Friday, April 30, 2004
This Week's Outrage

"And as a result, there are no longer torture chambers or rape rooms or mass graves in Iraq. As a result, a friend of terror has been removed and now sits in a jail," the president said.
source

Dubya's in jail? Since when?

Mercenaries -- sorry, "private civilian security contractors" -- are bad, folks... evil, in fact. They're bad for the troops, they're bad for the Iraqis who have to live under them, they're clearly bad for prisoners, and as of today they're fucking bad for America's reputation and credibility around the world. During Vietnam -- which currently we're having to re-live on a daily basis in the U.S. -- the entire body of young veterans was tarred with the reputations of a relative few soldiers who committed horrible atrocities. The bulk of the atrocity work nowadays is being done by simple mercenaries, the fucking scum of the earth. Paid to torture prisoners, and with our tax money... that alone is reason enough to impeach Bush's skinny ass right this fucking minute.

And if that doesn't sway you... maybe you'd care to consider the cases of Jose Padilla and Yaser Hamdi, two American citizens currently being held indefinitely without being charged and without access to lawyers, in direct contradiction to the Fifth Amendment of the U.S. Bill of Rights. Regardless of your opinion of either Mr. Padilla or Mr. Hamdi, the simple fact remains that as citizens of the United States, they are guaranteed certain rights. And these rights have thus far been completely disregarded by the Bush administration... Bush's justice department has locked them up and thrown away the key contrary to the Constitution and without due process. That should scare the shit out of everyone who values civil liberties, whether you're a lefty, a wingnut, or especially if you're one of those creepy libertarian types. Fortunately, the Supreme Court is hearing the case today; as far as I'm concerned, if they fail to reject the administration's arguments absolutely, it'll be just one more nail in the coffin of America.

Addendum: one more thing to keep in mind: we don't know who any of these prisoners are. Maybe they've all killed soldiers, maybe a few of them have, maybe some of them are innocent, maybe all of 'em are. Regardless, the case of prisoners in Iraq doesn't even fall into the same "legal black hole" as that of the Gitmo prisoners; these prisoners are, presumably, protected by the Geneva Convention without question (although any abuse at the hands of mercs is beyond the reach of the Geneva Convention... nice, eh?) And international law aside... what do you think will happen when these photos start getting around in the Middle East? Hmmmmmm? Can that possibly be good for our "cause," or for our troops? And don't forget... the Iraqis have some of our guys, too. How would we feel if American prisoners were treated this way? What do you think is likely to happen to Pfc. Keith M. Maupin once these pictures start making the rounds in Baghdad?

Second Addendum: There are more photos being circulated as further examples of American mistreatment of Iraqis. They're being presented on a strongly anti-American website, and I can't confirm their legitmacy, so take them with a grain of salt if you prefer. But if they're for real... holy shit.

Update: I've been told elsewhere that the rape images on this page are most likely from a porn movie. That's good. Kinda. Good in that I'll probably be able to sleep tonight now; only "kinda" good in that I can't help but be bothered that somebody would consider this suitable wanking material. Ugh.
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Thursday, April 29, 2004
Happy Thursday

So, George W. Bush and Dick Cheney (aka "the rich, white Willie Tyler and Lester") are due to testify before the 9/11 commission today... not that we'll get to hear any of what they say, nor will we even be able to read it, since it's all hushed-up and "private." Good to know they care.

Oh, and Fallujah's set to blow any minute now; I spent most of the afternoon watching a fuzzy green live feed of fire on CNN. I still have hope that the Coalition will resist the temptation to go in with guns a-blazin', but it's a small, modest hope... they've mostly let me down so far.

But enough of the negative stuff; sometimes good things happen in this world, too. For example, there's the homeless man I know who 's frequently found around First Congregational in Memphis, which is where the Co-op is housed. His name is David, and he's an awfully nice guy... he suffers from a chronic, often-debilitating gastrointestinal disorder, and the church folks try to help him out as best they can. I frequently give him a few bucks toward that night's admission to the local mission when I have it to spare, and occassionally I've helped him search for information on his disorder on the internet. He helps out doing odd jobs around the church and washing windows... he's a kindly, helpful kind of guy, and he has a lot of friends in Midtown.

When he's not sleeping at the mission, apparently he's been squatting in an empty house in the vicinity. When I ran into him a couple of days ago, he was all smiles... David had been found by the house's owner, but rather than kick him out or call the cops on him, he offered David a chance to stay there legitamately in return for nothing more than help fixing the place up a little. Now that he has an address, he can file for disability benefits, hopefully find work of some kind, and start living a modest-but-dignified life again.

And it just really made me feel happy to see something good happen to someone who deserves a break; it's satisfying to know that even with the world seemingly turning to shit on a daily basis, some people are still making these gestures of generosity and solidarity toward strangers. Not to get all corny, but it does kinda restore your faith... even if these bastards are doing their best to fuck us all over, we all still have the opportunity to be there for each other.

Other recent personal news: I've been on a baking tear lately; specifically baking bread. I like to think (justifiably from what I've been told) that I'm not a half-bad cook. I'd never do it for a living, and I don't do it all that often, but when I do it's very satisfying... I tend to prefer the simple, less-is-more approach that revolves around procuring the best possible ingredients and cooking them in a pretty straightforward manner. But even so, there's something about being elbow-deep in bread dough that you just can't get from anything else... it's a complicated, subtle process but still really "basic" in the largest possible sense.

Anyway, I think it all stemmed from a really fresh boule of sourdough I bought like a week ago... I've had nothing but standard-issue, industrially-produced sandwich bread in over a year -- hadn't baked any in even longer -- so the minute I got a mouthful of a good sourdough my head fucking exploded. It was bread that seemed to be alive and breathing, bread that wasn't going down without a fight. Heaven.

Since then, I've been almost fanatical. For the first time I'm even contemplating trying to harvest myself a good wild yeast culture... god knows what Mississippi would yield in that department, but it seems worth the effort to find out. I'm also itching for a good bagel -- in spite of Memphis having the largest Jewish population in the region, there are none to be had here these days -- so I might try that out, too.

And I'm doing some light housecleaning for extra cash... it's pretty ironic, really, given my reputation at home, but it's good in its way; it certainly keeps you grounded. It's hard to be too full of yourself when you're scrubbing the floor.

But at the same time, while I don't mind the work, it's only because I'm treated well. Shit like this, however, brings out the class warrior in me... don't make me go get my guillotine.
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Monday, April 26, 2004
In Bushworld, Nobody Can Hear You Scream

Maureen Dowd pulls out a big, juicy one...
In Bushworld, we can create an exciting Iraqi democracy as long as it doesn't control its own military, pass any laws or have any power.

In Bushworld, we can win over Falluja by bulldozing it.

In Bushworld, it was worth going to war so Iraqis can express their feelings ("Down With America!") without having their tongues cut out, although we cannot yet allow them to express intemperate feelings in newspapers ("Down With America!") without shutting them down.

In Bushworld, it's fine to take $700 million that Congress provided for the war in Afghanistan and 9/11 recovery and divert it to the war in Iraq that you're insisting you're not planning.

In Bushworld, it's O.K. to run for re-election as the avenger of 9/11, even as you make secret deals with the Arab kingdom where most of the 9/11 hijackers came from.

In Bushworld, you get to strut around like a tough military guy and paint your rival as a chicken hawk, even though he's the one who won medals in combat and was praised by his superior officers for fulfilling all his obligations.

And there's more...
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Sunday, April 25, 2004
Sometime Silence Is Good, Too

Sorry for the recent bout of quiet here on the blog... these silences may occur from time to time as we move through pre-production and production on this film we're shooting in June. As it is, I'm up in Memphis at least four nights a week, and that's in addition to my various attempts at earning money.

Maybe once I manage to procure a new laptop, I'll be able to fit more blogging into those bits of downtime between meetings. Until then, I promise, if anything really compelling happens, I'm sure I'll be saying something about it.
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Thursday, April 22, 2004
De-De-Baathification

Oh, for fuck's sake...

U.S. Says It Is Loosening Policy on Baath Party
By EDWARD WONG

BAGHDAD, Iraq, April 22 — The American administration in Iraq said today that it was loosening a policy aimed at purging the Iraqi government of members of the former ruling Baath Party.

The change marks the first major policy rollback by the White House during the occupation of Iraq and signals a sharp split on the issue with the Governing Council, particularly with Ahmad Chalabi, the council member in charge of the de-Baathification process.
source

Translation: they were bastards, but we hardly have any friends at all in Iraq now, and that Chalabi guy's an even bigger snake than Cheney. So we're taking literally anything we can get.

In light of this decision, I'd like to present what may become a regular feature here:

NEWS OF TOMORROW

The Cheney administration announced today that it has located a replacement for the recently-indicted former head of the Governing Council, Ahmed Chalabi.

The replacement, Saddam Hussein, is a longstanding political figure in Iraq, with extensive experience in leading the country. He's also a one-time ally of the United States and was chosen for his proven ability to create and maintain peace and order in Iraq.

When asked by reporters whether this Saddam Hussein is the same Saddam Hussein that former President George W. Bush forcibly removed from power, President Cheney replied, "I have no idea what you're talking about. Mr. Hussein is an Iraqi exile and was never in US custody. Perhaps you're thinking of Muqtada al-Sadr. Or Zacarias Moussoui. Yeah, Moussoui... yeah, that's the ticket."

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Wednesday, April 21, 2004
Those Are Some Big-Ass Spiders

There are two things that I hate about spring in Mississippi: tornadoes and ticks. (I loathe ticks.)

But I don't think I'm going to be complaining about the ticks after seeing this photo.

Addendum: No, these spiders probably aren't nearly as big as they appear in this photograph... most likely it's just a case of tricky perspective. Yeti-spiders notwithstanding, Camel spiders typically grow to be about six inches across, including the legs. But that's still a big fuck-off spider.
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Tuesday, April 20, 2004
Only If Sen. Hagel's Kids Go First

I'm guessing this is the beginning of the official rollout... introducing us to the idea gradually, y'see...

Senator says US may need compulsory service to boost Iraq force

WASHINGTON (AFP) - A senior Republican lawmaker said that deteriorating security in Iraq may force the United States to reintroduce the military draft.

"There's not an American ... that doesn't understand what we are engaged in today and what the prospects are for the future," Senator Chuck Hagel told a Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing on post-occupation Iraq.

"Why shouldn't we ask all of our citizens to bear some responsibility and pay some price?" Hagel said, arguing that restoring compulsory military service would force "our citizens to understand the intensity and depth of challenges we face."

The Nebraska Republican added that a draft, which was ended in the early 1970s, would spread the burden of military service in Iraq more equitably among various social strata.

"Those who are serving today and dying today are the middle class and lower middle class," he observed.
source

First off, the draft might indeed bring a few more middle-class people into the military, but don't let that fool you into thinking that any of the privileged class's children are going to be dying in Iraq. George W. Bush could explain better than I how that works.

More importantly, the ultimate logistic need for a draft has been patently obvious for months now to anyone paying attention. We never had enough troops there in the first place, the situation may be on its way to becoming a meat grinder for Americans as well as Iraqis, and those who are currently serving voluntarily are increasingly saying that there's no way in hell they'll sign up for another run once they finally get sent home. Combine that with the hundreds who have died and the thousands that have been sent home irreparably damaged, and you're looking at a substantial drop in the number of troops available in Iraq, when there already weren't enough to begin with. And that spells DRAFT.

Politically, of course, it's another question. Will Americans -- who are already experiencing some pretty deep misgivings about the situation over there -- feel able to support this war not by slapping flag decals on the backs of their cars, or by watching a lot of FOX News, but rather by sacrificing the lives of their own precious sons and daughters for Iraqi "freedom"?

I'd guess probably not. But then, god knows I've been wrong about how gullible and self-destructive Americans can be before.

Sen. Hagel asks, "Why shouldn't we ask all of our citizens to bear some responsibility and pay some price?" Well, I'll tell you: this isn't a necessary war. Even if we assume that such a thing exists, this is, pretty much by definition, not one of them. But if indeed all citizens should bear some responsibility and pay some price, that's fine... so long as the Republicans go first.
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Norwegian Blues

Hey Kris... happy birthday!

What's up with you, buddy? You still in Oslo? Drop us a line sometime, goddammit, I miss you!

(PS... if you have Luzius' email address, send it to me! And hugs to Hanne when you see her next.)

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Monday, April 19, 2004
George W. Nothing

I don't generally like to reproduce entire articles... it's not that I fear legal retribution, but let's face it: I have pitiful little original material here as it is without borrowing entire columns. ;) Still, this is a really great piece... and why should I spend hours writing when I could hardly improve on this glorious rant?

(When you feel overwhelmed by the endless stream of bullshit, read this aloud. It's powerful medicine.)

George W. Bush Means Nothing
Note to self: The demons of sour conservatism cannot touch anything that truly matters. Just FYI
By Mark Morford
San Francisco Gate Columnist

You cannot reach me, Dubya.

Go ahead, ya smirkin' Texas lug, stumble around all scrunched and blank eyed and pseudo-manly, shove this country into a bloody unwinnable war and lie about all the reasons why, gouge the economy and ruin the schools and embarrass the nation every single day as you mangle grammar and meaning and truth. It doesn't really matter.

Go ahead, toss those useless $400 rebate checks to the depressed and jobless populace as some sort of bogus humanitarian gesture as you quietly force an increase in their property taxes to pay for your record-breaking deficit brought on by the tax cut no one wants. Ha. You are so cute.

There is so much more going on than you know. There is so much deeper understanding and wider knowledge and higher winking and you can't touch any of it. Do you know this? You need to know this.

You and your brethren are like this sticky toxic mist. You will burn off in the sun of awareness and orgasm and breath. This is what makes it so fun to watch, so magical and visceral, such a divine circus, a rich tragicomic pageant. Do you sense it?

By all means, hack away at the Clean Air Act so it allows millions more pounds of pollutants into the air every year. Slam gays and women's rights and call everyone in the country a "sinner," cut funding for AmeriCorps and the arts and the poor and nature conservation. Wow. The universe is so very proud. Do you hear it laughing? You're not even making a dent.

See, you cannot touch us. We are inured. You are merely hollow and sad and quickly, effortlessly forgettable the minute we step outside or get into bed with our lovers or laugh with friends or scream to the sky the lyrics to "Ballroom Blitz," always, always striving to taste the intense flavors of the collective dream state.

What, too vague? Too namby-pamby new-age tofu-licking pro-sex liberal? Too bad.

Because there is more meaning and content and depth and significance in a lover's moan and in a drop of wine and in a dog's wag than in anything you can conjure in your homophobic faux-cowboy Lynne Cheney-thick dream, honey. Get over yourself. We are on to you. We know you are made of nothing but spin and frantic gesticulations and scowls. Poke a finger into you and out pours only sawdust and sighs.

Hello, Senator Lott. You want to stick it to the environment, do you? Lick the tailbones of your corporate cronies in the auto industry and kill that recent bill that would've mandated a reasonable increase in fuel efficiency for thuggish belching SUVs in about 12 years?

You wish, instead, to snicker and sneer and give not one crap for the planet or our nation's terrorism-inducing dependency on petrochemicals? Kill that bill, senator. You go. Toss a bone to your Detroit pals. That is so sweet. Here's a karmic Post-It note: The gods would like you to right now realize, you have zero true effect. Barely a footnote. A blip. A flicker of quick pain and then poof, gone. Very sorry.

How about you, RIAA? You want a piece? You want to bitch and moan and attack individual music fans with your snide lawsuits and desperate paranoia and come scour my iTunes library and find out how I got my hands on free MP3s of the new Metallica and AFI and burned all that glorious chill electronica from Net-radio broadcasts using my glorious copy of RadioLover? Here is my phone number: 555-LICK. Bring it.

Here is my porn collection. Here are my divine sex toys and my lubricants and my leather strappy things and my collection of happy open-minded perversions and my active account at Blowfish.com and my tattoos and piercings and love of massage oil and vibrators and things that go ooooh in the night. Come on over, Mr. Ashcroft, I have something to show you.

You see, I know you're there, all of you. Sour politicians and conniving Wal-Mart execs and desperate reality-TV creators and gluttonous SUV manufacturers and poisonous garbage-food purveyors and all-'Murkin homophobes and the dumbed-down lowest common denominators and lip-twitching hyper-religious crusaders and anti-everything GOP lizard people, Rummy and Rove and Rice and Ashcroft and Dick, et al. I see you. We see what you are trying to do.

We feel you seething and churning and eating away at the soft rainbow underbelly of the culture, feeding on the weak and the poor and the ignorant, doing your utmost to lower the collective vibration and thinking you are somehow all-powerful and significant and invincible, the center of the sociocultural universe, when in fact you are but a strange and banal rash on the ass of time.

I know you want to shut us down. I know you would love nothing more than if all resistance was mowed under and all perversions were bleached dead and all nuanced questioning of your malicious antihumanitarian agenda was numbed to the point of blind flag-waving psychopatriotism, one born of fear and misinformation and photos of the bloody mutilated bodies of Saddam's demon sons. Damn, you try so hard.

I have news. I have a revelation. It is timeless and ageless and nothing new and I hold no claims to it, but it needs to be repeated and shouted and deeply felt again and again and again, because sometimes you get a little out of control.

Here it is: You are immaterial. You are of zero nutritional value and are indigestible like corn and just pass right through. Do you understand?

There is so much more going on down here than is dreamt of in your bitter and small-minded philosophy. I, and millions like me, sense a more luminous undercurrent, a wider spiritual lens, a richer sensual mother lode.

We know that no matter how much you pule and spit and hiss and spank and crack down, no matter how many laws and how many restrictions and how many wars and murders and stabs at the heart of meaning and sex and divinity, you cannot touch what really matters, you cannot really have any lasting effect.

Oh, it might seem like you do. You can make daily life very grating and tiresome and make people sick with your chemicals and desperate with your slashing of jobs and guilt ridden with your hammering sin and pain and guns and fear.

We watch you spin and hype and rage and scrunch your face in intense bogus prayer aimed at your bitter and self-righteous and homophobic God as your testes wither and weep. Man, have you got gall.

Maybe this gives you the illusion of power and control. Maybe this makes you feel all phallic and handsome and virile as if your toupee isn't rank and askew and your slacks wrinkled and your children in rehab and your sexless wife popping Zoloft like M&Ms. Titter.

But here's the thing: You affect only the surface of things. You are like the little swarm of gnats you have to pass through on the path to the cool summer lake. You are the tainted oyster in the vast ocean of time and sex and love. You are a jagged pothole on the highway to hell and the broken step on the stairway to heaven. But you are not real. You give no light. You contribute nothing. Not where it matters.

But please, by all means, keep trying. Keep ripping away at the rich dense frantic fabric of this gorgeous inexplicable life. You represent all the dark threads, the ugliness and the tension and the low vibration and you are necessary to remind anyone who's paying attention of what to watch out for, what to methodically purge, what to use as easy leverage to vault forward.

Look. You cannot reach me. You are nowhere near. You have no true power and no true connection and have yet to make any sort of splash in the calm lake of open-thighed soul. But it's OK. We understand. After all, as the saying goes, the graveyards are full of indispensable men. And the divine only smiles, licks its lips, and shimmies on.
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Sunday, April 18, 2004
An Ungodly Fucking Mess

I've been really restless all day... haven't been sleeping well the past few nights, can't seem to find anything interesting or satisfying to do, I'm fidgety and faintly irritable. I'm not sure what's behind it all, but I hope it passes soon.

Anyway... sometime in the past 24 hours April '04 officially became the deadliest month so far for US soldiers in Iraq, with an official total of 100 fatalities in 18 days, almost certainly with more to come. Things are getting uglier by the day over there while Bush continues to tap dance on the edge of an awfully deep, dark chasm. Spain is quitting the scene, and even Britain has said that it will leave if asked; meanwhile, tensions in Baghdad are increasingly daily, and the rest of the country could blow at any moment. Iraqi nuclear facilities have been left unguarded by the coalition forces (guess we're not too worried about terrorists making dirty bombs after all), all while despair and hatred grows amongst even those Iraqis who once supported us.

"When the fighting is over in Fallujah, I will sell everything I have, even my home," said a resistance fighter who gave his name as Abu Taif Mashhadani. He wept as he recalled his 8-year-old daughter, who he said was killed by a U.S. sniper in Fallujah a week ago. "I will send my brothers north to kill the Kurds, and I will go to America and target the civilians. Only the civilians. Eye for an eye, tooth for a tooth. And the one who started it will be the one to be blamed."
Washington Post, via Billmon

But d'ya think Bush is worried that maybe, y'know, all of this strife and bloodshed will lessen his chances at the polls come November?

Nah, he knows all Americans care about is how much it costs 'em to fill up their SUVs, and he's already got that covered with a little help from the Saudis. Good to know that he really is serious about the War on Terror, eh?

Fuck, no wonder I can't sleep at night.

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Saturday, April 17, 2004
Annoying

If anybody's getting the same stupid little login window I get every time I load this site, my apologies. Several of the buttons on the page were here courtesy of the nice lady who designed this blog template, and for whatever reason she has now decided to hide 'em behind a password. As if the friggin' "Blogger" button was worth that kind of effort to me.

Anyway, even though I'm technically obligated to post a link to her for credit, if she's going to make it a pain to do that, I figure I'm off the hook until she sorts it out. If she puts things back as they were, the credit will re-appear as well. But I'm certainly not going to tolerate the login window for somebody else's site popping up on my blog.

Humph.
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Friday, April 16, 2004
88 More Signs of Success

Sure, to the lay person, or somebody who dabbles in geopolitics, it looks like the 88 American fatalities we suffered in the first half of April are a sign that things are maybe not going so well in Iraq. Thank god, the Chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gen. Richard B. Myers is here to set us straight. He told us today that the violent insurgency in Fallujah and six other Iraqi cities is in fact "a symptom of the success that we're having here in Iraq".

"I think it's that success which is driving the current situation, because there are those extremists that don't want that success," Myers said. "They see this as a test of wills, a test of resolve against those who believe in freedom and self-determination against those who prefer a regime like we saw previously in Afghanistan, or perhaps a regime like we saw previously in Iraq."
Washington Post

In other words, every newly-identified American fatality shouldn't be taken to represent a new widow, a motherless or fatherless child, a parent's grief, or a promising life cut brutally short. When you see those flag-draped coffins, know that they are really a sign of George W. Bush's firm resolve. He loves the smell of charred American flesh in the morning... smells like victory.

PS: Just to emphasize how bad April has been, the deadliest month for American troops so far was November, with 94 dead. That's 94 for the entire month... as compared to 88 for just the first half of April. I truly hope November retains its title, but it doesn't look promising.
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Thursday, April 15, 2004
Our Soldiers Can Sleep Soundly Tonight

The following letter was distributed on the streets of Baghdad today:

To our families in Baghdad:

Do not leave your homes and do not go to school, universities, offices. Do not walk around in the markets and to all supermarket owners and commercial markets: close your shops from April 15 2004 to April 23 2004, since your brothers the Mujahadieen in Ramadi, Khaldiya, and Fallujah will transfer the resistance fire to Baghdad, the capital, to help out Mujahideen brothers from the Al-Mahdi Army to free you from the darkness of the occupier, and so you have been warned.

Your Brothers the Mujahideen companies

From God victory and success

(Name of source withheld)
From The Agonist

But don't you feel safer knowing that we captured Saddam?

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[crickets] chirp chirp chirp chirp chirp [/crickets]

Apologies to anybody who has stopped in looking for something new over the last two days... my schedule is sometimes such that daily blogging doesn't quite work out.

Both of you will hopefully find something more interesting here tomorrow. ;)

Until then, might I recommend this wonderful post from "Fafblog!" ? I bow before Fafnir and Giblets... this is how I would write if I actually had talent.

As an added bonus, if you go read Fafblog! for five or ten minutes and then come back here, my blog will magically turn sorta pinkish. Check it out!
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Monday, April 12, 2004
Places I Didn't Expect to See Bob Dylan, #34

Boy, just when you think reality has debased itself to such a degree that even black humor just makes you cry, god steps in and dishes up something this funny.

Which brings me to the second possible motive: pure whimsy. He may just think it's funny to be in an underwear ad and that flying to Venice to leer at models could make for a diverting weekend. (I also wouldn't totally discount the idea that he's playing a sly, decades-in-the-making practical joke. Newspaper reports have noted that in 1965, when asked what might tempt him to sell out, Dylan said, "Ladies undergarments."

Now, I don't actually know much about Bob Dylan... I know the one time I had a chance to go see him play (Beale Street Music Festival, around, like, '96 or so) I passed up the chance and was delighted to instead hear the guy who recorded "Poke Sallet Annie" playing in the street for spare change. (He was good, too.) But I'm thinking Bob probably deserves a pass from Hicks' First Law of Artists in Commercials.

But the question remains: Do I wany my underwear to "exude the spirit and essence of Bob Dylan"?
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Bremer Reads Between the Lines

Want to see why we're fucked in Iraq? Take this little exchange between Tim Russert and Viceroy Bremer, and then extrapolate...

MR. RUSSERT: John Burns of The New York Times was taken in custody for several hours, and his driver, who had been in prison for two years under Saddam, said, "It was God who finished Saddam, not the Americans," "The Americans broke all their promises to us, they have brought their infidel beliefs to Iraq. We hate them, and they are worse than Saddam." How do you deal with that mind-set?

AMB. BREMER: Well, first, isn't it nice that an Iraqi could speak his mind freely to a Western journalist a year after he would have had his tongue cut out for saying that under Saddam? Isn't that really the message?
Meet the Press, APR 11 04

Is Bremer really this stupid? Or -- more bluntly -- does Bremer really think we're this stupid?

By the way, I caught wind of this on the wonderful Today In Iraq. Go give 'em a visit.
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Sunday, April 11, 2004
Happy Day of the Living Dead Messiah

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Saturday, April 10, 2004
The Price of Hubris

Anybody who watched American news roughly a year ago -- around the time of the fall of Baghdad -- probably remembers this guy:



The name of our old cigar-chomping Marine buddy, who was one of the American celebrants at the heavily-staged toppling of Saddam's statue, is Sgt. Nick Popaditch. Guess where Sgt. Popaditch is today?

In an army hospital. His tank was hit was hit by a rocket-propelled grenade, and he suffered "major head injuries" including the loss of his right eye.

Obviously nobody deserves such an injury; I sincerely hope he recovers well, and that his injuries don't interfere with his having a full and rewarding life once he gets back home. This isn't so much about one soldier as it is about the microcosm of the war that he represents. Those who were waxing triumphant a year ago are licking their wounds now... and who can truthfully say they never saw it coming?
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Friday, April 09, 2004
Rant Round-up #4

I'm tired.

I'm tired of seeing this. I'm tired of being lied to. I'm tired of excuses. I'm tired of living in a nation where everyone is continually at everyone else's throats. I'm tired of not being able to have a civil conversation with the opposition party. I'm tired of not being able to find a job. I'm tired of being afraid that if we lose the next election, we'll lose everything. I'm tired of being afraid of my own government's motivations. I'm tired of being right when my anxieties about our bad situation prove to be completely warranted. I'm tired of struggling against something that is so obviously wrong that even having to argue the point makes me despair for my society, and still never seeming to make any progress.

I'm guessing I'm not the only tired person in the United States right now.

One thing is becoming increasingly clear: there's no good way out of this war now. We can't stay and fight -- the longer we hang around, trying to force ur definition of peace on people who only want us to leave, the more lives will be needlessly lost. We can't leave -- we broke the country, and we're morally obligated to help put it back together. We can't hand over power -- who would we hand it to? Who could possibly take over and make this situation right? Every possible solution inevitably involves civil war, huge amounts of bloodshed, the spread of militant Islamic fundamentalism, more anti-American sentiment around the world, the triumph of corruption, and the humiliating failure of the American people. There are no good guys now, there is no happy outcome, there is no peaceful, prosperous, free democracy for Iraq... we're fucked, every way you look at it.

I want this to be over; I want to be done with it. And yet, I suspect, it'll be some years before we see the back of this miserable episode. I see very little hope for the United States within this decade -- and god, I want to be wrong about that. But this has been set in motion, and I can't see anything that can turn it around... if Kerry wins, then what? Does he get stuck with Bush's war, Bush's economy, Bush's deficit, Bush's divided society, Bush's strained diplomatic relationships, Bush's environmental policy, educational system, social services system, and tax code? Can we possibly anticipate anything more than a slow, painful recovery from a Kerry administration? Could anyone do any better?
10:49 PM ::
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By the Way...

I'm trying to sort out the problem with the archives... I go in and fiddle with the settings, get 'em working, they function normally for a day or so, and then I start getting 403 errors again. I really have no clue what the problem is. (And why is it that the index links work but the regular archive links don't?)

I am trying though; bear with me.
3:11 PM ::
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shudder

I have never been a big fan of tinfoil as a fashion accessory. And yet, I can't deny it... this is pretty much every liberal's worst nightmare.

Will the 2004 Election Be Called Off?

I have a few reasons to believe that while this fear is understandable, it's also unfounded. Hardcore conspiracy theorists assumed that WMD would be found in Iraq, even if the Marines had to truck them in themselves. So far this hasn't happened. They seemed certain that Osama B. was already in custody, ready to be trotted out in October... and okay, this could theoretically still be true, but there's substantial evidence that the guy's just holed up in Pakistan. And at the end of the day -- call me naive, call me gullible (both are often true) -- life just has a funny way of continuing more-or-less normally despite everyone's worst fears.

But if you want to freak out your liberal friends and loved ones, show 'em that article and watch 'em blanch.
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Thursday, April 08, 2004
Nobody Likes a Smartass

Wow... Iraq's turning to shit really fast, isn't it?

It's kinda frustrating over here right now... the US news outlets appear to be sitting on whatever information they have, so while there seems to be a general sense that there's some Heavy Shit going down in Iraq, there's no good way of finding out about it. Many folks are trying to glean what they can from scattered reports from foreign news sources.

However, so far this seems to be reliable: 1) the US has lost two, possibly three cities to insurgents; 2) hostages have been taken and at least half-a-dozen or so GIs have been killed today; 3) in fact, the Sunnis and the Shiites are at least working together, if not fighting together; 4) it's going to get worse before it gets better.

And how is President George W. Bush spending the day?

At his ranch. Fucking typical.


Meanwhile, back here at home, apparently some Republicans have finally decided that maybe this war wasn't such a good idea after all.

C'mon, you fucking unpatriotic pussies... you wanted a war, you got one! We've only had 40 or so American men and women killed this week; during Vietnam we'd lose that many before breakfast. If you don't mind losing one or two a day, why not lose 6? Why not 12? Why not 50, or 500? What's the fucking difference? If you don't value one human life, why does multiplying the number suddenly register on your moral radar? As for the GOP's newly-discovered capacity to question the Bush administration, those of us who were anti-war from the beginning asked all of these questions a year ago, and we were branded cowards, spineless, terrorist-cuddling America-haters and traitors for doing so. The right said that our doubts and anxieties gave aid and comfort to the enemy, demoralized the troops, and made the United States look weak in front the international community. Now, me, I think getting our asses kicked out of two cities in spite of vastly superior firepower looks pretty bad, too... but then again, I was arguing that superior firepower alone might not be enough to do the job back before we even had a job to do. And if you fuckers had listened to us weak-willed, cowardly, unpatriotic, dictator-coddling, president-bashing, anti-war protesting surrender monkeys a year ago, we wouldn't have lost a single GI.

They say nobody likes a smartass... but fuck that. We told you so. Now quit whinging and figure out a way to get us the fuck out of this war we never should have started in the first place.

Addendum: A number of bloggers are suggesting that the confusing silence in the press amounts to a concerted news blackout. (Read the accompanying comments for the full picture.) Stories turn up, and then disappear. Photographs depict things that haven't been reported. Foreign sources mention events that never seem to be mentioned in American news. Some events are reported, and then there's never any follow up.

Rather unsettling, no?

(addendum to the addendum: apparently there is a semi-blackout going on. )
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Wednesday, April 07, 2004
Furry Sado-Masochistic Easter Fun

Fucked-up beyond words.

Easter Bunny whipped at church show; some families upset

A church trying to teach about the crucifixion of Jesus performed an Easter show with actors whipping the Easter bunny and breaking eggs, upsetting several parents and young children.

People who attended Saturday's performance at Glassport's memorial stadium quoted performers as saying, "There is no Easter bunny," and described the show as being a demonstration of how Jesus was crucified.

Melissa Salzmann, who took her 4-year-old son J.T., said the program was inappropriate for young children. "He was crying and asking me why the bunny was being whipped," Salzmann said.

Patty Bickerton, the youth minister at Glassport Assembly of God, said the performance wasn't meant to be offensive. Bickerton portrayed the Easter rabbit and said she tried to act with a tone of irreverence.

"The program was for all ages, not just the kids. We wanted to convey that Easter is not just about the Easter Bunny, it is about Jesus Christ," Bickerton said.

Performers broke eggs meant for an Easter egg hunt and also portrayed a drunken man and a self-mutilating woman, said Jennifer Norelli-Burke, another parent who saw the show in Glassport, southeast of Pittsburgh.

"It was very disturbing," Norelli-Burke said. "I could not believe what I saw. It wasn't anything I was expecting."

I'm laughing my ass off; I'm sobbing my eyes out; I'm wishing I'd been there to see for myself. I particularly like the bit about the "self-mutiliating woman"... what do you think that was about?
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Pfc. Christopher Cobb

I'm starting to wonder how many days of this I can take before I start to shut it all out in self-defense.

Anyway, the bad news of the day:

U.S. Hits Mosque Compound; 40 Said Killed
U.S. Marines in the third day of a battle to pacify this Sunni Muslim city fired a rocket and dropped a 500-pound, laser-guided bomb on a mosque compound Wednesday, and witnesses said as many as 40 people were killed. Shiite-inspired violence spread to key cities in Iraq.

(...)

Witnesses said the strike came as worshippers had gathered for afternoon prayers.

An Associated Press reporter saw cars ferrying out dead and wounded. Witnesses said part of a wall surrounding the mosque compound was destroyed but the main building was not damaged.

Call me crazy, but I'm gonna guess that bombing a mosque full of worshippers -- even if there were insurgents inside causing problems -- was not exactly a great idea. I don't blame the marines... when somebody's trying to kill your ass, you probably don't spend a whole lot of time considering the social and political import of the structure they're inside when deciding how to respond. But this is still a bad thing, and is going to look really bad to Muslims not only in Iraq, but across the Middle East.

And if that proves to be the case, there'll likely be a lot more families like this one around:


The soldier in the picture, Christopher Cobb, was only 19. He'd been in Iraq for all of two months.
3:46 PM ::
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Modern Iconography

I don't have enough space on this blog to post the actual image, but go visit Michael Moore's website and have a look at this mosiac image of Dubya made of photographs of many of the soldiers who have died in Iraq to date.

(While you're at it, also check out this image of Bush made of assholes.)
2:52 PM ::
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And Down the Hole We Go

A dozen or so US soliders were killed in heavy fighting today... God knows how many Iraqis were killed. Reports suggest that the fighting was organized and appeared to involve a distinct military strategy. The spread of fighting to Ramadi means that American soldiers are now facing violent uprisings in at least seven Iraqi cities: Falluja, Najaf, Karbala, Nasiriyah, Kut, Baghdad, and now Ramadi. The country's exploding.

I don't know what else to say. Perhaps those who could not have peace in life will be able to find peace in death.

PS: We are not the only ones suffering.
Sixteen Iraqis died in battles with US Marines in Fallujah, and at least 26 more -- many of them women and children -- were killed in a late-night rocket strike by the US military, hospital officials said.


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Tuesday, April 06, 2004
Bad News Coming Every Day

I think we can all safely assume that the war has escalated.

Sources: Al-Sadr supporters take over Najaf

Supporters of maverick Muslim cleric Muqtada al-Sadr controlled government, religious and security buildings in the holy city of Najaf early Tuesday evening, according to a coalition source in southern Iraq.

The source said al-Sadr's followers controlled the governor's office, police stations and the Imam Ali mosque, one of Shia Muslim's holiest shrines.

Iraqi police were negotiating to regain their stations, the source said.

Is anyone else as shocked as I am that the US Military managed to lose an entire city? I mean, I'm sure they'll make every attempt to re-capture it, and they'll probably succeed... but seriously, they lost a city? To this guy?



"I know if you just report on those few places, it does look chaotic," Bremer said on CNN's "American Morning." "But if you travel around the country, what you find is a bustling economy, people opening businesses right and left, unemployment has dropped.

Just saving that one for posterity... it's too good to let slip away.


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Monday, April 05, 2004
Memento Mori

In honor of the 10th anniversary of Kurt Cobain's suicide, I offer this topical joke from back in the day:

Q: What color were Kurt Cobain's eyes?

A: Blue. One blew this way, and one blew that way.

I didn't actually catch the grunge train until the year or so after "Smells Like Teen Spirit" hit the big time, but -- at risk of sounding old and out-of-it, because let's face it, at 28 I'm sure I look middle-aged to the average Limp Bizkit fan (why isn't there any good music anymore? what's wrong with these kids?) -- when I finally got into it, I did so with a vengeance. I still think a guy in a flannel shirt, ragged blue jeans and big ol' clod stompers is the sexiest fucking thing in the universe. And yes, to this day hearing any of the old songs -- especially "Drain You" which always reminds me of my first love -- makes me feel 16. One can't help but wonder what might have come to pass had Kurt not splattered his talent and intelligence against that wall that day.

On the other hand, while we like to think we might've eventually had another John Lennon in Kurt, the possibility remains: we might've had another Jim Morrison instead.

Anyway, hope you're happier wherever you are, Kurt.




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Sunday, April 04, 2004
I suppose it would be considered lacking in nuance to nuke the Sunni Triangle.

But so goes the unanimous vote around my household - and I'm betting millions of others - in the aftermath of what forevermore will be remembered simply as "Fallujah."

Wouldn't it be lovely were justice so available and so simple? If we were but creatures like those zoo animals we witnessed gleefully jumping up and down after stomping, dragging, dismembering and hanging the charred remains of American civilians whose only crime was to try to help them
Kathleen Parker

Four people were killed in Fallujah. Four. As Atrios points out, nuking the Sunni Triangle would kill hundreds of thousands.

Four... vs. hundreds of thousands. As Noam Chomsky once said -- and I'm paraphrasing -- even to ask the question strips us of our humanity.

The article, of course, is about the wrongness of pursuing such a course of action; I don't mean to imply that Ms. Parker is actually suggesting we do this. But I do get awfully tired of being called "unpatriotic" and "cowardly," being condemned for every criticism and resistant statement I make, by people who write about mass slaughter as retribution for four unfortunate, but not at all unforseeable deaths. Ms. Parker and her kind go on and on about revenge and the taming of "zoo animals," never pausing to consider the echoes from other times, when other people -- Jews, blacks, Asians, women -- were considered less than human and treated accordingly. And they certainly never reflect on where those attitudes, and the impulses that accompanied them -- the exact same attitudes and impulses that the American right so often proudly, vociferously espouse now -- took their proclaimers in history: holocaust, slavery, brutal colonization, and institutionalized injustice.

The American right needs to stop looking at the people of Iraq as animals, savages, wild children in need of a strong, patriarchal influence, and starting speaking and listening to them as our equals. Only then will we even begin to make the human connections that can lead us out of this pit of despair.

PS: How many of those "zoo animals" do you think have gotten to see their own loved ones maimed and killed during this whole bloody conflict? How many charred Iraqi corpses do you think the average Sunni Triangle resident has had to see during a year of war? D'ya think Ms. Parker has even considered that question?
11:50 PM ::
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Cakewalk

They'll throw flowers... peace and democracy... liberators.

Remember when people still thought this war would be easy?

Iraq was wracked today by its most violent civil disturbances since the occupation started, with a coordinated Shiite uprising spreading across the country, from the slums of Baghdad to several cities in the south. An American soldier and a Salvadoran soldier were killed in the unrest, news agencies reported.

By day's end, witnesses said Shiite militiamen controlled the city of Kufa, south of Baghdad, with armed men loyal to a radical cleric occupying the town's police stations and checkpoints.

(...)

"There is no use for demonstrations, as your enemy loves to terrify and suppress opinions, and despises peoples," Mr. Sadr said in a statement distributed by his office in Kufa today.

"I ask you not to resort to demonstrations because they have become a losing card and we should seek other ways," he told his followers. "Terrorize your enemy, as we cannot remain silent over its violations."
NY Times

The death toll for American forces is still unclear... various reports peg it anywhere from 8 to 10. Approximately 25 GIs are reported as wounded... pointing out that most often in this context, "wounded" can be interpreted to mean lost limbs and head trauma.

This is doubly bad news because, while the coalition has never enjoyed a good relationship with Sunni groups, the Shias were supposed to be "on our side" to an extent. Furthermore, rather than the sporadic roadside bombs and other small attacks that have caused most of the 474 deaths since "major combat" ended, this was a direct attack on coalition troops, accompanied by violent protests across the country. Perhaps it was simply a one-time thing, although given Mr. Sadr's words above, I'm thinking probably not. More ominously, perhaps it signals the beginning of a new phase of the war, one which will involve far more bloodshed on all sides than we have been accustomed to thus far.

It's very unlikely that the Sunnis and Shias are fighting together; more likely the US could now face what amounts to a two-front war in Iraq, having to cope with both groups simultaneously as they also fight each other for position once the occupying forces finally do leave. In other words, we're stuck in the middle of a embryonic civil war.
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Crazy Fundie Presidents

Somebody over on the MMTF made a hell of a good point this morning...

If Deanna Lacey was declared insane because she thinks God told her to stone her children to death... what are we to infer about George W. Bush, who thinks God told him to invade Iraq, killing more than 10,000 people?

God told me to strike at al Qaida and I struck them, and then he instructed me to strike at Saddam, which I did, and now I am determined to solve the problem in the Middle East. If you help me I will act, and if not, the elections will come and I will have to focus on them.

George W. Bush, 27 June 03

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Saturday, April 03, 2004
Crazy Fundies, Revisited

The case of the Texas woman I talked about a while back was decided today... her jury came to the conclusion that Deanna Lacey was not guilty by reason of insanity. Now she'll be committed to an institution for treatment, which will last as long as her doctors think is wise.

I'm a little torn by the acquittal, but not because I think Lacey was anything other than insane when she brutally murdered her two children and beat the third nearly to death with rocks because "God ordered her to." And given that Lacey is insane, a prison sentence would be inappropriate; indeed, the loss of her sons is likely a worse sentence than any a court could hand down.

But there's a lot of responsibility that inevitably goes untaken in a case like this. This woman and her family were members of a church, I'm certain... a bible-thumping, southern fundamentalist church. She was often described as a "devout Christian" throughout the trial; the fact that an insane woman, capable of slaughtering her own children, can pass for a "devout Christian" among purportedly sane people is, you have to admit, pretty disturbing.

Just as I have to wonder about a breed of Catholicism that views the brutal, grisly torture of their messiah as a desireable method of inspiring faith, I can't help but question a strain of fundamentalism that teaches a "Christianity" that's so devoid of love and mercy that a woman would be led to kill her own little boys by its teachings. Or, at least, if we accept the idea that this woman might've killed her kids regardless, and that because of her religion a command from God was the rationale she used for her actions, I'm stunned that a woman so deranged could be allowed to continue to raise and teach her children at home, presumably attending church and interacting to some degree in the community, and nobody ever noticed that she was becoming a mortal danger to her children.

But the thing that bothers me the most is that, having been exposed to this strain of fundamentalist Christianity before, I know that according to certain theologies, there's really nothing in the Bible that points to the inherent wrongness of these murders. Oh, sure, there's all that "Thou shalt not kill" stuff and that whole New Testament thing, but what's a little peace and love when you've got edicts from God coming in, just like the Patriarchs did? As long as one believes that God literally created the world in seven 24-hour days, that Satan interferes with our daily lives, and that an eternity of torment awaits those who don't follow exactly the same version of Christianity as oneself, why not obey celestial orders to break your kids' heads open? Fuck peace and love... we've got killing to do, God said so. Whether it's heathens or our own children we're slaughtering is beside the point; God's righteous love says we must kill, so kill we shall.

Crazy, crazy fundies.

In a bit of resonance for me personally, Lacey will most likely be sent to Rusk State Hospital, where my father worked as a lay chaplain for a couple of years when I was very young. I have some rather... formative memories of the place.

Update: See, this is the shit I'm talking about.

At the church where Deanna Laney once ministered to youth, sang in the choir and spoke in tongues, worshippers Sunday prayed for her and her family a day after she was acquitted by reason of insanity of bludgeoning two of her young sons to death.

(...)

Pastor Gary Bell preached about hope amid despair to his congregation of more than 100 people, and said he will continue to stand by Laney and her husband, Keith.

``You're going to make it. I said you're going to make it. By the grace of God, we're going to make it,'' he preached.

Where's the anger at the murder of two children? Where's the self-questioning that should be inherent to an event this kind? Where were these people before Lacey killed her children? Lacey may have been the only person culpable for this crime, but I hold this entire church -- everyone who knew them and should have seen what was developing, were it not for their blind insistence that God was behind their every thought and impulse -- responsible.

``Everyone in this situation is a victim, everyone,'' he said.

The question is, Rev. Bell, a victim of what?


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Whither Colin

First thing I should mention: I once had a good bit of respect for Colin Powell. The guy seemed to be pretty straight-up, an honest sort, without a rabid ideology of any kind... trustworthy, dependable. That was before he joined the Bush administration and discovered his inner whore; seeing him testifying before the UN Security Council was among the biggest disappointments of the lead-up to the Iraq war. "Colin, say it ain't so..."

Since then, I've detested him almost more than people like Rumsfeld or Ashcroft; those guys are just evil, but Powell chose the Dark Side of his own free will, even when -- you can see it on his face -- he knew it was wrong. The man, who surely passes for gentle among high-ranking career military men, has grown testy and surly over the last few months... lashing out at his underlings, sneering at detractors, continuing -- continuing! -- to back the President even as it becomes painfully obvious that the both of 'em were dead, dead wrong.

My faith in him was obliterated absolutely. That's why, when I see something like this, I can only assume that rather than taking a stand like his former colleagues O'Neill and Clarke, Powell's merely participating in an administration-approved gradual rollout of a twisted, heavily-spun admission of failure.

Watch him doubletalk:

Secretary of State Colin Powell conceded Friday evidence he presented to the United Nations that two trailers in Iraq were used for weapons of mass destruction may have been wrong.

(...)

But now, Powell said, "it appears not to be the case that it was that solid."

He said he hoped the intelligence commission appointed by President Bush to investigate prewar intelligence on Iraq "will look into these matters to see whether or not the intelligence agency had a basis for the confidence that they placed in the intelligence at that time."

Note the unnecessary use of passive voice, a sure fucking sign that they're trying to tiptoe around a plain truth: the information was bogus, and the intelligence agency was wrong. The administration's reasons for invading Iraq were fallacious. He knows it, but even now he can't just fucking say it already... the best he can do is to say in an ass-backwards way that he hopes somebody else eventually says it.

Disgusting.
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Friday, April 02, 2004
Rant Round-up, Vol. 3

I've been meaning to make the rant round-up a weekly thing on Fridays, but I just haven't felt like ranting today; I've been feeling pretty laid-back and serene all day. It never occured to me when I started this one-woman meme that I'd actually be not angry enough to pull it off, especially only three weeks in.

But, I've still got... lessee... 20 minutes left in Friday, so I'll see what I can do.

Congratulations to George W. Bush for pulling off a robust-by-any-standard 306,000 job-creation number for March... only 1.8 million to go to get back to net zero!

Looks like Condi's going to be testifying on Thursday; looking forward to that. And, of course, the Dick and Dubya show is going to play to the 9/11 commission shortly... insert obligatory joke about Cheney's arm up George's ass here. (It's a puppet thing... I'm actually going for the less-filthy interpretation this time.)

The right wing is all flustered over John Kerry showing up on the slopes with a plastic daisy dangling from his jacket's zipper pull... honestly, you give some people a little good news and they start acting like assholes. I'd much rather have a president with a flower on his jacket than one with his package all pooched out of the military flight suit he never had the balls to wear in actual combat.

Air America Radio, while undeniably a Good Thing, is apparently taking a little time to get up to speed. Randi Rhodes gave Ralph Nader hell -- always good to hear -- but from what I understand (I lack the bandwidth to listen online), the O'Franken Factor and Majority Report are both falling slightly short of expectations. As much as I respect Mr. Franken, and as much vicarious pleasure I take in his taunting of Bill O'Reilly, he's not my all-time favorite; I never did care much for his Stuart Smalley character. I still fully anticipate that Ms. Garofalo will get it figured out and will become a real barnstormer in time... she's never done radio, so I'm sure it's taking a while to get used to it. But seriously... this network needs Mike bigtime. 20-year veteran of liberal talk radio, and every bit the equal of that smackhead Rush Limbaugh... c'mon, Air America, give a guy some airtime.

Fuck it... I got nothin'. Maybe I'll be pissed off again tomorrow.
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Thursday, April 01, 2004
An Alternate History

According to today's Washington Post, on the eleventh day of September, 2001, Condoleezza Rice was scheduled to give a foreign policy speech in which she intended to outline the Bush administration's tough new initiative on homeland defense, one which would address "the threats and problems of today and the day after, not the world of yesterday."

What threats might those be, you ask? Good question. Considering what happened on that same day, you'd be smart to guess that those threats might include things like asymmetrical warfare, militancy in certain Middle Eastern nations, and -- of course -- terrorism.

You'd be smart... and you'd also be wrong. No, Condi's speech that day was going to consist mostly of an introduction to one of Bush's pet projects: a missile defense system. Not that missile defense would ever do a thing to protect Americans here and abroad from Saudis running amok with 747s, briefcase nukes, or rockets borne on donkey carts. The "world of yesterday," indeed.

God, how I wish I could have seen her face that morning. Imagine it: Condi, sitting in a bunker, perhaps with a copy of her completely irrelevant and now rather stupid-looking speech in her briefcase, hiding from a bunch of guys to whom, although she'd been warned about them, she had paid almost no attention throughout her first nine months on the job.

But nobody has perfect foresight; who among us would have dreamed that such a thing would happen? I know I certainly didn't. And like the intelligent, decisive woman she is, she immediately insisted that President Bush drop all his plans for missile defense and instead focus intently on eradicating from the face of the world our primary enemy: Osama bin Laden. And once they had dealt with Osama, together they set about creating a new initiative for homeland defense, one that really would deal with the threats of our complex modern world. They set about strengthening our security at ports and plants, bringing domestic and international intelligence groups together in productive harmony, and forming close, trusting bonds with other nations. Simultaneously, while working to protect us at home, they also set about creating genuine peace and justice abroad, lessening the anger and frustration that makes the people of the world despair so completely that they come to believe that only by killing others can they make themselves heard. And they did it all completely selflessly, with no thought whatsoever to their own personal gain or profit.

And that, boys and girls, is why we never hear the words "missile defense system" anymore; why Osama is now held securely in a Federal prison in accordance with the judgement of an international court; why the once troubled nations of the Middle East are now peaceful, prosperous, and stable; and why Bush and Rice are being jointly awarded the Nobel Peace Prize this year.

Happy April Fool's Day, George and Condi.
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