Friday, July 16, 2004

Et Tu, Fukuyama?  

The end of the end of history:
Fukuyama began to distance himself from the administration during the aftermath of the September 11 attacks. The tension between the two came to a head prior to the invasion of Iraq. Fukuyama opposed the war.

Fukuyama is still angry at the Bush administration since they refuse to admit to the mistakes they have made. Fukuyama had warned that after the war, Iraq would be dragged into an internal conflict and would export terror to the world.

Fukuyama said that because of those reasons he could not vote for Bush in the upcoming elections.
Hmm, the Republican Party is beginning more and more to resemble an earlier party.

Political Hate Speech  

Kerry=bin Laden meme, officially GOP now:
he Louisville Kentucky Republican party (specifically, the Jefferson County Republican Party) is handing out signs that read "Kerry is bin Laden's Man/Bush is My Man...

When I pressed Richardson on whether or not his party organization was distributing it, he acknowledged that they probably were handing it out on their campaign literature tables at recent events. And if it was being handed out, "I make no apologies for it."

"I think it's funny how the truth not only can be amusing but also make a point," Richardson went on. "Why wouldn't Kerry be bin Laden's man? Bush certainly isn't bin Laden's man.""

Allawi: A Hands On Do It Yourself Kinduva Guy  

Nice to know human rights are in good hands:
Iyad Allawi, the new Prime Minister of Iraq, pulled a pistol and executed as many as six suspected insurgents at a Baghdad police station, just days before Washington handed control of the country to his interim government, according to two people who allege they witnessed the killings.

They say the prisoners - handcuffed and blindfolded - were lined up against a wall in a courtyard adjacent to the maximum-security cell block in which they were held at the Al-Amariyah security centre, in the city's south-western suburbs.

They say Dr Allawi told onlookers the victims had each killed as many as 50 Iraqis and they "deserved worse than death".

The Prime Minister's office has denied the entirety of the witness accounts in a written statement to the Herald, saying Dr Allawi had never visited the centre and he did not carry a gun.

But the informants told the Herald that Dr Allawi shot each young man in the head as about a dozen Iraqi policemen and four Americans from the Prime Minister's personal security team watched in stunned silence.

Iraq's Interior Minister, Falah al-Naqib, is said to have looked on and congratulated him when the job was done. Mr al-Naqib's office has issued a verbal denial.

The names of three of the alleged victims have been obtained by the Herald.

Chaos In Iraq  

Juan Cole:
Wire services report that 32 Iraqis died in violence on Thursday.

Guerrillas assassinated the chief of security for the Iraqi foreign ministry as he and colleagues traveled north from Baghdad toward Kirkuk. Two other officials were injured, as their car was sprayed by machine gun fire from a grey Opel about 110 km. north of the capital.

The resistance in Haditha, a city northwest of Baghdad, detonated a car bomb at the police station, killing 10 Iraqi policemen and wounding 40 other persons, including more than five police. (-Al-Hayat).

In Kirkuk, guerrillas aiming mortar fire at a police station overshot and hit a civilian dwelling, killing four members of the family that lived there, including three children. The oil pipeline between Kirkuk and Ceyhun in Turkey was sabotaged with an explosion, stopping exports from that route.

Two guerrillas who appear to have been planning to detonate a car bomb at the Bulgarian garrison near Karbala accidentally set off the bombs prematurely, killing themselves...

Robert Fisk reports on a wave of assassinations of Iraqi academics, over a dozen of whom have been assassinated in recent months.

A headless body believed to be that of a Bulgarian hostage was found on Thursday.

Interim Prime Minister Allawi announced that he was going to create a new secret police, raising alarums among some Iraqis who had suffered at the hands of Saddam's secret police and who had been hoping that the new Iraq would only have ordinary police.

Question For The New York Times  

Does Judy Miller still have a job there?
Congress would never have given President Bush a blank check for military action if it had known that there was no real evidence that Iraq was likely to provide aid to terrorists or was capable of inflicting grave damage on our country or our allies. Many politicians who voted to authorize the war still refuse to admit that they made a mistake. But they did. And even though this page came down against the invasion, we regret now that we didn't do more to challenge the president's assumptions.

Jeopardy Answer: It "Proves" That Corrupt Liberals Have Taken Over America  

Why would the Republicans pursue a doomed anti-marriage amendment strategy when other legislative would have certainly succeeded?
...[W]hat culture war offensive isn't doomed to failure from the start? Indeed, the inevitability of defeat seems to be a critical element of the melodrama, on issues from school prayer to evolution and even abortion.

Failure on the cultural front serves to magnify the outrage felt by conservative true believers; it mobilizes the base. Failure sharpens the distinctions between conservatives and liberals. Failure allows for endless grandstanding without any real-world consequences that might upset more moderate Republicans or the party's all-important corporate wing. You might even say that grand and garish defeat — especially if accompanied by the ridicule of the sophisticated — is the culture warrior's very object.

The issue is all-important; the issue is incapable of being won. Only when the battle is defined this way can it achieve the desired results, have its magical polarizing effect. Only with a proposed constitutional amendment could the legalistic, cavilling Democrats be counted on to vote "no," and only with an offensive so blunt and so sweeping could the universal hostility of the press be secured.

Losing is prima facie evidence that the basic conservative claim is true: that the country is run by liberals; that the world is unfair; that the majority is persecuted by a sinister elite. And that therefore you, my red-state friend, had better get out there and vote as if your civilization depended on it.
Written by Thomas Frank, the author of What's the Matter with Kansas?

Wednesday, July 14, 2004

Gwynne Dyer Gets It  

I've been saying this for years:
[W]hy does almost all public discussion in the U.S. about the goals of the Islamist terrorists assume that they are driven by hatred for the domestic political and social arrangements of Americans? Because most Americans cannot imagine foreigners NOT being interested in the way they do things, let alone using the U.S. as a tool to pursue other goals entirely.

Public debate in the United States generally assumes that America is the only true home of democracy and freedom, and that other people and countries are pro-American or anti-American because they support or reject those ideals. Practically nobody on the rest of the planet would recognize this picture, but it is the only one most Americans are shown — and it has major foreign policy implications.

This is what enables President George W. Bush to explain away why the United States was attacked with the simple phrase, "They hate our freedoms," and to avoid any discussion that delves into the impact of American foreign policy in the Middle East on Arab and Muslim attitudes toward the United States. It also blinds most Americans to the nature of the strategic game that their country has been tricked into playing a role in.

So once more, with feeling: the 9/11 attacks were not aimed at American values, which are of no interest to the Islamists one way or another. They were an operation that was broadly intended to raise the profile of the Islamists in the Muslim world, but they had the further quite specific goal of luring the United States into invading Muslim countries.

The true goal of the Islamists is to come to power in Muslim countries, and their problem until recently was that they could not win over enough local people to make their revolutions happen. Getting the U.S. to march into the Muslim world in pursuit of the terrorists was a potentially promising stratagem, since an invasion should produce endless images of American soldiers killing and humiliating Muslims. That might finally push enough people into the arms of the Islamists to get their stalled revolutions off the ground.

Bush Still Trying To Deny Millions Overtime  

But they'll fight like crazy to keep gays from marrying:
Revised changes to overtime rules proposed by the Bush administration will still fail to protect overtime pay for 6 million workers, according to a new study.

The Bush Administration issued proposed changes to overtime rules last year, but then revised them in March after criticism from some labor groups.

The original proposal would have stripped overtime protection for 8 million workers, according to the Economic Policy Institute (EPI), which studies issues affecting middle- and lower-income workers and receives funding from some labor groups.

But the revisions would still strip OT pay for about 6 million workers, EPI said in a study released Tuesday.

Chaos In Iraq  

While the Senate was screwing around with hate amendments, a car bomb in Baghdad killed at least 10 and the Mosul governor was killed in an ambush.

Senate Vote Blocks Effort to Ban Gay-Marriage in Constitution  

Good. One of the most cynical, and disgraceful, initiatives I can remember. But:
"This is the start," Dr. Frist said on Tuesday. "And it's not going to be over tomorrow. We'll be back in the future."
We'll see about that, Senator. You may just get booted out at your next election.

Quick Responses to Matthew d'Ancona  

Despite the fact that he resorts to typical rightwing rhetorical fallacies to distract from his logical failures Matthew D'ancona's piece in the Daily Telegraph is one of the more interesting attempts to discredit Moore. The problem, D'ancona argues, is not Moore's facts, but that he misses the real point of the war:
[Moore] has done much to nurture the delusion that the war is simply the folly of a deranged President and his greedy acolytes, rather than a deeply-rooted global crisis and the defining challenge of our time. At precisely the moment that the horizons of Western electorates should be broadening, they are narrowing dangerously. The debate has grown perilously introspective: on both sides of the Atlantic, the war on terror is in danger of becoming just another sub-category of domestic politics.

Moore is the most powerful spokesman of the myth that gripped the Spanish people when they elected Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero as their Prime Minister in the wake of the Madrid bombing: namely, that if we oust specific politicians from office - replace Bush with Kerry, Blair with Brown - the Islamic fundamentalists will leave us alone [Straw Man Alert: no one serious ever argued that a new government would eliminate the problem of terrorism in Spain]. It is, of course, psychologically reassuring for voters to be told that they have this power, that there is something quick and clean they can do about their collective predicament. But it is also a fantasy. The theocratic guerrillas of al-Qaeda and its associates who, it emerged last week, were planning to bomb a British primary school in Madrid and, on Friday, promised fresh attacks in Europe, will not be appeased by any number of political scalps. Their ambitions for the world are much greater and more terrifying.
He sums this argument up:
He is the grizzled face of a culture in denial, the contrarian voice of the millions who would rather hate Dubya than confront the awesome threat that stalks our age.
What is this "awesome threat" precisely? D'ancona's not entirely clear but if he thinks it's what he calls "Islamic fundamentalism" (radical Islamism is a better term) he is woefully mistaken.

Yes, the bin Ladenists, the Wahabbists and their ilk are a very serious and very dangerous problem. But the truly awesome threat that stalks our age is widespread cultural parochialism.

When they assumed leadership of Afghanistan, the Taliban leaders had little experience of the outside world beyond their villages. When he assumed the presidency, George W. Bush had little experience of the outside world beyond Texas. A radical Jewish "settler" in the West Bank is so morally blind that he can't recognize the sufferings his fanaticism inflicts on his neighbors. A Palestinian suicide bomber, intent on reaching paradise, thinks nothing about the innocent children he will slaughter as he seeks union with God.

Would that the problem was as simple as bin Laden's evil and we're not so we gotta fight him until he's exterminated. As evil as bin Laden might be, as saintly as Don Rumsfeld surely is to himself, the problem is far greater than deranged sheikhs and deluded Dons. It lies in our awareness and understanding of the cultural Other.

To grapple with that kind of problem requires a policy much more sophisticated than the latest crude bludgeons cooked up at AEI. As a start, we need to abandon short-sighted and foolish formulations like the ones d'Ancona proposes and develop more nuanced, layered responses to the dangers of ignorance, nationalism, bigotry, and xenophobia.

Tuesday, July 13, 2004


Go now, watch, and make your bet!

Sunday, July 11, 2004

One More Firing For Telling The Truth  

Ex-chief of Park Police denounces firing:
WASHINGTON (CNN) -- One day after she was fired, former U.S. Park Police Chief Teresa Chambers accused the Bush administration Saturday of silencing dissenting views in the rank and file.

Chambers' departure may not garner the same spotlight as those of former counterterrorism expert Richard Clarke and former Treasury Secretary Paul O'Neill, but it appears to fall into a similar category: officials who leave or are forced out after questioning Bush administration policies...

"The American people should be afraid of this kind of silencing of professionals in any field," she said. "We should be very concerned as American citizens that people who are experts in their field either can't speak up, or, as we're seeing now in the parks service, won't speak up."

National Park Service officials said Chambers broke rules barring public comment about budget discussions and prohibiting lobbying by someone in her position.

Chambers said she did nothing wrong except argue for adequate funding for the Park Police, which falls under NPS authority -- and perhaps fail to understand that she was required to "toe the party line."

"I came from outside and was naive about federal agencies," she said. "I had no idea that's what they wanted me to do. I really believed that's what they wanted, for me to be frank with them."...

In an affidavit filed in her effort to be reinstated, Chambers said her troubles with the bureaucrats in the park service and the Interior Department began with budget processing in 2003.

"Each time I would sound [the alarm] just a little louder," she said, "but always internally. It culminated with the notice I put on the director of the park service ... that we have problems."

In that November 28 memo, Chambers wrote that the budget crisis put new hires in doubt, potentially bringing the Park Police staff to its lowest level since 1987, and seriously undermined her officers' ability to protect the "icons."

"My professional judgment, based upon 27 years of police service, six years as chief of police, and countless interactions with police professionals across the country, is that we are at a staffing and resource crisis in the United States Park Police -- a crisis that, if allowed to continue, will almost surely result in the loss of life or the destruction of one of our nation's most valued symbols of freedom and democracy," she wrote.

A week earlier, Chambers had spoken with a Washington Post reporter about the budget shortfalls, and the article appeared December 2. Three days later, the chief was on administrative leave.

Chambers said her story effectively put a chill on National Park superintendents who were facing their own shortfalls. She said she has spoken with current officials who know the situation but fear for their jobs.

According to the Coalition of Concerned National Park Service Retirees, a group of more than 250 former NPS officials, the Interior Department sent out memos to park superintendents to make further reductions -- and "to mislead the news media and public about the service cuts in order to avoid ... 'public controversy.'"

One of the memos suggested "service level adjustments" including closing the parks' visitors centers on federal holidays, eliminating guided tours, closing the visitors centers two days a week and closing them for an entire season.

The memo argues against discussing the situation with the media, then adds that "if you feel you must inform the public through a press release," refer to "service level adjustments" rather than "cuts."

The cuts rip into services. Everglades National Park, for example, cut ranger-led education programs from 115 per week to fewer than 40; Death Valley National Park cut staff, leaving ancient rock art unprotected; and Great Smoky Mountains -- the nation's most-visited park -- has cut all seasonal hires for this year.

Had This Only Happened In 2000  

Fla. Tosses Felon List:
Florida elections officials said Saturday they would not use a disputed list of people believed to be convicted felons to purge voter rolls, acknowledging a flaw that kept some Hispanic felons off the list and could have allowed them to vote.

The glitch in a state that President Bush won by a margin of just 537 votes could have been significant - Hispanics in Florida have tended to vote Republican more than Hispanics nationally. The list had about 28,000 Democrats and around 9,500 Republicans, with most of the rest unaffiliated.

The problem in compiling the list was unintentional and unforeseen, said Nicole de Lara, a spokeswoman for Secretary of State Glenda Hood.
Of course it was unintentional. I totally believe that.

Classified Abu Ghraib Report Material Leaked  

Digby draws our attention to this headline and story:U.S. News obtains all classified annexes to the Taguba report on Abu Ghraib (7/9/04) Folks these are not just prison horrors. These are White House horrors:
The most comprehensive view yet of what went wrong at Iraq's Abu Ghraib prison, based on a review of all 106 classified annexes to the report of Major General Antonio Taguba, shows abuses were facilitated--and likely encouraged--by a chaotic and dangerous environment made worse by constant pressure from Washington to squeeze intelligence from detainees.

Daily life at Abu Ghraib, the documents show, included riots, prisoner escapes, shootings, corrupt Iraqi guards, filthy conditions, sexual misbehavior, bug-infested food, prisoner beatings and humiliations, and almost-daily mortar shellings from Iraqi insurgents. Troubles inside the prison were made worse still by a military command structure that was hopelessly broken...

...the 5,000 pages of classified files in the annexes to [General Taguba's] report show that military intelligence officers -dispatched to Abu Ghraib by the top commander in Iraq, Lt. Gen. Ricardo Sanchez -were intimately involved in some of the interrogation tactics widely viewed as abusive.

Col. Henry Nelson, an Air Force psychiatrist who prepared a report for Taguba on Abu Ghraib, described it as a "new psychological battlefield," and detailed the nature of the challenge faced by the Americans working in the overcrowded prison. "These detainees are male and female, young and old," Nelson wrote; "they may be innocent, may have high intelligence value, or may be terrorists or criminals. No matter who they are, if they are at Abu Ghraib, they are remanded in deplorable, dangerous living conditions, as are soldiers..."

Weak leadership in the prison meant soldiers couldn't accomplish basic tasks, like feed their detainees, much less find someone to prosecute abuse. And without a clear chain of authority, some soldiers just ran wild. "One of the tower guards was shooting prisoners with lead balls and slingshot," a company commander testified...

The most serious riot, at Camp Vigilant, took place on the night of November 23 when guards shot and killed four detainees. "The prisoners were marching and yelling, 'Down with Bush,' and 'Bush is bad,'" another Army review said. "They became violent and started throwing rocks at the guards, both in the towers and at the rovers around the wire..." Guards feared for their lives "the sky was black with rocks," the report saidand a mass breakout appeared imminent...

Detainees walked around in knee-deep mud, "defecating and urinating all over the compounds," said Capt. James Jones, commander of the 229th MP Battalion. "I don't know how there's not rioting every day," he testified.

Among the more shocking exchanges revealed in the Taguba classified annexes are a series of E-mails sent by Major David Dinenna of the 320th MP Battalion. The E-mails, sent in October and November to Major William Green of the 800th MP Brigade, and copied to the higher chain of command, show a quixotic attempt to simply get the detainees at Abu Graib edible food. Dinenna pressed repeatedly for food that wouldn't make prisoners vomit. He criticized the private food contractor for shorting the facility on hundreds of meals a day, and for providing food containing bugs, rats, and dirt...

"Who is making the charges that there is dirt, bugs or what ever in the food?," Major Green replied in an E-mail. "If it is the prisoners I would take it with a grain of salt." Dinenna shot back: "Our MPs, Medics and field surgeon can easily identify bugs, rats, and dirt, and they did." Ultimately, the food contract was not renewed, an Army spokeswoman says, although the contractor holds other contracts with the military. [Hmm... wonder who that contractor could be? Three guesses, and the all start with "H."]

Some officers told Taguba's staff that they believed the Abu Ghraib mess had its roots in an earlier case at the Camp Bucca detention center in southern Iraq last summer. The Army developed evidence that MPs viciously attacked prisoners there, including one who had his face smashed in. Four soldiers were given less than honorable discharges, but were not prosecuted. Said one major who worked at Abu Ghraib: "I'm convinced that what happened [at Abu Ghraib] would never have happened if" the Camp Bucca case had been prosecuted.
So much for the seven bad apples defense.

Four US marines killed in Iraq  

Four US marines killed in Iraq:
Four US marines have died in a road accident while on patrol in the restive province of Anbar, western Iraq, according to the US military.

The soldiers were members of the 1st Marine Expeditionary Force.

The accident reportedly took place near the Sunni-dominated city of Falluja, scene of fierce clashes between US soldiers and Iraqi insurgents in April.

Nearly 900 US soldiers have died in action and in accidents since the start of the campaign in Iraq last year.

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