Friday, November 30, 2007

Friday Crab Blogging

A blast from the past. Been a slow week in the Bay.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Conventional Wisdom and the Dirty Trick of the Century

Conventional wisdom has it that the "surge" in Irak is "working." That is, the addition of over 30,000 American troops concentrated in regions of Baghdad has resulted in some decrease in violence. Certainly not all violence. There may be only 10 dead bodies found on the street instead of 20. Progress!!

The surge has been accompanied by an extreme regimen of life for the residents of these areas with invasion of the home space by soldiers, interrogations, etc., etc., etc. Not what one would ever call a normal life. I have not seen the opinions of the citizens of Irak concerning the surge. This is strange. After all, it is their cities, villages and land.

I make no mistake, our involvement in Irak will not end soon. I just saw a patient who is shipping out to Irak in the near future.

(On the other hand, when the British, who were experiencing 90% of the violence in Basra withdrew, the violence decreased by 90%. Damn Brits. They must be fixing the intelligence and the facts. Its that dodgey report again.)

The most important aspect of the situation isn't that the surge is working, it is what the Iraki definition of "working" is. The problem for the unfortunate people of Irak is not that they live under a dictatorship (though what's the difference?), it is that the invasion and occupation of their land by American forces has unleashed a Civil War. One can not imagine in any shape, way or form that people who have no control of their lives or their society will be able to go back to a situation that is placid. Our presence in Irak does nothing but increase the likelihood that the Civil War that does come after our exit will be even more cataclysmic than the present situation.

The dirty trick of the surge has created a situation where George W. Bush will simply say: "I tried to give the Iraki people a country and they refused to accept it. Therefore, its not my fault." We tried everything but the patient died, even though we did the operation without informed consent for a non existent disease.

Damn Idiot.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Another Planet - II

A Time to Kill, And a Time to Heal
In his job as an Israeli pediatrician, Yuval saves the lives of Palestinian children. But the father of three also takes Palestinian lives as an attack helicopter pilot patrolling Gaza.

Applying the "Switch" test:
In his job as a Palestinian pediatrician, Yuval saves the lives of Israeli children. But the father of three also takes Israeli lives as an attack helicopter pilot patrolling Jerusalem.

Another Planet

First we have, from the New York Times:
U.S. Scales Back Political Goals for Iraqi Unity

Published: November 25, 2007
WASHINGTON, Nov. 24 — With American military successes outpacing political gains in Iraq, the Bush administration has lowered its expectation of quickly achieving major steps toward unifying the country, including passage of a long-stymied plan to share oil revenues and holding regional elections.

Instead, administration officials say they are focusing their immediate efforts on several more limited but achievable goals in the hope of convincing Iraqis, foreign governments and Americans that progress is being made toward the political breakthroughs that the military campaign of the past 10 months was supposed to promote.
“If we can show progress outside of the security sector alone, that will go a long way to demonstrate that we are in fact on a sustainable path to stability in Iraq,” the senior official said, speaking on condition of anonymity. (emphasis added)

Then we have, from Juan Cole:
Friday, November 23, 2007
Dozens Killed in Bombings, Clashes
3 Mn. Iranian Pilgrims Expected
41% of Jihadis are Saudis

Guerrillas detonated a bomb in a Baghdad pet market on Friday morning at 9 am, killing at least 13 persons and wounding others.

Two important gunbattles were fought in Iraq on Thursday, one southwest of Baghdad and one in the volatile Diyala Province east of Baghdad. CNN alleges that Salafi Jihadis of the "Islamic State of Iraq" organization attacked members of the local tribal "Awakening Council" at Hor Rajab southwest of the capital, killing 15 and wounding 8, without apparently losing any dead themselves. Hor Rajab was the site of a massacre on October 7 of Sunni Arabs by invading Shiite Mahdi Army militiamen.


Saturday, November 24, 2007

The Effect of War on Children

From Gorilla's Guides via The Liberal Avenger:
IRAQ: Children with serious illnesses abandoned
BAGHDAD, 21 November 2007 (IRIN) - Nine-year-old Faleh Muhammad was abandoned by his family in April 2006. He was left to fend for himself in the streets of Baghdad, and later he was diagnosed with leukaemia (picture above is not of this child.)
“The problem is even more serious among new-born babies and there are many cases of children aged 1-12 abandoned,” said Mayada Marouf, a spokesperson for KCA. “Most of them have a life-threatening disease and their families cannot afford treatment.”
Over 1.6 million children under the age of 12 have become homeless in Iraq, according to the country’s Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs. That’s almost 70 percent of the estimated 2.5 million Iraqis who are homeless inside the country.
Let me just add that a child who had leukemia diagnosed at a late stage has dramatically decreased chance of survival.

But, I forgot, Paris Hilton is out of rehab and engaged to Brittany Spears. And they are still looking for that missing white woman in the Caribbean.

Friday, November 23, 2007

Friday Crab Blogging (but no crabs today)


..............................................Hairy Cat

..............................................Me and Bobbie McGee

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Random Pics (click to expand)

Smith Island, Chesapeake Bay - 1987

Yellowstone Park - 1991

Ville D'Este, Como - 1984

Hikers on Ayer's Rock - 1989

Sydney Opera House - 1989

Once upon a time, in a land far away, there was ice cream ....


Yes, I am thankful for family and friends. But the thanks that I feel is tempered with the grief for my Country and all the millions of people that have been injured or have died because of our arrogance.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Iraki Children - Again

(Updated below)

Just to remind you that we are still harming children in Irak,

for what reason absolutely no one, General Petraeus,

Dick Cheney,

Alberto Gonzales
, Michael Mukasey,

or George Bush himself


They say that "we" are "winning" the "War in Iraq." The "we" does not include me, but does include Blackwater and Halliburton. No one, especially the aforementioned, can tell me what "winning" would mean. (It certainly wouldn't mean a stable, consensus driven, democratic, America friendly, central government in Iraq free of sectarian strife. Or free of American bases and a boondoogle Embassy.) And, there is no true "War in Iraq." There is a brutal, American, permanent occupation with an induced, sectarian, Civil War. It is a nightmare for the very Iraki people we supposedly "liberated." (I know, you are tired of my quotes.)

And that leads to this:

We destroy the children of a land at our own risk.

Update from here;
Child mortality in Iraq has spiralled because of the tense security situation, deteriorating health services and lack of medical supplies, say experts.

According to a report released in May 2007 by aid agency Save the Children, “Iraq’s child mortality rate has increased by a staggering 150 per cent since 1990, more than any other country.” (emphasis added)

Friday, November 16, 2007

Friday Crab Blogging

While no crab, there is what appears to be a flying fish. I didn't get to ask what it was. The big guy is a quarterback and, I assume, is handing off to a running back. Please note the cleats. I am convinced that no adult could ever come up with something like that.

I think the hotel is very interesting in that it has a person in every window. I guess that is Paris Hilton's dream.

Serbia Children

The irony of sadness; it just doesn't seem to let up. Once again the American media is in a feeding frenzy of self righteousness about the decrepit conditions for retarded children in Serbia. Yes, indeed it is dismal. But, of course, it pales in comparison to what America has done to the children of Irak. And then there is this:
Serbia's mistreatment of the mentally ill was exposed after autocratic President Slobodan Milosevic was overthrown in a popular revolt in 2000. During Milosevic's 11-year rule, health care standards plummeted as government funding was diverted to paying for the wars in Croatia, Bosnia and Kosovo.
Let us be very blunt about this, when you pay for wars, health care suffers.

Whether in Serbia, Irak, or America.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007


To the Editor:

There is a fine line between civilization and barbarism. We, as a country, have passed that line. I realize that I sound shrill stating this, but what else can one say when we have installed an Attorney General of the United States who will not condemn torture? I know that water boarding is torture. Every sane person knows that water boarding is torture. But the new Attorney General will not say that it is torture.

There can be only two explanations for this behavior, either one is disastrous. The first is that the man has trouble seeing what is real; that he lives in some alternative political universe where everything is negotiable and “up” can mean “down.” I am sorry, but we live in the real world. And in that real world, water boarding is torture. I do not want an Attorney General who is not anchored 100% in our Constitution. We’ve had enough of that already.

The second option is much more dangerous. That is, Mr. Mukasey pretends not to know that water boarding is torture because to admit that would leave the President of the United States open to criminal prosecution. Think about that for a while.

So, Citizens of the Eastern Shore, welcome to a country that has cast off one more vestige of civilization. Spend some time thinking how you will explain that we torture to your children. And think about what it feels like to drown.

Dr. C.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Iraki Children

Three days a week I am forced to watch the Today Show (I can't help it. If I am directly in front of a T.V. I have to watch it since I don't own a T.V. of my own and it is irresistibly seductive.) Today on Today they spent at least half the time talking about the most tabloid of events, domestic murders. They even had Geraldo Rivera. Sick. In the meantime:
According to UNICEF, about 50 percent of displaced Iraqis are children under 18 – amounting to over half a million children

Internally displaced people in Iraq

Northern provinces
Central provinces
Southern provinces

Source: UNHCR (September 2007)

"We expect the situation to worsen. Winter is approaching and many displaced families are still without blankets and heaters. Children don’t have enough clothes to protect themselves." (emphasis added)
Let's see, that would be over a million internally displaced children (and a million externally displaced, but we don't mention that!)

A child who doesn't know where the next meal is coming from; where he or she will sleep at night; won't go to school and won't be able to play. In other words, the complete antithesis of the Rights of the Child. Oh, that would be the Convention that the United States has not ratified yet. Excuse me. (it would also be the Convention that Iraq ratified in 1994).

That would be these children:

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Day to Day

It is just fascinating to me that we can carry on, day to day, and not be overwhelmed by what is happening to America, what is happening in Iraq and Afghanistan, and what is going to happen to the environment and the World. I am sure there is a school of psychology somewhere that had investigated this oblivion of the masses. The most fascinating thing, and it works out particularly at the individual level, is the recognition of a threat, but the innate belief that "it won't happen to me." Certainly the very wealthy in the United States (of which there are many) feel that their billions will shield them from any catastrophe. But the recent fires in California did not stop at a house and ask the annual income. Likewise, economic collapse, environmental collapse, or any other of preventable tragedy rarely spares anyone. The only exception might be Richard Cheney in his bunker. But then, who's he going to Vaderize if everyone else is a cinder?

Friday, November 09, 2007

No Friday Crab Blogging

This is too sad:

Fifty nine children dead in Afghan suicide attack
Published: Friday November 9, 2007
Afghanistan's education ministry said Friday that a suicide attack this week had killed 59 children and five teachers, taking the death toll to 75 in the deadliest such bombing in the insurgency-hit country.

And this:

But especially this who quotes from the Washington Post:
Which raises all sorts of secondary but fascinating political questions: What do the Democrats do if -- yes: if, if, if -- the surge appears to have succeeded? . . . Indeed, if Iraq somehow stabilizes and even incrementally improves, doesn't that affect the presidential campaign in important and unpredictable ways? . . . [T]he notion that Bush's patience really did save Iraq from unmitigated humanitarian and strategic catastrophe might be a powerful one. . . . (emphasis added)

Please note that the Washington Post while not the newspaper of record, is at least as influential as the New York Times. Here, in black and white, is the most preposterous statement that one can imagine. That George W. Bush rather than causing an "unmitigated humanitarian and strategic catastrophe," and there can not be one Iraki who does not believe that he or she is living through the most wretched catastrophe, is actually "saving" Irak?

America just lost it completely.

Monday, November 05, 2007

Whadda you going to do?

I am sure that most people, at some point, try to take the big view of things. That is, back off from the day to day and try to see where you are going. On the other hand, maybe most people don't. In any case, in spite of Godwin's Law, many bloggers continue to find similarity between the march to Fascism in Germany and what we are going through in the United States today (try Googling Hitler + Law). Then there are interesting tidbits like the review of a new work in the New York Review of Books on the life of the Emperor Augustus, and how the long Republic was converted into an Empire. I even alluded to the end of the Roman Empire in a recent post. Maybe it is a sign incipient change when we start grovelling in History.

So, let's go hog wild, since one can easily do so in Herodotus. There are more than enough risings and fallings in there to go about (even if most of us only know him from "The English Patient"). How about the magnificent Mughal Empire which is only 400 years past(I would direct you to "The Root and the Flower" by L.H. Myers for this one). The analogy I find most interesting at the moment is the pre WWI Empires of Britain and Germany. It has been years since I read Buddenbrooks, but its aura of middle class certainty that permeates the novel, the thought that they were the center of the Universe, resonates fairly strongly today, at least with a broad swath of American culture. Barbara Tuckman's "The Guns of August" followed by Doblin's "November 1918" bookend the War to End All Wars. Follow that with "The Black Obelisk" by Erich Maria Remarque and a course can be charted from high hubris (look in the mirror) to a nation of the destitute. No matter that the Germans rose again to suffer even more ignominious defeat, they still had a country that had not been levelled by nuclear weapons. I doubt we could say that would be our fate.

Finally, I would be remiss if I didn't mention "A Man Without Qualities" by Robert Musil. The whole thing (Vonnegut's grand fallon) is there if you can find it.

Friday, November 02, 2007

Friday Crab Blogging

In case you missed him, that's Dr. C. in the middle with the polydactaly.