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May 08, 2004
Question for a very specific subset of you...
...former Brooklyn residents who have recently moved out of state. What mover did you use, and do you recommend them or suggest that I run screaming in the opposite direction if someone so much as mentions their name?
(U-Haul's not happening. I've got too much stuff, too little time, and a too-troublesome back.)
May 07, 2004
Looks like I'll be on the "Whad'ya Know" radio show tomorrow morning. Just found out today myself.
May 06, 2004
CNN is carrying Wolfowitz's speech live. He just said, "Our prayers are with him, and with all of our people currently serving in Iran and Afghanistan and in other remote locations around the world."
(No, I didn't mishear. Things like this are why I broke down and joined the cult of Tivo.)
If you will forgive a personal note...
...I would like to congratulate my wife, who is now officially entitled to amend her name with the letters "PhD."
Worse and worse
From the Washington Post:
The collection of photographs begins like a travelogue from Iraq. Here are U.S. soldiers posing in front of a mosque. Here is a soldier riding a camel in the desert. And then: a soldier holding a leash tied around a man's neck in an Iraqi prison. He is naked, grimacing and lying on the floor. Mixed in with more than 1,000 digital pictures obtained by The Washington Post are photographs of naked men, apparently prisoners, sprawled on top of one another while soldiers stand around them. There is another photograph of a naked man with a dark hood over his head, handcuffed to a cell door. And another of a naked man handcuffed to a bunk bed, his arms splayed so wide that his back is arched. A pair of women's underwear covers his head and face.
And via Political Animal, this exchange between Sy Hersh and Bill O'Reilly:
HERSH: I can tell you just from the phone calls I've had in the last 24 hours, even more, there are other photos out there. There are many more photos even inside that unit. There are videotapes of stuff that you wouldn't want to mention on national television that was done. There was a lot of problems.
* * *
I'm on a serious deadline today, so I probably won't have much more for you here 'til I'm done. But thanks to everyone who sent belated Cartoonist Day greetings!
May 05, 2004
May 04, 2004
More on the Smear Boat Team
Here. The ghost of Richard Nixon is apparently roaming the halls of the White House these days.
What the hell is going on over there?
This isn't a few bad apples. This is systemic rot.
Stick a fork in us, we're done. We have officially lost the battle for hearts and minds. We have officially failed as representatives of enlightened democracy.
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Two Iraqi prisoners were murdered by Americans and 23 other deaths are being investigated in Iraq and Afghanistan, the United States revealed on Tuesday as the Bush administration tried to contain growing outrage over the abuse of Iraqi detainees.
And as we have already mentioned, the "contractor" has apparently not even received a slap on the wrist.
You know what this says to the Iraqis? Your lives are worthless. Our people can murder you at will, and receive barely a reprimand.
Always more to the story
Just when we thought we had a pure and simple hero, a millionaire athlete who gave up wealth and fame to become the ideal patriot, to make the ultimate sacrifice, his friends and family complicated everything. They turned Pat Tillman into a human being Monday, showing us what was really lost during that ambush in Afghanistan, insisting that we question every assumption we've made since he died an icon on April 22.
...the problem with That Cartoon is that it reads as more of an attack on this guy than on the forces that treated his life as disposable. That's an important distinction.
A draft coming through
WASHINGTON—The chief of the U.S. Selective Service System has proposed registering women for the military draft and requiring that young Americans regularly inform the government about whether they have training in niche specialties needed in the armed services.
I'm well aware of the argument that a reinstatement of the draft would force Americans to confront the real cost of war. But after how long? Another 50,000 names on another somber memorial on the National Mall?
"I am sure the investigations will get to the bottom of this and I am sure that any problems that exist in the prison system will be fixed promptly."
--Colin Powell, discussing Abu Ghraib prison abuse, May 3, 2004
Powell reported back exactly what his superiors wanted to hear. "In direct refutation of this [Glen's] portrayal," Powell concluded, "is the fact that relations between American soldiers and the Vietnamese people are excellent."
Swift boat smear job
Conason has the rundown.
It just goes on and on.
A Middle Eastern immigrant alleges he was violated during a body-cavity search at a federal jail following the Sept. 11 attacks.
Or the lack thereof:
More than two months after a classified Army report found that two contract workers were implicated in the abuse of Iraqis at a prison outside Baghdad, the companies that employ them say that they have heard nothing from the Pentagon, and that they have not removed any employees from Iraq.
Two minute hate
Sometimes even I am still shocked by the level of free-floating hatred over on the right. Witness the latest Rall kerfluffle. Details are the same as usual: Rall does something outrageous, the right wing bloggers go nuts, work themselves into a frothing frenzy of righteous indignation. And then the sociopaths chime in, filling up comments sections with fantasies of the violence they would like to inflict upon Rall's person, if ever given the chance--fantasies of such obscene specificity, the guards at Abu Ghraib would blush with shame. Maybe I'm naive, but I just don't see these violent wankfests played out on the liberal blogs I read. It is Orwell's Two Minute Hate, updated for the internet age.
In its second minute the Hate rose to a frenzy. People were leaping up and down in their places and shouting at the tops of their voices in an effort to drown the maddening bleating voice that came from the screen. The little sandy-haired woman had turned bright pink, and her mouth was opening and shutting like that of a landed fish. Even O'Brien's heavy face was flushed. He was sitting very straight in his chair, his powerful chest swelling and quivering as though he were standing up to the assault of a wave. The dark-haired girl behind Winston had begun crying out 'Swine! Swine! Swine!' and suddenly she picked up a heavy Newspeak dictionary and flung it at the screen. It struck Goldstein's nose and bounced off; the voice continued inexorably. In a lucid moment Winston found that he was shouting with the others and kicking his heel violently against the rung of his chair. The horrible thing about the Two Minutes Hate was not that one was obliged to act a part, but, on the contrary, that it was impossible to avoid joining in. Within thirty seconds any pretence was always unnecessary. A hideous ecstasy of fear and vindictiveness, a desire to kill, to torture, to smash faces in with a sledge-hammer, seemed to flow through the whole group of people like an electric current, turning one even against one's will into a grimacing, screaming lunatic.
...judging from a few of my emails, this post is open to misinterpretation. I know that both sides have plenty of anger to go around. And I'm not trying to defend or excuse Rall's cartoon. I'm just dumbfounded by the comments sections on some right wing blogs, which are full of dozens and dozens of individual fantasies of specific violence the posters say they wish they could commit. That's what I'm talking about when I say I don't see that sort of thing on the liberal blogs--at least not the ones I read.
In the popular political imagination we're familiar with the neocons as conniving militarists, masters of intrigue and cabals, graspers for the oil supplies of the world, and all the rest. But here we have them in what I suspect is the truest light: as college kid rubes who head out for a weekend in Vegas, get scammed out of their money by a two-bit hustler on the first night and then get played for fools by a couple hookers who leave them naked and handcuffed to their hotel beds.
Over at the Whiskey Bar
As usual, the bartender is the wisest man in the room:
I've had that same feeling about Abu Ghraib since I first heard that the coalition had reopened it as a prison last summer. Anyone who knows anything about the history of Saddam's regime can't help but wonder what that particular decision was intended to symbolize. I mean, they didn't even change the name. Saddam International Airport became Baghdad International, Saddam City metamorphosed into Sadr City. But Abu Ghraib Prison remained Abu Ghraib Prison.
May 03, 2004
A trip down memory lane
Remember how all the apologists yammered that it was "widely known" that Valerie Plame was a CIA operative? Well, there's a little more to the story:
MR. RUSSERT: And we are back talking to Ambassador Joe Wilson. His book, "Politics of Truth." Here's the book. "According to my sources, between March 2003 and the appearance of my article in July"--in The Times--"the workup on me that turned up the information on Valerie was shared with Karl Rove, who then circulated it in administration and neoconservative circles."
So it's a tautological excuse: it was "widely known" because Karl Rove was going around telling people.
David Brock has a new site dedicated to monitoring right wing spin and misinformation.
May 02, 2004
BAGHDAD, May 1 -- A top Pentagon intelligence officer is leading an investigation into interrogation practices at an Army-run prison where Iraqi detainees were allegedly beaten and sexually abused, officials announced Saturday. The move came amid allegations that military guards abused prisoners at the behest of military intelligence operatives.
Seymour Hersh has more in the New Yorker:
A fifty-three-page report, obtained by The New Yorker, written by Major General Antonio M. Taguba and not meant for public release, was completed in late February. Its conclusions about the institutional failures of the Army prison system were devastating. Specifically, Taguba found that between October and December of 2003 there were numerous instances of “sadistic, blatant, and wanton criminal abuses” at Abu Ghraib. This systematic and illegal abuse of detainees, Taguba reported, was perpetrated by soldiers of the 372nd Military Police Company, and also by members of the American intelligence community. (The 372nd was attached to the 320th M.P. Battalion, which reported to Karpinski’s brigade headquarters.) Taguba’s report listed some of the wrongdoing:Breaking chemical lights and pouring the phosphoric liquid on detainees; pouring cold water on naked detainees; beating detainees with a broom handle and a chair; threatening male detainees with rape; allowing a military police guard to stitch the wound of a detainee who was injured after being slammed against the wall in his cell; sodomizing a detainee with a chemical light and perhaps a broom stick, and using military working dogs to frighten and intimidate detainees with threats of attack, and in one instance actually biting a detainee.
Remember those "Propaganda Remix" posters that were going around for awhile? Via various readers, I learn that the artist behind them was apparently remixing his own life's story while he was at it.
There's an old saying: "Trust the art, not the artist." Unfortunately in a case like this, both are tarred.
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