Wednesday, June 30, 2004

Military, 9/11 Families Endorse Moore Film

"What we want to say is how important Michael Moore's movie is ... in bringing back the ability to have a dialogue about the issues surrounding the war," said Nancy Lessin of the group Military Families Speak Out, whose stepson is a Marine.
US Recalls Ex-Soldiers for Duty

In a sudden low-key yet significant move, the United States army on Tuesday ordered to recall nearly 6,000 former soldiers to active service to help maintain its force levels in Iraq and Afghanistan.

- IndoLink

Tuesday, June 29, 2004

The Ireland Interview

President Bush finally meets his match: the European journalist.

Radio and Television Ireland

Program begins at seek position 6:00; interview at 20:20

The White House strikes back.
Bush Approval Drops

A majority of respondents said the Iraq war wasn't worth the U.S. lives lost and the White House doesn't have a well-defined plan to reestablish order, the Times reported.


Monday, June 28, 2004

New Disney Film Embraces Patriotism, Complacency

"An uplifting infomercial on the limitless variations of the American dream..."

- The Miami Herald

Don't miss the Bible-study promotional campaign.
Lila Lipscomb

"The movie's only powerful moments--of soldiers in Iraq, of the immediate aftermath of the Twin Towers' collapse--come in footage Moore has acquired from other sources."

- Andrew Ferguson
Fahrenheit Letter

Michael Moore's new film became part of the national dialogue this weekend. If Fahrenheit 9/11 is hot, it's because it's showing us something--about government, about war, and about ourselves. The film contains footage unlike anything Americans have seen in depth: the day to day experiences of combat soldiers in Iraq, the anguish of Iraqis who blame the US for the deaths of their loved ones, the anxieties of American military families who now question the war, the rehabilitation of American soldiers who have lost their limbs. And while Moore makes his own observations on the meaning behind it all, I fail to see how the real lives and experiences of American soldiers count in any way as "propaganda." The freest nation in the world shouldn't have to rely on a single man to show us what's actually happening in Iraq.
What Is Terrorism?

Great interactive feature by The Christian Science Monitor.
Supreme Court Rejects Detention Policy

By a 6-3 vote, the justices ruled American courts can consider the claims of Guantanamo Bay prisoners--suspected al Qaeda members or Taliban fighters--who said in their lawsuits they were being held illegally in violation of their rights.

- Reuters
"We'll Always Have Fallujah"

"This is their country, and they've got to step up and run it."

- Senator Jeff Sessions, R-AL

Sunday, June 27, 2004

Fahrenheit 9/11 Breaks Records, Morals

"A sinister exercise in moral frivolity..."

- Christopher Hitchens

Friday, June 25, 2004

Things Fall Apart

Thursday, June 24, 2004

Fahrenheit 9/11 Release

"A vicious personal attack on my son."

- George Bush, Sr.
Their Theocracy And Ours

"Journalists keep asking me if the US can prevent Iraq from becoming a 'theocracy.' Why are the Americans so worried about Iraqis insisting on strict religious standards in their politics, if in fact that is the public platform of the dominant Republican Party in the United States?"

- Juan Cole
Committee Considers Improved Medical Plan for House Members

"Not everyone who's a member of Congress is well off," said Rep. John Doolittle, R-CA, who sponsored the language adding lawmakers to the study. He cited House members who sleep in their offices to save money for their children's college tuition, though he mentioned no names.

- Associated Press

View the Congressional pay scale!

Wednesday, June 23, 2004

Wal-Mart Vs. Women

A federal judge in the United States this week Tuesday ruled that a sex discrimination case against Wal-Mart, the world's biggest retailer, can be pursued as a class action lawsuit. The suit could involve 1.6 million American women.

- Voice Of America
Howard Zinn on Iraq

"It seems very hard for some people--especially those in high places, but also those striving for high places--to grasp a simple truth: The United States does not belong in Iraq. It is not our country. Our presence is causing death, suffering, destruction, and so large sections of the population are rising against us..."

- Howard Zinn

Interview with The Korea Times
Memo: Rumsfeld Approved Some Abuse

Tuesday, June 22, 2004

The Terror Plot That Never Was

Ronald Reagan, On Ronald Reagan

"My father never felt the need to wrap himself in anybody else's mantle. He never felt the need to pretend to be anybody else. This is their administration. This is their war. If they can't stand on their own two feet, well, they're no Ronald Reagans, that's for sure."

- Ronald Reagan, Jr.

The Bush response.
Americans Reject War, Are Welcomed Back Into Human Race

Just a day late and a penny short!

Channel News Asia
George Bush Presides Over Third Head-Cutting

"Although Al Qaeda-linked groups recently executed two kidnapped civilian workers, the United States continues to maintain it will not negotiate with terrorists, whatever the price--even if violence against Americans and their allies gets worse."

- Fox News

And it has! Hilarious!
Profiles In Courage: "Gym Class Was The Abu Ghraib Of My Adolescence"

Monday, June 21, 2004

Letting The Terrorists Win: A Plan To Keep Our Heads

I like my head. And since there is no obvious advantage to having it separated from my body, I say let the terrorists win. I realize it would set a bad precedent. Terrorist forces the world-over would rejoice. They would forever hold the mantle of being less pissed-off over the not severed heads of all Americans. They would go back to their old jobs, like being unemployed, or starving peaceably. But though we may be two nations, are not our goals one and the same? Do not the terrorists pray for the immediate return of Americans to their homes and loved ones? And do not the Americans, in turn, enjoy the full use of their heads? Then let not our differences come between us--or, for that matter, our cutlery. For it is written: "The man who sows his own crop will yield a bountiful harvest, but the man with no head should never drive a tractor..."

My countrymen are a proud people. With their pride they will never part. Unless, of course, the only alternative is their head. After all, while pride is important, a missing head can limit your home purchasing prospects dramatically. And try finding a reasonably priced apartment in Queen's Village anyway.

Some may call this defeatist, perhaps. But as Jesus once said, "let he that is without his head be the first to cast a stone..." And so I say, let America's pride be harnessed for the highest order of defeat: Don't let America lose its head!
Naked Appeal For Peace

The Saddam Hussein Custody Battle

When you've raised a dictator from infancy, it can be hard to say goodbye.

Sunday, June 20, 2004

Video: Bush Responds to 9/11 Crisis

"It was an interesting day."

- President Bush, remembering September 11
Fallujah Air Strike

I don't mean to be a killjoy, but for an Occupying Power to drop bombs on residential neighborhoods is a war crime. The three women and five children killed are not "collateral damage." They are human beings. They were killed by the United States. There are no such things as "precision strikes" in residential neighborhoods. Bombs not only throw off shrapnel themselves, they create lots of deadly flying debris, including flying glass from broken windows, that can kill and maim. Dropping bombs on an tank corps assembled in the desert and intending to do harm is one thing. Dropping bombs on a residential district is another.

- Juan Cole, Informed Comment
The Meaning Behind 30 June

"I discern an unwritten rule among American journalists, that the American public is not interested in places which have their own government. The real significance of the so-called handover of sovereignty is that the Bush administration and its political advisers are hoping that the American press will take this moment as a cue to turn to reporting about Laci Peterson and other nonsense stories..."

- Prof. Juan Cole, History, University of Michigan

Saturday, June 19, 2004

"Widow and The Orphan"

Original Newsweek article.
Arab Reaction to American Death

"Since Americans were sent to Iraq, it has become a bloodbath. Please ask Europeans and Americans what they expected the reaction to be..."

- Dr Bahaa Ghalayani, Palestinian physician from Gaza City


Friday, June 18, 2004

Reagan's Legacy

A letter written to The New York Times in 1998:

To the Editor:

The most striking characteristic of the network financed and organized by Osama bin Laden is that it is made up almost entirely of Ronald Reagan's "freedom fighters," the Islamic fundamentalists armed and trained by the Central Intelligence Agency in the 1980's in an effort to drive Soviet forces out of Afghanistan (front page, Aug. 24). This network received $6 billion in United States- and Saudi-financed arms shipments in the 1980's.

Perhaps the Clinton national security team should devote some time to the overarching question of how to make it harder for networks like Mr. bin Laden's to operate. At a minimum that would mean eliminating the kind of covert arms operations we ran with such abandon in the 1980's.

William D. Hartung
New York, Aug. 24, 1998

The writer is a senior research fellow at the World Policy Institute at the New School.

$10 Billion Homeland Security Contract Goes To Tax-Evader

The parent company, Accenture Ltd., has an administrative office in Bermuda staffed by three to six people, said Roxanne Taylor, the company's chief of corporate communications in New York.

- The Guardian UK
Got Overtime?

Anti-Moore: Hezbollah Endorses "Fahrenheit," Offers Promotional Help

Iranian terrorists are the latest to line up for the film, one right-wing group says.
Roger Ebert

In your articles discussing Michael Moore's film 'Fahrenheit 9/11,' you call it a documentary. I always thought of documentaries as presenting facts objectively without editorializing. While I have enjoyed many of Mr. Moore's films, I don't think they fit the definition of a documentary.

Thursday, June 17, 2004


There's nothing like showing up to a party uninvited.

"Fahrenheit" Opening Weekend Bash

This from MoveOn:

MoveOn PAC has posted the trailer for Michael Moore's new movie "Fahrenheit 9/11" on their website. You can check it out here.

Already, right wing groups are trying to intimidate theaters into pulling the film. So MoveOn PAC is organizing a big campaign to get people out in support of the movie on the opening weekend. You can sign up to be a part of that at the link above, too.

And remember, Madonna told you to.

The Other Israel

Manufacturing Consent

Mr. Bush is right when he says he cannot be blamed for everything that happened on or before Sept. 11, 2001. But he is responsible for the administration's actions since then. That includes, inexcusably, selling the false Iraq-Qaeda claim to Americans.

- The New York Times
Gallup Poll: Reagan's Popularity

Wednesday, June 16, 2004

VOTE 2004

Assignment 1. Substitute "progressive" for "conservative" in the following paragraph:

Since corporatism simply is how much of our economy works, to some extent we have no choice but to play ball with it. However, there is clearly a risk that by playing the game, we may end up endorsing it. The co-optative powers of corporatism are awesome. Therefore, we need to form a disciplined strategy of fighting corporatism when it can be fought, but seeking the most conservative possible outcome within it when it cannot.

- Robert Locke

2. Consider the upcoming Presidential election, which will include:

  • one candidate, corporatist platform, Christian fundamentalist, warmongering, universally reviled everywhere, increasingly doubted at home

  • one candidate, corporatist platform, Christian "liberal," not necessarily warmongering, universally preferred everywhere, barely noticeable at home

  • one candidate, pro-democracy/public-advocate platform, politically non-religious, non-warmongering, universally preferred everywhere (to incumbent), browbeaten at home

  • 3. Multiple Choice:

    Of the options presented, which best characterizes your priorities

    I) in the next 6-8 months:

    a> building a successful third-party movement

    b> forestalling global thermonuclear annihilation

    II) in the next 6-10 years:

    a> continuing to vote for jackasses

    b> building a successful third-party movement

    Tuesday, June 15, 2004

    Real Conservatives Vote Nader

    I once said to Bill Bennett, "“Would you agree that corporatism is on a collision course with conservative values?" and he said yes.

    - Ralph Nader
    "Bush Touts Afghanistan as Model for Iraq"

    "First of all, we don't call them warlords," said Afghan President Hamid Karzai of his new government.

    Americans Speak To Arabs In New TV Ad

    FaithfulAmerica, an interfaith religious group, is sponsoring a new ad condemning human rights abuses in Iraq, and pledging commitment among Americans to the pursuit of justice.

    In similar news, Senator Richard Durbin (D-IL) has proposed an amendment to a new Defense Department bill (S 2400), which repudiates torture and re-affirms our commitment to international human rights.

    Ask your senators to support the Durbin amendment to the Defense bill.
    Bush to Seniors: Save, Damn You!

    Monday, June 14, 2004

    A Travesty of a Mockery of a Sham... Of Justice

    John Ashcroft is the worst attorney general in history.

    - Paul Krugman

    Just Kill Me

    The Independent
    The American Tradition

    Which leads me to my next question: Where has American conservatism gone?

    The American tradition from the revolutionary period to the present has been fixated on the dangers of power, and on the tendency of power to corrupt. And it has been quite explicit on the kind of corruption it feared. Either the state apparatus would become an aristocracy in its own right, from the love of power and privilege, or it would function in the interests of an aristocracy of corporations and moneyed interests.


    Myth Of The Free Market

    I went looking for an explanation of how our economy really works, and was surprised when a conservative explained it best.

    Bush Presses Vatican For Greater "Activism"

    "Not all the American bishops are with me," the president reportedly told Cardinal Angelo Sodano, the Vatican secretary of state.

    The New York Times
    "Diplomats and Military Commanders For Change"

    More on the group:

    More than two dozen members of the military and diplomatic elites from both US political parties are uniting to launch an assault on the Bush administration's conduct of foreign policy, claiming in a letter to be published this week that it has isolated the nation and calling for the president's defeat in the November election.

    - Financial Times

    Former Reagan/Bush Officials Condemn Bush Foreign Policy

    The statement, which will be released Wednesday, was signed by 20 former U.S. ambassadors, including William Harrop, who was appointed ambassador to Israel by former President George Bush in 1991.

    ""We just came to agreement that this administration was really endangering the United States," William Harrop said.

    Military commanders who signed the document include retired Marine General Joseph P. Hoar, commander in chief of U.S. Central Command over-seeing the Middle East in 1991; and retired Admiral William Crowe Jr., chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff 1985-89.

    - CNN

    - Reuters

    Sunday, June 13, 2004

    Seniors Snub Prescription Plan

    "What they want are free drugs provided by Medicare," Republican Bill McInturff said.

    If the elderly think just because they pay into a social system for 65 years that this somehow "entitles" them to necessary services like health care, George Bush has a plan to help them save less.

    Gannett News Service
    Bush Sr. Memorial Scheduled All Next Week

    Saturday, June 12, 2004

    Remembering Reagan, by Morrissey

    "He has the right to say anything he wishes. It just sounds so much like Osama."

    - Lee Hempfling, Phoenix, Arizona.

    Friday, June 11, 2004


    Chomsky answers a question about whether capitalism is justified on the basis of rising living standards. The audio is taken from a lecture titled Madisonian Democracy.

    The core of the anarchist tradition, as I understand it, is that power is always illegitimate, unless it proves itself to be legitimate. So the burden of proof is always on those who claim that some authoritarian hierarchic relation is legitimate. If they can't prove it, then it should be dismantled.

    - Noam Chomsky

    I wanted to say something brief about anarchism since I added the Traditions portion of the sidebar. First, I really recommend the interview with Chomsky hyperlinked there. It's one of the most accessible summaries of anarchism as a tradition, particularly within the US, that I have been able to find.

    Secondly, it is an established intellectual tradition--not the amorphous blob of lawlessness and chaos that typically comes to mind. There are about a million synonymous terms for it--syndicalism, libertarianism, libertarian-socialism, democratic socialism, anarcho-communism, etc.--each with their own history and meaning, but only worth knowing if you're really interested. The elementary idea is that people should have meaningful control over their lives, and that means democratic control of both political and economic institutions.

    As Americans, we already understand the political side of this. Representative democracies operate on the idea that people control their government democratically. They are designed to facilitate control of the political process through elected representation and by personal protections such as civil rights. This is a central component of a libertarian, or anarchist, outlook.

    The second component, however, is economic. Democratic control of one's workplace, for instance, is barely acknowledged, even on a theoretical level, within the United States. Corporations are authoritarian in structure, not democratic. The only democratic control people have over private institutions comes either from the political process in the form of government regulation, or from work agreements achieved through employee organizing (trade unions). Anyone interested in increasing popular control over production and resources will quickly find themselves at odds with the "right" to private ownership of these things on which all of us rely for survival.

    Never-Ending Reagan Memorial Kills Ray Charles

    State Dept. Rewrites Report Praising War On Terror

    The State Department has been forced to correct major portions of its annual report on global terrorism that was released two months ago after major mistakes were cited. The original report concluded that the number of terrorist attacks in the world in 2003 had dropped to its lowest level in 34 years. Now the report will be rewritten and it may show that 2003 had more attacks than any year in the last two decades. Rep. Henry A. Waxman of California accused the administration of manipulating terrorism data so it could claim victory in the so-called war on terror.

    - Democracy Now! headlines


    Thursday, June 10, 2004

    Tampa International Airport Confirms Saudi Flight After 9/11

    The government has long denied that two days after the 9/11 attacks, the three were allowed to fly.

    - The St. Petersburg Times
    Bush's Torture Memos

    The memos use narrow reasoning to argue that certain actions that lay people might consider torture are in fact permissible. For example, one memo, dated March 6, 2003, reportedly says that if an interrogator's objective is not to cause severe pain, but to gain information, then their actions are legal - whether they cause severe pain or not.

    - Christian Science Monitor

    See also this Houston Chronicle editorial.

    Wednesday, June 09, 2004

    Remembering Reagan, by Noam Chomsky

    Remembering Reagan's Racism

    One of my black colleagues called Ronald Reagan a racist today. Normally I reserve that term for special people--like Jesse Helms or Strom Thurmond--who seem to embrace the philosophy in public ways. Because racism is so much a part of American culture and history, it's also a part of all Americans--if not in who we are, then certainly in how we behave. If you presume a certain amount of latent racism in every American, then the term "racist" can be meaningfully preserved for only the most special of individuals.

    Having failed to review the Reagan record, I initially lumped the Great Communicator in with the rest of us--well, very broadly, anyway. Within the spectrum of racially-conditioned America, there are those who work to confront racism, and there are those who do nothing. At best, I thought, Mr. Reagan--white, male, wealthy, Republican--did nothing. As I told my co-workers when the debate began, "I don't know if I would call him racist. I would say he didn't care."

    Then my co-worker, "Abe"--a Liberian emigre--ran down the record. First of all, Reagan initially opposed the creation of a Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday, calling the civil rights leader a "trouble-maker." I personally did not know this. Another black co-worker, Greg, asked Abe how this made Reagan a racist. Abe told him it was "clear as day." This was not a satisfactory response for Greg. I sensed Abe missed the sincerity of Greg's interest, misinterpreting it as a dismissal, so I tried to explain why Abe had a strong argument, since Martin Luther King, Jr. has come to personify for most Americans the goals and achievements of the civil rights movement. For Ronald Reagan to dismiss this as "trouble-making" indicated to me that he either opposed the goals of the civil rights movement--making him a very special kind of racist--or he simply didn't understand their significance, being completely insulated from the black American experience his entire life. I still felt myself leaning towards the latter, wanting to give the newly corpsified president the benefit of the doubt before branding him a racist.

    I repeated my opinion of the former president not caring enough about black people to understand their history.

    "I don't know," Greg told me. "He sounds pretty racist."

    The second point Abe articulated in the case against Reagan related to his dealings with the very racist South African government in the 1980's, and its program of racial segregation--apartheid. I'm telling you these goddam Jim Lehrer tributes to Ronald Reagan can really fuck with your head: I had completely forgotten about apartheid. Anyway, if hating Martin Luther King, Jr., isn't enough, supporting a blatantly racist government and refusing to participate in its international embargo should tell you something about Ronald Reagan's opinion of colored people.

    So there you have it. Ronald Reagan, a very special racist. Who knew?

    A comprehensive analysis of Reagan's special brand of racism can be explored in this MSNBC article.
    Remembering Reagan (cont.)

    They had worked hard in junior and senior high school, harder than most, but none of that mattered now. President Reagan, explained the form letters from the Office of Financial Aid, had slashed the federal education budget. Which is why the same grim tableau of shattered hopes and dreams was playing itself out across the country. Colleges and universities were evicting their best and brightest, straight A students, stripping them of scholarships. Some transferred to less-expensive community colleges; others dropped into the low-wage workforce. Now, nearly a quarter century later, they are still less financially secure and less educated than they should have been. Our nation is poorer for having denied them their potential.

    - Ted Rall

    Tuesday, June 08, 2004

    Remembering Reagan

    Over the course of this week we'll be hearing a lot about Ronald Reagan, much of it false. A number of news sources have already proclaimed Mr. Reagan the most popular president of modern times. In fact, though Mr. Reagan was very popular in 1984 and 1985, he spent the latter part of his presidency under the shadow of the Iran-Contra scandal. Bill Clinton had a slightly higher average Gallup approval rating, and a much higher rating during his last two years in office.

    - Paul Krugman

    Sunday, June 06, 2004

    Ronald Reagan, Champion of the Poor, Dies at 93

    Wednesday, June 02, 2004

    The Prisoner Abuse "Not So Bad" Syndrome

    If you're like me, you work with people who don't mind a little prisoner molestation from time to time. After all, if knocking a few scrotums together prompts the testes to name names, then the cause of liberty is well-served. And even if the Red Cross estimate that 70-90% of the inmates were ordinary people picked up off the street, well, "All's fair in love and war," one colleague told me. "Didn't some feminist say that?" Scrota-knockery, here we come.

    "The American public needs to understand, we're talking about rape and murder here. We're not just talking about giving people a humiliating experience; we're talking about rape and murder and some very serious charges," said Sen. Lindsay Graham, the distinguished Republican from South Carolina, after viewing the pictures the rest of us are waiting to be leaked to the press...

    The other thing my peers like to ask is why American soldiers are held to a different standard than terrorists. After all, if the terrorists are "allowed" to run willy-nilly through the streets of Baghdad setting off road-side bombs, why can't we build nude pyramids and grab a fistful of gonads when it suits us? Well, because we're not fucking terrorists, dude! We're supposed to be held to a different standard. A non-raping standard, for instance. A non-murdering standard, imagine. A non-sodomizing standard, at least not when it's coming out of my goddam paycheck every week. The difference between terrorists and American soldiers is that we, as members of a democratic nation, are responsible for the behavior of our government. Not fair you say? You're goddam right it's not. Neither is pulling the slack of your co-workers when they want to bullshit about sports all afternoon. So what's more important? Honoring your own standards or competing for dominance by somebody else's?
    Runner-up CNN Graphic Warns of East Coast Terror Threat, God Waves American Flag Through Cosmos

    Humanitarian Interventions?

    Genuine humanitarian intervention would often be a good thing. And it is often quite easy. Right now there is much soul-searching and self-flagellation on the 10th anniversary of the Rwanda massacre, when the West would not intervene to stop it. For 100 days, people were killed at the rate of about 8000 a day. That happens be about the number of children who die every day in Southern Africa from easily treatable diseases. That's Rwanda-level killing every day, not for 100 days, but constantly. And it's far easier to stop than sending troops to Rwanda. All that's necessary is to spend pennies a day to bribe drug companies to produce the needed remedies, instead of doing what they are required to do by law: maximize profits by producing "life-style drugs" for the rich rather than life-saving drugs for the poor. That would suffice to stop ongoing Rwanda-style killing--again, not just for 100 days, and just among children in one region. Is anyone doing it? What does that tell us about the alleged humanitarian concerns over Rwanda? Or Darfur? Or... What it tells us, loud and clear, is that humanitarian concerns are wonderful as long as it's someone else's crimes and we do not have to do anything about them apart from striking heroic poses.

    - from Turning the Tide, the Noam Chomsky Weblog