Tuesday, May 17, 2005

To Die For

The writers for late night talk show monologues must be in Nirvana. It rarely gets much better for them than the material provided over the last week by what will surely soon be referred to as "Isikoff-gate". Michael Isikoff is of course the Newsweek reporter who filed the story regarding the alleged "desecration" of the Koran at Guantanamo Bay, apparently done to try and coerce information from the prisoners there. This latest media show has many amusing sidebars, as well as some stark, sober, tragic ones. Among the amusing:
  • The potential that Newsweek may have walked into the same trap that CBS walked into last fall; the planted false story trap courtesy of the Mad Professor Rove.
  • The White House's and State Department's laughable assertions that Newsweek had "irreparably damaged the image of the US' in the world ("Bomb and invade our country, kill innocent civilians, no big! But falsely report someone dissing the Koran at Gitmo, NOW you're on our blacklist!!"). Perhaps Wonkette put it best.
  • Pakistan's righteous indignation over the incident, and their demand that the US conduct an immediate investigation and "report the findings directly to Islamabad". (Get your own house in order first, don't deflect and distract)
  • Afghanistan says that Newsweek should be responsible for damages "caused by the story" beyond a retraction and an apology. And while we're at it, lets hold ATF, not Timothy McVeigh, accountable for the Oklahoma City bombing.
  • Newsweek apparently submitted the one paragraph story about the Gitmo Koran scandal to the Pentagon 11 days prior to publication per standard vetting and national security procedures, and one would presume approved it. The Pentagon was then one of the first government entities to criticize Newsweek after publication.
Much less than amusing are the reports that the allegations sparked riots in at least 7 countries resulting in at least 17 deaths and over 100 injuries. Incredible.....

Now, my regular reader knows that I am no fan of the Bush army of Radcons and their culturally insensitive foreign policies. Lets also be honest; we are engaged in a war against Islam, or rather a war between two extremist, fundamentalist ideologies based on intolerant institutional religious beliefs. We've done more than our fair share to unnecessarily piss off Islamic theocratic nations. But I draw a line in the PC sand at some point. Killing and injuring each other over a book folks???!!! Its ink on paper, just like the Bible, the Torah, the Book of Mormon, the Bhagavad-Gita, the Tao Te Ching, the dictionary, the....well, you get the idea.

Now don't get me wrong, if the Gitmo allegations are true, those folks were wrong and should be disciplined (though that discipline ought to include the top dogs who set up this environment of illegal, immoral prisons that foster the torture and abuse which seem to be rampant). But a little balance and perspective please? I would hope one's personal relationship with one's respective deity would be solid enough that the damaging of a physical object (even a representation of one's personal beliefs) half world away would not cause one to riot, kill and injure one's fellow citizens. Do I need more cultural sensitivity? Balderdash!! We share a world with 6.5 billion people, of varying cultures, beliefs and backgrounds. Lets focus on the wrongs, the injustices that really matter; not crouch in a corner, spending our lives waiting to pounce at the next perceived insult.

Monday, May 16, 2005

"The Power of Fear"

There's a new sensation at the Cannes this year, an entry called "The Power of Nightmares" by filmmaker Adam Curtis. It is a 3 part, made-for-TV flick that has been aired only in Britain so far.

I've not seen it (there's no info I could find as far as potential US release dates) but have read several reviews. It seems its a poignant, sobering look at the latest use of that most ancient and effective governing tool, fear. It apparently does not come across as an agitprop, or as cynically partisan (Curtis is quoted as saying "you'd be hard pressed to tell my politics from watching it") and the filmmaker tries to distance himself from the likes of Michael Moore.

But it does explore the symmetries between the rise of the "christian" neo-cons (or "Radcons", as Robert Reich calls them) and radical Islam, as well as drawing similarities between their respective architects. It also explores the theory (as did Tariq Ali in a recent speech in Seattle) that al Qaeda is no longer a threat (if it ever really was). The presidential election last year in the US was more about irrational fear from an amorphous threat and the need for cowboy-style military action to protect us from that "threat" than it was about all other issues combined. Can you say "Cold War"??


A viewer review.....

Sunday, May 15, 2005

Operation Enduring Presence

An interesting op-ed piece in the Seattle PI discusses US intentions with regard to its "enduring" presence in Iraq. Of course, the mainstream media parrot what they're told in the regular press briefings, that Iraq belongs to Iraqis, we liberated tham, will not stay one second longer than necessary, blah blah blah so we don't often get a lot of regular info on this subject (kinda like the issue of Iraqi civilian casualties). As the Chicago Trib (and a few other brave pubs) reported last year, the US is in the process of building and intends on operating indefinately at least 14 permanent military bases in Iraq, a country roughly the size of California in geography and population. To my knowledge that will be the largest US military presence, in terms of real estate, in any foreign country ouside of Germany (with the possible exceptions of Japan and Korea).

And as the PI points out, in addition the US has earmarked half a billion dollars to build what they call the "largest embassy in the world". That would make Iraq the largest imperial land grab since the post-war expansion of the former Soviet Union.

Friday, May 13, 2005

Exigent Circumstances

Maybe we can invade Canada and Mexico on the pretext of emergency premption........

Wild West Goes East

Ready to take the kids to a fun filled vacation to Disney World?

Yet a New Low........

Just when you thought rightie hate rhetoric could not sink lower........ I don't necessarily disagree with reverend Pat on one point, though we probably have slightly differing opinions on just who these oligarchs are.

More on it...

Tuesday, May 10, 2005

Shame and Outrage

For the past 3+ years the American public has been confronted with a continuous and overwhelming amount of information on what the US government is doing in Guantanamo Bay, as well as other more clandestine prisons controlled by the US and its "allies" (read: "collaborators of convenience") around the world since late 2001. To summarize the information:
  1. The US government is keeping hundreds, perhaps thousands of prisoners (counting "shadow" prisoners, or those not declared to the ICRC) which have not formerly been charged with crimes, who have little or no evidence against them (in most cases), and who have no due process rights or access to counsel in offshore facilities. In other words, they are prisoners indefinitely with no legal options.
  2. They are keeping them in offshore facilities to explicitly avoid being subject to US law and due process.
  3. The ICRC estimates that as many as 75% of these prisoners may be innocent, either by being in the wrong place at the wrong time, being turned in by corrupt officials, or, at worst, being part of the Taliban and other "hostile" regimes but not taking part of hostile actions toward US forces.
  4. There is credible evidence that the US has exported prisoners to countries where torture is commonplace, such as Syria, for interrogation (a practice called "rendering").
Making this worse, many in the American controlled facilities are subject to harsh and abusive treatment, even to torture at times. Of course we can then rely on the mealy-spined mainstream media to dutifully follow White House orders by using the terms "detainees" and "abuse" rather than "prisoner" and "torture". But more on that at another time.

And the righties answer to fact number one above? No dispute , just spin:
  1. Bill Clinton lied (this works for all issues).
  2. The world changed on 911 (of course, the world did not change on 911, just the way Americans perceive it).
  3. These guys cut heads off, and are soul-less, barbaric terrorists (do I need to comment on this one?).
  4. I'd love to have a free stay on a sub-tropical isle (this is actually a paraphrase of Rummy).
  5. These are detainees, not subject to the Geneva conventions, US law, blah blah blah etc. etc. ...... The usual spin to put "journalists" to sleep.
What the some righties would like to say (but can't).
  1. They're olive people who aren't my friends or family, I don't care.
  2. If they weren't guilty the police wouldn't have picked them up.
  3. They're olive people who were in bad countries, and freedom's on the march.
  4. If we hadn't stood up unanimously and unquestioningly to the British in 1776 we'd all be speaking British right now.
  5. What does this have to do with American Idol?
  6. At least I took a firm stand on Elian Gonzalez and Terri Schiavo.
Seriously, the same people who pontificate about the totalitarian and fascist sins and human rights abuses of China, Cuba, the Soviet Union and all the other bogeymen remain supportive of the above atrocities. All Americans should be ashamed and outraged at the mockery of humanity being perpetrated in their name.