Monday, June 27, 2005

Hmmmm....caught with hand in cookie jar again

Monkey Prez once again been caught in a howler. On June 7, he claimed during a press conference receiving Tony Blair at the White House that US aid to sub-Saharan Africa had risen 300% in the last four years. Welllll, as with many things connected to Monkey Prez these days, that's reaaaaalllllly not true. Aid has in actuality gone up from $2.34 billion to $3.39 billion over that time-an amount not quite at 50%-six times less than El Hijo Fortunato estimated. Furthermore, over half of that aid has come in the form of food. While this is not to heap scorn on the value of the aid, certainly the money might be better used in strengthening infrastructure and empowering folks in sub-Saharan Africa to care for themselves.

Again though, the US media declines to address the big stories of the day. I read the above story via My Yahoo!. However, it was only on clicking on "Top Stories" and then scrolling past about 20 other stories (also including articles about how Halliburton's no bid work in Iraq, according to one of its chief whistle-blowers, is probably the most egregious example of fraud in US business history (and that's saying something), about the difficult of retaining customers for American beef now that Mad Cow disease has been found in US cattle, and Donald Rumsfeld's admission that we could be in Iraq 12 more years (getting warmer now Rummy)). Meanwhile, on the front page, under the "Top Stories" link was a report on the Supreme Court's ruling on the Ten Commandments and a link to the confessions of the serial killer in Kansas who killed ten. Again, it would seem, with all due respect to the families of the victims of this serial killer and also to the significance of the separation of church and state, that the stories hidden behind the link are much more important to Americans' long term goals and purported values. Yahoo! obviously doesn't want to offend or inflame the populace either and then find themselves out of pocket from people who buy their Fantasy Sports and Greeting Cards and who don't like being kept in the dark.

Finally, to leave you with a couple of uplifting notes, Ted Rall's case for the usefulness of the Flag Burning Amendment and Maxine Waters ripping El Hijo Afortunado et al. a new one.

Sunday, June 26, 2005

some interesting reading.....

Lots of interesting reading I've done these last few days so I'll just outline some of the great things that I've read.

  • Fantastic article by Berkeley sociologist Arlie Hochschild which follows in the vein of Thomas Franks' What's the Matter with Kansas? which, coincidentally, I'm also currently reading. This article is also accessible over at Alternet and will be featured in the July issue of American Prospect. In the article, Hochschild notes how "Even many of those with a fragile grip on the American dream go along with taking bread from the poor and giving it to the rich." This is, she says, because many people "identify up", that is, identify with folks in a higher socio-economic bracket than themselves. They don't consider themselves financially unstable and, seeing folks winning the lottery or somehow advancing up the economic ladder, believe that is their fate too. Obviously, those who take big jumps up the economic ladder are rare, but that's not something people like to talk about. Anyway, it's in this way that class divisions are exacerbated and racial divisions exacerbated also. Hochschild cites mind-boggling information about how rich folks pay smaller and smaller percentages of taxes and yet again and again, lower-middle class folks identify with them and not with those people who they see as on the down and outs. Consequently they vote repeatedly for economic policies which further demarcate the lower-middle from the upper-middle class and further cut into the middle-class. This is truly a must read.

  • Another disturbing but crucial read is Global Issues reporting on current world military spending levels. As you might imagine, the US spends much much more than any other country, both in raw dollars (since it's the wealthiest of large-population countries) but also as a percentage of the country's budget. I won't say anymore because the numbers speak for themselves.

  • Thoughtful and well-written summary of a book coming out by another conservative very critical of Bush and the neo-cons. A West Point grad, Vietnam veteran, and former Bush Fellow at the American Academy in Berlin, Andrew Bacevich has written a book entitled The New American Militarism in which he details how the US has gone military mad over the last 30 years or so. He also reflects on the difference between the military build-up of the present and the intentions of by the "founding fathers". Well-reviewed book, at least according to Amazon.

  • More excellent work from Dahr Jamail, an independent journalist in Iraq in identifying US efforts to control opinion in the Middle East. This is just news you won't hear on MSNBC.

  • A bit off-topic but very interesting article on what Republicans might have learned via the Plumbers and general skullduggery that characterized the Watergate affair. Just what they learned via phone taps and how that information might have been used has not been widely considered. However, veteran reporter Robert Parry outlines how such information might have been used.

  • You think we're leaving Iraq? Maybe in some time the majority of troops will, but the US will have a presence there for quite some time, according to Riverbend in her must-read blog.

  • Not-the-9-o'clock news.

  • And finally, some levity. Unless you're a Dodger fan. Like me. Grrrrrr.

Go crazy kids!!

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

The Fabulous Lying Bill Clinton and more media compliance

Bill Clinton was on "The Late Show with David Letterman the other day and so one of the questions Dave asked Bubba was "Have you heard of the Downing Street Memo?" So Tubby, in full-on disassembling (hee hee) mode, replies, "What's that? I can't comment on that." Sounds to me like if you didn't know what it was, you wouldn't know not to comment on it. Ah Slick Willy, what can ya say about him. Just a duplicitous, war-crime committin', burger-lovin' ol' ex-Prez.

And then in the LA Times on that same day, one of the headlines on the front page was "Schiavo Was Beyond Saving, Autopsy Finds". OK, so far so good. However, here's the longer explanation in the sub-headline, immediately below: "A medical examiner says no treatment could have reversed the woman's persistent vegetative state in her final days, despite contrary claims." The responsibility for those contrary claims is unattributed. By allowing that "contrary claims" were made while not attributing these "contrary claims" to anyone, the Right gets off the hook again. he wild claims of conservative television and commentators, not to mention pols, about this private issue about which legislation already had managed, still cried foul over the supposed inhumanity of the courts and Michael Schiavo (who was actually very considerate, caring for her and managing her affaris and looking out for her even after they had divorced). Once again though, it's a case of running interference. Of course you couldnt' run interference if people were not so amenable to the interference and could see through these paper thin fronts, but I digress. Anyway.....once again, it's that crazy, crazy, crazy liberal media giving the "elitist" "liberals" in Washington a free pass. cough cough bullshit. The Neo-cons get all bent out of shape when their judicial nominees don't get an "up-and-down vote" (as though Constitution entitles them to that) or if Richard Durbin or Amnesty International call them over their treatment of prisoners in Gitmo or if their policies are questioned, but here, when it's confirmed that Terry Schiavo was not responsive to stimuli (as of course reputable medical professionals and many libs had been saying for a long time), claims to the contrary are not attributed to the nuts who were making such claims when the LA Times reports the news. Shame.

Friday, June 17, 2005

Edits like whaaaaat

OK, so it's two weeks after I promised I'd rectify my previous stabs at how US soldiers were slapped on the wrist for some attacks and murders of Iraqis. The verdict that seems the most egregious is the acquittal of Ilario Pantani for shooting two men who had fled by car from US troops in the wake of US troops finding some arms at their house. After being captured and flex-cuffed, US troops had searched their car and found no arms. The two suspects, Hamaady Kareem and Tahah Ahmead Hanjil, were then uncuffed so that they could look in the car for further arms. After finding nothing, Pantani stated that the two men had "pivoted their bodies toward each other sumultaneously, while still speaking in muffled Arabic", according to this LA Times article of May 27. This suggested to Pantani that the men were about to attack him. OK, so what language were they supposed to speak in? They're in fucking Iraq, so it shouldn't be the biggest surprise that they're not speaking English!! And simply because they lean toward each other and speak in muffled tones they're about to attack you? Turning toward one another without weapsons is prohibited? They need to be shot 60 times? These men were not armed and were outnumbered. And yet the US troops are the ones on edge. (Hmmm....sounds a lot like the claims of cops in big cities. "Yeah, the man turned toward us with what appeared to be a gun. Oh, sorry, we shot him 30 times and it was only a wrench. My bad. Sorry about your future. It was a mistake. I'll um, buy you some good wine and wish you the best. My bad.) Pantani's military defender, Lt. Col. Mark Winn wrote that "prosecutors had not proved their charges in a case that was undermined by contradictory testimony." However, Winn also wrote that Pantani "should receive administrative punishment for 'desecrating' the men's bodies." Also, it turns out that Pantani "had disciplined a sergeant who testified against him." However, this statement is stuck right in the middle of the stories, up against a picture of this motherfucker so that the words are one or two a line and some are broken up. Surely an explanation of this action might have been warranted in the paper. Of course, Winn's recommendations for punishment of the man were rejected by the judge in the case, Maj. Gen. Richard Huck, commander of the second Marine division. I just don't see how those men's actions might warrant 60 shots, or even one. They have no weapons, they are outnumbered, they simply pivot their bodies toward each other and say something in their native tongue. The world is fucked.

Thursday, June 02, 2005

Life getting in the way of blogging

Sorry about this. Nearly finished my MA and it's keepin' me kinda occupied right now. Have been reading lots of the accounts of the acquittals of US soldiers over mistreatment of detainees and regular public citizens in Iraq. Don't wanna paint with too broad a brush-I read some accounts that seemed reasonable, but the large majority seemed only too happy to tersely report that the allegations of the accuser couldn't be proven or were deemed lacking in credibility. The accounts I speak of were all from the LA Times in late May. One featured the acquittal of a guy who shot an Iraqi motorist after this guy had been pulled over and dispossessed of some weapons. AFTER they'd taken the weapons, this soldier claimed that the man was moving menacingly toward him. OK, so he doesn't have any more weapons, you've determined that. So why must you shoot him 40 times, even after he's known to be dead? Oh yeah, and then desecrated him in death by putting a sign over him saying Iraqis-Best Friends, Worst Enemies. Fucker. This from a guy who joined the military in the wake of the tragedy of Sept. 11. Um, fucker, you're fighting in the wrong country against people who did NOTHING to you. Yes yes kids, and there's lots more where that come from. So don't go anywhere, we'll be right back with Georgie's Shop of Invasion Horrors right after this!!!