Thursday, August 31, 2006

So long, Ralph

...and don't let the door hit you on the way out.

Thursday was Premier Ralph Klein's last day in the Alberta legislature. It's about time. Hopefully, someone will have sense enough to present term-limit legislation so we don't get stuck with a dinsoaur again for years on end.

There's an upside and a downside to his resignation, however. The upside is that the provincial political scene will now change - at least there'll be a new leader of the Conservative party. That is the downside too. Voters who may have moved away from the PCs might now reach back to the party with the hope that they might actually become more progressive and responsive and that could definitely take the wind out of the sails of the left-wing opposition parties which made gains during the last election.

No matter who wins the party's leadership, there will be promises of a new direction that will most likely sell well with the majority of Albertans, despite the fact that the candidates are all staunch Conservatives who enthusiastically embraced Ralph's policies to begin with. New face - same old agenda. Conservatives are not exactly known for reinventing the wheel. In fact, that flies in the face of conservativism as we know it - especially in Alberta.

So, it's going to take everything and then more for the left to add to the gains it's made in this province. There is hope in the form of a massive influx of new people who've come here from other provinces to find jobs in the oil patch. The only question to ponder is if they've brought their politics with them since most parts of the country actually encourage a change in government when they vote - unlike too many Albertans who have dug their boots into the status quo so much the past thirty years that they're stuck in the mud they've placed themselves in and think twiddling their thumbs instead of trying to get out is some sort of political strategy.

It's time for a change. It's been time for a change for a very long time. So, see you later, Ralph. This Albertan won't miss you. That's for damn sure.

Revisiting Ignatieff

On Wednesday, I tore a strip off Michael Ignatieff for his response to the Toronto Star's question about whether he'd stick around the Liberal party if he lost the leadership campaign. His response was 'Depends who's leader'.

Well, according to the Canadian Press (just ignore all of the Brison grandstanding in that article - Brison won't win anyway), Ignatieff has now clarified what he said.

"Let's be clear. I am planning to run in the next election in Etobicoke-Lakeshore. I love being an MP and I've enjoyed it enormously and I'm looking forward to doing it again," said Ignatieff, who first won election last January.

He added that, whoever wins the leadership race, he will do whatever he can to help him or her defeat Prime Minister Stephen Harper in the next election.

Asked why he didn't say that when the Star first asked, Ignatieff said he considered hypothetical questions about his political future should he lose the leadership contest to be moot.

"I feel I have good reason to believe I'm ahead in the race and I plan to win. So the hypothetical is not going to arise."

So he cleared that up. Good. But the fact that he believes so much that he's going to win and is so sure of himself that he wouldn't even consider hypotheticals when asked by the TO Star (according to him, anyway) still strikes me as a symptom of pompous assism.

Let's see...hmmm...that rings some bells. Who else doesn't do hypotheticals? Oh, yes, I remember.

JIM LEHRER: Let's cut to the crunch on this question. If in fact this team does not find any weapons of mass destruction, do you believe that would do serious harm to the credibility of the president and this administration and particularly on the... in the long run and when history looks back on this?

DONALD RUMSFELD: I mean, the intelligence that our country had-- has-- was over a sustained period of time, it was validated by other intelligence services. I have to believe it was reasonably correct -- obviously not perfect. No intelligence is ever perfect. And that as the reports come out, they will find evidence of the kinds of programs that Secretary Powell presented to the United Nations. That's my... yes, I mean that's what I believe.

JIM LEHRER: But if they don't? Is that a problem?

DONALD RUMSFELD: I don't do hypotheticals.

JIM LEHRER: You don't do politics; you don't do hypotheticals.

DONALD RUMSFELD: I don't. I don't. Why? I can't speculate.

- September 10. 2003

That was a harsh comparison. Ignatieff certainly isn't Rummy, but the refusal to consider hypotheticals is not something to be taken lightly - especially in someone who wants to be Canada's next leader.

I know some of you like Ignatieff and feel that he is more than qualified to serve as the next Liberal party leader but it seems he's suffering from foot in mouth disease - an affliction of almost all politicians - but the actual messages behind those so-called 'gaffes' needs to be more seriously considered in terms of how he might operate in the future. Even if he doesn't like speculating, the job of those who choose a leader is to do exactly that - taking into account the positives and the negatives.

My bottom line about Ignatieff's run since day one has been this: he does not have enough on-the-ground political experience to be the Liberal party leader and he has yet to convince me otherwise.

Salt Lake City's Mayor Protests Bush Visit

Deep in the heart of RepublicanLand, USA is not the place you'd expect to find this:

Salt Lake City Mayor Rocky Anderson, a Democrat, led thousands of anti-Bush demonstrators on a march through the city Wednesday. He called Bush a "dishonest, warmongering, human-rights-violating president."

Raw Story has the video and a transcript of the mayor's speech.


Blind faith in bad leaders is not patriotism.

A patriot does not tell people who are intensely concerned about their country to just sit down and be quiet; to refrain from speaking out in the name of politeness or for the sake of being a good host; to show slavish, blind obedience and deference to a dishonest, war-mongering, human-rights-violating president.

That is not a patriot. Rather, that person is a sycophant. That person is a member of a frightening culture of obedience - a culture where falling in line with authority is more important than choosing what is right, even if it is not easy, safe, or popular. And, I suspect, that person is afraid - afraid we are right, afraid of the truth (even to the point of denying it), afraid he or she has put in with an oppressive, inhumane, regime that does not respect the laws and traditions of our country, and that history will rank as the worst presidency our nation has ever had to endure.

In response to those who believe we should blindly support this disastrous president, his administration, and the complacent, complicit Congress, listen to the words of Theodore Roosevelt, a great president and a Republican, who said: The President is merely the most important among a large number of public servants. He should be supported or opposed exactly to the degree which is warranted by his good conduct or bad conduct, his efficiency or inefficiency in rendering loyal, able, and disinterested service to the Nation as a whole.

Megalomaniac Bush had this to say when he spoke to the American Legion:

The war we fight today is more than a military conflict," Bush told thousands of veterans at the American Legion convention. "It is the decisive ideological struggle of the 21st century."

"As veterans you have seen this kind of enemy before," Bush said. "They are successors to fascists, to Nazis, to communists and other totalitarians of the 20th century. And history shows what the outcome will be.

One prominent Republican veteran responds to the language being used by Bush, Cheney and Rumsfeld:

Iraq Vets Slam Administration for "Fascist" Language

NEW YORK - Iraq veterans today blasted the Administration for its recent rhetoric on the war in Iraq. Republican Senior Advisor to, Sam Schultz, who served in Iraq and Afghanistan, released the following statement:

"I am a proud Republican, who ran for my party's nomination for Congress in Indiana, because I believe in traditional values.

I also believe we need to be vigilant in defending America. That is why I feel I must speak out about the Administration's recent contention that the war in Iraq is part of the fight against "Islamic fascism."

First, we are not fighting an enemy that fits the definition of fascist, nor does Iraq resemble anything close to Hitler's Germany or Mussolini's Italy. Second,I do not believe the war in Iraq has furthered our war against radical Islamism. I can attest to the fact that after my time in Iraq, when I served in Afghanistan, we did not have enough people on the ground there to secure the border with Pakistan, and as a result, many terrorists slipped through our grasp, most likely including Osama bin Laden.


Bushco is fighting a losing battle and the most important front right now - that of countering public opinion - is one they continue to 'stay the course' on while more vocal opponents come forth every day. They lost in Iraq and they will continue to lose in America too - and that can't come soon enough.

Update: The Salt Lake Tribune has more details about the protests.

Today is BlogDay

Happy BlogDay!

The official BlogDay website seems to be overloaded with traffic, so here's some info for you about what this day is for and how to participate:

Why do we need a BlogDay?

1. Information Overflow! The more Blogs there are, the less time Bloggers spend on reading new weblogs. Because of the overload of information, you miss a lot of good Blogs and Bloggers.

2. Its Fun!

BlogDay posting instructions:

1. Find 5 new Blogs that you find interesting
2. Notify the 5 bloggers that you are recommending them as part of BlogDay 2005
3. Write a short description of the Blogs and place a link to the recommended Blogs
4. Post the BlogDay Post (on August 31st) and
5. Add the BlogDay tag using this link: and a link to the BlogDay web site at

The internets is a big place but, if you're like me, you have the habit of reading a particular set of blogs and not seeking out new ones that are definitely worth your time and attention. I chose blogs that are less than one year old to note in this post. If you're interested in those I read regularly, they're listed in my blogroll - which I've actually thinned out recently in order to highlight those I really like or visit frequently.

Alrighty, here's my list in no particular order:

Liberal Arts and Minds by knb who spends an inordinate amount of time visiting my little blog and contributes greatly to the discussions here.

Best Guess. Insightful and thoughtful political analysis. Simply put, more people need to read this blog.

Peace Gone Wild by [Damnit] Janet who is out on the streets as often as possible protesting the wars. Janet is a woman with a heart of gold whose family means everything to her and motivates her to keep fighting the good fight. She's a woman you want to get to know.

The Next Agenda is a new Scoop-based, Canadian blog community whose mission statement is welcoming and encouraging. In a world of so-called progressive/liberal community blogs, this one has the broadest definition of what that actually means.

Parvum Opus - completely removed from the political grind, Olivia's blog offers some of the most spectacular botanical photography you're likely to find anywhere. Her site is a refuge for people like me who need to be reminded about the most simple and beautiful things in life when there's so much pain and destruction in the world.

Other sites of interest:

toot is the home of an Arab blog network where you'll find a large diversity of opinions and perspectives we often miss in the west while JBlog is a collection of Israeli and Jewish blogs.

Sifry analyzed the state of the blogosphere in April 2006. The growth is staggering.

Blogossary is a dictionary of all things blog-related.

Keith Olbermann Smacks Down Rumsfeld


Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Random News & Views Roundup

- In an interview with MSNBC's Brian Wiliams, Bush reveals his political strategery: 'The key for me is to keep expectations low'. It's working. Nobody expects he knows what the hell he's doing or that he ever did (except his happy, deluded kool-aid drinkers.)

- And just how much kool-aid do you have to drink before you fall into the endless pit of denial known as CSI: Bloggerville? Don't those wingnuts have candidates to shill for or something? Sheesh. It's amazing those guys even manage to get away from their computers long enough to vote on election day.

- Two scathing criticisms of Israel's actions in the war: by Israelis.

Nasrallah for Prime Minister - of Israel
Can you really not see?

No doubt those Israeli journalists have already been labeled as anti-semites by someone.

- Transparent Bush:

NASHVILLE, United States (AFP) - US
President George W. Bush will launch a campaign of speeches, helped by world leader visits, to defend his handling of the global war on terrorism and the conflict in

The thrust comes as many of Bush's Republicans worry that the rising death toll and price tag from the unpopular war in Iraq may cost them control of the US Senate and House of Representatives in November 7 elections.

"They're not political speeches," Bush insisted after a political fundraiser in Arkansas Wednesday.

Right. They just happen to coincide with the run up to the November elections but, hey, if Bush says they're not political then they're not political. Got that?

- Well, this should piss off the Israelis and Bushco since the Italians have played a major role in establishing the peacekeeping force in Lebanon and were supposed to be Israel's new best friend:

ITALIAN Foreign Minister Massimo D'Alema said today that Iran's desire to develop nuclear energy is "legitimate" provided the goal of the program was for "peaceful purposes".

- Meanwhile, despite the fact that almost every Iran expert and his nuclear-sniffing dog has projected that Iran might have a nuclear bomb in ten years, the Pentagon is now saying, via the Washington Times in order to reach its bed-wetting base, that the likely timetable is 5-8 years. Well, that does it then. They are obviously an imminent threat and must be attacked in October in time for the mid-term elections.

But the sources said that while the five-year window provides President Bush additional time to decide on whether to launch military strikes, they suspect it underestimates Iran's determination to build a bomb as quickly as possible.

Case closed. Might as well sign up for service now, 101st Fighting Keyboardists, before you end up being drafted. Oh, and here's a new phrase to describe diplomacy:

Retired Air Force Lt. Gen. Thomas McInerney, a prominent proponent in Washington of air strikes against Iran, said that whether the estimate is five years or 10 years, the time span instills complacency in war planning. He said that Mr. Bush is now following the State Department's diplomatic path, without a clear policy.

"Everyone is in the Jergens lotion mode -- 'woe is me.' Wringing our hands," the former fighter pilot said.

At least they all have soft and incredibly supple hands.

- The Iranian government isn't all that worried about possible UN sanctions while Russia and China are still refusing to agree to those sanctions anyway. More as this unfolds on Thursday.

- Why George Allen should never be US president. Read it. And, speaking of possible '08 presidential candidates, Bill Frist may be fined for trying to renew his medical license without having taken the required upgrading. Frankly, he should have been kicked out of the profession when he diagnosed Terry Schiavo as not being in a persistent vegetative state after looking at just a few minutes of video. Maybe if he would have taken the required classes, he would have learned exactly how stupid that was - or maybe not.

- While American media have been fixated on tropical storm Ernesto (click on that link) because it makes for exciting teevee viewing on the anniversary of Katrina, there's been very little coverage of the category 3 hurricane that's terrifying Mexicans right now. But they're not Americans, so they don't count.

- Dispatches: The Killing Zone (video) - 'Dispatches reporter Sandra Jordan and producer Rodrigo Vasquez risk their lives to reveal the shocking level of daily violence and murderous hate in the Gaza Strip.'

Ignatieff: The Fairweather Liberal

I started reading the enormous tome that was supposed to pass as a biographical article on Liberal leadership candidate Michael Ignatieff which appeared in the Globe and Mail this past weekend, but I just couldn't finish it. 'Being Michael Ignatieff' was about as interesting to me as a physics textbook - both painfully devoid of anything I would describe as entertaining - and was an insult to the movie about John Malkovich, from which the Ignatieff article's headline was lifted. Frankly, I'm surprised I got through as much of that article as I did without slitting my wrists.

Ever since Ignatieff so graced Canada with his imperial presence this past year to join the commoners here in our pursuit for that frivolous little thing we call 'democracy' by stepping down from the hallowed turrets of Harvard to run for the Liberals, I've had absolutely no use for him. He sees himself as a modern day Trudeau - a new philosopher king. And, while Plato was perhaps correct that philosopher kings might serve as ideal leaders in a utopian society, I'm pretty darn sure he wouldn't have considered someone like Michael Ignatieff to be an example of what he had in mind. And the average Canadian Liberal would be sorely wrong to consider Ignatieff as the second coming of Pierre Elliot Trudeau. He's not.

And now, to add further insult to injury to how Ignatieff views his committment to his Canadian subjects serfs constituents, the Toronto Star informs us that Ignatieff won't even commit to running in the next election if he loses the leadership bid. 'Depends who's leader', he says.

"Being an MP, without being an MP, I've been a Liberal all my life," he said. "When I go into rooms people are glad I'm in the room because they've read stuff I wrote which contributed to their sense of what it is to be a Liberal and what Liberal philosophy is. There are all kinds of ways I can serve the party."

Then why the hell don't you quit right now and surround yourself with your adoring sycophants if that's what makes you happy?

Ignatieff argued he wouldn't be "doing this occasionally difficult job" without serious commitment. "It's been brutal," he said. "Etobicoke-Lakeshore was very, very tough."

"But you won't commit to run for Etobicoke-Lakeshore again?" he was asked.

Replied Ignatieff: "I'd like to serve my constituents well, but you're asking me an anticipatory hypothetical about the situation that prevails on the 3rd or 4th of December."

Besides, he's "quite confident I will win. I believe I will win."

Excuse me while I pull my hair out.

Now, as one who happens to like intellectualism as much as the next person who likes intellectualism, when it comes out as pompous assism there's a line to be drawn.

So, listen up all of you Ignatieff supporters: if you vote this guy in to be your party leader, you're not doing yourselves or your party any favours. In fact, you'll be voting for a man who is so uncommitted to your party, its principles and its future that you might as well add Preston Manning's name in as a write in on the ballot instead.

Ignatieff: wrong for the Liberals and wrong for Canada. Don't come whining to me when he's got the run of your party and reigns in a manner that reeks of the imperialistic boobs to the south whose policies he supports. I'll only be more than glad to tell you, 'I told you so.'

Government Targeting of the Khadr Family

What does a Canadian have to do to prove he's not a security risk to a Conservative government that was ordered by a Federal court to give him a passport? That's the quandry Abdurahman Khadr faces once again.

Foreign Affairs Minister Peter MacKay has refused a passport to Abdurahman Khadr for reasons of national security, even though a federal court judge ordered Ottawa to cease denying the former terrorism suspect his travel document.

“It's not only our national security, it's the national security of other countries,” a senior government official told The Globe and Mail Tuesday. “And it goes to the integrity and the responsibility that goes with carrying a Canadian passport.”

The 23-year-old Mr. Khadr, who is a Canadian citizen, was captured in Afghanistan in 2001 and was held for months as an “enemy combatant” by U.S. forces at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. He was released in 2003, but only after he agreed to spy for the United States. He has never been charged with any crime; however, he had been denied a passport by the Canadian government.

On June 8, the Federal Court of Canada found that Mr. Khadr was entitled to the “fairness and legitimate expectation owed to all Canadian citizens” in terms of applying for a passport. Ottawa was told it had used dubious grounds to deny him a passport, and was ordered to cease doing so.

Khadr was held at Gitmo and released by the US government. Whether or not you believe in his CIA story, what we do know is this: it takes a helluva lot for anyone to be set free from Gitmo and the forces that be certainly wouldn't have released Khadr if they thought he was a national security risk to any country. Thet begs the question then: why is this Canadian Conservative government continuing to treat Khadr as if he's a criminal? Would it not be incumbent upon McKay to actually provide evidence to prove such claims or is he just going to hide behind Bushco's national security risk excuse, which is the same justification used to send Canada's Maher Arar to Syria to be tortured, in order to deny Khadr his right to travel outside of the country?

Mckay, in circumventing the Federal court decision used new rules written into passport laws that came into effect after Khadr's case was decided in order to deny his application. So, what exactly is in those new rules that would still deem Khadr as being a risk? Is McKay using 'dubious grounds' once again to stop an innocent man from attaining a passport? Is the Conservative government simply using guilt by association by pointing to the activities of his family members, past and present, to strip him of his rights? If you don't think so, look at this line in the Globe and Mail article:

The minister's decision amounts to a victory for the federal government in its decade-long legal battle with members of the Khadr family. Their links to al-Qaeda are by now well known.

What's wrong with this picture?

If the Canadian government has proof that Khadr and his family members are associated with al Qaeda or terrorist activities, why don't they arrest them? And what's with this vendetta against the family? They are not all guilty, yet they are all being lumped together: guilty until proven innocent.

That also explains why the government is doing absolutely nothing to secure the release or, at least, some humane treatment for Omar Khadr who has been tortured in Gitmo.

The passport fight is just one of the many battles the federal government is waging against members of the Khadr family, most of whom returned to Toronto after U.S.-led forces ousted the Taliban regime in Afghanistan in 2001.

Omar Khadr, 19, remains in the U.S.-run Cuban jail, having spent the past four years there facing allegations that he had killed a U.S. soldier in Afghanistan. U.S. courts judged this summer that the legal regime at Guantanamo Bay is illegal, making it anyone's guess as to when Omar Khadr may actually face trial.

The Khadr family has a long and controversial history. That, however, should not be used against members of that family by the Canadian government to treat all of them as if they are terrorists without even granting them a fair and just trial - not in the court of public opinion, which McKay can certainly manipulate - but in an actual court with a real judge, such as the one who decided that Abdurahman Khadr be given a fair chance to get a passport. Anything less is just revenge on the government's part and the puppeting of Bushco methods to hang people out to dry - and worse - in the name of the war on terrorism.

Is this the kind of Canada you want to live in?

Resource: You can view Frontline's 'Son of al Qaeda', a documentary about Abdurahman Khadr, online free.

'Right Wing Nut House' Indeed

You may have heard a news story on Tuesday about a man who went on a driving rampage in San Francisco, killing one person and injuring several others. Just another bizarre incident of craziness in America, right? No, according to those who bring you Fear, Terror and Hatred in the USA on a daily basis, this was an act of terrorism.

Via the aptly named Right Wing Nut House:

Crazy American? Or crazy Jihadist? Is the press hiding the fact the man could be and probably is a Muslim? Why no mention of a possible terror attack? Are we jumping to conclusions on the right? Is the left’s non-response to this story indicative of the fact they don’t care about terrorism?

Ummm...NO. The left's non-response was due to the fact that things like this happen almost every week. There are disturbed people out there who do stuff like this. Welcome to society.

There are times like this when I want to haul off and smack my friends both on the right and left upside the head in order to knock some sense into them.

No kidding. Start with yourself.

Let’s go through this very carefully and perhaps, when all is said and done, we can have something of a meeting of the minds on this issue rather than using our responses to incidents like this to prove how silly or how evil the other side is.

Let's not go through this very carefully and just accept the fact that some people on the right have WAY too much time and paranoia. I don't remember them calling this man's driving rampage which killed 10 people in California in 2003 an act of terrorism. Then again, he wasn't driving while being born in Afghanistan so why would that make the wingnuts wet their pants? And how about everyone who's gone postal in America, killing their workmates? No acts of terrorism there either, according to the right-wing.

Wingnuts have a very narrow definition of terrorism, it seems. If you are brown-skinned and possibly Muslim, you're a terrorist. If you're a white guy and possibly Christian, you're just either sick or crazy - unless you're a member of the Bush administration. Then, you can commit all the crimes you want and be revered by the right-wing as a saint.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Armitage Admits He Was Novak's Plame Source

Following the news this week that authors David Corn and Michael Isikoff will reveal in their book 'Hubris' that Richard Armitage was Novak's source for the Valerie Plame outing article he wrote back in 2003, it looks like Armitage has finally decided to admit his role in the affair - via his lawyer, of course.

The NYT reports:

WASHINGTON, Aug. 29 — Richard L. Armitage, a former deputy secretary of state, has acknowledged that he was the person whose conversation with a columnist in 2003 prompted a long, politically laden criminal investigation in what became known as the C.I.A. leak case, a lawyer involved in the case said on Tuesday.

Mr. Armitage did not return calls for comment. But the lawyer and other associates of Mr. Armitage have said he has confirmed that he was the initial and primary source for the columnist, Robert D. Novak, whose column of July 14, 2003, identified Valerie Wilson as a Central Intelligence Agency officer.

The identification of Mr. Armitage as the original leaker to Mr. Novak ends what has been a tantalizing mystery.

Here's the supposed trail of events:

In the accounts by the lawyer and associates, Mr. Armitage disclosed casually to Mr. Novak that Ms. Wilson worked for the C.I.A. at the end of an interview in his State Department office. Mr. Armitage knew that, the accounts continue, because he had seen a written memorandum by Under Secretary of State Marc Grossman.

Mr. Grossman had taken up the task of finding out about Ms. Wilson after an inquiry from I. Lewis Libby Jr., chief of staff to Vice President Dick Cheney. Mr. Libby’s inquiry was prompted by an Op-Ed article on May 6, 2003, in The New York Times by Nicholas D. Kristof and an article on June 12, 2003, in The Washington Post by Walter Pincus.
Mr. Grossman’s memorandum did not mention that Ms. Wilson had undercover status.

He was also the source for another journalist about Ms. Wilson, a reporter who did not write about her. The lawyers and associates said Mr. Armitage also told Bob Woodward, assistant managing editor of The Washington Post and a well-known author, of her identity in June 2003.

And so on and so on...

Why did Armitage wait this long to make these revelations public if he had already been exonerated by prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald and had mentioned her name in a so-called 'casual' conversation? And why wouldn't Grossman's memo have shown that Plame was a covert agent? Isn't that a huge mistake of colossal proportions on his part? Or is that even true?

It would seem that these fingers pointing at Libby are simply laying all of the blame at his feet in preparation to put the squeeze on him when he has his day in court - if it ever gets to that. Perhaps the circular firing squad members are making sure that Libby knows he's the fall guy. Will Libby ever point his finger at Cheney? Highly unlikely. If he did, he might as well move to Siberia for the rest of his life because he would surely be destroyed by the powers that be and would never do lunch in Washington again.

Once again, why did Armitage wait and why did his buddies cover for him? There's no honesty in DC - only politics.

Write Your Own Caption

'Rumsfeld: Terrorists Manipulating Media'

If Joe McCarthy hadn't been Joe McCarthy, Donald Rumsfeld would have been Joe McCarthy if he'd been old enough at the time.

So, what keeps Donald Rumsfeld awake at nite? The war on terror? The war in Afghanistan? The war in Iraq?


It's the war with the media.

(AP) Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld said Monday he is deeply troubled by the success of terrorist groups in "manipulating the media" to influence Westerners.

"That's the thing that keeps me up at night," he said during a question-and-answer session with about 200 naval aviators and other Navy personnel at this flight training base for Navy and Marine pilots.

"What bothers me the most is how clever the enemy is," he continued, launching an extensive broadside at Islamic extremist groups which he said are trying to undermine Western support for the war on terror.

"They are actively manipulating the media in this country" by, for example, falsely blaming U.S. troops for civilian deaths in Iraq and Afghanistan, he said.

"They can lie with impunity," he said, while U.S. troops are held to a high standard of conduct.

Rumsfeld, of course, never lies with impunity.

Rumsfeld often complains about what he calls the terrorists' success in persuading Westerners that the U.S.-led wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are part of a crusade against Islam. In his remarks at Fallon he did not offer any new examples of media manipulation; he put unusual emphasis, however, on the negative impact it is having on Americans in an era of 24-hour news.

"The enemy is so much better at communicating," he added. "I wish we were better at countering that because the constant drumbeat of things they say _ all of which are not true _ is harmful. It's cumulative. And it does weaken people's will and lessen their determination, and raise questions in their minds as to whether the cost is worth it," he said alluding to Americans and other Westerners.

This, coming from the man who runs the Pentagon's massive Psyops programs going so far as to produce comic books for Middle Eastern kids and censoring Hollywood movies while getting major media companies like CBS's 60 Minutes (Abu Ghraib photos) and the New York Times (SWIFT bank records story - among others) to hold off on airing or printing stories until Rumsfeld gives them his okay. But, that's not enough for Rummy. He wants absolute control and he wants the American public to actually believe that terrorists are manipulating western media, even though he can't provide any proof.

I'm sure everyone who has lost a loved one in Rumsfeld's wars will feel comforted when they hear that Rumsfeld stays awake at nite because he's worried about terrorists infilitrating western media coverage.

When Killing Becomes Fun...

According to the Washington Post:

Homicide Charges Rare in Iraq War

The majority of U.S. service members charged in the unlawful deaths of Iraqi civilians have been acquitted, found guilty of relatively minor offenses or given administrative punishments without trials, according to a Washington Post review of concluded military cases. Charges against some of the troops were dropped completely.

Though experts estimate that thousands of Iraqi civilians have died at the hands of U.S. forces, only 39 service members were formally accused in connection with the deaths of 20 Iraqis from 2003 to early this year. Twenty-six of the 39 troops were initially charged with murder, negligent homicide or manslaughter; 12 of them ultimately served prison time for any offense.

Some military officials and analysts say the small numbers reflect the caution and professionalism exercised by U.S. forces on an urban battlefield where it is often difficult to distinguish combatants from civilians. Others argue the statistics illustrate commanders' reluctance to investigate and hold troops accountable when they take the lives of civilians.

Via ilona at Daily Kos from the book 'On Killing' by Dave Grossman:

Commanders, families, and society need to understand the soldier's desperate need for recognition and acceptance, his vulnerabilities, and his desperate need to be constantly reassured that what he (or she) did was right and necessary, and the terrible social costs of failing to provide for these needs with the traditional acts of affirmation and acceptance. It is to our national shame that it has taken us almost 20 years to recognize and fulfill these needs with the Vietnam War Memorial and the veterans' parades that have allowed our veterans to 'wipe a little spit off their heart.'

What's really shameful is the fact that soldiers who rejoice in killing, such as those in this video who committed a war crime, are actually treated like heroes. Social acceptance of acts and attitudes like that is a disease in itself.

10,000 Iraqis Have Been Killed in Four Months

While far too many people are focused on the question 'who killed JonBenet then if John Mark Karr is innocent?', The Independent reports a truly horrible figure about the devestation in Iraq:

More than 10,000 Iraqis - the vast majority in Baghdad - have been killed in the past four months alone, a figure that would send shockwaves through the international community were it in any other part of the world.

Is anybody paying attention? Let me tell you something - all of those armchair generals and pundits who keep saying there is no civil war are only telling people that because if they actually admitted it, US troops would have to leave. The administration has stated in the past that it would not keep its troops in Iraq if a civil war broke out. This is all pure politics, folks. 10,000 dead people in four months ought to be enough of a clue, don't you think?

Oh. It's just 'sectarian violence'. No big deal. And they're just Iraqis - ungrateful Iraqis, to boot - according to the talking heads and the military brass who have been secretly counting Iraqi casualties and lowballing the numbers since the war began. If 50% of Americans still believe that Saddam had WMDs and that he was connected to 9/11, it's not that difficult to get them to accept that tens of thousands of Iraqis haven't really died, despite documented evidence to the contrary. And, with the extreme levels of violence in Iraq this year, it's going to be awfully hard for the Pentagon to dispute these recent casualty figures. Denial of the actual numbers is an affront to all Iraqis.

But, according to US and UK military officials, apparently things are going swimmingly well - thank you very much - and Rumsfeld is on a speaking tour to convince Americans that if war with Iran just happens to suddenly be started by the US or Israel break out the American military is all set to go:

NAVAL AIR STATION FALLON, Nevada (Reuters) - U.S. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld warned potential adversaries on Monday that the United States remained capable of responding to military threats at home and abroad, despite its troop commitments in Iraq and Afghanistan.

"We are capable of dealing with other problems were they to occur," he told troops at an airfield in the Nevada desert.

"It would be unfortunate if other countries thought that because we have 136,000 troops in Iraq today, that we're not capable of defending our country or doing anything that we might need to do," he said in response to a question about military options for dealing with Iran.
Rumsfeld, however, said the U.S. military has already shown its ability to respond to new missions. He noted the military's evacuation of some 15,000 people from Lebanon during the war between Israel and Hizbollah as well as its role in responding to natural disasters, such as Hurricane Katrina last year.

Yes, he brought up the Hurricane Katrina disaster as a success for the US military. If that's the model, Iran doesn't have much to worry about.

As for Iraq:

Rumsfeld said there was no doubt the United States could win militarily in Iraq if it stayed the course.

"The important question is not whether we can win. Of course we can win. We won't lose a single battle," he said. "But do we have the will?"

How many times have experts said that this war will not be won militarily? But Rumsfeld keeps himself so cooped up in his own echo chamber that the only opinions that count anymore are his. I'd ask Rumsfeld this: do you have the will to continue to be responsible for the lives of the thousands of US and coalition soldiers who have died and been wounded along with those tens of thousands of Iraqis? More to the point: do you have the will to finally resign for this disgrace of a war you inflicted on Iraq? Do you have the will to slink away quietly into the history books so someone else can take over who actually has a realistic plan? Do you have the will to honour your country by admitting that you've failed? Do you have the will to face all of the relatives of those dead Iraqis and coalition soldiers so they can finally confront the man whose ego was much, much larger than his capacity to conduct a war ever was?

If not, sir, don't expect anyone else to have the will to follow you one more day as you blunder your way through one of the greatest military mistakes in modern US history.

Do you ever even think about the dead? The bloodied bodies, the mangles corpses of children, the endless funerals, the horror of family and friends, the anger on their faces, the betrayal they feel? Or are they just numbers on a spreadsheet in a daily report?

More than 10,000 Iraqis - the vast majority in Baghdad - have been killed in the past four months alone...

And yet all the neocons can say is 'stay the course' while too many Americans will go to the polls this fall and vote Republican just because that's what they've always done. You can be damn sure that the faces of these dead Iraqis won't be on the minds of those Republican supporters as they mark their ballots.

See also: When Killing Becomes Fun....

Monday, August 28, 2006

Brawling Over Same Sex Marriage - Alberta Style

Alberta Conservatives don't like getting their butts kicked, but that's what happened on Monday in the legislature when MLA Morton (Dinosaurus Ted) tried to get a third reading of his bill - the so-called 'PROTECTION OF FUNDAMENTAL FREEDOMS (MARRIAGE) STATUTES AMENDMENT ACT, 2006'.

We all know that when Conservatives use the word 'freedom', it actually means 'restrictions'.

Here's how the fight went down:

Alberta's opposition parties made good on a promise Monday to delay debate on a Tory private member's bill that would have allowed commissioners to refuse to perform same-sex marriages.

Speaker Ken Kowalski chastised opposition members for eating up the time allotted for debate with procedural matters, killing backbencher Ted Morton's controversial Bill 208.

"I know what's transpired today," Kowalski told the assembly.

"There's no hope in hell this afternoon that any private member's bill is coming up."

The bill sought to protect marriage commissioners who refused to conduct same-sex marriages because of their moral or religious beliefs, and would have made it necessary for parents to give permission before any aspect of same-sex relationships is discussed in the classroom.

Morton, MLA for Foothills-Rocky View said the bill was intended to protect freedom of speech for everybody, including those who publicly oppose same-sex marriage, from being sued or fired — something he said happens in other provinces.
Morton vowed to reintroduce the bill next spring, and said what transpired Monday would be remembered the next time a private member's bill originated from across the aisle.

"What goes around comes around," he said.

"The Liberals not only were irresponsible in blocking debate today, they were stupid, too."

Ooo...ouch ouch. 'Stupid'? Them thar's fightin' words! Step outside, Ted.

Just another day in Alberta politics. Why do I live in this province again?

Bush Gets a Fluff Piece in the New York Times

As I was reading Monday's NYT article, 'Year After Katrina, Bush Still Fights for 9/11 Image', I found myself waiting for the much needed, all in caps 'BUT'. But, it didn't come. Instead, journalist Sheryl Gay Stolberg took the opportunity during this anniversary of the horrible disaster known as Hurricane Katrina to present a sympathetic president who was just dealt some rough blows by life during the last year. Golly gee. What's next? Pics of Bush faux crying and wiping snot from his nose?

WASHINGTON, Aug. 27 — When the nation records the legacy of George W. Bush, 43rd president and self-described compassionate conservative, two competing images will help tell the tale.

The first is of Mr. Bush after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, bullhorn in hand, feet planted firmly in the rubble of the twin towers.

Acting like a warmongering, pompous ass taking advantage of a good photo op after thousands of people died - some of which were still under his feet as he stood there.

The second is of him aboard Air Force One, on his way from Crawford, Tex., to Washington, peering out the window at the wreckage of Hurricane Katrina thousands of feet below.

Acting like the distant, heartless, scared dictator he really is.

If the bungled federal response to Hurricane Katrina called into question the president’s competence, that Air Force One snapshot, coupled with wrenching scenes on the ground of victims who were largely poor and black, called into question something equally important to Mr. Bush: his compassion.

Guess what? Most of us actually knew he was completely incompetent long before Katrina hit. The rest just had to catch up. If Bush has anything resembling 'compassion', he has yet to show it. Don't hold your breath.

A year later, he has yet to recover on either front.

Because he's a warmongering pompous ass who only cares about his delusional world view and that doesn't include helping poor black folks in the bay area.

And, who else lets him off the hook?

“I might argue that this was the worst thing that’s happened to George Bush in the whole six years of his presidency,” Mr. Schumer said. “It was a perception-altering event. People had questioned his ideology. People had even questioned his intelligence. But before this, average people rarely questioned his competence or his caring.”

Has your head exploded yet? That's Chuck Schumer - Democrat. Look, Chuck: the hurricane isn't something that 'happened to George Bush'. It happened to the people in the Gulf region and had Bush actually appointed people who knew what the hell they were supposed to be doing in response to such a huge natural disaster instead of coming from a background of dealing with Arabian horses - 'heckuva job, Brownie!' - he wouldn't be crying in his beer today. And who the hell are these 'average people' who 'rarely questioned his competence of caring'? Where, exactly have you been, Senator Schumer of New York??

Predictably, Mary Landrieu defends Bush as well. I seriously think she should just cross the aisle and join her Republican buddies. You remember Landrieu - the one Anderson Cooper tore a strip out of after the hurricane? I think Bush owes her a kiss on the cheek.

With the rebuilding expected to continue long after Mr. Bush leaves office, Senator Landrieu says he still has a chance.

“I think there’s an opportunity for him to make this a real legacy of his presidency,” she said. “There’s still time to have people say he did a good job and he rose to the occasion. He’s writing the story himself.”

No he isn't. Rove is writing it and Condi's reading it to him.

Does anyone seriously think that one day people will look back and say that Bush 'did a good job' handling the aftermath of Katrina? Trust me, the only ones who would even consider such a thing have actually been bathing in the Kool-aid, not just drinking it.

Justice, Revenge and the Media

The bloodthirsty media sharks sunk their teeth into a wounded John Mark Karr and picked away at his carcass until he could only be seen as being a shell of a man - if even that. It was a mad frenzy worthy of the beach-clearings in Peter Benchley's Jaws.

This situation, of course, is just one in a long series of tabloid-style journalism becoming acceptable fare on so-called 'reputable' networks like CNN. Had Mr Karr actually had his day in court, could anyone be certain he would have received a fair and impartial jury?

This isn't all about him or the Ramsey case, however.

These days, amidst the availablity of vast amounts of news, gossip, speculation and de facto convictions by so-called experts who've never even seen any evidence or met with the person involved, justice in western society seems not to have evolved much since the days when witches were burned at the stake.

The much-acclaimed jury system, in which one is supposedly tried by 12 peers, has long been open to corruption in the form of bribery, not to mention the reality that group dynamics can certainly browbeat any person who faithfully believes in the innocence of a person being made to submit when others become angry and forceful - just to get a trial overwith. It's a concept with some serious flaws.

While some may argue that it's the best we have, I have to wonder if that isn't just a surrender to convential wisdom that has already proven to be problematic. When you add, on top of that, the fact that in the west judges and prosecutors are just political appointees or elected officials who can also be easily corrupted, the entire system would seem to be due for a major overhaul.

The insights made into forsensic science, most especially DNA, the last few years have shown mere mortals that sometimes their personal judgments based on hunches and the weight of the evidence and the charm of the lawyers before them is not enough.

It takes a rare act of courage to admit those errors and, more importantly, to do something about them:

Monday, January 13, 2003 Posted: 1:54 AM EST (0654 GMT)

Source: Associated Press

CHICAGO, Illinois (CNN) -- Outgoing Illinois Gov. George Ryan announced Saturday that he had commuted the sentences of all of the state's death row inmates and said he would "sleep well knowing I made the right decision."

He delivered his unprecedented speech at Northwestern University.

"Our capital system is haunted by the demon of error: error in determining guilt and error in determining who among the guilty deserves to die. What effect was race having? What effect was poverty having?

"Because of all these reasons, today I am commuting the sentences of all death row inmates," Ryan said.

Ryan's successor, a Democrat, had this to say about the Republican governor's decision at that time:

Gov.-elect Rod Blagojevich, the Democrat who will replace Ryan, told CNN on Saturday that he disagreed with the governor's decision.

"I think a blanket anything is usually wrong," Blagojevich said. "We're talking about convicted murderers, and I think that is a mistake."

It is that kind of blindness, that kind of self-righteousness, that kind of vengeful belief in the death penalty and a system that has proven to be so horrendously flawed that allows public feeding frenzies like those we keep witnessing to flourish and grow.

As of August 28, 2006, The Innocence Project has led to the exoneration of 168 former inmates who were wrongfully convicted. And that is just the tip of the iceberg. That any country with such a politicized and defective system could still maintain a death penalty is beyond belief.

In 2005, 94 per cent of all known executions took place in China, Iran, Saudi Arabia and the USA.

Iran executed at least 94 people, and Saudi Arabia at least 86. There were 60 executions in the USA.
Source: Amnesty International

Strange company indeed.

What was presented by the media to the worldwide public the past couple of weeks following the arrest of John Mark Karr, who many commented resembled Lee Harvey Oswald just to add more spin to the story, was nothing short of a public lynching. Reporters probed into absolutely every aspect of his life as if he was, in fact, the assassin of a president. Ironically, during the same period of time, they often had discussions about how they had completely overblown this one little girl's murder from the very beginning - but they just couldn't help themselves and continued to do the same thing 10 years later. You can bet on the fact that you'll now hear more than a few commentators saying that they believe he's still connected the case, despite proof to the contrary.

So, this is the culture that we live in. Does justice even exist anymore in the face of all of this mass hysteria? Are the media to be forgiven because they just give the people what they want? Is a society that panders to the lowest common denominator worthy of being considered evolved or civilized? Are the majority of us so shallow and shark-like that we continue to believe there might actually be some sort of twisted virtue to be found when we are blasted with endless specualtion that is treated like fact?

What has justice become if not a farce of deadly proportions? More importantly, why do so few people care and why are so few demanding changes?

Hurricane Katrina: Pain

Pain. Overwhelming pain, horror, outrage. Pain and shock. And so much sadness.

That's what I felt as I watched the criminal negligence of FEMA and the Bush administration as they let people suffer and die during the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina while the rest of the world saw it all unfold before their eyes in a state of stunned disbelief and desperation - so much desperation.

A long, horrible nightmare of inhumanity in the hands of what was supposed to be the most powerful government in the world. A country of untold riches and resources. A country that boasts of equal rights and justice for all. A country that is supposed to be an example of the best and brighest. A country whose leaders failed so utterly that its government was rendered irrelevant.

How many times did we all yell at our TV sets: Why isn't anybody doing anything?

The massive swells of people at the NOLA Convention Center. The sick, the disabled, the babies, the old and and infirm sitting on the sidewalks - waiting. And waiting and waiting. The insanity. The absolute decimation of lives, towns, parishes, cities, farms, homes, land, wildlife, pets, infrastructure, hospitals, schools. And yet - no one with governmental power was prepared. And, no one, except heckuva job Brownie has paid for their ineptitude.

There has been no accountability.

Living so far away here in Canada and feeling so helpless, the only thing I could do was to volunteer for Wikipedia's People Finder Project. I had to do something. The hours spent inputing names and messages with the hope that victims, family members and friends would somehow find each other in the midst of mass confusion was one thing I could do, but it was nothing compared to those brave individuals and groups who went down to the hurricane region on their own steam to save lives and help the stranded, wounded and desolate. They became America's heroes. And, deservedly so. They did what was put in front of them, ignoring the personal sacrifice involved, and they showed the real spirit of the American people while their government remained impotent and confused.

The rage still whirls within me. The lives torn apart will take decades to heal. Homes can be rebuilt, but hearts take much longer to repair.

I wish I could have done more.

My thoughts are with all of you directly affected and my wishes for security, sanity, health, love and a place to call home once again are all I can send on this anniversary.

May you find peace and strength. And may the children be loved and cared for for the precious survivors they are - never to live through such abhorrent neglect again during their lifetimes.

America's greatest heartbreak.

Please participate in the Katrina Blogswarm. Let the victims know they haven't been forgotten and please spread the word.

Related: A man posing as a HUD official spoke to a NOLA reconstruction meeting, causing major confusion for all involved until his identity was revealed:

Two members of the Yes Men, a group of environmental and corporate ethics activists, duped business executives and some news organizations earlier today when they posed as top HUD officials and announced the agency planned to renovate several housing developments now slated for demolition.

One of the men said they set up the hoax after receiving an e-mail solicitation from Equity International -- the group staging the conference -- in search of conference speakers. They responded by saying HUD secretary Alfonso Jackson would like to speak, after which Jackson was placed in the conference lineup after Gov. Kathleen Blanco and Mayor Ray Nagin.

The two men, one of whom posed as a HUD "deputy special assistant" Rene Oswin and the other as Oswin’s press secretary, showed up at the Pontchartrain Center in Kenner this morning and told organizers that Jackson couldn’t make the event, and that they would speak in his place, one said.

Then the man posing as Oswin gave a 15-minute speech saying that HUD was reversing its policy and would reopen all public housing in the city. While the speech was under way, the group e-mailed a bogus press release to major news outlets with the same announcement.


Let's hope these crass opportunists are picked up and charged with something. How dare they attempt such a hoax in the midst of discussions about peoples' future lives.

Sunday, August 27, 2006

Random News & Views Roundup

- Can I just get this off my chest? I seriously think that when awards shows like the Emmys show the 'In Memorium" segment, people should either applaud at the same level all the way through and just wait until the end. Why should there be a popularity contest for the dead? I find it insulting when one person gets more cheers than another. (Also, Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert did a bang up job and what the hell was Candace Bergen wearing?? [search: 'Bergen'] Holy crap.)

Now, on to much more serious things:

- The two FOX journalists were freed on Sunday, much to the relief of everybody. Time magazine has the background story and the problems these kidnappings may have caused for the future release of the captured Israeli soldier, Gilad Shalit. (And FOX's Brit Hume is a wanker. Notice how Michelle Malkin only posts Hume's comments. Dissent will not be tolerated!)

- David Corn reveals:

It was Richard Armitage, when he was deputy secretary of state in July 2003, who first disclosed to conservative columnist Robert Novak that the wife of former ambassador Joseph Wilson was a CIA employee.

A Newsweek article--based on the new book I cowrote with Newsweek correspondent Michael Isikoff, Hubris: The Inside Story of Spin, Scandal and the Selling of the Iraq War--discloses that Armitage passed this classified information to Novak during a July 8, 2003 interview. Though Armitage's role as Novak's primary source has been a subject of speculation, the case is now closed. Our sources for this are three government officials who spoke to us confidentially and who had direct knowledge of Armitage's conversation with Novak. Carl Ford Jr., who was head of the State Department's intelligence branch at the time, told us--on the record--that after Armitage testified before the grand jury investigating the leak case, he told Ford, "I'm afraid I may be the guy that caused the whole thing."

Several left-wing bloggers, however, don't believe the case is closed at all. How many more years is this case going to drag on? My bet is as long as the Iraq war is still going other words, who knows?

- The Cheney Presidency.

Cheney's power is matched only by his penchant for secrecy. When my colleague at the American Prospect, Robert Dreyfuss, requested the names of people who serve on the vice president's staff, he was told this was classified information. Former staffers for other departments provided Dreyfuss with names.

The Wanker in Chief.

- This is quite the admission:

The leader of the militant group Hezbollah says that if he could do it all over again, he wouldn't order the capture of Israeli soldiers that ignited the war in Lebanon.

"You ask me, if I had known on July 11 … that the operation would lead to such a war, would I do it? I say no, absolutely not," Sheik Hassan Nasrallah said in an interview with Lebanon's New TV station broadcast Sunday.
"We did not think, even one per cent, that the capture would lead to a war at this time and of this magnitude," Nasrallah said.

While Nasrallah claimed victory over Israel when the ceasefire took hold, he apologized in the interview for the suffering of the Lebanese people.

Talks on prisoner swap

Nasrallah also said negotiations with Israel on a prisoner swap are in the early stages.

"Contacts recently began for negotiations," he said.

"The Italians seem to be getting close and are trying to get into the subject. The United Nations is interested," Nasrallah said. The speaker of the Lebanese parliament, Nabih Berri, is in charge of negotiations, he added.

Now, for all of those narrow-minded people on the left and right who were wetting their pants about talking about talking to Hezbollah (see: Borys Wrzesnewskyj), face the facts: sometimes you have to talk to your enemies. Next time, stock up on Depends™ and get over yourselves (cough cough Jason Cherniak/Liberal party cough cough).

- I'm tired, sick and cranky tonite. Sue me.

- Blogswarm: Katrina on Monday. Do it.

This Revolution Won't Be Televised Because It's Not Even Happening

So, I see they're having a discussion over at My Left Wing about taking it to the streets or, more correctly, the fact that the gripes of the majority of Americans are not being taken to the streets on any considerable scale. Yes, there's a mention of the immigration protests by one person, eugene, who concludes this:

But, obviously, clearly, it isn't having an effect. Or more accurately, it's not having the effect we hope, of ending the war, or ending immigrant-bashing, or bringing down Bush. Then again, I'm not convinced the antiwar protests in the 1960s succeeded in their aims either.

Obviously, that last observation is clearly wrong, but the first part of his comment reflects the views of a large number of people and that is one of instant gratification. It goes like this: 'if I do something and don't see results right away, why bother doing it at all?' and, not only that, the change must be one of immense measure such as "ending immigrant-bashing" - which was not what those protests were about in the first place.

Western society is plagued with people looking for quick fixes. Whether it's expressed in the form of chasing a high with alcohol or other drugs, believing that this week you'll win the lottery and life will then be wonderful forever, thinking that all you need to do to change a government is to show up on election day or living vicariously through others and letting them do the dirty work for you because you don't want to get your hands slapped. You want to stay safe, of course.

I think Americans sometimes forget that they're supposed to be involved in the pursuit of happiness which is far different than having it handed to you on a silver serving dish. And, of course, some believe that happiness is a goal that, once reached, is yours ad infinitum - unwilling to believe that the reaching of it ebbs and flows throughout life and that happiness is not some place you arrive at - only to stay in forever.

But, while there is a chorus of 'baby steps, baby steps' expressed in that diary's comments as well, there is a tone of obvious resignation and acquiescence to the power of corporations and the status quo of the political infrastructure. Once again, if it can't be fixed on a grand scale, then we'll just struggle for decades hoping our little actions might cause some change somewhere down the road.

There is no sense of revolution in America anymore. And, if America ever needed a revolution again, that time is now.

Our Damnit Janet is doing her best over there to explain that to MLWers, but the atmosphere of fear and 'I do what I can, what more do you want me to do?' is overwhelming. She's not the only shining star, of course. Witness Lilian Friedman who says she knowingly broke the rules at BT (Booman Tribune) by posting 6 diaries in one day asking why people weren't out on the streets and was summarily banned for being such an undisciplined shit-disturber. Did anyone over there actually realize she was trying to make a point? I don't know. I wasn't there at the time. But, she broke the rules and obviously had to be punished. If that type of reaction happens among so-called progressives, no wonder so many people don't want to risk what might happen if they actually do get out there and protest amongst those who oppose their opinions. (Janet can tell you stories about exactly what goes on in the face of dissent. Luckily no one can ban her from the streets. They've tried, but they haven't succeeded. We love Janet.)

What's with this culture of ennuie? This culture where staying safe is revered among all else? This culture of keyboard revolutionaries who often don't get beyond their own front door? This culture of endless hoping that someone, somewhere will change everything for everybody else? This culture that believes the only way to change the system is to work within it? This culture of defeatism? This culture of 'oh well, maybe next time'? This culture of only doing things that are comfortable? This culture that is so stunned it needs laugh tracks to tell people when to laugh and sad music to tell people when to cry? This culture that is so lazy it has lost the will of aggressive inquiry? This culture that obssesses over the murder of a child beauty queen 10 years ago while little Iraqi, Palestinian, Sudanese and [fill in the blank] girls are being murdered every single day?

You cannot change political institutions and corporations quickly, but you can change a culture. First of all though, you must have the willingness to do so. Unfortunately, the fear that holds too many back - fear that we on the so-called left often believe is the exclusive domain of those on the right who've bought into Bushco propaganda without even realizing that the Rove machine had beaten us as well - is the prime obstacle.

We say we're free. We think we're fearless. We believe we do all we can.

We are wrong.

('This Revolution Won't be Televised' is the name of a book by Joe Trippi)

See also: Call Me Old School: Protests Matter by me and Quit Your Bellyachin' About Antiwar Demonstrations by Meteor Blades.

Sunday Food For Thought

When I wrote on my door:
'Leave your traditions outside,
Before you come in,'
Not a soul dared
To visit me or open my door.
- Kahlil Gibran

Saturday, August 26, 2006

Random News & Views Roundup

- Although Venus and Mars are alright tonite, Pluto's been turfed and Neptune may be next. I'm pretty sure this is a sign of the apocalypse...or something.

- The world is abuzz with the news that Iran has announced that it will continue with its plans for a heavy-water reactor with plutonium being one of the by products which is years away from becoming a reality. That, of course, won't deter Bushco from concluding that an iminent military strike is necessary. Will that be the October surprise?

- It sucks to be Bush:

KENNEBUNKPORT, Maine, Aug. 26 -- At every wedding, it seems, something happens not according to plan. Expect the unexpected, planners warn. But how many brides and grooms expect a peace protest?

That is what happens when the president shows up for the ceremony in the midst of a polarizing war. About 700 demonstrators marched past the seaside church where President Bush's second cousin was to be married Saturday and then up to the checkpoint guarding the family summer compound to protest the war in Iraq.

The protesters left a few hours before the service so as not to disrupt the event itself, but they took advantage of the president's visit to make their point and showcase their opposition to a war that polls show has lost most of the public's support. Just as Bush found himself trailed to Texas by war opponents last year, now he has been dogged to his parents' getaway on the rocky shores of the Maine coast.
The protesters carried handmade signs with slogans such as "Stop Killing Our Children," "Bring Them Home Now," "We Have Nothing to Fear But Bush Himself," and "Liar, Liar, World's on Fire." In a school field where the group rallied after the march, speakers called for Bush's impeachment and sang specially written songs such as "Where is the Rage?"

Yay, protesters! Oh, and Barbara Bush wore a purple pantsuit to the wedding, in case you were interested.

- An IDF commander lobs some major criticism about the lack of preparedness of Israel's reservists in the Lebanon war:

More than 50 reserve soldiers, mostly married with families and businesses, died in the war. Last week reservists protested outside the Prime Minister's office in Jerusalem as anger continued to grow over operational failures.

Some have accused the government and senior military of sending their comrades to unnecessary deaths. Amnon's admissions are particularly controversial as they have serious implications for some senior officers when pressure is growing on the government to conduct a state inquiry. The Israeli government is so worried about the political fallout that its Chief of Staff, Dan Halutz, has banned senior military officers from speaking to the media.

Reserve soldiers make up 70 per cent of the Israeli army and, unlike the rest of the army, they are free to speak out. Many have echoed Amnon's concerns.

One, protesting in Jerusalem last week, said: 'Reservists got bad treatment, bad equipment and bad decisions.'

The protests outside Prime Minister Ehud Olmert's office have been growing daily, with some reservists bringing their families with them. As men, women and children waved protest banners, and chanted 'Olmert resign', Israelis arrived to sign petitions backing calls for the resignations. The war was supported by the majority of Israelis - but many are deeply dismayed by its conduct and outcome.

Olmert has defended his government and military, but is expected to announce some level of inquiry, having initially rejected calls for one.

Sound familiar? See above: Bush, wedding, protests.

And these are the two leaders who think it's a good idea to start a war with Iran?

Update: The Canadian Conservative party has been doing some photoshopping of a pic of Liberal leadership candidate Gerard Kennedy to highlight some beer bottles in the photo. Subliminal message, anyone?

FOX: Defending IDF Airstrike on Reuters Truck in Gaza

A Reuters armoured press vehicle, clearly marked as being such, was hit by an IDF missile strike on Saturday. Two journalists were wounded.

Michael Lawrence, Reuters Managing Editor for Europe, Middle East and Africa, said: "We are deeply concerned at this attack on a clearly marked press vehicle as journalists were doing their job to report the story from Gaza.

"We understand that the army says it had no intention of targeting the media, but this incident is totally unacceptable and we urge a careful examination of how this happened to ensure there is no repeat."

One FOX news reporter on the scene (video at Hot Air, along with various denigrating comments about 'al-Reuters') snuck in a defence of the IDF's strike in the middle of his commentary:

An Israeli aircraft fired two missiles hitting an armoured car belonging to the Reuters News Agency moderately wounding 5 people including two cameramen. Now, we've just gotten word from the Israeli Defence Forces. They say the area is of high alert. They're searching for tunnels there, they're also looking for explosives that have been planted by Palestinian militants alongside the border fence. They say the car was suspicious. It was dark. They were not able to read the markings on the side and that the investigation is continuing. The journalists had the doors open and were about to get out of the armoured vehicle when it was struck by the missile coming from that Israeli aircraft.

Well John, the Israeli Defence Forces are in the process of investigating it right now. They do admit that they did hit a Reuters truck - Reuters SUV, basically - an armoured truck but, in their defence a liitle bit, it's an area of the Gaza strip where there's been all sorts of problems. There's been tunnels they've been looking for also some explosives were said to have been put alongside the Israeli border fence in that region. The Israeli Defence Forces say that they were working in that area. There were reports of this mysterious car. Of course, it's the middle of the night. It's very dark. To see markings of any sort is tough but the car was marked with 'Press' in English, in Arabic and in Hebrew. However the Israeli forces did that Reuters SUV. The cameraman was injured. A local photographer was also injured and 3 bystanders. At this point, we're told that none of the injuries are life-threatening but some of them were moderate, John.

FOX - They report. You decide get biased news coverage.

Is it too much to expect that they just report facts? Apparently so.

Israel has a long history of attacks on journalists and restrictions applied to those reporting on its conflicts in the region. (See also: In the Line of Fire). It's a contentious relationship that has yet to be resolved after years of complaints and inquiries. That is not to say, of course, that Saturday's attack on the Reuters truck was intentional. It certainly is incumbent on the IDF, however, to act more cautiously than it has when it comes to dealing with journalists covering war zones considering its seriously blemished history.

A Birthday of Note: Alice Paul

"I always feel....the movement is a sort of mosaic. Each of us puts in one little stone, and then you get a great mosaic at the end."

- Alice Stokes Paul (1885-1977)
Suffragist and author of the Equal Rights Amendment

Many of us are still waiting for liberty all over the or no vote. The mosaic of equality for women is far from being complete.

"Nato pilots accused of killing Afghan children"

Nato pilots have been accused of killing 13 Afghan civilians, including nine children, during an attack close to the British base at Musa Kala in Helmand province.

Witnesses and relatives of the dead, who were interviewed by The Independent at the town of Lashkargar, claim that on 31 July a family of 13 was attempting to flee the fighting in a rented pickup truck with three other men when an aircraft appeared overhead.

"We stopped the car," said Abdul Habib, 40. "Then the plane dropped a bomb ahead of us and went away. After a while we started driving again, but the aircraft came back. I told my wives to stand up so that the pilot would see they were women, but at that moment it opened fire."

"These were Taliban forces withdrawing after an attack, suggesting they were not civilians," Major Toby Jackman, the Nato spokesman, said.

The vehicle that the family say they had been using was of a type often used by Taliban forces.

Are the Taleban the only people in Afghanistan who drive 'pickup trucks', Jackman? And since when are children 'Taliban forces'? Bloody military apologists.

Mr Habib suffered extensive injuries to one arm, his shoulder, back and both legs. One of his sons and another man also survived with injuries. His two wives, 27 and 25, and children, Rafar, 10, Manan, eight, Mohammed, two, Nisar Ahmed, five months, Shabiqa, 11, Gulsoma, nine, Kasima, six, Shukria, four, and Shakoofa, two months, were all killed in the attack.

Babies - not terrorists - babies.

And look at this.

Nato officials have also claimed that the Taliban uses civilian areas and housing to mount attacks against Western troops, increasing the risk of civilian casualties.

Where have we heard that before?

Is that what Canada signed up for under NATO? Killing babies?

Friday, August 25, 2006

Friday Fun: What Famous Leader Are You?


(I took the test using 27 questions and my hair doesn't look like that - most of the time, anyway.)

h/t to Quaker Agitator for pointing the way to that test.

"I can't go out there and shoot at young children. I just can't go to Iraq."

Via The Independent:

While his peers from St Augustine's Catholic school were this month contemplating university careers or first jobs, Jason Chelsea was preoccupied with a different future: his first tour of duty in Iraq.

The 19-year-old infantryman, from Wigan, Greater Manchester, was tormented by concern about what awaited him when the King's Lancaster Regiment reached Iraq, where 115 British soldiers have been killed since 2003.

He had even told his parents that he had been warned by his commanders that he could be ordered to fire on child suicide bombers.

It was a fear that he never confronted. Within 48 hours of confessing his concerns to his family, Pte Chelsea was dead after taking an overdose of painkillers and slashing his wrists.

On his death bed, he told his mother, Kerry: "I can't go out there and shoot at young children. I just can't go to Iraq. I don't care what side they are on. I can't do it."

Today, mourners including comrades from his unit will attend Pte Chelsea's funeral, wearing the colours of his two favourite football teams, Chelsea and Wigan. The Ministry of Defence (MoD) is to begin an investigation into his death, including allegations that the teenager was bullied. In a suicide note, the young soldier had said that he was "just a waste".

His parents said yesterday that their son's ordeal had convinced them of the need for an urgent review of the pre-deployment training given to British soldiers bound for Iraq.

"In training, they were made to wrestle with dummies. Jason said they were also told they might have to fight kids and that they might have to shoot them because they were carrying suicide bombs. He said the policy [where there was a suspected suicide bomber] was to shoot first and ask questions later."

His mother added: "Jason said that during the training for Iraq he had been told that children as young as two carry bombs and the time may come when he would have to shoot one to save himself and his friends. I think they need to think again about the training they give to young soldiers before Iraq."


Too many people think of military heroes as those who return from war with medals and ribbons on their chests. Far too few give much thought at all to those like this poor, embattled British soldier, Jason Chelsea, who suffer so greatly from the horrendous thought of having to kill children that they either desert, resist or end up killing themselves.

Some people think there's no honour to be found in suicide. I'd challenge them to not find the honour in this young man's actions. He did the only thing that he could fathom at the time to ensure he would not end up killing children - an overwhelmingly sad reality.

May he rest in peace.

Mr Ralph Goes to Washington

Via CBC:

Ralph Klein continues to prepare for life after nearly 14 years as Alberta premier, confirming Thursday he has accepted another offer.

Klein said he will serve as a guest lecturer at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars in Washington, D.C.

The premier said he will be paid $5,000 US a month for the three-month term in the fall of 2007.

"Basically it's for retired politicians and academics," Klein said. "I'll talk about practical politics — street politics as I know it."

Ralph is already preparing a series of speeches about his 'street politics' methods which include:

1. How to get drunk and yell at homeless guys in a shelter.
2. How to throw books at legislative pages.
3. How to blow up hospitals.
4. How to kill people by holding back health care funding.
5. How to plagairize. (Although that speech may be canceled since so many politicians already have that down pat.)
6. How to call people "bums and creeps" and then get elected premier.
7. How to govern while drunk.
8. How to handle it when people find out you've been governing while drunk.
9. How to send poor people to other provinces.
10. How to undermine an education system.
11. How to keep big oil happy while decimating the environment. (To be co-hosted with Dick Cheney)
12. How to threaten to threaten to separate from your country if you don't get your way.
13. How to govern as an intellectually-inept good old boy. (To be co-hosted with George Bush)
14. How to govern as little as possible.
15. How to flip pancakes.
16. How to hoard money while children starve.
17. How to make poor people even more poor.
18. How to have an effective public tantrum.
19. How to pretend you know what you're doing. (To be co-hosted with Donald Rumsfeld)

And, lastly:

20. How to make $5000/month without even trying.

The Crumbling Empire

Has American imperialism, as idealized by the members of the Project for a New American Century finally met its end?

The Project for the New American Century is a non-profit educational organization dedicated to a few fundamental propositions: that American leadership is good both for America and for the world; and that such leadership requires military strength, diplomatic energy and commitment to moral principle.
-William Kristol, Chairman

It's quite clear that 'diplomatic energy and commitment to moral principle' were tossed out long ago by the Bush administration in favour of the Bush Doctrine*. And PNAC supporters like Charles Krauthammer who expressed 'Three Cheers for the Bush Doctrine' in Time magazine in the fall of 2005 continue to attempt to convince the American public that multilateralism and diplomacy are failed concepts:

Even the most ardent unilateralist always prefers multilateral support under one of two conditions: (1) There is something the allies will actually help accomplish or (2) there is nothing to be done anyway, so multilateralism gives you the cover of appearing to do something.

The six-party negotiations on North Korea are an example of the second. North Korea went nuclear a long time ago. Our time to act was during the Bush 41 and Clinton administrations. Nothing was done. And nothing can be done now. Once a country has gone nuclear, there is no return. The nukes themselves act as a deterrent against military measures. And no diplomat, however mellifluous, is going to talk a nuclear North Korea into dismantling the one thing that gives it any significance in the world.

Realistically speaking, the point of this multilateral exercise cannot be to stop Iran's nuclear program by diplomacy. That has always been a fantasy. It will take military means. There would be terrible consequences from an attack. These must be weighed against the terrible consequences of allowing an openly apocalyptic Iranian leadership to acquire weapons of genocide.

The point of the current elaborate exercise in multilateral diplomacy is to slightly alter that future calculation. By demonstrating extraordinary forbearance and accommodation, perhaps we will have purchased the acquiescence of our closest allies -- Britain, Germany and, yes, France -- to a military strike on that fateful day when diplomacy has run its course.

In Krauthammer's mind, any semblance of diplomacy is just a cover for urging allies to join in a military attack and, for the Bush administration, that certainly was the case in the run up to the war on Iraq. Bushco lied its way into convincing the coalition of the willing that the Iraq problem could simply and easily be handled by shock and awe. And look where we all are three years later.

Neocons like Krauthammer have learned absolutely nothing from the war in Iraq and his sentiments about how to deal with North Korea completely wipe out how the resolution of the Cold War came about. That's extremely dangerous selective thinking based on fantasy - not fact - and it's what's driving the current push for war with Iran, despite the fact that the intelligence to support such a pre-emptive strike doesn't exist beyond hyperbole and warmongering rhetoric.

An editorial in Friday's New York Times, 'Wanted: Scarier Intelligence' outlines the deja vu scenario of Bush administration officials pushing the intelligence community - which won't be fooled again - into making a case for action against Iran, just in time to boost the Republicans' so-called 'strong on terror' message for the November election. Some 60% of Americans now oppose the Iraq war for various reasons and it is doubtful that the majority of those would be quick to buy what they're being sold as far as justifications for a war with Iran goes. One would hope, anyway.

The Bush administration has consistently come under fire from its allies - current and former - not only over its handling of Iraq, but for its inaction and unwillingness to deal with the crisis in the Middle East.

There's a whiff of change in the wind.

Italian FM: Harsh U.S. approach to Mideast failed
By Meron Rapoport, Haaretz Correspondent

ROME - If the planned multinational force in Lebanon succeeds, it might be possible to create a similar force for the Gaza Strip, Italian Foreign Minister Massimo D'Alema said in an interview with Haaretz.

D'Alema said that America's aggressive approach to the Middle East, which Israel shares, has failed, and has caused serious damage. Now, he said, Italy and Europe must prove to Israelis that only international intervention can bring them security.

The patience with America's superpower status has come to an end.

The empire is crumbling with Europe and China not only waiting in the wings but actively encouraging its demise.

And the current crisis proved, in your view, that the U.S. on its own cannot guarantee such security?

"This is obvious to me. The American policy, which Israel also supported, created an impossible situation. Just a few years ago, they foretold the demise of the UN. I recall that on the day Baghdad fell, Richard Perle wrote that along with Baghdad, the UN also fell. The thinking was that it is possible to control the world via the power of a hegemonic liberal power. This philosophy has created serious damage, and now the U.S. is looking for a logical way out."

The Bush administration's refusal to deal directly with North Korea and Iran along with its shunning of its own Road Map for peace may have appeased the PNAC neocons but these major foreign policy mistakes, that most of its allies now clearly see as weakness rather than strength, have diminished the status of American imperialism. The world has woken up to it now as have many Americans.

The Orwellian belief that peace can only be achieved by violence has been exposed for exactly what it is: a lie. And the quest for American world dominance by such means is now seen as a dangerous and deadly experiment whose time has run out.

Bush would do well to study the fate of the Roman Empire instead of relying on his neocon advisers, who selectively rewrite history to encourage their world view, if he truly wants to understand where his vision of America is headed.

How does the president think history will judge him for going to war in Iraq?

“After the second interview with him on Dec. 11, we got up and walked over to one of the doors. There are all of these doors in the Oval Office that lead outside. And he had his hands in his pocket, and I just asked, ‘Well, how is history likely to judge your Iraq war,’” says Woodward.

“And he said, ‘History,’ and then he took his hands out of his pocket and kind of shrugged and extended his hands as if this is a way off. And then he said, ‘History, we don’t know. We’ll all be dead.’”
- Bob Woodward, CBS's 60 Minutes

This conjunction of an immense military establishment and a large arms industry is new in the American experience. The total influence -- economic, political, even spiritual -- is felt in every city, every State house, every office of the Federal government. We recognize the imperative need for this development. Yet we must not fail to comprehend its grave implications. Our toil, resources and livelihood are all involved; so is the very structure of our society.

In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the militaryindustrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist.

We must never let the weight of this combination endanger our liberties or democratic processes. We should take nothing for granted. Only an alert and knowledgeable citizenry can compel the proper meshing of the huge industrial and military machinery of defense with our peaceful methods and goals, so that security and liberty may prosper together.
- Dwight D. Eisenhower, 1960

* See also: Chronology: The Evolution of the Bush Doctrine (PBS-Frontline)