As featured on p. 218 of "Bloggers on the Bus," under the name "a MyDD blogger."

Friday, May 28, 2004

The messenger's been shot!

Steve Gilliard is all over this story of Pat Boone blaming CBS and 60 Minutes II for showing images of torture at the Abu Ghraib prison, which is bizarre on so many levels. First of all, isn't Pat Boone about 50 years removed from relevancy on this or any topic? Apparently not to, which initially printed his letter. Secondly, even the quote itself, aside from its complete moral relativism and blind support for rape and murder, is insane. And I quote:

"For me, CBS has become 'the enemy within,' and I hope never to watch the network again."

You hope? What does that mean, you hope never to watch it again? Mind you this wasn't a slip of the tongue, this wasn't said and transcribed, Boone wrote this in a letter. What does he mean, "I hope my hands won't fail me by involuntarily changing my remote to CSI: Miami one day" or something?

Of course, we can all see that blaming CBS for making us less safe, and making statements like "The next time America or Americans suffer at the hands of terrorists, thank CBS" is about as ridiculous as blaming Alain Resnais for making us less safe by putting out all of those pictures of skeletal Holocaust survivors. I don't know if the Constitution came with the free Chevys you got every year for singing music you stole from black people, Pat, but it has this thing in there about freedom of the press. It doesn't, to my knowledge, have anything in there about condoning torture.

And rape. And murder. That's one thing that's been bugging me. While the allegations have expanded to include these other charges, the media has largely continued to report it as "prison abuse." It's rape and murder, OK?


Thursday, May 27, 2004

Only in America... Republican America

So, Tucker Bowtie was crowing on Crossfire today about Don King's high-profile presence at a series of RNC events with chairman Ed Gillespie. They're touring Detroit, Philadelphia, New York and Miami.

Bowtie actually had to catch himself by admitting, during this glowing account, that "Yes, King was convicted for murdering two people, but one was in self-defense." The whole story is that he fucking beat a man to his death:

Twelve years later, also in Cleveland, King beat a man to death who owed him money on the streets of Cleveland. Although convicted of second-degree murder, the trial judge (for reasons unknown) reduced the conviction from murder to manslaughter. Not only did King serve a short term of 3 1/2 years, he would receive a pardon from then Ohio governor James Rhodes.

Meanwhile, over the next 30 years of boxing promotion, he has systematically robbed his clients blind, from Tim Witherspoon to Mike Tyson. Witherspoon even successfully sued King in the 80s, winning a $900,000 judgment.

Good company for the GOP, ay? Especially considering that, as a convicted felon, he CAN'T EVEN VOTE.


The last resort for the truly desperate

Hannity and Colmes, May 25:

REV. KEN JOSEPH: Well, we're asking people this Sunday, is the 30th, one month before the handover. We're just asking people to set aside a day of prayer to pray for Iraq, that somehow this handover will...

HANNITY: Can we pray for the reelection of George Bush?

REV. JOSEPH: And then also pray -- pray for the Christians.

I think prayer is all that's left, given that there aren't any accomplishments, positive policies, good feeling in the country or around the world.


The new standard of journalism

Judith Miller, in a Salon article today, regarding her many dubious news stories about Iraq and WMD:

"You know what," she offered angrily. "I was proved fucking right. That's what happened. People who disagreed with me were saying, 'There she goes again.' But I was proved fucking right."

The New York Times, Miller's employer, in yesterday's editor's note apologizing for bad claims of Iraq's WMD:

"We have found a number of instances of coverage that was not as rigorous as it should have been... Information that was controversial then, and seems questionable now, was insufficiently qualified or allowed to stand unchallenged. Looking back, we wish we had been more aggressive in re-examining the claims as new evidence emerged — or failed to emerge."

Bizarro, Superman's foil, talking about how happy he is:

"Me am sad."


Wednesday, May 26, 2004

The Grey Lady Demurs

The New York Times, or as many antiwar protesters have termed it ovr the last couple years, The New Pravda, has finally admonished itself over becoming hoodwinked by Iraqi exiles and others about WMD in Iraq. It's a curious apology. It starts off by extolling how great they are:

We have examined the failings of American and allied intelligence, especially on the issue of Iraq's weapons and possible Iraqi connections to international terrorists. We have studied the allegations of official gullibility and hype. It is past time we turned the same light on ourselves.

In doing so — reviewing hundreds of articles written during the prelude to war and into the early stages of the occupation — we found an enormous amount of journalism that we are proud of. In most cases, what we reported was an accurate reflection of the state of our knowledge at the time, much of it painstakingly extracted from intelligence agencies that were themselves dependent on sketchy information.

Well, yes, it was an accurate reflection of your knowledge at the time, but you reported it UNCRITICALLY, in fact breathlessly, stoking fears of gas attacks and biological warfare with an almost certitude.

Here's the apology:

But we have found a number of instances of coverage that was not as rigorous as it should have been. In some cases, information that was controversial then, and seems questionable now, was insufficiently qualified or allowed to stand unchallenged. Looking back, we wish we had been more aggressive in re-examining the claims as new evidence emerged — or failed to emerge.

So you're going to mention Judith Miller, right? I mean, she did practically ALL of the reporting on this issue, she had a pre-established pipeline to Ahmad Chalabi, and she published any scrap of information she could get. She's in the next paragraph, right?

The problematic articles varied in authorship and subject matter, but many shared a common feature. They depended at least in part on information from a circle of Iraqi informants, defectors and exiles bent on "regime change" in Iraq, people whose credibility has come under increasing public debate in recent weeks. (The most prominent of the anti-Saddam campaigners, Ahmad Chalabi, has been named as an occasional source in Times articles since at least 1991, and has introduced reporters to other exiles.)

Ahem. Judith Miller wrote ALL of these articles! You're not going to mention her at all?

Some critics of our coverage during that time have focused blame on individual reporters. Our examination, however, indicates that the problem was more complicated. Editors at several levels who should have been challenging reporters and pressing for more skepticism were perhaps too intent on rushing scoops into the paper.

It's fair to place some blame at the hands of the editors. And I guess you're just protecting your writer. I'm sure other staffers wrote these questionable reports you're talking about.

Or perhaps not. The Times on the Web links to all of the stories cited in the editorial, in addition to a few others. Of the 11 stories that cited misleading information about Iraq, 9 of them were written by Judith Miller. The other two regarded connections between Iraq and al Qaeda. Every single report about WMD cited on this reference page came from the pen of Judith Miller.

The Times cannot salvage any credibility on this issue without firing Miller and instituting a new policy of verifying sources of questionable validity (such as Iraqi defectors who stand to gain from invading Iraq). Otherwise, I'll stick to the blogs for my news.


Tuesday, May 25, 2004

Who's in charge here?

My favorite bit of hypocrisy from last night's "it's not really a new plan" new plan for Iraq speech concerned troop deployment in the country. The President said that "We will maintain our troop level at the current 138,000 as long as necessary. General Abizaid and other commanders in Iraq are constantly assessing the level of troops they need to fulfill their mission. If they need more troops, they will get more."

The thing is, General Abazaid has already asked for more troops. Many times. Actually, he asked for more troops as far back as April, when he met with Defense Secretary Rumsfeld. At that time, Rumsfeld said, "if Abizaid wanted more forces he would get them." Then, a month later, while testifying before the Senate Armed Services Committee, Abizaid again said he needs more troops in Iraq. Here's a quote from the wire story:

Summoned to testify before Congress on prisoner abuse, Gen. John Abizaid, chief of Central Command, conceded he might have underestimated the strength of the Iraqi insurgency and said U.S. forces are hampered by shortages of military police and other support troops.

The answer last night? "If Abizaid wants more forces, he will get them."

If you want to keep going back, last September Abizaid called for more American troops. This is from The New York Times:

WASHINGTON, Sept. 25 — The commander of United States forces in the Persian Gulf said today that he was no longer counting on foreign troops to relieve American soldiers in Iraq early next year. A lack of such troops would require the Pentagon to send active-duty and National Guard soldiers to fill the gap.

"Since it doesn't look like we'll have a coalition brigade, we have no choice but to plan for American forces," General Abizaid told reporters after he testified before the Senate Armed Services Committee.

At the time there were 127,000 American troops in country. So in 8 months, with scores of American casualties and the commanders pleading for more forces, they've received a whopping 11,000. But still, the party line is "If General Abizaid wants more troops, he will get them."

I'm not advocating filling Iraq with military personnel for years to come. But clearly, by under-staffing the troops in the field, Rumsfeld and his cronies have put our soldiers at risk. By not heeding the persistent calls for more forces (because it would be politically distasteful to dump more and more troops into a perceived quagmire), one has to wonder if the military chain of command is being ignored, or if there even is a chain of command at all. By parroting the "if he wants troops, he'll get them" line over and over, and then not giving them to him, it just reinforces this simple fact: we're dealing with liars. Big fat liars who do everything with politics in mind, not safety, not security. Just politics.


Driving While Muslim

When I first heard of Portland lawyer Brandon Mayfield's arrest in connection with the Madrid train bombings I was dubious. It seemed the finger was pointed at him as the chief weapons expert in the plot for no other reason than the fact that he was white and used to be in the Army. And putting his fingerprints at the scene half a world away just sounded wrong. I guess that's because it was wrong.

Mayfield was released when Spanish police admitted the fingerprints found on one of the detonators belonged to an Algerian man, not Mayfield. In fact, they admitted that the prints provided to the FBI (used to indict Mayfield) were in fact photocopies. Just to recap, we're in the 21st century. He was indicted by a photocopy. It wasn't until FBI agents traveled to Spain that they saw the error of their ways.

But that was not before they used the PATRIOT Act's abilities to spy and sneak to burgle Mayfield's home on multiple occasions without his knowledge. According to Mayfield, he knew something was up when he repeatedly found the deadbolt to his front door locked, a lock that him and his wife never use. Well, at least the FBI locked up on their way out.

Did I mention that Mayfield is a convert to Islam? The initial prints called up 15 possible matches on the FBI supercomputer. Strangely enough, the Feds happened to pick the Muslim out of the 15. Imagine the odds! Once again, we have an American citizen guilty until proven innocent, as a direct result of the fear-based provisions of Ashcroft's DoJ and Tenet's FBI. How many more instances of Keystone Kops-like bungling do we have to see before we send these guys to the donut shop, permanently?


Monday, May 24, 2004

Blogging Bush's speech

He really sounds like a 3rd-grade teacher talking to children, which of course is not just what he thinks of us, but what he thinks of himself.

Then he talks about Saleem and Nick Berg, playing up the terrists angle. "Fanatacism not caused by any action of ours." Then he puts out the discredited claim that Zarqawi wielded the sword. Wasn't he supposed to have one leg, and doesn't the killer in the Berg video have, you know, two?

Iraq is now the central front in the war on terror... yeah, thanks to you!

Talks about how the elite guards merged into the civilian population. You threw them out! Don't you remember de-Baathification?

Then, more stay the course crap.

The infrastructure-building is a duck to make it look like we're staying there to be good guys. In fact, it's just to legitimize keeping military personnel in country.

Democracy in Iraq will begin like this... we'll pick a leader, keep control of the military, and stay as long as we want.

We'll maintain 138,000 troops "as long as necessary". "Our nation appreciates their hard work..." and the fact that they stand in for rich people like me. Followed by the requisite troop applause line.

He just pronounced it "Sa-damn," like his daddy used to!

"Our soldiers have treated religious sites with respect..." you know, like mosques we've blown holes in, or wedding parties.

"Iraqi forces will serve under an Iraqi chain of command..." that we train and we approve.

Here comes the UN invocation. It's another cover, to show that we can play nice with others. You know, this whole speech is not a look at what we will do in Iraq, it's a laundry list of what's been done, spun in a positive way. With the occasional talk of evildoers or how bad it was under Saddam. You can't have your plan be "It was bad before." That's not a plan. It's impossible for this President to think more than two minutes ahead.

A hideous stumble on the word "Abu Ghraib." That was ridiculous. It's only been in the news for a month. He said it a different way three times! Wow, that could be a knockout punch. Talk about out of touch.

He's on the fifth step, thank God, that means it's almost over. They're drafting a NEW constitution? Didn't we already draft one? I remember reading a Naomi Klein article about how there would be no legitimacy under the current one, it's so rife with American involvement.

"We're not an occupying power. I sent troops to Iraq to make its people free..." because that's the only rationale that works now.

And of course, September 11 had to get mentioned. Because it's so obviously a propos.

"It is a tragedy of history that in the Middle East, so many have been held back by lawless tyranny..." especially in Saudi Arabia, our ally for 60 years.

OK, I'm done.


Attacking the root of the problem

Let's see, all these pictures of the US torturing prisoners got out in the media... we should ban... the torture? Nah, that's too hard... I know! Let's ban the pictures!

Rumsfeld bans camera phones
From correspondents in London
May 23, 2004

MOBILE phones fitted with digital cameras have been banned in US army installations in Iraq on orders from Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, The Business newspaper reported today.

Quoting a Pentagon source, the paper said the US Defence Department believes that some of the damning photos of US soldiers abusing Iraqis at Abu Ghraib prison near Baghdad were taken with camera phones.

"Digital cameras, camcorders and cellphones with cameras have been prohibited in military compounds in Iraq," it said, adding that a "total ban throughout the US military" is in the works.

We're a step away from the Pentagon banning the media.


US to dismantle Abu Ghraib prison

CNN just reported.

The right move, only a little over a year too late.  Maybe the symbol of Saddam Hussein's brutality shouldn't have, you know, become the symbol of US brutality.  But we're doing the right thing now, freedom-haters, so quit your dissent!

I have no idea why this took so long.


In the Lion's Den

So tonight, President Dumb Ape addresses the nation from the Army War College, which is an interesting place for him to go. The college has been extremely critical of his Iraq policy, particularly in a recent report that compared Iraq to Vietnam. While, according to the authors, the military parallels are dissimilar, the political parallels are shockingly in sync. Here's a choice selection:

It is, of course, far too early predict whether the United States will accomplish its policy objectives in Iraq and whether public support will 'stay the course' on Iraq. But policymakers should be mindful of the reasons for U.S. failure to create a politically legitimate and militarily viable state in South Vietnam, as well as for the Johnson and Nixon administrations' failure to sustain sufficient domestic political support for the accomplishment of U.S. political objectives in Indochina. Repetition of those failures in Iraq could have disastrous consequences for U.S. foreign policy...

The United States is now seeking to do in Iraq what it failed to do in South Vietnam: create and sustain an indigenous government and political order that the Iraqi people will accept as legitimate and successfully fight to defend.

Seems to me that Bush wouldn't choose to give a speech about Iraq in Ted Kennedy's house, but the Army War College is AOK. Maybe the President was too busy mountain-biking to read their report. But perhaps he should read it, because the political similarities are striking. We are establishing and breaking alliances with would-be Iraqi leaders at a faster burn rate than your average dot-com, with the recent raid of Ahmad Chalabi's home being the most visible. Chalabi, by the way, the former neocon darling, apparently was giving secrets on US troop positions to Iranian Shiites, a scandal that should shake the foundations of the Pentagon (Chalabi's funder to the tune of US $20M), but probably won't. Numerous other members of the Governing Council have resigned, and those still in place are performing the familiar banana republic ritual of appointing their friends and relatives to choice high-paying jobs. This is the Ngo Dihn Diem regime all over again, and we're rapidly running out of puppets we can trust with the "sovereign government" we'll hand over on June 30.

Of course, that's what tonight's speech is all about. Let's hope he takes questions from uniformed personnel. It seems that constituency is wavering in its support of his foreign policy.