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Saturday, April 12, 2003

Contemplating the Future

Three articles today examine various aspects of the same question: what now?

This Washington Post piece sums up the issue well

As the Bush administration emerges triumphant from a war in Iraq that faced heavy opposition from across the globe, President Bush and his national security advisers are struggling to identify the best mix of confrontation and conciliation to achieve other foreign policy goals that are being expanded and refined in the wake of the collapse of Saddam Hussein's government.

At almost every turn, the administration will face a choice over whether to accommodate its policy to the concerns of others, or whether to push ahead, sure of its own convictions and confident that others will follow.

In terms of foreign policy, the possibility exists the Bush may continue to cite his doctrine of pre-emptive military action as justification of attacking the two remaining members of the "Axis of Evil" - Iran and North Korea. As the New York Times sees it

Of course, Iraq has long been considered the most vulnerable target on the "axis of evil" list. Mr. Rumsfeld and Condoleezza Rice, the national security adviser, have made it clear they don't want a military fight with North Korea, a more fearsome adversary. While the world focused on Iraq last week, the administration backed down from insisting that the Security Council condemn the North's nuclear programs.

There is also Iran, racing ahead with its own nuclear program. There, the White House is talking of pressing for inspections by the International Atomic Energy Agency, whose work it belittled in Iraq, while hoping that the country's reformers go critical before its weapons project does.

From the start in Iraq, Ms. Rice made it clear that in her view Saddam Hussein would never back down and that, sooner or later, military action would become necessary. Yet she makes the opposite argument about the other "axis of evil" members. Iraq, she insists, was "a unique case."

The big question coming out of the fall of Baghdad is whether America's other enemies, and its potential enemies, will take away the lessons Mr. Bush intends. Perhaps they will live in fear that they are next, and reconsider the wisdom of amassing fearsome arsenals. But they could as easily draw the opposite conclusion: that Saddam Hussein sealed his own fate when he took on the United States before he had nuclear weapons in his closet. That, they could conclude, is the only way to assure that the United States military stays away.

Finally, this New York Times Magazine piece wonders about the future of the United Nations in light of the apparent military victory in Iraq

Many of the officials and delegates I spoke with said that the United States could have got its way had it behaved with greater regard for the U.N. and for the niceties of multilateralism. One U.N. political professional said to me that the debate became a referendum not on the means of disarming Iraq but on the American use of power: ''The members ended up feeling that they had to stand up to American unilateralism.'' I tried out this theory on Juan Gabriel Valdes, the ambassador from Chile, a pivotal member of the 10 ''nonpermanent'' members of the council during the Iraq debate. Valdes blamed the French for eliminating the possibility of a common ground, but also the Bush administration for what he called a ''double discourse.'' There was, he said, ''a discourse here that gave a lot of importance to the U.N., and there was a discourse in the papers based on statements from nonidentified authorities in Washington who indicated that the U.N. was just a formal and somewhat cumbersome procedure that had to be followed, but that wouldn't change the fact and the direction of American decisions.'' Valdes did not appreciate being asked to serve as a rubber stamp.

There is a theory that the United States needs the U.N. as much as the other way around. As the one global actor, the U.S. has the greatest possible stake in the solution of global problems like AIDS, refugees and of course terrorism -- problems that require the mobilization of the whole world, and thus the engagement of the U.N. Ambassador Valdes of Chile says that he recites this mantra to himself all the time, even as he sees the U.S. drifting further from the U.N. Certainly the U.S. will continue to find the U.N. a useful forum for the solution, or at least the discussion, of all sorts of problems. The big question is whether these problems include first-order issues of peace and security.

It is unlikely that Bush will expand his doctrine of pre-emption to cover any other country, at least in the near future. With "nation building" obligations in Afghanistan and Iraq, it should be some time before the US military is replenished and re-equipped sufficiently to fight another war. But that assumes that Bush actually cares about rebuilding either of these countries.

But at the same time, it is just as unlikely that this administration will relent from its hard-line unilateralism. The UN and the international community have all but been rendered irrelevant - at least in the eyes of those who created the Bush doctrine and pushed for unilateral military action in Iraq. Individuals who support such ideas are not likely to rethink them, especially after they have produced the intended results. Wolfowitz, Rumsfeld, Rice and Cheney are not, and have never been, interested in strengthening international bodies or abiding by international norms. In their view, the UN and all other countries serve only as cover for our own unilateralism. Any obstruction or objection to the US agenda is not considered valid and therefore does not require diplomacy or compromise. The one administration official who seems to take such things seriously, Colin Powell, has essentially been neutered and now serves only to put a thin veneer of international legitimacy on the Hawk's "America First" foreign policy.

The Hawks feel that their worldview has been vindicated and, as such, it is unlikely to change. If anything, it will be refined and expanded. From now on, the UN will serve only as a buffer between the US and the unpleasant global humanitarian and peacekeeping demands. When the US does not want to get involved, we will defer to the United Nations. But if the UN should happen to object to any US foreign or economic policy, it will be openly disdained and ultimately ingored by this administration.

Thus, not much has changed really except that now the Hawks, Neo-Conservatives and Republicans can finally stop bothering to pretend that they think international bodies, treaties or laws actually matter.

posted by Eugene Oregon at 10:11 PM

Friday, April 11, 2003

This just in....

Someone has "redesigned" the sign belonging to the Committee for the Liberation of Iraq.

They taped a poster over the Committee's original sign. The poster shows a father holding his daughter, who was missing both of her feet, apparently because of a bomb. The caption of the poster reads "Liberation: March 22, 2003."

I would like to assure the Department of Homeland Security that I had nothing to do with this.

I also would like to assure same Department of Homeland Security that I had nothing at all to do with the creation of this new, peace-oriented website.

posted by Tyler at 5:39 PM

They Blinded Me with Science

An interesting piece in The Guardian demonstrates the ways in which the religious right and business interests use the language of science to defeat science:

The new assaults on the conventional wisdom frame themselves, without exception, as scientific theories, no less deserving of a hearing than any other. Proponents of [Intelligent Design] - using a strategy previously unheard of among anti-Darwinists - grant almost all the premises of evolution (the idea that species develop; that the world wasn't necessarily created in seven days) in order to better attack it.

This strategy has been used to attack not only evolution, but also to shift the terms of the debate regarding AIDS funding, global warming, cloning, and sex education.

A recent attempt by the Bush administration to loosen labeling standards for "dolphin-safe" tuna using politically-driven "data" is only the latest example.

posted by Noam Alaska at 4:05 PM

Smart & Sly "Sunshine" Legislation

Some Democrats (and Republicans) want to know-- is the Bush Administration going against the principles of free-market capitalism by using an "invite-only" system for corporations to bid on nearly $100 billion dollars in post-Iraq-rebuilding contracts?

``I am concerned that right off the bat, USAID is limiting competition,'' said Senate Governmental Affairs Committee Chairwoman Susan Collins, a Maine Republican. ``Fair and full competition would ensure the best value for American taxpayers.''

Collins was joined in introducing the legislation -- the ``Sunshine in Iraq Reconstruction Contracting Act of 2003'' -- by [Sens. Lieberman, Clinton, Wyden, and Byrd]...Their measure would require that specific justifying documents for any noncompetitive bidding process be made public no later than 30 days after a contract is signed. Failure to comply could allow another company to challenge the process...

This is also an indirect way of investigating the "special preferences" some corporations may have received in the process of awarding the lucrative post-war contracts.
[ahem. cough, cough, Halliburton, cough, Cheney, cough, Kellogg Brown & Root.]

Get 'em where it counts most-- right in the moneybags.

posted by Zoe Kentucky at 3:26 PM

Our Actions Have Consequences

This can't be good

Indian defence minister joins Pakistan pre-emptive strike chorus

JODHPUR, India (AFP) - Defence Minister George Fernandes reiterated Indian warnings that Pakistan was a prime case for pre-emptive strikes.

"There are enough reasons to launch such strikes against Pakistan, but I cannot make public statements on whatever action that may be taken," Fernandes told a meeting of ex-soldiers in this northern Indian desert city on Friday.

posted by Eugene Oregon at 2:44 PM

Late to the Game

I am sure that this article has found its way into countless Blog posts today, but just in case you haven't seen it, I'll link to it here

The Pentagon contract given without competition to a Halliburton subsidiary to fight oil well fires in Iraq is worth as much as $7 billion over two years, according to a letter from the Army Corps of Engineers that was released today.

Vice President Dick Cheney was Halliburton's chief executive from 1995 until 2000. When he left the company to run for vice president, Mr. Cheney received over $30 million in compensation.

posted by Eugene Oregon at 2:25 PM

Good Golly Ms. Molly!

Molly Ivins has the best post-war-Iraqi-occupation piece I've seen yet:

So, we've got a crook, a Zionist and an old spy who thinks this is the beginning of WWIV set to run Iraq. How lucky can the Iraqis get? Is this what we thought we were fighting for?

posted by Tyler at 1:44 PM

From Soldiers to Policeman

If our bombs didn't kill you, our peacekeeping still might.

British forces shot and killed five men trying to rob a bank who opened fire on them in the southern Iraqi city of Basra, the scene of looting over the past week, a U.S. military spokesman said on Friday.

posted by Eugene Oregon at 1:37 PM

How Bush betrayed our troops

This is kind of a follow-up to the Michael Kinsley piece posted earlier today by Eugene Oregon. Go here for the whole meal:

"In the last Gulf War, as troops, we were ordered to murder from a safe distance. We remember the road to Basra-the Highway of Death-where we were ordered to kill fleeing Iraqis. We bulldozed trenches, burying people alive. The use of depleted uranium weapons left the battlefields radioactive. One in four Gulf War veterans is disabled. There must come a time when being a citizen of the world takes precedence over being a soldier of a nation. Now is that time."


How far we have come from the days when the bombing of Guernica was universally denounced as a war crime. That which was outrageous for our parents becomes-in the 16-day bombing of Baghdad, where women and children huddled in closets and cellars-a mere TV documentary on the triumph of technology.

posted by Tyler at 1:31 PM

More on the Feeny Amendment

Talkleft has a great post on this horrible provision attached to the Amber Alert bill. Refresher in a nutshell: this is "legislation backed by the Bush administration that would strip federal trial judges of their ability to apply leniency in punishing crimes against children." Hey, even Chief Justice William Rehnquist opposed this, saying:
"this legislation, if enacted, would do serious harm to the basic structure of the sentencing guideline system and would seriously impair the ability of courts to impose just and responsible sentences."
The National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers has a comprehensive page with all the details.

posted by Helena Montana at 12:54 PM

Another Justification for War? 2004

After reading AP stories like this one, is it really that hard to understand why some people believe that a war in Iraq has always been a cornerstone of Bush's re-election strategy?

April 11, 2003 | WASHINGTON (AP) -- When war ends in Iraq, President Bush will quickly shift focus to his 2004 re-election campaign and the issue that kept his father from winning a second term: a weak economy. The money, message and much of Bush's political machine are already in place. After weeks of careful planning, the White House hopes to convert postwar political momentum into a string of successes for Bush's domestic agenda and ammunition for re-election. The elder Bush failed to capitalize on his popularity after Operation Desert Storm in early 1991, a mistake no Republicans want to see happen again.

"I believe the president will emerge from the war with enhanced ability to stimulate the economy," said House Majority Whip Roy Blunt, R-Mo., a close ally of the White House. "And that's not only the right thing to do but, obviously, it's the element that has the most potential to have an impact between now and 2004," Blunt said.

posted by Zoe Kentucky at 12:15 PM

War Realities

Salon is providing links to a few collections of Iraqi war photos - the graphic sort that don't appear in the American media.

As they see it

The images of the Iraq war being shown by media beyond the U.S. are more graphic and violent than most of what American viewers have seen on their TV channels and in their newspapers and magazines. Whether as a matter of politics or taste, U.S. media outlets traditionally do not present audiences with viscerally troubling visual evidence of war's insults to the human body.

As a service to our readers, Salon has assembled several links to photos of the Iraq war's carnage that have not been widely distributed offline in the U.S.

The photographs -- mostly from Al-Jazeera or from international press agencies reproduced in the Arab press -- are appearing on third-party sites (Al-Jazeera's own Web sites have been subject to technical problems throughout the war), and we cannot vouch for their authenticity or the accuracy of the information provided about them. Also please keep in mind that the images in many cases display a level of gore substantially greater than what the American media typically offers. Many readers may find them disturbing. Click at your own risk.

posted by Eugene Oregon at 11:57 AM

War Games

The US Military has issued a deck of playing cards to troops featuring pictures of the "Most Wanted" from Iraq's toppled regime.

Guess who is the ace of spades?

(I wonder how much these cards will fetch on e-bay?)

posted by Zoe Kentucky at 11:47 AM

While Rome burned...

Saddam might have been busy taking a tour of Baghdad mosques to have his feet kissed by his loyal followers.

Unfortunately, rampant rumors of the dictator's whereabouts in the city led to American troops surrounding and attacking a mosque in Baghdad yesterday, based on a tip that Saddam & sons were hiding out inside. When locals were interviewed about the mosque they claim that Saddam had been there briefly on Wednesday, in a 30-car convoy, with one of his sons and Iraq's defense minister. One local man said, "Saddam was here, and I kissed him" and that there were over 200 people there to greet him. While a few Iraqis were talking to journalists, a crowd of Iraqis angered over the destruction of the mosque, started throwing stones at the journalists, asking "Do you see the things your country does?"

Officials say that they received many reports of Saddam sightings on Wednesday, but said they didn't seem credible. Distancing themselves from the story, the White House, Pentagon, and CIA say they never heard anything about the Husseins camped out in the mosque although they did confirm that they had heard a mosque had been attacked.

Granted, Saddam traveling around in a 30-car convoy does seem very far-fetched, but that also tells us something about the loyalty of some of his followers and what we may encounter during post-war reconstruction of Iraq. Also, let's hope there isn't any footage of us surrounding and attacking a mosque-- talk about giving aid and ammunition to our enemies.

It does makes me wonder that if Bush offered up his feet to be kissed if there would be any takers...

posted by Zoe Kentucky at 11:08 AM

They lie

Joe Conason has the goods on the Cato Institute. Seems like they took a break from writing government-slashing "pornography for Republican staffers" (their words, not mine) to smear Human Rights Watch. Go read the details. It won't take long.

posted by Helena Montana at 9:54 AM

Pryor Restraint

Via Sam Heldman via via the Fulton County Daily Report we get this article.

Also noteworthy, today's Washington Post editorial called "Unfit to Judge"

PRESIDENT BUSH must have worked hard to dream up an escalation of the judicial nomination wars as dramatic as his decision this week to nominate Alabama Attorney General Bill Pryor to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit. A protege of Alabama Republican Sen. Jeff Sessions, Mr. Pryor is a parody of what Democrats imagine Mr. Bush to be plotting for the federal courts. We have argued strongly in favor of several of Mr. Bush's nominees -- and urged fair and swift consideration of all. And we have criticized Democratic attacks on nominees of substance and quality. But we have also urged Mr. Bush to look for common ground on judicial nominations, to address legitimate Democratic grievances and to seek nominees of such stature as defies political objection. The Pryor nomination shows that Mr. Bush has other ideas.

posted by Eugene Oregon at 9:21 AM

Thursday, April 10, 2003


You link to us - we'll link to you.

All you have to do is let us know, preferably via e-mail.

It worked for Dailyweasel

posted by Eugene Oregon at 10:47 PM

No Place for Irony

This is simply heartbreaking

Asleep and unable to hear the frantic shouts of adults, 28 deaf boys perished early today after fire consumed their boarding school in the Caspian Sea city of Makhachkala, in Russia's Dagestan province. At least 106 others were injured, 22 of them critically.

Dagestan officials said the fire, which may have stemmed from electrical problems, broke out about 2:20 a.m. in the two-story school, which housed 159 boys between ages seven or eight and 14 in a dormitory on its second floor.
Only about 25 children escaped unscathed, some by jumping out second-story windows, the RTR television network reported.

Teachers struggled for several minutes to awaken children from slumber before giving up and summoning firemen, who were unable to control a fire that was whipped by gale-force winds. Within two and one-half hours, the building had burned virtually to the ground, the Interfax news service reported.

posted by Eugene Oregon at 10:03 PM

Slate of the Union

Two really good pieces in Slate today.

First, Michael Kinsley notes that even though the Republicans and the media are already declaring victory and assuring us that the war was a success, many of the significant moral, political and factual questions surrounding the use of force have not been resolved. He still wonders

Is there a connection between Iraq and the perpetrators of 9/11? Is that connection really bigger than that of all the countries we're not invading? Does Iraq really have or almost have weapons of mass destruction that threaten the United States? What will toppling Saddam ultimately cost in dollars and in lives (American, Iraqi, others)? Will the result be a stable Iraq and a blossoming of democracy in the Middle East or something less attractive? How many young Muslims and others will be turned against the United States, and what will they do about it? Should we be doing this despite the opposition of most of our traditional allies? Without the approval of the United Nations? Is it justified to make "pre-emptive" war on nations that may threaten us in the future? When do internal human rights, or the lack of them, justify a war? Is there a policy about pre-emption and human rights that we are prepared to apply consistently? Does consistency matter?

The second is William Saletan's "The Soft Bigotry of Loose Adulation" post examining the way Bush talks down to various ethnic groups while trying to praise them. It is certainly worth reading.

posted by Eugene Oregon at 9:45 PM

[Don't] take me out to the ball park...

The head of the Major League Baseball Hall of Fame has cancelled a "Bull Durham Day" celebration that was scheduled in Cooperstown, NY later this month because two of the stars of Bull Durham, Tim Robbins and Susan Sarandon, spoke out against the war. To read more, click here.

For those who have not seen the movie, I highly recommend it. Not only is it a good baseball flick, but there is this soft bdsm scene where Sarandon ties whats-his-name-up in bed and reads Walt Whitman poetry to him.

posted by Tyler at 5:17 PM

Operation Rewrite History

This Washington Post article notes that Hawks within the Bush administration and the Republican Party are trying not to gloat over their self-declared victory in Iraq, but clearly feel that they have been vindicated by scenes of Iraqis toppling statues of Hussein.

This temporary giddiness on their part is somewhat understandable if one assumes that they have actually accomplished what they set out to do. But it also ignores the basic fact that we still have no idea what Iraq will be like in five or ten years. It is a lot easier to topple an unpopular and oppressive regime than to create a viable, open democracy from its ruins.

But aside from this, what is most alarming continues to be the media's willingness to swallow the White House/GOP talking points that attempt to retroactively spin this war as a mission designed to liberate the Iraqi people.

It is amazing how quickly Republicans begin to revise history, for in the months of debate in the US and the UN, liberating the Iraqi people was never put forth as a serious justification for using military force.

Their justifications always involved alleged weapons of mass destruction, ties to terrorism and threats to US national security - none of which has yet been proven. Seeing as their real justifications for launching this war either failed or have been proven false, it is understandable that they would try to cloak their pre-emptive military action in terms humanitarian morality.

But as Kant says, the only truly "good" action is that which is done from duty. And Bush clearly does not feel that he had any duty to aid the victims of any other oppressive regime. His commitment to "liberating" oppressed people is entirely superficial and seems to apply only to Iraq, as this administration has no plans to similarly liberate the people of Iraq or North Korea or any other brutal regime.

Unfortunately for him, these effort to belatedly revise the arguments justifying this war do not make it any more legitimate.

Despite this fact, several GOP hack can't resist boasting

"The Democrats were on the wrong side of the Civil War, the Cold War and now the Iraq War," said Grover Norquist, president of Americans for Tax Reform and an all-purpose chest-thumper on matters Right Wing. "Their batting average on these things is right up there with France."

"This is going to be George Bush's day for a while," [Ed Rogers, a Republican lobbyist] said. "Anyone who feels inclined to criticize him should shut up and sit down. He was right, they were wrong. Never kick a man when he's up."

What exactly was he "right" about? Iraq's weapons of mass destruction? Its ties to al Qeada? Its threat to America's national security? All of his reasons failed, and yet he still claims victory?

If Bush really cared about human rights and liberating the oppressed, he would have justified the inevitable military action on these grounds - not on Hussein's violations of UN Security Council resolutions. And had he truly cared and justified it on humanitarian grounds, liberals would probably have supported this war.

Hawks may pretend that we sent 300,000 troops to the Middle East for the purpose of "liberating Iraq" but that does not make it so. Just as if I, convinced that my wife-beating neighbor was planning on harming me or my family, took it upon myself to kill him and, in doing so, managed to "liberate" his wife from his tyrrany, I certainly would not be able to honestly claim that I was in any way acting on her behalf.

And though the fall of Hussein's regime is undoubtedly a good thing, these attempts to convince the world that the illegitimate use of force has somehow been vindicated by the liberation of Iraq is nothing but arguing that the ends justify the means.

posted by Eugene Oregon at 4:52 PM

More Murdoch

There are three stories in today's New York Times on Rupert Murdoch's deal to buy control of DirectTV and Hughes Electronics yesterday.

Now, I'm far from the savviest business observer, but it didn't take an MBA to notice this tidbit, from the main article:
In 2001, Mr. Murdoch lost a bidding contest for control of Hughes to EchoStar Communications, the nation's second-largest satellite operator. That deal was rejected by regulators late last year after Mr. Murdoch waged a behind-the-scenes lobbying campaign � circulating a 123-page volume opposing the deal called "The Essential Guide to the EchoStar/DirecTV Deal" around Washington � to block the agreement, giving him a second chance.

Of course, the News Corporation's deal for Hughes will also require the approval of regulators, including the Justice Department and the Federal Communications Commission, and some consumer groups are already calling for this deal to be blocked as well. But unlike the deal with EchoStar, which would have combined the nation's two largest satellite television companies, legal experts suggest that the deal with the News Corporation will be approved because the company does not already compete in the satellite distribution business in the United States.
Hey look...Salon's Eric Boehlert wrote about this exact issue two years ago.

posted by Helena Montana at 4:29 PM

Trying to Out-Fox Fox

MSNBC seems determined to try to out-Fox the Fox News Network. Having cast aside left-of-center host Phil Donohue, the cable network chose a new host for its evening time-slot who seems cut from the block as Sean Hannity and equally as guilty of weak, slipshod analysis: former Florida Congressman Joe Scarborough.

In his April 8th MSNBC Web site commentary, Scarborough brags that Osama bin Laden's effort to push the U.S. out of the Mideast has failed. "Now, American troops are swarming into Baghdad," he writes. "They're sweeping across the region and the United States is having more influence over affairs in the Middle East than any time in our history." True, perhaps. Of course, the Soviet Union had a great deal of "influence" over its former satellite states in Eastern Europe -- influence that bore deep resentment among Pols, Czechs, Hungarians and others. This "influence" eventually culminated in the rapid disintegration of the Soviet empire, once the Berlin Wall came tumbling down.

Scarborough neglects to assess the direction that the U.S.'s "influence" over the Mideast will take and whether it will bear fruit or -- in the end -- hatred. But Scarborough, host of "MSNBC Reports," did issue this warning to Iraq's neighbors. "Syria and Iran, you've already been warned by Rummy and, if I were you, I wouldn't screw around with this guy because between you and me, I'm pretty sure he means business." Not exactly the kind of message to win friends and influence people. Alas, success on the war front breeds more arrogance, a commodity that is not in short supply back home.

posted by Frederick Maryland at 3:16 PM

Is She Going to Start Paying Me for This?

In her latest poorly-reasoned and factually inaccurate column, Ann Coulter informs us that "liberals are no longer a threat to the nation."

It seems that, thanks to the Internet, talk radio and Fox News, the truth is now instantly available to the American people and therefore liberals (namely Eddie Vedder and the Dixie Chicks) are finally being exposed as the fifth columnists that they are.

Anyway, by the time Coulter gets around to attacking Peter Arnett, she has so exhausted her meager supply of mental energy that she can't even manage to do the preliminary research necessary to ensure basic accuracy.

You'd think she'd at least do an Internet search before saying

Peter Arnett was fired from NBC for pinch-hitting for Tariq Aziz, Saddam Hussein's minister of information.

Tariq Aziz is Deputy Prime Minister, at least according to PBS and the Guardian, to cite just the first two results of a Google search of the name.

The Iraqi Information Minister is Mohammed Saeed al-Sahhaf.

Did her subscription to Lexis-Nexis expire?

I am beginning to grow very tired of having to fact-check Ann's work for her.

See this post

posted by Eugene Oregon at 1:43 PM

Who needs WMD?

Transition is proceeding smoothly, I see...

Leading cleric hacked to death in mosque

A leading Iraqi cleric and a member of President Saddam Hussein's Ministry of Religion were hacked to death by a crowd at a mosque, at Najaf, in southern Iraq today.

The killings occurred at the shrine of Imam Ali, one of the holiest sites of Shiite Islam, practised by the majority of Iraqis. ...

Both men were then rushed by the crowd and hacked to death with swords and knives, witnesses said. An unknown number of people were injured."Al Kadar was an animal," said Adil Adnan al�Moussawi, aged 25, who witnessed the confrontation.

"The people were shouting they hate him, he should not be here."

Mr Khoei is among the most prominent of Iraq's returned exiles. His father was the revered Shiite cleric Ayatollah Abul�Qassim al�Khoi, who was the religion's spiritual leader during a Shiite uprising against Saddam in 1991.

posted by Theora at 1:35 PM

Well, since we're over here already...

According to Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld, "Syria has been cooperative in facilitating the movement of people out of Iraq into Syria, and then in some cases, they stayed there and found safekeeping there." Consistent with one of the defining characteristics of the Bush Administration's approach to politics, Rumsfeld offers no details or evidence just that there are "scraps of intelligence" that this is occurring. (Oops, sorry, I nearly forgot that as patriotic Americans it is our job to just believe him and take his statements as fact.)

Even Sen. Saxy Chambliss (R-Ga) says, ��there is a cause for concern about what may be going on within Syria so far as official support for Saddam's regime" but also added "there's nothing definitive there...You're talking about tens of people, not thousands of people." (Chambliss may be privy to the "scraps of information" since he's a member of the Senate Intelligence and Armed Services committees.)

So taking into consideration the stern warning Powell gave last week to both Iran and Syria, perhaps Syria should keep its ear to the ground for the slow drumbeat of war possibly headed in their direction. Looks like they could be first on the list.

All glibness aside, my serious question of the day-- if your justification for invading another country is "liberation" of its oppressed people then how can you morally justify stopping after just one? (And what has happened to the last country we liberated?)

posted by Zoe Kentucky at 10:28 AM

After the fall...

Bill Berkowitz spares no mercy for Religious right Islam-bashers who target postwar Iraq. While I wouldn't personally choose to call these fundamentalist Christian relief agencies the "new Christian crusades" just yet, there's a whole lot of intolerance there.

This past weekend's papers yield some new tidbits. The Washington Post noted the fears of Iraq's "half-million or more Christians [who] have been allowed to worship freely under Hussein and for generations have worked and lived comfortably with Muslims." They fear reprisals from Muslim militants but also:
Still another fear looms over Christian communities in Iraq, one that involves a threat posed by fellow Christians rather than by Muslims, say religious leaders and officials from faith-based humanitarian organizations in the area.

"There's concern that Christian [aid] organizations, many of them gathering on the border in Amman, [Jordan], will descend like a flock of vultures" in an effort to convert Muslims to Christianity, said Jim Jennings, founder of Conscience International, an independent humanitarian group specializing in medical care that has worked in Iraq for more than a decade.
And here's some interesting numbers on the growth of the evangelize Islam crowd, from the New York Times:
Franklin Graham and the Southern Baptist Convention are only the most well-known voices in a growing effort by American Christians to convert Muslims. Since 1990, the number of missionaries in Islamic countries has quadrupled, according to researchers for the evangelical missions.

Five years ago, the Southern Baptists reorganized their International Missions Board to focus on the part of the world where Muslims live. Two years ago, Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Texas created a master's degree program for missionaries ministering to Muslims.

The linchpin in most of these efforts is the "Jesus Film," which was made by the founder of Campus Crusade for Christ in 1979 and has been translated into 811 languages.

posted by Helena Montana at 10:23 AM

Wednesday, April 09, 2003

Funny, I missed this in the Paragon of Journalistic Integrity:

Look at the time! 5 p.m. already and I have not posted anything new about my next-door neighbor, the Committee for the Liberation of Iraq.

My travels through Lexis land yielded the following morsels:

First, three U.S. Senators Evan Bayh, John McCain, and, um, Joseph Lieberman have joined the Committee.

Second, for those of you who are familiar with the Project for the New American Century, it seems that they are the organization that founded the Committee for the Liberation of Iraq.

Iraq observer William Rivers Pitt has written:
"PNAC has recently given birth to a new group, The Committee for the Liberation of Iraq ... CLI has funneled millions of taxpayer dollars to support the Iraqi National Congress and the Iraqi heir presumptive, Ahmed Chalabi."

Pitt continues:

"Chalabi was sentenced in absentia by a Jordanian court in 1992 to 22 years in prison for bank fraud after the collapse of Petra Bank, which he founded in 1977. Chalabi has not set foot in Iraq (in decades), but his Enron-like business credentials apparently make him a good match for the Bush administration's plans."

Another tidbit:

Gary Schmitt, executive director of the Project for the New American Century, also serves as secretary of the Committee for the Liberation of Iraq.

And finally, this from Agence France Presse (this came out earlier this year):

A former Pentagon official helped draft a controversial statement by 10 Central and Eastern European nations this month that supports the United States in its stand-off with Iraq, according to a press report published in Paris Thursday.

In an interview, Bruce Jackson, a former US Defense Department official who heads a Committee for the Liberation of Iraq, said that he was among those who helped initiate the statement supporting the US stance, the daily International Herald Tribune reported.

The joint statement by Albania, Bulgaria, Croatia, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Macedonia, Romania, Slovakia and Slovenia drew a scathing rebuke from France's President Jacques Chirac at a European Union summit meeting in Brussels Monday.

Coalition of the willing, my posterior.

posted by Tyler at 4:55 PM

Hey Corporations-- Prove Your Patriotism!

Here's a great idea that will never see the light of day-- the Corporate Patriot Act.

"I humbly propose the "Corporate Patriot Act," which would require all corporations financially benefiting directly or indirectly from the Iraq war to donate all profits to the families of the brave American troops who've made the supreme sacrifice, those troops injured or disabled as a result of the war, and lastly, the American taxpayers who've financed the war from our national treasury."

I'm sure Republicans will call it unfair and unamerican, but it seems like a really effective way to prevent and denounce one of the ugliest aspects of war-- war time profiteering. (It might even help those Democrats fumbling to find their spines during wartime.) If the concept is raised skillfully, the GOP would be forced to defend the despicable practice. And for those Democrats with nothing to lose, you can use it as a clever segue to bring up the lesser-known source of Bush family money-- war-time profiteering!

During the Second World War... the government investigated [Bush's] grandfather, Prescott Bush, and his maternal great-grandfather, Bert Walker. Under the Trading With the Enemy Act, officials seized Bush stockholdings, charging that "huge sections of Prescott Bush's empire had been operated on behalf of Nazi Germany and had greatly assisted the German war effort."

posted by Zoe Kentucky at 4:34 PM

Like Telephone ... for Blogs

Via The Liquid List via the Morning News via the New York Times we get this article about the rising popularity of the vehicular monstrosity known as "the Hummer."

Apparently the owners of such beasts are just as pretentious as the tanks they drive, if one can generalize from this quote

Rick Schmidt, founder of I.H.O.G., the International Hummer Owners Group, said: "In my humble opinion, the H2 is an American icon. Not the military version by any means, but it's a symbol of what we all hold so dearly above all else, the fact we have the freedom of choice, the freedom of happiness, the freedom of adventure and discovery, and the ultimate freedom of expression."

"Those who deface a Hummer in words or deed," he added, "deface the American flag and what it stands for."

In my humble opinion, Schmidt is a symbol of everything that is wrong with those who would drive a H2 - they are the sorts of people who see being an American as license to be wasteful, arrogant, self-centered pricks.

For more info on SUVs and the people who drive them, read this Gregg Easterbrook article.

posted by Eugene Oregon at 3:49 PM

The Michael Moore "backlash"

Yesterday Michael Moore sent a letter out to his supporters talking about the "backlash" he has encountered since speaking out against the war at the Oscars. Here's an excerpt:

-- On the day after I criticized Bush and the war at the Academy Awards, attendance at "Bowling for Columbine" in theaters around the country went up 110% (source: Daily Variety/ The following weekend, the box office gross was up a whopping 73% (Variety). It is now the longest-running consecutive commercial release in America, 26 weeks in a row and still thriving. The number of theaters showing the film since the Oscars has INCREASED, and it has now bested the previous box office record for a documentary by nearly 300%.

-- Yesterday (April 6), "Stupid White Men" shot back to #1 on the New York Times bestseller list. This is my book's 50th week on the list, 8 of them at number one, and this marks its fourth return to the top position, something that virtually never happens.

-- In the week after the Oscars, my website was getting 10-20 million hits A DAY (one day we even got more hits than the White House!). The mail has been overwhelmingly positive and supportive (and the hate mail has been hilarious!).

-- In the two days following the Oscars, more people pre-ordered the video for "Bowling for Columbine" on than the video for the Oscar winner for Best Picture, "Chicago."

-- In the past week, I have obtained funding for my next documentary, and I have been offered a slot back on television to do an updated version of "TV Nation"/ "The Awful Truth."

You can read the full letter from Moore (including his exact quote from the Oscars) here. Or if you'd rather see clown porn, go here.

posted by Tyler at 2:46 PM

Preparing for Battle

Alabama Attorney General William Pryor has been nominated to a seat on the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals.

Pryor is perhaps the most egregious Bush nominee to date. A Federalist Society member, he has repeatedly provided a "vigorous defense" for "Ten Commandments Judge" Roy Moore in his various lawsuits.

He is pro-gun and received the Harlon B. Carter Legislative Achievement Award, the highest tribute conferred by the National Rifle Association's Institute for Legislative Action in 2001.

He is also ardently pro-death penalty.

At an anti-abortion rally in 2000, he claimed that "Our greatest right is the right to life."

He has called Roe v Wade "the worst abomination of constitutional law in our history."

He indicted Barnes and Noble for selling "child pornography" in 1998.

In 1994, he helped Jeff Session, then a candidate for Attorney General, fight a Democratic proposal designed to add more blacks to the state's courts.

During a rally protesting the separation of church and state in 1997, standing along-side the likes of Ralph Reed and Alan Keyes, Pryor confessed that he became a lawyer "because I wanted to fight the ACLU." He then proclaimed that "I will never forget Jan. 22, 1973, the day seven members of our highest court ripped the Constitution and ripped the life out of millions of unborn children" before going on to state

God has chosen, through his son Jesus Christ, this time and this place for all Christians ... to save our country and save our courts.

And presumably, Jesus is planning to use Pryor to accomplish the task.

Stay tuned for more ...

Pryor nicely sums up his judicial philosophy for us in this 2001 speech at the American Enterprise Institute

The federalism decisions of the Rehnquist Court are Madison's "double security" in operation: the States and the people, through litigation, control the unauthorized use of federal power, and the Court performs its role in the control of the federal government itself...

I only hope I can participate in this next phase of the operation of James Madison's "double security."

Addition II
Pryor argued in defense of Alabama's practice of handcuffing prisoners to a hitching post - a practice that was declared "cruel and unusual" in the Supreme Court's Hope v. Pelzer decision. Even Bush's own Solicitor General argued against the practice.

Addition III
Vibrator Ruling Leaves Alabama Buzzing

MONTGOMERY, Ala. - Alabama is buzzing -- about a court ruling that legalizes vibrators. Attorney General Bill Pryor is appealing a federal court ruling that overturns the state's sex toy ban. A federal judge tossed out the sex toy prohibition, saying it violates the constitutional right to privacy. The law was challenged by six women who either sell sex aids or say they need them for gratification

Addition IV
On his official government web page, Pryor provides the following links under the heading "Other Links - Public Policy on the Web"

The American Center for Law & Justice
The American Center for Law & Justice for Alabama
The American Enterprise Institute
American Legislative Exchange Council
The Heritage Foundation
The Federalist Society
Family Research Council
Institute for Justice
Justice Fellowship
National Rifle Association
National Right to Life
Of the People
The Rutherford Institute
Washington Legal Foundation

*info taken from this Sam Heldman post.

Addition V
An excerpt from Pryor's speech at the Christian Coalition's 1999 "Road to Victory" Conference (which he has kindly posted for all to see on his official government web page)

Despite the importance of this ruling, there is, of course, much work to be done. People of faith must work to restore respect for life, especially at its beginning and end. We must reduce crime by advancing the Biblical notion of justice that emphasizes reconciliation and restoration of offenders and victims of crime. We must curb juvenile crime by reducing illegitimacy and drug use. We must advance respect for women and children by reducing their exploitation through pornography.

The greatest threat to the future of our republic is the rise of moral relativism -- the notion that there are no universal moral standards. This perspective is fueled by an assault of religion and the exclusion of religious expression. This perspective is fundamentally at odds with the founding principle of this Nation. On July 4, 1776, our Founding Fathers declared to the world that this Nation is based on a Judeo-Christian perspective of the nature of government and the nature of man. They declared, "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all Men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights. . . ." To advance the causes of protecting those unalienable rights of life and liberty, we must first restore the Founders' vision of the special protection that must be afforded to the free exercise of religion. The two greatest moral problems in our history, slavery and segregation, were resolved when people of faith entered the public square and demanded justice. If we hope to build on that legacy, our public square must welcome and protect the prayers and voices of people of faith.

Addition VI
From his official bio

He has a national reputation as a conservative leader for the cause of limited government, judicial restraint, and free enterprise. He has received the Guardian of Religious Freedom Award from Justice Fellowship and Prison Fellowship Ministries, the Civil Justice Achievement Award from the American Tort Reform Association, the Friend of the Taxpayer Award from the Alabama Citizens for a Sound Economy, and the Harlon B. Carter Award from the National Rifle Association's Institute for Legislative Action.

A frequent lecturer on law and public policy, Attorney General Pryor has given addresses at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the Heritage Foundation, the American Enterprise Institute, the Cato Institute, and the Federalist Society. He has written op-ed articles in The Wall Street Journal, the New York Times, and USA Today, and scholarly articles in several law reviews. He has testified before the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee and its subcommittee on the Constitution, Federalism, and Property Rights, and the U.S. Senate Environmental and Public Works Committee.

Pryor is a member of the American Law Institute, the Legal Policy Advisory Board of the Washington Legal Foundation, and the Federalist Society. He is the Chairman-Elect of the Federalism and Separation of Powers Practice Group of the Federalist Society. In 2001, Pryor served as Chairman of the Republican Attorneys General Association, and in 2000 Pryor served as Alabama Co-Chairman of the Bush-Cheney presidential campaign.

Addition VII
From Pryor's "Commencement Speech for the Troy State University Spring 2000 Graduation"

Your challenge will be to preserve and expand free enterprise. You must demand that our laws continue to protect private property and freedom of contract and reject abuses of high taxation, burdensome regulation, and unfair litigation. You must insist that more markets -- from education to electricity - be opened to the forces of competition and consumer choice.

As leaders of our moral and cultural communities, you will have the responsibility of contributing to the health of the American soul, in arts, literature, and entertainment. What will your contribution be? Hopefully you will, at least, patronize the entertainers, artists, and writers who nourish our cultural life. And shun the purveyors of violence, hate, and decadence who have polluted our land from the obscenity and vulgarity of the Brooklyn museum, in the East, to the death and destruction of Columbine High School, in the West.

Presumably, Pryor's reference to the "vulgarity of the Brooklyn museum, in the East" is directed at the 1999 Brooklyn Museum of Art "Sensation" exhibit.

Addition VIII
Pryor's 1999 commencement speech at Northeast Louisiana University

The greatest threat to the American principle of liberty in law is the politicization of our legal system. In the last few decades our courts have created constitutional rights that do not appear in the Constitution. Governments are filing lawsuits against industries that sell potentially dangerous products, such as tobacco and guns, in an effort to use the court system to impose taxation and regulation that our elected representatives will not support. This use of law for political ends shifts important decision-making out of the hands of the people and into the hands of lawyers and judges. One of the tasks of the next century will be to restore lawmaking and policymaking to the democratic process, not the legal process.

Final Addition to This Post
Pryor commencement speech to McGill-Toolen Graduating Class - 1997

"The American experiment is not a theocracy and does not establish an official religion, but the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution of the United States are rooted in a Christian perspective of the nature of government and the nature of man. The challenge of the next millennium will be to preserve the American experiment by restoring its Christian perspective"

"The second and closely related crisis created by our Supreme Court involves the erosion of self-government. On January 22, 1973, seven members of that court swept aside the laws of the fifty states and created -- out of thin air -- a constitutional right to murder an unborn child. Last year, the Court swept aside the vote of a majority of the people of Colorado to end any preferences or special privileges for homosexuals in their state. Recently, lower federal courts struck down laws that prohibit assisted suicide.
The most important decisions of our time and our country are not being made by the people or their elected representatives. The Supreme Court has restructured our political community without the consent of our people, in my judgment, and has violated the Christian understanding of tranquillitas ordinis.

I submit that a government that does not allow its people, by a majority vote, to restrict the murder of innocent life or the assisted suicide of some of our most vulnerable citizens is not a rightly ordered political community, and that the same government should restructure itself first by restoring its perspective of the nature of government and the nature of man."

"To meet the challenge, we must have, among others, the leadership of the graduates of Catholic schools, who follow in the footsteps of Clarence Thomas, Antonin Scalia, Supreme Court Justices who do understand [the challenges that must be met]."

posted by Eugene Oregon at 12:40 PM

Rather amusing...
A flurry of e-mails and a possible about-face followed the US Central Intelligence Agency's (CIA) announcement last week that it would issue a classified report on an unclassified brainstorming session about scientific openness.

The Scientist reported this Monday, adding another notable headline to today's list - CIA openness report to be classified?

The serious point to be made here is how much we stand to lose from secrecy. And the same could be said for other restrictions that appear to give us security - like those overly-broad immigration restrictions keeping out scientists working on important health and security projects, for example. At this open (then closed, then maybe open again) meeting, the scientists tried to explain why the old Cold War/nuclear arms model would no longer work:
"In the future, if we want to deal with BW [biological warfare] defense, we cannot move forward in the same time-worn ways as we have with nuclear weapons," said Steven Block of Stanford University's departments of biological sciences and applied physics. "It's simply not possible to control the information in the same way, and the kinds of control we use for nuclear weapons do not work against biological weapons."

"For good or ill, there is very little about biology that, if you could keep it secret, would give you any measure of protection," Brent said.

It seemed to those present that the CIA listened.
But, it's only the persistence of the scientists that might make reason prevail.

How to apply this lesson?

How about reading what Tarek has to say about the horrific Daniel Pipes over at the Liquid List and acting accordingly?

Yeah, I'm working on my segues.

posted by Helena Montana at 10:46 AM

The Deafening Silence

Today is the National Day of Silence, a nationwide GLSEN campaign for students to demonstrate the silence and invisibility that many young LGBT?* people face by taking a vow of silence for the whole day. Apparently, it will also be a day that will serve to illustrate anti-gay bigotry. There are anti-gay parents out there who are keeping their kids home to avoid being exposed to this "unnatural and immoral" message. Some anti-gay right-wing groups have warned schools that they might be sued for allowing these oh-so-disruptive protests to happen in the classroom. It's far too easy to imagine how hard it might be in certain schools to participate in this protest.

You know, it's one thing to be homophobic, but what does it say about you if you're afraid of silence?

The sad part is the wrong people are keeping quiet. Now if only some of these self-righteous holy rollers took a vow of silence...

[* LGBT? stands for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgendered, and questioning.]

posted by Zoe Kentucky at 10:33 AM

Bad headlines of the day

New York Times - Republicans Want Terror Law Made Permanent

Baptist Press - Rod Paige: America's education evangelist

Sacramento Bee - Federal judges' sentencing flexibility may be cut: Bush administration backs amendment to set punishment in crimes against kids

The Baptist Press piece is actually from a few days ago, but is the cause of this piece in today's Washington Post. The Bee article was nabbed from How Appealing.

Read 'em and weep.

posted by Helena Montana at 9:59 AM

Tuesday, April 08, 2003

Another Court Case, Another Bush

This Wednesday, the Bush family will once again have its name on the marquee. Only, the latest court case to involve a Bush (Johnson v. Bush) differs in some noteworthy respects from Bush v. Gore. (It was the latter ruling in which Scalia and company miraculously discovered the Equal Protection clause, but I digress.) The Bush involved in this new federal court case is Jeb, not George W., and the venue isn't the U.S. Supreme Court. Although this case will not determine the next occupant of the Oval Office, it's worth following because it could have a tremendous impact on electoral politics -- both in Florida and the rest of the nation.

On Wednesday morning, a federal court hearing in Miami will consider arguments in Johnson v. Bush, a class-action lawsuit filed on behalf of more than 600,000 persons with prior felony convictions who have completed their sentences of prison time, parole or probation, but who still are not allowed to vote.

As a spokesperson for The Sentencing Project has lamented, Florida is one of eight states in which ex-felons who have served their time are essentially barred for life from voting. To be sure, Florida does have a process that people can theoretically use to restore their voting rights, but the process is extremely cumbersome, and the state does little to publicize or explain the process. According to the Florida Department of Corrections, only 927 individuals had their rights restored in 2000. According to the state ACLU, more than 30,000 applications await review at the Office of Executive Clemency.

Barring court rulings or legislative reform, Jeb's all-stars in Tallahassee are unlikely to start burning the midnight oil to process this disgraceful backlog. The only thing that Republicans seem interested in putting on a "fast track" is negotiations on free trade. What's more, the head of the Office of Executive Clemency is a Bush appointee.

Since a disproportionate share of ex-felons are minorities, creating a matrix of legal obstacles for their re-enfranchisement serves the GOP's political interests. In Florida, these efforts included a deplorable purge of state voter files that, in 2000, struck from the voting rolls thousands of citizens who had never been convicted of a felony. Journalist Greg Palast has written extensively about this scandal.

The issue of voting rights for those once convicted of a felony isn't new, nor is it limited to the Sunshine State. Florida was one of a disturbing 10 states in which at least one in five African-American adult males was barred from voting in the 1996 election due to state bans on ex-felon voting. These 10 states include more predictable places (Mississippi, Alabama and Tennessee) and a few surprises (Iowa and Washington).

Yet Florida, once again, is in a class all by itself. In 2000, about 24 percent of black adult males in Florida were unable to vote due to a previous or then-current conviction. When nearly one in four African-American men have effectively no voice in who governs them, it should trouble all of us. Even those law-and-order types are missing the bigger picture. The Sentencing Project's Marc Mauer has explained why voting restrictions are at odds with "the larger concern for public safety. Once ex-felons have completed their sentence, it is in everyone's interest that they reenter the community in a constructive manner." Stay tuned.

posted by Frederick Maryland at 5:28 PM

Clark homework

I just noticed that the Washington Monthly has reposted an article from last fall by Gen. Wesley Clark. I'm sure that some resourceful blogger has already dug this up. In fact I have a shadowy memory of intending to look it up. But I didn't, and it's still there and still seems important. Perhaps you want to read it too. It has a good title: "An Army of One? In the war on terrorism, alliances are not an obstacle to victory. They're the key to it."

posted by Helena Montana at 4:53 PM

This is not a hint. Repeat: This is not a hint.

Someone has defaced -- with a rock or other blunt object, apparently -- NCADP's less-than-a-year-old, $3,000 sign outside our office.

Meanwhile, the sign of the Committee for the Liberation of Iraq sits feet away, completely undisturbed.

posted by Tyler at 3:46 PM

Wall? What Wall?

First it's Florida with their Christ-based-AIDS-prevention brochures, now it's the Department of Education allegedly distributing misleading and inaccurate guides about how public schools should treat (support) student worship and prayer.

Get a load of this, from Americans United for Separation of Church and State:

  • "The [Department of Education's guide] states that �student-initiated� prayer is legal at graduation and other school events. In fact, the Supreme Court struck down �student-initiated� prayers before football games in 2002, and two lower federal courts have done the same. Only one federal appeals court has upheld such prayers.

  • The guidance says that students have a legal right to incorporate religious themes in their class work and read to fellow students from religious texts. No court has ever granted students this right. In fact, several courts have said the opposite � that teachers have the right to protect other students from proselytization efforts disguised as classroom assignments.

  • The guidance asserts that public school teachers have the right to participate in religious activities on school grounds in some cases. The courts have consistently banned teacher participation in prayers with students, and courts are mixed on whether teachers can meet to pray with each other on school grounds in an unofficial capacity.

  • The guidance threatens loss of funding for schools that fail to comply with the Education Department�s decree."

    posted by Zoe Kentucky at 3:17 PM

  • Patriotic Wordplay

    In our current political climate the questioning of people's "patriotism" often comes from those who confuse the term with "nationalism." One of the key definitions of "nationalism" is "The belief that nations will benefit from acting independently rather than collectively, emphasizing national rather than international goals." Hmmm...

    Patriotism is simply "love of country," and if your worldview is more sophisticated than that of a 2nd grader, it is understood that people are able to have and express love in many different ways. In a nationalistic political culture, the scope of "love" is much more narrowly defined, and as it is currently characterized by many Republicans -- if you don't love your leader (and your leader's war) then you must not love your country.

    Just remember, boys and girls, "when we don't put little flags up everywhere, the terrorists win." [Credit where it is due -- thanks Leo.]

    posted by Zoe Kentucky at 2:46 PM

    Welcome to the neighborhood (not!)

    Last fall, when a group calling itself the Committee for the Liberation of Iraq quietly set up shop next door to my office, we used to joke that the next dictator of Iraq was only yards away. (And I mean yards. As I sit now in front of my computer, our next door neighbor's office space is approximately four feet away from me.)

    Now I read this in today's Paragon of Journalistic Objectivity and Jingoistic Warmongering:

    U.S. officials said the dispatch of "free Iraqis" from the north to the south -- including Iraqi opposition leader Ahmed Chalabi -- was designed to prevent chaos as looting was reported in southern Iraq....But Chalabi's associates believe his arrival could also bolster his position in the scramble for leadership in the post-Hussein period, a goal long sought by his supporters in the Pentagon. "The forces advocating working with him got a huge shot in the arm over the weekend," said Randy Scheunemann, executive director of the Committee for the Liberation of Iraq. "It changes the complexion of the exile leader debate pretty dramatically."

    Maybe we should have had Mr. Chalabi over for tea and crackers before he became such a big shot. We could have lobbied him on oh so many things.

    But while we're on the subject of good neighbors, it appears that the Committee for the Liberation of Syria will be needing to scout out some office space soon. Aforementioned Paragon of Journalistic Objectivity and Jingoistic Warmongering reports thus:

    Conservatives within the Bush Administration would like to see a change in government in Syria but want it to happen through peaceful means rather than U.S. military action, according to current and former senior U.S. officials. On Sunday, Deputy Defense Secretary Paul D. Wolfowitz said, "There's got to be a change in Syria," which has been accused by Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld of allowing war materials and Islamic fighters to cross its border to help the government of Iraqi President Saddam Hussein. "The Syrians need to know...they'll be held accountable."

    Great. It's time we paid those Syrians back for 911.

    posted by Tyler at 2:14 PM

    Hilariously Illogical

    When wingers attempt to weave cultural insights into their writing that often happens. This time it's the so-called Center for Bioethics and Human Dignity. Sound like a lovely outfit, eh? It is if your idea of ethics and dignity is in line with that of the Southern Baptist Convention.

    Well, the Center took a breather from its usual agenda of fighting life-saving stem-cell research in the name of Jesus Christ to publish a little piece titled, "40 Years of James Bond: The Fruits of the Sexual Revolution."

    Skip through the inch-deep observations about how the pill separated sex from reproduction (all together now...Hurrah!), and some rambling about Bond's promiscuity, and you will find the following gem:
    Why does our culture tolerate this 60's free-sex ideal? I would argue, beyond the obvious fact that being Bond will always be a male fantasy, that our culture's desire to separate sex from reproduction is the constant here. Within our culture people will differ on their views of STD's and how to handle the AIDS epidemic. The "Right" will promote abstinence policies, the "Left" will uphold sex education and free access to contraception, but both sides will quietly assent to the slow inexorable separation of sexuality and reproduction. As we perhaps near the birth of the first human clone, the separation of sex and reproduction begun in 1960 is approaching its startling completion. [Chair of The President�s Council on Bioethics Leon] Kass notes, "For this new dispensation [the culture upholding such a separation], the clone is the ideal emblem...."
    Hold up there, Sparky! People cheer the pill because they like sex and want to have more of it without life-changing responsibility. Is he suggesting that having a clone would offer even greater pleasure?

    Well, call me old-fashioned, but that's where I draw the line.

    posted by Helena Montana at 1:45 PM

    Time to Buy a Dictionary

    It's bad enough when wingers are honestly wrong on the merits of an argument, but it's even worse when they're willfully obtuse. The case of John Kerry's regime change comments is only the most recent example of the latter.

    Sean Hannity was shocked--shocked!--by Kerry's "outrageous statements." "Regime change doesn't happen in America," he explained on a recent edition of Hannity & Colmes. "Regime change involves the removal of a tyrant or dictator." He added the obligatory, "I'm not questioning [Kerry's] patriotism."

    Meanwhile, Family Research Council president Ken Connor wrote, "Surely Sen. Kerry did not mean to suggest that we should change our republican form of government for some other regime, say a monarchy, for example, a one-party autocracy, or a plutocracy."

    And, in an email to supporters, former GOP regime-change-wannabe Gary Bauer wrote, "Surely [Kerry] knows we don't have a 'regime' in the United States - we have a duly elected government that the people put in and that the people can remove."

    Surely Bauer knows that words can oftentimes have multiple meanings. (For example, when I used the term "obtuse" above, I was not referring to an angle containing more than 90 degrees.) Yes, definition 1a. for "regime" on is "a form of government," but 1b. says "a government in power; administration" which is, of course, what Kerry meant.

    Then there's definition 4: "a regulated system, as of diet and exercise." And, lest I be misunderstood, while I did change my exercise regime recently, Saddam is not my personal trainer.

    posted by Noam Alaska at 12:40 PM

    Warning: High Geek Factor Ahead

    Call it an antidote for the Tennessee know-nothing flu, I inflicted upon you moments ago.

    This NYT piece explains in good plain language many of the emerging techniques for detecting chemical/biological weapons. Some of these technologies are being put to use in Iraq, where they seem to be avoiding the rampant false positives experienced in 1991, though they (thankfully) haven't been affirmatively tested by an actual attack this time around. Closer to home, the Washington Metro system is one of the main places that new technology is being tried out.

    Buried in the serious talk are some ideas that positively glow with science-fiction chic. Genetically-engineered arabidopsis plants that would glow green if a bad thing were detected.

    Silicon dust "perforated with holes one ten-millionth of an inch wide" that looks like glitter and could be tagged in various ways to trap various bad things and warn us of attack. Go to the bottom of this page to see a teeny-tiny picture of the smart glitter.

    Geek Scrolling Bonus
    Six more moons have been found orbiting Jupiter, pushing the planet's total to 58. Who knew?

    Thank you. I feel much better now.

    posted by Helena Montana at 11:56 AM

    Finger in the wind

    It is entirely appropriate that Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor has dedicated her new book to her law clerks, past and present, since they do all of her thinking for her!

    posted by Tyler at 11:31 AM


    Another local school board decides to make themselves a laughingstock.
    "The Blount County [TN] Board of Education denied the adoption of three new biology textbooks because they teach evolution but do not cover creationism."
    If I have to suffer tracking these fools, I'm bringing you all along for the ride.

    posted by Helena Montana at 11:02 AM

    Standards and Norms

    Minnesota Senator Norm Coleman is in hot water today after claiming superiority over his predecessor, Paul Wellstone: "To be very blunt and God watch over Paul's soul, I am a 99 percent improvement over Paul Wellstone." Wellstone died in a plane crash last year, days before the election.

    Garrison Keillor's post-election anti-Coleman screed, in which he called the Senator "a hollow man", a "suck up," a hypocrite, etc., now seems the height of understatement.

    posted by Noam Alaska at 10:50 AM

    Monday, April 07, 2003

    Stalled at the Border

    There are many excellent pieces in this week's Chronicle of Higher Education. Sadly, I can't give you free links, so I'll just share some choice excerpts from one piece on the research projects in peril as a result of U.S. visa policies:

    * Arthur D. Broom and Tarek Aboul-Fadl's work to create new HIV drugs has come to a halt, with no chance of resuming, because Mr. Aboul-Fadl is stuck in his native Egypt. The associate professor of pharmaceutical medicinal chemistry at Asyut University was on sabbatical, working in Mr. Broom's laboratory at the University of Utah, when he flew home last May. He was never denied a visa to return to Utah. "He was just told to wait," says Mr. Broom.

    The two medicinal chemists were closing in on creating a compound they hoped to license to the pharmaceutical industry. But now, Mr. Broom tells The Chronicle, "it won't get finished." Mr. Broom is retiring, and Mr. Aboul-Fadl lacks the resources in Egypt to complete the project. "It's terribly frustrating," Mr. Broom says.

    * Work on a vaccine for West Nile virus has been postponed by more than six months because of the visa difficulties encountered by two Russian research assistants of Vladimir F. Yamshchikov's. When Margarita Mishina took a vacation to Russia last year, her return was delayed by three months. A new postdoctoral associate, Elena Chaporgina, was supposed to begin work in January, but she was also delayed, and will not arrive until this month.

    Mr. Yamshchikov, an associate professor of molecular biosciences at the University of Kansas, is in a difficult position, he says, because American virologists are in short supply. When he advertised the post Ms. Chaporgina will fill, he received 20 applicants, none American. But if he hires foreign scientists, he fears he will lose more time on research. "It's a ridiculous situation," he says.

    * Uvais A. Qidwai, an assistant professor of electrical engineering at Tulane University, lost six months of work when he took a trip to his native Pakistan last summer and ran into delays in receiving his return visa. He says that the U.S. Embassy in Islamabad approved his application in the first six weeks of his stay, but that officials there had to await an FBI background check before they could issue his visa. During that time, his research -- on sharpening the images captured by infrared surveillance cameras -- came to a halt. Because he is now doubling his teaching load to make up for his lost semester, he says his research has been set back by a full year.

    * Jane Zhang's research on leukemia has also come to a standstill. The graduate student in microbiology at the University of Alabama at Birmingham expected to visit her parents in China for a month, but she has been forced to stay there since early December. Her adviser, Christopher A. Klug, an assistant professor, says that when he called the State Department last month, he was assured that her visa would be issued.

    * Work on sensors that could detect biowarfare agents came to a complete stop while Huimin Ouyang, a graduate student at the University of Rochester, was forced to spend six months in China after returning there to visit her family.

    I probably don't need to point out the ironies, but I have little self-control. So...look, ironies!

    And because I simply cannot bear to post without linking to something, I hunted down a Hartford Courant story on the Tarek Aboul-Fadl case.

    posted by Helena Montana at 5:46 PM

    But They Are a Democracy

    "Cut and Pasted" synopsis of a Los Angeles Times article

    On Sunday, though, the group's hopes were dashed when Israel's Supreme Court dealt the women what may have been the final legal rebuff in a 15-year battle to pray aloud, with the same ritual accouterments as men, at the Western Wall, revered by Jews as a remnant of the biblical Second Temple.

    In a 5-4 ruling, the high court ordered the state of Israel to provide the women with facilities to pray at a site near -- but not in -- the broad plaza that fronts the towering, ancient yellow stones of the wall. The court-endorsed site for their prayers, known as Robinson's Arch, lies in a dusty archeological dig just to the south and east of the plaza.

    Women are allowed to pray at the Western Wall, but in a separate section from the men. And they are expected to pray silently or inaudibly, lest the sound of their voices prove a lewd distraction to male worshipers nearby.

    Over the years, efforts to change the status quo led not only to legal battles but also to ugly confrontations in the shadow of the wall. Women who prayed aloud together faced a barrage of catcalls from fellow worshipers, and sometimes a hail of hurled objects. Perhaps with such scenes in mind, the court accepted the government's argument that the women's prayers posed a threat to public safety.

    The women had sought the right to pray aloud for only an hour on the first day of each new month of the Hebrew calendar, and on the Jewish New Year. But tradition-minded Jews -- including the rabbi who oversees the wall, which is considered an open-air synagogue -- defended the requirement that female worshipers' activities strictly conform to Halakha, or Jewish law, at all times.

    In its ruling Sunday, the high court left open a possible avenue of appeal for the women, saying they can again seek permission to pray aloud in the plaza if the government has not prepared the Robinson's Arch site within a year. But it did not specify what those preparations should entail.

    posted by Eugene Oregon at 4:34 PM

    Parents by lottery

    Steve Presson waved at his client, Scott, through the window. Scott�s arms and legs were tightly bound, but he acknowledged Steve with a slight nod.

    They asked Scott if he wanted to make a statement. He did not.

    And moments later, at 8:39 p.m. April 3, on a warm spring evening in McAlester, Oklahoma, Scott Hain became the first person executed this year anywhere in the world for a crime committed before he turned 18 years old.

    Only the United States and Iran are currently among the world�s countries that execute youthful offenders. Countries that recently have banned this practice include Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, Yemen, the Democratic Republic of Congo and the Philippines.

    If you want to learn more about the issue of youthful offender executions, go here.

    If you want to learn more about the moratorium movement in the U.S. go here.

    But this rant isn�t about youthful offender executions or even about the death penalty, really. It�s more about scummy parents.

    In the days leading up to Scott�s execution, Steve spent several hours on the phone with him, as many as he could when he wasn�t frantically working on new appeals. Scott told Steve that should it come down to it, he wanted his parents to witness his execution, and he wanted them to take possession of his ashes after he was cremated.

    It�s ironic, really, but the approximately 15 years that Scott spent on death row were the most normal years of his life. His father, a heavy drinker, physically abused him and introduced him to marijuana when he was nine or ten. He was sexually molested by a babysitter when he was eight years old, and he dropped out of school at 14 and, with his father�s help, began a life of burglary and petty crime. He was released from juvenile detention facilities at age 17, and began to drug and drink heavily.

    That�s when the horrifying murder took place. He and another guy kidnapped this couple, put them in the trunk of a car and set the car on fire. If one were to believe in the death penalty, that�s the kind of crime it was probably invented for.

    All that by way of background. Flash back forward to a conversation Steve and Scott had on Wednesday of last week. Scott met with his parents the previous day, and they informed him that they would not be hanging around for his execution, and they did not want his remains. This devastated Scott, even though his parents had not visited him in more than a decade. Scott and Steve talked about what kind of person Scott could have been if he had been fortunate enough to be born to other parents. Scott knew that Steve had recently married, and asked him if he planned to have children.

    Steve said he did.

    �You�ll be a good father,� Scott said. �Your kids won�t turn out like me.�

    Scott�s execution came the following evening, after a flurry of appeals that actually had some of us thinking his life might be at least temporarily spared. His parents, true to their word, weren�t there to bear witness.

    But then, they needn�t have been there. They helped kill Scott long ago.

    posted by Tyler at 3:51 PM

    Perhaps Even More Tenuous Link to a Previous Post

    Eugene's reference to Operation Iraqi Freedom as a "crusade" may be more accurate than he knew, although it isn't the Iraqis being converted. According to, an Army Chaplain has taken advantage of the water shortage in Iraq to bribe soldiers to come to Jesus by offering them an opportunity to bathe:

    ''It's simple. They want water. I have it, as long as they agree to get baptized,'' he said.

    And agree they do. Every day, soldiers take the plunge for the Lord and come up clean for the first time in weeks.

    ''They do appear physically and spiritually cleansed,'' Llano said.

    First, though, the soldiers have to go to one of Llano's hour-and-a-half sermons in his dirt-floor tent. Then the baptism takes an hour of quoting from the Bible. ...

    ''You have to be aggressive to help people find themselves in God,'' he said.

    Indeed, you must. In fact, Americans United for the Separation of Church and State reports that sometimes you even need to call on the U.S. Army to help motivate folks.

    "According to materials promoting the Ft. Bragg event, Southern Baptist pastors will be given unprecedented access to the military base while being recruited for the denomination�s �Super FAITH Force Multiplier� evangelism program.

    A March 3 letter to clergy from the Rev. Bobby H. Welch, pastor of the First Baptist Church in Daytona Beach, Fla., says, �I am writing to you about a once in a lifetime opportunity to join a group of warriors at the John F. Kennedy Special Warfare Center and School at Fort Bragg, NC. Major General William G. �Jerry� Boykin has personally invited you and a select group of other FAITH Pastors to join him April 22nd and 23rd�. You can be absolutely guaranteed you will never, ever have this type of opportunity again! You will go with General Boykin and Green Beret instructors to places where no civilians and few soldiers ever go.

    �THE PURPOSE OF THE GATHERING? It is believed by you, me and others that we must find a group of men who are warriors of FAITH, pastors who have the guts to lead this nation to Christ and revival!,� continued Welch, whose church is the birthplace of the FAITH program, an �evangelism strategy� now widely used by Southern Baptists in the United States and overseas. ...

    According to the flier, Boykin has told FAITH participants that �the way they are trained is like the concept of Special Forces training � one person trains 100, who in turn can train 10,000. It�s a forced multiplier training.�

    Ain't that great? What could be more comforting to the international community, more specifically, the Arab countries we plan to "share our values" with, than the merging of fundamentalist Christianity and the most powerful military on earth. Onward, Christian soldiers!

    posted by Theora at 3:05 PM

    Tenuous Link to a Previous Post

    Semi-related to our ealier discussion of Bush's exploitation of the 1992 Human Rights Watch report documenting Saddam Hussein's slaughter of 250,000 Iraqis to quell the uprising that followed the end of the first Gulf War is this New York Times article by David Edelstein on David O. Russell's 1999 movie "Three Kings."

    Interesting Note - Russell says

    I and the producers and Warner Brothers were given an award by the largest Arab organization in the United States for our humane portrayal of Arabs. And my phone is tapped. I'm not sure by whom, but I know it's tapped and I've had experts confirm it. You can hear them click on to every phone call.

    posted by Eugene Oregon at 2:35 PM

    Idiotic state legislation and more...

    I guess Florida doesn't want to be upstaged by Oregon in the completely misguided legislation department. I'll quote only one tidbit, which needs no other comment: "The bill would prevent state aid from going to university students who are citizens of six of the seven countries on the State Department list: Iran, Iraq, Syria, Sudan, Lybia and North Korea. Cuba is also on the state department list but was amended out of the bill."

    On the lighter side of stupid...

    Check out this ode to unintentional humor.

    posted by Helena Montana at 2:10 PM

    Wow, if the Red Cross are horrified by the number of dead civilians...

    "We saw that a truck was delivering dozens of totally dismembered dead bodies of [Iraqi] women and children. It was an awful sight. It was really very difficult to believe this was happening. There has been an incredible number of casualties with very, very serious wounds in the region of Hilla...[E]verybody had very serious wounds and many, many of them small kids and women. We had small toddlers of two or three years of age who had lost their legs, their arms. We have called this a horror."

    And to think most of the war/anti-war fights we hear represented in our media concentrate almost entirely on putting our heavily-armed troops in harm's way. Do you think we're missing the point?

    posted by Zoe Kentucky at 1:59 PM

    God Is Never Too Busy

    Via Atrios we learn of this Ron Martz column in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

    Apparently Martz is an embedded journalist in Iraq and he seems to believe that God is actively protecting him from harm by surrounding him with soldiers to serve as human shields. As he says:

    The soldiers were there for a reason.

    The logical, rational explanation is that they were there because their tank caught fire and had to be destroyed. So, without a ride, they jumped onto the armored personnel carrier with me.

    I prefer to believe it was the hand of God that put them there, one behind me, one to my left. They were there to protect me.

    Had they not been there, I most likely would not be now typing this.

    Less than 30 minutes after the two soldiers joined me, both were wounded by bullets that could have hit me.

    And as something of a follow-up, it is worth noting that Martz is quasi-famous for more than his personal importance to God. He also broke the story that Richard Jewell was the Olympic Park Bomber:

    FBI suspects `hero' guard may have planted bomb

    Kathy Scruggs and Ron Martz STAFF WRITERS;
    Staff writer Kent E. Walker contributed to this article.
    405 words
    30 July 1996
    (Copyright 1996 The Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

    The security guard who first alerted police to the pipe bomb that exploded in Centennial Olympic Park is the focus of the federal investigation into the incident that resulted in two deaths and injured more than 100.

    Richard Jewell, 33, a former law enforcement officer, fits the profile of the lone bomber. This profile generally includes a frustrated white man who is a former police officer, member of the military or police "wannabe" who seeks to become a hero.

    Jewell has become a celebrity in the wake of the bombing, making an appearance this morning at the reopened park with Katie Couric on the Today Show. He also has approached newspapers, including The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, seeking publicity for his actions.

    He has told members of the media that he spotted a suspicious knapsack near the tower that was damaged in the blast. He said he reported the find to the GBI agent and helped move people from the area.

    FBI agents are reviewing hours of professional and amateur video tape to see if Jewell is spotted setting down the military-issue backpack that contained the bomb. Acquaintances have told agents that he owned a similar knapsack. Agents have not seen Jewell in NBC tape of the 20 minutes following the blast.

    Three undercover law enforcement cars were parked outside his mother's apartment on Buford Highway this afternoon. He refused to open the door when a reporter from The Atlanta Journal-Constitution knocked.

    Jewell resigned two former law enforcement jobs in north Georgia, the latest at Piedmont College on May 21. He also was a deputy sheriff at the Habersham County Sheriff's Department, where he received bomb training.

    Just before the Olympics Jewell got a job with Anthony Davis Associates, a Los Angeles security firm hired by AT&T; after the company dismissed Borg-Warner Security Corp. after allegations of theft by employees.

    Investigators are checking to see if his voice matches that of a 911 caller who phoned in a warning of the park bomb. The call was placed from a phone a few minutes' walk from the park.

    Agents also are checking an earlier report from a plumber that pipes were stolen from his construction area near the park.

    posted by Eugene Oregon at 1:02 PM

    The Right Starts Eating Its Own

    Remember the 1992 Democratic National Convention controversy that concerned a speaking role for then-Pennsylvania Gov. Bob Casey? Republicans attacked national Democratic leaders, charging that they were denying Casey a speaking role at the convention because, as a pro-life Democrat, he was ideological impure. Eleven years later, neoconservative hawks in the GOP are doing the very thing of which they once accused the Dems. Even worse, the GOP's ideological war is not aimed at merely denying someone a one-time speaking role. This ongoing purge on the Right is a particularly ugly attempt at character assassination, one that reveals a heaping dose of hypocrisy.

    To be sure, the so-called "paleoconservatives" who were blasted by former Bush speechwriter David Frum in a scathing April 7 National Review article are a distinctly unlikeable lot. Among those whom Frum tarred and feathered were the frumpy Robert Novak, the hyper-nationalist Pat Buchanan and the flaky Lew Rockwell, who once offered this nimble defense of the South's Jim Crow era: "Whatever [segregation's] faults, and it certainly had them, that system was far more localized, decent, and humane than the really totalitarian social engineering now wrecking the country."

    As deplorable as these "paleoconservatives" are, statements such as Rockwell's are not new. Yet such statements were never used as fodder by Frum and his fellow neoconservatives until just now. Why? Obviously, the willingness of Novak, Buchanan and others to dare question the Bush war policies has gotten under the skin of Frum, Kristol and other Paul Wolfowitz sycophants. Indeed, the GOP's right wing has long been the source of egregious racial code language or more blatantly racist commentary a la Rockwell and Trent Lott. With few exceptions, this never bothered the bulk of the party's neo-cons ...... until now. In fact, these two strains of conservatism have all too much in common. Aside from Buchanan's protectionist views, they are virtually two peas in a pod -- the Judean People's Front and the People's Front of Judea.

    In a new column, "Civil War on the American Right," syndicated columnist and Claremont fellow William Rusher continues David Frum's drumbeat. Rusher seems quite pleased to observe that this ongoing purge of the Novak-Buchanan cadre "will make it a lot harder for such TV shows as The McLaughlin Group and The Capital Gang to peddle Buchanan and Novak, respectively, as representative generic conservatives on their panels. They are no such thing." Heck, why debate 'em when you can silence 'em?

    So exactly what does Rusher consider a "representative" conservative? Probably someone like Rusher who supports private-school vouchers, but noted last year that there are "essentially ineducable youngsters in the ghetto, on whom vouchers would simply be wasted." Ah, yes, it's all in how you couch the message, isn't it? Don't defend segregation per se, but make it clear to private-school operators that you won't require them to admit those kids.

    Given how confused and disoriented the Democratic Party leadership appears these days, here's hoping that this "civil war" within the Right helps stun the Dems into a more coherent state.

    posted by Frederick Maryland at 12:26 PM

    Unsubtle White Supremacy and the Ungrateful Masses

    From our friends at Newsmax, who feel that our current war is another shining example of Anglo-American power.

    "The Anglo-American alliance, based on principles, political will, and a mutual loyalty and trust unique among nations, has once more proved its value...The Anglo-American principles are too proven in their success to be compromised for any passing diplomatic comfort or advantage...And yet so many of the beneficiaries of the Anglo-American principles that defined, protected and enriched the West after 1945 evidently resent their benefactors. Throughout the grim diplomatic weeks before the Iraqi war began, the U.N. became a conspiracy of anti-Anglophones, conspiring to frustrate the best efforts of Washington and London to make U.N. resolutions actually mean something."

    They actually speak about the US and the Brits as one...oh, wait, didn't we, like, break away from England or something? In some kind of revolution involving tea?

    Apparently Newsmax also knows something that that the rest of the world doesn't-- that the war is over.

    "Iraq, the Middle East and - if they so choose - a new world order is now for Bush and Blair to define. The world's enduring and only reliable military alliance has done it again. Or rather, the world's two best militaries delivered the outcome their political masters ordained, and did so with minimal friendly and civilian casualties."

    posted by Zoe Kentucky at 11:40 AM

    Blatant Hypocrisy

    The White House recently issued this press release entitled "Life Under Saddam Hussein" in which they quote various Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch reports documenting Hussein's 20 year history of killing, torturing, raping and terrorizing the Iraqi people.

    There is no doubt that Hussein has committed all the acts ascribed to him and worse. But the administration's exploitation of Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch reports to bolster its own case against Hussein is disgraceful.

    First of all, only recently has the White House begun even voicing any concern at all for the well-being of the Iraqi people. For six months, the administration argued for war by claiming that Iraq posed a danger to the United States, had ties to al Qaeda and possessed chemical and biological weapons. Only once the war had started did they begin talking of human rights and overnight, what had for months been billed as a pre-emptive military action carried out in the name of protecting our national security interests suddenly became a crusade to liberate the Iraqi people - Operation Iraqi Freedom.

    Giving this war a noble sounding title does not change the motivation behind it. And citing Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International criticizing the Iraqi regime does not legitimize the administration's position. For while Bush exploits HRW's and AI's reputation for objectivity and moral consistency, he repeatedly ignores their criticism and recommendations in all other areas.

    In recent months, these organizations have called for an end to use of cluster bombs, an end to the death penalty, have decried the treatment of prisoners at Guantanamo Bay, noted the discrepancy between US demands that Iraq abide by the Geneva Convention and our treatment of prisoners at Guantanamo Bay, and criticized US efforts to undermine the International Criminal Court.

    All of which the Bush administration has ignored.

    But even more disgraceful is this paragraph from the White House press release quoting the section on Iraq from a 1992 Human Rights Watch report:

    According to Human Rights Watch, "senior Arab diplomats told the London-based Arabic daily newspaper al-Hayat in October [1991] that Iraqi leaders were privately acknowledging that 250,000 people were killed during the uprisings, with most of the casualties in the south."

    What the White House conveniently ignores in its press release is that this same Human Rights Watch report is also "highly critical" of the George H.W Bush administration for calling on Iraqis to rise up in revolt against Hussein in the first place and then doing nothing while Iraqi soldiers massacred thousands in the subsequent crackdown.

    So the 250,000 figure the administration is now citing as an example of Hussein's brutality are people who were killed as a result of the rebellion fomented by Bush's father, as well as his own current Vice President.

    We'll let Human Rights Watch tell it:

    [W]e think that the Bush Administration deserves criticism because the conflicting signals that it gave probably contributed greatly to the tragedy that took place in Iraq when Saddam Hussein's forces massacred thousands in putting down the revolts and when nearly two million were forced to flee their homes. In part, the Bush Administration's actions may have reflected a lack of sufficient concern for the consequences of the signals it gave; in part it may be due to miscalculation; and in part it may be attributed to primary concern with political considerations unrelated to the well-being of the residents of Iraq. Whatever the reasons, the Administration contributed to the making of a tremendous human rights tragedy.

    posted by Eugene Oregon at 11:13 AM

    With Malice Toward Some

    It is increasingly rare for me to be shocked by any of the words that are spoken by the top military strategists who advise President Bush on Iraq. Yet I practically inhaled my coffee this morning when I heard Paul Wolfowitz respond to a question from National Public Radio correspondent Juan Williams by quoting from Lincoln's Gettysburg Address.

    Paraphrasing Lincoln, Wolfowitz said that the Bush administration's goal is to establish a post-war government "that is for the Iraqi people, of the Iraqi people and by the Iraqi people." When Williams sought to learn how long U.S. officials would rule before transferring power back to an elected or provisional Iraqi government, Wolfowitz said that "we want that to go as fast as it can," but he insisted that it was impossible to put a "timetable" on Iraqi self-rule. In other words, don't hold your breath.

    When NPR's Williams asked if the administration hoped to see post-war Iraq serve as a beacon of democracy that would ripple throughout the Middle East, Wolfowitz showed the Bush cabal's true colors by labelling this hope as "simplistic." No doubt, the Saudi royal family is breathing easier.

    posted by Frederick Maryland at 10:28 AM

    Murdoch Marches On
    "We can't back down now, where you hand over the whole of the Middle East to Saddam," Mr. Murdoch told the Bulletin, an Australian magazine, in February. "Bush is acting very morally, very correctly," he said. "The greatest thing to come of this for the world economy, if you could put it that way, would be $20 a barrel for oil. That's bigger than any tax cut in any country."

    That's just one of the sobering reminders of Gen. Murdoch's long-running campaign for influence, from a piece in today's NYT business section. I won't quote it at length, but trust me, it's relevant.

    posted by Helena Montana at 9:27 AM

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