Wednesday, June 30, 2004

A thoughtful essay re: elegance & precision in language

French Without Tears by Luc Sante. And, no, I'm not going to retitle it Freedom Without Tears.

Tuesday, June 29, 2004

No Moore in Philly? reports:
Fahrenheit 9-11 was completely blacked out in densely Republican vote-heavy Delaware county and faced near total censorship in the fifth largest U.S. market--Philadelphia and its Delaware Valley suburbs--as the film opened yesterday on just 12 screens out of 377 total  ( 3 % ) in 43 Philadelphia area theaters. [...] The film is appearing on only 4 screens out of 197 ( 2 % ) in the heavily Republican voter strongholds of suburban Delaware ( 0 screens ), Bucks ( 3 ) and Chester ( 1 ) counties.

How hot is it in Istanbul?

This hot.

You knew all those "Supremes Rebuke Bush" headlines had to be wrong

Elaine Cassell's essay, Hamdi, Padilla and Rasul v. Rumsfeld and Bush: Who Really Won? explains how, in Counterpunch today.


Get Your War On captures the absurdity while today's Financial Times story, Prisoner 27075 learns limits of sovereignty, shows the reality on the ground:
Iyad Akmush Kanum, 23, learnt the limits of sovereignty on Monday when US prosecutors refused to uphold an Iraqi judges' order acquitting him of attempted murder of coalition troops. US prosecutors said that he was being returned to the controversial Abu Ghraib prison because under the Geneva Conventions they were not bound by Iraqi law. A few hundred metres from where outgoing administrator Paul Bremer formally ended the US occupation of Iraq on Monday, Mr Kanum - prisoner number 27075 - cowered handcuffed on a backroom floor in the Central Criminal Court, where Iraqis are tried for attacks against coalition forces. "Iraqis who have been detained as a security threat can still be detained until firstly the coalition leaves or secondly they are considered to be no longer a threat," said Michael Frank, deputy special prosecutor for Multinational Force-Iraq (MNFI), who oversaw the case dressed in military fatigues.

Monday, June 28, 2004

Win-win or double whammy?

Chewing khat leaves gets men high while it makes them more potent and fertile, according to a report from researchers at the Centre for Reproduction, Endocrinology and Diabetes at King’s College London, UK. Can't help wondering if khat exports to Japan would make sense.

Sunday, June 27, 2004

Who's responsible for more propaganda -
Michael Moore or the Bush Administration?

Frank Rich suggests an answer.

Saturday, June 26, 2004

He lies! He swears! He drinks the blood of dead Iraqis and US soldiers! He's one classy soon-to-be ex-VP!

Lying VP "spirit of civility and respect" Cheney says he's not sorry and reports he "felt better after" insulting Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT) with the word that most accurately describes what Cheney and President Bush are doing to U.S. democracy. Not surprisingly, Cheney's brain-dead epithet comes up short when compared to the creative "calumny and bellicosity" that has graced the U.S. Senate in the past.

There's no proof that Cheney actually drinks the blood of dead Iraqis and American solidiers, of course. At the same time (borrowing the "how to prove a negative?" formulation that the Lying VP offers when challenged on his assertions that Sadam Hussein and al-Qaeda had a collaborative relationship despite the 9/11 Commission's report that didn't happen), there's no proof he doesn't drink their blood, either. Who knows what he's really up to in that "undisclosed location"? It is a fact that Cheney continues to receive payments of up to $1 million annually from Iraqi war profiteer, Halliburton: blood on the battleground morphs into bucks in the chicken-hawk's pocket.

Friday, June 25, 2004

Trick or treat

Curse of Witches Brooms Disease raises fears for world chocolate production, says the University of Wales, where researchers report the curse causes Frosty Pods, too. That sounds right - it frosts mine, too, just thinking about a possible chocolate shortage.

Another New York Times plagiarism scandal?

In Counterpunch today, Jack McCarthy asks, Did Maureen Dowd Lift from the Weekly World News?

Thursday, June 24, 2004

Was it only a bad dream?

Before the Reagan Revisionism Orgy fades completely from memory, this Ted Rall comic strip that I missed until today is worth the click.

No point in arguing with the Veep, TV journo says

Gloria Borger tells The National Debate why she didn't argue with lying VP Cheney in her TV interview with him last week.

Yes you can fool some of the people all of the time if you give them enough money, continued

The New York Times and LA Times are on the King Moon coronation tip, too, together with a growing number of news outlets. Thanks to Boing Boing for linking to a transcript and video of this preposterous event.

Wednesday, June 23, 2004

Yes you can fool some of the people all of the time if you give them enough money

More than a dozen lawmakers attended a congressional reception this year honoring the Rev. Sun Myung Moon in which Moon declared himself the Messiah and said his teachings have helped Hitler and Stalin be "reborn as new persons." At the March 23 ceremony in the Dirksen Senate Office Building, Rep. Danny K. Davis (D-Ill.) wore white gloves and carried a pillow holding an ornate crown that was placed on Moon's head. The Korean-born businessman and religious leader then delivered a long speech saying he was "sent to Earth . . . to save the world's six billion people. . . . Emperors, kings and presidents . . . have declared to all Heaven and Earth that Reverend Sun Myung Moon is none other than humanity's Savior, Messiah, Returning Lord and True Parent." .... The event's co-sponsors were the Washington Times Foundation, the United Press International Foundation, the American Family Coalition, the American Clergy Leadership Conference and the Women's Federation for World Peace, according to the invitation....Moon has claimed to have spoken in "the spirit world" with all deceased U.S. presidents, Jesus, Moses, Mohammed and others. At the March 23 event, he said: "The founders of five great religions and many other leaders in the spirit world, including even Communist leaders such as Marx and Lenin . . . and dictators such as Hitler and Stalin, have found strength in my teachings, mended their ways and been reborn as new persons."....

The Rev. Moon Honored at Hill Reception

Tuesday, June 22, 2004

The hot new dance craze that's sweeping the world:
Do the "Abu Ghraib"

....But perhaps most disturbing to domestic human rights groups is the growing use of the name "Abu Ghraib" by officers to threaten further torture of detainees, and its significance as a code term for applying electricity to the genital area....

from: Abu Ghraib Tactics Inspire Torture in Neighbor Egypt by Emad Mekay

Do Unto Others

Why should US torture mobilize US military forces, veterans, parents, friends, acquaintances, neighbors, allies against Bush & Co., if the moral imperative to treat everybody humanely, with respect and dignity isn't enough?

Tom Tomorrow knows.

Monday, June 21, 2004

Tough Questions for Journalists
and a Reassuring Response

.... I mean, listen, George: If the media had done their job, if they'd asked the hard questions of the Bush administration about these weapons of mass destruction, demanded proof — The media — and everybody watching this knows this — got on board. They took the soup, they took the Kool-Aid. They just became cheerleaders for this war. And that was a disservice to the American people. The great thing about this country is, you as journalists … get to ask any question you want in this country. Literally, you can ask any question you want. No one will arrest you. Why weren't the questions asked? Why wasn't it put to this administration? You know, why didn't anybody say, "Whoa, wait a minute, we're not sending our kids off to die." Have a voice.

That's Michael Moore, responding to questions in an interview with hostile pundit, George Stephanopoulos.

Better late than never, perhaps. As journalists continue to aggressively investigate Torturegate and the rest of the Iraq/Afghanistan/Gitmo/American gulag nightmare, the Washington Post rips Rumsfeld a new one in its lead editorial today:
....As supporters of the missions in Iraq and Afghanistan, we have been particularly concerned about the ways that the scandal -- and the administration's continuing failure to come to terms with it -- could undermine the chances for success. We also have warned about the uses that might be made of it by captors of Americans. What strikes us as extraordinary is that Mr. Rumsfeld would suggest that this damage would be caused by newspaper editorials rather than by his own actions and decisions and those of other senior administration officials....

It gets better.

Sunday, June 20, 2004

"Monkey See, Monkey Do"

Saudi Arabia uses public beheading as the punishment for murder, rape, drug trafficking, sodomy and armed robbery, apostasy and certain other offences. 45 men and 2 women were beheaded in 2002 and a further 52 men and 1 woman in 2003.

That's according to a site called Capital Punishment U.K. I don't have the stomach to do more research to verify these statements.

Talk about in-your-face blowback.

Meanwhile, I'm praying we can all, somehow, take this opportunity to re-think the barbarity that has become so common and somehow stop the cycle of violence and retribution.

What to call Pollyanna in despair?

Good v. Evil?

"It's a big thing, this war, a fight between two ideologies completely opposed to each other," Mr. McCain told the soldiers, many of whom fought in Iraq and Afghanistan. "It's a fight between a just regard for human dignity and a malevolent force that defiles an honorable religion by disputing God's love for each and every soul on Earth. It's a fight between right and wrong, good and evil. It's no more ambiguous than that."

In the face of the torture at Guantanamo, Abu Ghraib, Afghanistan, and elsewhere in Bush's gulag, how can the U.S. possibly maintain the moral high ground in this kind of Good vs. Evil dichotomy? (Assuming you think such a reductionist scheme has any validity in the first place, but that's another story, not to mention Bush's bogus "I'm a uniter not a divider" claim....)

Saturday, June 19, 2004

A Tale of Two Headlines

Missile strike by US kills 22 civilians in Iraq

A U.S. Airstrike Kills at Least 17 in Falluja

The New York Times article, immediately above, does mention that "women and children were among the dead" ... at the end of paragraph two.

Not until paragraph 12 does the Times get around to mentioning that "Researchers at Human Rights Watch concluded in a recent report that American airstrikes during this war have rarely succeeded in killing their intended targets and have mostly harmed civilians."

The Times fails to report a significant detail that the Independent included in paragraph two of its story: "...the Americans had sought to maximise casualties by firing a second missile at people trying to rescue victims." The Guardian reports the second missile strike at the rescuers, noting that the attack killed "at least 22 members of one extended family....the entire family of Mohammed Hamadi, a 65-year-old farmer, married with two wives, were killed. Among the dead where his wives and children."

Juan Cole nails it: "I don't mean to be a killjoy, but for an Occupying Power to drop bombs on residential neighborhoods is a war crime."

Abu Ghraib and the "Amerikan" Psyche

....A terrible envy underlies Abu Ghraib, one that has been working on the psychotic register of the American psyche since 9-11. Islamic fundamentalists have something we lack. They are willing to die for their religion. We can have only one response to such an affront. They must be forced to violate their religious beliefs and to do so as part of a perverse ritual. In this regard two images from Abu Ghraib are especially revealing. The man masturbating before his torturers forced while doing so to curse Islam. The father and son, hoods ripped off, confronting one another’s nakedness....

From: The Bite of the Whip: Passion of the Christ in Abu Ghraib by Walter A. Davis.

"It's not pro-Democrat, it's not pro-Republican - it's supposed to make you think," the poster's co-creator, San Francisco novelist Robert Mailer Anderson told the San Francisco Chronicle. "Do these people in Iraq have democracy? And do we have democracy?" Anderson conceived the idea after he was prevented from boarding an airplane with his two-year-old daughter at San Francisco International Airport. The toddler's name was on an Ashcroft "no-fly" list intended to stop terrorists.

Friday, June 18, 2004

Chris Floyd says what sounds to me like the sad truth, in his Counterpunch essay today:
....Surely it is now time for all The Bush-bashers and war critics – on both left and right – to swallow their pride, put aside their partisanship, and admit the stone-cold truth: the invasion and occupation of Iraq has been a rousing success.For despite many setbacks and dark days, it cannot be denied that George W. Bush has accomplished exactly what he set out to do in launching his war of aggression: the installation – through "a heavy dose of fear and violence," as one American commander so eloquently put it – of a client state in Iraq, led by a strongman who will facilitate the Bush Regime's long-term (and long-declared) strategic goal of establishing a permanent military "footprint" in the key oil state, while also guaranteeing the short-term goal of opening the country to exploitation by Bush cronies and favored foreign interests. All of this has now been done, and even given an official seal of approval from Bush's former adversaries on the UN Security Council – a rousing triumph indeed....

So, how do we go about making lemonade from this lemon, but in a way that won't let Iraq be used as an example to justify future episodes of this ilk?

Mark Fiore's latest animation, Jurisprudence, manages the impossible: bittersweet humor as our hearts go out to the victims while we groan at the realization that the Bush Administration has stooped to the moral level of the world's brutal tyrants.

Thursday, June 17, 2004

In Abu Ghraib: Is this America? Larry Bellinger suggests that "Photographing ourselves at our worst is as American as apple pie," and links to the gut-wrenching Without Sanctuary collection of all-American lynching photographs.

How does a smarmy neocon get a perch on PBS? Be born in the right family, in this egregious case.

Senator Rick Durbin, in support of an amendment banning torture that he's trying to push through Congress, traces the roots of the current Torturegate disgrace to witchunts of the Middle Ages, England's Star Chamber scandal, the U.S. obsession with the "third degree", and collective amnesia regarding the torture that the U.S. has protested when practiced by its enemies and the Bill of Rights protections against "cruel and unusual punishment".

As President Bush and his opponents tangle themselves in charges, countercharges, and spin, Kevin Drum makes a point that's being missed:
A dozen contacts in a dozen years is not proof of a Saddam-al-Qaeda connection. Just the opposite, in fact. To suggest otherwise would be like documenting the small number of occasions that George Bush has consulted with Democrats and pretending that means he's really a liberal. Frankly, given Iraq's circumstances — Arab country, centrally located, large, unfriendly to the U.S. — their minuscule contact with al-Qaeda indicates a pretty positive effort on their part to avoid them.

Despite the Bush Administration's obfuscations today, USA Today recalls:
"....Bush and Cheney also have sought to tie Iraq specifically to the 9/11 attacks. In a letter to Congress on March 19, 2003 -- the day the war in Iraq began -- Bush said that the war was permitted under legislation authorizing force against those who ''planned, authorized, committed, or aided the terrorist attacks that occurred on September 11, 2001.''

How Reagan Armed Saddam with Chemical Weapons

Wednesday, June 16, 2004

If one of my patients frequently said one thing and did another, I would want to know why. If I found that he often used words that hid their true meaning and affected a persona that obscured the nature of his actions, I would grow more concerned. If he presented an inflexible worldview characterized by an oversimplified distinction between right and wrong, good and evil, allies and enemies, I would question his ability to grasp reality. And if his actions revealed an unacknowledged -- even sadistic -- indifference to human suffering, wrapped in pious claims of compassion, I would worry about the safety of the people whose lives he touched.

Yes, that's a description of President Bush, from the introduction to Bush On the Couch Inside the Mind of the President the new book by Justin A. Frank, M.D.

Must read: Water-boarding in the White House, second in a two-part series from TomDispatch, following George Orwell... meet Franz Kafka. Today's lead editorial in the Washington Post, Torture Policy restores at least a smidgen of hope that the Senate may be able to put the country back on course, with an amendment from Sen. Rick Durban under discussion today. Yesterday, Durban made a speech in which he put Torturegate in the context of the grand American tradition of pressuring suspects with the "third degree" (the speech doesn't seem to be online yet, but I'll link to it when it appears at Durban's web site or elsewhere).

Tuesday, June 15, 2004

Bush Touts Afghanistan as Model for Iraq the headline sez, so I guess we can expect an explosion of opium and heroin production in Iraq in the midst of ongoing civil war, and the rest of the ills that continue to plague Afghanistan in the wake of the US invasion of that country.

"The gathering of fragments involves a strategy of disruption." George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, Osama bin Laden and Jean Baudrillard meet in a virtual dialogue.

Community murals vs. advertising billboards. Guess which side prevails.

It's official: President Bush is crazy, according to a new book by "prominent Washington psychoanalyst, "Dr. Justin Frank, who confirms the incumbent as a vertible snake-pit of pathologies. Instead of asking the Vatican to require that US Catholic bishops help with his re-election campaign, perhaps Bush should have asked for prayers that his sanity might be restored.

I'm experimenting with this blog version of my site.