Saturday, May 29, 2004

Al Qaeda Steals a March

As Al Qaeda franchisedgunmen kill 16 in a Saudi housing compound and hold hostage as many as 50 more, Bush's conceit that he has made Iraq the central battlefield in terror is called into question. Al Qaida has shown again and again that they will not be manipulated and are capable of inspiring operations wherever they choose, ignoring our wishes.

Among the dead in the lastest attack are at least one American and one Briton. The latter's body was reportedly dragged a considerable distance behind a car by the terrorists. The U.S. and other Western governments are calling for their citizens to evacuate Saudi Arabia.

The danger which this incident, and earlier bombings in Khobar, underscores, is the strong possibility that jihadists can and will easily move to fronts where we are not prepared to meet them. By attacking us and allied Arab governments where we are weak, rather than where we have chosen the ground and are strong, they will be able to give the world, especially the Arab world, an impression of operating with impunity. While we invest billions of dollars, hundreds of lives, and most of America's prestige in the Iraqi boondoggle, they have already moved on to new targets, their objective in Iraq, to the extent they ever had one, aleady fulfilled; to bog American might down in an unwinnable and perpetual domestic uprising that will sap the American publics' will to engage in a war on terror at all.

Cynicism is also the enemy of resolve. The Bush Administration served up a healthy does of cynical balderdash the other day when Ashcroft announced sketchy but alarming plans by Al Qaida to attack America again, only to withdraw the warning shortly after when it was discovered that the intelligence the warning was based upon was as weak and self-serving as the INC's WMD blather.

Directing America's might to the wrong front in a static and counterproductive occupation, allowing the enemy to have the initiative, using terror warnings for political purposes, and thereby degrading the people's trust and confidence in the government, are some of this criminal Administration's worst crimes. These are the actions of an Administration which is 'objectively' (a term they love to use as a weapon) in alliiance with the jihadists. At every turn their incompetence, terrible decisions, and fumbling execution of policy has aided Al Qaeda. But even if one doesn't go so far as to call the the allies of terrorists, or even terrorists themselves, and I don't recommend that people do, the Bush Administration has made, and is making, policy that plays directly into the hands of an opponent who is proving much more subtle and skillful than expected. This Administration has been out-matched, out-played, and out-thought at every trick. If for no other reason... and there are so many, really... this Administration has to go; they simply aren't of the calibre we need to defeat Jihadi terror, and to put the evil genie they ignorantly loosed upon us, back in the bottle of the Middle East.

Shrouded: Soldiers, Memorial Day 2004



WHAT: A photographic event to honor the soldiers who have died in Iraq.

WHEN: Monday, MAY 31st, @ 7: 00 am-9 am.

WHERE:El Parque en el Cielo. 1700 N. Wentworth. Take east Speedway to Wentworth and turn left. It is the 1st place on the right.

A photograph will be created with 800+ Tucsonans, each draped in an American flag representing a soldier killed in the IRAQ war. A $3 donation is requested to cover the cost of flag and a wristband designating the soldier you represent in the photograph, which is yours to keep.

How to participate: email to register:


  • To acknowledge and honor the 800 American Service women and men who
    have died in the IRAQ war.

  • To demonstrate your concern and awareness on this important day.

  • Free Krispy Kreme donuts and coffee!

  • Need a ride? Just ask! Carpooling encouraged

Ann Simmons-Myers, Head of the Photography Department at Pima Community College, is a vivid chronicler of individuals.  Her portraits have honored diverse groups. Her mission now is to acknowledge and honor the American soldiers who have been killed since the United States went to war in Iraq. Simmons- Myers will create a photograph memorializing the 800+ soldiers who have given their lives. From above, the artist will turn her camera to the bodies below, each draped in the American flag representing a soldier killed while on duty.

Simmons-Myers wants to express her gratitude to the people who have died and the families who have suffered and to recognize the increasing number of
lives that are being lost.

"I respect the servicemen and women. I want to honor those individuals who have lost their lives through the creation of this image."

"It will be an experience that participants will remember for the rest of their lives. Let's document our concern.  We hope that along with military families and their loved ones all Tucsonans who are looking for a way to honor and
mourn the war dead on Memorial Day will participate."

Friday, May 28, 2004

Feet of Clay

The Bush Administration’s security policy is swiftly becoming its greatest political liability. In Iraq, the future of the occupation is shadowed by grave doubts. Even as the UN Security Council negotiates a new resolution laying out governance of Iraq after June 30th, the composition of that government remains unknown and America’s control seems likely to be fatally compromised. Insurgencies which boiled beneath the surface for so long have broken out into unofficial militias wresting control from the Coalition bit by bit. In the Sunni triangle a Baathist warlodism is being born, while Iran controls the Shi’a-majority south behind the scenes. Insurgents are bringing American forces to a stand-still and gaining very favorable truce agreements, which amount to little less than simple capitulation, first in Fallujah, and more recently in Najaf. This is how a colonial powers are marginalized and eventually expelled.

Meanwhile, back at home, blowback from the Abu Ghraib scandal is opening the Administration to scrutiny and criticisms in the media that simply would not have occurred just months ago. Security professionals and experts, and even former allies, are beginning to question and openly criticize the Administrations performance and priorities regarding both the war on Iraq and the struggle with terrorism. The Administration’s domestic agenda is dead in the water. The President was pitching a new computerized medical records system the other day. This is the sort of whiz-bang, gee-shucks, no-down-side plinker that a wounded politician makes. Rove is after the ‘wired worker’, the latest ‘NASCAR dad’, or ‘soccer mom’ demographic who, along with Latinos, iare supposed to pull Bush’s chestnuts out of the Thanksgiving fire.

The reality that the Bush team is ducking, while still staying remorselessly on-message, is that the world is born anew. The Abu Ghraib scandal marks the end of the Bush Administration. They and their defenders have finally dropped over the edge of tasteless bastardry, and into the abyss reserved for moral lepers. They keep marching, but there is nobody following any more. History will look back and mark the end of the Bush doctrine at the release of the first batch of Abu prisoner photos. The world’s attention is now focused on the hubris and arrogance grounding the Bush doctrine, and the foolish conceits which lay at the heart of the plan for a New American Century. Even Congressional Republicans are backing away from the disaster area the Bush Administration has become.

Tremendous blowback from the torture scandal is ripping the lid off the once tightly sealed box of Bush criticisms sitting under the desk of every editor in the American press. Questions regarding the conduct of the Afghanistan and Iraq campaigns, long suppressed and ignored, are beginning to belatedly bloom in the press. The Congress, emboldened daily by resistance to Bush from the left and weakening support on the right are increasingly questioning the Administration, and reasserting their co-equality. Bush was unable to prevent the opening of a Congressional inquiry into the baseless WMD charges that led us to war Iraq, and he is quickly loosing control of the torture inquiry. Leaks are opening up all over as from a pipe after a Spring thaw. Throughout the military and CIA professional corps those increasing weary of Bush’s bungling and ham-fisted treatment of them are taking their revenge on the dilettante ideologues of the Administration. Independent and non-partisan voices with immense expertise and prestige, such as Retired Gen. Zinni and author Tom Clancy, the Army War College, and the call the election for Kerry, over 5 months out from the election.

The foundations of the nightmare into which Bush has plunged this nation’s people, the people of Iraq and Afghanistan, and the citizens of world are cracking. The unstoppable titan Bush became after 9/11 now has feet of clay. From behind the lens of 9/11 now peers a barely competent, deeply flawed man, who had no damned business being President in the first place. There are frightening lessons to be had from the last 3 1/2 years about the nature of democracy, the allure of the fascist impulse, and the perfidy of corporate media, and I hope that we have the wisdom to extract them and heed them. But for now, I’m just going to say how glad I am that our long national nightmare is finally coming to an end. We haven’t yet opened our eyes; we are in that disorienting space following a nightmare where you aren’t sure what was a dream and what was real, and you aren't sure you want to know. Despite the nation’s reluctance to resolve the uncertainty, some of us already know that it is all far too real and we will be dealing with the results for the rest of our lives. We are mired in conflict, despised by the world, poorer by far, and not one whit safer for it.

The recriminations will be long and bitter. No one has any viable excuse for buying into for Bush’s desperate, hollow, incompetent mummery show. Many accepted a completely incompetent President because they needed competent leadership so badly that they just decided to pretend. Rather than to admit that the ‘leadership’ we had wasn’t up to the task, they inflated a dolt into a hierophant. But you can’t make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear. Our naked Emperor roamed the beltway for years as so many praised the cut of his new clothes, that even those who saw a naked guy quiet clearly questioned our own eyes.

The temptation to blame Bush, and to blame his Administration, and to blame... well, everybody, will be overwhelming. But Bush was just a con man handed the opportunity of a thousand lifetimes; no one as weak and limited as he could help but try to pull the grift off. He richly deserves whatever he gets and more, certainly, but I can’t blame Bush for all of it. It is many more than a few in power that are at fault; it most of us. Some were too gullible. Some too desperate to have their faith confirmed. Some so heartsick to belong to something powerful and invulnerable after 9/11 that they were primed for the seduction of the fascist impulse. Some were unwilling to think the worst of the ‘government’. Some too ready to give the benefit of the doubt to the product of a ‘democratic’ process. Some were skeptical from the outset, but unwilling for various reasons to voice their doubts too loudly. All of these share some measure of blame for Bush. But what of those who despised Bush from the outset as the puppet and pretender he so obviously was? Well, the only satisfaction we get is to say, "I told you so." Unfortunately, those four little words have yet to endear their speaker to anyone. The most we will get is the quiet satisfaction, and despairing regret, at having been proved right.

Corporate Personhood Gains Greater Awareness

With the release of the new documentary "The Corporation" to critical acclaim and considerable box-office success, interest in corporate personhood and what it means to American society is at an all-time high. In Tucson, a study group is forming for the summer begining on monday, June 7, and to run on mondays through july 26, 6:30-8:30pm. Contact to register.

Communities around the country are waking up to the danger to our political system and economic well-being that unchecked corporate power represents. In response, some communities are passing resolutions on corporate personhood, such as the following:

For Immediate Release: May 27, 2004

For More Information Contact:

Kaitlin Sopoci-Belknap, (707) 269-0984, - Director, Democracy Unlimited of Humboldt County

Michael Twombly (707) 822-5391 - Chair, Corporate Personhood Subcommittee, Arcata Committee on Democracy and Corporations

Arcata City Council Passes Resolution Against Corporate Personhood

ARCATA - On Wednesday, May 19, 2004, the City of Arcata (CA) declared corporate personhood "a legal fiction" and "a threat to our democracy." The resolution calls for town hall meetings to develop local ordinances to address these threats and authorizes sending the resolution to Congress.

Dana Silvernale, of the local chapter of The Women's League for Peace and Freedom (WILPF) addressed the Council; "The salient issue at hand is the question of who shall govern this country, the people or the corporations.  When Robert Reich, former Secretary of Labor under President Clinton, was here last month, he emphasized the importance of building a grassroots movement to take back our democracy from corporate oppression.  He said the way to do this is to begin by organizing locally with our city and county governments.  We are asking you to join us in this effort."

Corporate Personhood is the legal fiction granting Constitutional rights to corporations. Proponents of the Arcata resolution argue that Corporate Personhood was illegitimately granted by the Supreme Court in 1886, with no opportunity for public debate. Arcata's resolution seeks to take steps toward fostering that discussion.

"This resolution expresses our philosophical opposition to corporate personhood.  Within the town hall meeting format, we will seek to build community consensus around specific measures we may take to guarantee our inalienable rights as individuals and our fair voice in the democratic process. We hope that our success in passing a resolution will encourage other communities to begin having discussions about how they can limit excesses in corporate power," said Arcata Councilmember Dave Meserve.

Arcata has had success with town hall meetings in the past, using it to form the Committee on Democracy and Corporations (which brought the Corporate Personhood resolution to the City Council). Town hall meetings also informed the decision to pass an ordinance against the USA PATRIOT ACT.

Democracy Unlimited of Humboldt County (DUHC) works at the local level to assert democratic authority over corporations. More information about Democracy Unlimited, can be found at


WHEREAS, the citizens of the City of Arcata hope to nurture and expand democracy in our community and our nation.  Democracy means governance by the people.  Only persons who are human beings should be able to participate in the democratic process; and

WHEREAS, interference in the democratic process by corporations usurps the rights of citizens to govern; and

WHEREAS, corporations are artificial entities separate and apart from human beings.  Corporations are not naturally endowed with consciousness or the rights of human beings.  Corporations are creations of law and are only permitted to do what is authorized under law; and

WHEREAS, corporations claim to be persons, possessing the rights of personhood, including free speech and other constitutional freedoms guaranteed by the Bill of Rights and the 14th Amendment to the Constitution of the United States; and

WHEREAS, corporations presuming such rights of personhood have influenced and interfered with democratic processes by lobbying and pressuring our legislative bodies, making campaign contributions which dominate election campaigns, and using the media to substitute corporate values for community and family values; and

WHEREAS, Supreme Court Justice Hugo Black stated in a 1938 opinion, "I do not believe the word 'person' in the 14th Amendment includes corporations"; and

WHEREAS, corporations are not mentioned in the Constitution.  The people have never granted constitutional rights to corporations, nor have we decreed that corporations have authority that exceeds the authority of the people of the United States.

NOW THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that the City Council of the City of Arcata believes that no corporation should be deemed a person and therefore that no corporation should be entitled to the same rights and protections as those guaranteed only to persons under the U.S. Constitution and Bill of Rights.

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the City Council of the City of Arcata supports education to increase public awareness of the threats to our democracy posed by corporate personhood, and the Council encourages lively discussion to build understanding and consensus on appropriate community and municipal responses to those threats.

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the City Council of the City of Arcata supports the Committee on Democracy and Corporations in hosting town meetings to draft an ordinance or ordinances addressing the legal fiction of corporate personhood and other threats corporations pose to our democracy in Arcata.

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the City Council of the City of Arcata authorizes sending copies of this resolution to our elected representatives.

DATED: May 19, 2004.

Thursday, May 27, 2004

AZ State Supreme Court Waves Off Chance to Consider Gay Marriage

A gay couple's appeal to the state Supreme Court of Arizona's ban on same-sex marriages has been rejected without comment. Mr. Standhardt and Mr. Keltner were denied a marriage license in Maricopa County, according to their original lawsuit, filed July 7.

The Court of Appeals held in October that there is no fundamental constitutional right to same-sex marriage under either the state or federal constitutions. The opinion of Division One Special Action panel of judges is available in pdf format online at

Petitioners had three bases for their appeal: homosexual marriage is a fundamental Constitutional right under the recent Supreme Court case Lawrence, the AZ Constitution’s enhanced privacy protections grant the right to same-sex unions, and the State lacks a rational basis upon which to base the policy of denying marriage rights to gays.

Petitioners relied on the Supreme Court’s language in Lawrence ("out laws and tradition afford constitutional protection to personal decisions relating to marriage, procreation, contraception, family relationships, child rearing, and education.") for their contention that for homosexuals, as for straight people, marriage is a fundamental right.

Should a fundamental right be implicated by a government policy then the court will only uphold the measure upon finding that a compelling state interest is furthered and that the policy is narrowly tailored to achieve that interest. Application of strict scrutiny by a court seldom leaves a policy intact.

The appeals panel rejected use of strict scrutiny in this case for three reasons:

First, the appeals court found the Lawrence court specifically "[did] not involve whether the government must give formal recognition to any relationship that homosexual persons seek to enter." In essence, the AZ courts have taken a significant step toward cabining the effect of Lawrence to sodomy laws by this ruling.

Secondly, the court viewed the language relied upon by the plaintiffs as acknowledging a homosexual person’s right to define his or her own existence, and enter a homosexual
relationship, but denied that such a right includes the choice to enter a state-sanctioned, same-sex marriage.

Third, and finally, language in Lawrence indicated that the Court did not consider sexual conduct between same-sex partners a fundamental right, instead applying, without explanation, the rational basis test.

The court next rejected outright the petitioners’ assertion that the right to same sex marriage is implied by the specific privacy provisions of the AZ Constitution. The court, finding no precedent and no logical connection, passed over the argument as if it were filler in the brief.

Finally, the court applies the rational basis test, looking for a permissible purpose and rational, though not necessarily perfect, relation between the policy and its purpose. The court found a rational basis for excluding homosexual couples from the institution of marriage: procreation. Because homosexual couples cannot reproduce, the court holds that government has a rational basis for excluding gays from marriage. The court acknowledges that homosexual couples can raise children, but because they cannot reproduce (a distinction looking for a technological contra-positive, such as double ova fetus, in my opinion) there is no reason for the state to sanction the marriage. The court recognized that not all opposite-sex partners can reproduce, but excuses the state from the need to determine their fitness to reproduce because it would be violative of couple’s privacy rights. This implies that if you volunteer your intent not reproduce, that even a straight couple could be denied a license to marry (Right.).

A rational basis test is often held by legal commentators to be essentially a method for courts to abdicate review without seeming to do so. In this case, however, the court bends over backwards to find a rational basis, twisting logic into a pretzel to get the desired result. Certainly, the state’s recognition of opposite-sex marriage can be rooted in a desire to promote procreation and family life as the court asserts. But gay marriage cannot simply be a shadow cast by straight marriage. The court asserts that the state’s lack of interest in sanctioning marriages between couples who are incapable of procreating provides a rational basis for exclusion. This argument is absurd.

The essential misdirection clouding the rational basis analysis of gay marriage is use of the reproductive, or any other, purpose of straight marriage. A creative jurist will always be able to find that the state has purposes in granting straight marriage that don’t apply to gays and thereby justify the exclusion of gays. But the state’s goal in granting licenses to straights is quite obviously not the same as the state’s goal in denying those same licenses to gays. The policy of denying licenses is not simply the flip-side of the policy of granting them. There must be an independent rational basis for the policy of denying licenses to gays, not just a rational basis in granting them to straights that doesn’t apply to gays.

The AZ appeals court, examining the nature of the right of marriage, wrote,

"[a]lthough Griswold and Loving described marriage as a personal right, neither case suggested that a state cannot infringe upon that right for social purposes, such as encouraging procreation and protecting children. Indeed, the Court recognized in Loving that "marriage is a social relation subject to the State’s police power."

The aspects of State police power are very broad and, of necessity, incompletely defined. However, the safety, welfare, health, and morals of the community are considered the broad outlines of police power. So, if we are trying to find an affirmative policy goal for excluding gays from marriage, where in the police power might such an independent rational basis be found? Safety, health, and welfare hold no promise. Forced to affirm the real reason for excluding gays from marriage, courts and States will invariably have to locate those reasons within the ambit of public morals. People have a moral objection to gay marriage for various reasons. That’s fine, but the courts must not skirt the truth and give an appearance of impartiality where there is none. Courts must be forced to acknowledge that the only rational basis upon which a state can base denial of gay marriage is public morals.

Politicians tend to acknowledge their moral misgivings openly, but judges hide behind the poor jurisprudence. This must end. If we are to have an open and honest debate about gay marriage, our courts cannot be allowed to hide behind sophistry, but must confront the real issues openly.

Tuesday, May 25, 2004

Bush is a Mullah Tool

The Guardian Unlimited reports "US intelligence fears Iran duped hawks into Iraq war". The rumors have been floating for a while, but this is the first publication by a major newspaper. What a sad, sad chapter in the history of American foreign policy if the suspicion is justified. What sad and dishonorable end for the great War Hawks of the GOP; nothing but tools for a slippery little wog they thought was their own creature.

Ahmad Chalabi played the Bush Administration perfectly. The crowing and boasting of Chalabi following the invasion was perfectly justified. He duped the enemies of his masters, who consider Iran a member of the Axis of Evil and have more than once suggested an attack on Iran, into pouring billions of dollars and hundreds of American lives into toppling Iran's greatest enemy. It is geo-political judo of the highest order. Only the most hubristic, ignorant, and willfully blind Administration could have been taken by it so completely.

The war freed the Shi'ite majority of Iraq from tyranny and religious persecution. They will rise as a great force in the new Iraqi state, fostering closer relations and cooperation between the former enemies, though likely not direct control by Iran. A more perfect outcome could hardly be imagined for the Mullahs of Iran; they rise in prestige, secure their recently wobbly rule, brushing back democratic reforms for yet another generation, bring a former enemy into their sphere of influence, and steal a march on Israel, who had perhaps believed the major benefactor of the Iraq War would be themselves.

Seldom has a coup of such stunning brilliance been accomplished in the history of international relations. Mainly because seldom has the majority of a supposedly sophisticated nation been so thoroughly gulled by the rather ham-handed misinformation and agit-prop campaign of a foreign adventurer. The Neo-Con-poops are going to be the butt of derision indeed if Chalabi is smart and decides to pen his own tell-all book by a former Administration "official". The royalties should go a long way in Iran.

Sontag: Regarding the Torture of Others

Sontag's new peice on Abu Gate in the NYT Magazine, Regarding the Torture of Others, is quite powerful and eloquent. Especially enlightening is the parallel she draws between the photos showing torture of the Iraqi prisoners and historical photos of people involved with public lychings in the South. They share the sense that the brutal acts committed against the despised class are sanctioned and even celebrated by the dominant culture. It is a chilling reminder that Bush's claim that the wickedness at Abu and other prisons doesn't reflect "the heart of America," ignores history, and disowns the lessons we can take from our past.

Sunday, May 23, 2004

Arizona Leads the Way?

The recent revolt of moderate Republicans led by Pete Hershberger, in what may be one of the most pleasant servings of just deserts in recent political history, may indicate a broader trend in state legislatures around the country and in the Congress. The irresponsible budget proposed by the Wrong -wing of the Arizona Republican party is what prompted 12 principled GOP lawmakers in the House to defy their party's "leadership" and join with the Democrats to pass a reasonably responsible compromise budget. The break is not likely to be temporary. It could permanently affect alliances and leadership in the legislature.

Likewise, Congressional Republicans are at loggerheads over the Wrong's desire to continue running up deficits to pay for Iraq, while the Moderates, led on this issue by Arizona Senator McCain and Virginia's Senator John Warner, want spending cuts and tax off-sets to pay for Iraqi operations as we go. The intra-party friction prompted House Speaker Dennis Hastert to question whether McCain understood the idea of sacrifice in time of war. One could hardly conceive of a rhetorical device better suited to alienate moderate Republican's who support the idea of fiscal responsibility, and who respect Senator McCain's undeniable sacrifices for his country as a POW.

As politicians of the Wrong gleefully indulge in the sort of offensive behavior and irresponsible policies which have endeared them to the yahoos who vote for the most beligerent, ignorant, red-neck, piece of shit on the ticket, they are driving away the sort of thoughtful moderate Republicans who actually believe in the values of conservativism. Congressional Wrong-wingers have proven all too willing to abandon conservative principles when they felt it was politically expedient to do so. The Bush Administration is certainly not conservative, and has dragged the compliant and unprincipled Wrong faction of Congress into fascistic corporatism along with them.

As Bush's mystifying popularity evaporates, more and more traditional Republicans, and even the reliably accomodating, may be ready to revolt against the priorities of the Wrong. Short of a leadership challenge, which is always a possibility, a temporary alliance with Democrats to form a governing majority seems increasingly likely. If polling in the last few months of the campaign indicates Kerry is going to run away with the Presidency, we may see a shift among moderate Republicans who no longer see any advantage to carrying the Bush Administration's water. Likewise, if the race is close and Bush loses, the 3 months of his hang-over is also likely to see an informal alliance of moderate Republicans and Democrats to prevent any lame-duck legislation by the Bush Administration and the Congressional Wrong.

Saturday, May 22, 2004

Strip, Pix, Burn: iRaq

I suppose this was inevitable. And so was this: iTorture shop.

Neo-Con Alert

Wrong-wing, Neo-Con mouthpeice Deroy Murdock wrote an incredibly offensive op-ed, "Abu Ghraib prisoners no choirboys," in today's Arizona Daily Star. This is my letter to the editor in response. I suggest you write about your reaction, too.

"Deroy Murdock's editorial in the May, 22 issue, joins him to the chorus of moral relativists seeking to defend the torture of prisoners at Abu Ghraib. Though he never plainly states it, he implies we were justified in torturing these prisoners simply because they were our country's enemies. He points out that the victims were "lethal" insurgents and "foreign fighters." Even so, the Fourth Geneva Convention contains no clause releasing us from the obligation not to murder, torture, or humiliate prisoners because they are our enemies, or because they may have operational intelligence. Just the opposite, in fact."

"Mr. Murdock would excuse what happened based upon our need to fight the insurgency with all available means. I submit that torture is not an available means if we wish our government and armed forces to remain devoted to the same moral principles that the American people cherish. Torture is not an available means unless we wish to ensure that our troops will be murdered, tortured, and raped should they be captured by an enemy."

"Mr. Murdock would have us become our enemies in fighting them. To avoid this fate, those who committed, ordered, or abetted these crimes must be punished, without regard to partisan considerations. Those who truly love America will uphold her principles even at grave cost to themselves. Those who seek to avoid paying the price a forceful national repudiation of these crimes will cost, are willing to indelibly stain the honor of our nation solely for partisan advantage."

What I wanted to incude, but did not, was a final sentence: "In short, they are traitors to our troops and our nation." Funny how we liberals hesitate to call our fellow citizens, no matter how misguided or malevolent, unpatriotic, America-hating, traitors, even though in our hearts we believe it is true.

In contrast, the Wrong have no hesitation pulling out such slurs at the drop of a hat. The worst tendencies of the Wrong in this respect are aptly demonstrated by the current set-to between Nancy Pelosi and Tom Delay. Pelosi questioned Bush's competency in running the war and, in response, DeLay called upon her to "apologize for her irresponsible, dangerous rhetoric." He claimed that, "[s]he apparently is so caught up in partisan hatred for President Bush that her words are putting American lives at risk." If ever there was a hyperbolistic and irresponsible charge, you just read it. If DeLay pisses you off as he does me, perhaps you should give his opponent some money.

The Wrong's Newest Gay Marriage Argument and the Ammunition You'll Need to Shoot it Down.

M.V. Lee Badgett, a professor of economics at Amherst wrote a rebuttal of Wrong-winger Stanley Kurtz's assertion that homosexual marriage has killed hetero marriage in Scandinavia, which, ergo, bodes ill for us should we adopt gay marriage here.

Professor Badget looks at all the demographic data in "Prenuptial Jitters - Did gay marriage destroy heterosexual marriage in Scandinavia?" and finds that, as is so often the case, Kurtz has his facts dead wrong. Kurtz is masterful at spinning very selective samples, and his own quirky observations, into mass phenomina and demographic truisms, such as the Red State - Blue State bullshit Kurtz invented that has become the modish political shorthand of the stupidensia. Kurtz never got beyond copping a quick feel of the Scandinavian data. While Badgett cohabited with the data long enough to know what it actually says, and can arm you against the Wrong's inevitable attempts to twist the data's meaning.

Thursday, May 20, 2004

The Iraqi Parallel

American forces fired missiles in to a home in Makr al' Deeb, Iraq, killing at least 40, whom witnesses claim were gathered for a wedding. The U.S. maintains "significant intelligence" indicated that the target was a suspected safehouse for foreign fighters from Syria. This, despite video evidence of little dead children and women taken at the scene.

One has to wonder where such intelligence came from? We now know that U.S. forces, private contractors, and possibly Defense Department Special Access Program personnel created an illegal program of interrogation by torture inside Iraqi prisons in order to develop intelligence on the resistance. Anyone with a passing knowledge of interrogation and psychology will tell you that torture produces plenty of intelligence: bad intelligence. Torture victims say whatever their captives want to hear. Could the "significant intellegence" that Kimmet cites be the product of torture?

If so, a complete cluster-fuck shows itself to be the inevitably SNAFU product of an increasingly desperate occupation policy. We torture prisoners to get intel, thereby creating a PR and moral meltdown. Then we use the intel we tortured out of some poor sot to mistakenly missile 40 civilians at a wedding, creating another PR and moral meltdown. Turns out our "source" made some dumb shit up about foriegn fighters in Makr al' Deeb because he really wanted us to stop electrocuting his nuts with a car battery, and the bride's family broke off her betrothal to his brother.

I'm only speculating about any actual link, of course, but in the gestalt of public opinion, such a link forming in people's minds is almost inevitable. Incompetent and immoral choices beget incompetent and immoral results. In a final irony, Bush criticized Israel for using some of the very same targeting of innocents in Gaza as we are using in Iraq. Israeli soldiers opened fire with tanks and a missile into a crowd of civilians. They claim that there were 'gunmen' in the crowd, but that they are sorry since it now "seems" that civilians were killed. In the U.N. the American delegation took the almost unprecedented step of abstaining on a vote critical of Israel. Bush urged Israel to restraint and said, "It is essential that people respect innocent life in order for us to achieve peace." Wouldn't it be marvelous if all politicians would just follow their own advice?

The timing and parallels between events in Gaza and Iraq cannot help but reinforce in the minds of Middle Easterners, and Iraqi's in particular, the parallels between the Israeli occupation of Palestine, or the French occupation of Algeria, and the American occupation of Iraq. The Israeli's propensity to see 'gunmen' whenever they commit an atrocity is disturbingly similar to the function of American cries of 'terrorists', 'dead-enders', 'Ba'athists', or 'foreign fighters'.

The Iraqis are not fooled. They know exactly who the resisters are. They are members of their tribes and families, businessmen and religious leaders in their communities, and fellow Iraqis. As Patrick Graham writes in his Harper's article "Beyond Fallujah" in the as-yet-unwired June issue, the resistance is Iraq. The resisters are the Shieks of the tribes, the Imams of the mosques, and the businessmen of the souks. After spending over a year with the people of Sunni triangle, Graham has developed an intelligence network the Pentagon would envy.

The conclusion that Graham would write in his report to the President would be that it is impossible to supress or outlast the resistance, because it expresses the will of the Iraqi people. The silent majority do not want us to stay. They want peace, and they want democracy, certainly; but they know that they have to get those things for themselves. They are done with Saddam and ready for a new Iraq, but not one modeled on Palestine or Algeria. And that's where we seem to be headed.

Wednesday, May 19, 2004

Too bad I look terrible in it...

Thought I would pass this along to all... Mike

When Norway was occupied by Germany in 1940, Norwegian women began to knit RED caps for children as a way of letting everyone know that they did not like what was happening in their country, that they didn't like having their freedom taken away. My great aunt, Karin Knudson Myrstad, was one of the women who knit red caps for her children and others.  Similarly, in Denmark, women knit red-white-and blue caps (colors of the Allies) for the very same reason.

The result was that whenever Norwegians and Danes left their homes -- to go to the store, to work, etc, they could see that THE MAJORITY opposed what was going on in their country.  As you know, both countries organized effective Resistance efforts and changed history -- everything that happened began simply by wearing red!!!! (or the colors of the Allies, in Denmark).

1.  BACKGROUND:  I believe, as many of us do, that at the very heart of our democracy is our right to oppose the policies of our government. Increasingly, our Government is redefining "freedom" in ways that make too many Americans perceive that it is risky to oppose his policies -- and, in particular, current inroads about individual freedoms and family planning policies in the U.S. and abroad. However, many of us DO oppose what our government is doing to individual rights and family planning programs-- and I have an idea that will allow all of us to recognize each other very easily so we can see that WE ARE THE MAJORITY.

2.  SO...I have been thinking that it's time to take action in a way that is effective and easy for all of us to do:  Just wear red every Friday between now and election day. Wear a little or a lot-- just be sure that when you leave your house to go about your day -to work, to school, to the store, to the gas station,
wherever you go in your daily routine -- that everyone who sees you will see that you are wearing red because you believe in freedom and you don't agree with our current administration's family planning policies at home and abroad.  I'm really certain that we'll see that lots of us wearing red for freedom and access to family planning services -- because WE ARE THE MAJORITY.  We just need a way to show each other who we are!!!  Between now and election day, ask everyone you know to wear red for "Freedom Fridays".

Transcript: Senate Know Nothing Committee

Reading the Transcript of the Senate Foreign Relations testimony of Wolfowitz and Armitage I was struck by one thing: how many times they simply has no answers.

Now, nobody can plan for every contingency, but the strong impression I was left with is that the Administration has given up on planning for anything. They are just winging it and hoping for the best.

That is extraordinary and implies one of two policies by the Administration toward Iraq.

The first is that there is no policy. They really haven't a clue what to do or what to attempt to accomplish. So they are just muddling through daily, hoping that the sovereignty transfer will turn things around and let them regain the initiative. Given that most, even members of the Administration, feel it is likely that there will be intensified violence after June, this 'policy' is not promising.

What might have happened is the Administration came unstuck when its optimistic assumptions failed to materialize. It is now judgmentally paralyzed by the escallating violence and areas of Iraq spinning out of control. This desperatation caused the torture scandal as Administration officials struggled to come to grips with a tribal uprising it didn't expect and failed to understand. Now, of course, the torture scandal adds problems of its own, and the Administration suddenly feels itself in the middle of a mine field; moving any direction except up and out is an equally bad option. So they have decided to defend that mine field against all comers. Typical panic response.

If this is the case, we are completely adrift. In a war with no plan, no leadership, and no way out. The only option for our troops is to dig in and try not to die until we elect some leadership that has hand with the world community and can extricate us from the Bush Administration's strategic incompetence.

The second possibility is that the Administration has a plan, but isn't willing to talk about it on the Hill. Frankly, I think that the Administration belives this is the case, while the former actually describes reality. This Administration has an impressive track record of getting themselves in trouble and doing short-sighted and often illegal or immoral things to try to pull a win out because they simply don't realize that they've already lost. Having lost is not a state of being they recognize; there is always something you can do, no matter how stupid, harmful, and counter-productive to stay in the game. And so long as the games a foot, the score doesn't matter, only the outcome. If they can keep the game rolling until they are ahead, then they've won. It's a perverse and irrational rule book these people play with. It only has one rule: win at any cost.

I can only speculate about what their plans might be, but an educated guess is that they will try to reassert control over enclaves like Falluja and Ramalla before June, even if it means using massive, and heretofore unprecedented force. In fact, the possibility that the loss of collateral lives might prompt another terrorist attack on US soil, seems to have the Bushies salavating. An unnamed source was quoted recently as saying that there certainly will be another terrorist attack before the election, but unlike the Spanish, it would not be allowed to prompt a regime change. How do you like those apples? Pretty confident for such an unknown quantity as voter reaction to a terror attack. Creepily so. I don't know about you, but I am feed the hell up with having a government that I am actually afraid of.

So which do you vote for? Are the Bushies incompetent and paralyzed, or laying low like a snake in the grass awaiting the right time to strike?

Tuesday, May 18, 2004

Bootlicking Israel

A recent spate of extremely pro-Israeli, anti-Palestinian Guest Opinions in the Arizona Daily Star prompted me to complain of a lack of balance to the Reader Ombudsman, the Opinion Editor, and the Managing Editor. Choosing only extreme views for presentation the public, including innumerable lies, mischaracterizations, and concious ommissions, is unhealthy. I urge others to write to,,, and regarding their lop-sided editorial choices regarding the Israeli-Palestinian conflict:

The Star’s editors have expressed even-handed positions on Israeli policies in the past, but the writers chosen for guest opinions, such as Clifford May and Rabbi Cohon, seem to belie the Star’s impartiality on the subject. Uncritical apologists for the failures of Israel’s leaders are just as misleading as hate-filled anti-Semites who can see no wrong in the actions of Palestinian leaders.

Both sides of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict have legitimacy. Suggesting one side is completely at fault, while the other remains blameless, only perpetuates the conflict. The opinion page should expose readers to diverse and challenging views. The Star is falling far short of that goal on this important issue.

I’ve had my fill of facile claims of moral superiority and dubious historical justifications regarding this conflict. I have found such tactics are characteristic of ideologues who do not want peace, Why not publish commentary on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict by people who genuinely desire peace, instead? Let’s hear from those focused on a solution, not on demonizing or canonizing one side or the other. Perhaps representatives from Peace Now!, Gush-Shalom, or Tikkun could provide viewpoints which instruct, rather than polarize, for a change.

Work Complete!

The Blog For Arizona redesign is complete. Thanks for your patience during construction. Please leave feedback on the design change in comments.

Along with new graphics, colors, and layout, there a few new features. I have included RSS feeds from the Kerry Blog, the DFA blog, and the New York Times politics feed. This way you can get a good idea of what is happening in the Presidential campaign, and the world of politics in general, with a glance at the feed headlines.

I have rationalized the layout of the sidebar, making the titles and content a bit closer a fit, and distributing graphical links throughout the nav bar rather than lumped together.

I have cut back on the number of books being offered to reduce load times. From now on there will be only 10-12 current books on offer at any time. Please consider making your purchases here, the commissions pay for site expenses, and for acquiring progressive books for donation to city and school libraries.

I have also tried to harmonize the interface across browsers, which can be difficult with CSS style sheets. If there are odd or annoying artifacts on the site when viewed with your browser, please let me know. Be sure to include your platform and browser program and version with your report.

The load times should be much less, and the color consistency should be fairly good, as I have used a web verified color palette. Enjoy, and thanks for reading!

Monday, May 17, 2004

Humor: Post Turtle

While suturing a laceration on the hand of a 70-year-old Texas rancher (whose hand got caught in a gate while working cattle), the doctor and the old man were talking about George W. Bush being in the White House. The old Texan said, "Well, ya know, Bush is a 'post turtle'." Not knowing what the old man meant, the doctor asked him what a post turtle was. The old man said, "When you're driving down a country road and you come across a fence post with a turtle balanced on top, that's a post turtle." The old man saw a puzzled look on the doctor's face, so he continued to explain, "You know he didn't get there by himself, he doesn't belong there, he doesn't know what to do while he's up there, and you just want to help the poor stupid bastard get down."

Sunday, May 16, 2004

Hastert rips White House, White House doesn't notice...

Speaker Dennis Hastert ripped the White House at a House GOP meeting and drew applause from a frustrated and fed-up caucus.

GOP Congressmembers are getting tired of inept handling of bills, poor message timing, and an overall lack of consultation. Of course, they aren't jumping on Kerry's swift boat, but this is still significant. Not just that GOP Congresscritters are getting cranky with the Administration, but that they will express it publicly. That sends a strong signal to constituents around the country and the Democratic caucus: Bush is wounded and cannot absolutely count on Congressional support.

Any rifts between the Administration and Congress now are especially significant considering the on-going Abu-Gate inquiry. Sy Hersh has let fly a substantive accusation that Rumsfeld ordered an expansion of a deeply secret Special Access Project to Abu Ghraib meant develop information on the Iraqi resistance using interrogations that did not conform to the Geneva Convention. What he got instead was the program's cover blown, and an utter chaos of securities leaks, and exuberent excesses; perhaps even beyond what he wanted to occur. So Bush's SecDef is on the hot seat just as Congress seems eager to prove their independence and the military is seething to bring down the civilian DoD appointees who have tarnished their reputation.

Things do not look good for our Neo-Con SecDef. Despite Bush's support, I have to say that Rummy is toast. He is going to be asked to resign, and if he won't and Bush won't make him, he's going to be impeached.

Everyone is frustrated with the lies and plain incompetence of the Bush Administration in dealing with Iraq, including GOP Congresscritters who are having to answer questions about the cost, the huge deficits, the seeming stalemate into which a rag-tag bunch of insurgents have pushed the world's only 'Superpower', the debacle of sloth, neglect, and corruption that reconstruction has become, and the growing dissent of their own constituents, a large majority of whom now dissprove of Bush's handling of the war, even though most still think it was the right thing to do in the first place.

Bush made a grave mistake investing any political capital in Rumsfeld given that he must have known that Rumsfeld personally gave the orders which led to the situation. Either Bush and Rummy thought that fact would not come out, which would be incredibly naive, or Bush thinks Rummy can weather this anyhow, which would be distinctly divorced from reality. One thing Bush is not is a stupid politician. He does tend to think he can chew much more than he bites off, however.

I can surmise a third, and frightening, possibility: Rumsfeld didn't tell him about the SAP, or perhaps did not tell him about his order to expand it to Abu Ghraib. If Rumsfeld was running such a program off the reservation, without Presidential authorization, or he failed to keep Bush informed, Bush should be taking Rummy apart with his own hands. That he's instead praising Rummy to the heavens can only mean that Bush (well, OK, Rove) has decided that this can be weathered. Instead of dumping Rummy as quickly as possible, Bush is going to drag a very damaging scandal into the beginning of election season in an attempt to save Rummy. The lies and the ridiculous interpretations of law, which characterize this Administration's damage control mode, are going to be flying fast and thick.

All I have to say to that is, EXCELLENT...

With such a circus going on what will people be looking for in November? Someone who seems quietly competent and prudent, not cowboyish. Someone who will reapproach the world community for assistance, instead of calling them childish names. Someone who will just get the damn job done without a lot of grandstanding bullshit. Someone who doesn't call people he has never met 'evil', and doesn't constantly push the envelope of everyone's tolerance for his own benefit. Someone who doesn't make America feel spiritually like the damn West Bank. Someone who isn't Bush.

Arizona Grassroots Democratic Politics

Design change coming!

I've been working on a design change for this blog. I've grown weary of the colors and the layout. Some new options are now available from blogger, so I'm going to give the site an update. Don't be disturbed by the new, probably more conservative look - the politics will still throw firebombs :)

Thursday, May 13, 2004

Thinking about Nick Berg

Art Jacobson posted a query at his blog, Ojo Caliente, about Salon posting the video of Nick Berg's beheading at the hands of jihadis, asking what the point of watching it would be. This was my response, edited slightly for style and clarity:

I watched the video. It wasn't until the last 45 seconds or so of a 5 minute segment that Berg is killed. That part was so gruesome that I was insulated from it by an aura of unreality. I think that I, and many others, have become conditioned by the special effects of Hollywood to accept even the most hideous violence with relative equanimity - after all, no one really gets hurt. So as I watched this film, even though I knew I should be vomiting with reaction to this brutality, it really didn't affect me viscerally, mostly because the video quality was so poor that only brief scenes of the execution are intelligible and there doesn't appear to be much blood.

I wondered mostly how Berg remained so calm before the execution. I feel pretty certain that Berg had no idea what was coming. Perhaps he was told that they were making a ransom tape. Or perhaps he was drugged.

I certainly don't think that anyone should make the decision for another adult as to what they can or cannot see. Even if the tape were of the rape of a child or a lynching, should the video have any possible public policy import, my vote would be to make it public, as well. People only fool themselves about the nature of world and the nature of our involvement in Iraq by avoiding harsh images. Knowing something has happened or exists is just not the same as seeing it. People are so visual in nature that images have inordinate power. The coffins coming back to Dover. The bodies of childen who have become 'collateral damage'. The injuries and death of our soldiers. The slaughter of Berg. These images are generally censored because the censors know how powerfully they affect public opinion.

If Americans aren't allowed to see the real consequences of continuing this war, then the ghastly nature of the whole affair remains abstract and theoretical. The stupidity and tragedy of this war, and this Presidency, may never end. Politicians and propagandists, especially Neo-Con chickenhawks, armchair-general the war, encourage 'cracking down' or a particular offensive with no clue as the real costs in human lives and misery that such decisions entail. The American public, unfortified by a belfry full of gruesome images, make political decisions about the war with no clear idea of what the evil they have ordered up looks like. The more intimate people are with the horror that war entails, the less likely the are to advocate for facile and violent solutions to problems.

Frankly, if I had the option to decide such things, every television channel, every minute of every day would be dedicated to broadcasting Berg's death, the bodies of the war dead, our broken and wounded soldiers, innocent civilians casualties, and the bodies of our fallen 'enemies'. Americans are so arrogant; we have grown careless of the vast power we wield. We wield power of life and death for others with such casualness, and from a place of such total ignorance of the real consequences, that we should be made to suffer such images every minute of the war. Technology allows us to make war by push-button, effectively ordering the death of thousands at the cost of a few hundred of us taking a poll and putting our children a little deeper in debt. The morality of that is highly questionable. We no longer draft - at least not yet - and so these decisions only affect the lives of a small minority of Americans, generally people from the nation's poorest and least educated demographics. Something has to keep us accountable for what we do, put a check on the viciouness of people to whom killing has no cost; those images we don't want to look at are the only hearing the dead will ever get from us. The reaction of public opinion to images of war's horrors is the only way the innocent victims get a voice in what we decide. To censor these communication from the slain and miserable is to deny their existence and their pain, and helps to maintain the bubble of self-involvement that the Bush Administration counts on to give them license to committ crimes in our names.

In fact, our education should start on the very floor of the Congress. Every man or woman who votes for war should be put to death exactly as Nick Berg was put to death, live and on television. That way, we can be sure that the men and women who vote for war become its first victims. Nor should they be allowed to know the vote tally before voting. They should never know if their sacrifice was in vain. In this way, we can be sure that they have a genuine personal conviction that the safety of the nation is in grave peril, and they aren't just getting the issue behind them to position for mid-term elections.

I think that I owed it to Nick Berg to watch him die. It is the only thing I can do for him. His death would be completely without purpose if people don't see the madness this war has wrought for so many, including Nick. I think that if it were me in Nick's place, I would want every single American to have to look at what their decisions meant for me, even if they continue to support the war, at least they do so with an additional icy blast of reality in the faces.

Every time something terrible happens to somebody as a result of war, it is a lesson to a jaded and apathetic public. Perhaps there is actually a moral obligation not to duck such lessons, but rather to face them head on, no matter how unpleasant they may be. If the result of this instruction is less war, how can it be anything but a moral imperative?

Wednesday, May 12, 2004

General Anthony Zinni

I watched a lecture by General Anthony Zinni, presented by the Kroc Center for Peace and Justice. Zinni is a strong critic of the Bush Administration's approach to the Iraq war from the very inception.

At the end of speech, the General made some remarks that i found very strong. In response to a question regarding the political obligations of command staff, Zinni reminded people that the first question that one gets during one's confirmation hearing for head of service or combat command is whether you will return to the Congress when called and give honest opinions to the representatives of the people. If you don't answer yes, you might as well walk away. Senior command officers must be confirmed by 100 of 100 Senators. They must not be partisan.

Whenever a command officer faces an order from the civilian heads of service, the Secretary of Defense, or the President, he has only two options; "Yes, Sir," and laying down your stars and walking away. If he says "Yes, Sir," he must be honestly convinced that the orders are militarily sound. Zinni's last remark is that he would have long since laid down his stars rather than serve this Administration.

Tuesday, May 11, 2004

On Liberty

Because of time constraints during finals, and as an experiment to see if blog posts are necessarily ephemera, or if some can stand the test of time, I have decided to repost some of what I hope are the better posts from my old blog, Political Outrage. Here is the first from 7/4/2003:

"The liberty we prize is not America's gift to the world, it is God's gift to humanity."
-George W. Bush, 2003 State of the Union Address

"America's strength and prosperity are testaments to the enduring power of our founding ideals, among them, that all men are created equal, and that liberty is God's gift to humanity, the birthright of every individual"
-George W. Bush, 2003 Independence Day message

Liberty is God's gift to humanity. The phrase rings so beautifully because it is hollow.

If liberty were a gift, it would be free. If it were a gift to mankind, it would be the birthright of all peoples. If it were from God, it would be enduring, pure, and available to anyone who but asks for it with a sincere heart. It is none of these.

Liberty is not free, only the few and lucky are born to it, and aquisition of it is one of the hardest things a society can accomplish. Liberty cannot be conferred upon individuals, like the absolution of one's sins; it can only be had by a society willing to bear the cost of its getting and the burdens of its keeping. Even then it may only be kept if shared equally among all members of the polity. Denied to one, it abandons all.

Liberty is far from divine. Liberty is the most extravagant, self-indulgent, and unnatural thing that man has yet invented. It is not a precondition for anything. It is not the neccessary means to any ends. It can be troublesome, nettlesome, annoying, and disruptive. It survives, when it does, on sufferage alone. Here it survives by a cultural reverence for the dignity of each person and the inviolablity of the human conscience. Both are recieved from the traditions of our ancestors. Liberty is a fragile patrimony from our Founding Fathers, who were wise enough, and mad enough, to think it a suitable foundation for a new kind of society.

Liberty was never a gift from God; it is a gift we gave ourselves. One we struggled, and bled, to afford. Furthermore, we lease liberty, we do not own it. We pay every day to maintain our liberty: we decide every day that the price is still worth it. As som rather fatuously point out, freedom isn't free. If we lose sight of that, we may let slip this damnable gift which is the is most admirable and bold part of the American experiment.

Bush's phrase, so beautifully hollow, is as dangerous as it is appealing. It gives leave for us to forget that liberty bears a price, and begs us to neglect the payments due. It would have us rely on divine providence to bestow that which we must provide for ourselves.

Liberty bears a resemblence to a genuinely divine gift; the gift of life. However, the similarities should give us warning, not comfort: either may be taken from us against our will, and either may become so burdensome that some will wish to give theirs away. Just as those who despair of life's burdens care little for the lives of others, so those who find liberty too costly will not hesitate to destroy anothers to be shut of their own

Bush's homily on liberty may be pretty, but it is inconsistent with American values, and common sense.

Baghdad Burning

For some insight into how Iraqis view the Abu Ghraib scandal, I suggest a peek at Baghdad Burning.

Right Hand, Meet Left Hand

"One thing is for certain: There won't be any more mass graves and torture rooms and rape rooms."

—Bush, press Monterrey, Mexico, Jan. 12, 2004

Maj. Gen. Antonio M. Taguba's formal inquiry into allegations of detainee torture and rape by U.S. personnel at Abu Ghraib prison, Saddam Hussien's most notorious prison, is launched on Jan. 19, 2004.

Irony, thy name is Bush.

Monday, May 10, 2004

Open Letter - A First Draft

First draft of an open letter for use in the New York Times. Please leave critique and comments:

We, the undersigned, call upon the President of the United States to immediately withdraw our military forces from Iraq. Of the purposes enumerated by the Bush Administration in waging war in Iraq, a number have proven illusory, but others have been achieved. A rogue regime, which murdered and oppressed its own people, has been removed from power. The criminals who ran Iraq will suffer every penalty that the law provides for their crimes against the Iraqi people. The world is a better place for the achievement of these goals. However, the ultimate goal, to which we have devoted so much, creation of a stable and prosperous Iraq, will not be achieved through continued military occupation by the United States.

We strongly disagree with the prevailing assumption that rebirthing Iraq politically can be achieved primarily by armed force. Armed force can create order, but it can also create resistance, suffering, and chaos. Our occupation of Iraq increasingly results in the latter, not the former. Our leaders appear to suffer of the same institutional tunnel vision that escalated a prior war of occupation, while neglecting the underlying political causes of resistance: Vietnam. As the proverb says, "When you have a hammer, all the world looks like a nail." We must use all of the many means available to a super-power to achieve our goal; we must cease to rely on the use of force. Using more and more violence, despite violence repeatedly failing to achieve the desired results, is simply insanity.

The exhumation of a nation’s civil society, buried for decades beneath suspicion and hatred by a brutal dictatorship, will not occur in the midst of unrest and armed resistance to American occupation. The renaissance of Iraqi political life cannot be imposed from without, but can only be called forth from within the Iraqi people. They can rise to the challenge of creating a national identity based on mutual interests, mutual support, and mutual respect, but not during an increasingly brutal occupation. The true path to Iraqi political union lies not through submission to force or fear, but from the ties of community that grow only during peace. We must give Iraq peace, time, and control of their fate; not more warfare.

Many brave men and women of armed services from around the world have fought and died to fulfill an honorable duty to their respective nations, to the people of Iraq, and to the world. We mustn’t allow the promise for which their sacrifices were made to go unfulfilled, or spend even one more precious life pursuing that goal by inappropriate means. We best memorialize our honored dead with a reborn nation of Iraq, not with another monument to a failed war on the Mall.

Sunday, May 09, 2004

Kerry's Campaign Strategy

From a recent conversation with a friend at Historians for Peace. I thought that the exchange was a seminal one for many who are considering Kerry for President, and might be of general interest:

Friend: "If [Kerry] does [believe we should withdraw from Iraq], how much [more] horrific that he opts to give lip service in 2004 to the agenda of the present, delusional leadership in DC! Until he declares against the war, he's not only useless to the movement, but any energy spent electing him will just be pointless, for, even if he wins, he will have a mandate to be nothing different than the current administration."

Me: "I feel the same frustration with the Kerry camp. I really do not hold out hope that Kerry will change his position, however, even if he does privately feel that withdrawl is the wisest course at the moment - at least not before the election. Kerry is triangulating for the center and betting the Bush Administration will implode before the election. Thus he is running with, instead of against, key Bush positions on national security, most particularly Iraq, and hoping people will trust him to execute policy more skillfuly; not a vain hope given Bush's record compared to Kerry's c.v..

"Kerry also knows that those of us to the 'left' on national security find him more credible than Bush, and that many will vote for him hoping he will adopt more liberal policies upon being elected. I myself share that hope. The resentment of Bush among Democrats is such that, even though Kerry is not the first choice of many, and most are not terribly excited by him (I'm guilty of both), we will turn out heavily nonetheless to get rid of Bush; again, not a vain hope. Kerry also expects to find many disgruntled cross-over voters and greater acceptance among independents than Bush; both expectations are confirmed by polling. To ensure these voters are turning out for him, he thinks he needs to stand an inch to the left of Bush on Iraq, because support for the war is highest among these voters of any who could reasonably be expected to vote for him. What Clinton did on domestic issues in '92, and even more so in '96, Kerry expects to do on national security in '04. It is an effective strategy, but whether it is in the long term interest of maintaining a healthy and vibrant Democratic party is a troubling question. It isn't the sort of question that many Democrats will be asking themselves, however; they just want to be shut of the Shrub.

"If I am right about all of this, then it is almost inevitable that Kerry will designate Wes Clark as his running mate. Wes inspires excitement and devotion among conservative Democrats, independents, and moderate Republicans like no other Democrat. He brings a considerable number of votes to the ticket. He has his own donor base, which likely is not completely co-extensive with Kerry's. He is from the south and may be able to deliver AK, and possibly other electoral prizes. He is a retired General and has unique credibility on the subject of Iraq and matters of war, having personally run one as theatre commander in Bosnia. There is no better pick for a Democratic ticket running in what viewed as essentially a national security referendum on the President's performance.

"Kerry's camp thinks that he can't win as an 'anti-war' candidate because their view of this election as a national security referrendum. They may be right, they may be wrong; I'm not sure. Certainly, they think they would have to undo 3 years of skillful and frighteningly effective Bush propaganda in the span of just 6 months to ensure victory. They know the campaign is not up to such a challenge; the campaign hasn't the resources to mount such an extensive deprogramming of a frightened America without the bully pulpit of the Presidency. So, perhaps his position is venal, perhaps it is just political realism of a man very determined to be elected President, no matter what. I don't think he wants LBJ's fate, which he surely knows lurks behind an extended occupation of Iraq. I still hold out hope that all is not as it seems in the Kerry camp, and that the Senator is playing his cards very close to his chest and bluffing for all he's worth.

"One thing I am certain of, the peace movement needs to build a more visible elite constituency in the center and right of the political spectrum to speak for and press for withdrawl as a superior policy choice once Kerry takes office. Those people are out there; I've spoken with Preble of the Cato Institute's Coalition for a Rational Foreign Policy and he thinks that support for withdrawl is definitely on the upswing on the moderate right. Kerry will have to deal intimately with a Republican Congress and will need support from at least moderate Republicans if withdrawl is to be viable politically without fatal backlash. Nor can we wait for Kerry to come around if withdrawl is not already on his mind, there should be a recognizable umbrella organization to press the issue from day 1. I think an open letter is a good place to start organizing the broad support for a withdrawl policy that already exists and to make withdrawl part of 'the debate', but it needs to attract major media attention to fully disseminate the message and rally supporters."

Friday, May 07, 2004

Why Vote Against Bush?

An excellently researched document (containing almost 250 footnoted factual sources) outlines a detailed critique of the Bush Presidency. It is a critique of his policies and actions, irrespective of his rhetoric about them. It is an excellent resource for informing undecideds and Republicans alike about how Bush is harming the nation, and demonstrating that he does not act in accord with the values of those who support him.

Get it here. It will also be listed in the Selected Media section for the future.

Does Reflect Our Values...

All the damn politicians keep saying about the torture scandal that the actions of these people, " do not reflect our values" or that they are not representative of "the America I know." These statements are a load of bunk.

These acts do not reflect our ASPERATIONS. But they perfectly reflect our VALUES, because one's actions are always perfectly representative of one's values. The unctuousness and plain deception of these statements ABOUT our values, ring hollow to all who are they supposed to reassure. We need to act IN ACCORD WITH our asperations as a people by making all who are culpable pay a heavy price for their actions, all the way up the chain. Only then will our denials ring true.

Juan Cole On The Torture Scandal

An excellent post today byJuan Cole in his Informed Comment blog regarding the lack of accountability in the Bush Administration. Professor Cole suggests that rather than America making Middle Eastern goverments more like ours, Bush is making our government more like the sham democracies of the Middle East such Tunisia, Egypt, Jordan, Yemen. In those nations, there is a no fault rule from government officials. If you are a good buddy of the strongman, there is no accountability to the people for any of your actions. Rumsfeld's retention, despite his direct fault for these atrocities, smacks strongly of such anti-democratic practices.

Dump the Chump

You can help spread the message that enough is enough: it's time to Dump Bush. There is a cafeshop where you can purchase 'Dump Bush' goods, including mugs, stickers, hats and shirts. There is even a T-Shirt for your dog. Look for a link on the sidebar when this post ages out.

Thursday, May 06, 2004

Labourers claim U.S. held them captive on base

Cochin, India: Labourers claim U.S. held them captive on base for nine months, forcing them to work amid guerilla attacks. The Indians contracted for menial jobs on a base near Mosul through a Kuwaiti staffing agency. If the allegations are true, Americans troops hid not only torture under the fog war, but also slavery. Yay for us.


Two boys in Boston were playing basketball when one of them
was attacked by a rabid Rottweiler.

Thinking quickly, the other boy ripped a board off a nearby fence, wedged it into the dog's collar and twisted it, breaking the dog's neck.

A newspaper reporter from the Boston Herald witnessed the incident and rushed over to interview the boy.

The reporter began entering data into his laptop, beginning with the headline:

"Brave Young Celtics Fan Saves Friend From Jaws Of Vicious Animal."

"But I'm not a Celtics fan," the little hero interjected.

"Sorry," replied the reporter. "But since we're in Boston, Mass., I just assumed you were."

Hitting the delete key, the reporter begins again, "John Kerry Fan rescues Friend From Horrific Dog Attack."

"But I'm not a Kerry fan either," the boy responds.

The reporter says, "I assumed everybody in this state was either for the Celtics or Kerry or Kennedy. What team or person do you support?"

"I'm a Houston Rockets fan and I really like George W. Bush" the boy says.

Hitting the delete key, the reporter begins again:

"Arrogant Little Conservative Bastard Kills Beloved Family Pet."

Taguba Report Illegally Classified Secret

The Taguba report's classification likely violates classification guidelines.Bush's Executive Order 13292 on Classified National Security Information, section 1.7 provides that:

(a) In no case shall information be classified in order to:

(1) conceal violations of law, inefficiency, or administrative error;

It could be argued that the report was classified for some other reason, and not 'in order to' conceal violations of the law. Such concealment was only an effect of the classification, not the reason. Such sophistry is likely moot as there is no implementation for EO 12958. There is no way to punish someone for violation of the order, it is only a guideline. Clearly, however, the fact that the classification of the report delayed discovery of these violations for months has a deleterious effect on national security. Whomever is responsible for the classification should feel the pain.

Plutonium Files: How the U.S. Secretly Fed Radioactivity to Thousands of Americans

The U.S. government secretly experimented with radioactivity on thousands of Americans. Many have heard of the Tukegee Experiments, but until recently it was not realized how widespread was the experimentation on unwitting and unwilling American citizens by their own government. These acts are a direct violation of the Nuremberg Code on medical experimentation. Those still living who participated in planning, authorizing, and conducting these experiments should be tried for crimes against humanity. Those already passed who are known or suspected to have particpated should be considered by the Truth Comission to determine their cuplability. Included in this latter group should be Robert J. Oppenheimer, who is known to have authorized some of this experimentation. The world, and the American people, should know the facts as an important, if painful, part of their nation's history. Unless the ethical issues raised by such atocities are dealt with openly and publicly, becoming a part of the collective conscience and national identity, these crimes will almost certainly happen again. Recent events in Iraq and in American political culture indicate that it has not taken root in American culture that some means can never be justified by the ends, not matter how compelling. We still have not learned that to let loose our grip on the ideals of civilization encoded in our own basic laws and those of the international community in order to grasp at even so important a goal as security, is to plunge the world into barbarism, trading the illusory security of strength for the true security of law and solidarity.

One of reasons that has been frequently used to justify the Iraq war itself are the crimes against humanity committed by Saddam Hussein and those in his regime, including forced medical experimentation (PDF) on unwilling subjects for his weapons program. What separates our own government ethically from the Ba'ath regime in light of revelations that we have done the same? From what ethical basis can we judge the crimes of the Ba'ath regime when we share unexpiated guilt for the some of the very same crimes? Our government performed forced medical experimentation on its own citizens for our weapons programs, and nobody has paid a price; most don't even know. We have engaged in the torture of prisoners, extra-judicial slayings, and the extra-judicial detention of civilians in Iraq. The Ba'ath regime was condemned for many of the very same crimes. How do we claim credibly to bring to Iraqis anything but more of the same.

Despite our propaganda, first about democracy, now about an amorphous liberation, Iraqis only believe what we do, not what we say. And what we have done is monstrous. If the moral lepers of the Bush Administration illegally occupied America, wouldn't we fight back and give our lives rather than submit? Oh yeah... they have, and we haven't. I guess we have less desire for freedom than the Iraqis. But then again, our nightmare of a bloody-handed barbaric dictator has only just begun, the Iraqis suffered from Saddam for 30 years (with our aid and consent, of course). Naturally, their yearning for freedom is more acute.

Wednesday, May 05, 2004

A funny...

Bush is such a weak sister he can't even speak for himself. God, what a little weasel is in the White House....

Aid and Comfort to al Qaeda

The events at Abu Ghraib prison could not be more damaging to American prestige and support in the Arab world were they directed by al Qaeda. The photographs that have emerged, and the wealth of materials that will surely emerge in the future, (apparently, there are CD-ROMs full of pictures and videos of similar, and even worse, abuses out there) are finely tuned to outrage the Arab mind. The abuse of these prisoners was quite calculated. The humiliation of these prisoners is not the accidental product of a bunch of West Virginian hicks having some twisted fun hazing prisoners. The humiliation of these prisoners was designed by people who knew Arab culture intimately and chose carefully the means just short of the technical meaning of ‘torture’ to break the prisoners. The nudity, the sexual abuse, and the presence of Western women, were all carefully designed to play upon the most sensitive vulnerabilities of the Arab cultural norms of shame and sexual identity. These images will consequently reinforce the most potent aspects of al Qaeda’s propaganda, helping to discredit America’s motives, pressuring Arab governments to distance themselves from American policy in the region, and inflaming Arab public opinion and outrage.

Al Qaeda’s uses the sexual humiliation of the Arab male by the West as one of it’s central, and most potent themes. They claim that one of the methods of America’s war on the Arab civilization is to actively seek the emasculation of the Arab man. The graphic sexual humiliation and homosexual acts depicted in these photos are a non-verbal and incredibly powerful confirmation of al Qaeda’s claim. Even worse, this story is being repressed by the national media of many of our Middle Eastern allies because it is so damaging to them and to us. This censorship will not be effective, but it will further reinforce the illegitimacy of those governments to their own people, and confirm their collusion with America.

The final and intolerable element has yet to fall into place; photographs of Arab women being sexually abused in a similar fashion. Such photos almost surely exist, and it is likely only a matter of time before they emerge. There was an entire women’s wing in Abu Ghraib, and abuse of this population is very likely in the completely negligent command environment allowed to fester at this, and other prisons. Even one such photo will create a backlash of the sort that even American arms cannot deal with. We suffered defeat and stalemate in Falluja as a result of challenging the cultural potency of a minor Shi’ite cleric. Such an image would precipitate the same sort of insurrection throughout Iraq with a much stronger cultural motivator; the defense of Arab womanhood. We would almost certainly be forced to retire from Iraq precipitously, and without a face-saving settlement. America might well face military humiliation as a result of Bush’s negligent leadership.

This story actually broke over two weeks ago, but CBS sat on it at the request of the military. Elements of the Iraqi resistance shelled Abu Ghraib about two weeks ago, killing and wounding many prisoners. Why would they do this? Because it was known that there were women in Abu Ghraib, and they already knew about what had happened in the prison. Once they had word of what was happening in the prison, they felt it preferable to try to kill the women in the prison rather than to let them endure such treatment. Wrong in our culture, but nearly inescapable cultural logic to Arabs. This is the extent to which Iraqis will go when faced with such humiliation; does anyone really imagine that we can control or survive such frenzy? The match is poised on at the fuse; God help us if it touches.

The Bush Administration, despite their protestations of innocence and ignorance are completely responsible for the conditions allowed to exist in Abu Ghraib and other military prisons. They set policies which made intel gathering the supreme and only value by which the performance of these prisons would be judged. They made the policies that placed military intelligence and civilian contractors in charge of in these prisons with mixed populations. They failed to demand oversight of operations and to ensure compliance with international laws because they were supremely arrogant and short-sighted. The result many well be to deliver Iraq to the insurgents, and to strengthen the most radical elements of Iraqi society at precisely the time when more level heads should prevail. The Bush Administration through it’s negligence and incompetence may be giving birth to a radicalized and anti-American Iraq at a time when support for continued war and occupation is waning at home. The result may well be the sort of ‘vacuum’ of which Democratic politicians warn might pull terrorist elements into Iraq once we leave. If it had set out to intentionally do so, the Bush Administration could not have done more to give aid and comfort to jihadi terrorism organizations, such as al Qaida, both by bolstering their propaganda and recruiting, and providing a likely haven for operations,. Bush has proven once again, that when it comes to supporting terrorism, sheer incompetence is the only tactic more powerful than complete inaction, his other favorite tactic.

Bush Concerned About Vets... So Long As They Vote For Him

Dubuque, IA: During Bush's recent bus tour "at least one person who said he waited patiently in line came away empty handed.

Bill Ward, of Dubuque, said he arrived at about 7:30 a.m., and waited an hour. When it came time to show his identification, Ward said he was asked if he supported Bush in 2000.

'I said I didn't vote for him then and I won't vote for him now,' Ward said.

Saying he is a World War II veteran who served in Germany and France, Ward is strongly critical of the war in Iraq.

'The only thing I wanted to do was get down to the riverfront and ask Bush some questions,' he said.

Ward's lack of support for the president apparently was his undoing.

'They asked some girl to escort me out and I told them I don't need to be escorted out,' Wards said. 'I'm a veteran of World War II.'"

Apparently, that doesn't mean crap to Shrub. Boy, this little sprig makes his dad look better by comparison every day.

Tuesday, May 04, 2004

We don't torture people...

'We don't torture people in America and people who say we do simply know nothing about our country.'

George W. Bush
Interview with Australian TV
October 18, 2003

Our standing in the world could hardly be lower. The President has brought great disrepute upon us all by his zeal to win the every battle, no matter the cost. The resulting damage to our values, our moral stature, and our institutions that regulate the use of force, which are supposed to prevent such abuses, is nearly incalculable. Many are calling this torture scandal the 'pictures that lost the war'.

How apt that is. Bush, by his neglect, his evangelical zeal, and his surety that all means were justified by the ends, may have just lost the war on terror. One cannot effectively fight an enemy when you have remade yourself in his image. If nobody wants to be on your team, you can't win the game.

I have feared this would happen. From the very minute Camp X-Ray opened for business as a 'law-free zone', I was concerned about what abuses would grow behind that veil of secrecy. Once born, that culture would surely spread along the vector of personnel transfers between detention facilities. Gitmo, Diego Garcia, Bhagram, and now Abu Ghraib; the infection has spread and now the damage has been done. We have been made no better than the enemy by the Bush Administration's neglect to exercise reasonable oversight over the wide latitude they were granted by public opinion, Congress, and the judiciary. They have betrayed that trust. There is no way to be sure of where the command failures happened, as yet, but clearly the Bush Administration did what they always do; they delgated the task with no guidelines or restrictions and simply demanded results. They got them. And Americans now get a reputation as barbarians.

I didn't mind so much being considered crass and self-involved. It was tolerable to be considered rude, shallow, and arrogant. I could see that, in the main, these traits were honestly present in the American character, especially in our relations with the world. Now, however, Americans will be seen as vicious barbarians, torturing and killing behind prison walls. Turning a blind eye to the liquidation America's enemies in secret concentration camps around the world. Morally, where does that leave American citizens? At best, bearing the stigma of naive ignorance that the WWII generation of Germany bore for their ignorance of a genocide that their government fantasized about publicly and acted openly to further. At worst, moral cowards acquiescing to the vilest sorts of crimes, even against the innocent, in a desparate and futile scramble toward safety in the wake of 9/11.

I now see Americans in the later light. We at least had functioning institutions of democratic control. We are soverign. We cannot dump the responsibility at the feet of some military commanders and have done. We cannot even lay blame on the Bush Administration and feel good about ourselves. We could have prevented this. The warning signs were there. Any idiot could have predicted this, and in fact, this one did. No, the fault is not in our stars, but in ourselves.

Of course, I spit on anyone who supports the Bush Adminstration now. Support for Bush is now a character flaw, not a political stand. If you stand with Bush, you stand with the worst sort of moral monster: the kind that thinks he's a savior, and thus the rules don't apply to him. Throughout history it is those convinced of the righteousness of their mission who commit the most heinous crimes. But I also spit on every single one of you, and myself.

I failed those innocents in Falluja and elsewhere in Iraq. I failed those men and women who were tortured, humiliated, beaten, and killed in Abu Gharaib and other detention camps and prisons around the world. We knew, or should have know that these attrocities were happening over a year ago, but I did nothing; nor did you. I stood by as thousands of innocentAfghani civilians died for our revenge; so did you. I accepted it when I learned that 3,000 Afghani POWs were massacred by leave of the U.S. military after the siege of Kunduz; so did you, whether you know about it or not. During the 12 years of the Iraqi sanctions, I was complicit in the genocidal deaths of thousands of Iraqi children; so were you. During the "shock and awe" invasion prelude, I was complicit in the collateral deaths of thousands of innocent Iraqi civilians; so were you. As my countrymen were stripped of their rights in the panicked adoption of the PATRIOT act, I did little; neither did you. As my country adopted assassination as a tool of statecraft once again, I did nothing; neither did you.

I am reprehensible. And so are you. What are we going to do about it?

The vast right wing silence

I don't know if anyone who actually comes by here reads any right wing blogs and media, but I certainly do. I have noticed that in the past few days, since the withdrawl from Falluja and the prison scandal, the right wing pundits and bloggers have started to pull their focus from Iraq and begun to obsess ever more exclusively on Kerry's supposed flaws. It is as if this portion of reality just doesn't exist. They don't acknowlege it, they don't try to spin it. Has anyone else noticed this retreat being beat?

RSS/Atom Feed Site Meter
Powered by Blogger