Saturday, October 18, 2003
"All text is verbatim from senior Bush Administration officials and advisers. In places, tenses have been changed for clarity."
Thursday, October 16, 2003
On returning from a trip to Iraq and Afghanistan, a group of Senate Republicans said yesterday that the Bush administration deserves a lot more credit for successful reconstruction efforts in those war-torn nations.
The federal commission investigating the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks announced on Wednesday that it had issued its first subpoena, to the Federal Aviation Administration, after discovering that the agency had withheld a variety of tapes and documents that were "highly material to our inquiry."
The bipartisan commission also warned that it was considering subpoenas for material from other executive branch agencies and that the resulting delays could force it to extend its investigation beyond May, when it is supposed to complete its work.
The possibility of an extension is worrying to the Bush administration, since it could mean the public release of a potentially embarrassing report in the heat of next year's presidential campaign.
Another of the men named by the FBI as a hijacker in the suicide attacks on Washington and New York has turned up alive and well.
When Sally Baron's family wrote her obituary, they described a northern Wisconsin woman who raised six children and took care of her husband after he was crushed in a mining accident.
We're working on it, Sally. We're working on it.
USA Today reports that 11 US soldiers and 3 Marines have killed themselves in the past seven months in Iraq. The Navy also is investigating one possible suicide. And about a dozen other Army deaths are under investigation and could include suicides.
This is higher than the "usual" rate army suicides, around 13 per 100,000 soldiers.
Most of the suicides have occurred since May 1, when major combat operations were declared over.
The army has already sent 478 soldiers home from Iraq for mental-health reasons.
The Guardian reported in April that, according to the Department of Defense, there have been 107 suicides among veterans of the first Gulf war -- almost five times higher than the official number of deaths in combat.
Wednesday, October 15, 2003
eye on amsam
Big thanks to new Samizdat harbingers: Bruce Wilson of this great page on global warming and Metafilter where he is known as “Troutfishing”, Jeremy Wells of Betacorpo.net, Madeleine Kane of MadKane.com, Weird Pixie of Ollapodrida, Bruce of The River, Benedict Spinoza of Benedict@Large and HyperSpaceGirl!
Thank you all!
In addition to thanking all of the new harbingers by name I would also like to start thanking all of the new blogs which permalink American Samizdat (who I also add to our Friends list on the lower right hand side): TomNadeau.com, Que Bola, I.D. FLUX, Left I on the News, information virus, weblog without a name, likesunday, irritant, Betacorpo.net, We Don't Agree, But, DiVERSiONZ, Free-Market.Net, The Left End of the Dial and MadKane.com!
Thank you all!
And in addition to announcing both new Samizdat harbingers and Samizdat permalinkers on the Samizdat, I also plan to duplicate that announcement on Sensual Liberation Army and Dr. Menlo Blogs from Space!
(Next: I need to update the sidebar and the blogrolling list, which will soon also go onto Peep Show Stories--sorry for the delay. Also, if I inadvertently left anyone out of the list of people who permalinks the Samizdat, please drop me a line and let me know--drmenlo (at) well.com . . . and, of course, also please let me know if you know of anyone interested in being a harbinger for the Samizdat . . . )
Thank you to all of the harbingers for your continuing excellent work!
Barney Frank is without any question one of the most liberal members of Congress. He voted against authorizing the invasion of Iraq, for example. But given that the invasion did take place, here's what he has to say now about the request for $87 billion more for war: "The president is justifiably seeking funds to replace the weapons and ammunition consumed in the war in Iraq."
What does Frank think these replacement weapons and ammunition are going to be used for? Surely he knows that the answer is for future invasions of Syria, Iran, North Korea, Cuba, and more, or at the very least for threatening invasions of those countries in order to force them to bend to the will of the world's superpower. Is this the kind of foreign policy that Frank wants to become an "enabler" for? Apparently so. Because if Frank votes today for buying more cruise missiles to replace the ones used to create "shock and awe" in Baghdad, surely he knows that tomorrow they'll be aimed at Damascus, Tehran, and Pyongyang.
From Left I on the News
Recently on The Daily Show, Jon Stewart's guest Joe Scarborough was pushing the latest "the media doesn't report the 'good news' from Iraq" line. His big example - the latest Gallup poll of a thousand Iraqis (actually just Baghdad residents) claiming that 65% are happy the Americans are there. Well, that is good news. That only leaves 35% who are ready to shoot American soldiers if they get the chance!
The real story from Iraq is how the media does its best to lessen the impact of the bad news. Injuries in Iraq? Rarely, if ever, reported in any detail, or with any followup (see item just below). But even deaths are minimized. Yesterday three American soldiers died in Iraq in one day. In the San Jose Mercury News, though, the front page headline on the "Iraq story" reads "U.S. presses U.N. for help." Continued on page 11, there's a new headline, that still doesn't get it right - "2 U.S. soldiers die in attacks against U.S." Only be reading the entire article, and making it to paragraph 11, does the reader learn that actually a third soldier died as well, after stepping on a land mine. Evidently that falls in the same category as traffic accident or heart attack; it doesn't "count" as an "attack against the U.S." Why, I don't know. Was this land mine left there years before in some previous war? Or was it placed there the night before by Iraqi guerrillas who knew American soldiers would be coming that way? I wouldn't know (although the latter seems a lot more likely), but it seems that, for the American military and its scribe, the U.S. press, unless we know with absolute certainty that this was a deliberate attack, then we should assume it wasn't. Just an accident, folks, nothing to see here. Move right along. And in the meantime, the casual reader of the Mercury News thinks that only two American soldiers died yesterday, not three, and that things are going 50% better than they really are. The article also notes only two injured American troops, although other media reported eight injuries, just from the three incidents which also involved deaths. As has been noted before, injuries which occur in the absence of deaths are almost always completely unreported.
Do you think that if a policeman in your town were injured in an ambush, and lost a leg, that the story would go unreported? Do you think that if it happened every single day, that you would say "things were going well" in your town?
From Left I on the News
The person responsible for analyzing the Iraqi weapons threat for Colin Powell says the Secretary of State misinformed Americans during his speech at the U.N. last winter.
Greg Thielmann tells Correspondent Scott Pelley that at the time of Powell’s speech, Iraq didn’t pose an imminent threat to anyone – not even its own neighbors. “…I think my conclusion [about Powell’s speech] now is that it’s probably one of the low points in his long distinguished service to the nation,” says Thielmann. Pelley’s report will be broadcast on 60 Minutes II, Wednesday, Oct. 15, at 8 p.m. ET/PT.
The title quote is from Ann Coulter and was disgorged while she was being interviewed by Bill O'Reilly, who softballs the interview in a way that would put Terry Gross to shame. One could read the interview and say he's criticizing Coulter for being too over-the-top, but you'll notice he never contradicts any of her essential points.
The best pitchfork I've seen taken to her distended tome Treason can be found here, in an article by Michael Abernathy for PopMatters. Abernathy calmly dissects some of the more egregious lies and hypocritical utterances that waft from that book.
On the topic of confused pundits, be sure to listen to Le Show this week, especially Rush to Recovery.
Tuesday, October 14, 2003
The International Committee of the Red Cross said the Israeli military's actions have left more than 1,200 people homeless, many of whom fled with only the clothing they wore. On Tuesday, more people abandoned houses they feared would collapse because of cracks developing in their walls and foundations.
"We awoke to the sound of bulldozers in front of our house," said Jihad Moghir, 30, who was sleeping Tuesday under a green plastic sheet pitched over wreckage that was once his home. "The kids were terrified. We escaped through a window. What the Israeli forces did here was inhuman."
International human rights and aid organizations condemned Israel for the operation. "The repeated practice by the Israeli army of deliberate and wanton destruction of homes and civilian property . . . constitutes a war crime," Amnesty International said in a statement Tuesday.
"For Pete's sake, why should Israel care about America's problems?"
This next piece is from an Israeli blog, written by a journalist named Rechavia Berman. Berman talks about many of the same issues discussed in these pages, and being a native New Yorker, specializes in matters American. In his latest installment, after discussing the latest depressing news from Mesopotamia (the fake letters, the palm trees, the fiasco in waiting with the Turkish troops), he puts matters in perspective for his audience:
"But Rechavia, for Pete's sake, why should we care about America's problems?" I hear that from time to time, so I guess an explanation is due. Besides the whole strategic vacuum on our eastern front, that will ensue following the eventual American departure, there is a very simple reason for us Israelis to be worried about the American failure in Iraq.
When the war just began, the rationale, excuse and causus belli was that Saddam is dangerous, because he has WMD. After this was found to be false, the tune was changed and now the war was justified because Saddam was a terrible dictator who committed terrible crimes against his people. After this excuse stops convincing anyone, say after the US army gets dragged unwittingly into some massacre of ciivlians, or after it becomes totally clear that the administration doesn't give a good goddamn about democracy in Iraq - how long do you think it will take before the president or someone close to him, in an attempt to buy the Jewish vote, claims (falsely of course) that "We had to invade Iraq in order to defend Israel"? I give it nine months. And if you don't think that's bad for Jews everywhere, take a moment and think again.
ADVENTURES IN IMAGERY
Stunningly funny Batman/Plamegate cartoon by Tom Tomorrow. And a no prize for anyone who catches the Doc Menlo swipe against Instapundit's confusion about this complicated issue...
Ever since Tate Engstrand linked to the below article detailing the bulldozing of date palm groves by U.S. forces, I have been checking Fanboy Kilander's Hitchens shrine to see if the boozy old lout revisited his April 4 piece, "WE MUST SHUN WEAPONS THAT WILL SHAME US" in response. I guess those pressing engagements at the Wednesday Morning Club have thusfar prevented him from getting around to it.
From that piece:
When the dust eventually settles and the yells of the jihad demagogues die down a bit, it will be important to state with confidence that nothing was done which could shame the average volunteer soldier, even in the face of disgusting provocation. This will define a new sort of warfare, at once remorseless but discriminating, so it will be worth every effort to make and to enforce the crucial distinction.As any of the poor volunteer soldiers fighting Hitchens' Glorious War can tell you, the dust is far from settled. As the article linked to by Engstrand shows, savagery of the exercise in collective punishment caused one American soldier broke down and cried during the operation. He has our sympathy. Hitchens meanwhile has nothing but our complete revulsion.
Monday, October 13, 2003
Dubya, November 2002:
Dubya's "favorite philosopher," circa 30:
For other photo-op funniness, recall the display at Mt. Rushmore.
The actor-turned-politician made little mention of his plan to reduce state regulation of energy markets during the recall race, devoting his time instead to bashing Gov. Gray Davis for saddling the state with expensive long-term contracts for power.
Schwarzenegger's energy strategy is being driven by some of the same members of former Gov. Pete Wilson's team who led the push for energy deregulation in the mid-1990s. The governor-elect, for example, picked for his transition team Jessie Knight, a former Wilson appointee to the Public Utilities Commission and a leading proponent of deregulation.
Consumer groups already are warning that the proposals made by Schwarzenegger during the campaign would expose electricity users to greater fluctuations in prices while limiting state oversight of power trading -- a combination that could allow the type of market manipulation that plagued California during the state's energy crisis in 2000-01.
US soldiers driving bulldozers, with jazz blaring from loudspeakers, have uprooted ancient groves of date palms as well as orange and lemon trees in central Iraq as part of a new policy of collective punishment of farmers who do not give information about guerrillas attacking US troops.
Hearts and minds. Hearts and minds. Hearts and minds.
So now we have ordinary Iraqis comparing their situation to that of the Palestinians. Way to humiliate people and destroy their livelihoods, US Army. Maybe we could, I don't know, torch a few villages next. Or bulldoze a few homes.
More at Baghdad Burning
via Steve Gilliard
Alarmed by the number of suicides among soldiers in Iraq, the Army has asked a team of doctors to determine whether the stress of combat and long deployments is contributing to the deaths.