Monday, May 31, 2004

War is All Hell

General William Tecumseh Sherman said, "War is all hell." Not only is war hell, but so is the attempt to remember it. I had this feeling as I channel surfed between a History Channel segment of "Save Our History," which focused on the new World War II memorial, and the PBS Memorial Day concert.

The memorial is "vaguely totalitarian" at best. It looks like every Hitler and Mussolini public art project I ever saw. I don't know who had the brilliant idea to make it evoke the fascist ideology that more than 400,000 Americans died to defeat. Of course, it is difficult to criticize the memorial that so many veterans waited years to see. I understand their love for it, but I think they deserved better.

I am also more than a little miffed that the memorial was erected at all. I never felt that WWII vets were insufficiently honored. That war was known as the good war. It is the last conflict that was almost universally supported. The drive to build the memorial got a boost from the film Saving Private Ryan and its star Tom Hanks, who suddenly became an expert on veterans issues. As I switched from channel to channel I kept seeing Hanks face. When all else fails in America, bring in a celebrity.

Unfortunately, we have not learned how to remember the war dead without exalting war itself. The PBS concert featured amputee vets just back from Iraq sitting in the front row. Emcee Ossie Davis, known for his progressive views, narrated a short video showing among other things the bodies of the mercenary contractors killed at Fallujah. It also spoke of insurgents "killing innocent civilians" and asseting that "no one is safe" from them. I am very tired of Iraqis fighting against an occupation of their country being called "insurgents" and "terrorists." I could only say, et tu Ossie.

Today's New York Times had the coup de grace, a story about the difficulty some Iraq war vets have in readjusting to civilian life. This news story is not news at all. It is the same situation that arises from every war ever fought. Soldiers are sent to kill or be killed, and watch as others are killed. They are then expected to come home to changed families and get over it all.

Timothy McVeigh didn't get over it. John Muhammad didn't get over it. The 4 Fort Bragg soldiers who returned from Afghanistan and killed their wives didn't get over it. These are the most extreme examples of post traumatic stress, but we would do well to remember them too.

During the Memorial Day concert actor Charles Durning shared his harrowing story of nearly drowning at Normandy when he and his compatriots went ashore not on the beach but in 50 feet of water. We need to hear his story of seeing his sergeant's body torn apart or of seeing another soldier who lay dying and wondered aloud how his intestines would be placed back into his body.

Perhaps we can celebrate soldiers by advocating against war. Maybe we should think a little longer before we "finish the job" or "take out Saddam." It is the height of hypocrisy to say yes to war and then respond to its aftermath with monumental ugliness on the Washington Mall. It isn't just the memorial that was ugly, but the use of elderly veterans and their suffering to exalt the horror inflicted in every military conflict. We should have said no thank you to Tom Hanks and Bob Dole. Today we should think about the families who are left to suffer the loss of their loved ones. Let's have a memorial to those who grieve, which probably wouldn't bring any politicians to the podium. The more I think of that idea, the better it sounds.

Saturday, May 22, 2004

A Draft of Former Soldiers

What is a ready reservist? Unbeknownst to me, the military "owns" enlistees for 8 years. Anyone who finishes their 3 year term of enlistment still owes Uncle Sam 5 more years.

Over 100,000 ready reservists were recently called up and ordered to report to Guard and Reserve units. It seems that Rumsfeld and others were wrong. We did need more soldiers in order to invade and occupy Iraq.

So all those poor slobs who joined the service to earn money for college have been pulled out of classes. Read all about it here and here.

Friday, May 21, 2004

Bush, the Rapture and Why They Hate Us

When will Christians speak up? How long will we stand by and allow religious fanatics to destroy our faith, our country and the world?

I don't mind if people believe in the rapture, that is to say that when Jesus returns the righteous will disappear on the spot and be on the right hand of God. I do mind very much when people with this belief have access to the White House and think that Ariel Sharon will bring about the second coming if he is allowed to kill more Palestinians at Rafah.

Thursday, May 20, 2004

New York Times Must 'Fess Up

When Jayson Blair gave NY Times readers news that was not fit to print the Gray Lady did an extensive mea culpa. When will they reveal to readers the degree to which they were in bed with Iraqi con man Ahmed Chalabi? Chalabi used NY Times scribe Judith Miller to whip up the frenzied but hollow case for war with "exclusive" information on non-existent WMDs. The Times helped make a bogus case for war. I am hoping for an apology, but I'm not holding my breath.

Florida Vote Theft

How was Florida stolen in 2000? It wasn't with hanging chads and butterfly ballots. Over 94,000 Floridians who were eligible to vote were removed from the rolls as part of a purge of "felons". Some of the felonies took place in 2007. I guess Katherine Harris and Jeb Bush helped Spielberg write Minority Report.

It is all about to happen again. John Kerry, who has more to lose than anyone, hasn't said a word. One of many reasons to be pessimistic about his chances.

Friday, May 14, 2004

Nick Berg Killing

Was Nick Berg beheaded after he was already dead? Was he killed by Americans? It sounds like bad television but the questions are quite relevant. Al-Jazeera gives a summary of the most worthy theories.

Wednesday, May 12, 2004

Where is Kerry?

"This is entirely unacceptable. I think it is a total washout."
Richard Lugar

"I don't feel good at all about what I'm finding out about who didn't know what."
Trent Lott

"That's unacceptable."
Pat Roberts

"It's abysmal; it's criminal." [And if allegations are proved true] "somebody needs to go to jail."
Orrin Hatch

"Let me just assure you that if I were president, we'd have a very different set of activities going on in Iraq today."
John Kerry

Why is John Kerry only even with a man who didn't really win, who lost 2 million jobs, and who lied to get us into a disastrous war? Perhaps it is because while GOP Senators are at least pretending to be outraged about Abu Ghraib and their lack of information about it, Kerry can't seem to find anything to say. He called Bush's response to the Abu Ghraib scandal "slow and inappropriate." It takes one to know one Senator.

Friday, May 07, 2004

White Supremacy in Iraq

The current issue of Black Commentator tells you all you need to know about U.S. involvement in Iraq. America is unfit to run Iraq or any other country while we are infected with the evil of white supremacy.

Leftists for Rummy

When in doubt, scapegoat. The warmongers have egg on their face after the Abu Ghraib torture was made public. There are even more photos of Iraqi humiliation caused by Pfc. Lynndie England's very bad case of American jungle fever.

Warmonger in Chief, Thomas Friedman of the NY Times, says that Rumsfeld should be fired. Friedman is a joke. For months he told us that the U.S. could remake the Middle East, bring democracy and yada, yada, yada. Rather than admit he was wrong he says that Rumsfeld should go. Let Friedman lose his job. Rumsfeld was at least honest. Who can forget this quote, "Are people going to die? You bet!" If Bush loses his job then Rumsfeld is out too. Let's just leave it there.

Wednesday, May 05, 2004

Let Them Eat Dirt

photo - Ruth Fremson, New York Times
A woman in Fort Dimanche laying out biscuits to dry, biscuits made of butter, salt, water and dirt.

Haiti was the poorest country in this hemisphere before the U.S. overthrew the Aristide government. Now it is even worse. The Haitian people exist by making biscuits made from dirt. If you don't believe it, the New York Times, not a liberal publication at all, tells the story.

Monday, May 03, 2004

Torture at Abu Ghraib Prison

"They were trying to humiliate us, break our pride. We are men. It's OK if they beat me. Beatings don't hurt us, it's just a blow. But no one would want their manhood to be shattered," he said.

"They wanted us to feel as though we were women, the way women feel and this is the worst insult, to feel like a woman," al-Shweiri said.

Dhia al-Shweiri, former prisoner

These authenticated photos appeared in a New Yorker article detailing the story of humiliation, torture and death at Abu Ghraib prison.

Sunday, May 02, 2004

Removed post

It seems that some of the Iraq prison photos may be frauds from a porn site. I have removed a previous post showing some of the pictures. I will give more information if I get it.

Saturday, May 01, 2004

Bill Maher Kicks Chris Matthews' Butt

Chris Matthews is up to his old tricks. He has declared that voters don't like Kerry. In 2000 he said that voters didn't like Gore. I guess Matthews is on the GOP payroll. But Bill Maher has his number and showed it on the 7th anniversary of Hardball. I don't think it is a good thing that Hardball has been on for 7 years, but there are many other things wrong with America. Here is an excerpt from the transcript.

MATTHEWS: Bill Maher, what do you make of this fight over whether he threw ribbons or medals in 1971, a third of a century ago?

BILL MAHER, HOST, “REAL TIME WITH BILL MAHER”: Why are you covering this? Why are you taking this bait, seriously? Why are you even letting them bait you into covering this complete nonissue? This guy has medals. This guy has ribbons. The other guy didn‘t go. That‘s the whole story.

The other guy is a draft dodger. They were both rich kids in the ‘60s. One of them went to where the bullets were flying and one of them found a way not to go and then he lied about that. Stop covering the medals.

MATTHEWS: All right, I did have to cover it because he had a lot to say last night. Apparently, John Kerry wanted to go on and make clear something where he—maybe he should have shut up about it, but he wanted to make clear that he was being truthful because he said medals and ribbons mean the same to a guy who actually served in the military.

MAHER: Look, one guy went into the National Guard, which back then was a way of getting out of it. On top of that, he had the nerve to say to Tim Russert, and, you know, if my Guard unit had been called up, I would have gone. How very brave, Mr. President, considering that only 8,700 out of 2.5 million men and women who went to Vietnam, only 8,700 Guard people were ever called up there, 0.03 percent. So there was no chance he would have been called up.

That‘s George Bush for you. Hold me back, hold me back.

MATTHEWS: Well, he did say in a recent press conference with everyone watching—apparently, 30 million people watched this press conference recently—the president was asked if he ever made any mistakes, and he said he hadn‘t made any.

MAHER: He was drunk until he was 40. That‘s not a mistake?


MAHER: And what about Iraq? What about the fact that he


MATTHEWS: I‘m talking about his four years as president, Bill.


Well, what about Iraq? I mean, and I‘m not even talking about the decision to go into Iraq, which, you know, doesn‘t look so good nowadays. But what about the fact that as of today—I‘m looking at this news about Fallujah, and I hear what President Bush is saying. Do you remember Baghdad Bob, the guy we all laughed at because he was saying things that were completely crazy?


MAHER: OK. Well, President Bush sounds like Washington Bob right now. I swear to God. He‘s saying, it‘s only a few troublemakers. It‘s a few rotten eggs that we‘re fighting over there.

Are you kidding? Is he joking?

MATTHEWS: Well, why is he going up in the polls? We got a Pew Research poll. We could show you any poll. They all show him moving up, where he was behind.

So what is President Bush doing the last month that‘s so good and what‘s so bad, I guess you would have to say, about John Kerry‘s performance the last month or so? What‘s going on?

MAHER: Well, for one thing, he‘s getting the media to cover this nonsense about John Kerry‘s medals. So Joe public, as President Bush would call him, sits home and goes, well, gosh, there was a controversy with Bush‘s military history and now there‘s a controversy with John Kerry‘s military history. I don‘t know who to vote for. It‘s nonsense. It is nonsense.

One guy actually has honor and integrity, although I will admit that John Kerry certainly is not burdened with charisma, and the other guy only has the words honor and integrity. He‘s never connected them to anything.

And he never connects anything


MATTHEWS: What can John Kerry do? Life is unfair, as Jack Kennedy once said, but what happens when you have got a guy like George Bush who may be a swell, who may have gotten breaks to get into Yale, breaks certainly to get into the National Guard, all his life were breaks, maybe to make a ton of money with a baseball team?

But he comes off, fairly or not, as sort of a regular guy, whereas John Kerry, who was the balls-out guy, went to war, did the job for the country, won the three—earned, you would have to say, the three Purple Hearts, the Bronze Star, the Silver Star, saved lives, killed the enemy, he comes off as kind of cold. And then the American people are like thermometers. If the guy is warm, they like him. If he‘s cold, they don‘t. Is that fair?

MAHER: And, also, this is something I said before, but I think it bears repeating in this instance to your question. The true axis of evil in America is the brilliance of our marketing combined with the stupidity of our people.

George Bush has $180 million to spend. With that kind of money, he could convince Americans to drink paint, and he probably will.

MATTHEWS: Is that your prediction?

MAHER: In fact, I believe that‘s his environmental policy.

MATTHEWS: Is that your prediction for November, November 2, that the American people eat paint?


MAHER: Vanilla paint, Chris.

MATTHEWS: I‘m beginning to think like Jonestown here. I‘m getting worried. It‘s one thing to drink the Kool-Aid, but to drink the lead-based paint?



MAHER: I‘m just saying, with enough money, you can convince people of anything. And that is what George Bush does. He is one of the most cynical presidents we‘ve ever had, I believe, because with that kind of money, he plays on people‘s fears, he plays on people‘s ignorance, and he plays on people‘s shortsightedness.

MATTHEWS: If you were one of those guys in a boxing ring, the guy with the towel over his shoulder and the bucket next to the contender, John Kerry—you know those guys, usually names like Bud or something like that, Andy, would you know how to warm the guy up for these national appearance? Would you know how to tweak him and pinch him and punch him and get him to come out there a little more—a little red-meaty?

MAHER: No, you can‘t do that. John Kerry‘s campaign slogan should be, do not resuscitate. I‘m sorry. That‘s just who he is.


MAHER: But you know what? That‘s who he is. Why do people have to like the guy? Why do they have—I hear people say, I don‘t know if I‘m comfortable with John Kerry. You know what? You don‘t have to go to bed with him. Just vote for him.

We‘re such babies about it. We don‘t—you know, in the days before television, people didn‘t judge presidents on whether he was sunny or warm or likable. They judged on whether he was the best man for the job. I would like to bring that criteria back now that we‘re at war.

MATTHEWS: It must be great not to have to be fair and balanced, Bill.

Thank you very much, Bill Maher. Good luck.



MAHER: Speaking of fair and balanced, on your anniversary, I just—

I got some statistics. In seven years, for you, Chris, 1,841 interrupted responses, 3,621 guest bullied into crying, and 2,974 unfairly rephrased positions. That‘s quite a record, Chris. Congratulations.

MATTHEWS: What a toter you are. Thank you very much, Bill Maher.

Good luck with the show, 11:00 HBO. It‘s dynamite, “Real Time.”

MAHER: All right.

MATTHEWS: HARDBALL‘s seventh anniversary continues after this