Monday, May 31, 2004


"My question for President Bush--who led the planning of this war so long ago--is this: When will you take responsibility for the decisions you've made in Iraq and realize that something is wrong with the way things are going?"

- Lt. Paul Rieckhoff, responding to President Bush's April press conference

Sunday, May 30, 2004

NYC Meow Mix Concert Tomorrow

If you love lesbians as much as I do, you'll love tomorrow's 8pm Overlord concert at the Meow Mix bar (of Chasing Amy fame) in NYC. Special guests will include my Mom, and my terrified Dad. Let's give him a large dose of lesbian-love reassurance. Also, I hope to see many NYC high school-era friends as well.

Again, our Village Voice BLURB!
All The News That's Fit To Print

The central purpose of journalism is to provide citizens with accurate and reliable information they need to function in a free society.

The New York Times examines its failure to be an independent monitor of power--and to serve the public good--in the run-up to war.

Week In Review

Friday, May 28, 2004

Overlord's Memorial Day Weekend Tour

Saturday: The Galaxy Hut, Arlington, Va. Arrive 8pm, Play 10ish?

Sunday: John & Peters, New Hope, PA 5pm

Monday: The Meow Mix, NYC, Arrive 6pm, Play 8pm

A Village Voice blurb about Monday's show.

Thursday, May 27, 2004

Outrage of the Day

To the Editor,

Yoel Mester's masterful propaganda piece, "Israelis Acting to Stop Terror," in Thursday's Metro column was a welcome reprieve from the disturbing reality of Israeli aggression in the Gaza Strip. Mr. Mester's central thesis--that destitute Palestinians have blown up their own neighborhoods using Israeli rockets and artillery--offers a fresh perspective on what most people see as a decades-old, mutually-reinforcing orgy of violence which is not likely to end until both sides stop participating in the terror.


James Ryan Boyd

Yoel Mester is Vice Consul, Consulate General of Israel in Philadelphia

Wednesday, May 26, 2004

Testimony from Abu Ghraib

"In the second scene at the night shift, I saw a new guard that wears glasses and has a red face. He charged his pistol and pointed it at a lot of the prisoners to threaten them with it. I saw things no one would see, they are amazing. They came in the morning shift with two prisoners and they were father and son. They were both naked. They put them in front of each other and they counted 1, 2, 3 and then removed the bags from their heads. When the son saw his father naked he was crying. He was crying because of seeing his father..."

- Mohanded Juma Juma

Read more testimony here.
The New American Export

"German soldiers in the Second World War took photographs of the atrocities they were committing in Poland and Russia, but snapshots in which the executioners placed themselves among their victims are exceedingly rare..."

- Susan Sontag, Regarding the Torture of Others, The New York Times Magazine
CNN Graphic Warns of East Coast Terror Threat

The graphic, currently posted on CNN's homepage, dramatically captures the intent of terrorists through advanced computer technology.

Tuesday, May 25, 2004

Army War College Speech Gets Warm Reception From Last 28 Remaining Military Personnel in US

President Bush's 33-minute address at the United States Army War College yesterday was received with enthusiasm by the last 28 remaining military personnel in the United States. The audience, unhindered by small arms fire and rocket propelled grenades, applauded the president's bold plan for bringing democracy to Iraq by striking the palms of their not-yet severed hands together in rapid succession.

"We are here because the president has not yet condemned us to the violent death and dismemberment which surely awaits us in Iraq," said 23-year old staff sergeant Cornelius McPhearson. "Unlike our fellow soldiers who have gone before us, we still possess the limbs and extremities necessary to applaud the president's forward march into violence."

The president's primary message, underscored by the nuanced body language afforded him by a full set of unsevered presidential limbs, was one of steadfastness in the face of adversity.

"The struggle for freedom is never easy. The dark hand of tyranny is always in tact, even when temporarily cleaved from its master. This stands in stark contrast to the human hand, which does not do so well on its own."

The president then added, snapping his fingers to rapturous applause, "I'm really glad I have both of mine."

Monday, May 24, 2004

Free Stickers from MoveOn

The MoveOn Political Action Committee (PAC) is offering free bumper stickers to anyone who wants them. Right now they are offering the two versions shown here.
Staying The Course In Iraq

"The course is headed over Niagara Falls... It should be evident to everybody that they've screwed up."

- Gen. Anthony Zinni, USMC Ret., speaking on 60 Minutes yesterday

Sunday, May 23, 2004

I have always been a great advocate of old people. Old people may not be the most popular people in the world, but they are often times the nearest death. This means if you don't like a person, just wait long enough and you won't have to sit through their next State of the Union address. This works equally well when you are aged, and you grow weary of emptying your bowels all over The National Review. As Gandhi once said, "the only devils in the world are those running around in our own hearts, or falling off bicycles in your soul."

I appreciated Barry's close relation in a way that he obviously did not. I smiled politely and nodded my head as the little man entered into all manner of wild gesticulation over the possibility that he would be disappointed by the new Spiderman release. I enjoyed hearing the critical perspective of one who walked the tightrope of existence in the way young people pass venereal disease.
"Fahrenheit 9/11" Wins Cannes

BBC News Streaming Video

NYT Film Review

Saturday, May 22, 2004

The Consistent War Ethic

"War is just a racket. A racket is best described, I believe, as something that is not what it seems to the majority of people. Only a small inside group knows what it is about. It is conducted for the benefit of the very few at the expense of the masses."

- Major General Smedley Butler, USMC, 1933
When You Were Crazy

Download MP3

When you were crazy
Life was amazing
Everywhere you went
Everyone knew that
I was your savior
Without the defense
Of modern medicine
You jettisoned pretense
When you were crazy
And even though I was of two minds
I saw it with my own four eyes

And baby you loved me
When you were crazy
Well maybe
You'd have to be
Crazy to love me

When I was crazy
Completely defeated
You had me believe that
Your sympathy was
All that I needed
Though your tight leash
Was a comfortable tether
You knew I'd get loose
If I ever got better
And for anything you had in mind
Well, you needed me out of mine

And baby I loved you
When I was crazy
And baby
I'd have to be
Crazy to love you

Song written by George Pasles of Overlord.

Friday, May 21, 2004

Barbara's Beautiful Mind

"But why should we hear about body bags, and deaths, and how many, what day it's gonna happen, and how many this or what do you suppose? Or, I mean, it's, it's not relevant. So why should I waste my beautiful mind on something like that?"

— Barbara Bush on "Good Morning America,"
March 18, 2003

The Memory Hole is back. You can view their abuse documentation here.

Nick Berg

"George Bush's ineffective leadership is a weapon of mass destruction, and it has allowed a chain reaction of events that led to the unlawful detention of my son which immersed him in a world of escalated violence."

--Michael Berg

Tuesday, May 18, 2004

Which Side Are You On?

America has a long tradition of blackballing dissenters for lack of patriotism--and an even longer tradition of patriotism borne out of dissent.


The time has come to knock Donald Rumsfeld from the top of the all-male nude pyramid once and for all.

"Beginning more than two years ago, Mr. Rumsfeld decided to overturn decades of previous practice by the U.S. military in its handling of detainees in foreign countries. His Pentagon ruled that the United States would no longer be bound by the Geneva Conventions; that Army regulations on the interrogation of prisoners would not be observed; and that many detainees would be held incommunicado and without any independent mechanism of review... Mr. Rumsfeld's decisions helped create a lawless regime in which prisoners in both Iraq and Afghanistan have been humiliated, beaten, tortured and murdered -- and in which, until recently, no one has been held accountable."
- The Washington Post

"It is time now for Mr. Rumsfeld to go, and not only because he bears personal responsibility for the scandal of Abu Ghraib. That would certainly have been enough. The United States has been humiliated to a point where government officials could not release this year's international human rights report this week for fear of being scoffed at by the rest of the world."
- The New York Times, May 7, 2004, New York, New York

"Rumsfeld Must Go."
- Boston Globe, May 7, 2004, Boston, Massachusetts

"It is time for Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld to prepare the final document of a long and sometimes illustrious public career: his letter of resignation."
- The Plain Dealer, May 7, 2004, Cleveland, Ohio

"The reality is that, if Bush is going to clean house, it makes no sense to stop with Rumsfeld. Considering how the Bush administration has made a mess of the situation in Iraq - from the wrong intelligence about weapons of mass destruction to the incredible lack of planning for the post-war situation to the entirely unnecessary alienation of allies - the whole national security team should be fired."
- Newsday, May 7, 2004, New York, New York

"Rumsfeld and his deputy, Paul Wolfowitz, should resign immediately. If they do not, they should be fired."
- Star Tribune, May 7, 2004, Minneapolis, Minnesota

"This is not the first time we've called for the removal of Donald Rumsfeld as defense secretary. Only Rumsfeld or the president can assure that it's the last."
- Seattle Post-Intelligencer, May 6, 2004, Seattle, Washington

"Donald Rumsfeld has to go. The secretary of Defense should tender his resignation to President George W. Bush, and if he doesn't, the president ought to fire him."
- Detroit Free Press, May 7, 2004, Detroit, Michigan

"Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld should resign and take his top deputies with him. That includes Deputy Secretary Paul Wolfowitz and Undersecretary Douglas Feith."
- St. Louis Post-Dispatch, May 6, 2004, St. Louis, Missouri
We were entering our descent into the Lincoln Tunnel when my companion regained consciousness. The little man at our left began speaking excitedly.

"You had a nice nap, Barry," he said.

"Too much ice cream and beer last night," Barry replied.

"What did you say, Barry?"

"I said too much ice cream and beer last night."

The little man seemed pleased. "Oh, ha-ha. You must feel rested after your nap. Boy, you must have been asleep for a good twenty minutes or so by my watch."

"I usually feel worse," Barry said.

Immediately I detected the eagerness the little man displayed in speaking had been met with a corresponding reluctance on the part of his much younger relation.

"I didn't see any movies this weekend. I wanted to see Van Helsing--are you familiar with that title, Barry--Van Helsing? Yes? Well, I thought I might see that, but the reviews were terrible. I just thought it might be interesting since it's based on a character from the first Dracula movie. You probably didn't know that, did you? Had you ever heard of him, Barry--Van Helsing? He was a character in the original Dracula story; I know you probably never saw the original Dracula movie; that was before your time, sure. Anyway, I thought it might be interesting, but the reviews were terrible, Barry."

Barry could very well have written his graduate thesis on the contemporary bastardization of Hollywood classics, but he would be damned if he were to broadcast his opinion on the subject for the benefit of the Shortline commuters into Manhattan. Women were turning in their seats. Women, for crying out loud! He made a heroic effort to read his newspaper, but the little man would not be subdued.
Spectre of Colin Powell's Blackness Haunts Cable News Circuit

Might Secretary Powell's conscience be the sword on which the Bush administration falls?

From Juan Cole/Informed Comment:

By now most persons with a television and an interest in US affairs will have seen the bizarre scene in which Deputy Press Secretary Emily Miller, an aide to Colin Powell, attempted to pull him off camera and stop him from answering a question put by Tim Russert of Meet the Press. What is bizarre is that she actually tried to lie to Powell and convince him that Russert had finished the interview. If I were Powell, I'd try to find out for whom she is really working. When Powell told her to get out of the way and came back on camera, he made a startling admission, in bold, below.

MR. RUSSERT: Thank you very much, sir.

In February of 2003, you put your enormous personal reputation on the line before the United Nations and said that you had solid sources for the case against Saddam Hussein. It now appears that an agent called "Curve Ball" had misled the CIA by suggesting that Saddam had trucks and trains that were delivering biological chemical weapons.

How concerned are you that some of the information you shared with the world is now inaccurate and discredited?

SECRETARY POWELL: I'm very concerned. When I made that presentation in February 2003, it was based on the best information that the Central Intelligence Agency made available to me. We studied it carefully. We looked at the sourcing and the case of the mobile trucks and trains. There was multiple sourcing for that. Unfortunately, that multiple sourcing over time has turned out to be not accurate, and so I'm deeply disappointed.

But I'm also comfortable that at the time that I made the presentation it reflected the collective judgment, the sound judgment, of the intelligence community, but it turned out that the sourcing was inaccurate and wrong and, in some cases, deliberately misleading. And for that I'm disappointed, and I regret it.

Powell for the first time has gone beyond admitting that the intel on Iraq WMD was inaccurate to calling some of it deliberately misleading. If it was deliberately misleading, however, that implies that someone deliberately misled. That is, there are human actors with intentions. If a government official deliberately misled Powell on this matter, that is clearly a crime that should be prosecuted.

So, will the other shoe now drop? Is Powell laying the groundwork for an impeachment of Douglas Feith or Paul Wolfowitz?

Monday, May 17, 2004

At some point in our trek my companion became unconscious in his newspaper. It was probably just as well. The enterprising gentleman had little to learn from the likes of The New York Post, unless it was game stats or a crash course in not-thinking critically. In Philadelphia we suffer under the malevolent reign of the Daily News, which is sort of like intellectual crack for working people. As I watched the sun set over my companion's tripe-induced slumber, I wondered if the price we pay for literacy isn't just a more respectable form of ignorance. William Safire, for instance.
Michael Smerconish: Blathering Jackass of Monumental Proportions

Give Michael Smerconish a gold medal for ugliness for his chastisement of the Berg family as they grieve the loss of their son. This is their time, Mr. Smerconish, and you would do well to bite your tongue.

Philadelphia Daily News

Daily Reflection

Sunday, May 16, 2004

Of my riding companion there would be little else to report were it not for the presence of another passenger--the one that would finally provoke him. This strange little character sat to our left, alternately balling himself up with clenched teeth and double fists; then relaxing, craning his head into the aisle and smiling at us reverentially. I attributed this unusual behavior to old age, and did not expect anything to be meant from his pointed curiosity.

One of the finer points of public transportation is that it allows for productive work in the time one would normally be driving. To this end I rather enjoy a long commute. I had with me a collection of historical documents that dated back to Reconstruction; indeed, the first was a report by an agent of the Freedmen's Bureau, who had been tasked to administer relief for those displaced by the war and initiate programs aimed at the peaceful integration of former slaves into the economy of the south. In reviewing the period one cannot escape the elemental role the federal government played in safeguarding the welfare of southern blacks against violence sanctioned by the localities. It's the same message, repeated a half-century later, by John Steinbeck in The Grapes of Wrath: The collusion of local authorities with wealthy landowners creates a unique need for federal intervention on behalf of starving Midwestern families who flooded California during the Great Depression.

Tuesday, May 11, 2004

This occasion afforded me prompt service into the city, however. I sat next to a young man of stout build who was invested in the pages of some local rag--the New York Post, probably. I must say the entire positioning of his body did betray the earnestness he applied to this end; as such I contented myself in leaving him undisturbed. Still, I could not help but think it strange his single-minded attempt to read, or more precisely, his physical interpretation of it--slung into the corner like a recalcitrant fetus.

Monday, May 10, 2004

How the French Saved America

Last night I departed northern New Jersey, and the residence of my family, for an evening's ride into New York. Naturally I did not drive. My parents deposited me at the nearest Shortline bus terminal, amidst a throng of offspring equally deposited by their parents, and so on and so forth. We had all come home to celebrate the holiday; now we all purposed a singular return to our underfed, motherless lives. In years past this has made for high entertainment: two hour delays, buses filled to standing capacity, and the unflagging impulse to throttle one's peers lest their plaintive, cellular-whines endure a solitary moment longer. (Bear it in mind that, as regards New Yorkers, the cellular phone is an abuse far surpassing the all-male nude pyramid--not to be mistaken with the all-female nude pyramid, which not only is an altogether different sort of torture, it's jaw-droppingly naive.)

Friday, May 07, 2004

The Beginning of the End of an Administration

As the political fallout reaches Washington over the scandals and mismanagement of the Iraq occupation, so begins the indictment of its chief architects.

The New York Times

Tom Friedman

Thursday, May 06, 2004

Disney Debacle Reaches House Floor

"Yesterday, Democrats on Capitol Hill sought to draw even more attention to the dispute. Representatives Anthony Weiner and Jerrold Nadler, both of New York, publicly condemned Disney's position."

The New York Times
NYT Editorial

"Give the Walt Disney Company a gold medal for cowardice for blocking its Miramax division from distributing a film that criticizes President Bush and his family. A company that ought to be championing free expression has instead chosen to censor a documentary that clearly falls within the bounds of acceptable political commentary."

Disney's Craven Behavior

Wednesday, May 05, 2004

Technically Different from Accepting Any Responsibility Whatsoever, Once Again

"I'm not a lawyer. My impression is that what has been charged thus far is abuse, which I believe technically is different from torture."

--Donald Rumsfeld, Defense Dept. Briefing, 05/04/04
Overtime Victory in Senate


Yesterday, after more than 4,000 of us made phone calls to key Senators, the Senate did as we asked, approving the Harkin amendment, which would stop President Bush from gutting overtime protections that millions of working families count on. The amendment has been successfully attached to the Foreign Sales Corporation bill, with support from Senators Campbell (CO), Chafee (RI), Murkowski (AK), Snowe (ME), and Specter (PA). This bill has passed the Senate, and is now up for consideration in the House.

Tuesday, May 04, 2004

Disney Blocks Distribution of New Michael Moore Film

"Mr. Eisner expressed particular concern that it would endanger tax breaks Disney receives for its theme park, hotels and other ventures in Florida, where Mr. Bush's brother, Jeb, is governor."

The New York Times


Tell Disney: Stop Censoring Michael Moore

Write and Call Disney:

George Mitchell
The Walt Disney Company
Phone: 818-560-1000

Monday, May 03, 2004

Senate Vote to Preserve Overtime

Tomorrow the Senate is scheduled to vote on a measure to counter the Bush Administration's new rules to eliminate overtime pay for thousands of workers. This Senate action will guarantee no worker will lose his or her overtime right when working more than 40 hours a week.

Please call your Senators and urge them to support the Harkin amendment to protect overtime pay.

PA Senators:

Sen. Arlen Specter at (202) 224-4254

Sen. Rick Santorum at (202) 224-6324

US Senate directory.
Bringing Back the Draft

From the Hearst News Service:

The Selective Service System's chief has proposed registering women for the military draft and requiring that young Americans regularly inform the government about whether they have training in niche specialties the armed services need.

The proposal, which the agency's acting director, Lewis Brodsky, presented to senior Pentagon officials just before the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq, also seeks to extend the age of draft registration to 34 years old, up from 25.

The plan, obtained under the Freedom of Information Act, highlights the extent to which agency officials have planned for an expanded draft in case the administration and Congress authorize one.

"In line with today's needs, the Selective Service System's structure, programs and activities should be re-engineered toward maintaining a national inventory of American men and, for the first time, women, ages 18 through 34, with an added focus on identifying individuals with critical skills," the agency said in a Feb. 11, 2003, proposal presented to senior Pentagon officials.

Saturday, May 01, 2004

Celebrating One Year of Mission Accomplished

Come celebrate a year of successful nation-building in Iraq with your favorite insurgency and mine, Overlord, tonight at The Mill Creek Tavern, 4200 Chester Ave, in University City. The keynote speech will be given by George Pasles and will include tips on rearranging the rubble in your home for summer; hairstyling with US Iraqi administrator Paul Bremer; and a special portion entitled "Cargo Pockets of Resistance: How to Organize an Opposition Party, and What to Wear."

See you there!
Hearts and Minds

If there's one thing suggestive of a losing proposition in Iraq, it's been underscored by public reaction to US abuses of the prisoners in their care: Americans have minimized the importance by framing it against their larger, noble purpose; while Arabs have carried it to the conclusion that the US is no better than Saddam Hussein.

"They keep asking why we hate them? Why we detest them? Maybe they should look well in the mirror and then they will hate themselves," said Khadija Mousa from Syria.

Abdel-Bari Atwan, editor of the pan-Arabist London newspaper, al-Quds al-Arabi, said, "The liberators are worse than the dictators. This is the straw that broke the camel's back for America . . . "That really, really is the worst atrocity. It affects the honour and pride of Muslim people. It is better to kill them than sexually abuse them."

Professor Juan Cole of the University of Michigan writes: "I really wonder whether, with the emergence of these photos, the game isn't over for the Americans in Iraq. Is it realistic, after the bloody siege of Fallujah and the Shiite uprising of early April, and in the wake of these revelations, to think that the US can still win the hearts and minds of the Iraqi Arab public?"

For America, this war has been too wrapped up in an emotional response to 9/11 and the need for revenge, combined with the need to feel self-righteous and noble while acting it out. As Americans, we don't understand Iraqis or care particularly for their plight, unless we get to congratulate ourselves for doing so every step of the way. What is significant about Fallujah and the pictures of abuse is that it obstructs our ability to congratulate ourselves. Our own opinion of ourselves is high so long as we are sheltered from the realities of war--but take the illusion away and we are instantly demoralized. We have barely begun to grasp the reality of our own dead; I think it's more than fair to say that we are completely uninterested in the thousands of Iraqi dead, which our government feels no obligation even to keep count.

It's tragically striking to me how self-centered this operation has been. We were arrogant enough to believe that we could do something without anyone else's input or approval, just because of our high opinion of ourselves. Now reality is sinking in: our children our being killed and the Iraqis appear ungrateful. We feel bad about abuse pictures. Maybe we don't want to be there at all anymore. We tried, but the Iraqis let us down. It wasn't our fault. The world just wasn't ready for democracy.