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Comments by YACCS
Monday, October 27, 2003

The Ramadan Offensive

Car bombers attacked the international Red Cross headquarters and four police stations across Baghdad today, killing around 40 people.

A suicide bomber drove an ambulance packed with explosives into security barriers outside the Red Cross at around 8.30am local time (0530 GMT), killing 12 people, the aid agency said.

Then in police station bombings through the morning, 27 people, mostly Iraqis and one US solider, were killed, Iraqi police said.

The capital has now seen the worst two day of violence since the war was declared over in April and the sound of sirens reverberated through the streets this morning as emergency vehicles criss-crossed the city.

The bombings came during a morning of apparently choreographed attacks by Iraqi resistance guerrillas that appears to have been timed to coincide with the first day of the Islamic holy month of Ramadan.

Witnesses of the Red Cross bombing said the vehicle stopped some 20 metres (60 feet) in front of the headquarters. One Red Cross worker said: "The ambulance stopped in front of the line of barrels we have had in front to protect the building and then it exploded."

Despite the protection of the barrels, oil drums filled with sand, the blast blew down a 40-foot (12-metre) section of the front wall in front of the three-storey building. It also demolished a dozen cars parked nearby and appeared to break a water main, flooding the streets.

"We feel helpless when see this," a distraught Iraqi doctor said at the devastated offices

You have to wonder what the hell Wolfowitz was thinking by showing up just before Ramadan. He's running around, having dodged three assassination attempts in as many days and then watching any claims of security turn into a cruel, bitter joke. We now have a bombing offensive which makes a clear statement-collaboration, at any level means death. UN, Red Cross, police, if you cooperate with the coalition, we'll target you.

They killed 40 people in one day successfully completing four out of five bombings. The last one failed, and as they drag the guy away, he's screaming "Death to the Iraqi Police, you're all collaborators".

Now you tell me, how does this happen without excellent intelligence? A roadside bomb waiting for Wolfowitz, a helicopter ambush, rocketing the hotel with a home made rocket launcher. This isn't the last gasp of anything. This is the start of a serious offensive to undermine the CPA.

The Pentagon then has to lie and say Wolfowitz wasn't the target. Bullshit. He was nearly killed by the rocket attack. He's the Iraqi version of Reinhardt Heydrich and the Iraqis will spare no expense in killing him. That should be self-evident. No matter the level of US security, it can be and is penetrated. Juan Cole suggests he can come back secretly, but I doubt that. If he's in the country, the Iraqis will find out and seek to kill him. He's a marked man in Iraq, no matter what crap flies from his mouth. More importantly, Bremer isn't much safer.

There is no reconstruction in Iraq, just a guerrilla war.

posted by Steve @ 11:33:00 AM

11:33:00 AM

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Elite unit savaged civilians in Vietnam

It was an elite fighting unit in Vietnam - small, mobile, trained to kill.

Known as Tiger Force, the platoon was created by a U.S. Army engaged in a new kind of war - one defined by ambushes, booby traps, and a nearly invisible enemy.

Promising victory to an anxious American public, military leaders in 1967 sent a task force - including Tiger Force - to fight the enemy in one of the most highly contested areas of South Vietnam: the Central Highlands.

But the platoon's mission did not go as planned, with some soldiers breaking the rules of war.

Women and children were intentionally blown up in underground bunkers. Elderly farmers were shot as they toiled in the fields. Prisoners were tortured and executed - their ears and scalps severed for souvenirs. One soldier kicked out the teeth of executed civilians for their gold fillings.

Two soldiers tried to stop the killings, but their pleas were ignored by commanders. The Army launched an investigation in 1971 that lasted 41/2 years - the longest-known war-crime investigation of the Vietnam conflict.

The case reached the highest levels of the Pentagon and the Nixon White House.

Investigators concluded that 18 soldiers committed war crimes ranging from murder and assault to dereliction of duty. But no one was charged.

Since the war ended, the American public has been fed a dose of movies fictionalizing the excesses of U.S. units in Vietnam, such as Apocalypse Now and Platoon. But in reality, most war-crime cases focused on a single event, like the My Lai massacre.

The Tiger Force case is different. The atrocities took place over seven months, leaving an untold number dead - possibly several hundred civilians, former soldiers and villagers now say.

One medic said he counted 120 unarmed villagers killed in one month.

For decades, the case has remained buried in the archives of the government - not even known to America's most recognized historians of the war

How things don't change. Americans don't want to ask what happens to civilians in Iraq today and they didn't 30 years ago.

posted by Steve @ 1:38:00 AM

1:38:00 AM

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Robert Fisk: One, two, three, what are they fighting for?

The worst problem facing US forces in Iraq may not be armed resistance but a crisis of morale. Robert Fisk reports on a near-epidemic of indiscipline, suicides and loose talk

By Robert Fisk

Oct 24, 2003: (The Independent) I was in the police station in the town of Fallujah when I realised the extent of the schizophrenia. Captain Christopher Cirino of the 82nd Airborne was trying to explain to me the nature of the attacks so regularly carried out against American forces in the Sunni Muslim Iraqi town. His men were billeted in a former presidential rest home down the road - "Dreamland", the Americans call it - but this was not the extent of his soldiers' disorientation. "The men we are being attacked by," he said, "are Syrian-trained terrorists and local freedom fighters." Come again? "Freedom fighters." But that's what Captain Cirino called them - and rightly so.

Here's the reason. All American soldiers are supposed to believe - indeed have to believe, along with their President and his Defence Secretary, Donald Rumsfeld - that Osama bin Laden's "al-Qa'ida" guerrillas, pouring over Iraq's borders from Syria, Iran, Saudi Arabia (note how those close allies and neighbours of Iraq, Kuwait and Turkey are always left out of the equation), are assaulting United States forces as part of the "war on terror". Special forces soldiers are now being told by their officers that the "war on terror" has been transferred from America to Iraq, as if in some miraculous way, 11 September 2001 is now Iraq 2003. Note too how the Americans always leave the Iraqis out of the culpability bracket - unless they can be described as "Baath party remnants", "diehards" or "deadenders" by the US proconsul, Paul Bremer.

Captain Cirino's problem, of course, is that he knows part of the truth. Ordinary Iraqis - many of them long-term enemies of Saddam Hussein - are attacking the American occupation army 35 times a day in the Baghdad area alone. And Captain Cirino works in Fallujah's local police station, where America's newly hired Iraqi policemen are the brothers and uncles and - no doubt - fathers of some of those now waging guerrilla war against American soldiers in Fallujah. Some of them, I suspect, are indeed themselves the "terrorists". So if he calls the bad guys "terrorists", the local cops - his first line of defence - would be very angry indeed.

No wonder morale is low. No wonder the American soldiers I meet on the streets of Baghdad and other Iraqi cities don't mince their words about their own government. US troops have been given orders not to bad-mouth their President or Secretary of Defence in front of Iraqis or reporters (who have about the same status in the eyes of the occupation authorities). But when I suggested to a group of US military police near Abu Ghurayb they would be voting Republican at the next election, they fell about laughing. "We shouldn't be here and we should never have been sent here," one of them told me with astonishing candour. "And maybe you can tell me: why were we sent here?"

Things are going to get a lot worse before they get better. A lot worse.

posted by Steve @ 1:22:00 AM

1:22:00 AM

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Sunday, October 26, 2003

Is Iraq lost?

The pace of combat in Iraq is growing and the level of sophistication of the attacks are hardly that of a "dying" regime. Anyone who can make a Stalin's Organ from parts and not kill themselves is hardly part of a doomed movement. The people who built that weapon can and will build others and they're clever in doing so.

This isn't just terrorism. Most terrorists couldn't find Paris if they were standing on the banks of the Seine. They're half-assed ideologists who are lucky if they can blow up an empty building. These folks are professionals. They have good, reliable intelligence which they can act on. The have a time lag of a couple of hours, but they can and do go after US officials. It's not organized or well directed, yet, but time is on their side.

It's clear that most Iraqis want peace and stability. Most don't trust the resistance groups. But there is enough support for them so that they can operate with impunity. Someone sets up a freaking rocket launcher in a public park and no one sees this?

The US has overestimated the support its had in Iraq since the very beginning. The ridiculous idea that the Shia were our allies when they really wanted us to hand them power without much fuss. As was the idea that Saddam and his sons could direct a resistance movement from hiding. He wasn't exactly Charles De Gaulle, you know.

The reaity is that the Iraqis are at best tepid in their support and with each day, the resistance gains support. It's absolutely critical to understand that the resistance would be unable to stay alive without massive support from the locals. The Iraiqs, shpuld be getting decimated every time they go out to shoot it up with the US. Instead, they hit, run and take relatively few casualities. Which should be of massive concern.

One of the things not mentioned widely in the US media, but should be, is that most of our technical means of surveilliance don't work. In a report for the Army, the equipment can pick up special ops in the field, but they can't let you know who's a guerrilla and who isn't. The US, to this day, is unsure of who exactly the enemy is. There's always the fog of war, but this is ridiculous. How do you fight an enemy in the dark?

The US thinks they can defeat the Sunni guerrillas, a feat Saddam never completely managed, given the number of uprisings which occured and the bribes paid, before Sadr and the Sunnis get their act together. The problem is that the resistance has been and remains nationwide, and I suspect, fueled by occasional smugging and extortion. So money is not really a problem for them. Also, given the tribal nature of Iraq, few people would betray their kin to the Americans, especially when the Americans cannot protect them.

The fact is that the resistance, which is probably more widespread and popular than the Americans can imagine, is getting closer and closer to pulling off an assassination of note. The UN Bombing was an attempt to kill Bremer, but the timing was wrong. They fired rockets at Rumsfeld's plane but missed. Now, they rocket the main HQ of the US in Baghdad. These are not accidents or coincidences. They are well planned and organized assassination attempts lacking last minute data. They cut down that gap, and when cell phones start working in Iraq on a large scale, they will, and people are going be hit hard.

It's really time to ask how we get out of Iraq before we lose Iraq. We can't impose our will and the clock is running. We can't get things working fast enough and the CPA is a massive circle jerk society. talking to each other and living behind fortress walls. The Bush Administration has burdened us with a mess of a scale of which we still cannot imagine.

Imagine every urban renewal project attempted and why they failed. Then ramp up the scale to include an entire country. That is the reconstruction of Iraq. Billions being stolen while the locals stew. Except in this case, they have enough weapons for 400,000 men plus 200,000 reserves.

posted by Steve @ 10:37:00 PM

10:37:00 PM

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The Stealth Computer

Published: October 23, 2003

MIKE CHIN'S eureka moment came in an Ikea store, on a spring day in 2002.

Mr. Chin, a technology writer in Vancouver, British Columbia, had just gotten a tiny motherboard from a Taiwanese chip maker, and he had been growling that he could not find a similarly small case so that he could build the computer he had promised to a friend's daughter.

Then his eyes fell on a blue plastic Ikea breadbox - the "perfect marriage of cheap modern art, chintziness and utility," he said.

The fully functional breadbox PC that he then built and described on the Web was among the first to spring from an idea that has become a raging obsession in a far-flung community of electronic do-it-yourselfers: the stealth computer.

Across Europe, the United States and the Far East, hobbyists have been stuffing the works of personal computers into toasters, humidors, biscuit tins, lampshades, even a plush E. T. doll.

"It's tiny, it's wonderful, it's all integrated, it's extremely low power, and it fits almost anywhere," said Mr. Chin of the mini-ITX motherboard at the heart of his breadbox computer, which measures about 10 inches by 14 inches by 6 inches.

But the mini-ITX is not just an object of obsession. The stealth builders are the extreme flank of an assault against the status quo by the originator of the mini-ITX boards, Via Technologies. Via, which is based in Taiwan, wants to make the little computer the next big thing.

"We were surprised it was the enthusiasts who were interested," Richard Brown, the vice president for marketing at Via, said when the company introduced the tiny motherboard idea in early 2002. Today, the concept has already spread beyond hobbyists; a few stylish new PC's using Via's tiny boards have reached the consumer market.

The mini-ITX, which often includes the central processing unit, or C.P.U., as well as audio and graphics circuitry and other built-in components, measures less than seven inches on each side, about half the size of a typical board. The Via boards include relatively slow C.P.U.'s, which in terms of raw computing power are "a long way behind the Pentium 4 and top-of-the-line Athlon," Mr. Brown said.

But with sales of personal computers lagging, Via and others in the industry have been pushing the idea of the "second PC" - an inexpensive, quiet device that can take the pressure off the family computer, perhaps even breaking out of the home office and moving into the living room.

This is a perfect mothferboard for low end laptops. They can run Windows or Linux, add in a screen and chassis and you could have a cheap, viable laptop like the old Apple eBook, but running hundreds less. These stunt machines are cute, but they have a business use without the compromises Transmeta had. Talk about a disappointing company. They had so much hype, and some nice machines, but kind of stalled out. VIA could make the same kind of machines with these mobos and charge $4-500 for them. Sure, Battlefield 1942 might be out of reach, but for the surfing/writing most people do on the road, these machines would be perfect. People still use Powerbook 1400's, so a faster, smaller box which was mobile would definitely fill a niche.

If anyone has seen the kinds of machines Transmeta sold in Japan, they would understand what I'm talking about, small machines fast enough to play DVD's, not draw too much power, but have more capabitlites than a PDA and cheaper than a tablet PC.

What people don't get about computers is that there is still a market for people who want to go online but still can't afford it. This caught my eye because there's a lot of potential here.

posted by Steve @ 7:18:00 PM

7:18:00 PM

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About No

I was talking about the Kobe Bryant case with my mother this morning and while she claimed the alleged victim was looking for a payday, a common consensus in the black community as far as I can tell, the story seemed all too familiar. It came up when people were talking about his marketability if he's not convicted. I think if he's innocent, his image will encourage people to let it all slide.

I don't know, honestly, if he's guilty of rape, but if the prosecution can't claim she said no and the judge says the case is weak, a conviction is unlikely.

But that isn't what bothers me about this. Because it seems like an all too familiar story. College age girl sleeps with guy and he disposes of her like garbage. MTV's Fraternity Life had an episode where a guy pretty much dumped a girl who she thought he was dating seriously. She went a little psycho, following him around, trying to get into his room, and playing out some drama. Finally, the kid has her banned from the house.

Girls and women are constantly being defined by the ability to get and keep men in their lives. So much so, it's now common for women to forget sex partners over time. It's now commonly understood that single women have more sex than single men. In the movie Clerks, Dante, the store clerk is astonished when his girlfriend says she's only had three sex partners, but given 37 blowjobs. To Dante and his partner, that number went from 3 to 37 in lightning speed. Monica Lewinsky described her asignations with Bill Clinton in the same way. Few men agreed with that. Even in junior high school, when Dr. Phil asked the boys about the girls who were blowing them at parties, they uniformly called them sluts and hoes. One said "I could never introduce her to my mother. She's just someone you hook up with at parties."

Among adult females, you often hear excuses like "oh we went out for a while" or "we were friends". Men are not stupid. We know you fucked these guys. And in most cases, we don't care. After all, men have their secrets, but they rarely have to do with women. It's the non-women activities we'd like to forget, public urination, drunken escapades. Women seem to deal well with men who have multiple girlfriends, they deal less well with men who have exposed their ass in Yankee Stadium.

The alleged victim seems to fit a type you see in college a lot. A former cheerleader, she goes off to college and then is hit with fact that she's merely one pretty girl among many, and no matter how cute she is, it isn't going to be enough to get her over the hump. She's going to have to develop a personality and skills other than shopping at the Gap and batting her eyes. Now, this doesn't make her a bad person, evil or stupid. She's just taken to heart a bunch of messages about sex which we tell girls. Be pretty, be available to men, but not too available. Be attractive to women, have sex with them, but don't take that too seriously or you'll be a dyke. You always have to orgasm and if not, something is wrong with you. You don't need men, but you better be able to get them.

Even educated, intelligent women get hit with these messages and sometimes come ourt scrambled. Teenage girls are bait for boys who have a much simplier goal. Just get laid. As my mysoginist friend said about his buudy's latest girlfriend, "what relationship? She's just another semen recepticle.". He tnen told her to perform a certain sex act as a joke, which she did. The irony, of course, is that he's faithful and repsectful to his girlfriend. But the point is that men can be incredibly cold towards women once ardor wanes or she starts making demands on his time.

I do not know what the alleged victim was thinking when she chased a married man. Maybe she wanted an adventure, or had dreams of being his mistress and living in luxury or she found him attractive and thought he would treat her better than the local boys did. Whatever she thought, her experience with Bryant was bad. Whether he raped her, and the judge, and I suspect the prosecutor, think the evidence is weak , or not, this is a girl who's having a series of bad relationships with men. When you go for a rape test and another man's semen is in your panties, you've just created reasonable doubt.

It is really easy to call her a money grubbing whore who entrapped him, and people are doing so all over the black community. You hear it on radio all the time. But I don't think it's that simple or pat. I think she feels violated. Her claims could be spiteful, but I doubt it. I think it's about perception. She feels used and violated and he treated her the way many men, especially rich, famous men treat women, as disposable. So even if legally, especially when the prosecution can't claim she said no or acted to get away, he might not have raped her, she was violated. She did something that she regrets and now can't really make right. This happens on college campuses all the time. The guys want to get laid, the girls think something else is going on, and at the end of the day, the girl is used and disposed of like a condom.

We create these contrary sexual expectations: you must have a partner, and be sexually available, and then wonder why things go wrong and why so many people are unhappy. Men benefit from this, getting to pick and choose committment while still having sex, yet the magazines and the talk shows why women don't get married. Well, if you tell people that they need to both have lots of sex and find a soulmate, weird things happen. It's as if perfection is a duopoly of sexual license and sexual committment and nobody's perfect.

posted by Steve @ 5:59:00 PM

5:59:00 PM

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A really bad day in Iraq

Wolfowitz unharmed after Baghdad blast
Sun 26 October, 2003 04:08 BST

BAGHDAD (Reuters) - The Baghdad hotel at which U.S. Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz was staying has been evacuated after a series of blasts, according to a journalist staying at the hotel.


At least three people were wounded .........

The blasts occurred at about 6 a.m. local time.

That was no accident. They knew where he was and they were trying to kill him. Only problem is we don't know who was the bomber.

But that was only a part of the bad news.

Insurgents attack Black Hawk helicopter in field

TIKRIT, Iraq (AP) — Guerrillas fired small arms and rocket-propelled grenades at a U.S. Army Black Hawk helicopter after it came down Saturday in a field near Tikrit, wounding one soldier and causing the craft to explode in flames and spew a column of black smoke, the U.S. military said.

Also, near the flashpoint city of Fallujah, three civilians were killed and two wounded when their convoy came under fire. An American engineer and an Iraqi security guard said U.S. troops shot at their vehicles, but the military denied that.

Amid the ongoing violence, U.S military officials prepared for the holy fasting month of Ramadan, which begins in Iraq on Monday. For weeks, chaplains have been training troops to be sensitive to Muslim religious traditions.


In the incident near Fallujah, three SUVs of the European Landmine Solutions, a British-based private contractor, were hit by gunfire, according to an American engineer with the firm, David Rasmussen, who was hospitalized with wounds.

Asked where the shots came from, Rasmussen replied: "from the USA."

Centcom is trying to spin the fact that an RPG shot down another helicopter. Which is what happened. It didn't just "come down". By what? A faulty engine? Please. Try grenade. Then they pulled an ambush on the downed chopper.

Think about it: the helicopter just landed and then an ambush just miraculously exploded around it? Please. They ran into the simple version of a flak trap, and then when they came down, they were fighting for their lives. Which is no more an accident than the assassination attempt on Wolfowitz.

US intel is fatally compromised by the legions of translators and police who are quietly working for the resistance. We cannot move without intel going to the enemy. Hell, given the pausity of Arabic language skills, they could use the CPA phones with no problems.

But no one will put this together until all hell breaks loose. There are no coinicidences when it comes to bombings and high officials. They were waiting for him. A master stroke like assassinating Wolfowitz or Rumsfeld would send the war effort into a tailspin. Remember, the enemy gets a vote. The enemy always gets a vote. Sometimes, the deciding vote.

posted by Steve @ 1:03:00 AM

1:03:00 AM

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Saturday, October 25, 2003


There may be no better words in the English language than Yankees lose, well, there are a couple "yes, I want to sleep with you", "the beer is free", "the EPT was wrong". But excluding those phrases, Yankees lose brings a spring to my step and a song to my heart. There are few things in life I take as much pleasure in than to see the Yankees lose at home in the World Series. As a lifelong Mets fan, few things are better to watch than to see the Yankees lose in a complete game, five hit shut out.

I've been waiting a few weeks to write this piece. I knew the Twins didn't have much of a chance, but the Red Sox were so close, so close and they couldn't close the deal. Which was among the great disappointments in a lifetime of watching baseball.

No one wanted this series, except for Yankee fans. Everyone wanted the Cubs vs Red Sox, but that was not to be. Instead we got this series and most people expected the Yankees to roll over them. Boy were we surprised. Pleasantly surprised. The Marlins came to play, not lose and play they did. They didn't care about the Yankee payroll or mystique, they wanted to be champions and they became champions.

You may be wondering, why, as a New Yorker, I take such joy in a Yankee humilation. Well, that's simple. I'm not a Yankees fan. I hate the Yankees. I have hated the Yankees since I was a kid. I hated them as a child, as a teenager and as an adult. I grew up in a household of Brooklyn Dodgers fans and that means a lifetime of disdain for the Yankees. Watching them lose and seeing all those forlorn faces in the dugout was a joyous, rapturous experience.

Hating the Yankees is both fun and easy. I hate the Yankees because they are the worst in sport. Greedy, venal, corrupt. A legacy of thuggish ownership and dishonesty from day one. They've always treated their players like chattel after buying them. The Yankees are so greedy, they started their own network and charge extra for it. Only the Yankees could get away with such naked greed.

Ben Affleck summed it up, the Yankees are nothing more than well-heeled mercenaries. There is success, but no heart, no spirit. Anything quirky or weird is soon banished from Yankeeland.

If you've ever been to a Yankees game and a Mets game, the difference is pretty stark. They may both take place in New York, but that's about it. A Yankees game is usually filled with people who expect to win. The Mets game is filled with people who want to win. The difference is that while Yankee fans may cheer, Mets fans believe. I've felt Shea rocking from the pounding of feet and cheering in a way you'd never feel in Yankee Stadium.

During interleague play, the usual arrest counts hover around 300 per game. It doesn't take much for a fistfight to start. When I was a teenager, I went to a doubleheader with the Cubs with my father. Some kid got a Yankees jersey and crossed out the Yankees, something I have to do one day, and he got free beers until he puked. Now, punches would definitely fly if you did that.

Here's an example of how the Yankees suck: in the games after 9/11, the Yankees had some kind of ceremony. The Mets wore Police, Fire and Port Authority hats for the rest of the season. Why? Because John Franco, the Mets team captain, thought it was a good idea. Every game he pitched, he wore a Saintation department T-shirt as a tribute to his father. That's never, ever gonna happen to the Yankees. The Yankees are always bigger than anyone or anything else. Some call it tradition, I'd call it self-indulgence. The Yankees have been trying to get money for a new Stadium for years, despite the fact everyone likes the old one. Greed, avarice, that's the Yankees tradition.

Someone said that rooting for the Yankees was like rooting for Microsoft to buy another company. Which I think is an apt analogy.

Ah, it's always a good day when the Yankees lose. This is a really good day. The bigger the loss, the better the day.

Oh yeah, fuck the Yankees. The Yankees fucking suck.

posted by Steve @ 11:24:00 PM

11:24:00 PM

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Two dollars a day: America's evilest corporation strikes again

Wal-Mart uses more than 100 third-party contractors to perform cleaning services in more than 700 stores, Williams said, and those contractors are required to use only legal workers.

The arrests stem from a November 1998 investigation done with the Pennsylvania attorney general's office. That inquiry also targeted store-cleaning contractors and subcontractors used by Wal-Mart.

The cleaning crews did not receive health insurance and were paid below the minimum wage, sometimes as little as $2 a day, a federal official said.

The workers arrested Thursday were released if they had no criminal records, but they must appear later before immigration judges.

Arrests were made in Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Connecticut, Delaware, Kentucky, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia and West Virginia, ICE officials said.

This has to be a typo, because two dollars a day is ridiculous. What do they do? Hand you a 10 and send you on your way? You can make more collecting cans. It's probably $2 an hour, but that's still a crime in the US.

Slave labor, shoddy goods, shop at Wal-Mart.

posted by Steve @ 9:45:00 PM

9:45:00 PM

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My Pet Peeve

Ok, I have a bunch of them, but reading about Bill "Whiny Little Bitch" O'Reilly, just sets me off. They run his weekly column in the Daily News and he was whining about Terry Gross and Al Franken again and how people don't like him. Well, there's a reason: he's an asshole. People don't like him.

O'Reilly thinks people don't like his politics and a lot of people don't. But he seems not to get that people don't like "him". Him, not what comes out of his mouth, but how he says it. He's a thug and a bully and a whiny little bitch.

I don't agree with Tucker Carlson one bit, but that's it. I don't agree with him. I wouldn't ignore him, refuse to shake his hand or think he's a particularly bad person. Nor do a lot of people. He has every right to his politics, as wrong as they are. But the difference between him and O'Reilly is simple and I think we call it a happy childhood.

Carlson sat there with Janeane Garofalo for a week and Al Franken for two days. People who couldn't disagree with him more if he was a Spanish Communist and they were anarchists. But he did it with grace and style. Can anyone imagine O'Reilly doing the same? Carlson can lose an argument, even if plays fast and loose with the facts. He knows perfectly well that he can't be more entertaining than comedians. O'Reilly has to not only win, but protect the "innocent" masses from the evil liberal world. And when he's attacked for his views, it's an attack on him, personally. It's not about O'Reilly the hack, but O'Reilly the man. He takes things more personally than most black people, and that's something. There are no neutral comments in his world.

And unbelievably, he thinks the liberals are out to get him. Of course, Terry Gross was nicer to Al Franken than him. He's a prick and she doesn't like him. She doesn't have to. He bullies the weak. Franken attacks the strong. Hell, even Ann Coulter attacks people who can attack back. Sure, she can call Molly Ivins a traitor and Evan Thomas, the son of Norman Thomas, even though his name is Evan Thomas, Jr. But they can respond in kind and ask about her adams apple and the fact that there was no child named Ann Coulter born in Connecticut in 1962-63. But O'Reilly, he likes to pick on the innocent and weak like a vulture. He doesn't like to battle equals.

I am so sick of his millionaire victim act. He's a thug and a loser and by the grace of God he's not rampaging through central Brooklyn with a badge like his thuggish grandpa. He's always got his nose up Howard Stern's ass, as if Stern agreed with his wacky views. At least he doesn't have contempt for him like he does for the pill popping racist pig Rush "rehab" Limbaugh.

O'Reilly so needs therapy it isn't funny. He needs to talk out all his repressed childhood anger with a professional before he drops dead. I hardly want to turn to Fox News and see a foaming, twitching red faced O'Reilly.

The most irritating thing about him is that he relies on this fantasy childhood he uses as the underpinning of his philosophy. He's altered a brutal, sad childhood in with an alcoholic dad and enabling mom into some kind of Father Knows Best world which never existed. Instead of confronting what must have been an unusually tough childhood, he's fictionalized it. Now, he uses that fiction to guide himself in the real world, and the results is a verbally brutal, physically cowardly man unable to accept any challenge from anyone. He has to be in control and when he isn't, everyone and everything else is to blame. He pushes close to libel with Franken, he maligns Terry Gross and in the process, he looks like a jerk. He doesn't even see how bad he looks. And he wonders why people revile him.

It's simple: no one likes a bully and a coward.

posted by Steve @ 1:57:00 AM

1:57:00 AM

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GOP to put challengers in black voting precincts
Critics call strategy intimidation
The Courier-Journal

Jefferson County Republicans intend to place Election Day challengers at 59 voting precincts in predominantly black neighborhoods, a move that NAACP leaders yesterday called blatant intimidation.

The GOP election workers, most of whom live outside the targeted precincts in western and central Louisville, Portland and Newburg, will be on hand to challenge voters who they suspect aren't eligible.

Jefferson County GOP Chairman Jack Richardson IV said the precincts were chosen at random or because the Republican Party has had trouble finding registered voters in those areas to serve as election workers. The challengers, who will receive the same training as precinct workers, could fill in if needed.

Richardson said the precincts weren't chosen because of their racial makeup or voting patterns. Using challengers is a "legal, proper and permissible" way to ensure that voters are bona fide, he said.

"It is in the best interest of everybody and the responsibility of both parties to protect the ballot integrity," Richardson said. "That is the bottom line."

Hmmm, yet another case of nigger vote suppression.

It didn't work in 1965, it won't work now. But the Dems should pick the richest, whitest counties in the state and do the same. See how quickly this plans dies.

In the real world, most of these people are long time, regular voters and know the people at the polling stations. This is just legal intimidation.

posted by Steve @ 1:20:00 AM

1:20:00 AM

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Friday, October 24, 2003

Joint operation

Under pressure from both Berlin and the Hague, Dutch coffee shop culture is under threat, writes Andrew Osborn

Friday October 24, 2003

A thick pall of sweet-smelling hashish has hung over the Netherlands since the first "coffee shop" opened its doors in 1972.
Since then, the country's famously relaxed drug laws have attracted droves of weed lovers from across the globe and earned the country a sometimes controversial reputation for unparalleled liberality.

At its peak in 1997 the country's network of coffee shops ran to almost 1,200 cafes where anyone over 18 could exercise their legal right to buy up to five grams (a sixth of an ounce) of marijuana at a time. But thirty years later, the novelty appears to have worn off and the increasingly conservative Dutch authorities are drawing up plans to turn back the clock.

With the conservative Christian Democrat party holding sway in the latest three-party coalition and the Labour party consigned to opposition, the country's traditionally liberal approach towards drugs are up for review.

This week the Dutch public got a foretaste of exactly how the government is planning to sweep aside decades of tolerance, when justice minister Piet Hein Donner publicly outlined plans to allow only Dutch citizens to visit coffee shops.

In a move designed to tackle the perceived scourge of drug tourists, he said that coffee shop customers should be asked to show their passport and prove that they live locally before being served.


Angered by such liberality on its doorstep, Berlin wants nothing less than a total ban on soft drugs in the Netherlands.The Dutch authorities seem unlikely to go that far but they do mean business. A treaty allowing the German and Dutch police to cooperate in border regions is likely to be signed soon and the Dutch government is reportedly close to drawing up new narcotics legislation.

The Dutch government may, however, find the going uphill. It wants local councils and coffee shops themselves to stop foreigners from buying pot, but neither seem keen to comply. Both the councils and the cafes say they believe that the move would merely push the entire drugs trade underground and force people to buy off street dealers and criminals.

There is also the small matter of money. In 1999, the latest year for which figures are available, Dutch coffee shops turned over €300m (£210m) - money which is all subject to government tax.

The Dutch government is therefore faced with a stark choice: to keep taking the money or to appease the Germans.

You're asking the Dutch to choose between money and keeping Germans happy? Why not ask the British to choose beer over keeping the Irish happy or the Italians to choose between food and keeping the Austrians happy? The odds are about the same of it never happening. The Dutch are not and never have been liberal in the sense Americans think. Dutch social policy has always seemed conservative to me: they don't ask what you do behind closed doors and you don't make a point of announcing it. As long as you show up to work and do your job, your life is your business. As long as you show up and do your job. Americans have always assumed it was some hippie wonderland because they didn't poke their nose in your business. But that was always a mistake. The Dutch always seemed buttoned down, but relaxed to me. Just because you can smoke weed and they don't hide their hookers never meant that you could roll into work in shorts and a Quicksilver T.

The Dutch government knows localities are not going to start quizzing people about their nationality when money is involved. They're just going to tell people to chill and sell them dope anyway.

Americans have always misunderstood Dutch drug policy anyway. It was never a free for all. The Dutch allowed cannibis and hash to be sold, ignored ecxtasy, but prosecuted the hell out of coke and heroin dealers and always have. Along with needle distribution and generous treatment programs, they controlled hard drug use. They controlled selling weed which limited crime, brought in taxes and kept people within the legal economy. And people who would be tempted to sell all kinds of drugs went into the legal drug system and only sold weed. This way, they keep kids out of it, they minimize the drug culture, it's more touristy than a staple in the heavy drinking Dutch culture, and they get taxes.

Now, the Germans are tired off all the cross-border dope dealing coming from the EU's open borders, but they really can't expect the Dutch to impose German moral standards. The Dutch, quite logically, prefer their system, which seems to work for them.

posted by Steve @ 11:27:00 PM

11:27:00 PM

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Hidden from the world, a village dies of Aids while China refuses to face a growing crisis

Jonathan Watts in Xiongqiao village, Henan province, the ground zero of an epidemic threatening millions

This is Xiongqiao village in Henan province, the ground zero of arguably the world's worst HIV/Aids epidemic, with up to a million people infected in this single province through a vast, largely unregulated blood-selling operation.

The situation is already a catastrophe, but the risks are growing. The medical treatment is inadequate and the authorities are trying to cover up the truth with a lethal mix of censorship and police intimidation.

The Guardian has gained rare access to the village and has spoken to HIV-positive villagers who have been arrested and beaten for trying to draw attention to their plight; to health officials who have been harassed, sued and kept under surveillance for speaking out; and to local newspaper reporters who have been fired for trying to publish the truth.

It has also heard from Aids experts, charity organisations and foreign diplomats who have either been refused access to Henan or only allowed to enter under heavy restrictions.

Outside journalists fare little better: two cameramen from China's state-run television channel, CCTV, were kicked out this week.

The problem and response are side-effects of modern China's peculiar blend of profit-at-all-costs capitalism and hide-and-control communism. Even more than the Sars scare this year, the HIV crisis in Henan underlines the growing gulf between the urban rich and rural poor and the state's overarching emphasis on social stability at the expense of individual rights and free speech.
China refused to accept that it had a major HIV problem until 2002. Then in a single day, it pushed up its estimate for infected people from 30,000 to 1 million. Aids activists believe the real number could be more than twice as high


· Last month, Human Rights Watch issued a report condemning China's policy on HIV/Aids. Few Chinese people saw it because the government blocked the group's website

· In international forums and English language media, Chinese officials acknowledge that the country could have 10m HIV cases by 2010. In the domestic Chinese language media, however, officials cite infection figures as low as 40,000

· Asked why the cover-up is necessary, an official in Henan told doctors: "Who will invest in our province if they believe we have a huge number of HIV cases"

China's restrictive policies are not just a problem for China. With illegal immigration and tourism, China's penchant for lying makes it a potential ground zero for a host of diseases. China's record in confronting public health issues ranges from miserable to horrible and as long as they lie, they place millions of people around the world at risk.

posted by Steve @ 11:12:00 PM

11:12:00 PM

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Want to join a draft board?

Become a Selective Service System Local Board Member

The Selective Service System wants to hear from men and women in the community who might be willing to serve as members of a local draft board.

Prospective Board Members must be citizens of the United States , at least 18 years old, and registered with the Selective Service (if male). Prospective Board Members may not be an employee of any law enforcement occupation, not be an active or retired member of the Armed Forces, and not have been convicted of any criminal offense.

Once identified as qualified candidates for appointment, prospective Board Members are recommended by the Governor and appointed by the Director of Selective Service, who acts on behalf of the President in making appointments. Each new member receives 12 hours of initial training after appointment, followed by 4 hours of annual training for as long as he or she remains in the position. They may serve as Board Members for up to 20 years, if desired.

Local Board Members are uncompensated volunteers who play an important community role closely connected with our Nation's defense. If a military draft becomes necessary, approximately 2,000 Local and Appeal Boards throughout America would decide which young men, who submit a claim, receive deferments, postponements or exemptions from military service, based on Federal guidelines.

Positions are available in many communities across the Nation. If you believe you meet the standards for Selective Service Board Membership, and wish to be considered for appointment please visit our web site at:

What's up with this? Are they looking to set the groundwork for a draft? I think people need to be a bit concerned about this. Although, if they try this, Bush should start moving now. A draft would be the perfect thing to ensure a Democratic government for years to come.

posted by Steve @ 6:05:00 PM

6:05:00 PM

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Don't believe your own press

Rumsfeld Draws Republicans' Ire

Published: October 24, 2003

WASHINGTON, Oct. 23 — Last Friday, the Republican chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee and his top Democratic colleague sent a private letter to Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld that questioned the propriety of comments made by a top Pentagon general, William G. Boykin.

Mr. Rumsfeld not only did not respond, but on Tuesday, after the chairman, Senator John W. Warner of Virginia, made the letter public, the defense secretary said he knew nothing about it. "It may be somewhere around the building," Mr. Rumsfeld told reporters on Capitol Hill, "but I am not aware of it."

The episode was described this week by senior Republican Congressional officials as emblematic of what some now openly call the high-handedness and lack of respect shown by Mr. Rumsfeld, whose steps and missteps in the past month have drawn increasing Republican ire.

On issues that include General Boykin (who has likened the war against Islamic militants to a battle against Satan) and his own views about the war on terrorism (and the gap between Mr. Rumsfeld's glossy public assessments and the more roughly hewn private views that leaked out this week), senior Republicans have joined Democrats in openly complaining that the Pentagon has left them in the dark and vulnerable on critical and sensitive political issues

A Republican who is close to the White House said the view there had been that Mr. Rumsfeld "went off the deep end" in his reaction earlier this month to Mr. Bush's decision to designate Ms. Rice as the overall coordinator of Iraq policy. "The worst thing that can happen in Washington is if you're a cabinet member, you think you're bigger than the president," the Republican said.

Republican officials, though reluctant to criticize Mr. Rumsfeld publicly, said he and his staff, including Paul D. Wolfowitz, the deputy defense secretary, have been no less dismissive of their needs than they are toward Democratic lawmakers.

"The Pentagon is not exactly Capitol Hill's favorite department anymore," said one prominent Republican staff member. "Rumsfeld and Wolfowitz just give off this sense that they know better than thou, and that they don't have to answer our questions

Rummy let all the asskisssing which went on earlier go to his already inflated head. Now, when people demand hard answers, he doesn't have them.

Bush should have put a stop to his freelancing in February. Now, he's got this arrogant monster running loose and he's now embarassed by him. Does anyone really think Rummy has more than nominal respect for Bush, if that much?

But I think the skids are being greased to fire him. Too many negaitive stories are popping up for him to remained employed for long and that is a shame. He belongs in the dock at the Hague, at a minimum, but he certainly shouldn't be allowed to walk away from the mess he's worked a decade to create.

posted by Steve @ 10:41:00 AM

10:41:00 AM

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Why there are no jobs
Too Low a Bar

Bear in mind also that just increasing the number of jobs isn't good enough. If we want to improve the dismal prospects of job seekers — currently, 75 percent of those who lose jobs still haven't found new jobs when their unemployment benefits run out — the number of jobs must grow faster than the number of people who want to work. Indeed, because the working-age population of the United States is steadily growing, the economy must add about 130,000 jobs each month just to prevent the labor market from deteriorating.

Mr. Snow thinks the economy will, finally, start to do better than that — but it's not happening yet. In September, employment rose for the first time since January, but the increase was only 57,000 jobs. And to have kept up with the population growth since Mr. Bush took office, the economy would have to add not two million, but seven million jobs by next November.

Mr. Bush's employment policies would truly have been a success if he had left the job market no worse than he found it. In fact, even his own Treasury secretary thinks he'll fall five million or so jobs short of that mark.

I know, I know, the usual suspects will roll out the usual explanations. It is, of course, Bill Clinton's fault. (Just for the record, the average rate of job creation during the whole of the Clinton administration was about 225,000 jobs a month. Mr. Clinton presided over the creation of 11 million jobs during each of his two terms.) Or maybe Osama bin Laden did it.

But surely there must be a statute of limitations on these excuses. By the time of the election, Mr. Bush will have had almost four years to deal with the legacy of the technology bubble, and more than three years to deal with the economic fallout from 9/11.

This number, along with the casualty rate in Iraq are the numbers by which Bush's fate hangs. We're talking not only long term unemployed, but massive underemployment as well. There's a mythology in America that any job is a good job, well, economically, that's simply not true.

It is a tremendous waste of resources to have a, let's say University of Virginia trained economics major selling hardware at Home Depot. The state has invested millions in that person's education, and having them spend a year or two in retail has two negative effects. One, it reduces the taxable income of that person and two, it has a downward effect on employment. Every college graduate underemployed in a service job takes a job a high school graduate cannot get, thus lowering their income.

The current unemployment is not just sector-based, but across the board. Technology employment is being shifted overseas to countries who's ultimate political aims may well pose a challenge to the US. Shifting so much technology development to India, has had a pernicious effect on not only our economy, but on our security. What day do we find out Indian companies are not only stealing our technology, but funnelling it and the information held in call centers to Indian intelligence. When does a Los Alamos scientist get brought to a meeting with his medical records waved in his face by an Indian intelligence officer? When is software stolen by an Indian company and sold, knowing that decades of litigation await any claimant?

The problem is not just unemployment, but a net loss of jobs which are not coming back. This despite the fact that the US is only partially wired. There is still a massive need for technological development in schools, health care, government, and we're making it impossible for Americans to complete that revolution. If you keep shipping the tech work to India, who's going to build America's technological infrastructure?

If it was just unemployment, that would be understandable. But it's not. It's permanent job loss and little real chance of replacing them. Which is why Wal-Mart can hire illegals and abuse their workers. If you lose a job at Wal-Mart, the next stop is welfare.

posted by Steve @ 9:56:00 AM

9:56:00 AM

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Sheltering the President

Notably missing from this trip were the big crowds that have almost always turned out for a glimpse of the world's most powerful leader. To some extent, that was planned:Thailand, where Mr. Bush stayed the longest for the annual Asian economic forum, gave workers a holiday and made it clear that protests would not be tolerated.

In Indonesia, the Secret Service would not let the president get more than a mile off the grounds of the airport in Bali - the overwhelmingly Hindu island of the world's largest Islamic nation. The result was that only ordinary Indonesians to see the first American president to visit their country in more that a decade were selling oke from a stand outside the airport fence.

Similarly, in Australia Mr. Bush visited only this trim-and-proper capital, where few Australians without government business ever step. (Hu Jintao, the Chinese president, was beginning to take a much more extensive tour of the country as Mr. Bush was leaving.)

All this is in sharp contrast to the last presidential tour of the region, when President Bill Clinton visited Vietnam at the end of 2000, talking to mayors about housing and health care, touring ancient temples and new factories, his car weaving through streets packed five- and six-deep with Vietnamese who said America, once an enemy, was now the path to prosperity.

That, of course, was a different time, and Mr. Bush's aides say Mr. Clinton viewed Southeast Asia through the cheery
glasses of economic globalization, while Mr. Bush is forcing governments that would rather turn the other way to face the threats brewing in their own villages.

It is an unpleasant message, and the risk facing Mr. Bush is that important parts of it get lost in translation. In Indonesia and the Philippines, one American official with long experience in Asia noted during the president's tour, "people are tired of hearing that they are the front line of terrorism, and over time they come to blame the messenger."

The Potempkin Village tour of Asia.

posted by Steve @ 2:12:00 AM

2:12:00 AM

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Thursday, October 23, 2003

America's worst company strikes again

UPDATE 2-U.S. arrests 300 workers at 60 Wal-Mart stores
Reuters, 10.23.03, 3:09 PM ET

By James Vicini

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Authorities arrested about 300 workers at 60 Wal-Mart Stores Inc. locations across the country on immigration charges in an investigation into contractor cleaning crews, and some company executives knew about the scheme, U.S. officials said Thursday.

They said the investigation, known as "Operation Rollback," involved allegations the contractor had recruited illegal immigrants, mainly Eastern European nationals, to work on cleaning crews at the stores for the world's largest retailer.

Federal law enforcement officials said some Wal-Mart executives had direct knowledge of the scheme, based on recorded conversations, surveillance and monitoring.

One official said federal agents conducted searches at the Bentonville, Arkansas, headquarters of Wal-Mart, the largest U.S. private sector employer, with about 1.1 million workers in the United States and 1.4 million worldwide.

Another official said federal grand jury subpoenas have been issued for the Wal-Mart executives to testify. The executives were not identified.

An official said the U.S. believes Wal-Mart has shown a "reckless disregard" for U.S. immigration laws, exploiting workers, and has continued to hire some contractors who were already convicted of felony violations.

A Wal-Mart spokesman said the company was "committed to cooperating" with federal officials, who he said came to company headquarters with specific requests for information.

"These are third-party contractors," spokesman Tom Williams said. "We require that the contractors use legal workers."

"We don't know at this point if the current investigation includes one or more outside contractors. We use hundreds of them," he said, adding that about 1,000 of Wal-Mart's U.S. stores have outside cleaning services.

Wal-Mart already faces dozens of lawsuits alleging discrimination and violations of wage-and-hour rules. The company has drawn fire from labor groups, who say the company has an anti-union stance.

No unions, now, illegal aliens. Wal-Mart is a perfect example of the worst corporate practices in America. Anyone who believes Wal-Mart didn't knowingly hire companies filled with the brim with illegals is out of their mind. They aren't anti-union for no reason. They don't say "use illegals", but they make sure the lowest bidder gets the contract.

Most companies would be ashamed to be caught out like this, not Wal-Mart. They will make their profits no matter the cost to workers or the public.

Maybe some prosecutions might change matters there, but I doubt it. Hard jail time is the only cure for corporate law breaking.

posted by Steve @ 6:38:00 PM

6:38:00 PM

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Bush heckled as he thanks Australia and vows the war on terror will go on
By Kathy Marks in Sydney
24 October 2003

President George Bush was jeered and heckled yesterday during an address to the Australian parliament, in which he thanked the nation for its support in the war against Iraq.

President Bush defended the American-led military action, claiming it was vindicated by the discovery in Iraq of secret biological laboratories and design work on prohibited long-range missiles.

The people, though, were unable to hear him deliver those compliments unless they switched on their television sets. As part of a massive security operation to protect Mr Bush, they were shut out of Parliament House for the first time in the country's history.

With the public gallery closed, the job of expressing the anti-war sentiments of a substantial minority of Australians fell to two maverick senators, Bob Brown and Kerry Nettle. The pair, both members of the Green Party, were ejected from the chamber. Interrupted by them for the second time, Mr Bush said, smiling between gritted teeth: "I love free speech."

Three hours in Bali, 20 in Australia, wow, what a vacation. The clap is more popular than George W. Bush in most countries.

posted by Steve @ 6:27:00 PM

6:27:00 PM

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In Shiite Slum, Army's New Caution

By Vernon Loeb
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, October 22, 2003; Page A01

BAGHDAD -- Lt. Denny Vigil points the barrel of his M-4 carbine out the driver's side door of a Humvee. His eyes scan the storefronts and the rooftops. He and his men used to stop and walk through the busy markets of Sadr City, Baghdad's vast Shiite Muslim slum. But now they stay buttoned up in their vehicles with mounted machine guns and go out on patrol only with M1-A1 Abrams tanks leading the way.

"The older people were giving me that look, 'What's the need for all this?' " Vigil said on the move one day last week. "They know something is going on."

Everything changed for the Army's 2nd Armored Cavalry Regiment 13 days ago, when a U.S. patrol was ambushed by hundreds of armed men presumed to be followers of Moqtada Sadr, the young Shiite cleric who has denounced the U.S. occupation of Iraq and called for creation of a Shiite state.

Despite the Oct. 9 encounter, which killed two Americans and two Iraqis, the regiment's commanders say they believe they are still winning a war against Sadr for the hearts and minds of 2 million residents packed into a garbage-strewn quarter of Baghdad named for Sadr's father, a revered cleric assassinated in 1999, allegedly by Saddam Hussein's government. But there is little question that the climate in Sadr City is different than it was during the regiment's first six postwar months here, which passed without a combat fatality.

"We used to walk around, talk to the kids, drink [tea] with the old guys. Not no more," said Sgt. Gary Frisbee.

In important ways, the tenuous state of affairs in Sadr City has become a microcosm of the Bush administration's efforts throughout Iraq. The ambush, and the car bombing of an Iraqi police station on the same day, have overshadowed six months of civic works and what military officials regarded as slow but steady progress. The situation here also highlights the fine line the military must walk in all parts of Iraq between aggressive deterrence against myriad adversaries and excessive force that angers the Iraqi people.

"We remind the commanders all the time that this is a thinking man's war," said Maj. George Sarabia, executive officer of the regiment's 2nd Squadron. "The center of gravity is the attitude of the Shia population. What the enemy is trying to do is get us to overreact."

Like U.S. military forces across much of Iraq, Sarabia's squadron is spread thin, trying to secure Sadr City, an area measuring 3-by-41/3 miles, with 800 troops supported by a 160-soldier military police company. The squadron employs 60 Iraqi interpreters who accompany every patrol and has two Iraqi Americans who work for the Pentagon and have government clearance to translate sensitive documents and interpret during interrogations.

"If you have 2 million people, and 1 percent is against you, that's 20,000 people," Sarabia said. "If only one-tenth of 1 percent is against you, that's 2,000 -- they still outnumber us."

posted by Steve @ 12:48:00 PM

12:48:00 PM

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How'd that happen?

SACRAMENTO, CA—Political observers are struggling to understand exactly how, on Oct. 7, Arnold Schwarzenegger, an Austrian-born, movie-star muscleman with no political experience, was elected to govern the state of California, the world's fifth-largest economic region.

"We're a bit baffled as to exactly how this happened," said David Gergen, director of the Center for Public Leadership at Harvard's Kennedy School of Government. "Poll results show that the strongman received 1.3 million more votes than the next candidate—that much is clear. We just can't determine precisely why people believed that the bodybuilder was qualified to lead the socially and economically complex state of California."

According to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, California is an economic region with an annual gross domestic product of $1.36 trillion—an amount equal to one-sixth of the U.S.'s total gross national product. Considered internationally, California's GDP ranks fifth in the world, behind the U.S., Japan, Germany, and the United Kingdom.

"Apparently, this man has appeared in numerous popular films," Gergen said. "And I guess he was awarded a Mr. Universe title. But I don't understand how that would make him a competent gubernatorial candidate."

"There were, in fact, figures from the pornography industry on the ballot who were better equipped to lead than the muscleman," Gergen added. "A major adult-magazine publisher who could claim not only leadership and business experience, but also a working knowledge of First Amendment law, was in the running. The fact that the pornographer received only 15,454 votes is confusing, in light of the muscleman's victory."

posted by Steve @ 2:24:00 AM

2:24:00 AM

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Plan to arrest maverick Iraqi cleric for murder

Michael Howard in Baghdad
Wednesday October 22, 2003
The Guardian

Coalition and Iraqi officials are preparing an arrest warrant for the firebrand Shia cleric Muqtada al-Sadr over his alleged involvement with the brutal murder of a rival cleric last spring, sources close to the Iraqi governing council told the Guardian yesterday.

The warrant, which has yet to be finalised, cites Mr Sadr for instigating a deadly attack on Abdel Majid al-Khoei, who was stabbed to death by a mob in the Shia holy city of Najaf on April 10.

It is said to be signed by Tahir Jalil Habboush - a senior mukhabarat officer under the former regime who now works with the coalition authorities - and is based on the confessions of 23 men who were involved in the killing.

"The belief of the coalition is that al-Sadr is not containable," the council source said. "They believe there is enough evidence that Muqtada was involved in the Khoei assassination and want to act to clip his wings before he can cause any more damage."

Since his swift rise to prominence in the days following regime change in Iraq, Mr Sadr, 30, has been a constant thorn in the side of the US-led administration in Iraq. He has been the most vocal opponent of occupation, while his well-organised followers have been involved in armed confrontations with US soldiers. Last week he declared a rival government to the US-appointed authority and urged his supporters on to the streets.

But with tension running high between US forces and Mr Sadr's supporters, Iraqi police fear an explosion of anger in the disaffected areas of Baghdad and Najaf and Karbala if Mr Sadr is seized.

First, they have to actually seize him, and I don't think that's possible. No matter how they do it, tanks, Delta/SAS, armored raid. It's like a roach trap. Getting in is easy, getting out......once people find out the Americans have seized him, East Baghdad is going to explode. They had 10,000 people outside the CPA HQ for minor clerics. If they grab Sadr, 100,000 armed people may well show up.

I think we have Black Hawk Down II if we try. Except there are 2 million people in Sadr City. I just don't see, with all the young, unemployed, armed, men around that the country wouldn't erupt in anarchy afterwards. The US is three months behind the times. Any attempt to grab him will get ugly fast and turn into a full-scale Mog within an hour, with mobs and guns everywhere. And the difference between Iraq and Somalia is simple, there was a real Army in Iraq with trained soldiers. So they won't just be running around in a fire drill. They will know where to shoot and how to handle their weapons.

Of course this is stupid and poorly thought out. It is inviting a full-scale Shia rebellion. And coming just before Ramadan, you really have to wonder why the CPA is picking yet another play from the playbook of the German occupation of Russia to emulate. Kill the local leaders. Yes, makes perfect sense. Amazing. Simply amazing. Why not stage a few public hangings next? Seems to work wonders.

posted by Steve @ 2:12:00 AM

2:12:00 AM

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Wednesday, October 22, 2003

Black Democrats denounce judicial nominee Brown as another 'Clarence Thomas'

JESSE J. HOLLAND, Associated Press Writer Friday, October 17, 2003

(10-17) 13:13 PDT WASHINGTON (AP) --

The Congressional Black Caucus denounced White House judicial nominee Janice Rogers Brown of California on Friday, with one member saying she was "cut from the same cloth as Clarence Thomas" and should be kept off a federal appellate court.

"This Bush nominee has such an atrocious civil rights record she makes Clarence Thomas look like Thurgood Marshall," said Rep. Diane Watson, D-Calif.

But Republican senators immediately defended Brown. "If critics don't like Justice Brown's decisions, they should change the law, rather than attack her for partisan political gain," said Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee.

President Bush has nominated Brown, a California state justice, for a seat on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia. She is expected to appear next Wednesday before the Senate Judiciary Committee for a confirmation hearing.

The 12-member appeals court decides important government cases involving separation of powers, the role of the federal government, the responsibilities of federal officials and the authority of federal agencies. It now has five Republican and four Democratic appointees.

The black Democrats said Brown's conservative credentials make her unfit for the D.C. judgeship. Brown, who is black, is considered among the California high court's most conservative justices

They dig up the craziest black jurist they can find and say "we're inclusive". Well, no, they're not. I saw her confirmation hearing on the Newshour tonight and the Democratic senators were aghast at her views. Instead of venue shopping, the Bush Administration is now negro hunting. They failed with the crazed, right-wing hispanic Estrada, now, they hunt for a crazed right wing black jurist. What's the point? She's going to get fillibustered like all the other wackos they've pushed on the court, and Brown is singularly unqualifed because she's had no legal experience in Washington.

The racism of the GOP is so transparent. This woman's views are completely out of sync with even the other justices on her own court. Yet, they expect a free pass because she's black. Well, no. I think the Senators are not going to be fooled by this trick. She's being judged by the content of her character and rulings, not her race. As the above article shows, her views are widely rejected by the black community for their severity and social conservatism. Why in God's name should black politicians support judges adamantly opposed to their ideas? Just because she's black? What kind of racial double standard is that? We disagree with your politics, but because you're black, we'd duty-bound to support you?

Then, of course, we're all supposed to feel sorry for her because she was a single mom who made it through law school. Well, no. Other people from hard backgrounds don't feel they have the right to shut the door behind them. Brown's rulings have done everything to restrict the rights of others to achieve what she did. She opposes the affirmative action which not only got her into college, but law school. So why should a black politician support a judicial nominee who is for closing off access to their constitutients.

She's getting the exact same consideration that a white jurist with her hard right views would get, as well as the same expected filibuster. The token conservative negroes will use her to say the Democrats are racist, which will have most black people laughing hard and long.

Clarence Thomas played the race card and pulled it off, only to become the most reviled figure in black America. Let Justice Brown stay in California and limit her harm to the rest of the country. Her failure will be because people took a look at the content of her character and found it lacking. The fact that she was black was irrelevant to that, as it should be.

posted by Steve @ 10:06:00 PM

10:06:00 PM

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Of Kurds and Madrid


WASHINGTON — My old buddies the Kurds, a long-mistreated people we freed from Saddam, are now looking a gift horse in the mouth. I hope somebody explains that American expression about shortsighted suspicion to a key leader, Massoud Barzani.

The U.S.-British coalition can use a fresh force of experienced troops to patrol Iraq's porous border with Syria and help us cause die-hard terrorists to die hard. Turkey's leaders, eager to re-establish warm relations with Washington and to take part in creating a nearby democratic trading partner, offered a division of well-trained troops.

This would do much to Muslimize and localize the war on Saddam's last-ditch fighters. Turkey's generous offer — duration, one year — would send a message to the world: pitch in and help now, while Iraq is not yet able to police and rebuild itself.

The overwhelming vote in Turkey's Parliament added momentum to the effort by the U.S. and Britain in the Security Council to get U.N. backing last week for continued firm coalition control of helping Iraqis build a democratic, free-enterprise government

But here come Iraqi Arabs, using the Kurdish leader Barzani as their wedge to evoke faded memories of the Ottoman Empire and to look the Turkish gift horse in the mouth.


Kurdish leaders reached by cellphone are well aware of the danger of letting their traditional suspicion of Turks poison their well with Americans.

Says one, thinking short-term: "Our pesh merga cannot police the Sunni triangle. If you could work out a way to transport and supply the Turks by ship, without passing through Kurdish lands. . . ." Another, thinking ahead about an alliance with the superpower, goes to the heart of the matter: "If it takes Turkish troops to save American lives, we Kurds should be for it."

It's real simple. We call it genocide. The Kurds are afraid of genocide.

Here's a more rational explaination of why the Iraqis want no part of the Turks

There are all sorts of reasons why people don't like the idea of Turkish troops in the region. First, there's a lot of animosity between the Kurds and Turks; thousands of Kurds faced constant persecution while on Turkish territory- many of them were driven into Iraq. Ever since the beginning of the war, there have been several clashes between Kurdish militias and Turkish troops in northern Iraq.

Second, everyone knows that Turkey has certain interests in the region- namely, Kirkuk and Mosul. Turkey has been overly eager to send in troops ever since the 'end' of the war in April.

Third, Shi'a are adamant about not allowing Turkish troops into Iraq because Turks are predominantly Sunni and the thought of an aggressive Sunni army makes the majority of Shi'a nervous.

One faction of Christian society in Iraq, Armenian-Iraqis, are dead set against having Turkish troops in Iraq. They speak of Turkish occupation, bloodshed, executions and being driven into Iraq. Armenian-Iraqis are horrified with the thought of having Turkish troops inside of Iraq.

Then there are all of the historical reasons. For almost 400 years, Iraq was ruled by the Ottoman Empire.... The Ottoman Rule in Iraq ended in 1918, with the start of the British occupation. Iraqis haven't forgotten that during World War I, hundreds of thousands of Iraqis were forced to fight and die for the Ottoman Empire.

Then there's the little issue of all the problems between Iraq and Turkey. Iraqis still haven't forgotten the infamous Ataturk Dam on the Furat (Euphrates), the fourth largest dam in the world. We had to watch the Euphrates diminish in front of our very eyes year after year, until in many areas, it seemed like nothing more than a stream. In a country that is largely composed of desert land, ebbing the flow of a river that many people depend on for survival is an atrocity.

posted by Steve @ 11:26:00 AM

11:26:00 AM

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The "real" picture

A memo leaked to USA Today from Donald Rumsfeld gives a completely different picture of our current wars than the one he gives to the steongraphers in his daily briefings. Here it is with annotated comments..

Rumsfeld's war-on-terror memo

Below is the full text of Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld's memo on the war on terror:

October 16, 2003

TO: Gen. Dick Myers
Paul Wolfowitz
Gen. Pete Pace
Doug Feith

FROM: Donald Rumsfeld

SUBJECT: Global War on Terrorism

The questions I posed to combatant commanders this week were: Are we winning or losing the Global War on Terror? Is DoD changing fast enough to deal with the new 21st century security environment? Can a big institution change fast enough? Is the USG changing fast enough?

DoD has been organized, trained and equipped to fight big armies, navies and air forces. It is not possible to change DoD fast enough to successfully fight the global war on terror; an alternative might be to try to fashion a new institution, either within DoD or elsewhere — one that seamlessly focuses the capabilities of several departments and agencies on this key problem.

Our current forces can't do the job, so now we need to create a new organization to do the job instead of making elementary reforms in everything from weapons training to aquisition.

With respect to global terrorism, the record since Septermber 11th seems to be:

We are having mixed results with Al Qaida, although we have put considerable pressure on them — nonetheless, a great many remain at large.

Because we invaded Iraq instead of manning Afghanistan with two divisions as we should have. The Taliban would have been hard pressed to survive prolonged contact with the three brigades of the 10th Mountain and 101 Airborne. Instead, we deploy brigades and that gives them a nearly 1-1 advantage in manning, despite the differences in training.

USG has made reasonable progress in capturing or killing the top 55 Iraqis.

Who are now completely irrelevant to the worsening political situation in Iraq.

USG has made somewhat slower progress tracking down the Taliban — Omar, Hekmatyar, etc.

Hekamatyar is NOT a Taliban/AQ member, but an independent actor who has close ties to Iranian hardliners. It was him, not Bin Laden, who got the largess of CIA support and training, despite warnings of his true intentions. His name should not be mentioned with Taliban/AQ and they should know that. In fact, his main area of Operations abuts the Iranian border, not Pakistan.

With respect to the Ansar Al-Islam, we are just getting started.

Please. A minor group in Kurdistan with little real pull or power. Considering we've been after them for a year, this is pretty bad

Have we fashioned the right mix of rewards, amnesty, protection and confidence in the US?

Is he on crack? No, seriously. Arabs have newspapers and they can read all about Jerry Boykin and women being disrespected while carrying the Quran. There is only hate for the US in the Arab world.

Does DoD need to think through new ways to organize, train, equip and focus to deal with the global war on terror?

Let's start with our trigger happy infantry and their lack of armored vests.

Are the changes we have and are making too modest and incremental? My impression is that we have not yet made truly bold moves, although we have have made many sensible, logical moves in the right direction, but are they enough?

Bold moves? Try getting water to the troops with decent food. Our logistics system is broken. Let's try fixing that. Let's fix the basics first.

Today, we lack metrics to know if we are winning or losing the global war on terror. Are we capturing, killing or deterring and dissuading more terrorists every day than the madrassas and the radical clerics are recruiting, training and deploying against us?

This is not a numbers battle. America is hated in the Muslim world and is considered to be conducting a war against Islam. Until that changes, recruits will abound.

Does the US need to fashion a broad, integrated plan to stop the next generation of terrorists? The US is putting relatively little effort into a long-range plan, but we are putting a great deal of effort into trying to stop terrorists. The cost-benefit ratio is against us! Our cost is billions against the terrorists' costs of millions.

No shit? Really? NOW you realize this?

Do we need a new organization?

What? A new JSOC? A new CIA? No thanks. We've seen how your Plan B works.

How do we stop those who are financing the radical madrassa schools?

Place a call to our Saudi friends.

Is our current situation such that "the harder we work, the behinder we get"?

We aren't working hard. We're making things worse.

It is pretty clear that the coalition can win in Afghanistan and Iraq in one way or another, but it will be a long, hard slog.

Really? We could win how? We're in a war and we don't know what victory is?

Does CIA need a new finding?

No. It needs an administration which listens to its analysts

Should we create a private foundation to entice radical madradssas to a more moderate course?

Why? They're funded by rich Saudis. Until Pakistan offers free public education, madrassas will provide the only education for most poor people there. Madrassas are not the issue, education is.

What else should we be considering?

Leaving Iraq while we still have an Army.

Please be prepared to discuss this at our meeting on Saturday or Monday.

And in the press on Wednesday.


posted by Steve @ 11:03:00 AM

11:03:00 AM

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Iraq awash in military weapons

An attack on a US convoy Sunday highlights concern over Iraq's 50 unsecured arms depots.

By Dan Murphy | Special to The Christian Science Monitor

KARBALA, IRAQ – A roadside attack on US military convoy Sunday in Fallujah, Iraq left an American armored car and munitions truck burning wrecks. No one was reported killed, but some Iraqis nearby were cheering.

The Fallujah attack typifies one of an emerging series of threats apparent since September due to the wide availability of guns and military ordnance here. The result has been a steady supply of explosives to use against coalition soldiers, more Iraqi vigilante justice, and a rise in local militia groups.

One coalition official says that up to 50 major weapons sites across Iraq with bombs, ammunition, and rifles in them are improperly secured and have probably served as a source for the home-made bombs - improvised explosive devices (IEDs) in military parlance - that have become the single biggest security threat to the coalition.

New militias are also being spawned across the country and are increasingly coming into conflict either with the coalition or with other Iraqis.

The most visible militias in recent weeks have been ones aligned to extremist Shiite clerics. Shiite Muslims make up about 60 percent of Iraq's people, and were literally second-class citizens in Saddam Hussein's Iraq. At least seven coalition soldiers - 5 of them Americans - have been killed in clashes with these militias this month.

The availability of weapons to ordinary Iraqis, not just militias, is also a concern. In May, Paul Bremer, the top coalition official here, decided to allow Iraqis to keep AK-47s, with the stipulation that they confine them to their home. But that provision has proven almost impossible to enforce, and gun-toting toughs are now a regular feature on the streets of most of Iraq's cities.

"In my opinion, we'd be a lot better off if we didn't let people keep AK-47s in their homes,'' says Gen. Kadhem Abdul Khalik, the chief of police for Al-Risafa district, which encompasses about half of Baghdad. "Under the old regime, there were a lot fewer guns in private hands, and that made our job easier and safer."

Ooops. So we didn't need 300,000 men?

posted by Steve @ 2:25:00 AM

2:25:00 AM

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The finest care possible

What happened to Maj. Don Tyler was one of the most bizarre things I have reported in my 40 years as a journalist. And the perpetrator was not the terrorist enemy, but the U.S Army.

It was such a shocker, in fact, that even though the man telling me the story was an Air Force special ops navigator who had managed to survive a plane crash 10,000 feet up in Afghanistan’s Hindu Kush mountains that effectively destroyed his left shoulder, I had a hard time believing it. You would, too. Here’s the short version:

Landstuhl Regional Medical Center, the U.S. Army’s premier hospital in Germany is the place where all the high-profile American casualties are taken for treatment on their way home. On Feb. 15, 2002, Landstuhl officials tossed this seriously-injured navigator out of the hospital in the middle of the night, into the rain, wearing nothing but a hospital gown and paper flip-flops, telling him to check into billeting.

His left shoulder had been destroyed in the crash of Ditka 03, his MC-130P, while on a special ops mission refueling MH-47E Chinook helicopters. Every muscle and tendon from front to back had been ripped apart. He was in excruciating pain that was barely controllable by the drugs he’d been given. As anyone who’s ever torn a rotator cuff knows, his ability to do the simplest of tasks – try zipping your fly one-handed – was gone. Yet he told me that Landstuhl, which was oh-so-public about its ministrations to ersatz hero Jessica Lynch, tossed him out on his keester.


Was it conceivable that the drugs Don Tyler had been given for pain had permanently addled his brain? It was preposterous to think that a hospital whose very name is synonymous with the best medical care the U.S. military can offer would toss a combat injured, hurting, drugged, virtually naked Air Force navigator out into the street on a cold winter night. Or was it?


Even more shocking than the treatment Tyler didn’t receive at the hands of the vaunted Landstuhl medical team is the fact that Dr. Burlingame wasn’t shocked to hear of it.

“It’s a serious indictment of Landstuhl, and we’ve complained about it. I didn’t realize how bad it was until after I got home and talked to guys that went through Landstuhl. And some guys said, ‘Oh, I got great care there,’ but then you hear about other guys that maybe weren’t ICU – sick as shit – that had this exact same thing happen to them. And to me it was very distressing.

“We see our patients, but we don’t know how they do once they leave us. Interestingly enough, we get zero follow-up from Landstuhl. They won’t return our phone calls. I mean, we’re down at the front lines, making an effort to call back or e-mail back, and they couldn’t give us the time of day. The only time that we’d ever hear anything about our patients is when we’d call back, we’d e-mail back to Walter Reed. Our buddies are back at Reed, and they tell us what was going on with the guys. And that’s only a fraction of all the folks that went out.

“Let me tell you, scary enough, he (Tyler) is one of several that I know of that’s happened to.”

Tyler’s problems weren’t just with the medical treatment at Landstuhl. Once he’d been discharged from the hospital, he had to fight for help arranging his transportation back to Fort Walton Beach, Fla., and his unit at Eglin AFB. He didn’t even have clothes to wear on a civilian flight home; a buddy had to scrounge some donated jeans and a shirt, then lend him a pair of tennis shoes that were one size too small. Tyler had to make his own arrangements to have civilian travel orders faxed from his home unit, he had to ride a van for an extremely painful ninety minutes to the Frankfurt airport, and he had to endure being profiled as a terrorist at both Frankfurt and Atlanta (one way, last-minute ticket; no baggage; dressed poorly, unshaven, obviously on drugs and not communicating well).

Several weeks after Tyler made it back home, he underwent surgery to repair the damage in his left shoulder. More than a year of physical therapy followed, but he has yet to regain the mobility that allowed him to play tennis and golf. Tyler, who was caught on “stop loss” when his plane crashed into the mountains, was medically discharged from the Air Force, with one final insult: neither he nor the other seriously injured crewmen aboard their aircraft were awarded the Purple Heart. The recommendation for the medal was rejected at higher headquarters, because their injuries were “not the direct result of enemy action.”


Maybe if he’d been in a convoy that had taken a wrong turn – and been a whole lot cuter – Don Tyler would have a Purple Heart to go with his permanently mangled shoulder

posted by Steve @ 2:23:00 AM

2:23:00 AM

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The coming failure of conservatism

We are in the waining days of the current conservative movement. After 30 years, 1973-2003, of conservative economic dogma, American are poorer, less stable, and facing a hostile world.

Bush and the neo-cons are the Black Panthers of conservative theory. They're trying to enact radical schemes which have very little support outside their ranks. Just as conservatism rose during the 1960's as a rejection of extreme liberal radical dogma, with it's praise of Mao and Che and other avowed enemies of the US, the conservative era ends with the US's extreme isolation and ideology rejected by our closest allies.

The conservative mismanagement of the economy has led from a situation where long term growth and expansion was possible to a decline in basic living standards. Full-time employment is now elusive for millions of trained, educated Americans, while a class of paper-rich royalty flaunt their wealth to obscene standards. Not a day passes without a story about one of these people and their antics. Corporate abuse, not of the environment or workers, but of their basic fiduciary duty, leaving loyal employees penniless after decades of work, has undermined the basic support they had among the public.

The military, after years of quiet support for Republicans, find they are living their worst nightmare, fighting an unpopular war with an understength army in a completely hostile environment. The Army watches half it's strength frittered away as policemen, while it is forced to essentially draft thousands of National Guardsmen for prolonged combat duty, losing them the minute their enlistments are up. Instead of the support they thought the GOP would bring, they are watching the army they carefully honed and trained being destroyed before their eyes. The intelligence community, who believed that a Bush Administration would be an ally, finds the White House to be a dangerous, careless enemy, who would risk their most cherished secrets for political points.

The conservative movement's spokesmen are revealed to be promiscious, drug abusing, bullies, ripe for satire and abuse. All their moralizing rings hollow as their foibiles are exposed. The worst sorts of rumors about Bush and his family are confirmed. Nazis, drug using, going AWOL, all depressing, all true.

The one thing that conservatives were supposed to do was protect the US. Instead, Homeland Security is run more like Maxwell Smart was in charge than Tom Ridge. They use the Patriot Act, a misnamed bill if there ever was one, to bludgeon confessions. It's so odious that even the right is sick of its provisions. There has not been one trial of a Al Qaeda cell, while several hundred people sit in our very own gulag in Cuba. The hunt for Osama Bin Laden is now a punchline in jokes. If we could have fought the war in a worst way to get Bin Laden, it is hard to imagine how. Let's invade the one country where Al Qaeda doesn't operate openly and take it over so they know where they can kill our troops. This ridiculous notion is actually being paraded around the US as a reason for the insane war we're fighting in Iraq.

People may bathe in cynicism and worry about rigged elections and public apathy, but the reality is that Bush is the conservatives Carter. The final, ineffective gasp of an increasingly bankrupt and unpopular ideology. Conservativism has delivered nothing its proponents promised, not jobs, not security, not personal freedom. Instead, they have left poverty, insecruity and a hostile world. George Bush has proven to be the worst president possible for these times. When generousity of spirit and creative thinking are most needed, he is the most doctrinare and rigid man we could have chosen for the job. Driven by both a desperate need to be seen as a leader and the complete inability to function as one, Bush cannot create the alliances we need to win or prevent more attacks on us. Given the sympathy we had on 9/12, the present mistrust and hatred of the US is the direct and total creation of Bush's policies and attitudes. Bush's exclusionary and narrow view of the world may fit well in Houston, but it is a total failure for a statesman.

In every way possible, conservative dogma has betrayed the country. Our citizens are less healthy, our nation insecure, our relations strained.

The non-binding vote against Iraq aid is a sign of things to come. The GOP control House, led by Republican luminaries like Dana Rohrbacher, voted to turn all of the Iraq money into a loan, forcing Bush to either sign or veto it, as he threatened. Even Republicans know giving Iraq $20B while people scream about hiked property taxes is no way to keep your seat. Helpful commercials from the DNC remind them of this fact. That money was as popular as a turd in a punch bowl and is a harbinger of a sea change. They may say "we support the president" but they act like he's going down.

As we watch conservatives twitch, spin and turn to avoid their coming collapse, things will get ugly. Anyone who deviates becomes the enemy, any act justified. Which is the true sign of the coming of the end. And the end of the conservative era is coming faster than most of us can see.

posted by Steve @ 12:00:00 AM

12:00:00 AM

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Tuesday, October 21, 2003

The Smart Circus

Atrios brings up the Elizabeth Smart case because they're making some bullshit TV movie about it and it's one of the most dishonest spectacles I've seen in some time.

Everyone wants to pretend she was kidnapped, held for months and then was "rescued".

Which is about as close to the truth as Santa Claus delivering gifts on Easter.

First, Smart wasn't kidnapped. The police and parents want to say this because it makes sense, even though it doesn't. The kidnapper had to have navigated around a dark house with men, not make any noise, take a teenage girl and risk getting shot. Now, maybe it's me, but the only people I know who would take that risk are meth freaks or SAS/Delta troopers. The schmo who took her didn't look like he'd been at Ft. Bragg lately. Normal people couldn't do it without help. And he had it, from her.

Second, this was about sex. She was 14 and this guy wanted a young bride. The whole relationship could only exist sexually. He didn't have a weapon, he didn't fill her with drugs, he called her his "wife". It's not the most appealing picture, but come on, she lived in the woods, she wore disguises, she begged for money in public. She was a cute 14 year old living in a stiffling household. The idea that she "remained pure", as her father said, is comical. She ran off with this guy. Now, I'm not saying that she was prepared for a sexual relationship with an adult, nor that he was sane, but when the trial starts, they're going to be quite shocked at the level of complicity of Smart in her "kidnapping".

"Good girls" as Smart was defined, are often the most likely to take a risk. See, if you've been around a little, you know how guys are. If your parents keep you locked up like veal, you have no idea that some men are going to play you.

The parents, of course, want to see her as a victim. Our poor little girl, kidnapped by some awful man who did god knows what. Well, in the real world, 14 year old girls have sex. They choose lovers and perform oral sex and some times same sex partners. No one wants their child hurt, but the reality is she was of the age to make that choice, no matter how her parents felt. I think that she was making a choice, a hellaciously bad one, but a choice all the same. TV has an institutional interest in the same image. The idea of a 14 year old making a sexually conscious choice is one which scares the hell out of adults. But that doesn't mean they don't make them.

The Smart case is going to be different than we think. We've been told it's about a kidnapping. But even a cursory examination of the facts makes that ridiculous. It's about something far less pleasant, a 14 year old girl being seduced and led away by a much older man, who then used her sexually, with her complicity on some level. No one, not the parents, not the Mormon establishment or the general public are eager to face that. The reality is about sex, not kidnapping.

posted by Steve @ 5:49:00 PM

5:49:00 PM

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