Tuesday, August 31, 2004

One party state 

Via atrios.


Tuesday, August 24, 2004

The academic exercise 

What if, instead of a man who is a moral coward, fleeing from his moral principles at every turn, GWB is, sadly, a man without principle? Juan Cole considers the consequences:
His explosive temper probably provoked the disastrous siege of Fallujah last spring, killing 600 Iraqis, most of them women and children, in revenge for the deaths of 4 civilian mercenaries, one of them a South African. (Newsweek reported that Bush commanded his cabinet, 'Let heads roll!') That temper is only one problem. Bush has a sadistic streak. He clearly enjoyed, as governor, watching executions. His delight in killing people became a campaign issue in 2000 when he seemed, in one debate, to enjoy the prospect of executing wrong-doers a little too much. He has clearly gone on enjoying killing people on a large scale in Iraq. "


Moral cowardice 

Josh Marshall, on El Presidente's moral cowardice:
"The president didn't think he could convince the public of the merits of his reasons for going to war. So he lied to them. He greatly exaggerated what was thought to be the evidence of weapons of mass destruction and completely manufactured a connection between Iraq and al Qaida. He couldn't get the country behind him on the up-and-up. So he took the easy way out; he took a shortcut; he deceived them. And now the country is paying a terrible price for it.
If you have to lie about your policies, then they probably aren't very good policies.
The stubborn refusal ever to change course, which the president tries to pass off as a sign of leadership or devotion to principle, is actually an example of his cowardice.

For the same reasons, he runs from soldiers' funerals like they were burying victims of the plague -- because it's the easy way out. If there's a problem, he denies it or finds someone else to take the fall for him.

Everyone has these tendencies in their measure. No one is perfect. But they define George W. Bush.

The thing about principlism is that it is rather easy to rationalize away. We all do unto others until it becomes too inconvenient to continue, and it's very easy to explain away our changes in attitude when all we are doing is referring to a moral principle that is rather open to interpretation, as all moral norms by definition are.

Speaking of GWB as a moral coward, as Marshall puts it, seems like such a modern perspective, as if there were a core of principles that he actually holds; as if he simply is less inclined than the average person to do what he knows is the right thing to do. But I have always thought of GWB as rather a postmodern individual of the nihilistic variety, who isn't particularly principled to begin with. I know this makes me sound like a paranoid lefty, but consider what Marshall's essay would have looked like if he began from that premise, rather than the assumption that GWB actually has a moral framework that he just doesn't bother to live up to. I mean, GWB never claimed that lying a country into war was a bad thing. That was the rest of us, saying something we never thought we'd actually have to spell out.

The only reason I make this point is that it seems that by placing GWB on a continuum with other people who actually hold principles that they succeed or fail to live up to in varying degrees, may not actually make any sense and may not be useful in understanding him. However, understanding GWB would be a purely academic exercise, and honestly I am not that curious. Josh Marshall's way makes more sense in beating him this November!


Wednesday, August 18, 2004

Female soldiers, second class citizens 

It's the law of the land, but apparently not for our ACSBlog: women in combat:
In 1995, the newly-controlled Republican Congress reinstituted a ban previously lifted by Clinton which denies servicewomen at U.S. military hospitals from obtaining abortions. The sole exceptions to this ban are those to save a woman’s life or to end pregnancies resulting from rape or incest. Legislators have tried several times to amend the law, most recently in May, when Congress rejected a proposal to permit military facilities to provide abortions on request to patients who were willing to pay for them.

Further, female soldiers in Iraq were reportedly warned of “harsh punishment” for becoming pregnant in violation of a no-sex rule, which existed in combat zones during the earlier part of this year, explained Beth Eby, an Army warrant officer who was stationed in Baghdad and had her e-mail correspondence to her parents published in the local Roanoke Times and World News. Curiously, there was no discussion of disciplinary action against the men that impregnated such women, and Eby recounted incidents of servicewomen giving themselves abortions in “unclean” environments in order to avoid being discharged.


Sunday, August 15, 2004

Letter to the Des Moines Register 

I am writing to respond to a letter to the editor from August 14, by [stupid idiot], which makes dangerously poor claims about the prevention of HIV. [Stupid idiot] claimed that abstinence alone has reduced Uganda's infection rates. But according to the United Nations, Uganda's HIV prevention program is a multifaceted, aggressive public education effort that highlights abstinence, and also encourages getting tested, using condoms, and speaking openly about how HIV is transmitted. [Stupid idiot] claimed that abstinence pledge programs work, but research shows that while teens in abstinence pledge programs delay having sex, they are ultimately less likely than others to practice safe sex. [Stupid idiot] claimed that condoms fail to prevent HIV transmission. But the CDC says that condoms are 98-100% effective in preventing HIV transmission when used correctly. With something as serious as HIV/AIDS, everyone should be given ALL the information they need to protect themselves.


Saturday, August 14, 2004

More macho posturing 

But somehow I like it better when it's coming from our side. Senator Tom Harkin criticized Bush's backdoor draft and called Cheney a coward, as reported by the Des Moines Register.
Those of us who served and those of us who went in the military don't like it when someone like a Dick Cheney comes out and he wants to be tough. Yeah, he'll be tough. He'll be tough with somebody else's blood, somebody else's kids. But not when it was his turn to go.'


Women to the rescue 

In Najaf, they are forming a human chain around the temple.
"We are a group of 500 women, many of whom are young students, and we plan to go tonight to Najaf and be part of a large human chain that we will form surrounding the shrine and also Sadr,' said 20-year-old Rajaa Khayum, a resident of Sadr City, the Shiite stronghold of northeast Baghdad.

Dressed in a traditional abaya, Khayum said hundreds of Sadr supporters would leave in groups Friday evening and participate in the holy war, but in a peaceful way.

'We do not have arms, but our bodies will be armour for the Imam Ali shrine and Sadr. We will take the bullets of the Americans and are ready to die martyrs for our religion and its son, Moqtada.'"
Most global conflict has to do with women's bodies, when it comes down to it. In Iran, even professional women donned the chador to support the Ayatollahs in opposition to Western Imperialism, and then were repaid with an oppressive regime that knocked them back a hundred years. In Afghanistan, the traffic of women is at the root of the tribal warlord economy. To further American Imperialism, the U.S. supported "freedom fighters" like Osama Bin Laden, who opposed Russian communism primarily because forced marriage and selling women into marriage was outlawed. Furthermore, we didn't do anything to intervene on behalf of women while under the boot of the Taliban until it incidentally occurred while we were blowing up the Taliban for other reasons.

Now, women come to the rescue of a Shiite Imam, because even though he probably will oppress them when he has a chance, he's a better bet than the American oppressors. I support their efforts to protect their holy sites and leaders. I hope someday I will be able to say the same about women all over the world, without the certainty that eventually these same women will have to oppose these same leaders in order to gain access to basic human rights.


Friday, August 13, 2004

Down, but not out 

The California Supreme Court ruled that all those wonderful marriages in San Francisco were invalid, but
Throughout the day and across the city, numbness was replaced by what many described as a determination to continue to fight for the rights of gays and lesbians.
I guess I knew this wouldn't be easy, but still it hurts my heart.

In February, the world watched the most positive series of events in years, as they unfolded in San Francisco. It was a bright month, in a sea of dark times. Thanks for reminding me of our potential.


Matthews lost his place at the 'thug convention 

Chris Matthews laid into the swiftvets with a vengeance, concluding:
Well, I‘ve already heard enough that [Kerry's] done more than I ever did for my country and a lot more than anybody else....and more than the president.

Chris, don't fly in any small planes, and hope you have something else to keep you busy during the 'thug convention.


At least, blame Rummy 

Gail Sheehy asks
How is it that civilians in a hijacked plane were able to communicate with their loved ones, grasp a totally new kind of enemy and weaponry and act to defend the nation's Capitol, yet the president had 'communication problems' on Air Force One and the nation's defense chief didn't know what was going on until the horror was all over?
Good question.

Let the resignations begin! [cricket...cricket]


Thursday, August 12, 2004

Letter to the Washington Post 

The Post contributed to the run-up to war (Kurtz, 8/12). The consequences in lost lives and opportunities are so great our grandchildren will be paying for it, should the world survive this debacle. Let the resignations begin!


(I didn't know how to express the [crickets chirping] sound that is so easily expressable on the internet)


Wednesday, August 11, 2004

When Hate Comes to Town, update 

Here is how the Des Moines Register reported Cheney's visit. Note the little bit at the end:
NEWS CONFERENCE: Two dozen Des Moines-area Democrats criticized Bush's attention to the economy and health-care costs at a news conference at a union hall next door to the Cheney event after it ended.

Call me a member of the Des Moines Two Dozen.


Tuesday, August 10, 2004

When hate comes to town 

Cheney was in town today, giving a speech at my racquet club. The only way I know about this is because I got caught in the traffic waiting for his cortege to go by. There were cops and special forces and people dressed in fatigues and stuff like that, up and down the street. Also there was this terrible pall that descended from the heavens, an air of godly accusation.

I was on my way to the little bitty Kerry-Edwards rally that a few Iowa Democrats put together last minute over at the IBEW Hall next door. We sprinkled some holy water on the racquet club and went home.


Mamas, don't let your babies grow up to be cowboys 

Since adults can't seem to get riled up about terra, they're going to start working on our kids.
The Homeland Security Department is enlisting allies in its effort to prepare the nation for another terrorist attack: your kids and your boss.

Starting next month, children in grades 4 though 8 and employers nationwide will be asked to help get families and companies better prepared to respond to a crisis.

In schools, on the Internet and in TV and radio ads, youngsters will be introduced to a new Homeland Security mascot: a dog (an American shepherd) that will be named in a contest. The campaign, using the dog and a set of Ad Council advertisements, will encourage families to develop an emergency plan and talk about where kids should go, who will pick them up and how they will make contact.
I have mixed feelings about this. I have my FEMA instructions all printed out and ready to be followed whenever I get a weekend free to dwell on things like terra, terra, and more terra. My good intentions have not prepared my family for disaster. On the other hand, I don't want my babies involved. I want to teach them about community and peace, not survival skills.
Mamas, don't let your babies grow up to be cowboys
Don't let 'em pick guitars or drive them old trucks
Let 'em be doctors and lawyers and such
Mamas, don't let your babies grow up to be cowboys
'Cause they'll never stay home and they're always alone
Even with someone they love
In the face of danger, real or perceived, we scrabble against the hardwrought darkness, shake metal shavings of fright from our sweaters. Stubborn they hang like glitter in the winter sky. Fear causes us to fold in on ourselves, only communicating with others to shout at them. A terrorized world is a lonely world.

September is "National Preparedness Month," which incidentally will be announced not on September 1, but very close the the GOP convention, on September 9. Bob Harris writes,
The idea, obviously, is to throw a large amount of focus, possibly for weeks on end, on the only issue on which Bush outpolls Kerry. And of course this will come on the heels of the GOP convention. So where the Democrats' post-convention media got blitzed with terror warnings based on years-old intelligence, the Republicans' afterglow might well be favorably extended, implied message being:

"Why, with George Bush and enough shovels, we'll all be just fine."
Our tipster said something I want to share:
Those of us who actually work on this sort of thing, in addition to wondering what the other 35 months since 9/11 have been, are of course not thrilled that this is so obviously politicized.
What's real and what's politics? The towers did come down. The Pentagon did get hit. Thousands of Americans did die. But the real and the perceived come together. Our cowboy policies have caused more people to hate us and want to kill us than ever before. We are under constant threat of attack. We ourselves cannot stand to be frightened forever; eventually fear turns to anger. I feel a brewing civil unrest, as the administration flaunts their undemocratic ways in our faces, and dares us to speak truth to power.

I got a call from someone at Iowa Kerry headquarters saying there will be a rally today at noon. I'm going down there to be with my compatriots, standing firm against the terrorists in the White House. I'm a little old to start being a cowboy, but I'm gonna do what it takes to keep my babies from it.


Sunday, August 08, 2004

I told her not to invite him 

Ahmed Chalabi, top center, was Laura Bush's special guest at El Presidente's SOTU address in January. Now he's on Iraq's most wanted list.
Iraq has issued arrest warrants for Ahmad Chalabi, a former Governing Council member with strong U.S. ties, on counterfeiting charges, and for his nephew Salem Chalabi — head of the tribunal trying Saddam Hussein — on murder charges, Iraq's chief investigating judge said Sunday.
In Washington, the Bush administration had no comment about the charges against the Chalabis. "This is a matter for the Iraqi authorities to resolve and they are taking steps to do so," White House spokeswoman Suzy DeFrancis.


Friday, August 06, 2004

Dumb Broad Award 

Goes to Katherine Harris, you know, the woman who fixed the election in Florida and was rewarded with a seat in Congress. As you know by now, she flat out lied about a foiled terrorist plot to blow up a power grid in Indiana, and she boasted that 100 other terrorist threats had been thwarted since 9/11. Here's the thing, when men like AssKKKroft are stupid idiots, we don't hold it against all men. But when a woman like this one is a stupid idiot, she makes the rest of us look bad. Women have a hard enough time getting elected without fucking Katherine Harris.


Thursday, August 05, 2004

Born in the U.S.A. 

Okay, now I feel good to be an American, again. Thanks, Bruce!
It is through the truthful exercising of the best of human qualities - respect for others, honesty about ourselves, faith in our ideals - that we come to life in God's eyes. It is how our soul, as a nation and as individuals, is revealed. Our American government has strayed too far from American values. It is time to move forward. The country we carry in our hearts is waiting.

(I'm sure hoping to go to one of these concerts when they swing through Iowa. I can stand to see Springsteen again. After all, it's my civic duty!)


Wednesday, August 04, 2004

"When I grow up..." 

According to my 3-year old, Gordo:
When I grow up, I'm gonna be a pomado...I'm gonna be a pomado and knock things down. I'm gonna knock things down so then I can fix them.

When I get done bein' a pomado, I'm gonna be a dog AND a cat. And when I get done bein' a cat, I'm gonna drive a tractor.
Editor's note: pomado=tornado
My kid's got a shot at the presidency, whadya think?


Monday, August 02, 2004

Over-enthusiastic law enforcers and their women, chapter gazillion 

Give a manly man an excuse, any excuse at all. A Chinese businesswoman on vacation at Niagara Falls was "beaten so badly that her eyes are swollen shut and her face appears a sickly black and blue"
Officer Robert Rhodes is accused of throwing the 37-year-old gym equipment saleswoman against a wall, kneeing her in the head and striking her head on the ground. Rhodes, 43, was charged with violating Zhao's civil rights and faces 10 years in prison if convicted. He reportedly said he thought Zhao was with a man from whom officers had just confiscated marijuana.
For many Chinese, the attack confirmed their nightmares of foreign travel and raised concerns about the safety of Chinese nationals living abroad, especially in the United States. Some also say that the attack of a woman by a male police officer illustrates the image of the United States as an international bully.

I'll say.


Sunday, August 01, 2004

Last women inmates released from Abu Ghraib 

According to Army News Service, dated July 30, 2004.


GOP dirty stupid tricks 

The displays of faux outrage are wearing thin. If you don't understand this was satire, then you are stupid.
Vilsack's column only came to light because when Gov. Tom Vilsack was being considered for vice president, some opposition researcher for the GOP dug through all the stuff Christie Vilsack wrote back when she was a journalism teacher and he was mayor of Mount Pleasant. It was being held in reserve in case the governor was chosen for the vice-presidential nomination. After he was passed over in favor of John Edwards, the GOP obviously didn't want to waste the morsel, so it was given to the Herald as a little tweak of the Democrats.

This year, American voters are mad as hell and we're not gonna take it anymore. You may as well stop trying because you look stupid and pathetic.


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