Saturday, September 30, 2006

The Curse of Complexity

It has been a disastrous week for my country. Two days before it recessed, the Congress passed a statue legalizing torture. At least nine Senate Democrats voted in favor of the bill. Shame, shame, shame. In a hurried few moments, and for purely political reasons, they overturned two hundred and thirty years of moral clarity. Not one Democratic Senator would launch a filibuster. Some in Congress spoke against the bill and then voted for it!

And, the most damning event of all, America just sighed and went on about its business. Nobody seems to give a damn.

Just like the children of Lebanon who were massacred by Israeli jets and helicopters (for a poignant article see here; h/t to MarkFromIreland), this momentous event has already begun to drift off into the mists of history, if that.

Complexity. There has been much written about this subject in the scientific literature. One of the areas that is so fascinating is the ability (or inability, so to speak) of humans to grasp the kinetics of simultaneous events. Let me give you an example: consider a forest that has a population of mountain lions and deer. If you told someone that there were one hundred deer and 20 mountain lions, and the lions killed 5 deer a month, most people could figure out that after a month the deer population would be zip.

What happens when you start putting other, kinetic, variables into the mix? What if lions reproduce at 5 lions per hundred and deer at 20 deer per hundred per year? What if lions are killed by 2 lions per 50 by hunters every three months? Could you figure this out in your head? Could you map out how many deer and lions were present after a year?

It turns out, as the people who created a nifty computer program called Stella have found, that humans are very poor at juggling changing events.

Is it no wonder that America is completely overwhelmed by Lebanon, Gaza, Iraq, Darfur, the Pope, Tony Blair, a new Prime minister of Japan, you name it? In addition to things like Iraq, Katrina and just trying to live? It is just not possible to think about all these things at once.

This is why Karl Rove and his constantly shouting "terror, terror, terror" is such a successful strategy. It was the same with Hitler and Jews. In a complex world, people will gravitate toward anything that is persistent. After a while, they come to actually depend on this stimulus. The Administration of George W. Bush would fall apart in a minute if there was an end to terrorism. In fact, Rove would invent it if he had to (and the latest ballyhoo is in large part an invention since it has been five full years since the last attack.)

Democratic Government was made for much simpler times. Times when individual citizens could grasp the complexities of the world and vote accordingly. Now we must depend on our surrogates, the politicians. By choice or necessity, they have been almost totally corrupted by the need for money to get elected. It is doubtful if they behave in our interests except in the rare case that they coincide. It is also doubtful that this situation will ever show substantive change. Human nature is built into genes and genes need millennia to mutate. We don't have millennia.

I wish I wasn't so pessimistic about all of this, but this week has been an eye opener. Even if the Democrats win the election, we still have been a country that voted for torture. We might as well hang up our hats and cash in our chips or any other euphemism you might want to employ. We have lost our virginity.

Friday, September 29, 2006

Thursday, September 28, 2006

What we are becoming

If John Kerry feels this way:
Let me be clear about something—something that it seems few people are willing to say. This bill permits torture. It gives the President the discretion to interpret the meaning and application of the Geneva Conventions. No matter how much well-intended United States Senators would like to believe otherwise, it gives an Administration that lobbied for torture just what it wanted.
Why the hell doesn't he filibuster this bill?

Many bloggers have weighed in on this and I agree. When this bill passes both houses of Congress and is sent to the President, we will be a changed country. We will not be able to retrieve that banner that we have held since 1776. We will no longer be the brightest star in the sky. We will have experienced Original Sin with no redeemer in the offing.

We might say along with T.S. Eliot:
This is the way the world ends
This is the way the world ends
This is the way the world ends
Not with a bang but a whimper.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Mammary Alert!

From here:
Art Teacher Loses Job After Kids See Nude Sculpture
Children Were On School-Approved Field Trip

FRISCO, Texas -- An award-winning Texas art teacher who was reprimanded after one of her fifth-grade students saw a nude sculpture during a trip to a museum has lost her job.

The school board in Frisco has voted not to renew Sydney McGee's contract after 28 years. She has been on administrative leave.

The teacher took her students on an approved field trip to a Dallas museum, and now some parents are upset.
First of all, who lives in Frisco! I thought it was a shortening. A friend of mine upbraided me once for being tacky because I told her "I left my heart in Frisco."

Its not like these kids have never seen a breast. For crying out loud, they were looking at them with desire and glee for the first six months of life. Talk about oogling.

You would think they would have asked about the arms, not the mammaries.

Janet Jackson would be proud. So would Miss October.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

The Blue Eyed Girl gets the Dump

(she once was blue eyed, see below)

From First Draft:
People involved in Florida politics say they've never seen anything like it: Deep in her campaign for U.S. Senate, Katherine Harris, is all but shunned by her party. On President Bush's recent trip, she was pointedly avoided and was not invited to travel to another GOP event with the president on Air Force One.
I mean, this was the lady that almost single handedly put the Boy King in the White House:
Katherine Harris was immortalized at 7:30pm on 26 November 2000. In a live press conference carried worldwide by CNN, Florida's 5'4" Secretary of State finally got to declare: "In accordance with the laws of the State of Florida, I hereby declare Governor George W. Bush the winner of Florida's 25 electoral votes for the President of the United States."
I mean, I have no love for Katherine Harris, but isn't this a little sophomoric? But, I forgot. This is a guy that likes to blow up frogs and brand butts with a fraternity sign. Next he'll be having a toga party in the West Wing with Condi.

Ole Blue Eyes Once Upon a Time

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Letter to the Editor

To the Editor:

Torture is morally wrong. Of this there can be no doubt. Yet, just this week, George W. Bush has submitted legislation to Congress, via the Republican majority, that will allow “aggressive interrogation,” a euphemism that includes treatment the World considers torture.

Do not take my word for it. In an editorial on Friday, 22 Sept. 2006, The Washington Post said:

“ The bad news is that Mr. Bush, as he made clear yesterday, intends to continue using the CIA to secretly detain and abuse certain terrorist suspects. He will do so by issuing his own interpretation of the Geneva Conventions in an executive order and by relying on questionable Justice Department opinions that authorize such practices as exposing prisoners to hypothermia and prolonged sleep deprivation.”
Torture is morally wrong. It depraves those who practice it. You may wave your hands and jump up and down shouting “terrorism” all you want, it cannot be made acceptable. Now it may become the official policy of the United States. Shame.
We survived and triumphed in two World Wars and did not have to resort to torture though it was used extensively by our enemies. There is only one chance that this catastrophe can be averted, and that will be if Democratic Senators can launch and sustain a filibuster. We should support our Senators in this task. Our moral clarity depends upon it.

Women and Children

It happens every day:
Baghdad, Iraq - A fiery explosion tore through a line of people waiting to buy fuel Saturday and killed at least 38 people, mainly women and children, continuing the wave of tit-for-tat sectarian killings that have defied U.S. efforts to stanch the bloodshed.

The horrific blast sent women engulfed in flames screaming through the streets. Two preteen girls embraced each other as they burned to death, witnesses said. Later, wailing mourners thronged the scene of the blast, which was strewn with the shoes of victims and a woman's bloodied cloak, and voiced doubt that the reprisal violence would ever end.(emphasis added)
It is just not possible for this to go on any longer. I thought it was not possible to go on any longer years ago. I'm not a very good prophet.

Oh, the article continues:
By midafternoon, the street where the explosion took place was still littered with abandoned yellow, red and blue jerrycans. Bits of flesh flecked the muddy ground, and blood pooled in front of Um Ali's home, left by a woman who clutched her infant child as she bled from a wound in her neck.

"She mumbled some words incoherently," said Um Ali, 40. "Then she fell at my doorstep and died."
No sane person with a speck of decency can let this go on. There must be immediate political change in the United States, the prime cause of the carnage. How, though, I don't know.

The Bowels of Rhetoric

Is this man dangerous or is he made of straw? I'd say the latter. But what should disturb you is that the rumbling train of discourse has certainly jumped the tracks. Read on from here:
"It has been one of the most shrill displays of anti-Americanism in recent years," noted one Security Council envoy, referring to the Chavez and Ahmadinejad double-act. Nile Gardiner, of the Heritage Foundation, said: "This is a huge public diplomacy challenge, but also a strategic threat." He called the Chavez Devil invocation "the strongest attack from any foreign leader on US soil in decades". (emphasis added)
Now I ask you, how on earth is Hugo Chavez mouthing off at the UN a strategic threat? Perhaps his Foreign Minister had stolen state secrets and that was why he was detained, and strip searched when leaving the U.S., in violation of every diplomatic protocol in existence.

If it was this guy spouting off I would be a little more worried:

Saturday, September 23, 2006

Two Reasons to Vote Democrat

Somehow this child's pain just doesn't seem to sink in.

Five doctors; five teachers; five farmers; and five career soldiers

Friday, September 22, 2006

Friday Crab Blogging

Blast from the past (no new crabs this week; end of summer)


Update Below

It is quite likely that we have reached the crux of our political life as a Nation. Apparently, certain Republican Senators, including Senator McCain, reached an agreement with George Bush regarding a bill which will allow a number of things that many of us consider completely intolerable. The President will be allowed to continue to use torture in secret prisions on those prisoners suspected of being terrorists (whatever that means these days).

But, don't take my word for it. An editorial in the Washington Post is pretty straightforward (for a change) saying:
In short, it's hard to credit the statement by Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) yesterday that "there's no doubt that the integrity and letter and spirit of the Geneva Conventions have been preserved." In effect, the agreement means that U.S. violations of international human rights law can continue as long as Mr. Bush is president, with Congress's tacit assent. If they do, America's standing in the world will continue to suffer, as will the fight against terrorism. (emphasis added)
Since, after the election the House may be revert do Democratic control, this bill will be pushed through the Senate and the House, through the conference Committee, and then voted on by both Chambers, within the next week! This will complete the certification process for Rogue State that Mr. Bush has been working towards for so long.

What is reasonable, let alone what is moral, has been shoved aside in favor of short term political gain. Namely, Bush's War on Terror, a War that has no true battle in 5 years, may yet tip the scales in the mid term elections.

We will be a Nation that tortures. And, because we are a democracy, you and I will share the responsibility. No matter that our leaders are mentally deranged. Those us of who are not, still bear the same burden.

God help us.

Update.: I have called both of my Senators and my Representative. Neither Senator seems to have any interest in this issue (one "hadn't developed a response" as if responding to torture was difficult) and all the Representative's spokesperson wanted was my address so they could send me campaign literature. Crimminy!

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Statistics, Cold Grey Statistics

From Juan Cole:
The United Nations, which has access to statistics from Iraqi morgues and the Ministery of Health, reported that 6,599 persons were killed in political violence in Iraq in July and August--a 13% increase over the previous two months.
Please note that this is over twice the number of people killed in the World Trade Center attack. Yet fearless leader wants to continue pouring lives and money into this infinitely sad place.

Can't resist this

Oliphant had this cartoon today:

Every time we try and go downtown these days we get blocked by the black SUV's of these idiots dining out. I guess they think that mixing with the proles is something the royalty should do, now and again. I wonder if they get all that protection after they are out of office (2 years max, just think about it).

I'm waiting for Dick "The Hunter" Cheney to blow somebody else's head off this year.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Dream Team

Just think what the world would be like if we had President Clinton and Vice President Gore?

Friends; what would we do without them?

Glenn Greenwald picked up on this but I found something more interesting than he:
Canadian Was Falsely Accused, Panel Says
After Tip From Ally, U.S. Sent Muslim to Syria for Questioning
Arar, now 36, was detained by U.S. authorities as he changed planes in New York on Sept. 26, 2002. He was held for questioning for 12 days, then flown by jet to Jordan and driven to Syria. He was beaten, forced to confess to having trained in Afghanistan -- where he never has been -- and then kept in a coffin-size dungeon for 10 months before he was released, the Canadian inquiry commission found. (emphasis added)
Syria. Syria? Why I thought that:
Defiant Bush assails Iran, Syria at U.N
Bush said Syria's leaders had made their country "a crossroads for terrorism" and told Syrians: "In your midst, Hamas and Hizbollah are working to destabilise the region, and your government is turning your country into a tool of Iran."
Tool of who?

You just can't make this shit up.

Monday, September 18, 2006

What a Yo Yo. A Dangerous Yo Yo

From here:
01/08/06 "" -- -- John Yoo publicly argued there is no law that could prevent the President from ordering the torture of a child of a suspect in custody – including by crushing that child’s testicles. (emphasis added)
That's this guy:
John Choon Yoo (born 1967), a professor of Law at the University of California, Berkeley School of Law (Boalt Hall). A Korean-born American, he is best known for his work from 2001 to 2003 in the United States Justice Department's Office of Legal Counsel.

He contributed to the PATRIOT Act and wrote controversial memos in which he advocated the possible legality of torture and that enemy combatants could be denied protection under the Geneva Convention as a means of diminishing legal challenges regarding war crimes
I feel like I'm watching a grade B movie. You can't make shit like this up. This is the man who has set the moral tone for the Bush Administration.

Torture is morally wrong. Why is this such a difficult concept to get through the idiot brain of John Yoo and his enablers in the White House?

Sunday, September 17, 2006

Answering a Critique

Recently I was taken to task by an occasional reader for being overly emotional about the Israeli excursion into Lebanon and its effect on children. The commentator felt that this resulted in a lack of critical thinking on my part. I’d like to respond to that accusation.

Of course I have no way of proving that my critical thinking has been clouded by my deep revulsion of the slaughter of innocents that occurred in Lebanon and continues to occur in Gaza and Iraq. Of course I am aware that the same slaughter has occurred throughout history, in particular in the Nazi concentration camps of WWII. But the slaughter in Iraq, Lebanon and Gaza are different, for me, because they are either directly the result of intervention by the U.S., or have occurred with our acquiescence in the case of Israel. The hypocrisy of mourning the 3,000 dead in the World Trade Center from five years ago while not doing so for the 1,000 dead in Lebanon and the continuing carnage in Gaza has not escaped me. As for Iraq, the daily death toll is horrendous. As Juan Cole reports, the police found 48 bodies in Baghdad on Saturday. Many of these had been tortured and executed.

This just does not seem to phase us, even though we in the U.S. are ultimately responsible for this horror. When people die for useless reasons (not disease or old age), I get upset. When children die for useless reasons, I go ballistic. Call it emotional if you wish, but it is not acceptable.

It is not sufficient to say that these deaths were perpetrated by terrorists or radical extremists. It is certainly not sufficient to say that Hizbollah is responsible for the deaths of children because they provoked Israel to attack. THAT is a lack of critical thinking. I have no desire to rehash the stupidities that have gotten my country into the mess it is in the midEast. But we have made a big mess of Iraq, and our unalloyed support of Israel may yet lead to the ultimate disaster, nuclear weapon use either by Israel or ourselves in an attack on Iran. (Isn’t it interesting that the democratically elected head of Iraq, that we have bragged so much about, is now on intimate terms with the President of Iran and has also condemned Israel for its Lebanon attack. Isn’t it interesting that the is a Shiite.)

I felt, up until recently, that I belonged to a democracy. I also believed, since it was instilled into me from the cradle, that being an American meant that I was exceptional. That somehow we came equipped from birth with a set of morals that would always, through the democratic process, triumph over any temporary civil or political evil. You may castigate the youth of the 60’s and 70’s as hippies, radicals and druggies. They did get us out of the Vietnam War. And they got us out for the right reason: it was immoral. We took some hits in Vietnam, particularly our mind and body scarred Veterans. Those young men “born on the fourth of July” who still carry the mental weight of the jungle. (It would be another whole blurb on what the scars of Iraq may mean in the future, if we have a future.)

So, up until recently I felt that, even though I didn’t vote for the bastards that have created the quagmire of Iraq, I still held responsibility. As for the disaster that is Israel, I confess to cowardice in the face of the threat of the antiSemitism label. I have also worked at institutions and departments that were dominated by Jews and to speak one’s mind was to suffer marginalization at best and termination in the future. Israel is a foreign country and we should be allowed to criticize it for its errors just as we can criticize America. That’s what a democracy is all about. To fall into the trap of political correctness with respect to Zionism is the same as political correctness with respect to any other “ism.”

But now, all is different. We have a President that is out of control by the electorate. He is potting war against Iran, when only Congress can declare War. He desires to torture prisoners even though he denies that we do so. He holds prisoners in secret detention (14,000 by today’s account) in flagrant violation of the most basic of human rights. He does these things, impeachable in the old days, plus many, many more that rub against the grain of the majority of Americans. And he gets away with it.

So, pardon me if my posts on this blog offend your sensibilities. I have no intention of changing. That is the good thing about blogs, you don’t have to read them if you don’t want to. There is no test in the morning.

Saturday, September 16, 2006

All the News....

Astronauts allowed

extra hour of sleep

"We've been very, very busy so the chance to sleep in was very much appreciated," rookie astronaut Heidimarie Stefanyshyn-Piper said during a news conference from space.
Isn't that nice.



Friday, September 15, 2006

Can you believe it?

A Defining Moment for America
The president goes to Capitol Hill to lobby for torture.

Do you believe that this is an editorial in the Washington Post? One of the most prestigious newspapers in the World. I mean, the President of the United State lobbying for torture!

At some point we have to agree that the man is losing his grip on reality. He must be removed from power. We can't wait two years. This leaves only one solution: Impeachment

God help us.

Friday Crab Blogging

Thursday, September 14, 2006

When Propaganda is Effective

So, a mother comes in and says to me, "Do you know what my son said the other day?" and of course I said "No."

"He said 'Remember that bumper sticker Dr. C. had on his car last year?' " (This was a vote for Kerry one)

"Mom, that man is a liar. He shot himself in the foot to get a purple heart!"

The moral of the story is that the "Swift Boaters" were successful to a far greater degree than they could ever realize. Embedded in our culture is a false meme that will not ever go away. No matter what we say to this child, he will grow up thinking that Kerry is a liar.

Ken Melman and the Republican National Committe is getting ready to do the same thing to a number of good, honest men and women this Fall. We are such chickens that we won't stand up to him.

Its sad how countries come apart.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Are We Really at War?

I have been increasingly struck by the virulent chant that I hear every day from the politicos that "We are at War!" I confess to a certain level of ignorance about things, but, you know, War is a pretty basic staple of humanity. In fact, it probably preceded the development of language (at least for us lepers who believe in evolution.) Some feel that the capacity for violence is in our genes. I guess it does have a certain survival advantage.

But War since time immemorial has meant the clash of armies. Or, at least, it has meant the clash of organized groups. It is very difficult to see how 19 men on three hijacked planes can be construed as an Army. Furthermore, until we royally screwed it up, these men represented only a handful of others in the mountains of Afghanistan. There is ample evidence that Al Qaida was not associated with groups in Iraq (Saddam Hussein was secular and the majority of Iraqi are Shiites; Bin Laden is a Saudi and closer to being a Sunni). Even now there are probably not more than several thousand Al Qaida in the world. Now, of course, there are a lot more in sympathy with them, due to our idiocy. Still, not by any means an army.

Those of us that came of age in the 40's and 50's remember war as something entirely different. Even after WWII ended in 1945, we played the battles out for many years. On the playground and in the theater, with bats for rifles and John Wayne to lead the charge (yes, we were little jingoists.) We lived through Korea and Vietnam. Some of us even fought.

So what is this "War on Terrrrror?" There has been only one battle and that was by a platoon of men who didn't fight anybody. The 3,000 casualties, as tragic as the event was, were simply collateral damage. Not one shot was fired from our side. And, to be honest, we have fired very few shots in the five years since. There hasn't been another clash of significance. Yes, you can say Madrid and London. But, the death toll on a single day in Baghdad and Lebanon and Gaza dwarfs those two events. We call Iraq a War but no one is sure who we are fighting.

This incessant use of "War" and statements like Gringrich's "Third (or was it Fourth) World War" are just asinine. This is not "War," it is "Politics by other means" (to borrow from Clausewitz).

What has been done is to debase our language. And when that happens, no one can communicate. What if we really did have a War? What would we say then? What if our experience is more like the IDF's in Lebanon than the "cakewalk" that wasn't Iraq?

A lot of us are basing our hopes on a Democratic victory in November. But what if the political landscape has been so debased that even a Democratic majority in the House, and possibly the Senate, can't function because the very basis of discourse has been so corrupted by the Rovians that it makes government impossible?

We should really worry.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Tell me again, what exactly IS a War Crime?

And what do you do when they brag about it?
Last update - 14:20 12/09/2006
IDF commander: We fired more than a million cluster bombs in Lebanon

By Meron Rappaport

"What we did was insane and monstrous, we covered entire towns in cluster bombs," the head of an IDF rocket unit in Lebanon said regarding the use of cluster bombs and phosphorous shells during the war.

Quoting his battalion commander, the rocket unit head stated that the IDF fired around 1,800 cluster bombs, containing over 1.2 million cluster bomblets.

In addition, soldiers in IDF artillery units testified that the army used phosphorous shells during the war, widely forbidden by international law. According to their claims, the vast majority of said explosive ordinance was fired in the final 10 days of the war. (emphasis added)
Phosphorous is very bad stuff. If you remember, the United States used phosphorus to universal praise condemnation in its attack on Falluja (certain similarities to the IDF Lebanon campaign; first world weapons against a rag tag militia.) Oh, but wait, we didn't really do bad:
Col Venable denied that white phosphorous constituted a banned chemical weapon.

White phosphorus is an incendiary weapon, not a chemical weapon. (Furthermore) Washington is not a signatory to an international treaty restricting the use of the substance against civilians.
So there! But:
The US-led assault on Falluja - a stronghold of the Sunni insurgency west of Baghdad - displaced most of the city's 300,000 population and left many of its buildings destroyed.
Damn, the IDF beat us. They displaced at least 1,000,000. Guiness take note.

But that's not all from our pals in the IDF:
The rocket unit commander stated that Multiple Launch Rocket System (MLRS) platforms were heavily used in spite of the fact that they were known to be highly inaccurate.

MLRS is a track or tire carried mobile rocket launching platform, capable of firing a very high volume of mostly unguided munitions. The basic rocket fired by the platform is unguided and imprecise, with a range of about 32 kilometers. The rockets are designed to burst into sub-munitions at a planned altitude in order to blanket enemy army and personnel on the ground with smaller explosive rounds. (emphasis added)
what was that about precision bombing? What? Can't hear you...

(h/t Angry Arab)

Sunday, September 10, 2006

Hello, America, HELLO!!

In case you didn't notice, the Poodle is in meltdown phase. You see, Britain is not like America (and I just don't mean that they have a completely inexplicable game called Cricket, or their obscure language). Apparently, and anyone of you who wants to correct me please jump in, the Prime Minister is 'selected' by the party, the one that won the last election in the House of Commons. (Of course, he or she (Iron Ladies only need apply) must be 'confirmed' (formally appointed) by the Queen (or King, or Princess Diane, whoever)), but still, theirs is no Divine Right of Prime Ministership. They can get rid of their leader! Its messy, but, you know, it has a certain amount of wisdom.

Don't you wish we didn't have to wait two years?

What the ramifications of having Tony Blair tossed out on his ear will be on American politcs is anyone's bet. I would think that it would not be good for the Cheney Administration.

The Not O.K. Corral

"You see, we WENT there, but Osama didn't show." Therefore, we won!

P.S. Dickey Boy was ready with his shot gun.

Children of War

9/11, 9/11, 9/11, ad nauseum.

Stuck in behind all this crap is a sad video at (comes up on Yahoo news) called "Children of War". Children who were burned by Israeli missile attacks on their houses are still recovering. The psychological trauma is for life.

Remember, we did this to them.

Friday, September 08, 2006

Eyeless in Gaza

An Israeli bulldozer levels the hearths and homes, orchards and fields of Gaza. A Palestinian woman confronts the beast.

Poor Gaza, it never gets a break:
The title of Aldous Huxley's 1955 novel, "Eyeless in Gaza," alludes to the Biblical story of Samson, who revealed to Delilah the secret of his strength - his hair - and was betrayed to his enemies the Philistines. (one wonders who has been betrayed to who these days. drc)
In an excellent article in the online Independent ('Gaza is a jail. Nobody is allowed to leave. We are all starving now'), Patrick Cockburn reviews the sorry state of affairs. It is hard to believe that Israel, and its enabler in chief, the United States, could do such things to anyone, let alone over a million people, a high percentage of whom are children:
Gaza is dying. The Israeli siege of the Palestinian enclave is so tight that its people are on the edge of starvation. Here on the shores of the Mediterranean a great tragedy is taking place that is being ignored because the world's attention has been diverted by wars in Lebanon and Iraq.

A whole society is being destroyed. There are 1.5 million Palestinians imprisoned in the most heavily populated area in the world. Israel has stopped all trade. It has even forbidden fishermen to go far from the shore so they wade into the surf to try vainly to catch fish with hand-thrown nets.
the Israeli army "has been rampaging through Gaza - there's no other word to describe it - killing and demolishing, bombing and shelling, indiscriminately"
We sit idly by, watching that ignoramus Katie Couric blather on. What will our children think of us if they ever learn we permitted this to happen? Oh, say the winds, "they are all terrorists anyway, especially the children," and that is supposed to make it o.k. While a few miles away in Israel:

At the heart of Eilat, where crystal clear Red Sea and the desert mountains meet stands the Hilton Eilat Queen of Sheba. Situated in a prime position on the sea front, in an environment of sea, sand and endless sun, Eilat enjoys a perfect year round climate and is Israel's favourite holiday resort (emphasis added).

How can they/we live with ourselves?

Friday Crab Blogging

News Break, American Evangelist to Visit Iran

American religious leader Jerry Falwell, the highest-ranking American cleric to visit the Iran since the 1979 seizure of the U.S. Embassy in Tehran, arrives there tomorrow to deliver an address at the Central Mosque, a high point of his closely watched two-week Iranian tour.

Ahmadinejad administration officials insist Mr. Falwell's trip is a private visit and that he will not meet with any Iranian government officials while in Teheran. Some Iranian officials welcomed this outreach of Mr. Falwell noting that it was consistent with the message of Jesus Christ (tpbwh)*.

Others in Teheran were not so happy with the visit. There was a demonstration outside the mosque where Mr. Falwell spoke with chants of "Fat Satan Go Home" and "Death to the Poo Bah."

*the Prophet be with him (presumably in Heaven, but one is unsure whether it is a Christian or Muslim heaven)

Thursday, September 07, 2006

The Not Death of Irony

"In addition to the terrorists held at Guantanamo, a small number of suspected terrorist leaders and operatives captured during the war have been held and questioned outside the United States in a separate program operated by the Central Intelligence Agency," said Bush.

Since then it’s been decreed that the sun is highest at one o’clock.”
“Who decreed that?”
“The Soviet government.”

(That is, we now have Gulags after railing against the Union formerly known as Soviet for 50 years about their incarceration policy. You may disagree with me, but I think that anyone accused of a crime deserves the right to have a fair and open trial and be judged by his or her peers. Wait, isn't that in our Constitution? Have we become Romans restricting our rights to white, rich Americans?)

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Then and Now

Glen Greenwald reminds us that George Bush said this back in a presidental debate in 2000:
"I'm worried about overcommitting our military around the world. I want to be judicious in its use. . . . It needs to be in our vital interest, the mission needs to be clear, and the exit strategy obvious."
"And so I don't think our troops ought to be used for what's called nation-building. I think our troops ought to be used to fight and win war."
In very many ways, particularly with regard to foreign policy, George W. Bush has done an 180 degree turn. Unfortunately, he continues in the same old ways domestically, ignoring the poor and rewarding his rich friends with no contest contracts and tax breaks. This is the epitome of cronyism.

It is one thing to go down the tube if you can't prevent it. But if the American public votes for these guys in November, they have absolutely no excuse for what is going to befall them in the next two years.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

The Question

Glenn Greenwald once again puts The Question into succinct form:
There may (or may not) be an argument to make that we should view terrorist attacks on Israel as attacks on the U.S. There may (or may not) be an argument to make that because Israel is an ally of ours, we should be willing to wage war against countries which sponsor terrorist attacks on them, or that our commitment to "spreading democracy" requires us to come to their defense. Maybe there is an argument to make that our interests are so inextricably linked that we cannot distinguish between terrorist groups directed at Israel and those directed at the U.S. But if those are valid arguments, they should be made explicitly and clearly, without the type of misleading obfuscation which this Strategy report, along with administration statements on this subject, clearly intend to create. (emphasis added)
We are a nation of 300 million. There are approximately 300 million Arabs surrounding Israel in the middle East. On the other hand, Israel has only six million residents (some are Arab). A larger war in the midEast will most likely result in millions of deaths from both sides.

Given these numbers, is it in our best interests to continue to give unqualified support to Israel? Even it Israel wages war on Syria and Iran? Even if Israel uses nuclear weapons?

It is my belief that this Question is no longer hypothetical. It is at ground zero. We had best think it through before we start firing off the missiles. Oh, by the way, Europe, Russia and China, in addition to India and Pakistan would like to have a say in this.

Israel is a foreign country. We behave as if we are connected to Israel at the hip. An attack on Israel is not an attack on our country. As for any moral responsibility to defend Israel, it is my belief that the behavior of Israel towards its neighbors and the people it forcibly expelled from Palestine substantially reduces our responsibility to come to Israel's support. Already, we give them many billions of dollars (of my tax money) when our own poor languish in New Orleans. Many of the decisions in this area are made not because of strategic concerns for the health of the United States (how could a nuclear war in the midEast help us?) but because of a political agenda at home. (We do not need to revisit the question of the Israel lobby at this time.)

In a way, we should welcome this new report. In spite of the fact that it answers few questions, it does bring forward The Question. I have no optimism that it will be addressed.


In anticipation of the November elections, the White House published a new report today, "National Strategy for Combating Terrorism." Amongst other morsels in this document, Glenn Grenwald points us to:
The Strategy report notes that "The United States currently designates five state sponsors of terrorism: Iran, Syria, Sudan, North Korea, and Cuba." (emphasis added)
Cuba? Cuba! Cuba?????!!!!

When is the last time Cuba invaded another country and destroyed its infrastructure. Yes, Cuba was involved in Angola, and was engaged in supporting revolution in South America (often against quasi-fascist dictators). But most of that was from the 1960's. We're talking almost 50 years ago. (Of course Rummy dragged up 1939 the other day. Quoting History is the last recourse of scoundrels.)

If there was no better example of the terribly derelict state of our government it is including Cuba in a list of terrorist states simply to appeal to Cuban exile voters in south Florida, most of whom were born in the United States.

(Oh, and Cuba has an excellent health system, though it could use some more cash. They even tried to send doctors to New Orleans last year. They cared more about poor Americans than the Boy King.)

Hey, man, surfs up!

And then there is this:
Citing an "unpublished opinion of the [Attorney General's] Office of Legal Counsel," the Secretary of Labor's Administrative Review Board has ruled federal employees may no longer pursue whistleblower claims under the Clean Water Act. The opinion invoked the ancient doctrine of sovereign immunity which is based on the old English legal maxim that "The King Can Do No Wrong." It is an absolute defense to any legal action unless the "sovereign" consents to be sued. (emphasis added)
Rather a surfer than a:

Sunday, September 03, 2006

Lebanon - Forgotten?

No, I haven't forgotten Lebanon. For me, personally, it was not one more disaster for children, it was the epitome of disasters (though I realize that the death toll for children in the Iraq boondoggle is very much higher, one estimate 1-1/2 years ago estimated civilian casualties at 100,000, mostly women and children, "Air strikes from coalition forces accounted for most of the deaths.")

It also showed me that children have an enemy in our midst, those supporters of Israel who condoned the destruction of Lebanon. Before anyone rolls out that old canard about anti-Semitism, let me once again remind you that the Lebanese are Semites, I would dare say many in the Bekha valley have a greater claim on being so that those who migrated to Israel from Europe, Russia and the U.S., and, more importantly, it doesn't mean a damn thing. If anything, what happened to Jews in Nazi Germany (and numerically more Poles, Russians, Gypsies, dissidents, etc. etc. etc.) should direct our sympathies towards Lebanese children, who certainly didn't chose to be killed by civilian directed bombing or malicious cluster bombs.

As Billmon points out, even religious leaders in the West have ganged up on these children:
Following a solidarity mission to Israel last week, leaders of the Rabbinical Council of America issued a statement prodding the Israeli military to review its policy of taking pains to spare the lives of innocent civilians, in light of HezbollahĂ‚’s tactic of hiding its fighters and weaponry among Lebanese civilians. Because Hezbollah "puts Israeli men and women at extraordinary risk of life and limb through unconscionably using their own civilians, hospitals, ambulances, mosques… as human shields, cannon fodder, and weapons of asymmetric warfare" the rabbinical council said in a statement, "we believe that Judaism would neither require nor permit a Jewish soldier to sacrifice himself in order to save deliberately endangered enemy civilians."
Do you know disingenuous, Mr. Rabbi's?
Civilian Israeli:
39 dead (of which 18 were Israeli Arabs.
+ 4 died of heart attacks during rocket bombardments.
On the other hand:
Civilian Lebanese:
1,600 dead
3,600 wounded.
1 million displaced
Oh, and one IDF soldier was an American Citizen!

So, both in Iraq and Lebanon, I, as an American citizen, am complicit in the murder of thousands upon thousands of children. And, I have sat here wringing my hands and not doing anything about it.

Sheepishly we remember that condemnation of the German people that was so common in the 50's and 60's for "not doing something" about the Nazi concentration camps. We are all responsible for this slaughter and will live to regret it.

Of all the pictures, this one haunts me the most:

Saturday, September 02, 2006

The Shortest Boy in the World

One Year Ago Today

One year ago today Our Dear Leader told those dying of hunger and thirst in New Orleans not to break into stores (from here):
"There ought to be zero tolerance of people breaking the law during an emergency such as this," Bush said in an interview on ABC's "Good Morning America."

"If people need water and food, we're going to do everything we can to get them water and food," Bush added. "It's very important for the citizens in all affected areas to take personal responsibility and assume a kind of a civic sense of responsibility so that the situation doesn't get out of hand, so people don't exploit the vulnerable." (emphasis added)
In other words, don't break into that grocery store to get that water and DIE if you have to. Why, breaking in to get food and water is to "exploit the vulnerable." Who, exactly, are the vulnerable in this scenario?

Is there some law that says Irony increases in direct proportion to Inanity?


And he continues on in his mad spiral downwards. The odds of a "terrist" attack before the election continue to go up. They are now over 100 to 1. And damnit, I feel absolutely helpless.

Friday, September 01, 2006

New on the Blog Roll

Please welcome the resident pundit of the Growlery to the Blog Roll. Pretty cool stuff.

(One is not sure who is higher up (or down) the totem pole: a curmudgeon or a growler; we report, you decide)

Friday Crab Blogging

Guest appearance by the FROG BLOG