Friday, May 14, 2004

This is just for Sandy

Why Donald Rumsfeld can't be trusted


OK, so let me try to capture this thought about the Iraq war in terms of a metaphor that people in my part of the country might understand:

Your high school, BMFHSIT (*), has the biggest, baddest football team in Texas – hell in the whole world. A level 1-A high school across town, DOHCSFHHS (**), populated almost entirely with minority students, has somehow done something to piss off the principal and coach of your school. Your coach (Big Don) takes the team on the bus, drives to the DOHCSFHHS, and demands that they come out and play your team. The other school’s soccer team comes out and starts to play a game of soccer, (their football team was disbanded due to lack of interest). Your school hates soccer, and your football team is not really prepared to play a soccer game. However, since you came all this way, and the principal and coach still feel offended, the football team is ordered onto the soccer field to take on the opposing team in a soccer game – of course with all of their football pads still on.

The game is still pretty lopsided in your favor because your team has great athletes at every position. However, the other team scores a couple of goals, and worse, some of your players get injured. On top of that, DOHCSFHHS plays soccer without a clock. The winner is really the last team to leave the field, not necessarily the one who scores the most goals. BMFHSIT is not prepared to play soccer for days at a time. They want to go home. However, they do not want to give DOHCSFHHS the satisfaction of saying they won the game.

A large crowd from the other school has showed up to watch, and they boo everything that your team does (even though secretly a lot of the students from DOHCHFHHS would love to go to your large and very prestigious school).

Out in the parking lot, a small gang of thugs show up and knife one of spectators from BMFHSIT. This student, we’ll call him Nick, had come from across town to watch the game. The thugs were apparently minorities similar to the students in DOHCSFHHS.

What happens next defies explanation. Some of the students and parents from BMFHSIT, those seemingly with the most “school spirit”, want to go and shoot all of the students at DOHCSFHHS and burn the school down – to avenge the murder of Nick.

Does that capture the essence of what these right wing assholes are advocating or do I totally not get the picture.

* BMFHSIT - Best mother-----ing, high school in Texas
** DOHCSFHHS - Dinky, one-horse, chicken-shit, football-hating, high school

Shorter version

Your team is the state 5A football champs in Texas. You go to Puerto Rico and challenge them to a football game. Their soccer team comes out (they think you mean futbol). You decide to play them anyway. Some of your players get hurt. More of their players get hurt. One of the spectators is knifed by thugs in ski masks in the parking lot. The football fans back in Texas demand that Puerto Rico be nuked to avenge the killed spectator.

Does that about sum it up?


Thursday, May 13, 2004

Food for thought


There is something even more important to the Bush crowd than getting Iraq right, and that's getting re-elected and staying loyal to the conservative base to do so. It has always been more important for the Bush folks to defeat liberals at home than Baathists abroad. That's why they spent more time studying U.S. polls than Iraqi history. That is why, I'll bet, Karl Rove has had more sway over this war than Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs Bill Burns. Mr. Burns knew only what would play in the Middle East. Mr. Rove knew what would play in the Middle West.

NY Times Editorial

"You are seeing several camps develop," said William Kristol, the editor of the conservative Weekly Standard. "There are unapologetic hawks," a category he puts himself in; "we are critical of the president for failures of execution but still think it is winnable. There are loyalists, who stick to the Republican talking point that it is going well. There are supporters of the war who now have second thoughts, and there is a category of conservatives who are saying `be tough, but then get out.' "


The Deranged Mind of James Inhofe
Maybe the Dumbest US Senator of the All

But the remarks of Senator James M. Inhofe (R., Okla.) were transcendent. They were like the remarks of no other senator on that very large panel. His basic position seemed to be that since some Iraqis had done terrible things it was outrageous for anyone to be questioning Americans for having done anything terrible to anybody. If we have Iraqis locked up and if we are torturing them, they must deserve it, and it's a shame and a scandal that we're giving the Department of Defense a hard time over this trifle when they're out there protecting the flag and whatever. The fact that we have those Iraqis locked up is all the proof we need of their guilt, so they are only receiving punishment they've earned. . It was straight out of the Inquisition Handbook.
Inhofe's remarks were full of pomp and smugness; they were devoid of ethical sensibility. Listening to him was like listening to someone on his way home from a lynching 50 years ago:


Wednesday, May 12, 2004

Another Right Winger Confesses His Sins

For Iraqis to Win, the U.S. Must Lose

This has been a crushingly depressing period, especially for people who support the war in Iraq. The predictions people on my side made about the postwar world have not yet come true. The warnings others made about the fractious state of post-Saddam society have.


Nonetheless, it's not too early to begin thinking about what was clearly an intellectual failure. There was, above all, a failure to understand the consequences of our power. There was a failure to anticipate the response our power would have on the people we sought to liberate. They resent us for our power and at the same time expect us to be capable of everything. There was a failure to understand the effect our power would have on other people around the world. We were so sure we were using our might for noble purposes, we assumed that sooner or later, everybody else would see that as well. Far from being blinded by greed, we were blinded by idealism.


Tuesday, May 11, 2004

George Will Again

Listen to the language. It is always a leading indicator of moral confusion.


Americans must not flinch from absorbing the photographs of what some Americans did in that prison. And they should not flinch from this fact: That pornography is, almost inevitably, part of what empire looks like. It does not always look like that, and does not only look like that. But empire is always about domination. Domination for self-defense, perhaps. Domination for the good of the dominated, arguably. But domination.


When there is no penalty for failure, failures proliferate. Leave aside the question of who or what failed before Sept. 11, 2001. But who lost his or her job because the president's 2003 State of the Union address gave currency to a fraud -- the story of Iraq's attempting to buy uranium in Niger? Or because the primary and only sufficient reason for waging preemptive war -- weapons of mass destruction -- was largely spurious? Or because postwar planning, from failure to anticipate the initial looting to today's insufficient force levels, has been botched? Failures are multiplying because of choices for which no one seems accountable.


Finally, the second axiom. It is from Charles de Gaulle: The graveyards are full of indispensable men


American beheaded on camera

As Digby says so it begins.


Sunday, May 09, 2004

Topics for upcoming posts

What the hell happened to the Democratic Party in Texas?


Responses in the US to prisoner abuse in Iraq

Yesterday, (or the day before) the Houston Chronicle published as series of letters to the editor reflecting on prisoner abuse in Iraq. The paper tried to be fair, publishing letters from both sides of the debate. What I can't understand is that there is another side to this debate. What some people are arguing just dumbfounds me. Most of those arguments can be reduced down to the following ideas - ideas that go against the grain of everything we as Americans have been taught since kindergarten.

1. The end justifies the means
2. These people are in jail - therefore they must be guilty of something
3. Collective punishment of a group is OK even if only a very small percent of that group did anything wrong - i.e. they (a few Middle Eastern men who are Muslim) did something terrible to us (us meaning the US, something meaning 9/11). Therefore, no retribution upon them (all Muslims and/or Arabs anywhere) is too heinous.
4. The messenger must be shot - i.e. the problem is not with what is going on at Abu Gharib prison. The problem is that someone broke the rules and smuggled some photographs out. Everything would be OK if these atrocities had not seen the light of day. (I'm sure the Nazi's thought the same thing when documentary info started to get out about Auschwitz.)
5. I shouldn't be in trouble for doing something bad because the other guy (Saddam etc.) did something worse

What I suspect is that the people who are most aghast at what has come out about this prisoner abuse are our soldiers in Iraq - for two reasons.

First of all, now throughout the world the American soldier is being painted as a sadist. Again, this is the problem of collective punishment. All our soldiers, the vast majority in no way associated with Abu Gharib, are now getting painted with that brush.

Secondly, and more importantly, the exposure of these pictures and stories has undermined much of the good work these guys and gals have done. All of the social bridge-building, fostering of goodwill is washed down the gutter. Moreover, all of a sudden Iraq is a more dangerous place. Hatred and anger spur irrational actions. Trust is broken.

Come on people. For once, use your brains and your hearts. I know many of you desperately cling to the thought that our leaders know what they are doing and that the are doing the right thing. But sooner or later you have to come to grips with the continued disaster that Iraq has become. Vietnam showed that we can win every battle and still lose the war. And by the way, let's not throw out our Constitution while we're at it.