Thursday, April 29, 2004

"How do you ask a man to be the last man to die for a mistake?"

John Kerry has to find a way to speak out against the war in Iraq. Yes, he did vote in favor of it, but he is a smart guy, an Ivy Leaguer. He had better figure out a way to question the mess that Bush has gotten us into or he will be the last man to lose because he couldn't give people a reason to vote for him.
Why they hate us

"Sometimes a guy will go down, and I'll let him scream a bit to destroy the morale of his buddies. Then I'll use a second shot."

"To take a bad guy out," he explains, "is an incomparable "adrenaline rush."

I guess it never occurred to this genius that the victim's buddies are motivated to fight back when their guy is suffering. Then again, it isn't surprising that he wouldn't consider the possibility that Iraqis think and feel the way he does. Iraqis aren't human beings after all. Read it here. The Pentagon is now acting like a slumlord, helping U.S. troops to fight and kill better in cities. Be all that you can be.

Wednesday, April 28, 2004

Why do they hate us?

Why do they hate us? It isn't very complicated. U.S. forces have fired on ambulances in Fallujah and we have further humiliated the Iraqis by choosing a new flag when even anti-Hussein Iraqis liked their old flag.

By the way, the U.S. ambassador designate to Iraq, John Negroponte, was death squad friendly when he served as ambassador to Honduras. Democratic Senator Christopher Dodd shamed himself when he kissed Negroponte's butt during confirmation hearings.

"Whatever differences I've had years ago with John Negroponte, I happen to feel he's a very fine Foreign Service officer and has done a tremendous job in many places."

Congressional Democrats are proving themselves to be more and more useless to the American people.

Friday, April 23, 2004

Mordechai Vanunu

Mordechai Vanunu was released from an Israeli prison this week. Vanunu was a technician at the Dimona nuclear facility. In 1985 he confirmed that Israeli was building nuclear weapons. After his story appeared in the Sunday Times he was lured to Rome by a female Mossad agent where he was drugged, kidnapped and taken to Israel for trial. Vanunu wrote this information on the palm of his hand and held it up to a car window so that the international press would know what had happened to him.

Mordechai Vanunu is still not free. He is not allowed to meet with foreigners, or the media, nor is he allowed to leave Israel. Sounds like "banning" in apartheid era South Africa. Democracy Now has great reporting on the story. You can express support for Vanunu here.

Wednesday, April 21, 2004

Thanks Ariel, America Needed Another Bulls Eye on Its Back

Juan Cole made this statement in a 4/18 post.

Rantisi and Najaf

The Sunday Herald correctly points out that the Israeli murder of Abdul Aziz Rantisi, the head of the political wing of the Hamas party, on Saturday, will cause further trouble in Iraq.

With al-Anbar province tense and US troops surrounding Najaf, one could not imagine a worse time for Bush to give a green light to Sharon for further provocations. One can only conclude that neither Ariel Sharon nor Bush and his Neocon advisers give a fig about the lives of US and Coalition servicemen in Iraq. Otherwise, they'd stop with the theatrics. If the Israelis had wanted to arrest Rantisi, they could have. They pulled off Entebbe. This extra-judicial murder of political opponents is just showing off, and it is of course ethically despicable and a war crime for which one only wishes Sharon could be made to stand trial in the Hague. If Rantisi could have been proved to have committed an act of terrorism, he should have been arrested and tried in Gaza for murder. I condemn violence by Palestinian leaders just as I do that done by Israeli ones, and do not have a problem with terrorists being punished for killing innocent people. I do have a problem with political rivals whacking one another unnecessarily, especially when it is likely to get some of my friends killed.

I feel like something of a fool for bothering to say all this, since it is obvious that Sharon is behaving like a Mafia don--Arik Soprano--not a head of state. But the commentary I saw on US cable television was all about who could fall over themselves more quickly to praise this 'decisive action against terrorism.' The state of public discourse in the US (and Israel) is deplorable when it is not even possible publicly to criticize extra-judicial killing in the mass media.

Tuesday, April 20, 2004

Bush Changes the Subject

You have to give credit where it is due. Bush and his cronies know that Iraq is looking worse by the minute so they change the subject. We are back to the evil dictator. Today the Iraqi Governing Council announced a war crimes tribunal. How convenient. U.S. troops are fighting house to house in Fallujah, which anti-war critics predicted, U.S. mercenaries and other contractors are being kidnapped and killed, and Spain says adios. What a perfect time to talk about the evil Saddam.

Because Bremer and company make the situation worse with every decision (closing al-Sadr's newspaper) I am sure that there is some unintended consequence of trying Saddam in court. Even Iraqis who hated Saddam now hate us. We are the ones who can't keep the lights on, drop bombs on their houses, shoot cilinians during cease fires, and keep 12,000 Iraqis in detention without charging them with crimes or giving them access to attorneys or their families. Saddam is now a memory. You know what that means. Selective amnesia will set in. People in an honor based culture will be angry that their former leader is being humiliated. Putting Saddam on trial changes the subject in the U.S., but it will only make things worse for us in the Arab world.

I wonder if the tribunal will discuss the Reagan era alliance with Saddam. When Hussein was killing Kurds and Iranians with chemical weapons he was our friend. He and Donald Rumsfeld, then special envoy for Reagan, had a great meeting 20 years ago. Remember this photo when you hear about the evil dictator.

Friday, April 16, 2004

Kerry Does Know How to Win

A controversial 30-second TV spot for Kerry that aired throughout the Midwest Monday blamed the country's ills not on Bush's policies, but on the "sheer stupidity" of America's voters.

"In the past four years, America's national debt has reached an all-time high," the ad's narrator said. "And who's responsible? You are. You're sitting there eating a big bowl of Fritos, watching TV, and getting fatter as the country goes to hell. You ought to be ashamed of yourself."

I would love an ad like that. Of course it isn't for real. It comes to us courtesy of the Onion. Who else?

Thursday, April 15, 2004

Does Kerry Know How to Win?

The U.S. had a surplus before Bush was president. The U.S. had good relations with its allies before Bush was president. The U.S. wasn't making enemies in the Arab and Muslim world before Bush was president. Why do polls show him even or closely behind Kerry? Get your answer from Freedom Rider in Black Commentator.

Wednesday, April 14, 2004

The Thinker

"John, I'm sure historians will look back and say, gosh, he could have done it better this way, or that way. You know, I just -- I'm sure something will pop into my head here in the midst of this press conference, with all the pressure of trying to come up with an answer, but it hadn't yet. " - George W. Bush, press conference on 4/13/04

Monday, April 12, 2004

Fishing with George W. Bush

You already know that Dubya was AWOL while Iraqi civilians were being killed and U.S. GIs were being killed and memos surfaced telling us that Bin Laden was determined to attack in America. The President was at his ranch pretending to be a farmer when he is in fact an east coast, Ivy League, old money, blue blood.

He was not just relaxing at Easter. He was locking up the Nascar Dad vote by taping an appearance on the television show Fishing with Roland Martin. You wouldn't know it unless you read the Daily Howler (scroll down). The NY Times and Washington Post didn't want you to worry your little head about it all. Only the LA Times had the guts to be honest. Why the big secret? The President who spends vacations "clearing brush" should be happy to let us know that he is fishing with a good old boy.
Death in Fallujah and Haiti

An estimated 125 people are buried in this sports field, turned cemetery. Up to 600 people have been killed in the six-day siege of Falluja.

Iraqi civilians are being killed in the so-called Fallujah cease fire. Listen to or watch Democracy Now. Also, Democracy Now has disturbing news from Haiti. Hundreds of Aristide supporters have been murdered. The unclaimed dead that stay in the morgue are lucky. Some dead bodies have been dumped and left for pigs to eat.
Picture of the Day

An American soldier thinks he is funny
Quote of the Day

"I train my son to kill Americans. That is one reason I am grateful to Saddam Hussein. All Iraqis know how to use weapons."

"They searched my house. They kicked my Koran. They speak to me so poorly in front of my children. It's not that I encourage my son to hate Americans. It's not that I make him want to join the resistance. Americans do that for me."

New York Times, April 11, 2004

Saturday, April 10, 2004

"He wanted to stop when he saw the naked women and the bikinis."

Taking a cue from Attorney General Ashcroft, the G&L Garden Center is Hartsville, Tennessee has covered up nude statues with velvet sarongs.

Of course, customers who wouldn't have noticed otherwise are now peeking under the sarongs, hoping to see what I don't know. Sales of the statues have increased, proving that sex sells, even in the Bible Belt.
Happy Easter

I wish all my Christian brothers and sisters a very happy Easter, oops, I mean Resurrection Sunday. You can't say Easter anymore. That's right. If you are a good member of the American Taliban it is a sin to think of bonnets and bunnies any more. It is such a terrible sin that the Easter bunny must be whipped. You read correctly. A group of capital C Christians from the Glassport Assembly of God church in Glassport, Pennsylvania broke eggs and flogged an Easter bunny character to impress upon the faithful the folly of the pagan origins of Easter. I guess they saw The Passion one time too many.

Here is an article from the Dallas Morning News (registration is required to read anything, so I have copied it here).

It's Easter, but some prefer to use a more sacred name

The Resurrection, not bunnies and eggs, should take center stage, many churches say

04:23 PM CDT on Friday, April 9, 2004

By BERTA DELGADO / The Dallas Morning News

For most of the world's Christians, tomorrow is Easter Sunday. But a growing number prefer what they consider a more appropriate name: Resurrection Day.

The reasons stem from the past and from the present.

Because of "the commercialization and the background of the word Easter" – including its association with spring and fertility – "many churches choose to emphasize the Resurrection," said Dr. Mark Bailey, president of Dallas Theological Seminary.

The holiday, he said, "is not about eggs, it's not about rabbits."

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"Easter" is derived from the names Germanic tribes used for their goddess of fertility.

"Churches want to make clear that this isn't a holdover of a pagan holiday," Dr. Bailey said. "It's the celebration of the resurrection of Jesus as the Son of God."

The Rev. Ralph Holland is senior pastor of Mundo de Fe, a Spanish-language church started by Covenant Church in Carrollton. Both churches, he said, prefer to call the celebration "Resurrection Sunday."

"The background of the word Easter speaks of fertility, but for us, the Resurrection speaks of life," Dr. Holland said. "Christ gave us new life. We're born again."

Some churches say they don't want society's trappings to get in the way of worship. St. John Missionary Baptist Church in Grand Prairie sometimes declares Easter a "dress down day."

"We want to take the focus off the commercialization," said Paul Jones, a spokesman for the 12,000-member church.

"Our purpose is not to celebrate corporate America at this time, but the Resurrection Day. So we say come in T-shirts, jeans, whatever.

"The focus is not on wearing a fancy Easter bonnet and new patent leather shoes."

Not everyone sees the distinction as a big deal. "Easter" doesn't bother the Rev. Jeff Jones.

"I don't get bent out of shape with people celebrating with Easter bunnies," said the senior pastor of Fellowship Bible Church North in Plano. "It's up to parents, if they know Christ, to make sure that it's more than that."


My fellow Christians, let's give it a rest. I do think that Christians can wear bonnets or dye eggs and still know the importance of the life and death of Jesus.

Happy Easter. Put on your bonnet and don't flog any bunnies.

Friday, April 09, 2004

Re: Israeli Company

I am told that the story from Ha'aretz is old news. The original story was written a few days after 9/11 but the web site always shows the current date. That makes it even more interesting. What were the results of the investigation, assuming it was ever conducted.

Thursday, April 08, 2004

Israeli Company Warned about 9/11 Attacks

According to Ha'aretz, an Israeli newspaper, employees of Odigo, an Israeli company located in New York, were warned about the attacks two hours before the first plane struck. Thanks to Progressive Review for the link.

Wednesday, April 07, 2004

Too Stupid for Words

What is too stupid for words? Killing people at worship is so stupid that I am at a loss for words, other than these. The next time American bodies are strung up from a bridge, don't bother asking why they hate us.
Wal-Mart: Always Low Wages, Always

Would you want to give an employer a city within your city? Would you want an employer that locks employees in the store all night? Suppose this employer paid low wages and provided few benefits? If you said no to these questions you are like the voters in Inglewood, California, who told Wal-Mart, the world's largest retailer, to get lost.

Last year the City Council told Wal-Mart they were not welcome in those parts and should leave town before sundown. Wal-Mart didn't get to be the largest retailer on earth by taking no for an answer. They responded by spending over $1 million on a ballot initiative. Wal-Mart wanted to take over a 60 acre site that would not have to follow zoning or any other ordinances in Inglewood. They wanted it so badly that they even paid the people getting signatures for the ballot initiative more than they pay their own workers. But they lost anyway. After Schwarzenegger became Governor I despaired of that state. It seem that at least one town has common sense. Viva Inglewood!

Tuesday, April 06, 2004

Shut up Colin!

Waaaay back on November 11, 2003 the Freedom Rider poked a little fun at Colin Powell when he admitted using the prescription sleep aid ambien. At the time I said that the entire administration seemed to be drugged, so it all made sense.

Now I know why Colin can't sleep at night. He is a no good, low down, lying snake in the grass. Not content to kidnap President Aristide and install thugs to replace him, Colin personally returned to the scene of the crime yesterday. He even said that the U.S. would help prosecute Aristide, whose only crime was standing up to the U.S. This prosecution threat is meant to keep Aristide from returning to Haiti. I hope that someone prosecutes the U.S. for what it did in Haiti and for what it is doing in Iraq.

As for Iraq, Powell is now trying to weasle out of the statements he made last February at the United Nations. He told the most obvious lies about weapons of mass destruction. Even I, an internet surfing news junkie, knew that he was making it all up. One of his former staff people 'fessed up to 60 Minutes on that score. Now Powell is saying that the evidence of Iraqi mobile labs of death were "not solid." No s_ _t Sherlock.

One would think that Powell had embarrassed himself enough for one week. But noooo. Now he has taken on Ted Kennedy. Kennedy had the nerve to say that Iraq is like Vietnam. I don't know if there is an exact parallel, but we are at the beginning stages of a major butt whipping by people who want us out of their country. Sounds like 'Nam to me.

I digress. Patriotism is indeed the last refuge of scoundrels. Powell has told Kennedy to shut up, well, in so many words. He said that the Senator should remember that "we are at war."

I don't know what Powell has to do in order to receive the disdain he so richly deserves. It is way past time to stop defending him. Denial is not a river in Egypt. Colin Powell is a lying dog like everyone else in the Bush administration and he knows it. That is why he can't sleep at night.

Monday, April 05, 2004

Life is Tough When You're Stupid

One would think that closing down a newspaper and creating massive demonstrations would be enough dumb decision making for one week. However, we are talking about the Bush administration. Now they want to arrest Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr. The warrant was issued months ago but now is the perfect moment to go get him? Let's pour more gasoline on the fire. But wait, there's more. Now U.S. forces have surrounded Fallujah to root out the terrorists and stay the course. It is also platitude week at the White House. At any rate, all of these events indicate the beginning of the butt whipping that the U.S. has been headed for since the beginning of the occupation.

You Talkin' to Me?

The Bush White House is like the old Soviet Union. Trotsky was removed from Soviet history books when he fell out of favor. If the Bushies say or do something they later regret it disappears from the record. Read the latest Bush press conference quickly or it will be gone. Just in case you don't move quickly enough, here is a very telling portion. Make note of the incoherent speech, grammatical errors, cutesy nicknames with reporters, and crankiness from Bush and obsequiousness from the press. Also, his use of the word "will" is kind of spooky, don't you think?

"Let me ask you a couple of questions. Who is the AP person?

Q I am.


Q Sir, in regard to --

THE PRESIDENT: Who are you talking to?

Q Mr. President, in regard to the June 30th deadline, is there a chance that that would be moved back?

THE PRESIDENT: No, the intention is to make sure the deadline remains the same. I believe we can transfer authority by June 30th. We're working toward that day. We're, obviously, constantly in touch with Jerry Bremer on the transfer of sovereignty. The United Nations is over there now. The United Nations representative is there now to work on the -- on a -- on to whom we transfer sovereignty. I mean, in other words, it's one thing to decide to transfer. We're now in the process of deciding what the entity will look like to whom we will transfer sovereignty. But, no, the date remains firm.


Q Mr. President, are you concerned at all that events like we've seen over the last week in Iraq are going to make it tougher to meet that deadline, or increase pressure from the U.N. or anyone else?

THE PRESIDENT: Well, I think there's -- my judgment is, is that the closer we come to the deadline, the more likely it is people will challenge our will. In other words, it provides a convenient excuse to attack. In this particular incident, with Sadr, this is one person who is deciding that rather than allow democracy to flourish, he's going to exercise force. And we just can't let it stand. As I understand, the CPA today announced a warrant for his arrest. This is one person -- this is a person, and followers, who are trying to say, we don't want democracy -- as a matter of fact, we'll decide the course of democracy by the use of force. And that is the opposite of democracy. And it's -- that's why the CPA issued the statement they issued.

But, Stretch, I think throughout this period there's going to be tests. We were tested in Fallujah. And the desire for those who do not want there to be a free and democratic Iraq is to shake our will through acts of violence and terror. It's not only our will, it's the will of other coalition forces and it's the will of the Iraqi people. As you know, that many Iraqis have been targeted. As a matter of fact, the al Qaeda affiliate Zarqawi made it clear that part of the strategy was to turn Shia on Sunni by killing innocent Iraqis.

And we've got to stay the course, and we will stay the course. The message to the Iraqi citizens is, they don't have to fear that America will turn and run. And that's an important message for them to hear. If they think that we're not sincere about staying the course, many people will not continue to take a risk toward -- take the risk toward freedom and democracy.

Yes, Tamara.

Q Mr. President, can you tell us a little bit about your decision-making for the next ambassador to Iraq, and what you're looking for in the person who would represent the administration?

THE PRESIDENT: Good question. I am looking for somebody who can run a big embassy, somebody who understands the relationship between an embassy and the military. Because one of the things that's going to be very important for the next ambassador to Iraq -- this will be the person that takes Jerry Bremer's place -- will be the willingness and capability of working with a very strong -- a country in which there's a very strong U.S. military presence, as well as a coalition presence. This person is going to need to have enough experience to basically start an embassy from the ground up, and also be willing to transfer certain people and authorities from the CPA to the embassy itself. In other words, it's a very complex task that's going to require a skilled soul. And we're in the process of searching it out now.

Q Mr. President, can you just tell me -- the 9/11 Commission, the Chairman yesterday, Governor Kean, said a date had been set, I think, for your testimony and the Vice President's. Is that --

THE PRESIDENT: I would call it a meeting.

Q A meeting, I'm sorry.

THE PRESIDENT: Thank you."

Is it any wonder that we depend on David Letterman and John Stewart to stand up to the White House?

Friday, April 02, 2004

CNN and David Letterman

What did they know and when did they know it? Paul Krugman sets the record straight in today's New York Times.

"On Monday, Mr. Letterman ran a video clip of a boy yawning and fidgeting during a speech by George Bush. It was harmless stuff; a White House that thinks it's cute to have Mr. Bush make jokes about missing W.M.D. should be able to handle a little ribbing about boring speeches.

CNN ran the Letterman clip on Tuesday, just before a commercial. Then the CNN anchor Daryn Kagan came back to inform viewers that the clip was a fake: "We're being told by the White House that the kid, as funny as he was, was edited into that video." Later in the day, another anchor amended that: the boy was at the rally, but not where he was shown in the video.

On his Tuesday night show, Mr. Letterman was not amused: "That is an out and out 100 percent absolute lie. The kid absolutely was there, and he absolutely was doing everything we pictured via the videotape."

But here's the really interesting part: CNN backed down, but it told Mr. Letterman that Ms. Kagan "misspoke," that the White House was not the source of the false claim. (So who was? And if the claim didn't come from the White House, why did CNN run with it without checking?)

In short, CNN passed along a smear that it attributed to the White House. When the smear backfired, it declared its previous statements inoperative and said the White House wasn't responsible. Sound familiar?"

Is CNN lying now, or were they lying before? Did the White House really call them or not? If they didn't call, why would they say they did? If they did call, why are they now claiming that they didn't? The Freedom Rider bets that the White House called. Krugman's column addresses a far more serious issue, Bush administration efforts to smear Richard Clarke with the help of the compliant media. (You must register to read Times stories, but registration is free.) While seemingly less trivial, the CNN incident tells us quite a bit about the appalling lack of journalistic standards. Wolf Blitzer, CNN anchor, passed along a smear about Clarke and then backed down when Krugman called him on it. The Daily Howler gives us more examples of the media taking their cues from the White House on the subject of Richard Clarke.

Thursday, April 01, 2004

Why Fallujah

"The inciden happened in Fallujah where two days before that, the American army shot many many people, women and children, on the streets, and -- in a bizarre shooting incident that was unjustified, killing many people."
Ghazwan al-Mukhtar, Iraqi engineer

Democracy Now! tells us why the residents of Fallujah are glad to see Americans dead.

If you think CNN is wimpy about Iraq, they won't even stand up to the White House where David Letterman is concerned. Letterman showed footage of a kid standing next to President Bush who was obviously growing bored with Dubya. CNN picked up the footage but got a call from the White House claiming that the footage was edited. They immediately gave the White House line on the story. I would have thought they would call Letterman to confirm, but when Karl Rove said jump they replied, "How high?" It is all pretty pathetic. David Letterman stands up for the truth and CNN caves.
The Last to Know

As usual the rest of the world saw different versions of the killings of Americans in Fallujah. The U.S. media felt the need to protect us all from the violent scenes when we needed to see them more than anyone else in the world.

Americans have also missed images of Iraqi dead. Between 8,799 and 10,649 Iraqi civilians have been killed since the occupation began last year. One brave media source, CNN, had a policy of not reporting on Iraqi civilian dead without also mentioning American casualties. Wimps! Let's look at what the rest of the world has seen.