living there, in order to create the conditions that will enable you to fulfil your dream and live alongside us.” Isn’t that sweet of him, giving up parts of the beloved occupied Palestine Land of Israel like that? But the Palestinians must “accept only part of their dream.”

Speaking of dreams, I just took a nap and dreamed that I was talking on the phone to my mother, looked out the window and noticed that my car had been stolen. When I woke up, I said, Whew, you could tell that was just a dream because no one would want to steal my car. Boy what a... relief.

Hamdan v. Rumsfeld keeps getting wackier. This is the case that Scalia did not recuse himself from after saying in advance that the position of the Hamdan side was “crazy.” And it’s the case where Senators Lindsey Graham and Jon Kyl told the Court that it should interpret Congress’s intentions in passing the egregious Detainee Treatment Act of 2005 based on a conversation between the two of them that they intended the justices to think occurred on the Senate floor before the vote, but which did not. And it’s the case in which the US Solicitor General today told the Court that it was possible and legitimate and legally binding for Congress to have suspended habeas corpus unconsciously, to have “sort of stumble[d] on a suspension of the Writ.” Possibly Congress all took Ambien and ate the Bill of Rights in their sleep.

Funniest headline for a piece of WaPo so-called analysis: “[Andy] Card’s Departure Seen as a Sign President Hears Words of Critics.” Which is peculiar, because Bush once said that he never reads newspapers, the filter, he gets all the news he needs from Condi Rice and Andy Card. Anyway, Bush used the same search process to replace Card that he used to pick Harriet Miers for the Supreme Court, and chose Joshua Bolten. The best line on that is by John Dickerson at Slate, “[Bush has] defined ‘the bolten’ as a new unit of Washington measurement. It is the smallest staff change possible short of doing nothing at all.”

Bush says of his next (sigh) speech on Iraq, “I’ll remind the people we’re not going to lose our nerve.”

Monday, March 27, 2006

There was nobody praying when we hit the objective

Stanislaw Lem, the Polish science fiction author, has died. If you don’t know him, or just know him as the author of Solaris, go read the satiric short stories in Cyberiad or the reviews of non-existent books in Perfect Vacuum.

Berlusconi, who is running for reelection against the Communist menace, says China under Mao used babies as fertilizer.

So after raiding that secret Iraqi Interior Ministry prison, the Americans decided they had made a mistake, that it was really a legitimate facility – you know, one of the good secret dungeons not one of the bad secret dungeons – legitimately holding a bunch of Sudanese, supposedly for violating residency laws. Well, my concerns are certainly allayed.

Two British residents who were rendered to Guantanamo from Gambia after MI5 told the CIA they had bomb parts in fact had... a battery charger. That was in 2002. They’re still in Gitmo.

Sez Lt Col Sean Swindell about the Mustafa Mosque raid, “There was nobody praying when we hit the objective, they were firing weapons at us.” But failing to hit anything? That sentence had an if-she-floats-she’s-a-witch-if-she-drowns-she-was-innocent vibe when I first read it. And a Lt Gen Peter Chiarelli claims that the enemy – gasp – staged the pictures of unarmed dead bodies in the mosque (the second picture is a screen-grab from Iraqi tv); “After the fact, someone went in and made the scene look different from what it was, for whatever purposes.” The perfidy! So, the troops and, ahem, advisers didn’t even bother to secure the scene?

One point made by an Iraqi official: a bunch of people were killed (figures given have ranged from 17 to 37), but none wounded, which tends rather to suggest execution, not firefight.

The customs and values that define our nation

About the killings inside the Baghdad mosque, officials are claiming American troops were only there in an “advisory capacity.” Some advice. Some capacity. They also claimed the shootings occurred in an office next to the mosque, not in the mosque. The BBC disagrees. A military spokesmodel says, “In our observation of the place and the activities that were going on, it’s difficult for us to consider this a place of prayer. ... I think this is frankly a matter of perception.”

In the Republican attempt to make immigration central to the 2006 elections, Bush will play good cop, leaving others to do the Willie Horton thing. Today, he spoke at a naturalization ceremony, so no one can say our new citizens don’t know what they’ve gotten themselves into. He announced that he was establishing an Office of Citizenship in the Department of Homeland Security and, you know, as a blogger, I hate to use the word Orwellian too often, but I mean, really. He says, “I believe every new citizen has an obligation to learn the customs and values that define our nation, including liberty and civic responsibility, equality under God, tolerance for others, and the English language.” The English language thing is just too easy (which is the English language, anyway, a custom or a value), and he had to slip God in, didn’t he? Then he went on and on about enforcing the border, even using that obnoxious phrase “catch and release” in front of the immigrants, three times. He also used the terms “border security” or “securing the border” more times than I could count, while standing in front of one of those signs that read “Securing the American dream,” courtesy of the new Office of Dream Security.

Learning the true meaning of the American custom (or is it a value?) of “no backsies”

Sunday, March 26, 2006

War is war (and vice versa)

Another day, another massacre. The Indy says the killings by US troops inside a Baghdad mosque are “likely to lead to increased tensions with the Shia community.” Ya think?

Another day, another secret Iraqi Interior Ministry prison.

Another minute, another stupid comment out of Antonin Scalia’s mouth. Newsweek reports that Fat Tony called the idea of proper hearings for Guantanamo detainees “crazy.” “Give me a break,” he added. “War is war,” he said, using that keen logic for which he is known. He mentioned the totally irrelevant fact that his son served in Iraq and “they” were shooting at him. “If he was captured by my army on a battlefield, that is where he belongs.” (my emphasis, obviously). I’d like to see a transcript. There’s a link to a .wav, but I don’t really want to download a 239m file. He said something about Europe’s reaction to Guantanamo being “hypocritical” which I’d like to hear in context.

Helping them work through some of these contradictions

Zombie party?

The Abdul Rahman case is nearing a resolution: he will be released while his case is being reviewed, whereupon he will hopefully take the hint and spend the rest of his life in hiding or exile; everybody’s happy. Unless, of course, you believe in the rule of (Sharia) law, enforced by a judicial system that includes clerics, which was after all the system Bush had no evident qualms about establishing. But let that system make rulings that get Christian ministers start calling the White House, and orders are issued, pressure applied. Karzai intervenes where he has no legal right to intervene, and the Supreme Court justice who was talking last week about not bowing to outside pressure is suddenly saying that Rahman is unfit for trial, and how do we even know he’s an Afghan citizen anyway. If American Christian groups are now to be an integral part of the Afghan legal system, I hope they’re equally attentive when adulterous women are sentenced to stoning, or homosexual men... you get the idea.

Zombie party?

Update: Condi appeared on several Sunday talk shows. On Rahman, she said this on Fox: “This is a complicated situation.” A man is being prosecuted for his religion. What’s complicated about that? She says the role of the US is “to help them work through some of these contradictions.”

And they’re not the only ones: on Iraq, Condi says that “because the Sunnis had not been a part of the process [when] the constitution was written, they have some very important, really even existential issues that they are trying to deal with”. Well, as Sartre said, “Hell is other Sunnis.”

Still in that philosophical mode, Condi revealed on a couple of these shows a new system of logic tying Saddam Hussein to 9/11. On CNN, she said:
Saddam Hussein, and we have said this many times, as far as we know, did not order September 11, may not have even known of September 11. But that's a very narrow definition of what caused September 11. If you think that what caused September 11 was that the people who flew airplanes in caused September 11 then, no, Iraq has no relationship. But if you think that this was a broader problem of an ideology of hatred, of terrorism becoming an acceptable means in places where there was a freedom deficit and there was no possibility for legitimate political discourse, then you realize that you have to have a different kind of Middle East. And a different kind of Middle East with Saddam Hussein at the middle of it is unthinkable.
Quod erat demonstrandum.

On Meet the Press, she described the Iraqi insurgents as “a few violent people.” Challenged, she said, “Well, it’s a few in terms of the population of Iraqis.” So that’s okay, then.

Zombie party?

Saturday, March 25, 2006

Massacres a go go

On Abdul Rahman, Afghan Supreme Court justice Khoja Ahmad Sediqi (hey, he’s also a Muslim cleric, what’re the odds?) says: “The words of our prophet are very clear. There can only be one outcome: death.”

The Washington Post’s next right-wing blogger?

A London Sunday Times columnist has a quote from classicist FM Cornford: “Propaganda is that branch of the art of lying which consists of nearly deceiving your friends without quite deceiving your enemies.”

Speaking of the art of lying, I’ve been holding off weighing in on the Haditha massacre, waiting for some sort of official response to the Time report, in which Marines last Nov. 19 mowed down a family after one Marine in a convoy was hit by a roadside bomb, killing one Marine (massacres, actually, as the Sindy reports that some students in a car on the same road as the convoy were also shot, one left for hours to bleed to death). But there evidently won’t be a response until the “investigation” is complete. Not the investigation that said all the dead Iraqi civilians were “collateral damage,” which was discredited, like the first story that the 15 civilians were all killed by that bomb, after the second story that the Marines were under fire was discredited by a video showing a complete absence of bullet marks. Maybe it’s just me, but when the first story put out by the Marines is a lie, shouldn’t that trigger the idea that maybe there is something being covered up, and that it should be looked into?

And as long as we’re doing massacres, where’s the follow-up on last week’s killing of 11 members of a family in Abu Sifa?

Conjugation: I understand, he understands, they understand, the Democrats don’t understand

The British military has had its feelings hurt by the Christian hostages it rescued, who failed to thank them publicly. It’s just bad manners. Gen. Sir Michael Jackson said he was “saddened,” but in a gruff, manly, military way, “that there doesn’t seem to have been a note of gratitude,” or at the very least a Hallmark card. Me, I appreciate this lack of hypocrisy by members of what sound like a fairly radical pacifist Christian group who had said in advance that they didn’t want violence used if they were kidnapped.

The Justice Dept says the NSA’s warrantless domestic spying may legitimately target doctor-patient and lawyer-client communications. And although the claim has been that one half of the conversation has to be non-domestic, Justice refused to say either that warrantless wiretapping of purely domestic calls was illegal or that it hadn’t been done.

My cat got an email from RNC Chair Ken Mehlman. Evidently, the Democrats’ plan for 2006 is to win the House and Senate and then impeach Bush. See, and you thought they didn’t have a plan. “Democrat leaders’ talk of censure and impeachment isn’t about the law or the President doing anything wrong. It’s about the fact that Democrat leaders don’t want America to fight the War on Terror with every tool in our arsenal.”

A few days ago I commented on the number of times Bush says that he understands things, such as, he understands that we’re in a war, he understands that people are dying, etc etc. I suggested he’d finally realized that people think he’s stupid, but after reading the speech he gave at a fund-raiser for the re-election of Rep. Mike Sodrel (R-Obscurity), in which he applied the verb to Sodrel no fewer than 13 times, claiming that Sodrel understands that this is a nation at war, he understands that the role of the government isn’t to create wealth, he understands the effects of the death tax on the American family farmer, etc etc (I pictured Sodrel standing off to the side during Bush’s speech, saying “I understand, I understand” after every sentence), I realized that Bush’s hated of “politics” is so strong, that he has no willingness to discuss the details of policy; rather, he debates the nature of the universe, what the world looks like. Note his use in so many speeches of the phrase, “I strongly disagree.” It’s rarely about policy; usually it’s about reality, as in “My opponents don’t believe there’s an enemy that lurks. I strongly disagree.” If your “understanding” of the world accords with his, agreement about how to deal with that world is supposed to be automatic. This is a way of focusing attention on his “vision” and away from both formulation and implementation of policy, away from his woeful lack of competence. Or to put it another way, the jackass still thinks he’s smart.

Friday, March 24, 2006

In it all the way

George Bush celebrated Greek Independence Day (which is just like American Independence Day, except the alien invaders blow up the Acropolis instead of the White House). The holiday gave Shrub a too-rare chance to talk about ancient Athens, in a bit of his speech I’m guessing he didn’t write himself. Evidently democracy “is a universal concept, started by the Athenians. ... Freedom is not confined to Greece, nor is it confined to America. It is universal in its application, and that’s one of the great lessons of Greek Independence Day.” Reading these things, I always fantasize that I’m in the room, pop up and ask him, for example, if he can tell us what it was that Greece became independent from.

And just before he made out with a Greek Orthodox archbishop, he commented that Greek Independence Day is held on the same day as the Greek Orthodox Feast of the Annunciation, “because they both represent good news.” Is that line as creepy to everyone else as it is to me?

Rumsfeld, about people calling for him to resign: “those kinds of calls have been going on for five-plus years. And the president has asked me not to get involved in politics, and that’s politics.” So the fact that some people recognized your extreme incompetence more than five years ago makes their recognition of that fact less valid in some way?

Rummykins says it would reduce violence if there were an actual Iraqi government, blames lack of one on violence. “Have they [terrorists] delayed it? Probably. They probably have. And is that harmful? Yes.”

Quoting FDR after Pearl Harbor, Rummy says, “we can prevail only if we are in it all the way.” I assume he’s working on defending his failures in Iraq, as many generals did after Vietnam, by claiming that the country never really “fought to win.” The stab-in-the-back theory (Dolchstoß, in the original German). When a reporter asked him a question about the quote, he said, “I think that I was quoting, as I recall, Franklin Roosevelt...” In a time when his competency is being questioned, he’s already unsure of the source of his own quote ten minutes after he’s used it.

Asked about the Pentagon bribing Iraqi newspapers to insert happy-news: “I’m not going to make a judgment off the top of my head.” That’s the difference between Rummy and the rest of us: we knew this was a bad thing within seconds after this was revealed nearly four months ago, but Rummy will not be rushed into forming a thought. He is, and I’m quoting, as I recall, Abraham Lincoln, or possibly Genghis Khan, in it all the way.

A satisfactory outcome

Jacques Chirac stormed out of an EU summit meeting when Ernest-Antoine Seillière, president of the EU employers’ federation, decided to speak in English instead of French. Chirac interrupted to ask why he wasn’t speaking French, and Seillière told him that English was the international business language. Chirac and his entourage, including his finance and foreign ministers, then stalked out. The Times: “Embarrassed French diplomats tried to explain away the walk-out, saying that their ministers all needed a toilet break at the same time.” (That’s toilet, from the French toilette.)

Musharaf made a speech today calling for all foreign terrorists to leave Pakistan. Oh, so that was the problem: they were waiting for an engraved un-invitation.

Ambassador/Viceroy to Iraq Khalilzad cites as a sign of progress in the 100-day long negotiations since the Iraqi elections that the sides actually talk to each other now, rather than using him as an intermediary. Hurrah!

Condi Rice has called Karzai about the Christian convert, Abdul Rahman, demanding a “satisfactory outcome,” whatever the hell that means (other reports say “favorable resolution”; possibly she really put the screws to him and demanded both a satisfactory outcome and a favorable resolution). It’s unclear whether Rahman’s being thrown into an Afghan insane asylum (imagine what such an institution must be like) would be satisfactory to her. It should be noted that earlier in the week, the State Dept was merely calling for a fair trial – a fair trial under a law that makes apostasy a capital offense. Like a fair trial for witchcraft.

Barbara Bush, as you must know by now, donated money to the Katrina Fund her husband is associated with, with instructions that it be spent on educational software hawked by one of her other idiot sons, Neil. Also, she donated money to the fund for the tsunami, with instructions that it be spent on Asian hookers for Neil.

Thursday, March 23, 2006

The, Concerned Citizen Community, making America safe for alliteration

You know you’ve been blogging too long when you read about the Abu Ghraib dog handler being sentenced to 6 months and you immediately start calculating what that is in dog years.

The Afghans are working on a compromise: instead of sentencing the Christian convert, Abdul Rahman, to death, declare him insane.

Bush today had a meeting on immigration reform, which he described as “a very constructive and important dialogue with members of the agricultural community, the faith community, the concerned citizen community”. The what? He says the debate on immigration “must be done in a way that doesn’t pit one group of people against another.” Funny, I thought the whole point of a border was to pit one group of people against another.

A few days ago I said we should resist the temptation to quote “Comical” Allawi’s announcement of a civil war. Juan Cole writes about Allawi’s agenda (“He therefore wishes to signal that the status quo cannot hold, that sectarianism is the biggest danger, and that only his brand of secular Iraqi nationalism can hope to hold the country together. It is a plea for a minority government under his leadership, with the clear message that Iraq needs a strongman like himself to avoid chaos.”) and quotes a workable definition of crapfest civil war: “Sustained military combat, primarily internal, resulting in at least 1,000 battle-deaths per year, pitting central government forces against an insurgent force capable of effective resistance, determined by the latter’s ability to inflict upon the government forces at least 5 percent of the fatalities that the insurgents sustain.” A touch mechanical, but good enough.

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

I’m looking forward to being able to hug them, weep with them.

Today, Bush performed a music hall turn at the Capitol Music Hall in Wheeling, West Virginia. “I knew that the farther we got away from September the 11th, 2001, the more likely it would be that some would forget the lessons of that day. ... And it’s fine that people forget the lessons. But one of my jobs is to constantly remind people of the lessons.”

Think someone’s trying to tell Bush something with the signs?

But here’s the thing: with all the people involved with planning and preparing for a Bush event like this, did no one look at those signs and say, “Hey, the word ‘plan’ could be read as a noun or it could be read as an imperative verb, in which case bloggers will make fun of it”?

On Al Qaeda: “They subverted a great religion to meet their needs, and they need places to hide.”

“The way I put it is, there is an Almighty God. One of the greatest gifts of that Almighty God is the desire for people to be free, is freedom. And therefore -- (applause) -- and therefore, this country and the world ought to say, how can we help you remain free? What can we do to help you realize the blessings of liberty?” How many of you can we kill when we invade your countries? In round numbers?

He does mention the Afghan on trial for his life, Abdul Rahman, although he says “converted away from Islam” rather than converted to Christianity. That came up again in Q&A, when someone asked, “Do you have an army of sociologists to go over there and change that country”? Chimpy sez, “We have got influence in Afghanistan and we are going to use it to remind them that there are universal values.”

On WMDs: “the intelligence broke down.”

He repeated the lie from Monday’s speech and a million previous speeches about Saddam failing to “disarm & disclose,” and in this one, he charges Saddam with having fired at US aircraft enforcing the “United Nations no-fly zone.” It was the US, not the UN, that declared a no-fly zone.

Also, “He’d invaded his neighborhood.”

“The biggest threat America faces is that moment when terror and weapons of mass destruction come together.” You got your chocolate in my peanut butter! You got your peanut butter on my chocolate! “And if we ever suspect that’s happening, we got to deal with that threat seriously.” If we ever suspect?

Every speech now, he tries to indicate that he understands the price of war. And then, often as not, undercuts the message, as today when he said he would meet the survivors of two dead troops: “I’m looking forward to being able to hug them, weep with them.” He’s looking forward to it? LOOKING FORWARD TO IT?

He keeps saying that he “understands” the concern of Americans over the war, and keeps suggesting that people with those concerns are weak-minded people influenced by the terrorists: “And they’re concerned because the enemy has got the capacity to affect our thinking.”

“Iraq is a part of the global war on terror. In other words, it’s a global war.” Isn’t that the same words, but fewer of them?

He says it’s time for Iraq to form a unity government: “That’s what the people want; otherwise they wouldn’t have gone to the polls, would they have?”

Talking about how we need to use more sweet delicious coal (he was in West VA, remember), sort of as a patch to cure our petroleum addiction: “we get oil from parts of the world that don’t like us, is the best way to put it, which creates a national security issue.” Did he just admit that there are parts of the world that don’t like us? I thought we were universally beloved because we are bringing freedom and liberty and sweet delicious KFC?

And finally, he is dragged kicking screaming back to his bubble-dungeon: “I wish I could stay longer to answer your questions. I can’t, I got to go back to D.C. I’m not necessarily saying I’m rather be in D.C. than here; I’d rather be here than there. But nevertheless, that’s what my life dictates.”

A clash about civili“s”ation

One of Bush’s favorite words lately is diversity, as in, Iraq’s government (if one ever forms), will reflect Iraq’s diversity. An unlikely convert to the Rainbow Coalition, but there you are. What then must he think of Israel’s Kadima Party, which thought vaguely about giving a Palestinian a winnable position on the party electoral list, conducted a poll which said that would lose them more Jewish voters than it would gain them Palestinians, and decided to go the apartheid route.

Tony Blair, in a speech I taped off C-SPAN but haven’t watched yet, says that the key to winning The War Against Terrorism (TWAT) is to tell the terrorists that all their ideas are wrong. Specifically, “I mean telling them their attitude to America is absurd, their concept of governance pre-feudal, their positions on women and other faiths, reactionary and regressive.” He says this is “Not a clash between civilisations, but a clash about civilisation”. The British are in an especially good position to clash, in a civilized way, of course, about civilization, because they are so very civilized, as you can tell by the fact that they spell civilization with an s. Blair will not stop sending his armed forces to kill Muslims until they too spell civilization with an s. Honestly, even when Blair’s criticisms are correct, that nannyish mode of being civilized he displays just gives civilization a bad name.

Speaking of a clash about civilization, Saudi Arabia has banned men from selling women’s lingerie.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Bush press conference: I guess they kind of view it as an isolated group of people that occasionally kill

Cheney today: “Some have suggested that the war is not winnable, a few seem almost eager to conclude that the whole struggle is already lost.” Prick.

Bush speaks. Always a bad move.

"[F]or every act of violence there is encouraging progress in Iraq that’s hard to capture on the evening news." So it’s a one-for-one deal?

He welcomes the Iraqi decision to bypass the constitution we wrote for them and create a council with more powers than those of the cabinet.

Asked again whether Iraq was in a civil war or just a crapfest, he says, "the way I look at the situation is that the Iraqis took a look and decided not to go to civil war." He makes it sound like Newark. "No question that the enemy has tried to spread sectarian violence." He makes it sound like margarine. "They use violence as a tool to do that." He makes it sound like a socket wrench. "The reports of bound Sunnis that were executed are horrific." He makes it sound like a Quentin Tarantino movie. Which may be about right. By the way, horrific is a word coined by the movie industry, I believe in the 1950s, to advertise horror flicks.

By the way, Brando helpfully provides some good news from Iraq.

Back to Bush: "[I]f the Iranians were to have a nuclear weapon they could blackmail the world. If the Iranians were to have a nuclear weapon they could proliferate." He makes it sound like a marital aid. "This is a country that’s walking away from international accords". Um, yeah, Iran is.

Helen Thomas asked, since all the reasons he gave for invading Iraq were untrue, "why did you really want to go to war?" Bush says he didn’t want to go to war. He makes it sound like he took a wrong turn on Elm Street.

A reporter asked about a well-planned attack on a prison in Miqdadiya (the reporter wrongly said Baghdad), in which 17+ police were killed and 30 prisoners released. Chimpy:
Thirdly, in spite of the bad news on television -- and there is bad news. You brought it up; you said, how do I react to a bombing that took place yesterday -- is precisely what the enemy understands is possible to do. I’m not suggesting you shouldn’t talk about it. I’m certainly not being -- please don’t take that as criticism. But it also is a realistic assessment of the enemies capability to affect the debate, and they know that. They’re capable of blowing up innocent life so it ends up on your TV show.
"Your tv show"? You mean, the news? Or is there a show on, say, UPN, called "Blowing Up Innocent Life"? Or, if I know UPN "Extreme Blowing Up Innocent Life." Later, he adds that the enemy’s use of IEDs "creates a sense of concern amongst our people."

"I fully understand the consequences of this war. I understand people’s lives are being lost." Have you noticed how many times lately he claims that he understands things, like after all this time, he just realized that people think he’s stupid?

"A democracy in Iraq is going to inspire reformers in a part of the world that is desperate for reformation." He makes it sound like the US military is tacking some Theses to a mosque door.

"Our foreign policy up to now was to kind of tolerate what appeared to be calm. And underneath the surface was this swelling sense of anxiety and resentment, out of which came this totalitarian movement that is willing to spread its propaganda through death and destruction, to spread its philosophy. Now, some in this country don’t -- I can understand -- don’t view the enemy that way. I guess they kind of view it as an isolated group of people that occasionally kill. I just don’t see it that way. I see them bound by a philosophy with plans and tactics to impose their will on other countries."

Fox reporter Carl Cameron: "What, sir, do you think the impact of the discussion of impeachment and censure does to you and this office, and to the nation during a time of war, and in the context of the election?" Bush: "I did notice that nobody from the Democrat Party has actually stood up and called for getting rid of the terrorist surveillance program. ... They ought to take their message to the people and say, vote for me, I promise we’re not going to have a terrorist surveillance program. That’s what they ought to be doing. That’s part of what is an open and honest debate."

Back to Iraq:

Q Do you now have in mind a target date for forming the [Iraqi] unity
government and --

THE PRESIDENT: As soon as possible. Next question.

Oo, sensitive.

Q How much of a factor do you think that will be -- in turning around, or at least improving the situation in the public opinion?

THE PRESIDENT: Here in America?

Q Right.

THE PRESIDENT: That’s a trick question, because you want to get me to talk about polls when I don’t pay attention to polls.

Technically, the question was about public opinion, not polls. The next time he does that I don’t pay attention to polls thing, someone should ask what he does use to measure the will of the American people on any given subject, or if he just doesn’t give a shit.

Rhetoric creep alert: I believe Shrub first used the obnoxious term "Islamo-fascism" last October, but it was always in the "some people call it Islamo-fascism" form. Today he used it without the qualifier.

Here GeeDubya neatly and totally fairly sums it up for us: "The -- it’s an interesting debate, isn’t it, about whether or not this country of ours ought to work to spread liberty. It’s -- I find it fascinating that -- to listen to the voices from around the world as to whether or not it is a noble purpose to spread liberty around the world."

He adds that when the enemy was "given a chance to govern or to have their parasitical government represent their views... [t]here was no such thing as being able to express yourself in the public square. There was no such thing as press conferences like this." He makes it sound... kind of attractive.

How to become smart and go straight to heaven

Turkmenistan’s totally batshit insane dictator Niyazov says that anyone who reads his book will become smart and go straight to heaven.

A student group in Plano, Texas is suing the school district for preventing them posting info on the district web site. Can I be the only one wondering why a Christian group chose a name, Students Witnessing Absolute Truth, with acronym SWAT?

UNESCO held a meeting to discuss protecting World Heritage Sites such as the Tower of London, the Great Barrier Reef, the prehistoric megalithic temples of Hagar Qim, and Angelina Jolie from the effects of global warming. The US objected that UNESCO has no right to consider global warming because it is unproven that there is global warming.

Monday, March 20, 2006

They wonder what I see that they don’t

Bush gave another of those “Crapfest? What crapfest?” speeches, at the Cleveland City Club. AP headline: “Bush Explains Confidence in Iraq Progress.” (Update: which they later changed to “Bush Asks U.S. to Look Past Iraq Bloodshed.” Jesus, when have Americans not looked past Iraq bloodshed?). Lots of sound-bites channeling Ronald Reagan channeling John Wayne: “America has never retreated in the face of thugs and assassins, and we will not begin now.” Actually, this contradicts the Cheney line, which is that the US did retreat after the Lebanon Marines bombing, the USS Cole etc etc, and that was responsible for letting Al Qaeda think it could get away with 9/11.

He’s beginning to have a rhetoric problem, because the usual “bring it on” stance doesn’t fit well with his new emphasis on the “long war.” Patience and deferred gratification aren’t exactly Bush traits.

Speaking of which, I must interrupt became I am impatient to mention comments on Americans’ lack of patience by one Brig. Gen. Robert Caslen, the Deputy Director for the War on Terrorism. Caslen says that it takes 9 years to beat insurrections, but Americans get bored after 3, for which he cites the dubious historical precedents of a rise in anti-war sentiments 3 years into Korea, the Civil War, and Vietnam. Which, he says, leaves a 6-year gap. So if there’s been a recent uptick in opposition to the Iraqi war, I guess he’s saying, it’s not because of any objective analysis of the situation but because it’s just that time of the month phase in the historical cycle.

Back to Chimpy. He allows as how “in the face of continued reports about killings and reprisals, I understand how some Americans have had their confidence shaken. Others look at the violence they see each night on their television screens, and they wonder how I can remain so optimistic about the prospects of success in Iraq. They wonder what I see that they don’t.” Notice how he tries to make the violence more distant and abstract: our confidence is shaken not by killings and reprisals, but by reports about killings and reprisals, not by violence, but by violence seen on tv. Notice also how he suggests that our natural, normal state is one of confidence, which has been shaken. He makes it sound like a slight head-cold, from which we will soon recover. That’s not confidence, that’s complacence. And yes, we do wonder how you remain so optimistic, but assume it’s some combination of profound ignorance and strong medication. And we have a pretty good idea of what you see that we don’t, too.

To explain his seemingly unwarranted optimism, “I’m going to tell you the story of a northern Iraqi city called Tal Afar”. It isn’t as riveting as My Pet Goat....

but then, what is?

Anyhoo, terrorists moved into Tal Afar, used propaganda (the bounders!) to foment hostility towards the occupying troops, exploited the weak economy to recruit (just like Wal-Mart), and took over the city. So we invaded and drove them out. “Our strategy at the time was to stay after the terrorists and keep them on the run. So coalition forces kept moving, kept pursuing the enemy... Unfortunately, in 2004 the local security forces there in Tal Afar weren’t able to maintain order, and so the terrorists and the insurgents eventually moved back into the town.” In other words, we chased them in a big ole circle. They then took over the mosques and schools to spread “the terrorist message of hatred and intolerance”. Oh, and they behead the guys who interpreted for the coalition troops. “In Tal Afar, the terrorists had schools for kidnapping and beheading and laying IEDs.” And interpretive dance.

So this time, we wouldn’t just kick the terrorists out, but practice “clear, hold and build,” which I think has something to do with the neutron bomb. They built a wall around the city, Iraqi troops controlled their own battle-space (a phrase everyone is suddenly using; I assume it has something to do with “marking” their territory), and yadda yadda. And we know we’ve won their trust (and this is something else I’ve heard a lot lately) because they started phoning in tips. We’ll have succeeded in Iraq when every last Iraqi is a nark and/or tattle-tale. Anyway, Tal Afar is now a paradise on earth, with purple-fingered voters and not so much violence after the Samarra mosque de-domeification, and it all shows how Bush’s strategy is working. But it doesn’t show up on tv:

The kind of progress that we and the Iraqi people are making in places like Tal Afar is not easy to capture in a short clip on the evening news. Footage of children playing, or shops opening, and people resuming their normal lives will never be as dramatic as the footage of an IED explosion, or the destruction of a mosque, or soldiers and civilians being killed or injured.

Dude, you should totally start a cable channel. I’m sure “Shops Opening” could beat anything on CBS.

And then, the questions:
Q: Do you believe... that the war in Iraq and the rise of terrorism are signs of the apocalypse? And if not, why not?

THE PRESIDENT: The answer is -- I haven’t really thought of it that way. (Laughter.) Here’s how I think of it. The first I’ve heard of that, by the way. I guess I’m more of a practical fellow.
He seems to be having some age issues. Two quotes: “The people of [Tal Afar] still have many challenges to overcome, including old-age [sic] resentments”. “We need to apply the same rigor of No Child Left Behind, particularly in middle age [sic] for math and science”.

Asked how Iran today differs from Iraq three years ago in terms of the preemption policy, he says that there had been a bunch of Security Council resolutions against Iraq, while “the Iranian issue is just beginning to play out... The issues are different stages of diplomacy.” Cuz Bush is all about the diplomacy. In other words, we will invade, but not quite yet. Maybe he has learned something about deferred gratification after all.

Sunday, March 19, 2006

In which I propose a solution to the civil war over the civil war

It’s official: asymmetrical breasts are a bad thing.

In new fledgling beacon of light and liberty and freedom, Afghanistan, a man, Abdul Rahman, is being charged with converting to Christianity, which is a capital offense.

The AP (and Nedra Pickler, no less) points out that in Bush’s statement on the 3rd anniversary of the war in Iraq, he never used the word “war.” Evidently what the soldiers are doing over there is “implementing a strategy” and “liberating Iraq.” And he certainly didn’t mention civil war.

But Iyad “Comical” Allawi, the former puppet prime minister, did. Now, I don’t really care that Allawi says that Iraq is in a civil war, and neither should you. Don’t fall into the trap of quoting self-aggrandizing liars just because they have for once said something that happens to be true. Even for liars, the truth sometimes coincides with their self-interest.

Actually, the whole “civil war” thing is beginning to bore me a little. Why don’t we settle on a compromise term we can all live with? I nominate “crapfest.”

If you don’t make them bleed, they can’t prosecute for it

Robert Baker, inventor of the chicken nugget, has died. He was buried... no, I can’t do it, I won’t do it.

In a radio address the day before the third anniversary of the U.S.-led invasion, President Bush said the violence in Iraq ‘has created a new sense of urgency’ among Iraqi leaders to form a government.

Those leaders ... were taking a break from negotiations to observe Monday’s Shiite holiday and Tuesday’s Kurdish New Year.
No doubt they took St Patrick’s Day off as well.

Secretary of War Rumsfeld has an op-ed piece in the WaPo entitled “What We’ve Gained In 3 Years in Iraq.” “Gained” is an interesting choice of word. He begins with what he no doubt thinks is a clever rhetorical trick:
Some have described the situation in Iraq as a tightening noose, noting that "time is not on our side" and that "morale is down." Others have described a "very dangerous" turn of events and are "extremely concerned."
In the second paragraph, he reveals that those “some” are in fact the enemy, the terrorists, “Zarqawi and his associates,” describing their own situation. See what he did there? Did he blow your mind? Those are their “exact words” – you can tell by the quotation marks, though he doesn’t say how he knows them or who actually said them or why they weren’t speaking in Arabic, but boy he sure showed those nay-sayers, didn’t he?

He says history will show he was right, although since history is written by the victors, I wouldn’t look for much love in that quarter if I were him. “Fortunately,” he added, “history is not made up of daily headlines, blogs on Web sites or the latest sensational attack.” Blogs on Web sites. He’s really down with the kids, isn’t he?

That’s followed by much of the usual crap, which I can’t be bothered to make fun of, sorry. The money quote: “Turning our backs on postwar Iraq today would be the modern equivalent of handing postwar Germany back to the Nazis.”

Bush also celebrated our three glorious years in Iraq.

Got some quagmire on muh tie.

Shrub’s word of the day: encouraged. “I encouraged the Iraqi leaders to continue to work hard to get this government up and running. ... Now the Iraqi leaders are working together to enact a government that reflects the will of the people. I’m encouraged by the progress. The ambassador was encouraged by it.” He ended his statement, “My God continue to bless our troops in harm’s way.” Continue?

Cheney celebrated the anniversary by shooting Bob Shieffer in the Face the Nation. Like Rumsfeld, he believes the terrorists have “reached a stage of desperation from their standpoint.” Indeed, “Zarqawi himself was quoted two years ago saying that if the Iraqis ever achieve that objective, put together a democratic government, that he’d have to pack up his bags and go elsewhere.” You get the feeling he’s being a little liberal with the paraphrasing? Shieffer noted that the administration, and Cheney in particular, have tended to be “optimistic” about Iraq (indeed, the Dickster said later that “the evidence is overwhelming” that we’re winning). Here’s Cheney trying to look optimistic:

Cheney pushed the 9/11 button more than Rummy or Bush, saying, “That kind of aggressive forward-leaning strategy [invading Afghanistan, invading Iraq, that sort of thing] is one of the main reasons we haven’t been struck again since 9/11 because we’ve taken the fight to them.”

Cheney says of his own veepship, “I didn’t ask for this job. I didn’t campaign for it. I got drafted”. I forget, who was it that drafted you again, who was the guy responsible for picking Bush’s running mate in 2000?

Many trees fell in a forest to make the Sunday edition of the New York Times. Did they make a sound? If so, it was not heard by Bob Shieffer, who didn’t ask Cheney about its article on Task Force 6-26 and the Black Room (motto “No Blood, No Foul,” because “If you don’t make them bleed, they can’t prosecute for it.”) Even the CIA and the DIA didn’t want to be associated with the goings-on there and pulled their people out of Camp Nama, although, like the memo from Under Sec. Stephen Cambone to William “They’re after us because we’re a Christian nation” Boykin (remember him?), one could be excused for seeing the move as pure CYA, since the CIA continued to provide T 6-26 the intel.

The sole task of the task force was to get Zarqawi.

Which they didn’t do.

But along the way they did torture quite a few people, play paintball with the prisoners, dumped prisoners found to be innocent deep in the desert, and had little ceremonies, like presenting outgoing members with a detainee hood.

Boykin, by the way, whose god is bigger than your god, said he didn’t find a “pattern of misconduct” by the task force. An army investigation ended last June, having accomplished nothing because task force members... used false names. I mean, what can you do when they use false names? Oh, and 70% of the unit’s computer files were “lost.”

Their base, until they moved somewhere even more secretive, was called Camp Nama, which the NYT says “stood for a coarse phrase that soldiers used to describe the compound.” Does anyone know what that means?
(Update: evidently Nasty Ass Military Area. Guess they reserve all their originality for devising new torture methods. Still -- that’s the phrase the Times was afraid would offend our precious delicate ears?)

Saturday, March 18, 2006

Brutality, fear and terror

Belarus: denim revolution? Denim?

A note to any readers I might have in Tennessee: although the 6th Circuit is allowing the state to issue “Choose Life” license plates without issuing any counterbalancing pro-choice plates, it would be wrong to keep a supply of pro-abortion bumper stickers at all times to slap on cars with those plates. Entirely wrong. Really quite wrong.

Cute AP piece on Bush’s war against the straw men.

Bush, in today’s radio address: “The security of our country is directly linked to the liberty of the Iraqi people”. This according to the new National Security Adviser, Rube Goldberg.

And the White House website provides a helpful “fact sheet” for the 3rd anniversary of the invasion of Iraq. Did you know that “Life in Iraq under Saddam Hussein was marked by brutality, fear, and terror,” whereas now it is marked by terror, fear, and brutality?

Did you know that achieving a “lasting victory” in Iraq will make America “Stronger by demonstrating to our friends and enemies the reliability of U.S. power, the strength of our commitment to our friends, and the tenacity of resolve against our enemies”? So we’re fighting this war pour encourager les autres. Like when you go to prison and immediately pick a fight with the biggest MF you can find (this must be good advice, it’s in all the movies), to show you can’t be fucked with.

Did you know that “Immediately after the attack on the Golden Mosque of Samarra, the Iraqi people looked into the abyss and did not like what they saw”? Evidently, it was too abyssy.

Did you know that under Saddam Hussein, “Those out of favor were denied the simplest public services, with hunger and essential services used as weapons of tyranny,” whereas now, there are no functioning public services!


Friday, March 17, 2006

I’m proud to accept the bowl of shamrocks as a symbol of our friendship

Shouldn’t the Irish prime minister (or, as they so quaintly insist on calling him, Taoiseach) be in Ireland on St Patrick’s Day? Anyway, here Ahern is giving Bush a bowl of weeds shamrocks. And, oh dear, they’re both wearing green ties. How embarrassing; they should have called each other first to coordinate.

The AP supplies the no doubt enormous demand for a closeup photo of the bowl of weeds shamrocks.

Thursday, March 16, 2006

This idea of forming a government is coming across loud and clear in spades today

A correction to my previous post on Operation Swarmer: the aircraft involved were not dropping bombs or firing missiles, they were merely helicopters transporting troops. What’s interesting is that the Pentagon early in the day was doing everything shy of playing “Ride of the Valkyries” to mislead everyone into believing there had been air strikes, and that the whole thing was bigger than it was. Why? And in the Gaggle, Little Scottie made it clear that Bush had not only not given permission for Op Swarmer, but hadn’t been informed of it in advance (“No, this was not something that he needed to authorize.”).

Bush has named the governor of Idaho, one Dirk Kempthorne, as secretary of interior. All of our national parks will now be planted with potatoes, and the Grand Canyon filled with cooking oil, the better to make delicious Freedom Fries.

Consecutive story headlines on the Pentagon website: “Iraqi, Coalition Forces Launch Air Assault” and “Operation Aims to Curb Violence in Iraq.” Isn’t an air assault a little bit, you know, violent? The second “operation” is called Operation Scales of Justice, and is actually intended to provide security for the parliament, which formally met for the first time since it was elected more than 3 months ago, and which then went away after half an hour without having done anything, and then adjourned with no date scheduled for a resumption. Sez Gen. Rick Lynch: “This idea of forming a representative government is coming across loud and clear in spades today”.

After a refrigerator failure, a Frenchman had to cremate the bodies of his parents, who died in 1984 and 2002. His father had recouped the costs by showing off his late wife to paying tourists.

Condi is in Australia. She evidently tried to get Australia to supply uranium to India, but they said no, as long as India did not sign the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. She went to visit American sailors on the USS Port Royal, where she wore the traditional baseball cap and pearls. What I like most about this Reuters pic is the caption, whose author seemed to think Rice would be hard to pick out of this crowd and so added the words “black cap” in parentheses after her name. At the end of her remarks, she said, “Thank you for welcoming me here and I look forward to saying hello to some of you.”

“Hello, sailor.”

The Global War Against Ambiguity (GWAA)

The US launches “Operation Swarmer,” which sounds like one of those crappy movies the SciFi Channel runs, and which involves many many air strikes near Samarra (the military operation, not the SciFi movies). See if you can follow the logic:
The BBC’s Adam Brookes in Washington says a major show of force is being carried out in the hope of breaking a cycle of escalating violence which it is feared could lead to civil war.
First, fifty plus aircraft dropping bombs is not a show of force, it actually is, you know, force. Second, fifty plus aircraft dropping bombs is not breaking a cycle of escalating violence, it actually is, you know, escalating violence. Third, the idea is, what? to misdirect attention away from the civil war towards the ongoing imperialist war. No, sorry, I just don’t follow.
’s a correction in my next post).

Read the updated National Security Strategy, now with at least one guaranteed bitter laugh on every page. Did you know that “Since 2002, the world has seen extraordinary progress in the expansion of freedom, democracy, and human dignity”? It must be true, they have a graph showing the expansion of human dignity.

You just clicked that link to see if there was really a graph, didn’t you?

Did you know that you can’t have freedom of religion without free-market capitalism? It’s true: “In effective democracies, freedom is indivisible. Political, religious, and economic liberty advance together and reinforce each other.”

Did you know that we didn’t invade Afghanistan, we “joined with the Afghan people to bring down the Taliban regime”? Evidently there was some sort of popular uprising against the Taliban which has gone unmentioned until now.

Did you know that Bush’s policy is the “path of confidence,” while everyone else supports the “path of fear,” which “appeals to those who find our challenges too great and fail to see our opportunities”?

The US “will, if necessary, act preemptively in exercising our inherent right of self-defense,” indeed, “we do not rule out use of force before attacks occur, even if uncertainty remains as to the time and place of the enemy’s attack,” but “no country [i.e., no country not named the United States of America] should ever use preemption as a pretext for aggression.” As for our preemptions, “We will always proceed deliberately, weighing the consequences of our actions. The reasons for our actions will be clear, the force measured, and the cause just.” Well, that’s okay, then.

Did you know that it was Saddam’s
refusal to remove the ambiguity that he created that forced the United States and its allies to act. We have no doubt that the world is a better place for the removal of this dangerous and unpredictable tyrant, and we have no doubt that the world is better off if tyrants know that they pursue WMD at their own peril.
What we’re saying is, we really really really hate ambiguity. It makes our head hurt. And you can see by the repetition of “we have no doubt” that we succeeded in eliminating the threat posed by Saddam’s Weapons of Mass Ambiguity.

Like Greenspan, but marginally less destructive

I’ve held off on the Jericho jail storming because I was hoping for more clarity from the US and Britain over what the alleged security concerns were that they’re claiming led them to withdraw their monitors. You do have to wonder what American policy towards Palestine is now, or if there is one. I had thought the US was trying to get Abbas to seize unconstitutional powers and run a parallel administration, but this move, before Hamas has even formed a government, just undermines Abbas’s standing, so I’m thinking the current idea is to support Israel in wrecking the PA, declaring it a failed state (which was always likely when the pop quiz was written by Likud), and with a great pretense of regret, supporting Israel intervening in whatever ways Israel feels like intervening.

In Israel, they consider the raid to be a wag-the-dog election stunt by Olmert.

In the rev-up to the Iraq invasion, we were flooded with dodgy dossiers and UN Power Point presentations chock full of made-up evidence about Iraqi weaponry and perfidy (yes, I just used “chock full” and “perfidy” in a single sentence; live with it). The Bushies have learned their lesson and no longer cite anything resembling evidence when making accusations, as we’ve noted with accusations that Iran is sneaking IEDs and Revolutionary Guards into Iraq. Condi on Wednesday (well, it was in Australia; with the time difference it could have been tomorrow or last week or next August or the Mesozoic) called Iran the “central banker of terrorism”. They give out free toasters for every account your cell opens. Evil toasters!

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

I don’t. We do. You do. I do. The country.

Go listen to the Glaucoma Hymn.

As Eli of LeftI notes, the Bushies have been claiming that Iran has been aiding Iraqi insurgents by, among other things, providing what Bush called “IEDs and components that were clearly produced in Iran”. Whatever “clearly” might mean. Since they never say how they can identify these objects as Iranian-produced, it’s safe to assume that it’s not really all that clear. And that if it were, they were evidence of anything more than a porous border and a robust local smuggling tradition. Rumsfeld also claims there “has been evidence” of Iranian Revolutionary Guards in Iraq, again without presenting any of that evidence. And he suggested that they’re coming into Iraq in the guise of pilgrims.

A reporter asked Rummy what he meant when he said that Amb. Khalilzad had had a “good day” yesterday, and how he squared that with all the car bombings and executions which took place that day....
Q: But how do you balance the two? It seems like --

SEC. RUMSFELD: I don’t. We do. You do. I do. The country. We all look at it and make a judgment... There is violence in the country, and if every time I answer every single question I’ve got to box the compass, we’re never going to get anywhere.
Asked how we would know if Iraq entered a civil war, he said he doesn’t know, but “I don’t think it will look like the United States’ Civil War,” adding, oddly enough, that it would smell like the United States’ Civil War.

Fun London Times parliamentary sketch on a debate on whether to ban the docking of dogs’ tails. (And did so, except for police dogs and the like.)

Saddam Hussein denounces the court trying him as a “comedy.” Kangaroo courts are easy; comedy courts are hard.

Tuesday, March 14, 2006


Tonight, Laura will be wearing this mask,

But George will still be thinking of...

Monday, March 13, 2006


Bush’s latest war-selling speech, which, despite being billed as one of three speeches that’ll really convince the American people what a great idea this war was, and still is because we’re winning it, you know, is just like every other speech he’s given on the subject, but with an extra section on IEDs.

He’s against them.

I meant to blog this when I read it, and now I can’t remember where I read it, but in China, where party members and others are required to write periodic self-criticisms, many are now swiping them off the internet. There’s probably a moral in there, somewhere.

What would Bush do if he had to make a self-criticism?


The abortion issue really makes the antis feel okay with expressing their normally better-hidden contempt for women. SD state Rep. Roger Hunt, for example, said that the SD law didn’t provide for the prosecution of women who have abortions because “the woman may be getting so much pressure she’s not thinking clearly,” while the doctor “should be operating in a calm and collected manner, have identified all the risks to the woman; he’s counseling the woman. We think it’s appropriate to place a greater burden upon the doctor.” You will have noticed which gender Hunt assumes the doctor belongs to, because the boys become doctors and the girls become... incubators.

Speaking of condescending attitudes towards your citizens, China’s Supreme People’s Court votes to retain capital punishment because, they say, China has a low level of socialist development, and much of the population supports an eye for an eye (of course, a pretty good percentage of death sentences are for non-violent crimes such as corruption). But appeals court cases involving the death penalty will, so they say, henceforth be held in open court.

Bush met the prime minister of Slovakia today. Big, big news event, as you can imagine. Here’s Reuters’ take: “Bush Challenges Slovak Leader to Foot Race” (Dzurinda has a broken leg from a skiing accident). And Bush has basically stopped changing the statement he makes whenever he meets some national leader, in the same way that he can never meet a mayor without advising him to “fix the potholes” (that one never gets old):
Thank you for coming. I always enjoy being with you because you’re an optimistic, upbeat believer in the people of your country and the possibilities to work together to achieve peace. And so thanks for coming.
Speaking of optimistic, Bush said Saturday about Iraq: “I’m optimistic that the leadership recognizes that sectarian violence will undermine the capacity for them to self-govern.” So a civil war would make governing more difficult, huh? You’ve really got that post-presidential teaching gig at the Harvard School of Government nailed down, don’t you, oh master of the fucking obvious?

Robert Parry says of Bush’s aforementioned optimism about Iraq, “For Bush, the Iraq glass is always one-tenth full, not nine-tenths empty.”

Sunday, March 12, 2006

The jealousy is palpable

Suicide bombers tried to assassinate current Afghan senate head and former president Sibghatullah Mujaddedi (say that ten times fast). Karzai says, “The attack shows enemies of Afghanistan are jealous of its peace and stability.” Yes, I’m sure everyone is jealous of the peace and stability of... Afghanistan.

Milosevic died of “heart failure.” Nope, nope, I just can’t think of a single sarcastic thing to say about that.

Katherine Harris may pull out of the Florida Senate race this week. She says, “I will continue to look to our Founding Fathers, who pursued their vision with integrity and perseverance”. She doesn’t mean Washington and Jefferson and that lot, she means Florida’s Founding Fathers, the real estate swindlers who sold swamp land to unsuspecting investors.

We face an enemy that will use explosive devices in order to shake our will

WaPo headline: “Crusader for Serb Honor Was Defiant Until the End.” Yeah, that was Milosevic all over: genocide with honor.

On Claude Allen’s criminal activity (theft through fraud, or some such term, not actually shoplifting, as many lazy media outlets are terming it), Scottie McClellan had this to say: “If it is true, no one would be more shocked and more outraged than the president.” And Bush himself: “When I heard the story last night I was shocked.” Let’s all say it together, shall we: No one could have anticipated...

In order to appear more engaged with the war in Iraq, Bush made a big deal of being briefed by the Joint Improvised Explosive Device Defeat Task Force, and then holding a press conference to say that he had just been briefed by the Joint Improvised Explosive Device Defeat Task Force (“We face an enemy that will use explosive devices in order to shake our will”). Sadly, though, this is George W. Bush trying to appear engaged:

Cheney looks so glum, like a man who’s just realized that he could have blown up Harry Whittington with an IED instead of shooting him in the face, and he wouldn’t even have had to get out of the car: