February 28, 2006
National Call-in Day On Iraq
Today is United for Peace & Justice's national call-in day to ask your representatives to vote against Bush's current $72.4 billion supplemental spending request for Iraq.
You can call toll free at 888-355-3588 or try the direct congressional switchboard line at 202-224-3121.
The power of the purse! It's 8th grade Social Studies, IN ACTION!!!
February 27, 2006
Bob Harris Still Leads World's Most Unusual Life
I've long believed Bob Harris lives the most peculiar life of anyone on earth. His recent experience with manta rays, documented in lurid photographs, was actually an extremely banal day by his standards.
Also: read this about Robert B. Trice, Lockheed Martin's Vice President for Bathing in Human Blood.
Blah Blah Blah Bleh
Blurgasm has been running 17,000 email interviews with 17,000 blurgs. One of them is with me...but to be honest, it's not worth reading unless you have the kind of time on your hands usually available only to the imprisoned.
Some of the others are pretty interesting, however.
February 26, 2006
Wow, This Really IS Vietnam
Fred Barnes, executive editor of the Weekly Standard, in 2004:
Should national unity prevail, Iraq's chances of becoming a stable democracy will improve dramatically. I'd like to see one other thing in Iraq, an outbreak of gratitude for the greatest act of benevolence one country has ever done for another.
David Lawrence, editor of US News & World Report, in 1966:
What the United States is doing in Vietnam is the most significant example of philanthropy extended by one people to another that we have witnessed in our times.
SPECIAL ESCHER-LIKE BONUS: The Lawrence quote is mentioned in Rogue State by William Blum...which of course is the book endorsed by Osama bin Laden.
(Barnes quotes thanks to Roger.)
February 24, 2006
Invading Countries Is Like A Box Of Chocolates
New Republic Senior Editor Lawrence Kaplan recently spent time in Iraq. Among the things he witnessed was this:
On the day the preliminary results of December's elections were announced, [Iraq's Prime Minister Ibrahim] Jafari invites the election commissioners for dinner. The liberal activist Mustafa Al Kadhimiy wrangles two invitations...
As a television in the corner of the room conveys images of the carnage outside, Jafari admits to being partial to the works of Noam Chomsky. Why won't Chomsky come to Iraq? he asks.
I think it's safe to say that—of all the possible futures the Bush administration may have considered when they invaded Iraq—one thing they didn't anticipate was ending up with a Chomsky fan as prime minister.
The Secret Of Comedy Is, Of Course, Ti-MING
Danielle Pletka, vice president at the American Enterprise Institute and alpha neoconservative, recently wrote an angry op-ed for the Los Angeles Times slamming the CIA:
[T]he CIA itself is a political organization... it should be clear from the sheer volume of senior intelligence officials quoted regularly in the nation's newspapers that there was--and is--a specific agenda...
There were, for example, inaccurate warnings... that [Iraq] would erupt into civil war...
Beautifully enough, Pletka's op-ed was published on Tuesday, one day before the mosque in Samarra was blown up.
The only way this could have been better is if Pletka had written: "There were, for example, inaccurate warnings that I would write an op-ed for the Los Angeles Times that would make me look like an incredible moron."
February 23, 2006
No Place Like Home
We all remember Bob Dole's moving words in May, 1996, when he announced he would be giving up his Senate seat to run for president:
"I will seek the presidency with nothing to fall back on but the judgment of the people and nowhere to go but the White House or home."
This was truly eloquent. What few know, however, is that the first draft was even better:
"I will seek the presidency with nothing to fall back on but a cushy sinecure lobbying the U.S. on behalf of the feudal overlords of the United Arab Emirates."
BONUS: Dole's resignation speech was written by Mark Helprin, conservative commentator and author of the novel Winter's Tale. I wish I could email this little jokey-joke to him, because I bet he'd really get a kick out of it.
February 22, 2006
This Just In: WE'RE ALL GOING TO DIE
Here's an excerpt from a NY Review of Books article about Paul Bremer's book on Iraq:
Bremer says that Bush "was as vigorous and decisive in person as he appeared on television." But in fact he gives an account of a superficial and weak leader... In Bremer's account, the President was seriously interested in one issue: whether the leaders of the government that followed the CPA would publicly thank the United States. But there is no evidence that he cared about the specific questions that counted: Would the new prime minister have a broad base of support? Would he be able to bridge Iraq's ethnic divisions? What political values should he have? Instead, Bush had only one demand: "It's important to have someone who's willing to stand up and thank the American people for their sacrifice in liberating Iraq." According to Bremer, he came back to this single point three times in the same meeting. Similarly, Ghazi al-Yawar, an obscure Sunni Arab businessman, became Bush's candidate for president of Iraq's interim government because, as Bremer reports, Bush had "been favorably impressed with his open thanks to the Coalition."
Yes, I see. Let me just adjust my throat and make preparations to scream at the top of my lungs, and then we can--
Truly, why bother with all the other nonsense, when the only real qualification for an Iraqi leader is how vigorously he can smooch George Bush's ass.
You know who I think would find this the most charming? Iraqis. Because, as today's news shows, Bush's wise, far-sighted strategy has really paid off for them.
February 21, 2006
Exactly WHAT Is Fred Malek Advising Scooter Libby To Do?
What White House staffer wrote a memo saying this?
No written communications from the White House to the Departments -- all information about the program would be transmitted verbally... documents prepared would not indicate White House involvement in any way.
That was by Fred Malek, during the Nixon administration. His official title was "Special Assistant to the President."
Malek was writing to H.R. Haldeman, Nixon's Chief of Staff, about Nixon's "responsiveness program." This was a scheme to politicize as much of the federal government as possible in support of Nixon's 1972 reelection campaign. As the memo shows, Malek was extremely concerned that the program not be traced back to the White House. Unfortunately for Nixon, it was discovered and investigated as part of Watergate. (More details can be found in a recent Colbert King column.)
So, what's Malek doing these days?
Well, he's long been an influential member of the Republican establishment. (His rise was only slightly slowed when it turned out he'd carried out an order by Nixon to tally the number of Jewish staffers at the Bureau of Labor Statistics, in search of a "Jewish cabal.")
And as Scooter Libby's new website shows, Malek is part of the Libby Defense Fund's "Advisory Committee."
Which raises a natural question:
Why does Scooter Libby want the support of a political hatchetman from the Nixon administration who not only engaged in extremely unsavory activities, but then was caught trying to cover them up?
Is it because Fred Malek has completely changed since 1972, and Libby's completely innocent, so they can have long discussions about the importance of ethics in governmental service?
Or...is Libby hoping for advice from Malek on how to avoid the mistakes he made?
In any case, the hubris of the Republican machine is flabbergasting. Again, Malek was Special Assistant to the President...while Libby, in addition to being Cheney's Chief of Staff, held the title of "Assistant to the President."
You'd think—just for the sake of PR—they'd want to keep Libby away from predecessors who'd done horrible things for presidents who later had to resign to escape impeachment. But apparently, no.
BONUS FOOTAGE: It takes a special kind of man to write a memo saying "be sure not to write anything down."
We Needed Someone With A Strong Background In Math
And one of the people on the "advisory committee" for Libby's defense fund is the Honorable Frederick V. Malek. I wonder how he contributes? Perhaps by counting the number of Jews working for Patrick Fitzgerald.
A Big Step Forward For This Website
Since the birth of this blaeeeeeergh, there's been a serious problem with the people commenting here: you've been uniformly intelligent, well-informed and funny. This indicated the site was not getting the wide exposure God surely intends for it.
But now there's good news! This comment here by "joe citizen" indicates A Tiny Revolution is moving full speed ahead into the internet mainstream:
Who give a flying rats ass. That's the media for you. Not a government "conspiracy". Since when could this government keep the idoit press from printing any NEGATIVE information?!!?
So they had sandbags on their heads...waaaa. They'll get over it. They're still alive, and if you have your way, they'll be back on the streets tomorrow. In a war, I consider that no harm, no foul. War is a messy thing. NO war is perfectly carried out. Some our own soldiers die from "friendly fire".
As far as foreign policy, it's not that it fails...it's that we're so hamstrung by the left that this administration can't carry out a promise without some bleeding heart crying about the smallest things.
I'm all for getting the hell out of the middle east as long as this administration would make a promise, and all the bleeding hearts would agree to the promise:
"We leave them alone, but the next time something happens like 9/11...we answer with a nuclear strike. No questions, no oh this or oh that...one IED here, one nuke there." I don't even care what the target is. They could start in Tehran for all I care. They'll either quit or be wiped out. And to me, it's fine either way.
I don't want this thing dragging on for years and years. I don't want my kids and my grandkids fighting this stupid war.
I wish the U.S. were as bad as every other nation claims. We're not going to "win their hearts", and I could care less if we did. We should be kicking the crap out of them no holds barred, and let THEM be scared about what WE'RE going to do to them if they don't straighten up.
Screw all you ass kissers on here. Hug the world, and all you'll get is a black eye in the press, and a punch in the gut from those you're trying to help.
They hate us, and I say hate 'em back.
February 20, 2006
Help! My Preconceived Notions Are Under Attack!
Recently I mentioned Bill Tierney, former member of UNSCOM and the man behind the release of the so-called "Saddam tapes." Given that Tierney says he could locate Iraqi weapons facilities via a friend's dreams as well as "asking God," I argued that his cellphone of sanity is not fully charged.
Now, via Laura Rozen, I see National Review's Byron York has written an article about Tierney. Given National Review's history, I thought before reading it that York would credulously lap up Tierney's most ludicrous assertions, while simultaneously ignoring the voluminous evidence he's bonkers.
Instead, York honestly and assiduously lays out the case for Tierney's fruitcakiness. In other words, he demonstrates that some of my most cherished assumptions about the world are wrong.
I don't like this at all.
The King of Zembla (a distant northern land) has checked in with his royal opinion about Tiomoid of Angle, panzers and "Stomping Out the Reds."
Using all his tricksy English majoring, His Majesty explains:
Isn't it liberating to know that assonance and scansion are the be-all and end-all of songwriting? We had been under the mistaken impression that lyricists took an occasional interest in what their words actually meant. Now, when we perform our latest romantic ballad, "Phantom Lady," and well-meaning friends tell us how much they like it except for the next-to-last verse, which supposedly "spoils the mood" --And when the starlight gleams
She comes to him in dreams
The lovely smile that he sees
Is like a pile of feces
His fleeting, phantom lady loooooovvvvvve
-- we can tell them, with absolute confidence, to piss off.
You have to hear it with strings to appreciate its soaring beauty.
And there's more!
February 19, 2006
Worst Of All, These Violent Extremists Often Speak At The Council On Foreign Relations
Here's a screen shot from the Council on Foreign Relations page about a recent speech there by Donald Rumsfeld. See if you can spot the irony!
As I've said previously, it's like a genuine compulsion with Rumsfeld. Later in the speech he fulminates about "our enemies, which propagate lies with impunity -- with no penalty whatsoever."
February 18, 2006
Welcome To The Monkeysphere
So far I've particularly enjoyed "Inside the Monkeysphere":
...one way or another we all have limits to our sphere of monkey concern. It's simply the way our brains are built. We each have a certain circle of people who we think of as people. Usually it's our own friends and family and neighbors and classmates and coworkers (or at least the ones in your department) and church or suicide cult.
This is literally the reason society doesn't work quite right. The people who exist outside that core group of a few dozen people are not people to us. They're sort of one-dimensional bit characters.
Remember the first time, as a kid, you met one of your school teachers outside the classroom? Maybe you saw old Miss Puckerson at Taco Bell picking up and eating a whole Taco Salad with her bare hands? Or you saw your principal walking out of a dildo shop?
Do you remember that surreal feeling you had when you saw these people actually had lives outside the classroom? I mean, they're teachers.
I really must insist you read it all.
I also recommend "John Dies at the End." It's one of the best examples I've even seen of the subterranean connection between horror and le funnie.
February 17, 2006
Exuberant Songsters, Or Nazi Youth? An Exchange On "Stomping Out The Reds"
Last year I posted something about a song called "Stomping Out the Reds." Sung to the tune of "Bringing in the Sheaves," it's a favorite of the College Republican National Committee, and was performed at the banquet at their 2003 convention. I characterized it as being "literally sung from the point of view of Nazi Germany."
Recently I received email from the song's author, Tiomoid of Angle. (His name, while unusual, is genuine.) With his permission, I've posted it below. As you'll see, he disagrees with my perspective.
Comments are encouraged, but please keep them friendly.
(For those not steeped in the history of undergraduate Ivy League political parties, the Party of the Right was founded at Yale in 1953. Tiomoid of Angle graduated from Yale in 1978.)
Date: Wed, 15 Feb 2006 09:49:17 -0800 (PST)
From: Dr Tiomoid of Angle
I would have left a comment with the original post but I couldn't find any way to do it -- apparently archiving something preserves it as if in aspic for all time. Pity.
I (not "the Party of the Right") happen to be the writer of the song in question (and it's "panzers forward *steaming*", not "streaming" - which, if you think about it, makes no sense), and I'd appreciate a credit at your earliest convenience.
It is, to be sure, taken from The Party of the Right Songbook, of whom I had the honor to be the editor mumbledy-mumble years ago, and if you'd like I'd be happy to send you a copy -- no doubt half of the songs in it would melt your humor-challenged soul faster than the Wicked Witch of the East.
I'm certainly happy to learn that it is both popular on the Right and irritative of the Left, but it is neither pro-Nazi nor anti-semitic, except in the fevered brains of those who think that all things German must be one or the other, if not both.
The term "panzer" was chosen (as was the term "barbecue") solely for reasons of assonance and scansion. (Feel free to look them up; we can wait.) After all, when have "panzers" ever used steam engines? The song was created, not to give expression to the darkness visible of the right-wing soul, but solely to provide a tub-thumper that we could sing while drinking. A disappointment, perhaps, but I'm sure that you can cope.
Just to give your tender little progressive conspiracy gene another tweak, I can reveal that the Federalist Society was founded by members of the Party of the Right (Gene Meyer, Lee Liberman, and Steve Calabresi). Be careful where you step -- our tentacles are everywhere.
Have a nice day.
Tiomoid M. of Angle
SCITIS IMPERTI * NOSCE IGNOTIS
Again, my own views, including the lyrics to "Stomping Out the Reds," can be found here.
UPDATE: Link fixed.
February 16, 2006
Bill Tierney Is BACK!
Yesterday Nightline reported on some newly-released tapes of Saddam Hussein talking with his nearest and dearest sociopaths during the nineties. Anticipation for this had been frenzied around the wingnut-o-sphere. But it turns out there isn't anything revelatory in them, at least in the parts made public so far. On the WMD and terrorism front they just confirm what's already known.
They're certainly of historical interest, though. For instance, it turns out Saddam himself predicted (non-Iraqi) WMD terrorism against the US:
One of the most dramatic moments in the 12 hours of recordings comes when Saddam predicts ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â‚¬Â during a meeting in the mid-1990s ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â‚¬Â a terrorist attack on the United States. "Terrorism is coming. I told the Americans a long time before Aug. 2 and told the British as well ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‚Â¦ that in the future there will be terrorism with weapons of mass destruction." Saddam goes on to say such attacks would be difficult to stop. "In the future, what would prevent a booby-trapped car causing a nuclear explosion in Washington or a germ or a chemical one?" But he adds that Iraq would never do such a thing. "This is coming, this story is coming but not from Iraq."
It must be quite a disappointment to Laurie Mylroie and Paul Wolfowitz that Saddam didn't then add: Except for the fine conventional terrorism by our Agent McVeigh.
Anyway, the most intriguing part to me is that the person who gave the tapes to ABC is Bill Tierney. Tierney is the only former UNSCOM member who also put in some lengthy protest time outside Terry Schiavo's hospital.
But there's even more to him than that. I was first alerted to Mr. Tierney's multifarious career by Billmon and World of Crap. Ever since I've seen him everywhere. He's like a fundamentalist, mentally-shaky Waldo.
ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‚Â¢ He joined the army in 1983 because God told him to. In the late nineties he was detailed to UNSCOM, but was forced to retire early for a hazy incident involving praying with a Christian Iraqi defector.
ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‚Â¢ In 2002 he was a civilian interrogator at Guantanamo for two months until he "was dismissed when DIA officials once again felt he wasn't following established procedures."
ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‚Â¢ Before the Iraq war, he said in a radio interview he'd pinpointed a secret uranium enrichment facility in Iraq. How did he locate it? "I would ask God."
ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‚Â¢ After the war he went on CNN to explain how the terrfying WMD were on the verge of being found. He also called fellow guest Imad Khadduri "an agent of influence of the Baath Party." Until then Khadduri had cleverly concealed his fealty to the Baath Party by never joining and later fleeing Iraq with his family.
ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‚Â¢ The U.S. understandably wanted to benefit from Tierney's expertise, so he then spent eight months as an interrogator in Baghdad. As Tierney later explained at an "intelligence" conference:
''The Brits came up with an expression - wog...That stands for Wily Oriental Gentleman. There's a lot of wiliness in that part of the world.'' And when it comes to interrogating wily insurgents, Tierney explained, he favors ''smarts over smack.''
After explaining his various psychological tactics to the audience, [Tierney] said, ''I tried to be nuanced and culturally aware. But the suspects didn't break.''
Suddenly Tierney's temper rose. ''They did not break!'' he shouted. ''I'm here to win. I'm here so our civilization beats theirs! Now what are you willing to do to win?'' he asked, pointing to a woman in the front row. ''You are the interrogators, you are the ones who have to get the information from the Iraqis. What do you do? That word 'torture'. You immediately think, 'That's not me.' But are we litigating this war or fighting it?''
ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‚Â¢ In March last year, he headed down to Florida:
Mr. Tierney, a former military intelligence officer in Iraq who works as a translator and investigator for private companies, cried as he talked about watching the Schiavo spectacle on television and feeling the utter need to be at the hospice.
Like many of the protesters, Mr. Tierney said he had experienced proof in his own life that God is real. He held out his left hand showing the traces of scars from injuries he suffered in a gas explosion in 1987.
"You can hardly see it anymore," he said, the tears cascading down his sun-darkened cheeks. "And I was burned all the way from my waist up. By the laws of physics, I should be dead. So I've seen miracles."
ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‚Â¢ In November last year he did an interview with Frontpage Magazine in which he described Judith Miller as "one of the few bright lights at the New York Times."
Of course, none of this indicates these tapes aren't real. In fact, Tierney's involvement makes me certain they are; if he'd doctored them in some way, it wouldn't be to create the kind of weak tea excerpted above. Instead, Saddam would be declaring his blood oath of fealty to (1) George Soros and (2) Satan.
But it is quite remarkable to see our world can, as long as they have the right politics, find a home for people who are genuinely insane. If only he'd advocate blowing up Iran, there'd be a cushy gig somewhere for John Hinckley.
Oh, please, won't this website work again?
UPDATE: It appears the website gods have smiled on me, and things are back to normal except for a few lost entries and some remaining funkiness around the edges.
February 15, 2006
The Perks Of Power Are Sweet! SWEET!
As you may know, a new Turkish movie called The Valley of the Wolves--Iraq is setting box office records there. Apparently it portrays America in Iraq as monstrous, massacring civilians and removing prisoners' organs for patients in the U.S., Israel and England.
Yusuf Kanli, the editor in chief of the Turkish Daily News, said the film is grounded in a real event known as the "bag incident," which cemented the movie's popularity in Turkey.
"Abu Ghraib is a deep wound, but it's war, and war is never clean," Kanli said. "But what happened in July 2003 can never be forgotten by any Turk."
In that incident, U.S. troops arrested 11 Turkish special-forces officers in northern Iraq and walked them from their headquarters with bags over their heads. It was considered a bitter betrayal by a trusted ally. Turkish newspapers dubbed it the "Rambo Crisis." Recent opinion polls rank it as the most humiliating moment in Turkish history.
What interests me about this is not only did I have no opinion about the "bag incident," I had NEVER EVEN HEARD OF IT.
In other words, it's possible for America to do things to other countries that they consider "the most humiliating moment" in their history...and even anti-American America-haters like myself can't be bothered simply to know it happened.
This is one of the true perks of power: being able to get away with complete ignorance about other people. Generally speaking, for countries as well as individuals, the more power you have the stupider you are. If you have gigantic amounts of power, you can get away with knowing nothing whatsoever. George Bush George Bush George Bush.
I'm curious to know if others knew more or less than me about the bag incident. (Well, more or the same; you couldn't really have known less.)
This is an unfortunate Google News juxtaposition:
February 14, 2006
Roger at Limited, Inc. says:
Boeing, 2.6 billion dollars profit, up 37.4% from 2004
Lockheed Martin, 1.8 billion dollars profit, up 44.2 % from 2004
General Dynamics, 1.5 billion, +19.1%
Northrup Grummen, 1.2 billion, +29.2 %
If onlyÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‚Â¦ if only I were a genetic engineer, and were able to develop a bacteria that I could slip to the stockholders of the largest military companies. This bacteria wouldnÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢t hurt them. It would just make everything they smoked, drank and ate taste like human blood.
I myself have sometimes thought we should develop an internal combustion engine that runs on ground up Iraqi children. That would at least have the virtue of being honest.
Happy Valentine's Day!
February 13, 2006
A Massive Intelligence Failure
As we now know, it appears it was not a covey of quail sneaking up behind Vice President Cheney, but rather a man named Harry Whittington.
In retrospect, the intelligence that Colin Powell presented at the United Nations Security Council on this matter appears to have been substantially incorrect.
In particular, this slide is sure to be a source of controversy in months to come:
Given the history of the Bush administration, I assume we'll eventually learn Osama bin Laden had disguised himself as a quail, and was hidden among the birds who escaped while Cheney was shooting someone else.
February 12, 2006
I Don't Get It
PLEASE: do not expect any jokes in this long, painfully sincere post
I'm confused about part of the NSA wiretapping story, and I'm hoping someone here could explain it to me. I haven't been following this closely, so it may be these questions of mine have been answered a million times before. But if anyone can tell me what's going on, I would appreciate it.
Here's what I don't get:
In Alberto Gonzales' testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee last week, there was this exchange between him and Sen. Brownback:
BROWNBACK: Part of what we're working off of is a war declaration dated September 18th, 2001, and the war declaration on Afghanistan, and the war declaration October 16th, 2002 on the use of military force in Iraq...
GONZALES: There was not a war declaration, either in connection with Al Qaida or in Iraq. It was an authorization to use military force.
If you read the whole thing, you'll see Gonzales was anxious to make his position clear: Congress has not declared war.
1. The official title of that Judiciary Committee hearing was:
"Wartime Executive Power and the NSAÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢s Surveillance Authority."
2. The Justice Department issued a long justification for the wiretapping program called "LEGAL AUTHORITIES SUPPORTING THE ACTIVITIES OF THE NATIONAL SECURITY AGENCY DESCRIBED BY THE PRESIDENT." It says:
The President's exercise of his constitutional authority to conduct warrantless wartime electronic surveillance of the enemy, as confirmed and supplemented by statute in the AUMF, is fully consistent with the requirements of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act ("FISA").
(The "AUMF" is Congress' September 18, 2001 "Authorization to the Use Military Force" against those responsible for 9/11.)
3. Gonzales himself said in a January 24, 2006 speech at Georgetown Law School:
We have to remember that we're talking about a wartime foreign intelligence program.
So these are my questions:
ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‚Â¢ Why was Gonzales so determined to make clear he didn't believe Congress had declared war?
ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‚Â¢ Is there some legitimate way for the Bush administration (or anyone) to claim it's "wartime" when Congress has not declared war?
Now, here are my best guesses for the answers, though given I have no idea what I'm talking about, they could be wrong:
Gonzales is adamant that Congress has not declared war because if Congress HAD, the U.S. would be legally subject to all kinds of treaty obligations that the Bush administration wants to avoid. In fact, a fuller quote from the hearings makes this clear:
GONZALES: There was not a war declaration, either in connection with Al Qaida or in Iraq. It was an authorization to use military force.
I only want to clarify that, because there are implications. Obviously, when you talk about a war declaration, you're possibly talking about affecting treaties, diplomatic relations. And so there is a distinction in law and in practice.
In particular, I assume Gonzales has the Geneva Conventions in mind. Remember, he wrote the famous memo telling Bush that Geneva "does not apply" to our conflict with Al Qaeda or the Taliban. Thus, we can set aside "Geneva's strict limitations on questioning of enemy prisoners."
Beyond that, I assume there's no legitimate way to say it's "wartime" when Congress has not declared war. Thus, the attempt by Gonzales and the Bush administration to have it both ways is complete bullshit, and would be mercilessly mocked in any country where words had meaning.
Fortunately for them, the U.S. is no longer such a place. Thus, they can claim we're not at war when it suits them, and claim we are at war when it does. And not only does no one care, barely anyone notices.
But to repeatedly repeat: I know I could be completely wrong about any of this. If you are someone who actually understands what's going on, please help. If you're someone who doesn't understand what's going on, I encourage you to simply march in lockstep with me.
(Gonzales "war declaration" quote via Glenn Greenwald.)
February 10, 2006
Christopher Hitchens Now Officially Insane
From a debate with David Corn:
[Hitchens'] most entertaining remark of the evening came when he asked the audience to contemplate the fact that not a single weapon of mass destruction has yet been found in Iraq. Wasn't that suspicious? Given that Iraq had possessed chemical and biological weapons in the 1990s, shouldn't a few have remained? In fact, he went on, the zero finding was so suspicious that it was not credible. Think for yourself, people, he exhorted the crowd.
Places like the Washington Post are always very concerned when regular citizens believe in "conspiracy theories." But they never notice that conspiracy zealotsÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â‚¬Âpeople certain that they've been proven correct by the very absence of evidenceÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â‚¬Âactually hold prominent positions in the media and government. Beyond Hitchens, there's a whole passel of neoconservatives who are certain Saddam helped Timothy McVeigh. Even worse, there are a few lost souls who believe George Bush is a good president.
This Beautiful Ring Makes Me All Powerful! [pause] OH PLEASE NO
Here's more interesting stuff from All the Shah's Men: An American Coup and the Roots of Middle East Terror: in 1917, Winston Churchill referred to Iran's oil as "a prize from fairyland beyond our wildest dreams."
This strikes me in two ways.
First, there's the obvious one: the hilarious/horrifying shamelessness of Churchill's slavering imperialism. (Soon after Churchill said this, according to All the Shah's Men, England "assumed control over Iran's army, treasury, transport system, and communications network. To secure their new power, they imposed martial law and began ruling by fiat.")
Second, events since 1917 make me think Churchill was RIGHTER THAN HE KNEW. That is, oil has turned out to be like "a prize from fairyland"...in a fairytale in which malevolent fairies give greedy villagers a gift which at first seems like a great treasure, but eventually destroys them.
Other Ironic Lessons Of Iraq
Richard Perle, a key architect of the U.S.-led war against Iraq, said on Saturday the West should not make the mistake of waiting too long to use military force if Iran comes close to getting an atomic weapon.
"If you want to try to wait until the very last minute, you'd better be very confident of your intelligence because if you're not, you won't know when the last minute is," Perle told Reuters on the sidelines of an annual security conference in Munich.
"And so, ironically, one of the lessons of the inadequate intelligence of Iraq is you'd better be careful how long you choose to wait."
As Perle says, that's just ONE of the lessons of Iraq. Here are some others, all of which are also ironic:
1. We did little planning for the aftermath of military action in Iraq; ironically, we must therefore invade Iran after doing none whatsoever
2. We didn't invade Iraq with enough soldiers; ironically, we must therefore invade Iran with an expeditionary force of 12 men
3. Richard Perle only made millions in war profiteering on Iraq; ironically, we must therefore invade Iran and allow him to literally enslave every Iranian
"I have designed a cartoon in which an emaciated Mohammed and Jesus -- wearing a yellow star -- fellate one another in a modified 69 behind the barbed wire of Aushwitz as Buddha gorges himself on a stinking pile of Shiva's feces and the Virgin Mary gives birth to a razor-toothed leprechaun beneath a smiling Raisin-Bran sun, and Mother Goose flies over the entire proceedings strafing the inmates with bullets, bibles, etc. Also the whole thing would be painted in stem cells."
February 09, 2006
Curse Those Complicit Media Outlets!
Perhaps you remember George Bush and Tony Blair used to get mad at Al Jazeera for broadcasting tapes of bin Laden, on the grounds the tapes might include secret messages for his minions.
In light of that, here's an interesting slice of 1953 history from Stephen Kinzer's All the Shah's Men: An American Coup and the Roots of Middle East Terror. The "Roosevelt" it refers to is Kermit Roosevelt (grandson of Teddy). He'd been sent to Iran by the CIA in order to organize the overthrow of the democratically-elected Mossadegh government:
Roosevelt told the Shah that he was in Iran on behalf of the American and British secret services, and that this would be confirmed by a code word the Shah would be able to hear on the BBC the next night. Churchill had arranged that the BBC would end its broadcast day by saying not "It is now midnight," as usual, but "It is now exactly midnight."
This makes me wonder two things:
1. When reporting on the Bush/Blair complaints, did the BBC mention this part of its own history—i.e., happily facilitating the overthrow of a government in a Muslim country?
2. Is the BBC still doing this kind of thing?
EXTRA CREDIT: In the run up to the invasion of Iraq, Andrew Sullivan liked to call the BBC the "Baghdad Broadcasting Company" on the grounds it was "actively cooperating with Saddam."
Sullivan has many talents, but where he's really world class is his ability to know nothing whatsoever about history.
February 08, 2006
Great Moments In Non-Standard Usage
From an article in the Times of London:
Iran has threatened to defend itself if attacked.
I didn't realize a country could "threaten" to defend itself. I thought the threatening was done beforehand by the attackers, and it was pretty much taken for granted that the attacked would defend themselves.
February 07, 2006
The Skull Beneath The Skin
Who is this?
Hint: he's a powerful American political figure who was part of several administrations and vociferously supported an unpopular war.
Incredibly enough, that is not Dick Cheney, but Walt Rostow. In the Johnson administration Rostow was Special Advisor to the President for National Security (what's now called National Security Advisor). Under Kennedy he was Deputy Special blah blah blah. And he wrote speeches for Eisenhower. He was widely loathed for his tremendous enthusiasm for the Vietnam war.
The pictures are from Rostow's appearance in the documentary Hearts and Minds. And in fact, they don't do his resemblance to Cheney justice. Everything about him is exactly the same: his body language, tone of voice, and more.
This makes me wonder if everyone has a Cheney/Rostow inside them, and evil and power are a type of solvent that given enough time dissolves everything else about someone...leaving only this behind.
Other Things Al Qaeda Forgets
As Attorney General Gonzales pointed out yesterday, if the media didn't talk about it all the time, Al Qaeda would forget we were monitoring them:
GONZALES: I think, based on my experience, it is true -- you would assume that the enemy is presuming that we are engaged in some kind of surveillance.
But if they're not reminded about it all the time in the newspapers and in stories, they sometimes forget.
Indeed, one of our greatest strengths in the War on Terror has been the inherent forgetfulness of our enemy. Or at least, it WOULD be a strengthÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â‚¬Âif the god damn media weren't always reminding them of stuff. Here are some other examples:
1. Al Qaeda sometimes forgets we're mad at them
President Bush has sent numerous cards to Osama bin Laden, saying they're best friends and inviting bin Laden to brunch at the White House. On several occasions bin Laden was about to accept. Then the media reminded him we were actually mad at him, and he realized it was a trick!
2. Al Qaeda sometimes forgets to use bombs
Once Al Qaeda was planning an operation where several crack operatives were going toÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â‚¬Âwith no warning whatsoeverÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â‚¬Âgive thousands of American children a delicious Fig Newton. Then the media reminded them that they specialize in blowing things up, and they called it off.
3. Al Qaeda sometimes forgets to eat food
For four days in July, 2004, every member of Al Qaeda forgot to eat. They were getting dizzy and irritable, and eventually would have all starved to death. But the media reminded them they must eat to live, and they all went out for a big steak dinner!!!
Whenever America's War Party talked about Iraq giving nuclear weapons to terrorists, others would say, "That's ridiculous! A government would never offer to give its nuclear weapons to someone else!"
The natural response by the War PartyÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â‚¬Âor the War Partay, as I like to call themÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â‚¬Âwould have been: "That's simply wrong. After all, in 1954, America offered France two nukes to use on Vietnam."
For some reason, however, they never said this.
Anyway, this makes me wonder: is there any other example in history of a government offering to hand over its nukes?
NOTE: It's unclear whether the U.S. was actually going to hand over operational control of the weapons to France. There apparently was also talk of doing the nuking directly ourselves.
BONU$ FUN FACT$: The nuke/Vietnam offer was made to French Foreign Minister Georges Bidault by Secretary of State John Foster Dulles. Later an airport in Virginia was named after Dulles. Later still the plane that hit the Pentagon took off from Dulles.
February 06, 2006
Great Moments In Naval Attache History
So, the Venezuelan government threw out the U.S. naval attache last week. Venezuela claimed he was "passing secret information from the Venezuelan military to the Pentagon."
You may be wondering: is this plausible, particularly given the 2002 Venezuelan coup attempt? Or is it further evidence Chavez is a frothing freedom-hating paranoid schizophrenic powermad thumbbiting Hitlerian bedwetter? Like ALL politicians who oppose the U.S. government?
For some context, let's take a look at a previous U.S. naval attache named Lt. Col. Patrick Ryan.
Ryan was stationed in Chile when the U.S. overthrew the Allende government on September 11, 1973. He sent a situation report on what had happened back to the U.S. on October 1, and thanks to the Freedom of Information Act, you can now read it yourself.
As you'll see, Ryan is wildly enthusiastic about the coup, calling September 11 "our D-Day" and the coup itself "close to perfect." While he writes (perhaps honestly) as though he didn't know specifics about the coup beforehand, he is alerted early that morning by a "very close friend" who is a "retired [Chilean] marine officer" and "one of the key local planners in the coup..."
Now, if there were any such thing as history, we could conclude there may be something to the Venezuelan government's claims...and at the very least, they're not simply paranoid.
Fortunately, history does not exist. Therefore, we know the Venezuelans are crazy swarthy nutjobs whose ravings can be safely ignored.
February 05, 2006
Who Is This "George Orwell" Of Whom You Speak?
Perhaps you've heard of Iraq's Wolf Brigade. Working closely with the U.S., they're loved by many Shiites, and feared by many Sunnis. Some call them a sectarian death squad notorious for brutal torture. Others call them "highly motivated."
In any case, someone's decided "Wolf Brigade" didn't have quite the right ring to it. As Glen Rangwala noticed while reading a Pentagon publication, they've now been renamed the "Freedom Brigade":
There's still one problem, however. Here's a report from Amnesty International:
The men described to the lawyer how they suffered systematic torture for 27 days while being held by the Wolf Brigade in a Ministry of Interior building in the district of al-Ziyouna in Baghdad. They claimed that they were beaten with cables, received electric shocks to the hands, wrists, fingers, ankles and feet, received cigarette burns to the face, and were left in a room with water on the floor while an electric current was applied to the water.
I'm sure you've thinking what I'm thinking: the Freedom Brigade name change is a good start, but there can be no genuine democracy in Iraq until the Ministry of Interior is renamed the Ministry of Love.
February 04, 2006
Nice Work, Funny People
If you haven't seen this already:
This may be particularly enjoyable for those of us whose adolescence was blighted by the Back to the Future trilogy. Other work by its creators, a comedy troupe at Emerson College called Chocolate Cake City, can be found here.
February 03, 2006
An Interesting Un-Coincidence
You've probably seen the stories about a new leaked memo from the run-up to the invasion of Iraq. The memo supposedly records a Bush-Blair White House summit on January 31, 2003, at which they (among other things) agreed on war whether or not they got a second UN resolution.
Is the memo real, and an accurate depiction of events? Well, Bush and Blair definitely did meet on January 31. And another thing the memo says is Bush told Blair "that the US would put its full weight behind efforts to get another resolution and would twist arms and threaten."
Now, perhaps you remember the leaked email from the NSA about its plans to bug the members of the UN Security Council:
...the Agency is mounting a surge particularly directed at the UN Security Council (UNSC) members (minus US and GBR of course) for insights as to how to membership is reacting to the on-going debate RE: Iraq, plans to vote on any related resolutions, what related policies/ negotiating positions they may be considering, alliances/ dependencies, etc - the whole gamut of information that could give US policymakers an edge in obtaining results favorable to US goals...
Again, the date of the Bush-Blair meeting was January 31, 2003.
The date of the leaked NSA email? January 31, 2003.
February 02, 2006
I Wish THIS Was In "Why We Fight"
The new documentary Why We Fight features a retired New York City policeman and Vietnam veteran named Wilton Sekzer. It examines his turbulent emotions after his son Jason was killed at the World Trade Center on 9/11.
At first Sekzer just wants revenge, and he understands the Bush administration to be saying Iraq was somehow responsible. So not only does he support the Iraq war, he asks the Pentagon to write his son's name on a bomb. They do, and drop it east of Baghdad.
Obviously Sekzer wasn't alone in feeling this way about 9/11 and Iraq. Until recently, polls showed a majority of Americans believed Saddam Hussein was "personally involved" in the attacks.
Those possessing a cerebellum know this didn't happen by accident. In fact, I wouldn't be surprised if the White House Iraq Group ran focus groups to discover the most popular rationale for a war, and found it was an Iraq-9/11 connection.
Of course, they never (quite) came out and directly asserted there was such a connection. People would have asked for evidence. Instead, they repeatedly implied Saddam did it: "9/11...Saddam...terrorism...Iraq...Al Qaeda." They correctly assumed many AmericansÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â‚¬Âparticularly those who don't parse every single word politicians say for fine shades of meaningÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â‚¬Âwould make the connection themselves.
But what's gotten little attention is that, in 2004, a Bush official actually admitted this was a conscious strategy.
In other words:
(1) To put it concretely, they sat in their offices and figured out the best way to fool a retired New York City policeman gutted by grief for his dead son.
(2) They were so proud of their cleverness they couldn't help bragging about it to a reporter.
But what were the real reasons for going into Iraq? I'd asked a senior administration official.
There were two basic reasons, the official said. "One was to be rid of the Saddam Hussein regime"... The other was containment...
As it was, the administration took what looked like the path of least resistance in making its public case for the war: WMD and intelligence links with Al Qaeda. If the public read too much into those links and thought Saddam had a hand in September 11, so much the better.
As Why We Fight shows, Wilton Sekzer was stunned whenÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â‚¬Âmany months after the invasionÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â‚¬ÂGeorge Bush explicitly said there was no evidence Iraq was involved in 9/11. He felt duped and betrayed. And now not only is his son gone, so is any faith he had in the U.S. government.
But that's only bad from HIS point of our view! From the Bush administration perspective, if their marks fall for the con, so much the better.
February 01, 2006
One-Page SOTU Critique
The extremely useful Institute for Public Accuracy has published a one-page State of the Union critique as a pdf. You can use it for flyering, posting, handling out, and making unflattering paper mache George Bush heads.
At Last, Blessed Relief
My spam infestationÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â‚¬Âwhich is, frankly, somewhat embarrassing, but we're close enough I feel I can tell you these thingsÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â‚¬Âhas seemingly diminished. I've added an MT plugin that closes comments automatically after seven days, as well as one that bans posts from open proxies. (Not knowing what an open proxy is has not hindered me here.)
So far it's working well. But please let me know if you have problems with new entries, or are suffering from desperate urges to comment on posts from June, 2004. Conversely, also let me know if you've had similar spam problem on your own MT blaeeeergh, and I may be able to help.
Many thanks to everyone who offered advice. I will surely, as the sophistication of the spam demons inexorably increases, call on you again.
AND FINALLY: I would appreciate a plethora of comments to this post, so I know things are working. If you've ever wanted to libel a billionaire, call for the violent overthrow of the US government, or post Angelina Jolie's cell phone number, now would be a good time.