Thursday, February 23, 2006

Victims of War Are Not To Be Seen Or Heard Or Mentioned

Victims of War Are Not To Be Seen Or Heard Or Mentioned
The greatest dignity and respect you can give [victims of war] is to show the horror they suffered, the absolute gruesome horror."
-War Photographer David Lesson

Joseph Bonham was an American soldier. He lost both of his arms and legs and all of his face to an artillery shell. He could not see or hear or speak. Other than that he was healthy and lucid. That was Joe's nightmare. He could be kept alive a long time.

Joe remained an anonymous torso until his head tapping was recognized as Morse code. When his message was finally understood, it was assumed he'd gone insane. Joe asked to be put on exhibit so that children and parents and teachers and politicians and preachers and patriots of every stripe could have a close-up look at war's leavings. It was the only way he could give his nightmare meaning.

Joseph Bonham's request was denied. It was not in the best interest of the country to foist him on an unsuspecting public. He died an "unknown soldier."

On March 18, 2003, two days before her son launched the invasion of Iraq, Barbara Bush appeared on Good Morning America. Our nation's "First Mother" asked Diane Sawyer, "Why should we hear about body bags and death and how many? . . . Oh, I mean, it's not relevant. So why should I waste my beautiful mind on something like that."

First Mother Bush knows her children well. When it comes to war's gallery of death and grotesqueries the big difference between Joseph Bonham and ourselves is that we choose not to see or hear or speak.

We resist and resent any reminder of the human cost of war with epithets and accusations. It is a breech of good taste. It undermines morale on the home front. It is aiding and abetting the enemy. It is unpatriotic and irrelevant. It is a waste of our beautiful minds.

In November 2004 Travis Babbitt was mortally wounded while on patrol in Baghdad. An Associated Press photographer captured his last moments on film. When the Star Ledger of Newark, N. J. and several other papers published the picture their editors were excoriated by readers who called them "cruel, insensitive, even unpatriotic."

Bush makes Congressional Republicans look like fools

It is noteworthy that not all, but quite a few Congressional conservatives supported Bush in his assertion that during "war time" that the president has unlimited powers. Then the UAE port deal comes along and Frist threatens to block the deal pending further investigation, apparently Bush's powers are not unlimited. Why is Congress interfering with the President's wartime decisions?
According to the Bush Administration's Yoo theory of Executive power, which these Congressional Republicans have been pitifully invoking to argue for their own powerlessness as a means of justifying the President’s flagrant violations of the law, neither Congress nor the courts "can place any limits on the President's determinations" regarding protection of the nation against terrorism because "these decisions, under our Constitution, are for the President alone to make."

Based on this theory, Pat Roberts just recently announced that FISA is unconstitutional because it impermissibly impinges on the President’s "inherent authority" to make decisions about how the nation ought to be defended without interference from the courts or Congress. Based on that reasoning, how can Congress possibly interfere with the President’s decisions concerning how our nation’s ports will be defended from terrorist threats?

I guess this is an unintended consequence of one party rule and all the power that comes wth it, left to their own devices they've hung themselves on principles of convenience.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Why does the right keep insisting that Iraq is the Disneyland of the middle-east

Shiite protests Roil Iraq
Tuesday was an apocalyptic day in Iraq. I am not normally exactly sanguine about the situation there. But the atmospherics are very, very bad, in a way that most Western observers will miss.

The day started out with a protest by ten thousand people in the Shiite holy city of Karbala, against the Danish caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad. These days, Shiites are weeping, mourning and flagellating in commemoration of the martyrdom of the Prophet's grandson, Imam Husayn. So it is an emotional time in the ritual calendar. when feelings can easily be whipped up about issues like insults to the Prophet. An anti-Danish demonstration in Karbala is a surrogate for anti-American and anti-occupation sentiment. The US won't be able to stay in Iraq withiut increasing trouble of this sort.

Then guerrillas set off a huge bomb in a Shiite corner of the mostly Sunni Arab Dura quarter of Baghdad, killing 22 and wounding 28. Another 9 were killed in other violence around Iraq. These attacks are manifestations of an unconventional civil war.

Then real disaster struck. The guerriillas blew up the domed Askariyah shrine in Samarra. The shrine, sacred to Shiiites, honors 3 Imams or holy descendants of the Prophet.

Cheney’s Credibility In Its Last Throes
Vice President Dick Cheney, yesterday:

I think we’ll look back several years from now and see that 2005 was really a turning point, in the sense the progress we made…in terms of training Iraqi forces, because we’ve now got a large number of Iraqis taking the lead various places around the country from a security and military standpoint. [Cheney, PBS Newshour, 2/7/06]

Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Gen. Peter Pace, yesterday:

“Pace said only one Iraqi army battalion is capable of fighting without U.S. help. That is the same number as in September, when U.S. commanders disclosed that the number of such highly trained battalions had dropped from three to one, prompting criticism from lawmakers.” [AP, 2/7/06]

A couple weeks later and things haven't changed much.

Bush's Weird Counteroffensive on Ports - Bush's Weird Counteroffensive on Ports

It is so strange that we repeated, Bush's Weird Counteroffensive on Ports
You'd think the administration would just conduct a strategic retreat, admit it didn't handle this too well, and agree to a more extended and less secret review of the security issues involved in the takeover of operations at six major U.S. ports by a company from Dubai. And maybe it will soon execute one of those classic Bush non-acknowledged flip-flops (see Department of Homeland Security, Intelligence Reform, Campaign Finance Reform, etc., etc.) and do just that.

But for the moment, Bush is hanging tough, arguing that the criticism of this decision represents anti-Arab ethnic profiling, and actually threatening his first-ever presidential veto of any legislation that might overturn the Dubai port takeover.

Aside from the rich irony of this line of argument from a president who has deliberately exploited stereotypes of Arabs in conflating the 9/11 attackers with Iraqis, there's the little problem that Bush is avoiding the actual arguments of his critics.

Rather then call Bush insane or shrill, how about we as a nation demand a very thorough mental competancy test. Go ahead and do Cheney too, maybe taxpayers can get a group discount.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

New Report: The Battle for America's States

New Report: The Battle for America's States
HELENA, MT – The Progressive Legislative Action Network (PLAN) today issued a report that exposes many of the conservative movement's methods of operation in state government and how progressives can deliver results. The organization also rolled out its website that will serve as the "virtual" war room in the fight for the states.

"For the past thirty years, conservatives of different stripes have had their efforts clearly coordinated with a long-term strategy in mind," says Nathan Newman, PLAN's Policy Director and Author of the Report. "The resulting policies in the states -- whether handouts to corporations, wedge issues to pit progressives against eachother, or structural plans to weaken progressive institutions -- are not an accident, but the result of years of engineering by powerful interests."

Nathan Newman gives on this report he wrote for In These Times, Forget DC- The Battle is in the States
But there's another reason progressives should be paying more attention to state politics and policies. If you hadn't noticed, those in power in DC don't care what progressives think. We can win an occasional defensive fight, as with protecting social security, but we can't win any progressive victories. But if the rightwing is taking state politics seriously, it's because they also know that progressives have the opportunity there to make real advances in policy, as they have done in areas like the minimum wage, smart growth and energy policy, or protecting gay rights- all areas where advances have been blocked at the federal level.

Mr. President, Stop Port Sale Now Or Lose Congress

Mr. President, Stop Port Sale Now Or Lose Congress
Republicans will lose control of Congress if President Bush does not immediately reverse the decision to allow an Arab-owned company (with ties to his adminisration) to operate major U. S. ports. Fearing a deadly depression in November's conservative voter turnout (already in play over Bush's immigration policies), House Republican leaders are lining up to fight the White House on this one -- and outside the Beltway, dissent rises from GOP governors in affected states.
Conservative commentator Cal Thomas says that of all the dumb decisions since 9/11, this may be "the dumbest of all."

Crawford is usually pretty easy going, if he's getting this serious about an issue its probably something that isn't sitting too well with middle America too.

Monday, February 20, 2006

In the Bush bubble: Wouldn't it be great to do away with Congress.

White House in overdrive trying to prevent hearings on domestic spying

White House Working to Avoid Wiretap Probe
But the actions have angered some lawmakers who think the administration's purported concessions mean little. Some Republicans said that the White House came closer to suffering a big setback than is widely known, and that President Bush must be more forthcoming about the eavesdropping program to retain Congress's good will.

Congress to Bush, if you don't tell us some stuff, we're not going to like you as much as we used to. I'm sure Georgie and Unka Karl are upset at that idea. Yje only reason Bush took an oath to uphold the law is because he thought he'd be making up the law as he went along.

ROBERTS' CREDIBILITY ON LINE , this is not the 700 Club huckster, he's supposed to be the people's representative from Kansas, but appears to be acting more like a paper tiger,
So it's troubling that Roberts, chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, is fast gaining the reputation in Washington, D.C., as a reliable partisan apologist for the Bush administration on intelligence and security controversies.

We hope that's not true. But Roberts' credibility is on the line.

From Abu Ghraib abuses to secret CIA detainee prisons to the Valerie Plame affair, critics say, Roberts has become a dependable shill for the White House, ever ready to shield Bush policy from criticism and ever willing to compromise Congress' legitimate oversight role.

A prime example: He has dragged his feet on a promised but long-delayed Senate investigation into whether the White House cherry-picked and amplified prewar intelligence to fit its preconceived goal of invading Iraq.

This week, Roberts sidetracked a Senate Intelligence Committee inquiry into the possibly illegal National Security Agency wiretap program, saying the White House had agreed to brief lawmakers more regularly and to work with him on a behind-the-scenes "fix" of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act.

That prompted a scathing New York Times editorial Friday headlined "Doing the President's Dirty Work," which opined: "Is there any aspect of President Bush's miserable record on intelligence that Senator Pat Roberts, chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, is not willing to excuse and help to cover up?"

Granted, a legislative tweaking is probably the right approach if the FISA court law somehow hampers America's ability to conduct relevant and timely anti-terror electronic surveillance.

But whether the law needs a "fix" is far from certain. Roberts' deal could thwart Congress' duty to learn more about and evaluate this program, while securing from the White House only a vague pledge to talk about fixing the law down the road.

The sound of Pat Robertson's silence

Robertson Cancels Speech at Convention
Fellow conservative religious leaders have expressed concern over and open criticism of Pat Robertson's habit of shooting from the lip on his daily religious news-and-talk television program, "The 700 Club."

The Christian Coalition founder and former GOP presidential candidate has said U.S. agents should assassinate Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez and suggested that Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's stroke was divine retribution for the Israeli pullout from the Gaza Strip.

Some observers say Robertson, who will be 76 next month, courts controversy as a strategy to remain in the public eye and to keep his followers mobilized. Others say that he is important to the evangelical movement that he helped create when he established the Virginia Beach-based Christian Broadcasting Network in 1960, but that he needs to stop damaging it with his words.

He canceled a speech planned for Tuesday at the closing banquet of the National Religious Broadcasters convention in Dallas after NRB leaders said they were worried that his appearance could detract from the event.

"He is in a very visible leadership position, and comments such as recent ones related to Mr. Sharon and so many others are misinformed and presumptuous and border on arrogance," said David S. Dockery, president of Union University, a private college affiliated with the Tennessee Baptist Convention. "It puts the evangelical movement in a bad light."

It would have been great if they just would have called him a crazy fundie who's giving Christianity a bad name, but this is a good first step.

Sunday, February 19, 2006

enlightenment principles and empiricism from the reality based community

Looks like someone has taken a moment to make the case for the enlightenment principles and empiricism from the reality based community , as opposed to people who's rhetorical wagon seems to run on tin-foil, inflammatory language, false accusations, pretend Christianity, other words wing-nuts. Bush Cultism is the new alternative fuel.

Earth To Rumsfeld

Earth To Rumsfeld
I saw this and am unable to comprehend why this is an issue: Rumsfeld: Al Qaeda has better PR.

I talked about illiteracy in the Muslim world. Michael at Musing's Musings, Bulldog at Main & Central, and Anne at Peevish have all posted on this.

Folks, you can't present a landfill as a gated community, no matter how much you pay a PR firm. The US government has a history in the area, and while this administration may have forgotten about it, the people who live there haven't.

Iraqis and Iranians remember that the US supported Saddam for years during the Iran-Iraq War. Iranians know about the US involvement in bringing the last Shah to power. The Afghanis remember how the US left after the Soviets were pushed out. The Kurds remember being screwed by Republican Presidents since Nixon. Americans may not remember, the locals do. The locals don't differentiate between administrations: the American government is the American government.

Do we need some good PR, sure we do. The question is, is this the crew to do it. As long as the neocons are stirring the ship and are the face that the Muslim world sees, we lack credibility. We're obviously noi going to convince the most radical elements of Islam to see us as good guys, but its just impossible to believe that of the world's nearly 1 billion Muslims there aren't some moderates who want to figure out a way for us to get along. If Bush thinks he can appeal to those moderates while condoning torture and rendition he's smoking something that's not legal.

Google rejects Justice Dept. bid for search info

Google rejects Justice Dept. bid for search info
Google's lawyers said the company shares the government's concern with materials which are harmful to minors but argued that the request for its data was irrelevant. They offered a series of technical arguments why this data was not useful.

The Mountain View, California-based company said that complying with the U.S. government's request for "untold millions of search queries" would put an undue burden on the company, including a "week of engineer time to complete."

"Algorithms regularly change. The identical search query submitted today may yield a different result than the identical search conducted yesterday," the company's external legal counsel argued in the filing.

Google been taking heat for its semi-cooperation with China, all things considered at least they're doing the right thing most of the time. U.S. Firms Balance Morality, Commerce
BEIJING -- A congressional hearing in Washington last week focused attention on the practices of four U.S. Internet companies doing business in China -- Google Inc., Yahoo Inc., Microsoft Corp. and Cisco Systems -- amid mounting criticism that they are making money in the world's second-largest market of Internet users at the expense of human rights.

Rep. Christopher H. Smith (R-N.J.), chairman of the subcommittee that convened the hearing, has accused the companies of a "sickening collaboration" with the Chinese government's efforts to police the Internet. He has also drafted a bill that would restrict their ability to cooperate with Chinese efforts to censor political content or apprehend online dissidents.

Listening to a Republican making a hypocritical fool of himself is what's sickening. China has already moved to a more capitalistic economy, the foundation has been laid for the political side to follow. Its ironic that Congress is picking on the tech companies, when hundreds of US businesses have been in China since the eighties and I didn't hear any Republicans cry about tying that business to human rights. Must be blibbing on the political radar to show a facsade of being anti-China while continuing the same pro China trade policies that keep Wal-Marts selves stocked.