Friday, July 08, 2005


Uh oh.

The Brits are bringing in the po-lice to investigate yesterday's bombing.

It's been my impression that conservatives don't want this war on terra being thought of as a police type action, with laws and courts and stuff.

Conservatives, as Mr. Rove recently noted, wanna bomb shit. The only way to deal with the terrorists is with the fist.

So I'm sure once the munchkins at LGF and Powerline get a whiff of this there'll be no more "we're all Brits now" talk.

But it does raise the problem of what we're supposed to do in response to this, and perhaps future attacks, since I think we've just about bombed or invaded everybody we can for now. Sullivan says he's anxious for his old native country to "roar". But as Digby asks, "roar" at what? And where? And how?

That's the problem with shock and awe. You really only get one or at most two times to whip it out. Then it becomes expended. And whatever you do next is going to look decidedly wimpy, so pre-911.

I wonder if the project for a new american century and the other moral clarifiers have thought about this. What's next in the till?

The Daily Word

From a commenter at Hughes for America:

For good or ill -- and each passing day it seems to be for ill, I am sad to say -- it is the media and other powers that be that shape our thinking and our outlook on the world.

On days like today and in the days to come, we are constantly being conditioned to think of western, Christian lives as being more valuable than the lives of the rest of the habitants of the world.

It is no wonder there is a constant and possibly never-ending war going on between these worlds. It is a clash of cultures, and a conflict between the haves and have nots.

I can only hope that we will be able to regard the casualties of all innocent civilians as equally tragic, newsworthy and the object of our contant condemnation.

John McGowan:

As Tony Blair said it today: We will not allow violence to change our societies and our values. How we will send our message? By imposing our will on theirs. We shall prevail and they shall not. Their initiatory act of violence calls forth our responding acts of violence.

What differentiates our violence from theirs? Three things: 1) our aims are moral; theirs are not; 2) they kill innocent people; we do not; and 3) their actions are gratuitous; ours are necessary. (Lurking behind all three is the old schoolboy standard: he started it.)


You cannot preserve a way of life through violence; once you take up arms, kiss your old way of life good-bye. The attacks of September 11th did change America, not through what the terrorists did, but through what we did in response.


But, at least, pacifism calls our attention to the fact that violence, to say the least, is a very uncertain means to accomplish anything. So if the end is something we care about deeply, we will be well advised to consider other means. Violence has a nasty habit of proving indiscriminate in its destruction.


I turn now from pacifism's pragmatism (the focus on instrumentality) to what I think of as its realism. Of course, in matters of violence, the manly rhetoric of determination, will, prevailing, and necessity is considered realistic and is opposed to the namby-pamby, pie-in-the-sky idealism of the pacifist who refuses to face facts.

I beg to differ.

The most abiding lesson I have learned in the four years since September 11th is the persistent inability of humans--as a species? Who knows? But certainly in many instances--to call a spade a spade. The rhetorics of violence divert our attention away from the maimed and suffering and dead bodies that are violence's most real product.

Think of the ways that sacrifice and victory were deployed in Bush's recent speech about the Iraq War. Was there any connection offered between these terms and the dead bodies our war is producing daily? Pacifism calls us to the fact that violence means killing and maiming; it means inflicting physical harm and pain on humans. It tells us to be suspicious, very suspicious, of the words in which we cloak violence, in which we justify it, and in which we avoid apprehending its real effects on the ground. Get real.

By jumping away to the message violence sends about our resolve or to the desired results we imagine it will produce, we cultivate a blindness that renders our claims to be realists delusionary.

Pacifism also calls us to get real about the justificatory distinctions made between innocent and non-innocent victims. Ever since the Blitz of 1940, warfare has pretty much obliterated the distinction between combatants and non-combatants.


To think that our violence can be so surgical that only the non-innocent will feel its brunt is another delusion, one that the Pentagon has developed a whole new vocabulary to create and preserve.

I guess I must add here, since liberals are so often willfully misunderstood on this score, that I condemn and abhor todays bombings. I am only saying that pacifism has some very solid reasons for saying that once you begin making distinctions between 'good' violence and 'bad' violence, or between 'acceptable' violence and 'criminal' violence, or between 'surgical' violence and 'indiscriminate' violence, the consequences, more often than not, are lamentable, and the rhetorics deployed to make those distinctions prove a means for not even seeing the consequences.

Pacifism's realism also extends to a candid look at the joy humans can take in destruction. Since violence has proven so unreliable throughout history, our attraction to it can't be simply its instrumental efficacy. Push aside the rhetorics of necessity and/or of moralism and it's not hard to see the glee of the teenager who throws a brick through a plate glass window or the child who stomps on the sand castle.

The last four years have also taught me how bourgeois I am. I love the life that I have constructed painstakingly over fifty years and the people with whom I share that life. I am enormously grateful to the peace and stability that has made that act of construction possible and that makes its continuation likely. Contempt for all things bourgeois runs deep within modernity from both the right and the left. Having thrown my lot in with the arts early in life, I have gone through my own anti-bourgeois phases. And, even today, my understanding of the bourgeois virtues is carefully distanced from the ethos of capitalism. I will spare you an articulation of my bourgeois loyalties at this time and place.

The current point is that, for many, peace is boring, constraining, complex, and frustrating. They accept gleefully the opportunity to flee domesticity and the difficulties of getting along with others. (Much of the frustration on the ground in Iraq is that it is a political war, really more a policing action than combat, the kind of action for which our soldiers are poorly trained and equipped. Many of them would feel a whole lot better if it was no-holds-barred, shoot-em-up simple.)

Politicians love making those resolve speeches. It offers them their Churchillian moment and puts the messy compromises of politics and the entangling details of enacting policy on the back burner. Violence as destruction offers a clear field for action.

Pacifism asks us to cast a cold eye on this human capacity to take joy in violence, irrespective of its consequences or its legitimacy. We need to devise ways to push a leash on or divert such capacities and we should be wary of the high-minded or instrumental rhetorics that often mask a love of violence for its simplicity and the heady sense of vitality it affords.

An Inauspicious Start

I was a little worried that yesterday's bomb attacks in London might disuade the radio militia's crusade of truth tour.

But my worries appear to have been for naught because it looks like the gang has embarked to its first destination--central command headquarters in Tampa, FL, where it looks like they spent their first night in rather plush surroundings.

Nonetheless, yesterday's attacks in London did get me to thinking again, not just about the infamous "fly paper" strategy advanced by the administration and its shoe-shiners in the press, but also about the whole "we will go after the states that sponsor terrorism" rhetoric that was unvailed after 911.

Because while the argument has a certain logic to it, it also seems obvious that America's attacks on Afghanistan and Iraq have not produced stable states in either. In the former, if the U.S. military was in control, it would undoubtedly be able to locate Osama bin Forgotten, where he is likely hiding out (we certainly can't assume he's in Pakistan or else we would be required to make the same demands of our man in Islamabad that we made of the Taliban before we invaded their country), in the latter, the American occupation barely controls a walled off section of Baghdad.

So it would seem that not only is the flypaper strategy of "fighting the terrorists over there instead of over here" argument rather lame, but the notion of suppressing terrorism by conquering and controlling the states that sponsor it also seems equally fallacious.

If the strategies of Al Qaeda and its offshoots indicates anything, it is that conventional military responses are not going to address the challenge they present. But paradoxically, because overwhelming conventional military force is precisely the area in which the U.S. enjoys an advantage, it will likely be the case that the "shock and awe" military response is what the U.S. will continue to reach for, at the same time that such a strategy will be what continues to reveal our weakness and continue to inflame the ideals of those who would do us harm.

Which brings us back, in a way, to the right-wing junket mission to Baghdad, where a handful of nationalistic and militaristic shock jocks will be setting up shop for a week. Without, it seems, quite realizing what they're demonstrating, the radio militia will be bunkered down in the Green Zone, under the protection of the military, isolated from the rest of the country we are obstensibly "liberating", and not in contact with any of the natives enduring our "liberation", all the while parroting talk of how "we're winning in Iraq" and in the "global war on terra".

After seven days, the gang will be gathered together and chauffered back to some form of military transport, and returned to the states, to which they will return as equally bamboozled and ready to bamboozle as before. To return to the same audience that already thinks "we're winning" over there.

Thursday, July 07, 2005

Ass Clowns, Thy Names are Paul Harvey and John Gibson

Paul Harvey, who is 86 and senile, but still popular in Christian dominionist, anti-immigrant, and war mongering circles, thinks we should nuke, um, somebody:

So, following the New York disaster (911), we mustered our humanity.

We gave old pals a pass, even though men and money from Saudi Arabia were largely responsible for the devastation of New York and Pennsylvania and our Pentagon.

We called Saudi Arabians our partners against terrorism and we sent men with rifles into Afghanistan and Iraq, and we kept our best weapons in our silos.

Even now we're standing there dying, daring to do nothing decisive, because we've declared ourselves to be better than our terrorist enemies -- more moral, more civilized.
Our image is at stake, we insist.

But we didn't come this far because we're made of sugar candy.

Once upon a time, we elbowed our way onto and across this continent by giving smallpox-infected blankets to Native Americans. That was biological warfare. And we used every other weapon we could get our hands on to grab this land from whomever."

And we grew prosperous. And yes, we greased the skids with the sweat of slaves. So it goes with most great nation-states, which--feeling guilty about their savage pasts--eventually civilize themselves out of business and wind up invaded and ultimately dominated by the lean, hungry up-and-coming who are not made of sugar candy."

Yeah, we should drop the Bomb on, um, Afghanistan. Maybe Saudi Arabia. And Iraq. Yeah that would be good. What an ass-clown.

But Paul Harvey has competition in the race to be top ass-clown.

I give you Big Story John Gibson of Fox "news" (also popular, by the way, with American fascists everywhere):

All day long people have been saying to me, "Wasn't it great they didn't pick Paris?" And I've been saying, "No, no, no."

Paris was exactly the right place to pick and the Olympic committee screwed up.

Why? Simple. It would have been a three-week period where we wouldn't have had to worry about terrorism.

First, the French think they are so good at dealing with the Arab world that they would have gone out and paid every terrorist off. And things would have been calm.

Or another way to look at it is the French are already up to their eyeballs in terrorists. The French hide them in miserable slums, out of sight of the rich people in Paris.

So it would have been a treat, actually, to watch the French dealing with the problem of their own homegrown Islamist terrorists living in France already.

What would the French have done about rounding up their own citizens?

Would they have afforded their own terrorists the rights they insist we give the detainees at Gitmo? Not a chance. They'd throw them in the clink, or ship them off to North Africa pronto.

Would they have blocked terrorists at the border with unreasonable search and seizure ? precisely what they say we should not do? Of course they would. Anybody looking faintly Arab would have had the gendarmerie on them in a flash.

It would have been a delight to have Parisians worried about security instead of New Yorkers. It would have been exquisite to watch.

John Gibson, you ignorant slut.

The president you admire so much says we're different than "them". This morning he said:

On the one hand, we have people here who are working to alleviate poverty, to help rid the world of the pandemic of AIDS, working on ways to have a clean environment. And on the other hand, you've got people killing innocent people. And the contrast couldn't be clearer between the intentions and the hearts of those of us who care deeply about human rights and human liberty, and those who kill -- those who have got such evil in their heart that they will take the lives of innocent folks.

Are you different from "them"? 'Cause you sound a lot like the terrorists you claim to want punished.

But What Will Nancy Say?

If, like me, you've grown sick up and fed with cable tv "news" industry's 24/7 attention to missing white women, missing kids, sex offenders, and Aruba (Greta Van Sustern from Fox "news" has been camped out in Aruba doing her whole show on Natalie Holloway all week) and its refusal or inability to, oh, I don't know, bust their asses and investigate real news, than tonight may be your night.

No, Nancy Grace and Aaron Brown aren't going to morph into real journalists today, but I suspect they may for once have to divert their attention to something out of Bobo America's comfort zone.

Unfortunately, I also suspect that tonight and maybe even the next night's cable "news" coverage will revert back to the immediate post-911 and pre-Iraq invasion days and we'll be bombarded with the usual suspect calls to militantism, nationalism, fear and hate.

Because we don't learn anything.

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

Follow the Lying

The Iraqi debacle claims its first political-punditry casualty. Judy's going to the slammer.

What's that you say? She's not being imprisoned because of her Iraq reporting?

Technically and directly, I suppose that that's true.

But if you follow the lying, you might notice that Judy's departure to jail has its origins in the "yellow cake" mendacity that Ambassador Joe Wilson unearthed and tried to report before our ill-fated war on Iraq, which was followed by the Cheney administration's reprisal against the Ambassador's wife, which has now led to the current Judy saga .

True, Judy's not who should be getting the jail ticket. But it's a start.

"Suckiness Has Reached Absurd Proportions"

But Billmon is a blogger who doesn't suck.

Go read this.

Sending the D-List to the Green Zone

I hope you've had time to look over the list of Green Zone "delegates" the wingnuts are preparing to send over next week (see previous post).

Well, I must say I find the list incredibly disappointing. It is without question the D-List of hate radio/Internets.

Of the seven, only retired colonel "Buzz" Patterson has generated any notoriety.

The rest are bums.

Why can't Moving America Forward-FrontPage offer up some real meat?

I've already mentioned Rush Limbaugh, Michael "Savage" Wiener, and Glenn Beck as suitable representatives. To these I'd like to add:

Michael Medved
Sean Hannity
Bernard Goldberg
L. Brent Bozell III
Michael Reagan
Ann Coulter
Bill O'Reilly
Charles Krauthammer
Bill Bennett
Mark Hyman
Armstrong Williams
Dr. Professor Michael Adams, PhD
"Pastor" Doug Giles
Jonah Goldberg
Dennis Prager
David Bossie

They all love this war. They all think we're winning. And I've heard of them. They should get to go.

All what's this business about them staying only one week? What wussies. They should stay for the duration until we finally, conclusively "win" this war and the one in Afghanistan.

Who's Who on the Baghdad Green Zone "Truth" Tour

After some very hard work, I have uncovered the names of the radio warrior "delegates" who will be flying to Baghdad, Iraq's Green Zone sometime next week to "get the news straight from our troops".

They are:

Melanie Morgan
Howard Kooligian
Mark Williams
"Buzz" Patterson
Martha Zoller
Michael Graham
Brad Maaske

Now, I am sure you are all disappointed, as I am, that Rush Limbaugh is not currently scheduled to be a part of the "tour". And I imagine you may be feeling letdown that Michael "Savage" Weiner won't apparently be making the trip either. And I'll admit I'm disappointed that Glenn Beck isn't joining them as well. I don't know. Seems to me, that if you can sell books, as Limbaugh, Savage, and Beck have, surely you could pony up the bills for the trip over there.

So overall, a pretty depressing list of squawkers. Perhaps others will be added later. You never know. Given the security and anonymity needs of the operation over there, maybe the powers that be don't want to risk reprisals if the names of more prominent folks are identified ahead of time.

It is interesting, however, that the delegates recognize the scope of their mission. If you'll notice, their comments center on talking to the "troops". I didn't get the sense from the MAF webpage or the Fox "news" article, that these radio "journalists" will be doing any talking to actual Iraqis, not to mention, doing any traveling in the Iraqi countryside.

Who knows. Maybe they will give us some fine reports about how the building and securing of the Apartheid-like Green Zone wall is going.

I'm looking forward to it.

Tuesday, July 05, 2005

Happy Iraq

I don't suppose I could have avoided commenting on this.


But I am interested in who exactly is going to be a part of this "delegation".

The Fox "news" piece says that the delegation will consist of "seven to 10 conservative" media people.

Two radio warriors named in the piece were Melanie Morgan and Mark Williams, neither of whom have I ever heard of.

In addition, two "writers" from David Horrorwitless's Frontpagemag will be making the trip. I made a short peruse of the FPM website but didn't see anything on the trip or their association's participation in it.

In any event, the Fox "news" piece goes on to quote from several conservatives who, it seems, don't appear to recognize the irony of what they're saying.

For example, while they claim that the "mainstream media is biased" in their coverage and err by emphasizing the "negative", it turns out that the delegates will have a pretty constricted itinerary while they're there.

They will be broadcasting from U.S Central Command headquarters in Baghdad's Green Zone (search) and will be traveling with the troops daily.


They will be flown from there [Tampa, FL] to Iraq via military transport and will be sleeping in tents inside the secured Green Zone.

So they'll be traveling by "military transport" to Iraq.

If Iraq is doing well, why can't they just take a commercial flight?

So they'll be broadcasting from and sleeping in the Green Zone.

Why can't they broadcast and sleep somewhere else?

If Iraq is doing so well, why can't they just stay at a bed-and-breakfast somewhere?

So they'll be "traveling with the troops".

Why can't they just rent an SUV or a couple of cars and just drive around?

Why couldn't they just pack their own heat and venture off on their own? As right-wingers I imagine they must like and already own an enviable cashe of weaponry.

The dope is, that until people can travel freely in Iraq (even WITHIN the capital city would be nice), than no amount of right-wing propaganda is going to change the fact that conditions in the country are bleak.

Armstrong Williams At It Again: Now Just Making Stuff Up

In their continued rape of American history, more winguttery of what Lincoln supposedly said.

And oh, yeah, Williams flunks math, too.

Republicans Singing a Tune

Not that it will matter much, but before you're tempted to swallow the Republican line about not asking judicial nominees any actual questions, remember this:

Here's Orrin Hatch questioning Ruth Bader Ginsburg back in July 1993 about the death penalty:

"But do you agree with all the current sitting members of the Court that it is constitutional? Is it within the Constitution?"

Indeed, Hatch had berated Ginsberg endlessly trying to get her to pop her Constitutional cherry on offing criminals.


Ginsburg responded that one must never ask a judge how she may vote on a case that might come before her.

Hatch barked back, "But that's not what I asked you. I asked you is it in the Constitution?"

which is precisely what she'd have to judge if she became a Supreme Court justice.

Indeed, when Ginsburg continued to refuse to be drawn into a discussion of whether or not capital punishment is "cruel and unusual," Hatch was exasperated and demanded, "I think you ought to tell us where you really come down."

In other words, a Republican Senator, in the minority, demanded to know how Ginsburg would judge capital punishment cases.

When Republican Senator William Cohen asked Ginsburg about discrimination based on sexual orientation, she again declined to answer because it was a possible case that she may have to decide. Ginsburg was more than willing to talk about decisions she had written, as in her frank discussion of abortion rights and women's rights in general. Cohen also pressed Stephen Breyer in 1994, when Breyer was a nominee, asking him directly for the future justice's personal opinion on the death penalty.

Fox News Gets Ready for War with Iran

I was watching some TV over the weekend and happened by the cable "news" coverage of the finding of that girl in Idaho who had been kidnapped in the aftermath of her family's murder several weeks ago. CNN in particular was all over this story, all the time. Natalie Holloway was pushed aside for the moment.

But there was also a fascinating piece of work over on Fox about the new Iranian president's past. I was hoping to find a transcript of the show on their web site but was unsuccessful.

Anyway, the Fox "news" show's guest claimed that the new Iranian president-elect was essentially a murderer and a terrorist with extensive intellegence training and involvement AND further alleged that Iran had knowledge before-hand about 9-11, even if they weren't complicit in the attacks outright (which the guest seemed to believe).

Now, I realize that the suggestion of Iran being involved in 9-11 may not be an entirely new or strange line of thought, but since the "right" was deadset on establishing Iraq as the vital link to 9-11, it's interest in connecting Iran to that day were less useful.

But maybe now that the U.S. military is bogged down in Iraq, and that Iran is reportedly continuing to pursue the means of fully developing its nuclear power, a new enemy for a new war is being sought. In that case, it would appear Fox "news" is planting the propaganda seeds for such an endeavor should the administration want to take us to war against Tehran as well.

Admittedly I don't watch Fox "news" or any other cable "news" programs regularly if at all, so I don't know how prevalent this attitude towards Iran is, but given Fox's devotion to the administration, I am going to assume that it looks less than fondly or objectively at the remaining Axis of Evil members.

But that the network is trading in allegations of this volatile sort, and especially given the fawning attention the Fox "news" host accorded his guest making them, and given the network's support of, and connection to the administration, I wouldn't take its coverage of Iran or any other supposed "enemy of America" lightly.