Weblog Archives




  Saturday   July 17   2004

why things are so wrong

A Note on Evil, Oil, Faith, and Political Strategy

The kernel of truth here is that whoever controls oil controls power, and it's best not to have that power in the hands of someone untrustworthy. One could even see the Iraq war, as the neocons do, as a prelude to a coming confrontation with China. The policies resulting from this mindset are scary, and have evil consequences. But it's not an evil borne of evil intent, but of unchallengeable faith. Indeed, that's the nut that our media can't seem to accept - the reason that the GOP leadership calls the media the ones losing the war, or the Democrats America-haters, is because they honestly believe it. It's not a political strategy. It's faith - and that's why Bush/Cheney reelect seems so out of touch. They can't understand how anyone could disagree with them without being unfathonably evil, nor can they understand how anyone could help them (or seem to help them a la Chalabi) without being one of the faithful.


 10:37 PM - link


Swimming Pools
Photographies from Roxanne Carreer

Angel's pool


 10:34 PM - link


A mother's final, best lesson: Part 9

In life, our bodies are inviolate by law, exposed only with our consent as when to a physician or a lover. In death, they become public property. Most frequently in the United States, preparation of a body for viewing and cremation or burial is done by strangers at a funeral home without family involvement. It is how our culture helps paper over the reality, the finality, of death.


This is part 9 of the excellent ongoing series by Ronni Bennet about her mother's death. She has links to the other eight parts. This is one of the best things I've read on the web. Don't miss it.

 10:27 PM - link


Tokyo alone
photographies by Frederik Froument


  thanks to consumptive.org

 10:19 PM - link

  Thursday   July 15   2004


It seems that some may want to postpone the election for President.

Exclusive: Election Day Worries

American counterterrorism officials, citing what they call "alarming" intelligence about a possible Qaeda strike inside the United States this fall, are reviewing a proposal that could allow for the postponement of the November presidential election in the event of such an attack, NEWSWEEK has learned.


  thanks to BookNotes

Before you get too excited, it might not be easy to do that...


My inbox is full of messages from people telling me I'm not nearly scared enough about the possibility of Bush ginning up an excuse to cancel elections in November. Well, maybe I'm not. But before you start seeing black helicopters circling your house, at least consider the mechanics of the whole thing:

Bottom line: short of a nuclear attack on Washington DC nothing is going to happen and elections will proceed as scheduled. Convinced?


Of course, you have to understand who we are dealing with. This Atlantic article may make you a little nervous...

The Armageddon Plan
During the Reagan era Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld were key players in a clandestine program designed to set aside the legal lines of succession and immediately install a new "President" in the event that a nuclear attack killed the country's leaders. The program helps explain the behavior of the Bush Administration on and after 9/11

There things stood until September 11, 2001, when Cheney and Rumsfeld suddenly began to act out parts of a script they had rehearsed years before. Operating from the underground shelter beneath the White House, called the Presidential Emergency Operations Center, Cheney told Bush to delay a planned flight back from Florida to Washington. At the Pentagon, Rumsfeld instructed a reluctant Wolfowitz to get out of town to the safety of one of the underground bunkers, which had been built to survive nuclear attack. Cheney also ordered House Speaker Dennis Hastert, other congressional leaders, and several Cabinet members (including Agriculture Secretary Ann Veneman and Interior Secretary Gale Norton) evacuated to one of these secure facilities away from the capital. Explaining these actions a few days later, Cheney vaguely told NBC's Tim Russert, "We did a lot of planning during the Cold War with respect to the possibility of a nuclear incident." He did not mention the Reagan Administration program or the secret drills in which he and Rumsfeld had regularly practiced running the country.

Their participation in the extra-constitutional continuity-of-government exercises, remarkable in its own right, also demonstrates a broad, underlying truth about these two men. For three decades, from the Ford Administration onward, even when they were out of the executive branch of government, they were never far away. They stayed in touch with defense, military, and intelligence officials, who regularly called upon them. They were, in a sense, a part of the permanent hidden national-security apparatus of the United States—inhabitants of a world in which Presidents come and go, but America keeps on fighting.


 12:20 PM - link

tour de france

I'm way behind on my Tour de France coverage, but not much has happened. Well, a lot has happened but the big boys haven't made their moves yet. In Stage 4, the Team Time Trial, Lance Armstrong's team, U.S. Postal Service, took the win and gave Lance the yellow jersey. It shows that Lance has the strongest team. He will need it. However, it is too early in the race to wear the team out defending the yellow jersey and Lance lost it in Stage 5. A break of non-threatening riders (non-threatening for the overall win) put Lance over 9 minutes down but all of the other big boys were behind Lance. They have run two mountain stages, Stage 10 and Stage 11. Lance is in 6th, 9:35 back. Those in front of him are not a threat. His threats are Tyler Hamilton (11th at 10:18 back), Jan Ullrich (17th at 10:30 back), and perhaps Roberto Heras (27th at 11:44 back.) The big boys are all within striking distance of each other. The real race has not yet begun. Two more mountain stages in the Pyrenees, a flat stage, and then the Alps.

 12:11 PM - link

torture, inc.

Abu Ghraib

Matt Stoller and Andrew Northrup point us at Ed Cone. Either Sy Hersh has gone completely insane, or the House needs to vote to impeach George W. Bush tonight:

EdCone.com:Seymour Hersh says the US government has videotapes of boys being sodomized at Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq.

"The worst is the soundtrack of the boys shrieking," the reporter told an ACLU convention last week. Hersh says there was "a massive amount of criminal wrongdoing that was covered up at the highest command out there, and higher."

(I transcribed some of his speech from this streaming site. Hersh starts at about 1:07:50.)

He called the prison scene "a series of massive crimes, criminal activity by the president and the vice president, by this administration anyway…war crimes."

The outrages have cost us the support of moderate Arabs, says Hersh. "They see us as a sexually perverse society."

Hersh describes a Pentagon in crisis... with large sums of cash missing, including something like $1 billion that was supposed to be in Iraq. "The disaffection inside the Pentagon is extremeley acute," Hersh says. He tells the story of an officer telling Rumsfeld how bad things are, and Rummy turning to a ranking general yes-man who reassured him that things are just fine. Says Hersh, "The Secretary of Defense is simply incapable of hearing what he doesn’t want to hear."


This is German-English translation of a German report on the child abuse at Abu Ghraib. It's disturbing. What have we become?

"The Fall [in the sense of the sin at the Garden of Eden]--Iraq"
Report concerning maltreated children in the torture-prison.

The Agonist has comments on this.

U.S. News obtains all classified annexes to the Taguba report on Abu Ghraib

The most comprehensive view yet of what went wrong at Iraq's Abu Ghraib prison, based on a review of all 106 classified annexes to the report of Major General Antonio Taguba, shows abuses were facilitated--and likely encouraged--by a chaotic and dangerous environment made worse by constant pressure from Washington to squeeze intelligence from detainees.


  thanks to Bad Attitudes

 11:41 AM - link




  thanks to Expose

 11:19 AM - link


Now that Iraq has it's sovereignty back, things must be going much better. Right?

Juan Cole has a nice overview of what Bush has wrought...

Arguing with Bush yet Again

As for democracy and liberating 50 million people, neither the people of Afghanistan nor that of Iraq have elected national governments by popular sovereignty. It is not entirely clear when they will be able to do so. For the moment, there hasn't been any introduction of anything like democracy. The US invaded each and installed a government of its choosing. That isn't democracy. In Iraq, Paul Bremer repeatedly blocked democratic municipal elections. That was a great lesson for the people in democracy, all right.

' The dictator in Iraq had the "capability of producing weapons of mass murder. And now, the dictator is a threat to nobody, and the American people are safer." '

Bush must think we are a nation of retards if he believes we will buy this language of Saddam having the "capability" to produce weapons of mass destruction. All countries have the "capability." The point is that Iraq had given up its WMD programs and destroyed the stockpiles. The US was not in any danger from Iraq, and so cannot be safer because it was invaded.

Worse, the American invasion of Iraq is a major recruitment poster for al-Qaeda. Al-Qaeda's message was that the Americans are coming to Muslim lands. 'They will invade your countries, expropriate your property, rape your women, and humiliate your men,' al-Qaeda screams. What does Bush do? He proves al-Qaeda right. More angry young Arab men are ready to fight the United States now than ever before. Bush is less popular than Bin Laden in most Muslim countries according to polls.

Not only has the Bush administration angered the Sunni Muslim world with its invasion and hamhanded occupation of Iraq, but it has managed to turn the Shiites against us too, by desecrating the holy cities of Najaf and Karbala this past spring.

The US is arguably much less safe because of the invasion of Iraq.


Fear Factor
An independent journalist in Iraq describes the ever-shifting safety rules—and coping mechanisms—of the Baghdad beat.
By Chris Allbritton

Yesterday, I was caught on the edge of a running street battle in downtown Baghdad, near the entrance to the Green Zone, while mortars fell on Iyad Allawi’s Iraqi National Accord’s offices. Traffic was at a standstill for hours as Iraqi and U.S. soldiers sealed off Haifa Street, where much of the fighting was raging. My driver’s car broke down when the fuel pump failed in the 120-degree heat. While troops locked down traffic, the sounds of bullets and missiles from Apache helicopters echoed up and down the street, mixed in with the cacophony of Baghdad’s largest traffic jam. I took refuge at the Foreign Ministry, home to the largest group of friendly guys with guns.

And yet, I wasn’t afraid. I was annoyed at my driver for not maintaining his vehicle. I was angry at the Iraqis for pointlessly honking in the heat and the traffic jam. But ultimately I was furious at the insurgents for making me miss an important appointment at the Mother of All Villages Mosque.


If Ramadi falls, 'province goes to hell'

Though battles in places such as Fallujah and Najaf have gotten far more attention, the Marine battalion in this provincial capital has encountered the most deadly combat fighting and logged the highest number of casualties of any U.S. battalion since the war in Iraq began.

In the past four months of fighting, the 2nd Battalion of the 4th Marine Regiment - nicknamed "The Magnificent Bastards" - has had 31 killed and 175 wounded, roughly 20% of its 1,000-man fighting strength.

Among the latest to die was Sgt. Kenneth Conde, 23, of Orlando. Conde had been wounded in fighting in April and recommended for a Silver Star. He was killed July 1. In an interview a few weeks before his death, Conde described the rebels Marines fight in Ramadi. "They were young just like me. Fighting for something different, something I don't understand, something they believe in," he said. "And that's the worst kind of enemy."


 11:14 AM - link


Photographs by Christine Welch

These images evolved from that first picture. During my sabbatical leave in 1994, I drove from Eastern Pennsylvania to Minneapolis and back, stopping in small towns and poking around in empty clubs, funeral homes, any kind of public space and making photographs, the one final subject of which is interiors used for some public or common purpose. The images describe the time between events. At the content level the pictures are sociological studies of culture and class as evidenced in artifact. Looking at them reminds me of peeking into the medicine chest while using an acquaintance's bathroom.

I think these sometimes modest, sometimes sterile, sometimes pretentious rooms are important. They are the places where we gather to share our common experiences. Ultimately, however, I photograph them because I like prowling around finding them, being in them, talking to the people who guard them... the subject acts as my boundary in an exploration of how camera and color materials can be used to describe fact. I am searching for ways to use the light, color and form to crystalize their beauty, poignancy, irony, wealth and humanity."


  thanks to Conscientious

Some more...

Photographs by Christine Welch

  thanks to Conscientious

 10:58 AM - link


Tomgram: Orville Schell on our failed press

When, on May 26, 2004, the editors of the New York Times published a mea culpa for the paper's one-sided reporting on weapons of mass destruction and the Iraq war, they admitted to "a number of instances of coverage that was not as rigorous as it should have been." They also commented that they had since come to "wish we had been more aggressive in re-examining claims" made by the Bush Administration. But we are still left to wonder why the Times, like many other major media outlets in this country, was so lacking in skepticism toward administration rationales for war? How could such a poorly thought through policy, based on spurious exile intelligence sources, have been so blithely accepted, even embraced, by so many members of the media? In short, what happened to the press's vaunted role, so carefully spelled out by the Founding Fathers, as a skeptical "watchdog" over government?

There's nothing like seeing a well-oiled machine clank to a halt to help you spot problems. Now that the Bush administration is in full defensive mode and angry leakers in the Pentagon, the CIA, and elsewhere in the Washington bureaucracy are slipping documents, secrets, and charges to reporters, our press looks more recognizably journalistic. But that shouldn't stop us from asking how an "independent" press in a "free" country could have been so paralyzed for so long. It not only failed to seriously investigate administration rationales for war, but little took into account the myriad voices in the on-line, alternative, and world press that sought to do so. It was certainly no secret that a number of our Western allies (and other countries), administrators of various NGOs, and figures like Mohamed ElBaradei, head of the International Atomic Energy Agency, and Hans Blix, head of the UN's Monitoring, Verification and Inspections Commission, had quite different pre-war views of the "Iraqi threat."

Few in our media, it seemed, remembered I. F. Stone's hortatory admonition, "If you want to know about governments, all you have to know is two words: Governments lie." Dissenting voices in the mainstream were largely buried on back pages, ignored on op-ed pages, or confined to the margins of the media, and so denied the kinds of "respectability" that a major media outlet can confer.


 10:47 AM - link


I need to hang out at BBC Radio more. They have some great music available for listening.

Artur Pizarro - The Beethoven Sonata Cycle

During 2003, renowned Portuguese pianist Artur Pizarro performed an epic 8-concert cycle of all 32 Beethoven Sonatas at St John's, Smith Square, London. BBC Radio 3 has now made these available to listen to online, accompanied by comprehensive programme notes.


 10:41 AM - link



Courtesy of Kieran Healy, the chart on the right shows relative spending on healthcare among a bunch of advanced capitalist economies. Basically it shows that the United States has (a) much less public involvement in healthcare than the other countries and (b) much higher healthcare costs.

My contribution to this debate is the big red arrow pointing to the United States, just in case you miss it way up there in the corner. Note that the chart doesn't really demonstrate any special trend, but it does show that conservatives who insist that national healthcare systems are nothing more than vast boondoggles that inevitably produce huge amounts of waste and higher costs just aren't looking at the evidence. As near as I can tell, France has a better healthcare system than the United States on practically every measure, and does it at half the cost.


 10:37 AM - link

zoe says hi

As I blog away this morning, Zoe is trying to get some sleep. She says hi. And she said to say hi from Olivia and Zak, our cats. Now that I am living with cats I will need to get some pictures up of our perfect cats. Be afraid.

 10:30 AM - link


Photographer: Alesh Houdek


  thanks to Conscientious

 10:25 AM - link

  Wednesday   July 14   2004

i'm alive

Just a note to let you know that I'm alive. As the webcast was winding down on Sunday I started to get a very bad headache and the left side of my mouth started to hurt. A trip to the dentist on Tuesday confirmed an infected tooth. Thanks to the antibiotics, I'm now out of the pain and Vicodin haze. I just know put my computer back together after bringing it home from the webcast Sunday. That's how bad it's been. Only 571 email waiting for me. 12 weren't spam.

 05:13 PM - link

  Sunday   July 11   2004

the show goes on and on and on and

I'm back at the main stage of the Langley Festival of the Arts for another day of webcasting some great music. Click on in to TestingTesting and catch a stream. We will be sending out the music and the comments of David Ossman (see below) and Judith Wallcut as they do a show for KSER. Good music.

 10:45 AM - link