Saturday, December 22, 2007

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Torture Me!

As anyone who follows this business even marginally--and since it reflects on our humanity, everyone should follow it more closely than that--a former CIA operative and interrogator, John Kiriakou, argued in the Washington Post and then on the rounds of talk shows, that the torture of Abu Zubaydah produced information that was used to thwart terrior attacks but that torture was nonetheless wrong. On the face of it, the claim is so contradictory as to be rendered meaningless--in other words, this is not an issue one can split both ways. But as the Post's David Froomkin points, Kiriakou, like every other Bushy who makes this argument fails to offer a bit of evidence in the form who-what-when-where? to prove a thing. The destroyed tapes of Zubaydah's torture probably would have provided information on this count that could have been corroborated. Was destruction of the tapes mandated in part by the utter absence of such information? Rather, the tapes showed torture and brutality carried out for no purpose that accomplished nothing positive.


Sunday, December 09, 2007

what we are paying for

sorry, no upper case now. i've a weight on my left hand--inflammation for reasons unknown of a long ago injury incurred when i thought i could play high school football. i read in the nyt and other papers, the reports of this week about a national intelligence estimate concluding that iran had put its nuclear weapons program in mothballs in 2003. so i obtained the thing itself by a link from the times --iran: nuclear intentions and capabilities--and it is about as clear as a government document can be--more so, since the cheney pushed hard, it has been reported by seymour hersh in the new yorker, among others, to have this conclusion changed. the bushies immediately struck back, proclaiming that iran remained a "threat.' that was to be exxpected.

unanticipated, until you sat back and reflected on it was the insistance of the mainstream press on finding 'doves'--described in this los angeles times article as people to the 'left' of george bush--who also claimed the nie was not possibly accurate, that it underestimated iranian intentions. of course, we're dealing here with vestiges of the cold war and the longstanding habit of the vast majority of american politicians to be rabidly anti-communist and pro-military. the goal now is to transfer that 'bipartisan consensus' to the war on terriors, and one way to do that is to declare anyone who believes that you use the police and courts to corral and contain terriorists a 'commie sympathizing, leftist liberal appeaser"--that's just for starters. It's an obfuscatory tactic to be ssure, but it usually works.

in this instance, of course, we have the bushies obsessing about iran possibly one day building a nuclear weapon while ignoring pakistan, which has nuclear weapons, is harboring the osama bin laden (by most accounts), and is at risk of imploding politically. but iran is shiite and shiites scare the shit out of the saudi sunnis especially, and the u.s. must do its financial minders bidding. of course, the bushies are so ham handed that if they don't continue to sit militarily on iraq until they force some kind of partition on the shiite majority, the reconfigured post-liberation iraq will be a wealthy oil producer in alliance with iran and not in our orbit, so that a war fought to maintain hegemony in the oil fields will have produced the opposite result.

at least the war on terriors has stripped away completely the cloak of morality in which the u.s. has long liked to wrap its foreign policy, since there is no way to justify torture. whether to divert attention from the iran nie fiasco, as i suspect, or for more convoluted reasons general michael hayden, director of the cia, let out last week that the cia had made in 2002 and then destroyed in 2005 hundreds of hours of videotapes documenting the interrogations of two al-qaeda suspects--abu zubayda and
aabdul-rahim hussein muhammad abdu, sometimes known as abd-al-rahim-al-nashiri, the self-proclaimed mastermind of the uss cole attacks. zubayda called torture on himself because of his 'defiant and evasive' answers during normal questioning, hayden said in announcing the tapes' existence and destruction. the tapes recorded it all, but hayden said, they had no current 'intelligence or judicial value.' they could, however, be used to identify cia operatives and leave them open to revenge attacks by al-qaeda operatives. that might be true, but more true is that identification of the operatives would leave them open to arrest should they travel aboard and a crusading prosecutor wish to pursue charges of crimes against humanity. more important, the videotapes provided a graphic record of sanctioned u.s. torture, evidence that could and should bring down bush, cheney, and their entire crew--not to mention most members of a spineless congress, some of whom, the washington post reports, were briefed in 2002 about cia torture and basically raised no objections. haul them all to the hague, if necessary.

nothing justifies torture.


x

Thursday, October 18, 2007

The Genius of George Bush: Our Leader In Action

For all who missed it, here verbatim from the transcript of the Emperor Boy George's press conference, October 17, is a stellar example of his genius--"i don't know what it is, but we don't do it, and I don't want to think about anything:"

QUESTION: Thank you, sir. A simple question.

BUSH: Yes?

QUESTION: What's your definition of...

BUSH: It may require a simple answer.

(LAUGHTER)

QUESTION: What's your definition of the word "torture"?

BUSH: Of what?

QUESTION: The word "torture," what's your definition?

BUSH: That's defined in U.S. law, and we don't torture.

QUESTION: Can you give me your version of it, sir?

BUSH: No. Whatever the law says.

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Sloppiness or Worse

Leak Severed a Link to Al-Qaeda's Secrets - washingtonpost.com--That's the story of how Rita Katz obtained through her listening post, SITE (Search for International Terrorist Entities), a copy last month of the latest Osama bin Laden videeo--him with his freshly darkened beard--and partly out of her desire to maintain good relations, one assumes, with the Bushies made it available to them in advance of al Qaeda's release of it. She required only that the Bushies not reveal they had the thing until after its release because she didn't want her gateway into al Qaeda discovered and shut down. It's a reasonable request to make of people who have every incentive not to let the Osama know they can hear and see him before he speaks. Within hours of receiving the link the Bushies had provided tape and transcript to cable news and in so doing blown SITE's operation. True, Katz sent the link by e-mail, and she should know that e-mail is a public document in that even the most private message can travel far and wide quickly. But the Bushies once again have shown that they keep things secret or reveal them for political, not security reasons and that the ineptitude that preceded 9/11 and still dictates strategy in Iraq and Afghanistan has not diminished. That explanation is better than the other--that the Bushies wanted to trash Katz's operation because it was competent.

Saturday, October 06, 2007

Fort Hunt's Quiet Men Break Silence on WWII - washingtonpost.com

Fort Hunt's Quiet Men Break Silence on WWII - washingtonpost.com
I'm simply posting a link to this story of men who interrogated Nazi prisoners following WW II and the techniques they used, which did not include torture or degrading treatment. At their reunion yesterday, October 5, many of the men of the secret unit known as P.O. Box 1142 spoke out publicly or privately against the Bushies' torture, and one refused to be publicly honored because of his opposition to the war in Iraq and brutalization of prisoners. Bravo.

Meanwhile, the Emperor Boy George was playing word games with the meaning of torture and abusive treatment of prisoners. Here's the question: Which is more heinous--Clinton parsing the definition of "sex," as in "hoot don't count" or Bush parsing the definition of "torture" and "cruel, inhumane, and degrading treatment?" Sex is not illegal (except for some forms in some backward jurisdictions); violating international treaties, the nation's laws, and one's oath of office is? Clinton was impeached. The Emperor Boy and his court.....skate on....

Friday, October 05, 2007

Slap Blast Maim Kill--Iraq Afghanistan Myanmar, Too

I had intended to write about Blackwater and mercenerization of the American military as a violation of the principle of the citizen army--the people who fight only in defense of their freedoms, their families, their homes--what any number of Iraqis and Afghanis are doing now against the United States and its goon squads of mercs. But then the New York Times ran a long investigative piece October 4, by Scott Shane, David Johnston and James Risen describing how the Justice Department under the unctuous Alberto Gonzalez wrote in 2005 and since has reaffirmed a legal opinion approving the CIA's most brutal interrogation methods--including slapping, water boarding, prolonged exposure of naked inmates to the cold and loud noises--offensive music, say--and whatever else struck their fancy. The opinions are. of course, secret. There are among us those who have not flinched from calling these 'methods' torture--violations of the Geneva Conventions and various human rights treaties, as well as American law and traditions, not to mention a 2006 Supreme Court ruling that the Geneva Conventions apply to prisoners taken in this war and a tepid Congressional vote banning techniques that violate the Geneva accords, which are defined in part as acts that shock {our} collective conscience, or at least the consciences of people who believe in human dignity. That's not something that al Qaeda concerns itself with, either. Nor do the generals who rule Myanmar shy from torture and murder of their opponents, among them monks, nuns and children.

The White House admits the existence of the memos but denies they justify torture. It promises to fight to the bitter end to keep the documents from becoming, however. Trust us, is the mantra of he Courtiers of the Emperor Boy George. Why? They and their king have violated so many laws, oaths and treaties that just reading the articles of impeachment and the charges of the war crimes tribunal will take many months. That's assuming the Congress finally realizes that torture is one of many egregious, blatant violations of the Constitution and the law that require the harshest sanctions--impeachment and extraordinary rendition in orange jumpsuits and black hoods to the Hague for trial for war crimes and crimes against humanity.

That brings me to Blackwater and the chief unlearned and now repeated lesson of Vietnam--or maybe it was learned and is being deliberately repeated, in which case our society is more depraved than the most cynical among us could have imagined--to the point where the conspiracy paranoics with their microwave blocking aluminum foil hats must be viewed as sane. The Washington Post ran an unremittingly sad piece yesterday morning by Sudarsan Raghavan tracing the paths of five people who died in the recent Blackwater shoot up of a Baghdad traffic square on September 16 that killed at least 14 people and wounded another 18. Blackwater USA is paid to protect Sate Department personnel and other non-military officials and visitors in Iraq. Essentially, they appear to be high-paid thugs, with big guns and big motors, who have been accused of killing upwards of 200 people and who consider themselves immune from prosecution--anywhere. What are these goons other than killers who are paid better than their uniformed counterparts. I can only imagine what their presence in the same theatre of war does wonder for the standing army of citizens, especially the multiply deployed National Guard units, whose members are giving up considerable in terms of family and income. Well, this war is all about money, is it not?

The Blackwater goon squads are the logical extension of the style of war the U.S. developed in Vietnam and is now in the process of refining--turning soldiers into hunters of humans, not fighters of battles intended to defeat an enemy force or seize and hold territory. Whether official or not, the name of that war was to kill the Viet Cong and North Vietnamese--kill your enemy, who could be anyone. It didn't work, but rather than learn from the experience that the military should not be abused in that fashion--that is, that it should not be turned into a collection of death squads and torturers--our military leaders seem to have embraced the notion that in Iraq and Afghanistan--probably any "asymmetric war'--pacification is achieved through killing the enemy, who is basically any man, woman or child the soldiers in the field perceive as a threat. If the bad guys should be captured--and only bad guys are captured--it is fair to use 'rough interrogation' techniques , redefined as not torture, to extract from them the truth. But do not take pictures. The American forces are dehumanized y their dehumanization of the other. They are turned into cold killers, told to lay aside or bury their sense of justice. Psychopaths and sociopaths have no problem with that, but for many it is difficult--witness the extraordinary rates of post traumatic stress disorder among returning veterans.

The U.S. military compounds this dehumanization by refusing to print body counts or even allowing images and coverage of its own returning dead, as if the cause is too noble to be sullied by death. Absent such counts, David Petraeus cited he Iraqi government for becoming one of the largest consumers of U.S. supplied arms. He didn't say that many were AK 47's--cheap knock-offs of the Kalashnikov--or that Iraq was negotiating a $100-million arms deal with China (a fact he might not have known). Yet in a story in today's Los Angeles Times, Ned Parker describes how the elite 13-member Painted Demon sniper squad, three of whose members are now on trial for murder, felt pressured to make kills. These are the snipers who set out bait and killed anyone who touched it. How convenient for the Army now to call them rogues--and what a lie. From sniper killings to the Marines at Haditha to Abu Ghraib to My Lai 4, these atrocities are of a piece and they are reminiscent in terms of U.S. history to another war of extermination--the 19th century campaign against Native Americans.

In Francis Ford Coppola's Apocalypse Now, Marlon Brando as Kurtz sees and embraces that soullessness as 'the Horror' that is the essence of the Vietnam War. The movie, one of the greats, is Coppola's remake of and homage to Joseph Conrad's Heart of Darkness, set in the Belgian Congo during Colonial times as opposed to Vietnam. Kurtz in the Congo goes completely over to the forces of darkness by embracing depravity. His soul is not absent, purged, buried away; it is thoroughly corrupted by his power over all aspects of the lives of people who are his slaves. His soul has turned vile and rancid.

The first rule of warfare is 'know your enemy.' It was ignored in Vietnam and again in Afghanistan and Iraq, with disastrous results but for good reason. The real enemies were fear and blind devotion to that fear and ambition and ultimately our own leaders, who disgraced the nation. We stayed in Vietnam not because politicians feared an expansionist Russia or China, although they did, but because ultimately the commitment of troops even on a small scale as advisers set up a dynamic in which no president wanted to be the one to 'lose' a war, even one based on false assumptions and phony evidence. Fear ruled after Septetmber 11, 2001, when Congress voted for these fiascos and now they continue because not just Bush and Cheney but many of the same bravehearts in and out of Congress who endorsed them in the first place are now afraid to lose by bringing the troops home. That's why we can't count on this or any Congress to punish the Emperor Boy and his Privy Council for all manner of high crimes and misdemeanors--they are too afraid.

The Horror. The Horror.

Monday, October 01, 2007

Too Low To Be Beasts

More like some non-carbon based, inorganic vermin that has come from points unknown and walks among us but is not of us, rather is the opposite of us, and as such it brings only fear, hatred, destruction, death --- I refer to the military junta that has once again crushed its democratically minded people with unbridled brutality. Reports coming i n today are of thousands killed, many of them monks, and of a military command so in love with their power, wealth and corruption that it will go to any length to preserve--tighten, I should say--its death grip on the people it claims to serve. The streets are deserted today, but we might guess that when the 15,000 to 20,000 troops are pulled back, Yangon will erupt. Irrawaddy News provides lots of detail--nearly all of it grim.

Meanwhile all the Bushies seem able to do is sabre rattle at Iran, even though everyone who knows anything about the place says the best U.S. strategy is to ignore Iran. But the Emperor Boy George would rather discuss 'surgical strikes" to take out Iran's nuclear capacity. When the people who engineered the bloody farce that is Iraq start talking precision military operations against someone else, they should be locked away for the good of the world..

Friday, September 28, 2007

Buddha and the Beast

When it comes to questions of whether the forces of equality, justice, freedom, peace, and love will prevail over those of brutality, war, exploitation, inequality, fear, hypocrisy, and hate I am at once an unregenerate pessimist and an incorrigible Romantic. I long for the good guys to win; I know in my soul they will not--and shall leave it to the genetic determinists to call it my Germanic soul. Nonetheless, the people of Burma have whatever prayers I can offer to the gods , the fates, the great karmic wheel. I would like to see the day soon when Aung San Suu Kyi walks free of house arrest and at the head of a throng of people receives the surrender of the generals. That would be revolutionary. That would remind the world that revolution must come from the oppressed people themselves. It cannot be imposed from above, no matter the claims of the Bushites. Sadly when moral leadership is sorely needed, the U.S. has none to provide--not that it's had much in Southeast Asia since the end of WW II. But now it has none, less than zer0, thanks the Emperor Boy George, who has squandered it all in Iraq and Afghanistan and his systematic violations of human rights and the Geneva Conventions.

That leaves as the big players--because of their economic investments--China, India, and Russia. China has its own problems with Tibet's Buddhists and so can hardly be expected to desire the monks to prevail in a showdown with corrupt rulers. But China also can't want to be seen as playing even a passive role in the slaughter of monks, nuns, and unarmed people, especially with the Olympics looming on the horizon, especially if conversation turns to boycott. Russia --well, Russia. That leaves India, which by all accounts, has forgotten its own history. Probably the best that can be done--and it is not insubstantial is telling the Burmese generals that their window of opportunity for enjoying their riches in retirement is short--on the order of one day. They leave and the accounts stay open until the new Burmese government comes after them, or they stay, and their accounts are closed, the proceeds placed in escrow against the day the Burmese people need it. Perhaps, the Chinese, knowing their coming out party is at stake, will deliver the message.

Dream on!

The BBC coverage has been riveting, and Seth Mydans for the New York Times has been rock solid as usual. But the journalistic moment belongs to the bloggers, the people taking video with their cell phones, the very "amateur" reporters certain moguls of the mainstream media like to deride, even while they are reliant on them for the same kind of accounts eyewitnesses, for all their [un]reliability have long provided. But today it is clear that the generals have decided to pull the plug on internet and cell phone transmissions. The generals have hunkered down, pretending the world doesn't exist. What abbout those bank accounts?

Friday, September 21, 2007

Betrayal

I can no longer count the ways the Emperor Boy George and his subalterns impress me, nor can I find more enthusiasm for the courage and moral decency of our Congress. The latest installment revolves around an ad placed in the New York Times by Move On.org coincident with the opening on Capitol Hill of the David Petraeus Show. For the Emperor Boy, it was the David Save Us Show; to Move On, the David Betray Us Show. By any name it was a farce in two acts--Act I. The House of Representatives featured a marshmallow toss; Act II. The Senate was slow pitch whiffle ball. Now we''ve got the ironic ending that moves the farce into the absurd---no, absurdity has a point. This farce has become worse than the vilest propaganda, and I will have to find a new name for it, but not now.

"It" is the ability of the Bushbuckers to flip negatives on their head and to make the most antediluvian of policies seem radical and to engage in the most sanctimonious bullshit seen in a long, a very long time. Thus, the Emperor Boy George voiced disgust today over the MoveOn. org ad because it suggested that if Petraeus presented a fictive account of progress in securing Iraq, he would be betraying the public, his office, his troops. Now MoveOn.org was doubtless being theatrical or naive or both, because they surely could not honestly have believed that Petraeus could have presented a fair, accurate, independent assessment of his own tactics and command. Far better to refute his message with the facts, such as the BBC's analysis of casualties, civilian and otherwise; what the Iraqis experience as reported by the BBC and this poll conducted for the BBC and ABC, which came out on the eve of Petraeus's fiction and shows that vast majority of Iraqis believe the surge is a failure. As to public health--no such thing.

The MoveOn.org ad may have been melodramatic and naive, but it wasn't disgusting. Disgusting is the murderous behavior of the Emperor Boy George; grotesque is his effort to use the ad to distract attention from his total failure as a leader; pathetic is the U.S. Senate, condemning this ad, while people die for the Emperor Boy's Freudian fantasy that he has made the world's nightmare. Thee public didn't buy Petraeus, but the public is far in advance of its "leaders" on many issues these days.

To rephrase Chairman Mao--Tyranny comes from the barrel of a gun.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Surge and Splurge Update

I was intending after this long layoff--no time for blogging--to start off with some soft science or a commentary on Michael Vick and his lust for dog blood, but Monday and Tuesday I listened to as much of the testimony of General David H. Petraeus and U.S. Ambassador to Iraq Ryan C. Crocker before the House of Representatives and Senate as I could take, which is until the disconnect between what they were saying and what they weren't saying became great enough to swallow sanity. At least the Senate proved a tougher forum than the peculiarly spineless House where more energy was expended expelling protesters and obsessing about the way Blackberries disrupt the sound system than in asking the two Bush front men questions that would force them to do more than endlessly repeat the same "everything's dandy" assessments. As an Argentine friend says, "When a person repeats a story the same way each time, you know they have memorized a script and are lying."

At the end of two days, all I can say with some certainty is that our sole justification for being in Iraq now is that we are in Iraq and, according to Surge Patraeus and Splurge Crocker getting out could produce a larger blood bath than the one over which we are currently presiding. I love it when people switch to subjunctive, conditional verb forms and then use them as if they describe something that has already happened--'coulda, woulda, shoulda.'

I turned the sound off when I heard Minnesota's Republican Senator, Norm Coleman, who took the deeply mourned Paul Wellstone's Senate seat, utter the magic words "Americans want to see light at the end of the tunnel." I cringed. The only redemption came when someone exlaimed into his open microphone, "Jesus." I can't find that reported, but I'm certain I heard it; indeed, how else could someone respond to a person who without a trace of irony uttered one of the most mindless and disgusting phrases to come out of Vietnam.

I wonder, though, how many people will buy the argument that bringing home the 30,000 troops involved in the "surge," who were scheduled to come home anyway, represents a "drawdown?"



Monday, July 23, 2007

Executive Interrogation, Right?

The Emperor Boy George floated out his executive order governing CIA interrogation techniques and their relationship, or not, to Common Article 3 of the Geneva Conventions on a Friday afternoon (July 20, but what's important is the choice of Friday), just in time for the Sargasso Sea of journalism--the start of the weekend. His timing proved all the more diabolical--although, of course, he couldn't have known, could he--when a three-judge panel of the Federal Appeals Court in Washington, D.C., presided over by Douglas Ginsburg, who some will remember as the thoroughly capable Supreme Court nominee of Bill Clinton forced to withdraw after it became known that he had on more than one occasion been familiar with reefer, thumped the Bushies on their extra-legal treatment of Guantanamo detainees.

Human Rights groups complained about the Bush order on interrogation for good reason. It purports to bring the CIA into line with the Geneva accords in terms of the techniques it can use, even while it leaves rather large lacuna through which all manner of scum can ooze before hardening into instruments of torture and abuse. Sure enough, by Saturday night, the initial cautiously favorable reports on the Bushbucker's order had turned sour, as its limitations became clear. Bushbucker continues to flaunt his contempt for the constitution, international law, and human rights without consequence.

He also buried the controversy over torture by undergoing a colonoscopy on a Saturday, which necessitated relinquishing power to Cheney, while he was anesthetized. That gave all right thinking people reason to be very concerned. Then, when he came up from under, it seems the Emperor Boy George immediately commenced rattling his official souvenir Crusader armor and sword at the border area of Pakistan where he has allowed the Osama to operate unimpeded for the past several years. The Emperor Boy as also begun saying and instructed his minions to say as well that the sole mission of the U.S. in Iraq is to slay al Qaeda in Iraq--nice as long as you forget the Sunnis and Shiites we're also fighting there.

Doctors Without Borders, a fearless group, won't send people to central and southern Iraq because the situation is too insecure, meaning they would end up day. That must be the sea change in the security situation that the Emperor Boy George and his loyal handlers and enabler keep yammering on about, the improvement that makes it possible to concentrate full American firepower on the several handful of al Qaeda in Iraq. It is amazing and distressing to see true madness in power, the way in wallows publicly and brazenly in its own hypocrisy and perfidy, knowing that no one will rise up to take it down. Americans aren't the good guys in this one; they were thrown into an illegal, unjust war and told to behave brutally by a madman leading a servile congress and spineless military high command. It ain't Vietnam all over again. It's worse; it's Iraq/Afghanistan.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

The new National Intelligence Estimate is out, with a parsimonious 7 pages of generalized pabulum, called a summary, available to the public--I got mine through the Washington Post. The news stories and analyses are continuing to appear every 10 minutes or so, and since I see no reason to provide links to material that changes as soon as it appears, I won't. Besides, the NIE is all one needs to see that the Bushies' War on Terriors is a total fiasco, a bust. Iraq is a disaster, which never had a place in the WoT, Afghanistan is Taliban, and the Osama has regrouped in the Pakistan's tribal regions with the the blessing of Musharraf and at least insofar as it supports him, the U.S. I write that knowing that Musharraf has spent the last few days bombarding the tribal areas as punishment for the slaughter at the Red Mosque last week and as a way to ingratiate himself with the Bushies, who need to look momentarily tough in order to deflect attention from the damning NIE. Damning NIE, indeed, as if one more document exposing the moral, intellectual, and tactical bankruptcy of the Bushies will have any impact at all. No one knows who the enemy is or why we are fighting in Iraq, for that matter. Oxford historian Timothy Garton Ash lays out the depressing truth in today's Los Angeles Times, concluding with this lament: "Looking back over a quarter of a century of chronicling current affairs, I cannot recall a more comprehensive and avoidable man-made disaster." The only way to climb from this cesspool is by simultaneously impeaching the Emperor Boy George and his Vice Dick. Later, they can be put in orange jumpsuits, hooded, duct-taped and hauled to the Hague for trial on war crimes and crimes against humanity.

Saturday, June 30, 2007

Torture: How Many Times

If there are any readers left, I apologize for not keeping up the blog--too many other obligations and too profound an unwillingness to keep screaming into the great, cosmic I-Don't-Give-A-Shit (ID0GAS) to keep going. But Seymour Hersh has a 'profile' of Antonio Taguba in the June 25 New Yorker that almost but not quite makes the price of subscription worthwhile. It does, however, in painstaking detail show how the abomination that is the Bushbucker's War On Terriors has exposed the rot at the core of Amerika. Exposed? I should say that the Bushbucker's War on Terriors has managed to nurture and bring to the forefront of governmental policy the bigotry, hypocrisy, and racism that have run from the start in tandem with the avowed idealism of its founding documents and myth. Sanctioned torture, murder, violation of fundamental rights of men and women and children abroad and here add up to--whether you are using new math or old--egregious violations of human rights that warrant a trip to the Hague, the sooner the better. I know I've said that before and before again until at this point I must appear to run on only one track, but I believe this evil is the greatest one perpetrated by the Bush, the Chainman, and their minions. These brutal tactics are completely inappropriate for their avowed mission of thwarting terriors.

Better to ask, though, what this War on Terriors really is. At most a couple of dozen terrior leaders were prime targets following September 11, 2001, and it would have been far easier and infinitely less wasteful of life and treasure to take them out one at a time. They'd be in jail or dead by now, and the essential work of reforming dictatorial states in the Middle East and brokering an honest settlement between Israel, the Palestinians, and their neighbors could be underway. But the Bushbucker's War on Terriors has pursued the opposite tack, waging endless wars in Afghanistan and Iraq against people who, nasty though they were, had nothing directly to do with September 11--the Taliban harbored the Osama, but the U.S., created him and the Saudi's bankrolled him. We must, then, that the goal of the Bushbuckers was to achieve immediate, big bang military victories in order to satisfy their own bloodlust for vengeance and to rally people around themselves, draped in the flag. Those wars were to be cakewalks; thus, the carefully staged toppling of Saddam's statue and the 'mission accomplished' landing on the aircraft carrier were indeed intended to spell victory. Problem was the people of Iraq hadn't toppled Saddam's statue, nor had they welcomed the U.S. with open arms--just the opposite, and our subsequent behavior at Abu Ghraib and in the streets showed us to be tyrants to no end. Now our military appears not to know who it is fighting or why in either country. They are not chasing terriors--that much we know.

The question facing us now is why these criminals are stll in power, making a mockery of the Constitution, international law and common human decency.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Old, Sad Story

In today's Washington Post, Stephanie McCrummen offers a dirge for the Hadzabe, believed one of the oldest people on the planet and certainly among the last of the hunter/gatherers. By some estimates, Hadza culture goes back more than 50,000 years in the eastern Rift Valley in northern Tanzania, around a seasonally dry salt lake, Eyasi. They number maybe 1,500--enough to hold onto a large chunk of their ancestral foraging grounds, marginal though they may be for agriculture or grazing and thus not highly desirable to others--until now. Ironically, perhaps, the 1,000 to 1,500 Hadza, who seem to have embraced societal changes, even the great disruptions of the past century, cautiously, if at all, and have received an assist from ecotourists out to see a Stone Age tribe, as well as from anthropologists eager for the same, are now threatened by a state that has embraced the imperial tourism of greed. McCrummen reports that the Tanzanian government has leased 2,500 square miles of the valley to Tanzania UAE Safaris Ltd., a front for the royal family of the United Arab Emirartes, which wanted its own private hunting preserve, so its spoiled members can kill for pleasure game the Hadza, as they are also known, kill for food.

Tanzanian Government official, Philip Marmo, told McCrummen that the Hadza are "backwards"and "they would benefit from the school, roads and other projects the UAE company has offered as compensation." Who is "backwards"--the Hadza whose culture is old beyond reckoning--a sure sign of vitality, or the morons in the Tanzania government who bargained away the Hadza's traditional hunting and foraging territory thereby condemning their traditional way of life to extinction. Of the people whose money is behind this destruction, I can say only that they prove again that no one should be permitted to inherit wealth or privilege or rank or station.

Surely there should be places in the world for the Hadza and other foragers--indeed for nomads and other non-assimilated people--to live as they choose. There should be many things in this world that nonetheless don't exist.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Torture {Not}

To no one's surprise, the Intelligence Science Board, a high-voltage panel convened to advise intelligence agencies on interrogation practices, has concluded that the torture ['harsh techniques] used by the Bushites are good only for injuring people and violating international law. To my consternation but no longer my surprise, we are just now seeing the report, Educing Information, Interrogation: Science and Art, that was completed in December 2006--and for this look behind the scene we owe thanks to the reporting of Steve Shane and Mark Mazetti of the New York Times. It is reprehensible that such a panel should even exist, so wrong and repugnant is torture, but it is good that such a group after studying the history of torture and interrogation, after reviewing the available scientific literature, and after commissioning its own studies can conclude according to Shane and Mazetti and my own quick review, which I admit is hardly enough to form a final judgment, that torture--not a word they use--doesn't work and is in most regards counterproductive. Wrapped in the stilted prose of academics working for the Defnse Intelligence Agency and telling their minders and bill payers what they doubtless don't want to hear is a comprehensive critique of the Bushites' interrogation techniques, beginning with those history lessons and proceeding through a 'cost benefit analysis,' on to behavioral and biological science. The report is a compilation of papers, rather than a coherent narrative, but in aggregate it raises the only questions policy makers should be asking themselves--how do we get rid of the people who have brought us to this state and happily continue to muck around in the blood and gore of innocent people.

Sunday, May 27, 2007

Which Side Are You ON

We have seen the story so often from Iraq that only someone who has not been reading the news or chose to be ignorant these past, what, four years would consider Michael Kamber's piece on the impossibility of knowing your enemy in today's New York Times new. The story is an important reminder, to be sure, of the absurdity of a war in which the enemy frequently wears the uniform of the Iraqi Army--our putative ally--or serves in the puppet government we preserve and maintain at considerable cost in blood and treasure, but it's as new as the obligatory story from every new reporter in the Paris bureau about dog shit on the sidewalks of that wonderful city, which is to say stale. The Iraq story is more lethal, though, and more depressing, because the war continues in defiance of the will of people everywhere, including here. To paraphrase Pogo, we have met the enema, and he are our leaders, Bush and Cheney.

Sunday, May 06, 2007

how to contact--updated

I have posted some comments left in reference to an op-ed I wrote for The New York Times, May 6, on small dogs, because Ii have noothere way to respond to the people, and I think it rude not to do so. Primarily, I want to say thank you, and to add, in response to Meg, that the Pekingese was apparent in the Chinese imperial court by the first millennium A.D., and the Colima culture of Central Mexico had a small hairless dog around 250 B.C. that was used for food but also a trade object and bed warmer for people with rheumatism . It may have been a pet as well. Breeding being imperfect, hairless dogs were sometimes created with the help of resin and tar, while Pekingese were bound from the time they were small puppies in wire cages.

Original Post
For obvious reasons, I don't publish my e-mail address, but your comments do come to me. If you want a direct response, however, please include your e-mail address in the body of your comment. I will respond to you and also block publication of your note and, thus, your e-mail address. I'm sorry to be so convoluted, but thus is the world in which we find ourselves--violence rampant.

Monday, April 02, 2007

Love That Torture

With its refusal today to hear the appeal of Guantanamo detainees of their illegal incarceration, their lack of habeas corpus, their imprisonment without due process or fair trials, and their torture, the Supreme Court has joined--this article is from the Washington Post--a majority in the Congress and the President in endorsing kidnapping and torture and suspension of fundamental Constitutional and human rights. Sure, they might decide to revisit their decision, and Congress mght yet find the collective cojones to overturn the torture bill--NOT on both counts is my wager. This refusal to act must dispel whatever insignificant, lingering doubts anyone had about the nature of this Roberts's court--or our federal government. They have sullied all of us, and they will continue to do so until they are no longer in office.

Clearly we need a more democratic, more accountable to the people, parliamentary form of government. Otherwise we are subjects, not citizens. We are ruled.



Saturday, March 31, 2007

Cloned Wolves

Korean team creates first cloned wolves-News-UK-Science-TimesOnline

Or so goes the story in today's Times of London online edition about the creation off Snuwolf and Snuwolffy by the lab once led by the now disgraced Woo Suk Hwang. Hwang's downfall came because of fraudulent claims, published in Science, that he had successfully cloned human embryos. About the same time, he threw the bone of the cloned Afghan hound to Nature, and that claim has withstood intense scrutiny. Supposedly these wolves were created in 2005, before Hwang's demise and so he is listed as an author on the forthcoming paper. Even if this band of genetic cowboys has failed, someone else will surely succeed, and that's the source of my concern.

American zoos have frequently argued that they are genetic refugia, and that 'fact' justifies their existence. More than a few scientists have longed to clone the last remnant(s) of critically endangered populations. It's hard to fault the impulse to preserve that which humans in their wanton ignorance destroy, but if it is the fate of the saved to live in zoos or preserves, because their is no place on the planet they can wander freely and have an opportunity to flourish, what's the point. Proponents of this sort of genetic warehousing say it at least prevents extinction, always unacceptable, and at best will provide animals for the day humans become capable of sharing the plane with other creatures--FFC--that's 'fat fucking chance.' Humans don't even manifest the ability to share the planet with each other or even their dogs, their putative best friend among other species, much less another species, especially a predator. Humanity's war against other predators has been long and intense and often bloody, pursued for no reason other than atavistic fear and loathing--one of the reasons we commit violence on each other. To think we will change our ways is to indulge in the most naive sort of wishful thinking. It is just another act of cruelty.

Friday, March 02, 2007

The Scum Always Rises

I reprinting this post from the one I set up for the fight against the Monstrosity, architects rendition below [Save mid-Beach, Save Miami Beach]. It's been along fight that has clearly revealed to me the degraded state of American politics, where money corrupts absolutely

My apologies for being slow in reporting on events of February 27—the Miami Beach Planning Board's mockery of a public hearing on the Monstrosity, the 140,000 square-foot slab of uglitude slotted for the parking lot between Pine Tree Drive and Sheridan Avenue, fronting on 42nd Street. In brief, in sum, and in short, the neighborhood got shafted, betrayed by the planning department staff and by six of the board's seven members, including the absent Cathy Leff. Of the remaining six members, only one, Ted Berman, voted for the neighborhood, against granting the project the 'conditional use' permit needed for structures over 50,000 square feet, including parking. Without that permit, the project could not have proceeded.

The hearing was the end of a complete and total capitulation—call it a betrayal—of the neighborhood and a thumb in the eye to all the citizenry, not to mention the City Commission, which had twice voted unanimously for 50,000 sq.ft. Why this surrender to the money and bullying of Cabi Developer occurred is an open question. We heard weeks ago the city staff had no intention of defending 50,000 sq ft, a report confirmed by events. But why and how staff managed to negotiate not a reduction in size and mass but an increase from the initial, unacceptable plans remains a mystery, especially in light of a design review board staff report indicating continuing problems in that regard—problems said at the Planning Board hearing not to exist. Kafkaesque is an understatement.

Whatever other explanations hold true, irrefutably the planning department staff is too cozy with Cabi's lawyers and architects. Behind closed doors they engaged in intensive negotiations , shutting the neighborhood out—even though the meetings were ostensibly about the Monstrosity's relationship to the neighborhood, or more precisely, its failure in all regards to be compatible with the neighborhood. Jorge Gomez and his staff seem to have forgotten, in their haste to please developers--it's a sado-masochistic relationship with contortions so that each side is both master and slave, abuser and abused--that they serve the people.

Forgotten? I'm being too kind. The Design Review Board is set to consider this project for the first time on March 6 and Gomez and staff are recommending approval, despite continuing, major problems with the design and traffic analysis, despite the fact that in violation of the board's own rules. The plans do not include full floor plans, dimensions, or cumulative measurements, among other omissions. Staff wants approval so that it can remove the project from all citizen review. It's that simple, and it's that wrong.


Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Surge and Splurge

They're a well trained capably led lean mean lean killing--er, fighting--machine, those underarmed, underpaid, undermotivated--unless working for the other side--new Iraqi soldiers are, and they scored a great victory over an obscure but brutal rogue Shia militia calling itself the Soldiers of Heaven, killing 300,400, 500 of them, with support of American Apache attack helicopters outside Najaf, thus providing proof that the Emperor Boy George is a a more brilliant military mind than his collective military brass--or so we were told.

The story smelled from the start, and Marc Santora explains why in today's New York Times--the article is buried on the website, unfortunately. Let's hope that changes. In brief it appears that the Soldiers of Heaven nearly overran the Iraqi attackers, who were saved only by American attack helicopters, F-16s, and ground forces. As to the dead Soldiers of Heaven, they appear to have been shackled at the leg so they could not flee--they could only die. How many Iraqi troops died--25, we're told. We're told lots of this things in this war, including by the Bushies that al Qaeda funded the Soldiers of Heaven, something even the puppet Iraqi government denies. Oh, and guilt by association: the leader of the Soldiers of Heaven was once a student of Moktada al-Sadr's father, before breaking away from him, and possibly had ties to Saddam Hussein. That's pathetic.

What more can we expect than lies revised by more pathetic lies and innuendos?

Saturday, January 27, 2007

Why I'm So Glad

It is truly difficult to describe how thrilled I am to see the Emperor Boy George once more assuming the mantle of "decider" or now "Decision Maker", according to William Branigan and Richard Londono, in the January 26 Washington Post, swaggering and smirking his way into combat with Congress. By now the whole world can tune into his brain waves, as amplified by Dick "Fudge" Cheney: "Ium dah decision maker--that means I decide--an' I decided Ium gonna surge an' splurge an' Texas take down duh terrior sympathizin' cowards who wanna make me quit when Ium duh 'Mander in Chieef, duh Decision-Maker, an' Ium gonna make all over that Italian Baltimoron man-eater an' dem democrates, not to mention yeller dawg repubcans like Chick Hegel, as in that German side kick of Karl duh Marx, an' duh evil doer Eye-Rain-ee-ANNS. That's right, the Emperor Boy has "double dog dared" the world and, especially the Congress, to stop him. Congress should oblige.

In today's New York Times, Maureen Dowd--sorry no link because it's by subscription on line--calls Cheney mad--beyond delusional, while giving the Emperor Boy a pass on the sanity issue. But as nearly as I can determine, th U.S. is now fighting to stay in Iraq for no reason other that the two most powerful men in the world say it must, and the one body--two chambers--powerful enough to stop them won't. Sociopaths rule.

Meanwhile, Garry Wills has a fine op-ed in today's NYT, "At Ease, Mr. President."

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Why I Didn't Listen!

I tried listening to the Emperor Boy George give his state of disunion address, but for this reason and that I picked it up in medias res only to find myself yawning over his dutiful delivery of the laundry list of to-do's he not only cared less than nothing about but also didn't begin to understand. I'll give him a baby star for recognizing that our health insurance system is in free fall and another for finally admitting that human-driven climate change is real--I write that while debating whether to turn on the air conditioner, something we never used to have to do in winter but this year have done far too often. But I take those stars away upon hearing his lame, not even half-ass solutions--tax breaks for people who can't afford to pay in the first place? ethanol? What happened to the bloody hydrogen car? Baby-steps, modest proposals--those are the descriptives of the mainstream media, but they are too generous. The Emperor Boy George, with Caligula Cheney glowering down at him, didn't even get off his knees.

When he floated Dikembe Mutombo out after the usual pabulum about helping Africa and stopping genocide in Darfur, I turned elsewhere. The rich immigrant story, even if he happens to be a 7-foot tall shot blocker, and the moving personal illustration of what I mean, even if he happens to be a 7-foot tall shot blocker who does good deeds off the court, are such hackneyed staples of these pompous exercises in bad rhetoric, vile politics, and unctuous hypocrisy that they should be retired forever. That said, it is telling that our towel-snapping Emperor Boy George chose a jock to celebrate.

I missed the whole bit about failure not being an option in Iraq. Iraq is already a failure. All the Emperor Boy is doing is sacrificing more people so someone else has to pull the plug and take responsibility for his greatest failure in a life of failures. Lt. General David H. Petraeus, the new commander on the ground, might be brilliant, the greatest military mind since George Armstrong Custer, but unless he's willing to commit war crimes and genocide on a scale that will make Darfur look like a school yard rumble, my bet is he'll leave Iraq with his career in tatters. This fiasco was lost before it started--twice--just think of the war-gaming Marine.

James Baker and the Iraq study group nonetheless offered the Emperor Boy George a way out, and he spurned it, deliberately adopted the opposite approach. His current Iraq policy of surge and splurge is no more based on reality than any of his other policies. What's different now is that having rejected the Baker life line, he's demanding that the entire nation save his sorry ass from ignominy, become, in effect, complicit in his crimes. What we need to do, as I've said before, is send him to the Hague to be put on trial for war crimes. And Cheney and everyone who voted for this horror can join him. His--their--greatest contribution to history can thus be to serve as an example that no one is above the law.

Sunday, January 07, 2007

Surge Protection

Good computer hygiene dictates that the user have a device in place to absorb those periodic power surges that can fry a mother board. Congress, I suppose, should serve as the world's surge protector against the Bushies disgorgement of 20,000 more troops in Iraq--his vomitus surge that is supposed to zap the opposing forces there, not that he has a clue about who is fighting whom. David E. Sanger lays out this latest "new way forward" in the Sunday New York Times. It is a lunatic pipe dream concocted by the same desktop strategists at the American Enterprise Institute who so vehemently advocated the war of aggression. Like the Bushbucker-in-chief, they would rather kill more people than admit that they were wrong from the start. In addition to seeking to sacrifice more American troops in the sandpit of Ambar Province, these tactical geniuses want to send Kurdish fighters to Baghdad to end fighting between Shias and Sunnis. Well, why not have all three groups fighting it out in the capital?

The Washington Post reports that even the military leadership is skeptical of this plan--not to mention worried about the source of these additional troops, since the services are already maxed out. On that score, I recommend creation of a special "surge brigade," composed of every desktop general and puffed up politician who endorses the Bushies program. It's only proper that they prove their fealty to god, country, emperor, and their own demented schemes by putting their butts in those unarmored Hummers and setting forth to overwhelm the 'insurgency'--shock and all, reprise, we'll call it.

The surge itself can only be seen as further evidence of the Bushy's mental illness, this time manifest in infantilism. Like a willful two-year-old, Bushy resented being told what to do by his father--in the guise of the Iraq Study Group--and so deliberately set out to do the opposite. Sadly, at the end of the day, he'll get his way as the chest-thumping surge protectors in Congress falter in the face of madness--and that's one prediction, I hope is wrong.