Sunday, December 24, 2006
Thursday, December 21, 2006
Tuesday, December 19, 2006
From the Washington Post:
I'm surprised anyone in the media bothered to ask the question in the first place but not at all surprised that Bush "recast" his previous remarks to mean something different from what he said.
President Bush acknowledged for the first time yesterday that the United States is not winning the war in Iraq and said he plans to expand the overall size of the "stressed" U.S. armed forces to meet the challenges of a long-term global struggle against terrorists.
As he searches for a new strategy for Iraq, Bush has now adopted the formula advanced by his top military adviser to describe the situation. "We're not winning, we're not losing," Bush said in an interview with The Washington Post. The assessment was a striking reversal for a president who, days before the November elections, declared, "Absolutely, we're winning."
Asked yesterday about his "absolutely, we're winning" comment at an Oct. 25 news conference, the president recast it as a prediction rather than an assessment. "Yes, that was an indication of my belief we're going to win," he said. [emphasis in original]
There's a big difference between "absolutely, we've won the lottery" and "my belief is we're going to win."
Maybe someone should tell President Tinkerbell.
Wednesday, November 08, 2006
Given what happened in yesterday's elections here in New Hampshire, I would say notice has been served: we are a state of stubborn, traditional moderates to conservatives; very few of us would call ourselves liberal. We're also mad as hell and fed up with the infantile pabulum being fed us by the current Republican regime.
I can only hope that my state's senators, neither of whom was up for re-election yesterday, will take the notice that has been served them.
Monday, November 06, 2006
Tuesday, October 24, 2006
Sunday, September 24, 2006
In the real Iraq, armed Shiite and Kurdish parties have divided up the eastern two-thirds of the country, leaving Sunni insurgents and American marines to fight over the rest. Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki and his “national unity cabinet” stretch out their arms to like-thinking allies like Iran and Hezbollah, but barely lift a finger to rein in the sectarian militias and death squads spreading terror across Baghdad and the Shiite south.
The civilian death toll is now running at roughly 100 a day, with many of the victims gruesomely tortured with power tools or acid. Over the summer, more Iraqi civilians died violent deaths each month than the number of Americans lost to terrorism on Sept. 11. Meanwhile, the electricity remains off, oil production depressed, unemployment pervasive and basic services hard to find.
Iraq is today a broken, war-torn country. Outside the relatively stable Kurdish northeast, virtually every family — Sunni or Shiite, rich or poor, powerful or powerless — must cope with fear and physical insecurity on an almost daily basis. The courts, when they function at all, are subject to political interference; street-corner justice is filling the vacuum. Religious courts are asserting their power over family life. Women’s rights are in retreat.
I know there are a lot of deluded people out there who think Dubya & his regime are doing a bang up job of bringing democracy to the Middle East. Little somethings like facts aren't going to get in their way of their worship of their hero. This never was about bringing democracy to the poor huddled masses (hint: you can't force a democracy at gunpoint on anybody, it's kinda counter to what democracy is all about). It's always been about oil. For that oil, the United States of America has willingly abrogated its own Constitution and its place as the moral leader of the world. A person like me has no representation whatsoever, despite those fancy words put to parchment by brave men a long time ago. In their stead have come other men (& Condi), who are neither brave nor honorable but who are instead venal and morally repugnant: people who, if there were any justice in this world, would be sitting in dock at the Hague. The destruction of an entire sovereign nation, the forced and dangerous instability of an entire region, the death of God knows how many people, most of them innocent of anything except being in the wrong place at the wrong time. All for the oil. And now we're getting ready to place the cherry on top of this noxious dessert & make torture legal.
All for the oil.
Is it really worth it?
Friday, September 08, 2006
Bullies tend to pick on the weak. The bullies who are "leading" this country felt that invading Iraq, a country weakened by UN Sanctions and despotic rule, would be as near a walkover as made no difference and a win-win proposition: show all those Muslims the US is super tough and super strong, and gosh golly gee whiz, all that lovely black gold just there for the taking. The bullies leading this country knew they possessed no valid reason to invade a sovereign state, but felt that quick victory would come and pesky questions silenced. History most often lies in the hands of the victors, after all. In the ramp up to the invasion, I can recall having a discussion with a dear friend who bought the Bush regime spin hook, line and sinker. I pointed out my view, which was that we can't just go around invading countries. (I supported the offensive against Afghanistan. I would still be supporting it if I felt that the Bush regime were capable of actually conducting a war properly -- namely, go in, defeat the enemy and any specific objectives (Osama, anyone?), keep civilian casualties to a minimum while you're doing that, and then clean up the mess you've made.) I said to my friend that while there could well be WMD in Iraq, we simply had no right to invade them, because they had not attacked us. The United States of America should not attack first. We're supposed to be the good guys. And my friend said to me, "let me ask you this, would you rather fight them over there, or over here?" My response was that I didn't want to fight them in either place, unless it was absolutely inescapable.
But here is something I never imagined five years ago: that America would lose our status as the good guy in the struggle against terrorism. I didn't imagine that our government would squander the righteous role won for us the hard way by victims falling from the Twin Towers and firefighters racing to their deaths.
Al Qaeda was a uniter, not a divider. After the attacks, the whole world seemed to be on our side, with the single, memorable exception of Palestinians dancing in the streets. Some 200,000 Germans marched in solidarity. Flowers arrived at our embassies. Even the reflexively anti-American newspaper Le Monde proclaimed, ``We Are All Americans."
When we went into Afghanistan in hot pursuit, the world stayed with us. But then we swung from a just war to a preemptive war, from a war on terror to a war of choice, from Osama bin Laden to Saddam Hussein.
``When we crossed the [Iraq] border, there was another great pause, then a transfer of sympathy," an American intelligence officer told Newsweek. ``The entire Islamic world took a step to the right." The Bush administration imagined flowers and rose water, shock and awe, mission accomplished. It failed to imagine civil war, and that step to the right.We went from the Twin Towers to Abu Ghraib, from civil defense to civil war, from innocent passengers to soldiers in Haditha. We blew it all on Iraq. [emphasis mine -- zhak] In one poll, Europeans now find us more of a threat to world stability than even Iran. In a survey of 14 countries, none of them believe that removing Saddam made the world safer. And in Iraq itself, only 2 percent of the people now believe we invaded to liberate them from tyranny while 76 percent think we did it ``to control Iraqi oil."
The invasion of Iraq was supposed to show the rest of the world that the bully-boys who are "running" this country are tough & have big brass ones & not to mess around with the red, white & blue. North Korea & Iran were supposed to see this display of might & shock & awe and be sufficiently shocked to be scared to death henceforth that they would be next.
But you cannot force a country to accept democracy at gunpoint. The idea that anyone should even think such a thing is possible is ludicrous. Democracy is all about choice, isn't it?
And North Korea & Iran, far from being shocked&awed, are instead well aware that the mightier they are, they less the likelihood that the bully-boys will go after them, however much they really really want to. I fully expect the Bush regime to continue their bullying and to continue messing up everything they touch. They are literally incapable of doing anything right because they cannot learn from past mistakes -- or even admit to past mistakes. The only real question at this point is whether the bully-boys can be contained somewhat (here's hoping the American people recognize what is going on in this country & vote Democrat in November) and thus whether the damage to this nation and the world might also be contained.
Are we smart enough to do that?
Tuesday, August 29, 2006
All this "by the people" and "for the people" stuff is so yesterday, don't you know? Besides, the current breed of Republican (who currently have Lincoln spinning like a top in his grave, I have no doubt) pays no attention whatsoever to things like the Constitution or individual rights. Those documents created when the United States was shiny and new are, like the Geneva Conventions, quaint. Where have I heard that before?
So who does my representative represent?
My representative is Jeb Bradley and apparently he represents ... Jeb Bradley.
Or something. Even the clever metaphors fail us now.
Usually around this stage of the fold, you start hearing the axe being sharpened and readied for the hapless manager's neck. The tumbrels might well have started rumbling long about the time of Boston Massacre '06, when the Yanks came thru and took five straight -- but interestingly, the Sox Faithful seem quite willing to cut Our Man Francoma a lot more slack than lesser men in the same position have earned over the years. Even the Boston Globe, which ordinarily would be rattling around the kitchen drawer looking for just the right knife, has acknowledged it's not Tito's fault the whole team has fallen apart. As Nick Cafardo points out in today's issue, the blame can be found upstairs.
Francona didn't get dumb this season. He manages and prepares the same way he always did. Instead of writing in Damon's name, he puts down Coco Crisp, a player who can barely throw the ball back to the infield. Instead of trotting out Pedro Martínez or Derek Lowe every fifth day, it's been Jon Lester, a 22-year-old rookie who went on the disabled list yesterday, and Kyle Snyder and Jason Johnson and Kason Gabbard. Yikes.
Management let Francona down, and he hasn't made a peep about it.
So, Theo, how about it? Making plans for this winter? 'Cause you're sure gonna have a boring fall.
Monday, August 28, 2006
The lovely & talented Ms Macdonald, proving there is at least some slight justice in the world. (Wireimage photo)
... and so is The Girl in the Café. I really loved that movie (& have been a staunch admirer of Kelly Macdonald's for years) and was thrilled to see it win for best made for TV movie. It's sort of a little movie that could, given that though the backdrop is global in scope, it's a very intimate story of romance between two lonely people. And it's marvelous. Richard Curtis crafted a lovely script and the leads ran with it all the way to the finish line without taking the slightest mis-step. Bill Nighy (who should have been nominated -- and should have won) and Kelly Macdonald created a wonderful & unique chemistry in their portrayals of two lonely souls who meet by chance, and find some emotional kinship even as they lack any common ground whatsoever.
Macdonald was up for Best Supporting Actress in a miniseries or movie, though by rights she should have been up for Best Actress. I hadn't given her a chance in hell of winning, because she was up against a formidable array of talent (3 Oscar winners and an Oscar nominee). I was so very pleased that she won. (Even if she herself was not, saying afterward that she'd hoped someone else would win because it's all so "nervewracking.") For ten years, this woman has given a series of terrific performances, several standout performances (including her first role, as Diane in Trainspotting, and in the under-appreciated but absolutely charming Two Family House, amongst many others), and one absolute knockout performance (Stella Does Tricks). It's high time that she got a bit of acknowledgement for it.
In case you don't know, Macdonald is a petite Scottish actor from Glasgow who landed her first part via an open casting call. Playing Ewan McGregor's club pickup who turns out to be a schoolgirl, she has very little screen time in Trainspotting but gives such a remarkable performance that she's one of the things you remember most about the movie after the fact (her & the Worst Toilet in Scotland ... hmm ... well, anyway ...). She turned 20 the day the movie opened & has a talent for not just giving exceptional performances but also for choosing exceptional material, often very quirky material (the charming House! springs to mind), that ends up becoming a compelling finished project: A Cock & Bull Story, Tube Tales, Some Voices, Gosford Park, the superb television drama State of Play, to name just a handful.
Friday, August 04, 2006
Best quote --
Quite apart from what Bush’s actions say about the hypocrisy of his bombastic Christianity — a man who would “save” a bunch of useless cells as if they were human lives while green-lighting the “only democracy in the Middle East” to kill some 500 civilians, create 800,000 refugees, and destroy much of the infrastructure of an embattled nation caught in history’s crosshairs — Bush’s refusal to seek an early ceasefire has, once again, strengthened our enemies, weakened our friends, and made the US, if such is possible, even more disliked and distrusted by both friend and foe.
The big-timers couldn't have said it any better.
Friday, July 28, 2006
The problem with boycotting regimes you deem unacceptable is that if they are able to influence events, you're forced to respond to their initiatives, often in dangerous crisis moments. The U.S. and the Soviet Union were implacable foes who knew they could not resolve their differences, yet they maintained communication and developed understandings that allowed them to manage those differences in the interests of global stability. It is time for Bush the Younger to grow up.Bush the Younger is sixty years old. At this point, it might be time to accept that he's a real world Peter Pan (only Peter had moments of selflessness & was at heart a good person) and is, alas, as grown up as he'll get, which is extremely bad news for anyone who cares anything about the United States or the world.
We now know, however, what happens when the USA is "led" by a man with all the psychological earmarks of a ten-year-old schoolyard bully whose parents never said no to him. A fascinating experiment, no doubt, only it's a shame it has to accomplished at such a high cost, isn't it?
The always entertaining & articulate Gore Vidal, interviewed by The Progressive.
Q: In 2002, long before Bush’s current travails, you wrote, “Mark my words, he will leave office the most unpopular President in history.” How did you know that then?
Gore Vidal: I know these people. I don’t say that as though I know them personally. I know the types. I was brought up in Washington. When you are brought up in a zoo, you know what’s going on in the monkey house. You see a couple of monkeys loose and one is President and one is Vice President, you know it’s trouble. Monkeys make trouble.
Q: Bush’s ratings have been at personal lows. Cheney has had an 18 percent approval rating.
Vidal: Well, he deserves it.
Q: Yet the wars go on. It’s almost as if the people don’t matter.
Vidal: The people don’t matter to this gang. They pay no attention. They think in totalitarian terms. They’ve got the troops. They’ve got the army. They’ve got Congress. They’ve got the judiciary. Why should they worry? Let the chattering classes chatter. Bush is a thug. I think there is something really wrong with him.
Sunday, June 11, 2006
Tuesday, May 16, 2006
Stratton of the Orlando Sentinel summarizes Bush's comments on the upcoming hurricane season: "Bush said he worried about the thousands of Gulf Coast residents now living in trailers. 'Let's just pray,' he said, 'there is no hurricane heading that way.'"
Monday, March 27, 2006
The disaster in Iraq both recapitulates American mistakes of the past and worsens them immeasurably.How did this man ever get the job of Secretary of War anyway? (Yes, I know it's Secretary of Defense, but it doesn't apply in this administration, with its focus on "pre-emptive" strikes against "enemies" that are made of straw, but bleed like you and me.)
Let's begin with Rumsfeld himself. In 1975, he was Gerald Ford's secretary of defense when the USS Mayaguez was seized off Cambodia by the newly empowered Khmer Rouge, whose ascendance followed the destabilizing US ''incursion." The American crew of 38 was captured.
Rumsfeld shaped the response -- which was to ignore diplomacy, begin bombing a Cambodian port city, and dispatch a large force of Marines to rescue the crew. Bad moves based on bad intelligence. While untold Cambodian civilians were bombed, 40 American rescuers were killed in an attack on an island where the crew was thought to be held. In fact, the American sailors had already been released unharmed and set adrift on a Thai fishing vessel. The Mayaguez affair was a dress rehearsal for Rumsfeld's war in Iraq.
And from the NYT comes this unsurprising news:
During a private two-hour meeting in the Oval Office on Jan. 31, 2003, [Bush] made clear to Prime Minister Tony Blair of Britain that he was determined to invade Iraq without the second resolution, or even if international arms inspectors failed to find unconventional weapons, said a confidential memo about the meeting written by Mr. Blair's top foreign policy adviser and reviewed by The New York Times.And this guy still says indignantly that naturally war was the last thing he wanted.
"Our diplomatic strategy had to be arranged around the military planning," David Manning, Mr. Blair's chief foreign policy adviser at the time, wrote in the memo that summarized the discussion between Mr. Bush, Mr. Blair and six of their top aides.
"The start date for the military campaign was now penciled in for 10 March," Mr. Manning wrote, paraphrasing the president. "This was when the bombing would begin."
I don't believe him. And I don't see how anyone could at this juncture. As much as I'd like to at least accept the validity of the opinions of the right-wing in this country, what I've found in the last three to four years as things spiral ever more out of control and democracy itself as its meant to be has been abolished in the USA, I find I cannot even begin to understand how anyone can defend the positions of the people who currently hold office (my contempt for elected officials extends to a good many Democrats too, fwiw).
How did we ever get this far out of control?