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Saturday, March 25, 2006

Reach Out And Punch Someone

Much was made this week of Bush's various "Mission (Still In The Process Of Being) Accomplished" photo-ops. First a theoretically unscripted Cleveland event in which he retreated to the usual boilerplate whenever he got caught flat-footed by a question -- which was pretty much every question. Then the press conference where he tried to rope-a-dope Helen Thomas, in order to show off to his base, and merely came off as being rude and interruptive to an old lady who had asked some pretty relevant questions.

Then it was back to the pre-screened "town hall" type of git-together, this one in West Virginia. The media dutifully relayed this as a chat with "military families", but the fact of the matter is that they were military families who support Bush. Because the media has been lackadaisical and shamelessly irresponsible, this is widely assumed to be a difference without a distinction.

And judging from the most-overplayed "question" from the Wheeling stop, one can only speculate as to the criteria used to select the troglodytes that would be allowed to lob softballs at Bush.

Q Mr. President, I have a son that's special forces in Iraq. And I have another son -- (applause.) I have another son that's in the Army. He left college to join the Army. He's out in Hawaii. He's got the good duty right now. (Laughter.) But I thank God that you're our Commander-in-Chief. And I wouldn't want my boys -- (applause.)

THE PRESIDENT: Okay, thanks.

Q Again, I thank God you're our Commander-in-Chief. You're a man for our times. And I'm supporter of yours. And I think it's good that you come out and tell your story. And I think you need to keep doing more of it, and tell the story and the history of all this. And God bless you. And I thank you for your service.


Nicely done. Great question. You spend all day working on that one? This bullshit makes me want to puke, the way this gets floated objectively, as if it were legitimate. It is not legitimate. It is merely the ramblings of one fool. And it is foolish, make no mistake. It does not take a genius to figure out where things would stand if we'd left well enough alone, if we'd continued to keep Saddam in his box, ragged though that box was. The people who still support this clusterfuck whine that where we're at now, while "not perfect", is simply the least awful of possibilities. Obviously, that's not true -- keeping Saddam in the box was that least awful of temporary solutions.

Again and again, Bush tiresomely insists that he inherited this situation, that Clinton thought there was a threat, that the Europeans thought there was a threat. And he's right; they did think that. Lots of people who opposed invasion thought so too. This is a distinction completely lost on Bush and his remaining supporters. We had options before we went in; now we don't. We're stuck, and we're fucked, and this thing is going to end up costing over a trillion dollars by the time it's done. We were promised -- insultingly so -- that this would be easy, and it would pay for itself in no time. And the few naysayers in the administration that dared to talk about facts instead of neocon fantasies were shown the door unceremoniously.

So when this dumb asshole stands up and makes a spectacle of himself and how he thanks his god for Bush having the opportunity to fuck up the world, I want to pimp-slap him upside his fool head. I want to smack the media morons who give idiots like that a soapbox on which to publicly drool a series of useless non-sequiturs.

And I have a special loathing for the DLC appeasers who want to reach out to people like that, to waste valuable time and effort genuflecting to people who do not function from logic or reason or facts, who aren't going to convert anyway, not as long as they're in the mental fog they're in. I don't know how much simpler I can put this -- any opposition efforts involving people like the above questioner, should be about either ignoring them or helping them to come to their senses. There is absolutely no reason to meet that person halfway.

Someone also needs to tell that halfwit questioner -- and Bush himself -- that Bush is commander-in-chief of the armed forces. He holds no such stature over the American citizenry at large. I resent this "commander-in-chief" "educator-in-chief" jokey-joke shorthand. This is not a garrison state, nor a military junta. Not yet. Like the "military families" trope, that too is a difference that actually does have a distinction, contrary to muddled popular belief.

Here's the thing: if Bush wants to communicate with as many "military families" as possible, he'd come to California, which has actually sustained more casualties than any other state, even West Virginia. Of course, despite the fact that 1 in every 9 Americans lives in California, Bush never sets foot anywhere outside Camp Pendleton, because he knows we can't fucking stand him. You'd think he'd take note of the sheer numbers there and find a clue, but then again, we are dealing with a singularly fourth-rate intellect. I don't mean that as mere snark, I truly believe that he has consistently and repeatedly demonstrated that he is utterly incapable of extemporaneous thought, of any but the most simple acts of processing information. There's always been someone around to wipe his ass for him, throughout his entire life, and he has some weird pathology that still allows him to think he's achieved everything in life on his own, because he's just such a great and intelligent leader. Take a look at the vile creature that passes for W's mother, a person who earmarks her "charitable" contributions for her own son's company. That must have been some childhood.

At any rate, you want to talk "military families", recall that Cindy Sheehan, whatever one's opinion of her, is a military mom. The Tillmans are a military family, who had two sons serving in Special Forces in Afghanistan. Neither was stationed in freakin' Hawaii, so I'll be goddamned if I can understand why, in the apparent pecking order of considered opinion that military service putatively confers, Mary Tillman's carefully considered and registered opinion far outweighs the plaintive bleats of Mr. "No question, Yer Highness, I just wanna thank Jeebus for your continued fuck-ups."

Now, let's contrast some of His Majesty's boilerplate with the reality provided by His own government rather than the eeeevil librul media:

The second part of a lesson that we must never forget is the enemy, in that they're not a nation state -- in other words, they don't represent a nation state like armies and navies used to do -- need safe haven. They need places to hide so they can plan and plot. And they found safe haven, as you all know, in Afghanistan. And they were supported by a government that supports their point of view, which is a government that absolutely can't stand freedom. That was the Taliban. If you were a young girl growing up under the auspices of the Taliban, you didn't have a chance to succeed. You couldn't go to school. If you dissented in the public square, you'd be in trouble. If you didn't agree with their dark vision, whether it be religion or politics, you were in trouble. In other words, they can't -- they couldn't stand this concept of a free society -- and neither can al Qaeda. See, we're dealing with ideologues. They have an ideology.


State Dept. Report on Human Rights Practices 2005: Afghanistan

Afghanistan's human rights record remained poor due to weak central institutions, a deadly insurgency, and the country's ongoing recovery from two decades of war. While the government struggled to expand its authority over provincial centers, a few areas remained under the control of regional commanders. There continued to be instances in which security and factional forces committed extrajudicial killings and torture. Extensive reporting of human rights abuses led to increased action against abusers. The following human rights problems were reported:

extrajudicial killings
torture
poor prison conditions
official impunity
prolonged pretrial detention
abuse of authority by regional commanders
restrictions on freedoms of press, religion, movement, and association
violence and societal discrimination against women and minorities
trafficking in persons
abuse of worker rights
child labor


Terrorist attacks, armed insurgency, and violence continued during the year. Taliban and other antigovernment forces threatened, robbed, attacked, and occasionally killed local villagers, political opponents, and nongovernmental organization (NGO) workers. Increased Taliban, al-Qa'ida, and other antigovernment activity, particularly in the south and southeast, compounded security challenges faced by the government. UN agencies and NGOs temporarily cancelled or curtailed their activities at various times during the year.


Success!

There were reports of politically motivated or extrajudicial killings by the government or its agents. For example,in the spring, Kabul's police chief allegedly tortured and killed a civilian, but it was unknown whether there was an investigation.In December police beat and killeda detainee at the Kabul police station. The lack of an effective police force, poor infrastructure and communications, instability, and insecurity hampered investigations of unlawful killings, bombings, or civilian deaths, and there were no reliable estimates of the numbers involved.

There were no updates to the January 2004 hanging of four alleged bandits in Farah, the March and April 2004 killings of four detainees in Herat, or the August 2004 investigation of the 17 bodies found at the Shindand market place.

The United Nations Mine Action Center for Afghanistan (UNMACA) reported that landmines killed 132 and wounded 647 persons in the first 11 months of the year (see section 1.g.).

Terrorists and insurgents, including Taliban, al-Qa'ida, and Hizb-e-Islami Gulbuddin, killed numerous civilians during their attacks. There were reports that the Taliban and its allies summarily executed NGO workers and other persons. Attacks on international organizations, international aid workers and their local counterparts, and foreign interests and nationals increased significantly during the yearand prompted some organizations to leave (see sections 1.g. and 4).


This all just basically reiterates what everyone already knows, that Karzai is little more than the mayor of Kabul, that the Islamic extremists we went over there to take care of have been hiding out in the weeds, quietly gaining strength, causing mayhem across the countryside. We probably could have prevented that, had we not gotten distracted from what we were supposed to be doing there.


c. Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman, or Degrading Treatment or Punishment


The law prohibits such practices; however, there were reports of abuses. For example, credible observers reported that local authorities in Herat, Helmand, and other locations routinely tortured and abused detainees. Torture and abuse consisted of pulling out fingernails and toenails, burning with hot oil, sexual humiliation and sodomy.


In Kabul, prisoner Abdul Rahman alleged that local authorities beat him with rubber hoses and wood batons during his four-month-detention.


According to the UN, police in the northern district of Faryab reported that a commander and former district governor severely beat a group of teachers and detained them in his private jail during the year.


NGOs reported that security forces used excessive force during their fight against Taliban and al-Qa'ida remnants, including looting, beating, and torturing civilians. Violence and instability hampered relief and reconstruction efforts in different parts of the country and led to numerous human rights abuses.


On September 23, Human Rights Watch (HRW) reported that security forces arbitrarily detained civilians and committed cruel, inhumane, and degrading acts. This claim was based on reports HRW received from family members of detained civilians and interviews conducted with released detainees.


In March Harper's Magazine reported that in May 2004 a 21-year-old citizen was taken to jail in Gardez, masked with a bag, and had his hands tied. Authorities poured cold water over him and punched and beat him with sticks. The man claimed that he was threatened with an attack by dogs, subsequently bitten and scratched by dogs, and denied food. The man alleged that he was held for seven or eight nights in Gardez before being taken to another facility and tortured nightly for at least eight days, before being transferred to another facility.


You get the idea. Suffice to say that Dear Leader's talking points have all the structural integrity of Swiss cheese. It is not by any means a matter of girls freely attending school and women throwing off the burqa; in fact, it is rapidly returning to its conditions under the Taliban. Good luck convincing the Kool-Aid Brigade of that, though.


Report on Human Rights Practices: Iraq

The following human rights problems were reported:

pervasive climate of violence
misappropriation of official authority by sectarian, criminal, terrorist, and insurgent groups
arbitrary deprivation of life
disappearances
torture and other cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment or punishment
impunity
poor conditions in pretrial detention facilities
arbitrary arrest and detention
denial of fair public trial
an immature judicial system lacking capacity
limitations on freedoms of speech, press, assembly, and association due to terrorist and militia violence
restrictions on religious freedom
large numbers of internally displaced persons (IDPs)
lack of transparency and widespread corruption at all levels of government
constraints on nongovernmental organizations (NGOs)
discrimination against women, ethnic, and religious minorities
limited exercise of labor rights

The law provided a structure for advances, and despite the violence the government set and adhered to a legal and electoral course based on respect for political rights. This agenda included most importantly the right of citizens to change peacefully their government through nationwide, free, and fair elections. The elevation of the state minister position on women's affairs to a full Ministry of Women's Affairs and the steady growth of NGOs and other associations reflected notable government and civic interest in human rights issues, especially those that were separable from internal security concerns.

Civic life and the social fabric remained under intense strain from the widespread violence, principally inflicted by insurgency and terrorist attacks. Additionally, the misappropriation of official authority by groups—paramilitary, sectarian, criminal, terrorist, and insurgent--resulted in numerous and severe crimes and abuses.


Pretty much what the awful, lying media has been selectively reporting, yes?

a. Arbitrary or Unlawful Deprivation of Life

A climate of extreme violence in which people were killed for political and other reasons continued. Reports increased of killings by the government or its agents that may have been politically motivated. Additionally, common criminals, insurgents, and terrorists undermined public confidence in the security apparatus by sometimes masking their identity in police and army uniforms (see section 1.g.).

Members of sectarian militias dominated police units to varying degrees and in different parts of the country. Two Shi'a groups, the Badr Organization (Al-Badr Mujahideen, formerly the Badr Corps), and the Army of the Mahdi (Jaish al-Mahdi), were active within the Ministry of the Interior's (MOI) security forces, principally the police. The politically powerful Supreme Council of the Islamic Revolution in Iraq (SCIRI) created the Badr Corps as its armed wing in the 1980s in Iran, while the cleric Muqtada al-Sadr created the Mahdi Army in Baghdad's Shi'a poor areas after the fall of the former regime. Kurdish authorities retained regional control over police forces and internal security, which effectively empowered the two militias of Kurdish political parties to continue to provide police and security forces in Kurdistan. Police officers, who also were militia members, abused their official powers to pursue personal and party agendas (see section 1.d.). Many of the extralegal killings appeared based on sectarian animus, although some were reportedly for profit.

During the year there were a number of deaths either at police hands or at the hands of militia members and criminals wearing police uniforms. For example, on May 5, the bodies of 16 Sunni farmers from Mada'in, detained by men wearing police uniforms, were found in a mass grave near Sadr City, an impoverished Shi'a neighborhood of Baghdad. They had been fatally shot in the head, and the corpses showed signs of torture. MOI officials promised an investigation into the killings, but no results were available at year's end.

On May 15, eyewitnesses said armed men in police uniforms took Sunni Council of Scholars (Ulema) member Sheikh Hassan al-Naimi from his Baghdad home. Several days later his body was found with a gunshot wound to the head and signs of torture with an electric drill. The MOI promised to conduct an investigation, but no results had been released by year's end.

On July 12, nine Sunni men suffocated after police locked them for several hours in a vehicle with no air-conditioning. Officials denied intentional wrongdoing, claiming lack of training in operation of the vehicle. No one was punished for this incident.

On August 24, during the early morning hours, men in commando uniforms driving police vehicles took 36 Sunnis from their homes in Baghdad's Al-Huriya neighborhood. The bodies of the men were found the following day near the Iranian border. MOI officials promised an investigation of the incident, but no results had been released at year's end.

There was no new information regarding the MOI investigation into the case of officers in the Basrah Police Internal Affairs Unit who were involved in the December 2004 killings of 10 members of the Ba'th Party and the killings of a mother and daughter accused of engaging in prostitution. Similarly, there was no new information regarding the October 2004 arrest, interrogation, and killing of 12 kidnappers of 3 police officers.

Insurgents and terrorists killed thousands of citizens (see section 1.g.). Using intimidation and violence, they kidnapped and killed government officials and workers, common citizens, party activists participating in the electoral process, civil society activists, members of security forces, and members of the armed forces, as well as foreigners.

Insurgent and terrorist groups also bombed government facilities, mosques, public gathering spots, and businesses resulting in massive losses of life and grave injuries. There were no indications of government involvement in these acts.

Until its fall in 2003, the former regime murdered, tortured, and caused the disappearance of many thousands of persons suspected of or related to persons suspected of opposition politics, economic crimes, military desertion, and a variety of other activities. The 2003 and 2004 discovery of mass graves (defined as unmarked sites containing at least six bodies) provided evidence of the vast dimension of these practices. During the year the location of nine additional mass graves was confirmed, including in Karbala, Nasariyah, and a mass graves complex south of Samawah. The total number of confirmed sites at year's end was 286, and investigators continued to review evidence on additional mass graves.


That's only part of that section, mind you. Here's some other noteworthy items, many of which have not been addressed in detail by the media.

c. Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman, or Degrading Treatment or Punishment

The TAL expressly prohibits torture in all its forms under all circumstances, as well as cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment. However, security forces employed such practices. Insurgents and terrorists frequently committed torture and other abuses (see section 1.g.).

The vast majority of human rights abuses reportedly carried out by government agents were attributed to the police. Militias, including members of the Badr Organization and the Mahdi Army, penetrated some police units. The minister of interior was an official in SCIRI, the sponsor of the Badr Organization; the governor of Baghdad was a SCIRI member and a leader in the Badr Organization, as were five other provincial governors selected by their respective Governorate Councils under CPA Order 71. On June 7, President Jalal Talabani praised the Kurdish and Badr militias, calling them necessary to sweep away the remnants of the dictatorship and defeat terrorism. Police officers, some of whom were members of militias, abused official powers and resources, including police vehicles, to pursue personal, criminal, and party agendas (see section 1.g.). Criminals impersonating police officers also carried out illegal acts including kidnapping (see sections 1.a, 1.c., and 1.g.).

According to a January Human Rights Watch (HRW) report, police torture and ill treatment of detainees was commonplace. In interviews with 90 prisoners, 72 asserted that they had been tortured or mistreated. The reported abuses included beatings with cables and hosepipes, electric shocks to earlobes and genitals, food and water deprivation, and overcrowding in standing-room-only cells.

On February 6, Baktiar Amin, the former minister of human rights, noted to then prime minister Allawi that detention centers under the MOI's control were a "theater of violations of human rights." In addition to poor living conditions and arrests and detentions carried out without judicial orders, the minister stated that the MOI systematically tortured and abused detainees. Specific violations were attributed to personnel of the Major Crimes Unit, the Intelligence Directorate, and local police.


The thing that really gets me, and should get everyone (especially the families of the service personnel) is that it is becoming more and more clear that our efforts at reconstructing and rehabilitating Iraq are ultimately going to end in further institutionalized carnage. Period. It does not matter whether we stay for another decade, or leave tomorrow. These people will continue to nurse their grudges, and resolve them whenever and wherever they can. And just as they did under Saddam, the majority of these grudges will be settled under color of authority. It's that simple.

And these are the people we're recruiting and training, but because it was more important to look like we were doing something than to actually accomplish anything useful, the Iraqi police and armed forces have an awful lot of internal problems that will sorted out eventually, violently.

The reason all this should weigh especially on the minds of these families, as they fawn and preen over the mess Dear Leader has made, is because it is they and their families who truly have made significant sacrifices, and they are not going to see the payoff that Bush keeps selling them. Iraq is a failure, unless you're Iran, in which case it couldn't have gone better.

And I just don't see the utility anymore in continuing to lend credence to these mildly-retarded analyses from people whose main qualifications seem to be their religious beliefs. I don't see the point in the opposition party trying to me-too its way into this heavily-loaded "debate" on "national security", fraught as it is with unserious genuflections to moronic and unrealistic assessments of the current conditions. Catering to this crowd will do nothing except inspire scorn and contempt among that target demo, who were never up for grabs in the first place, and de-motivate the opposition's base.

Stop listening to Bullwinkle. Grow a pair. Find your principles and stick to them. Remember that if you build it, they will come, that the 50 million people who didn't bother to vote last time are a much better potential market than the mouth-breathers whose faith in their wampeter is unshakable.

To paraphrase a second-season Sopranos one-liner, treat your target demo like you'd treat a girl you want to fuck. Yeah, you meet her halfway in a sense, by watching her movie instead of yours, or letting her pick the restaurant. But when it's time to close the deal, what do you do, at least subconsciously? Through confidence, body language, and even voice and grooming, you convince her that out of all the billions of men out there, you are the one that knows what she wants, how to make her crazy, how to freak her abso-fuckin-lutely solid.

It's just crazy. The Democrats waste all this time, chasing their tails, trying to figure out how to speak the lingo of pro-life activists and southern reconstructionists. Fuck 'em already. Let them keep voting against their self-interest; let the people of West Virginia in their noble red-staterism continue to vote for the gutting of mining safety regulations. It's a much easier -- and infinitely more constructive -- task to set about convincing non-voters to get off their lazy asses and vote already.

Because here's the deal, Democrats -- politically speaking, this past year has been nothing short of a perfect storm for you. An unpopular preznit whose administration has been revealed as both corrupt and incompetent; the party in power up to its eyeballs in lobbying scandals and influence-peddling; the domestic agenda clearly written by the crazy aunts in the attic; the gleeful evisceration of individual rights. If you can't make hay out of all this and shred the Republicans this November, then why the fuck should any of us bother with you anymore?

3 comments:

JasonSpalding said...

You complain about Bush and the war in Iraq maybe you have complained about Halliburton too. The simple fact is that while you complain you continue to use the energy provided by our soldiers and the superiors. So in a sense your needs have cost peoples lives! How about you turned off your need for electricity? Since 81.2% of energy here is provided by the use of oil and its derivatives. While you are at it stop with all of those niceties and then maybe you would have a better argument. As long as you support the evils that you see how can you have the righteous indignation that you do? I wonder if the War fought in Bosnia was done so that we could test our countries weapons. But that couldn’t be true because that would mean that Clinton did what was needed by our military. Maybe the cruise missiles that he sent into Afghanistan and Iraq had the same purpose. Could it be that our country continues to that which needs to be done for us? Bush Clinton Gore Cheney they are all the same. They do what their boss tells them to do. You want electricity for your blog they get it for you. It kind of like the line in a few good men “I have neither the time nor the inclination to explain myself to a man who rises and sleeps under the blanket of the very freedom that I provide and then questions the manner in which I provide it. I would rather you just said "thank you" and went on your way. Otherwise I suggest you pick up a weapon and stand at post. Either way, I don't give a damn what you think you are entitled to.”

Heywood J. said...

I've complained about Halliburton in the context of them being caught ripping off the government (that's us taxpayers, Chief) three times now, on their no-bid contract.

So it appears by the tone of your argument that you agree with the (supposedly discredited) notion that we are in Iraq to secure our access to oil. [NB: nowhere in this post did I even mention oil. But whatever.] Very well, then. A corollary to that would be to assert that had we not invaded Iraq, we would be facing an imminent oil shortage.

But the fact is, we still are facing an imminent oil shortage, due to our refusal to even conserve, and China's heavily ramped-up volume of consumption. So "in a sense" everyone's needs have cost peoples' lives. The difference is, I'm not driving a goddamned Hummer to the post office like it just doesn't matter, and I resent the idiotic imputation that I should just shut my power off to "do my part", while everyone else does exactly what the hell they feel like doing.

The fact of the matter is that by the time we finally leave Iraq, we will have likely spent upward of $1 trillion, and barring a miraculous political turnaround there, we will have nothing to show for it -- worse than nothing, since we are now exposed and militarily and financially weakened, and North Korea and Iran have either acquired nuclear weapons capability, or are about to.

So here's a few questions for you to consider, when you're not warming to the arrogant cryptofascism of A Few Good Men:

1. How far do you suppose $1 trillion would have gotten us toward a realistic goal of energy independence, so we don't have to do what we're doing anymore?

2. Do you think that an administration -- regardless of party -- should be able to start a war under false pretenses and prosecute it ineptly, without any accountability at all?

3. Does it make more sense to acknowledge what isn't working and come up with a better plan, than to continue to pretend that it is working, in the face of all practical reality?

Considering that you completely missed the point of this post in the first place, and extrapolated your own assumptions and assertions, I have little hope that you'll get past your prefab talking points and address the larger geopolitical realities, and Bush's (and the Democrats') sheer ineptitude at confronting them. But one never knows.

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