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Saturday, December 20, 2003

Off Topic

I've taken a mini-break from Iraq to write about the idiocy of US magazine and the marvel which is the DC-3. A wonderful plane which evokes the best kinds of memories in people. Explore some of the sites and you'll be running to get a copy of Flight Simulator.

Anyway, if you haven't done so, take a look at Just a Bump in the Beltway, a new blog by a long time comments denizen, Melanie Mattson. She's got a wonderful nose for news stories, like this one: Medical evacuations from Iraq near 11,000. That charming story is about how Iraq is sending back a sea of wounded and injured, most of whom don't get noticed on the news.

What I am Working on 

I've got a post currently in development about fundamentalism that sprung out of an exchange with Mark Kleiman. I am not sure what I'm going to do with it, but hopefully it will be one of my better posts.

Bush and Libya: Simply Dishonest 

First off, I want to acknowledge that Libya's decision to allow inspectors in and destroy its stockpiles of
WMD is a wonderful development, and a diplomatic achievement of which the Bush administration should rightfully be proud. But there's a fair amount of dishonesty in the way Bush is presenting it to the world. In addition to the patently false claim that the U.S. war on Iraq played a significant role in Qadhafi's decision, there are a couple of other ways in which the Bush administration has been dishonest in regard to Libya.

First, the U.S. almost gave up its leverage on Qadhafi early in Bush's term, when Dick Cheney's infamous energy task force suggested lifting sanctions on Libya, Iraq and Iran in order to bring more foreign oil into the U.S. This in spite of the fact that one of the goals of the task force was to reduce U.S. dependence on foreign oil.

But hey, this was in April 2001, and we all know that the world changed on 9/11/2001. So maybe we can overlook Cheney's attempts to give big oil's interests priority over U.S. national security.

What is more difficult to forgive is the revelation from last weekend, which has been universally ignored in the U.S. media (but discussed both here and at Calpundit), that the U.S. allowed a shipment of "15 complete Scud missiles, a set of conventional warheads and 85 containers of chemical products - some 20 holding nitric acid - were ultimately delivered to Libya under a Washington decision" in December 2002.

I mean, it's great that "We've organized a proliferation security initiative to interdict dangerous materials and technologies in transit," but it doesn't mean a whole lot if you just wave those dangerous materials on through to so-called 'rogue nations.'

And when you do stuff like that, the hard-nosed rhetoric Bush spouted today don't mean a whole lot, either.

The Invisible Manifesto 

Nine hours alone in a car gives you plenty of time to think. And so I did. As I was driving from Maryland to Georgia, I had plenty of time to mull over several matters. I reviewed my last exam in my head, until that started to annoy me. I thought about all the good food my wife would be fixing over the winter break and what we would do when we got to San Antonio. I also, of course thought about politics.

In my slightly exhausted, slightly excited state I started to ponder the attitudes David Neiwert has been documenting over at Orcinus, about the increase in eliminationist rhetoric coming from the mouthpieces on the extreme right. What struck me about this sort of kill all the dirty liberal rhetoric was not its startling lack of imagination (unfortunately, this sort of hate speech has been around for a long time and like all things older than the hills, it’s not all that original) but the personal edge that the Neocons give it. They of course backpeddle as soon as they’re fingered on their libelous speech and claim it was only satire but this just underscores their ignorance. Does anyone really think Rush Limbaugh would know satire if it dropped a wooden rabbit on his head?

read the rest at The Invisible Library.

To Promote and Recommend, With Lumbar Support and Ju Ju Beans for All 

I just put my Weekend Edition. It's a little scaled back (only 4 top stories and 1 rehashed comic) for the holidays.

I also wanted to recommend visiting Corrente. It's become one of my personal favorite blogs and right now there's a great post up that asks the question: How many Republicans does it take to screw in a lightbulb? The growing list of jokes is well worth a read.

Almost forgot.. my blog is The Gotham City 13.

Friday, December 19, 2003

Church and State 

Steve Gilliard has an excellent post on Dean and religion. I recommend Steve's site in its entirety.

On a personal level, presidential candidates and religion have always made me queasy. I don't think a president should give up his religious beliefs when he takes the oath of office. After all, they are a part of who he is and cannot be put into a blind trust. But neither should he use his position to evangelize under the guise of policy. Jimmy Carter, who was labeled as a "born-again" Christian, certainly kept his faith in the forefront, but he rarely, if ever, spoke of it outwardly and certainly not as glibly as George W. Bush does who throws around evangelical phrases as if he was in a revival tent.

Read the rest at Bark Bark Woof Woof, please.


Thursday, December 18, 2003

Americans prefer Paris Hilton to Dumbya 

This is priceless:


It looks like the fake military is a better ratings draw than President Bush talking about the real one.

Paris Hilton has more ratings pull, too.

Diane Sawyer's exclusive sitdown with Bush, just days after the capture of Saddam Hussein, drew fewer viewers than Fox's "The Simple Life," starring hotel heiress Hilton, and CBS' naval drama "Navy NCIS," according to Nielsen Media Research.

The CBS series, a spinoff of the popular "JAG," averaged 11.67 million viewers in its first half-hour and 12.39 million in the second.

"The Simple Life," which is built around Hilton and her pal Nicole Richie living and working on an Arkansas farm, averaged 11.78 million viewers between 8:30 and 9 p.m.

Bush's chat with Sawyer on ABC averaged 10.78 million in the first half-hour at 8 p.m. and 11.23 million in the second.


How embarrassing. The Shrub can't even get a good audience against Paris Hilton, let alone a fictional show that's about the military. This is simply hysterical. I mean, this was supposed to be a highlight of his War on Terra, wasn't it? And he can't even win an hour's timeslot?

I love it.

Fuhgedaboutit? 

President Bush continues to move the goalposts in his constant struggle to justify the war. A year ago it was an "imminent threat" and "we're 45 minutes from Armageddon." Now it's "Well, Saddam Hussein was thinking about it. Same thing!"

This isn't just one more example of Bush's chronic ADD - "We must fight terra...oh, look at the kitty" - it's scrambling for a justification for a needless war that has killed hundreds of American soldiers, thousands of Iraqis, and plunged the Middle East into even more danger than it already had. How much more perfidy will it take before we rise up and throw the bastards out?

Read the whole post here.

Wednesday, December 17, 2003

Freedom to Marry 

A fair and balanced group called the 'American Family Association' has an online poll about the Freedom to Marry. For some reason, they're calling it a poll on 'Homosexual Marriage'.

Whatever. They want input; I say, let's give them input!


Showcase 

I have entered the New Blog Showcase for this week. I would love to have your support if you feel so moved. Thanks. Here's the link.

-Chris "Lefty" Brown

Newsflash: low test scores in cities 

Apparently some people consider it newsworthy that students are scoring poorly in large urban areas:

"WASHINGTON - Students in some of the nation's largest urban school districts score below the national average on federal math and reading tests, scores released Wednesday show.

But in these urban centers, where large numbers of disadvantaged kids live, students compete well when compared with national peers of the same race, ethnicity or economic level."

How are cities different from other areas if not for race, ethnicity, or economic level?

Posted here.

The Smirking Sock Puppet 

Sometimes I wonder if it's just me. This morning, watching part of Bush's performance during Diane Sawyer's interview, he confirmed everything I've ever thought about him: incurious, unintelligent, contemptuous - and probably ignorant - of anyone not in the same privileged class as himself.

In a post this morning at The Fulcrum, I talk about three things I noticed about Bush this morning:

1. The ever-present smirk.
2. He says the same things over and over again.
3. He admits that he lied about WMD.
I watch this man and I can't help but wonder what all those people who voted for him once - and especially those who plan to vote for him again - are thinking. How could such a person strike them as worthy of leading our wonderful nation during such troubled times?

My wife, certainly no follower of American politics, put it so perfectly this morning: "Every time he opens his mouth, something stupid comes out."

Read the rest of my thoughts on his interview here.

BREAKING NEWS!!!! 

Ruthless Corporate Dictator Kenneth Lay - CAPTURED!!!!
Hiding alone in hole on outskirts of Houston!!!!
Read all about it!!! - Exclusive coverage only at CORRENTE!!!!
How many more exclamation marks do you need? (!!!!)

Tuesday, December 16, 2003

Finally Chiming In 

Yesterday I finally jumped into the ocean of voices talking about the Saddam capture, and stroked out a few of my thoughts on a post. In what could be possibly described as a fit of sarcasm and angst I titled my post, 'But What Does It Mean, Really?'

I would post some of it here, but it really is quite long and there just isn't any one bit I would prefer over another. So please, do stop by and add your two-cents worth if you like. The comment thread is growing, in large part due to the visitor dsb3 brought over from Skippy's the other day. It would seem this person is keeping an eye on me now and stops by regularly to correct me in my errant liberal thoughts. I'm not sure, but I think he might be on a crusade to save my "bleeding heart". I feel so special.




...With David Brooks as Sancho Panza 

David Brooks gets the chance to compare the foreign policy visions of George W. Bush and Howard Dean. Guess who wins.
George Bush fundamentally sees the war on terror as a moral and ideological confrontation between the forces of democracy and the forces of tyranny. Howard Dean fundamentally sees the war on terror as a law and order issue.

[edit]

Bush believes that God has endowed all human beings with certain inalienable rights, the most important of which is liberty. Every time he is called upon to utter an unrehearsed thought, he speaks of the war on terror as a conflict between those who seek to advance liberty to realize justice, and those who oppose the advance of liberty: radical Islamists who fear religious liberty, dictators who fear political liberty and reactionaries who fear liberty for women.

Furthermore, Bush believes the U.S. has a unique role to play in this struggle to complete democracy's triumph over tyranny and so drain the swamp of terror.
In other words, screw NATO, screw the United Nations, screw our allies who dare to offer a word of caution. We have the arm of the Lord on our side, and woe betide anyone who stands in our way. Windmills of the world, beware!

Read the rest at Bark Bark Woof Woof

Why Bush Will Bungle the Capture of Hussein 

In a previous post, I gave four recommendations for how Bush could ride the international wave of goodwill generated by Hussein's capture to advance his stated goal of a free and democratic Iraq. Unfortunately, I think he is unlikely to follow any of them.

The reason is simple. This administration has a proven track record of soaking up any goodwill it can find and distorting it into support for their agenda. Since all of my recommendations would require them to deviate from the postwar plan they've thrown together, they won't do it. To an administration which considers all opposing viewpoints to be treason, changing course simply is not an option.

There are at least two examples of Bush & Co. squandering good will, both from the first year of his presidency.

The first started shortly after the marathon presidential election was called in Bush's favor. After 6 years of a Republican anti-Clinton witch hunt, and 5 weeks of partisan acrimony following the events in Florida, the country was eager to embrace bipartisanship, which Bush promised in his victory speech. However, he hit the ground pandering to the extreme right, nominating John Ashcroft as Attorney General and pushing school vouchers and huge tax cuts. The appeal to bipartisanship was only used as a ploy to advance the conservative agenda, an agenda which so polarized people that James Jeffords left the GOP just 4 months after Bush took office, throwing control of the Senate to the Democrats. While this event certainly did not help Bush, neither did it cause him to change course. The Republicans did recover from this mistake 20 months later, when they retook the Senate.

The most prominent example of Bush squandering good will, of course, is 9/11. It is impossible to appreciate the amount of political capital Bush managed to piss away in the 17 months between September 11, 2001 and March 20, 2003. And unlike in the Senate, Bush has not had much success in getting our political capital back.

If Bush hasn't learned anything from that colossal blunder (and it's fairly clear he hasn't), there's no reason to expect that he'll take any positive steps to nurture the goodwill he's gained from Saddam's capture. Which is too bad, because there won't be another opportunity like this one, and this one won't be around for long. If the U.S. hasn't announced a significant course change by the time we see the second major, post-Saddam's-capture guerilla attack, the current window of opportunity will have slammed shut.


Monday, December 15, 2003

Join the "Bash For Cash" Fundraiser! 

In response to the attacks on Howard Dean by Joe Lieberman and John Kerry, as well as the recent despicable attack ad that has been linked to Kerry/Gephardt, I am making a stand against dirty campaigning.

The message is clear: Mud slinging doesn't pay, it helps your opponent and makes you look bad.

So, I am looking for people interested in sending this message to pledge money to the Dean campaign. How much will you give Howard Dean for every attack launched against him by a fellow Democrat? I am pledging $.50 for each attack. Simple and direct- but if 50 other people join me, that's $25.00 per attack, straight into Deans coffers (don't forget, attacks from his opponents equals less money to spend spreading ideas and more going into setting the record straight.)

I know this is ambitious, and that I am a new blogger without a lot of sway, but I am proud of this idea and I hope you will help it catch on, even if you don't participate. Also, if you are for another candidate, feel free to adapt it to your own purposes- the idea is just as good a way to speak out against dirty politics in general.

More details on the Bash for Cash Fundraiser over at "And Then..."

We pissed off a freeper... 

From the comments section of this post at the Truth Laid Bear.
Damn! I didn't know I had to vote. Must have missed the instructions on that. My bad.... I guess it's too late now since votes will be tallied today and I won't be able to make any updates to the site until tonight (at the earliest).

Just out of curiosity, how much, if at all, do votes fluctuate on Monday? In other words, what are the chances I will be the winner despite the fact that I'm three votes down to that other blog.

Speaking of which, it perplexes me that a blog asking "what's the point?" will WIN the showcase the very week that Saddam is captured! What's up with THAT?

Even more troubling is the fact that I was winning going into yesterday. For whatever reason, the "It's Craptastic" folks collected significantly more votes yesterday than I did...which itself would be disturbing enough...but with the capture of Saddam yesterday, my submission was essentially proved as visionary while their's was exposed as nonsense!!! What GIVES???

Sorry guys, but if that posts wins you may want to take a closer look at your poll. Seems the wrong posts are being rewarded....

Posted by Ed at December 15, 2003 08:14 AM
Good triumphs over evil! Thank you to everyone who voted. That comment make the victory even sweeter.


Wait A Minute... 

I know I'm a little slow on the up-take sometimes, but it occurs to me that all this celebration and praise for capturing Saddam Hussein is a little like praising a student for finally turning in a homework assignment that was due three weeks ago.

A few more thoughts on this over at Bark Bark Woof Woof.

Choreography 

Well on a weekend where I explicitly wanted to get away from the news, all this stuff happens.

I woke up this morning, hopped on the trusty ol' PC and what do I see?

The headline: Iraqis’ joy at Saddam arrest quickly fades.

I can't say that I'm at all suprised by this. I mean, the guy was living in a hole. Sure, people were scared that he was going to come back to power but that wasn't as much of a concern as the Media Wing of the Bush Administration would like you to believe.

I look it at like this:

(I'm gonna pull a Salon.com and say that you have to go to my site to read the rest.)

Read the rest here.

[Note: I created a permalink to take you right to the story. - ntodd]

Sunday, December 14, 2003

I have a question, Mr. President. 

Yes, yes, we all know Hussein's been captured. Congrats to Clinton's Army for this one. Not that I expect anything but crowing from you, the wingnuts and Faux News.

So what I really want to know, as a New Yorker who lived through September 11th and the attacks, is where the hell is Osama Bin Laden, Mr. President? Where the hell is the man who was actually responsible for the attacks on DC and New York? Where the hell is the man responsible for the deaths of some people I personally knew?

Hussein was a sideshow, an excuse to show success in the War on Terra © when Afghanistan was falling back into the abyss. Karzai barely rules the city-state of Kabul; entire provinces are falling back under Taliban control, which, if we'd paid any attention to it, would not have happened. But no, you needed to get your war on, and having succumbed to the PNAC's Chickenhawks, you decided to F--- Saddam, as Newsweek reported.

Now that the family bogeyman has been put to rest, I'd like to see you focus on the real threats posed to this country, not these imaginary ones you made up. And personally, I'd love to see you cut some of your allies in the Coalition of the Shilling free, like Uzbekistan. You know, where the leader is worse than Hussein?

Reprinted from my blog back in May, in its entirety:

Guardian Unlimited | The Guardian | US looks away as new ally tortures Islamists

Abdulkhalil was arrested in the fields of Uzbekistan's Ferghana valley in August last year. The 28-year-old farmer was sentenced to 16 years in prison for "trying to overthrow the constitutional structures".

Last week his father saw him for the first time since that day on a stretcher in a prison hospital. His head was battered and his tongue was so swollen that he could only say that he had "been kept in water for a long time".

Abdulkhalil was a victim of Uzbekistan's security service, the SNB. His detention and torture were part of a crackdown on Hizb-ut-Tahrir (Party of Liberation), an Islamist group.

Independent human rights groups estimate that there are more than 600 politically motivated arrests a year in Uzbekistan, and 6,500 political prisoners, some tortured to death. According to a forensic report commissioned by the British embassy, in August two prisoners were even boiled to death.


Hey, you foaming-at-the-mouth warmongering freepers -- where's the outrage over this one? Uzbekistan's leader is about the worst there is in the world at the present time -- and we're only getting closer to him, giving him money. We're not even trying to stop him.

Where's the outrage? Where's the cries for Operation: Uzbekistani Freedom?

We're already there, after all. It wouldn't take much, as it seems to me that the Salvation Army could probably whip Uzbekistan's army in a fight.

Where's the outrage? Why aren't you beating the drums of war on this one?

Hussein was a piker compared to this asshole.

The US condemned this repression for many years. But since September 11 rewrote America's strategic interests in central Asia, the government of President Islam Karimov has become Washington's new best friend in the region.

The US is funding those it once condemned. Last year Washington gave Uzbekistan $500m (£300m) in aid. The police and intelligence services - which the state department's website says use "torture as a routine investigation technique" received $79m of this sum.

Mr Karimov was President Bush's guest in Washington in March last year. They signed a "declaration" which gave Uzbekistan security guarantees and promised to strengthen "the material and technical base of [their] law enforcement agencies".

The cooperation grows. On May 2 Nato said Uzbekistan may be used as a base for the alliance's peacekeeping operations in Afghanistan.

Since the fall of the Taliban, US support for the Karimov government has changed from one guided by short-term necessity into a long-term commitment based on America's strategic requirements.


Certainly, if Iraq was in need of some liberation, so is Uzbekistan, yes? Or Eritrea? Or Ethiopia?

Or, gods forbid, Saudi Arabia?

But nope. They're not a problem. Iran's the problem.

Where's the outrage, you self-righteous idiots?

Oh, I'm so sorry. Since the White House says they're our friends, we'll just smile and pat them on the head.

In the city of Namangan, in the Ferghana valley, there are many accounts of the regime's brutality. A fortnight ago, Ahatkhon was beaten by police and held down while members of the Uzbek security service stuffed "incriminating evidence" into his coat pocket. They called in two "witnesses" to watch them discover two leaflets supporting Hizb-ut-Tahrir. He was forced to inform on four friends, one of whom - an ex-boxer - is still in pain from his beating. Abdulkhalil and Ahatkhon prayed regularly. This seemed to have been enough to brand them as the Islamists the Karimov government fears.

[snip]

Another senior western official said: "People have less freedom here than under Brezhnev. The irony is that the US Republican party is supporting the remnants of Brezhnevism as part of their fight against Islamic extremism."

The US is also funding some human rights groups in Uzbekistan. Last year it gave $26m towards democracy programmes. A state department spokesman said America's policy was "reform through engagement" and that Uzbekistan had "taken some positive steps", including "registering a human rights group and a new newspaper".

Matilda Bogner of Human Rights Watch's office in Tashkent said: "I would deny there has been any real progress.

"The steps taken are basically window dressing used to get the military funding through the US Congress's ethical laws. Nothing has changed on the ground."

Hakimjon Noredinov, 68, agreed. He became a human rights activist after a morgue attendant brought him his eldest son, Nozemjon. He had been left for dead by the security service but was still alive despite having his skull fractured. Nozemjon is now 33, but screamed all night since they split his skull open. He is now in an asylum, Mr Noredinov said. "People's lives here are no better for US involvement," he said.

"Because of the US help, Karimov is getting richer and stronger."


Your tax dollars, hard at work torturing someone in the name of protecting "resources".

I ask again -- where's your outrage? That there's been none shows how morally bankrupt the Right has become. If, as we're led to believe, Operation: Iraqi Liberation was about "liberating" the Iraqi people from an oppressive tyrant, isn't this just as bad?

The next time someone says something supportive of the Iraqi war, the Shrub or the current PNAC-driven foreign policies, throw this in their face.

It's a damned disgrace.

What does Saddam know? 

From Kick the Leftist:

I was reading the WMD portion of CalPundit's post and it hit me like a ton of bricks: Saddam has been living in a hole for months. What if the U.S. interrogators told him that we had already found WMD in order to get him to say where the rest is located? If there are WMD (I'm convinced there must be some left over from the 80s), and Saddam knows where they are (this i'm not positive on), would he crack? It's an interesting question to ponder.

Speaking Of Saddam 

I've posted some thoughts on the political impact of Saddam's capture, which is an unvarnished Good Thing:

If the Dems are smart (that's a big "if"), they can point out: our arrest of Saddam was the most expensive in history, both in terms of lives and dollars; Osama bin Laden, the guy who's responsible for 9/11, is still at large; we are actually less secure because we've created a new reason for jihad, and we've wasted money that could've been spent on securing our ports and other such things at home; our military is stretched too thin; while we fiddled with Iraq, problems with budding nuclear powers such as Iran and North Korea have increased. It might be a harder sell, but if the Dems nominate an thoughtful, articulate, passionate candidate, I think they can do it.

Please see Dohiyi Mir for more.

"We Got Him" 

From the NY Times:
American military officials confirmed today that Saddam Hussein had been captured alive in Tikrit on Saturday night.
Good. Can we go home now?