Friday, February 13, 2004

Oh, he gets high, all right

A woman in France marries a guy who died two years before. Evidently that’s legal there.

Amusing Daily-Mail (a British tabloid)-o-matic.

A quote, I swear from a National Guard press release, 1970: “George Walker Bush is one member of the younger generation who doesn’t get his kicks from pot or hashish or speed. Oh, he gets high, all right. But not from narcotics.” Right, he gets high from knowing someone else is getting his ass shot off by the Viet Cong in his place. From this article on what we know, which is rather a lot, about how Shrub got into the Guard in the first place.

While a federal judge has blocked the Justice Dept’s demands for the medical records of women who had “partial-birth abortions,” it should be noted that Justice’s brief argued that there is no doctor-patient privilege in federal law, and that with the growth of insurers, there is no expectation that one’s medical history is private. Why after all, just yesterday they released Shrub’s dental records, showing us just how healthy the teeth he is lying through were in 1973.

Some moron--pardon, “senior official”--at the State Dept has been telling reporters that Haiti’s government will have to change, including Aristide stepping down before the end of his term. Such statements encourage the violence in Haiti, obviously, and are especially egregious in relation to an elected president already forced out by one coup and (eventually) reinstated by US troops. Powell sort of took it back today. This is Venezuela, one year ago, all over again. I’m still not sure who the opposition actually are, although the Guardian says the uprising is “led by a former criminal gang and disgruntled ex-soldiers of the disbanded army.”

A while back I mentioned an Uzbek political prisoner who was boiled to death. His mother made this public, giving photos of the body to the British embassy, which confirmed the boiling. She was just sentenced to 6 years maximum security.

Robert Fisk deals with the accusation by neo-cons that anyone who doesn’t believe in their piffle about creating democracy in the Middle East is a racist who thinks Arabs are lesser life forms:
Indeed, when they emigrate to the West and settle down with US or British or French or any other Western passport, they show the same aptitude as ourselves for "democracy". The Iraqis of Dearborn, Michigan, are like any other Americans, and they vote - largely Democrat - and play and work like any other freedom-loving US citizens. So there's nothing genetic about the Arab world's inability to seize democracy.

The problem is not the people. The problem is the environment, the make- up of the patriarchal society and - most important of all - the artificial states which we created for them. They do not and cannot produce democracy. The dictators we paid and armed and stroked ruled by torture and by tribe. Faced with nations which they in many cases did not believe in, the Arab peoples had confidence only in their tribes. The kings were tribal - the Hashemites come from the north-east of what we now call Saudi Arabia - and the dictators were tribal. Saddam, as all the world is told repeatedly, was a Tikriti. And these ruthless men held power through a network of tribal and sectarian alliances.

When we bashed into their country, of course, we told the Iraqis we were going to give them democracy. They would have free elections. I remember the first time I realised how dishonest this promise was. It was when Paul Bremer, America's failed proconsul in Iraq, stopped talking about democracy and started referring to "representative government" - which is not the same thing at all. That was when folk like Daniel Pipes, a right-wing cousin of those neo-cons we can no longer mention, started advocating not "democracy" for Iraq but a "democratically-minded autocrat".

Bremer says there can be no elections before the June "handover" of "sovereignty" - in itself a lie because the "handover" will give the mythical "sovereignty" of Iraq to a group of Iraqis chosen by the Americans and the British. They will - prayers are now called for - later hold the democratic elections we falsely promised the Iraqi people and which the Iraqi Shias are now vociferously demanding. And even if these elections are ever held, most Iraqis will vote according to tribe and religion. That is how their political system has worked for almost a hundred years and that is how the American-selected "interim council" works today.

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