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Archive for November, 2006

Civil War in Iraq? Quel Sirpreez

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NBC says it out loud: Iraq is suffering a civil war. It isn’t just the government versus the rebels, like the Spanish Civil War, but rather more like the Lebanese troubles of the 80’s and 90’s.

Poor Tony Snow had to artfully bob and weave to avoid agreeing that something that quacks and waddles isn’t really a duck. I’ll bet he misses the good ole Fox “News” days when he could just make shit up and get a nice pat on the back for it. Now, he has all those Davids and Helens yelling at him every time he opens his mouth.

The MSNBC military expert was asked by Olbermann this eveniong if the Iraqi civil war was anything like what happened in Vietnam. The good general said no, because the bad guys in Vietnam were the North Vietnamese.

“Ahem!” I cried, “Ever hear of the Viet Cong?” For those who are guilty of not being old enought to remember, the Vietnam war started in the 1950’s when Eisenhower refused to allow the elections that would have unified the country to occur as scheduled and agreed to. The United States in effect forced a partition of Vietnam because Ho Chi Minh was a Communist. In response, a left nationalist group, the Viet Cong fought a guerilla war (a civil war) until the late 60’s. The North Vietnamese (Democratic Republic of Vietnam actually) involvement really escalated with the Tet offensive in 1968.

And by the way, many Vietnamese considered the war between the DRV and the Republic of Vietnam (South Vietnam) to be a civil war.

Don’t believe me? Look it up in Wikipedia or read something by Chomsky.

Sorry to be so picky, but those who forget history are doomed to repeat it. Which we are.

The reason why the White House is afraid of the term civil war as it applies to Iraq is because, if a civil war is occurring there, American forces have no reason to be there. They can accomplish nothing under such circumstances so the rational thing to do is… bomb Iran of course.

I find it difficult to believe and accept that the American people can be swindled again so soon after Iraq. I mean, how many times do you have to lose at 3 card Monte to know that the game is rigged. But I am often mistaken and the newspapers (and cable news and talk radio) might just go along for the ride as usual.

Written by slothropia

November 28th, 2006 at 12:27 am

Posted in Iraq,Vietnam

Will W Snap? I Would

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I am worried about the mental health of George W. Bush. Today,  King Abdullah of Jordan told Stephanopolous that it was very possible that Iraq, Lebanon and Palestine could be afflicted with civil wars in the coming year. Is there a sentient being in the univerese that does not think that the President’s actions have hastened the creation of conditions in which such civil wars could occur? No?

Didn’t think so.

It is bad enough that right now Iraqis are blowing each other up and burning each other alive. It must be very difficult for the President to live with the knowledge that he made these things happen. How he gets up every morning and looks at his reflection in the mirror, I simply do not know. And then to meet with people during the performance of his official duties must be torture – oops. I mean, very hard for him.

And that’s another burden for his immortal soul to bear: torturing all those detainees,  many of whom are completely innocent of eany wrong doing or ill intent. As a practicing Christian he must be devastated anew each day by the awful knowledge of what he has done. Poor guy! I wouldn’t blame him if he did start drinking again, slurring his speech and talking incoherently.

There are a few others I am worried about as well. A week or so ago, six Muslim clerics were in an airport and while waiting for their flight to board they prayed at the prescribed time of day. Someone overreacted and they were removed from their flight.

This event occurred in a climate of fear and hatred carefully cultivated by people that should know better. Maybe they do. But in any case, I am concerned about the mental health of Glenn Beck,  Michelle Malkin  and Laura Ingraham. What will these poor souls do when someone is killed as a result of their bigotry? Someone should pray for them.

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November 26th, 2006 at 11:06 pm

Posted in Iraq

NPR and Lanny Davis Drive Me Crazy

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I was reminded this morning why I am reluctant to send money to any of my local NPR stations when their pledge drives roll around (note to Garrison Keilor and Wait Wait Don’t Tell Me: your check is in the mail). Scott Simon was doing his weekly gig at Weekend Edition Saturday, and managed to mildly annoy me in a commentary on racism and comedy. He insinuated that the punked victims in the Borat movie and the Borat segments on Ali G aren’t really racist but are being encouraged to go along with Borat so they can be in a movie or on tv. Yeah, right, says I.

Later he had an interview with Lanny Davis about his recently released novel, Scandal: How “Gotcha” Politics Is Destroying America. Naturally he let Davis get away with repeating unchallenged that phoney baloney story about how Bob Casey Sr. wasn’t allowed to speak to the 1992 Democratic convention because ghe was pro-life. Wrong. He wasn’t allowed to speak because he wanted to make a strong pro-life (iI mean anti-choice) speech and because he had not endorsed the nominee, W.J. Clinton.

Don’t just take my word for it. There are varying accounts of this episode here, here,  here, here, and here, here.

Now, I have said here before that I am not a Democrat, though I usually support the Democratic Party. I will vote Green if I have to. If I had my druthers I would look for a nice socialist or social demoratic party to vote for. Even better, I say bring back the Wobblies.

But I don’t have my druthers and what I say doesn’t count for much. So I am tactically part of the grand coalition that is the Democratic Party.

Lanny Davis claims to be a much bigger cog in that machine, but here he is slandering his own party. And that book of his. Oy!! I haven’t read it and so can’t  fairly critique it. But I have read synpses and heard Davis talk about it. he claims that both major parties are guilty of cultivating scandals to attack the other  while  avoiding debate about the issues that matter to people.  Check out what The Economist says about Davis analysis of political scandals in American politics:

Such coarseness would upset Lanny Davis, who laments that American politics has degenerated into a game of “gotcha” between rival teams of “food fight ideologues”. Borrowing a phrase from Bill Clinton, he longs for a return to “vigorous debates where we argue who’s right and wrong, not who’s good and bad.” Instead, he sees only attack ads and manufactured scandals—from the Republicans’ Tartuffery about Mr Clinton’s sex life to the Democrats’ obsession with proving that Mr Bush “lied” about Iraq, which he calls “a distraction from the much more important issue of how to get out”.

So harassing Clinton about bj’s is the same as criticizng Bush for lying about Iraq. As my close personal friiend John Stossel would cry’ “Gimme a break!”

This is the kind of crap that Davis got to dump on Scott Simon’s listeners. And Simon let him. No tough questions. Which in a sense I am cool with. It’s his show and he is entitled to his world view, fucked up as it may be. The audience will know where he stands if it wishes to.  Remember how he thought it was a swell idea to invade Iraq back in ’03?

At least Simon doesn’t completely undermine his and NPR’s credibility by appearing on Fox “News”, like some Liassons I could name.

Written by slothropia

November 25th, 2006 at 11:21 pm

Posted in NPR,Uncategorized

Open Email to Cohen

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Many bloggers, it seems,  have reacted to Richard Cohen’s latest steaming pile of self justification. I sent him an email,  and here it is:

Subject: the Lingo of Vietnam

Sir, you are morally and intellectually messed up. Seriously, you are pathetically confused.

You say they pay you to write this lunacy? I can write stupid stuff. When can I get a column in the Washington Post?


No more blogging until after TG.

Written by slothropia

November 21st, 2006 at 9:39 pm

Posted in Iraq,Vietnam

The Magic Number: 20K

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Found myself nodding in agreement with Olberman’s special commentary  tonight re Bush and Iraq. I especially appreciated his observation that a number of U.S. troops will die needlessly before we get out of that place.

Of course, Olberman tried to edify the president about the real lessons about Iraq he should have derived from the War in Vietnam. I would add one that he did not mention,  namely that imperial wars are inherently evil and usuallly do lasting damage to the imperial power.

I sense that awareness is growing that the war is lost for the U.S. and that the American forces there are serving no useful purpose ( and yes, nearly all of them are serving honorably). There is no U.S. plan deserving of the name and at this point another 20000 troops will not help. make things better. Yet both McCain and Bush are talking about sending just that number over there.

I want to know what is so magical about 20000. What would their orders be? Why not 50000? Why not a bazllion?

I can understand Bush considering spending more blood on this lunacy, but I thought McCain was running for President.  This kind of talk will not get him the votes he wants.

Somebody else running for Pres is my Senator, Barack Obama. He is talkintg about beginning a witdrawal in 4 to 6 months. It may take that long to develop the political will to begin the pull out, but it should start yesterday.

Obama is at least showing initiative, political smarts and leadership by speaking out now. HRC may be in for a bumpier ride than Bill thought possible.

Written by slothropia

November 21st, 2006 at 12:24 am

Posted in Uncategorized

Borat asks “WJJD”?

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Sunday morning with a gigantic breakfast of eggs, pancakes and a gallon of coffee – and the Sunday paper of course.

On the editorial page of the local rag, a column by my ole drinkin’ buddy, Kathleen Parker (just kidding ha ha; we’ve never met). Her theme today was the movie Borat:Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan.

Those who have seen the film will know what Paker was talking about and what I am about to refer to. If you have not seen it, I won’t go into a synosis of the whole thing, but at one point in Borat’s odyssey across the southern U.S., he gets invited to a dinner party hosted by an etiquette teacher. Here is what Kathleen says about the film and the aforementioned dinner party:

Other parts are unforgivably mean, such as when he insults the wife of a Birmingham, Ala., minister at a dinner party arranged to instruct Borat in Southern etiquette.

What we learn from that session — which includes Borat excusing himself to visit the loo and returning with the proceeds in a sack — is that these are truly fine people. Gracious and openhearted toward “the foreigner,” the Southerners treat Borat respectfully even when he deserves to be defenestrated.

I’m sorry to say that Kathleen is spinning again. What she declines to mention or fails to recall is how the dinner party ends.

Borat had inquired of the etiquette teacher/hostess if it was acceptable for him to invite a friend to the dinner party and was told that would be fine. So he invited an African-American prostitute. When she shows up the party is destroyed. A clergyman abruptly excuses himself and his wife. Borat is told to leave and the police are called.

And by the way, the etiqutte teacher lady is suing Borat’s creator, Sasha Baron Cohen.

Just thought someone should set the record straight. Stephen Colbert’s O’Reillyesque persona claims to be unable to see race. I think Kathleen can’t smell racism, even when it reeks like Borat’s party favor.

Written by slothropia

November 19th, 2006 at 8:54 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

Now What?

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Friday night I watched Real Time and was driven to reflection by Bill Majer’s last New Rule of the broadcast. Here is an excerpt, provided by Common Dreams .org:

NEW RULE: When the Iraq Study Group gets done studying Iraq, it should study America.

Now, I know liberals have been on a high these last 10 days, and it can’t be the meth because that’s a gay evangelical drug. But let’s remember that all that really happened was, Republicans went so batty for so long that common sense seemed like a new idea.

This divine rant contnues for a few more hundred words, and contains a few good money quotes. Like:

Let’s not delude ourselves into thinking that this election brought new thinking to Washington. It didn’t. It brought Democrats, who are often just Republicans slowed down a step by a sense of shame.”

This is especially true of the self-styled Blue Dogs, conservative democrats. As I have written here in agreement with minds much greater than mine, we still have a one party (with two wings) system. The Democrats will do the right thing only on a tactical basis. Maybe that’s because they get much of their money from the same corporate sources as the GOP. Whatever.

Still, the good news (which may after all be only temporary) coming out of this year’s election is that the Reagan coalition has been dismantled and the FDR coalition cobbled together once more. Consider Billmon’s description of the careeer arc of Jim Webb, Virginia’s new Senator. Webb began life as a Democrat and went GOP over Vietnam related issues. Then:

Webb was rewarded, eventually, by being named an assistant secretary of defense and then Secretary of the Navy in Reagan’s Pentagon, where he became a fanatical advocate of a 500 600-ship Navy — a defense contracting boondoggle so egregious even the Reagan Administration eventually abandoned it. When Webb quit, in a huff, I assumed he would end up pulling a seven-figure salary as a defense lobbyist and spend the rest of his days helping shovel pork down various congressional gullets and tending the shrine of St. Ronnie.

But instead, nearly two decades later, Webb’s now the newly elected Senator from my native state (a stronghold of the Confederacy and the national “right-to-work” movement) who’s lined up shoulder to shoulder with Howard Dean and Nancy Pelosi and is writing op eds for the Wall Street Journal explicitly calling for what the Republican chattering classes sneeringly condemn as “class warfare”(.)

But having such a broad coalition would make it more difficult for the Dems if they were motivated to fashion a strategic vision that would resolve the many systemic problems that stifle progress in the U.S. Which brings me to another money quote from Maher:

Oh, Congress looks like America — we’ve got blacks, Asians, Hispanics, and whatever else is in Barack Obama. But diversity of thought? There’s exactly one socialist, and when it comes to “faith” — I bet there’s not even one who wouldn’t profess the greatest of piety…

If we actually had the occasional far left hippie in Congress to balance out all the legion of loonytoons on the far right — but outside of Ralph Nader and Dennis Kucinich, there isn’t a far left in America (note: John Hall is a new Congressman and a rock musician. That’s almost like a hippie, no? note: Hall and bernie Sanders both represent Northeast states that border on Canada. Coincidence?). Nancy Pelosi isn’t going to try to legalize drugs or socialize hospitals or really tax gasoline or tell the Pentagon to cut its bloated, corrupt budget…

There’s no out-of-the-box thinking in this country. If we were really looking for a new direction, we’d not just change Congress, we’d have another Constitutional Convention, as Jefferson suggested we do.

And there is the essence of the overall problem facing the U.S. Whatever history has brought us here, here is where we are. We are faced with a series of critical, systemic crises and the system whose function is to resolve these crises is sclerotic and paralyzed.

We know for example, how to make sure that health care is affordable and available to all, but lack the will to do what needs to be done (pass the powder milk biscuits, Garrison). We know that Iraq is a disaster but too many are unwilling to admit that the only option is withdrawal, sooner or later. See Maher quote above for further examples.

Maybe we do need a new constitution that would establish a system that would enable us to dealing with reality. It would have to be more inclusive and open to fresh thinking than what we have now but that wouldn’t be hard to achieve.

For starters, how about a legislative branch that solicits multiple parties instead of jkust the Ins and the Outs. Let there be parties for the Blue Dogs and the Kucinich/Sanders wing, and the Clintons (and others too). Lieberman can continue to have his own party.

Let the Buchanan’s have their own party, as well as the Brownback’s , the neo-cons and the Giullianies and McCains.

Let there be real debate and dialogue that forces the body politic to at long last face reality and deal.

Written by slothropia

November 19th, 2006 at 12:04 pm

Why I Am In a Pissy Mood

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Let’s start with James Carville’s attack on Howard Dean.  Did the chair of the DNC make mistakes before and during the  election campaign? I  wish I knew, but it would be surprising if he did not.  But does that make him incompetent?  Phfft! Yeah right.

I was listening to sports talk radio recently and the topic was the Bears and the Super Bowl (not doing a premature end zone dance – wouldn’t be prudent). The over caffeinated discussion was about changing quarterbacks if the current starter plays poorly. One of the yellers quoted somebody to the effect that “..t. the goal is not necessarily to win the next game, but to win the last game  – e.g. the championship.

The 50 state strategy has taken the Democrats a long way toward the goal of winning the big one in two years. And they still won this year’s game, taking control of both houses of Congress.

Meanwhile, poor James has to go home every night to his Republican shrew, Cheney’s mouthpiece. Well, he made his bed, so there’s no excuse for him to take out his bitternenss on Howard Dean.

Then there’s that pinhead, Glen Beck. While interviewing the first Muslim elected to a set in the House of Representatives, he practically came out and accused all Muslims of being terrorists. Check out the video if you dont believe me.

I don’t understand why CNN keeps giving this unprofessional idiot a forum for bigotry.

And maybe its attitudes like Beck’s are helping with scenes like this.

Written by slothropia

November 17th, 2006 at 12:35 am

Senator Dodd Rediscovers His Low Rent Courage

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This pisses me off:

Dodd regrets not filibustering terrorism bill

IOWA CITY,Iowa –Sen. Chris Dodd, D-Conn., said he regretted being talked out of filibustering tough new tribunal legislation signed by president Bush on Tuesday, and plans to seek new legislation to overturn portions of the bill.

Dodd denounced the measure, which civil liberty groups have said endangers many freedoms.

“It’s a major, major retreat for us as a people,” Dodd said during a visit to Iowa on Tuesday afternoon. “It’s incredible what they did.”

The measure signed by Bush sets up military tribunals to try terror suspects and allows the introduction of evidence obtained through tough interrogation procedures. It also suspends rights such as habeas corpus, which requires that suspects be brought to court to ensure they are being held legally and if they should be released.

Dodd said he initially intended to filibuster the bill but was talked out of it by other Democrats who said there wouldn’t be enough votes to support the filibuster.

“I regret now that I didn’t do it,” he said. “This is a major, major blow to who we are.” (Emphasis added)

So why did the Senator and so many of his colleagues not take a principled stand? Why court regret? Why not do the right thing to begin with?

Could it be politics? Maybe Senator Dodd was afraid to take an unpopular stand, and now that the election results may have demonstrated that it would not have been unpopular, he can afford regret. He had better hurry with his corrective legislation, though. The polls could change. Infact, I know for a fact that the Democrats current honeymoon will end within 6 months. Then Senator Dodd can go back top voting for bad legislation.

I weep tonight for Connecticutt.

Written by slothropia

November 15th, 2006 at 12:21 am

I Voted Early This Year

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I voted early this year. I had to go to the County Clerk’s office to do it, but I didn’t mind at all. I voted early only partly because I expected to be out of town generating revenue on November 7. Mostly, I wanted to make sure I got my kick at the prostrated GOP and just couldn’t wait another two weeks.

Those who have visited this blog will have noticed my AntiRepublican and anticonservative animus. I think I will take this lull behind the electoral storm to discuss how and why Republicans, conservatives and other right wingers wherever they may be have earned my contempt.

Never mind the biographical aspect of this story. Yes, I have been jerked around in some ways by THEM, the right, conservatives, whatever they are called. And they are called different things depending on where they are active. Yes, the right wing political parties are one of their tools. But tools are all they are. Conservative political parties and governments exist in order to expand and consolidate power in the hands of a specific segment of society.

I gotta admit though, apart from some early struggles imposed on me by this uber class, having to do with imperial wars, THEY have left me alone. In recent years, in fact, THEY have helped me buy a lot of cool stuff.

But it’s not about me. It is about everyone who is harmed by the imbalance of power, whether they live in this country or another.

And it’s about power. Money is in many ways just a way of keeping score.

Until January of next year, Republicans will hold nearly all the federal political power there is to hold, and they serve their masters well. Always have. Everybody else loses though.

I’m trying to look at the big picture, the grand historical pattern. At the start of the Industrial Revolution, the owners of capital had all the power in the capitalist societies, like Britain, Germany, Canada and the United States. Much of the history of the last two centuries in these counties has had to do with how power has come to be distributed somewhat more equally. The expansion of suffrage, unionism, the civil rights, feminist, gay pride and other movements have all been part of that process as have been the struggles for pensions and universal health insurance.

Capital’s reaction to these has been more violent in the United States than it has been in other countries.  I don’t pretend to know why that is but I know I can find a lot of people who agree with me. Three symptoms of the reaction will bear this argument.

Unions have fewer members and less power in the United States than in most other advanced countries. Their ability to organize is also tightly constricted by state and federal legislation.

  1. The only industrialized nation without universal health insurance is the United States.
  2. Repeatedly, the United States has shown itself susceptible to waging war in less developed countries, like Vietnam, Panama, and Iraq. The proxy war by the Contras against the elected government of Nicaragua also counts.

Here is one result of the inequitable distribution of power in this country.  As Ezra Klein puts it:

From 2003 to 2004, real average income for the top 1 percent of households shot up by 17 percent. For the remaining 99 percent, the average gain was under three percent. Indeed, the top one percent accumulated 36 percent of all income increases in 2004, a six percent increase from 2003.

So now we can empirically demonstrate that the rich are getting richer and the poor are getting poorer. Now, I am not necessarily arguing that everybody needs more stuff, but a big part of what people do everyday is trying to improve their lives and the lives of their children (where applicable).

It is conservative Republicans who have given us this inequitable mess, and it is they who mouth bromides about fiscal responsibility. Ironically, their gift to us has been a ticking fiscal time bomb.

What other gifts has the Reagan Revolution’s upward distribution of wealth and power bestowed upon this city on the hill:               

·        Our  life expectancy is decreasing

·        Our infant mortality rate is increasing

·        The Unites States is now 53rd in Press Freedom

·        The U.S. has apparently lost its ability to achieve its foreign policy goals or to get much of anything useful done.

Given all this, I would have been very surprised if voters had stayed with the Republicans last week. I mean, they’re not stupid, are they?

Written by slothropia

November 13th, 2006 at 11:59 pm