Over time the blogs in my blogroll change. Some blog authors loose interest and wander off leaving nothing but old entries, other blogs shut down entirely, while others continue on but move to new locations. Yesterday Craig, one of the first blogs I read regularly, let me know that he had moved and was not shut down. He had actually moved some time ago but links to the old address were being redirected until about a week ago when it appeared Booknotes was gone. Fortunately that's not the case. That prompted me to update the blogroll. Dead blogs are gone, moved blogs are found, and I've started putting in links that I regularly visit but haven't been in the blogroll.
The American Street
The Blogging of the President
The Dreyfuss Report
The Left Coaster
War and Piece
Shirin (and HC) on Falluja
by Helena Cobban
According to the reports I am hearing the Americans are aerial bombing Falluja during the night and attacking from the ground during the day, meaning this "charmless town" of 300,000 souls is under virtual 24 hour a day attack. I also heard today that, just as they did last spring, they are not allowing Iraqis to leave the city, thereby imprisoning them - men, women, children, infants, elderly - in a death trap they, the Americans, have created. Families who attempt to leave the city are, as they were last spring, turned back at check points, or attacked from the air or the ground as they attempt to escape the bombardment of their city.
As I said yesterday, Falluja has never been the "hotbed of Ba`thists and Saddam supporters" the propagandists would have us believe - far from it, in fact. In truth, the so-called "privileged Sunni triangle", and the "Shi'ite south" and the "Kurdish north" and everything that flows from that myth is ignorant nonsense (including the manufactured spectre of sectarian/ethnic civil war), but that's another discussion for another time...
Iraq's Barbed Realities
A Reporter Reflects on How the U.S. Got Caught in a Trap of Its Own Making
In a city where residents often began conversations with diatribes against the presence of U.S. troops in Iraq, Hassnawi was a refreshing exception. Although he appeared to come from central casting, with his prominent nose, weathered face and checkered headscarf, he talked for much of the afternoon -- over Dunhill cigarettes and takeout from Haji Hussein -- about how Fallujah could be saved with the help of the U.S. military. The Americans, he said, needed to find a way to employ the legions of former soldiers and other disaffected young men milling about the city. Unlike Shiites in the south, who had grown accustomed to unemployment and poverty, Sunnis in Fallujah had thrived on government contracts, smuggling and graft. Postwar joblessness was a new, embarrassing -- and dangerous -- phenomenon. "Either you put them to work," Hassnawi said, "or they will turn to the resistance."
Late last month, as I was packing my possessions and preparing to return to Washington after 18 months as The Post's bureau chief in Baghdad, Naseer came to my hotel room and tried to call Hassnawi so that I could say goodbye. As Naseer kept redialing, it became clear how much my life as a journalist in Iraq had changed over those months, and how much things had changed for Iraqis. The telephone had become the only way for me to contact Hassnawi, who was holed up at home, too afraid to venture out. Like Hassnawi, I too had become a prisoner in my home -- the inhospitable Ishtar Sheraton Hotel -- unable to roam a country I had grown to love, forced to call people I once used to visit.
thanks to Cursor
Here are two reports from another reporter in Iraq.
October 18, 2004
My Friend, the Kidnap Victim
My friend, John Martinkus, was the one kidnapped Saturday and held for 24 hours. He was very lucky to be freed. I had to be circumspect yesterday because of security concerns, but John is now out of the country and the embargo has been lifted. Here's the story as he related it to us:
October 19, 2004
AMMAN -- Well, as you can see from the dateline, I'm out of Baghdad. I evacuated after we learned of further threats against journalists. And just this afternoon, upon landing at Queen Alia International Airport, I learned that Margaret Hassan, the top CARE official in Iraq, has been kidnapped. She was taken while driving to work.
Iraqi forces may need five years, report says
The US-led coalition may need to spend another five years in Iraq before the country's own security forces are able to take over and guarantee security, a London thinktank said today.
And even then, success in Iraq is not a foregone conclusion, the International Institute for Strategic Studies said in its annual report.
Bad leaders, reluctant troops
Bad outfits – military or civilian – are all about bad leadership: the top being out of touch with the bottom, not setting the example or leading from the front. It’s a major reason why we lost the Vietnam War, why we’re in such a mess in Iraq, and why most of our senior Army leadership stinks – and, incidentally, why so many of our country’s corporations are going down the drain.
Robertson: I Warned Bush on Iraq casualties
President's response: 'We're not going to have any'
Jerry Burchfield: Primal Images
thanks to wood s lot
Killing children is no longer a big deal
By Gideon Levy
More than 30 Palestinian children were killed in the first two weeks of Operation Days of Penitence in the Gaza Strip. It's no wonder that many people term such wholesale killing of children "terror." Whereas in the overall count of all the victims of the intifada the ratio is three Palestinians killed for every Israeli killed, when it comes to children the ratio is 5:1. According to B'Tselem, the human rights organization, even before the current operation in Gaza, 557 Palestinian minors (below the age of 18) were killed, compared to 110 Israeli minors.
Palestinian human rights groups speak of even higher numbers: 598 Palestinian children killed (up to age 17), according to the Palestinian Human Rights Monitoring Group, and 828 killed (up to age 18) according to the Red Crescent. Take note of the ages, too. According to B'Tselem, whose data are updated until about a month ago, 42 of the children who have been killed were 10; 20 were seven; and eight were two years old when they died. The youngest victims are 13 newborn infants who died at checkpoints during birth.
With horrific statistics like this, the question of who is a terrorist should have long since become very burdensome for every Israeli. Yet it is not on the public agenda. Child killers are always the Palestinians, the soldiers always only defend us and themselves, and the hell with the statistics.
The plain fact, which must be stated clearly, is that the blood of hundreds of Palestinian children is on our hands. No tortuous explanation by the IDF Spokesman's Office or by the military correspondents about the dangers posed to soldiers by the children, and no dubious excuse by the public relations people in the Foreign Ministry about how the Palestinians are making use of children will change that fact. An army that kills so many children is an army with no restraints, an army that has lost its moral code.
thanks to Antiwar.com
Remembering of Childhood
As I am getting older and older very often I remember little pieces of my childhood. Small stories, situations, but mostly first trigger are feelings and smells. Especially the feelings are dominating in my memories. I believe everybody has this kind of moments, I am become a little bit worried that as time goes I will have less and less of them and I will not understand my children and will loose that part of myself which I was that time. Following pictures and writings are my attempt to help you to keep your own memories from times when you had been a child!
thanks to Street Photography mailing list
Wednesday October 20 2004
Enjoy The Draft.com
Jenna & Barbara Bush Welcome You to
SPRING BREAK FALLUJAH 2005!
True to their family tradition of personal sacrifice, Jenna and Barbara Bush are the first to sign up for Spring Break Fallujah 2005. "Isn't that an MTV thing?" asked party girl Jenna, "because I'm totally there." How cute! It's armed conflict in the Middle East, spring break style. And the twins will have plenty of company - all guys and girls from the age of 18-34, and medical personnel up to the age of 44! Awesome!
Don't forget, when packing your bags for this very special junior year abroad, it's all about shock and awe, baby. Just ask any of our currently overextended troops - it's a trip to die for.
The Perry Bible Fellowship
thanks to consumptive.org
For those that remember Election 2000, it isn't the popular vote that elects the President but the electoral vote. MyDD has the current projection.
thanks to Conscientious
thanks to Conscientious
The 9/11 Secret in the CIA's Back Pocket
The agency is withholding a damning report that points at senior officials.
It is shocking: The Bush administration is suppressing a CIA report on 9/11 until after the election, and this one names names. Although the report by the inspector general's office of the CIA was completed in June, it has not been made available to the congressional intelligence committees that mandated the study almost two years ago.
thanks to daily KOS
Using drawing, photography, wax sculpture and computer software, I create photographic images which at first glance seem authentic, but which upon further reflection divulge their fabricated nature. My hope is to affirm a new vision by brushing away the fog of habit.
thanks to Conscientious
faith based = delusional, part 2
Our Magical President
How Bush goes beyond the Bible to create his own reality.
The big religion story of the day -- Ron Suskind’s NYT Magazine fisking of Bush’s faith -- is also the big political story of the day, and since it follows so closely on Matt Bai’s inadvertent take-down of Kerry, it’ll likely provide wonk-gossip fodder as well. Is this the Times' idea of "balance"? More importantly, which aide channeled New Age chanteuse Enya by asserting that “we create our own reality”? Who are the “sources” who set Suskind’s phone a-ringing after the publication of The Price of Loyalty? And is George W. Bush the first magical president of the United States?
Well, probably no one will ask that last one, but that’s what I was left wondering after reading Suskind’s report, only the latest in a long series of investigations of Bush’s faith. What’s surprising about Suskind’s summary of Bush’s “walk,” to borrow an evangelical term, is how small a role Jesus Christ seems to play in it. God gets a few cameos, but even he’s a supporting player. Front and center, though, is faith.
Given what we know about Bush, from pro-Bush sources such as Stephen Mansfield’s The Faith of George W. Bush and the documentary George W. Bush: Faith in the White House, from the reasonably neutral Frontline special, “The Jesus Factor,” and from mainstream print investigations such as Alan Cooperman's, that’s a fair assessment.
Believing, it seems, is more important to the President than the substance of his belief. Jesus Christ’s particular teachings -- well, those are good, too. But what really matters is that if you believe you can do something, you can.
What Suskind misses, and what Bush’s more orthodox Christian supporters seem to dodge, is that this is not Christian doctrine by any definition. It is, in fact, a key element of the broad, heterodox movement known as New Age religion.
thanks to The Agonist
The Photographs of Art Sinsabaugh
thanks to RangeFinderForum.com
The Rise of Pseudo Fascism
Part 5: Warfare By Other Means
by Dave Neiwert
It would be one thing if all this manipulation were actually for the benefit of the American public. But it has occurred in fact solely for the benefit of the conservative movement and its agenda -- an agenda that, at its core, is profoundly anti-democratic.
The danger of placing the capacity for employing these techniques in the hands of a movement whose entire raison d'etre is the acquisition of power through any means could not be more apparent. After all, we've seen it happen before, with disastrous -- even apocalyptic -- results.
The communication-as-domination model, you see, was developed by Lasswell and Lippmann in the 1920s and was promptly adopted by none other than Germany's Nazi propagandists, as Christoper Simpson explained:
Lasswell and Lippmann favored relatively tolerant, pluralistic societies in which elite rule protected democracies from their own weaknesses -- a modern form of noblesse oblige, so to speak. But the potential applications of the communication-as-domination zeitgeist extended far beyond the purposes they they would have personally approved. Nazi intellectuals believed to be instrumental in many aspects of communications studies throughout the 1930s, both as innovators of successful techniques and as spurs to communication studies outside of Germany intended to counteract the Nazi party's apparent success with propaganda.
Indeed, the most famous advocate of the use of these techniques in the 1930s was none other than Josef Goebbels, the Nazis' propaganda chief. Another advocate of the Lippmann approach was Otto Ohlendorf, who ran a Nazi office on polling techniques and communications before becoming one of the top commandants of the SS and a genocidal war criminal.
Today's conservative-movement propagandists operate somewhat differently, of course. Instead of manipulating a vulnerable public, traumatized by war and economic depression, by scapegoating Jews and proffering an apocalyptic vision of world domination as a response to the threat to the purity of the Aryan race, today's pseudo-fascists instead scapegoat liberals, and manipulate a traumatized post-9/11 populace through an apocalyptic vision of world domination excused by the supposed threat to American freedom.
It is, like all of pseudo-fascism, structurally similar to the real thing, but different in content and substance in certain key ways. In this way, it appears less menacing.
The danger, however, lies in the way those differences are gradually being eroded.
1. Place camera in front of face.
2. Shake face or Prrr it (what's that?)
3. Send us the picture
thanks to Geisha asobi blog
No Flu Vaccine Shortage at Capitol
While many Americans search in vain for flu shots, members and employees of Congress are able to obtain them quickly and at no charge from the Capitol's attending physician, who has urged all 535 lawmakers to get the vaccines even if they are young and healthy.
thanks to War and Piece
Red Sox 10, Yankees 3
Boston blew away decades of defeat with four sweet swings.
Believe it, New England, the Red Sox are in the World Series. And they got there with the most unbelievable comeback of all, shaming the New York Yankees, the Evil Empire to the south.
This is amazing...
Faiza on US-style democracy
Faiza, of "A Family in Baghdad" is participating in an interesting exchange on the "Open democracy" site.
In addition, her blog now carries the English-language version of a long post she wrote in Arabic on october 3. Here are some interesting excerpts:
We went, my friends and I, to attend a lecture about Democracy, and the Elections. The lecturer was an Iraqi lady, who said she attended some work-shop discussions about the subject, and she'll explain it to us, so we could explain it to others. She spoke about the meaning of the two words, and their relation with each other. Then she spoke about the methods of elections, and their traits, then the civil society and its role in elections, the relation of the civil society with the parties, and the danger in the party's dominance over the civil organizations.
She said every candidate has a message, which he keeps repeating to people's attention until they memorize it…I smiled........... imagining the poor American citizen these days…they all fight, and debate, giving him the headaches, as they try, each separately, to say he is completely right, and the other is completely wrong…and whoever votes for the opponent is a complete fool…Ha, ha, ha…
A game that gives people the headaches…as if you are in a Bazaar…each is calling for his merchandise, wanting to sell it more than the others.
But people's lives and destinies are decided here…inside this chaos, shouting, and headache-promoting noise…
I don't know…as if I see the propaganda, the competition, and the debates, are subjected to a lot of acting, and show-offs, more than honesty, calmness, and rationality.The media plays its role here…where truth gets mingled with lies, justice with false…and facts get lost.
A very dangerous game….this is Democracy.
And the bad people could maneuver it, because they play like jugglers, in a circus. And the audiences are poor….who could easily be tricked.
Hatred, fear reign after 'liberation'
Violence, anarchy cutting too close to home for some
Behnam Farho pinpoints the moment when the fear got to be too much, when he decided his country was lost, and it was time for him to gather up his family and leave Iraq -- for good.
thanks to Antiwar.com
Platoon defies orders in Iraq
Miss. soldier calls home, cites safety concerns
A 17-member Army Reserve platoon with troops from Jackson and around the Southeast deployed to Iraq is under arrest for refusing a "suicide mission" to deliver fuel, the troops' relatives said Thursday.
The soldiers refused an order on Wednesday to go to Taji, Iraq — north of Baghdad — because their vehicles were considered "deadlined" or extremely unsafe, said Patricia McCook of Jackson, wife of Sgt. Larry O. McCook.
thanks to daily KOS
Is Bush Shortchanging our Troops?
by Juan Cole
That is, there are three separate elements to the order that the reservists refused to obey. The first was that they were being sent to deliver contaminated fuel that shouldn't have in fact been delivered up to the hot war front in Anbar province. The second is that they were being sent to do it in old barely operational vehicles that not only were not armored properly against roadside bombs, but might break down, stranding the soldiers and exposing them to a guerrilla attack. The third was that they were being denied the customary escort by humvees and helicopter gunships, key to scaring off potential small-band guerrilla attacks.
In other words, they were ordered to do something illegal in a way that might well have gotten them killed for no good reason.
US in Iraq: crumbling?
by Helena Cobban
So many indicators of a crumbling of the US-Allawist position in Iraq!
Territorial Army infiltrated by Al-Qaeda
THE Territorial Army has been infiltrated by Al-Qaeda suspects, giving the Islamic terrorist group potential access to military bases, explosives and fuel dumps.
Here is a 360 degree pano of the Acropolis.
Acropolis The Parthenon Temple
And part of a chapter from Mark Twain's "Innocents Abroad." This is the chapter where he sneaks into the Parthenon at night in 1867.
In the neighborhood of one o'clock in the morning, when we were heated with fast walking and parched with thirst, Denny exclaimed, "Why, these weeds are grape-vines!" and in five minutes we had a score of bunches of large, white, delicious grapes, and were reaching down for more when a dark shape rose mysteriously up out of the shadows beside us and said "Ho!" And so we left.
In ten minutes more we struck into a beautiful road, and unlike some others we had stumbled upon at intervals, it led in the right direction. We followed it. It was broad, and smooth, and white -- handsome and in perfect repair, and shaded on both sides for a mile or so with single ranks of trees, and also with luxuriant vineyards. Twice we entered and stole grapes, and the second time somebody shouted at us from some invisible place. Whereupon we left again. We speculated in grapes no more on that side of Athens.
Shortly we came upon an ancient stone aqueduct, built upon arches, and from that time forth we had ruins all about us -- we were approaching our journey's end. We could not see the Acropolis now or the high hill, either, and I wanted to follow the road till we were abreast of them, but the others overruled me, and we toiled laboriously up the stony hill immediately in our front -- and from its summit saw another -- climbed it and saw another! It was an hour of exhausting work. Soon we came upon a row of open graves, cut in the solid rock -- (for a while one of them served Socrates for a prison) -- we passed around the shoulder of the hill, and the citadel, in all its ruined magnificence, burst upon us! We hurried across the ravine and up a winding road, and stood on the old Acropolis, with the prodigious walls of the citadel towering above our heads. We did not stop to inspect their massive blocks of marble, or measure their height, or guess at their extraordinary thickness, but passed at once through a great arched passage like a railway tunnel, and went straight to the gate that leads to the ancient temples. It was locked! So, after all, it seemed that we were not to see the great Parthenon face to face. We sat down and held a council of war. Result: the gate was only a flimsy structure of wood -- we would break it down. It seemed like desecration, but then we had traveled far, and our necessities were urgent. We could not hunt up guides and keepers -- we must be on the ship before daylight. So we argued. This was all very fine, but when we came to break the gate, we could not do it. We moved around an angle of the wall and found a low bastion -- eight feet high without -- ten or twelve within. Denny prepared to scale it, and we got ready to follow. By dint of hard scrambling he finally straddled the top, but some loose stones crumbled away and fell with a crash into the court within. There was instantly a banging of doors and a shout. Denny dropped from the wall in a twinkling, and we retreated in disorder to the gate. Xerxes took that mighty citadel four hundred and eighty years before Christ, when his five millions of soldiers and camp-followers followed him to Greece, and if we four Americans could have remained unmolested five minutes longer, we would have taken it too.
The garrison had turned out -- four Greeks. We clamored at the gate, and they admitted us. [Bribery and corruption.]
We crossed a large court, entered a great door, and stood upon a pavement of purest white marble, deeply worn by footprints. Before us, in the flooding moonlight, rose the noblest ruins we had ever looked upon -- the Propylæ; a small Temple of Minerva; the Temple of Hercules, and the grand Parthenon. [We got these names from the Greek guide, who didn't seem to know more than seven men ought to know.] These edifices were all built of the whitest Pentelic marble, but have a pinkish stain upon them now. Where any part is broken, however, the fracture looks like fine loaf sugar. Six caryatides, or marble women, clad in flowing robes, support the portico of the Temple of Hercules, but the porticos and colonnades of the other structures are formed of massive Doric and Ionic pillars, whose flutings and capitals are still measurably perfect, notwithstanding the centuries that have gone over them and the sieges they have suffered. The Parthenon, originally, was two hundred and twenty-six feet long, one hundred wide, and seventy high, and had two rows of great columns, eight in each, at either end, and single rows of seventeen each down the sides, and was one of the most graceful and beautiful edifices ever erected.
Most of the Parthenon's imposing columns are still standing, but the roof is gone. It was a perfect building two hundred and fifty years ago, when a shell dropped into the Venetian magazine stored here, and the explosion which followed wrecked and unroofed it. I remember but little about the Parthenon, and I have put in one or two facts and figures for the use of other people with short memories. Got them from the guide-book.
As we wandered thoughtfully down the marble-paved length of this stately temple, the scene about us was strangely impressive. Here and there, in lavish profusion, were gleaming white statues of men and women, propped against blocks of marble, some of them armless, some without legs, others headless -- but all looking mournful in the moonlight, and startlingly human! They rose up and confronted the midnight intruder on every side -- they stared at him with stony eyes from unlooked-for nooks and recesses; they peered at him over fragmentary heaps far down the desolate corridors; they barred his way in the midst of the broad forum, and solemnly pointed with handless arms the way from the sacred fane; and through the roofless temple the moon looked down, and banded the floor and darkened the scattered fragments and broken statues with the slanting shadows of the columns.
Aron Trauring's site, Aron's Israel Peace Weblog, is essential reading. He has first hand experience being Israeli and being in the Israeli Defense Forces during the first Intifada. His comments on the second post are worth reading. The second post is a must read.
Double standards that kill
by Aron Trauring
I obviously believe that the Israeli occupation is immoral and that Israel has a great debt to the Palestinians. After all, we came to the Palestinians homeland and without their permission began moving in. Justice and fairness demand a consideration of this fact, and not just the occupation since 1967.
Unfortunately, it is extremely difficult to write about the Israel/Palestine conflict without exaggeration or over-emotional language. It is for this reason that I admire the writings in the Electronic Intifada. While the writers are justly passionate about their cause, they don't make the mistake of dehumanizing Israelis.
This article by Hasan Abu Nimah, former permanent representative of Jordan at the United Nations and the father of one of the magazine's editors, is a devestating critique of the hypocrisy of Western powers and media in their approach to the conflict.
Double standards that kill
by Hasan Abu Nimah
As usual, there has been a disproportionate and unbalanced reaction to recent and ongoing violence in our region. Since late September, Israel has been butchering civilians in the occupied Gaza Strip. As I write, the death toll has passed 115, of which over 30 are children.
Israel routinely kills 10 to 12 Palestinians per day, the daily equivalent of a Palestinian suicide bombing or two. Israel is engaged in the mass destruction of the Gaza Strip, subjecting people who have been suffering for decades from what in any other circumstances world leaders would denounce as ethnic cleansing if not outright genocide. Yet, other than pro forma criticism, there is great tolerance for the ongoing massacre.
Israel's assault on Gaza killed more children in a few days than the entire number of victims in Taba. It is simply immoral to continue to pretend that there is any difference whatsoever between the two types of terrorism. The point here is not to say that the attack in Taba is in any way excusable or justifiable, but rather to underline that the attacks in Gaza should be treated just like the attacks in Taba, as terrorist outrages, viciously targeted and calculated to kill innocent people.
If Western leaders and commentators recoil at this equivalence, they should at least understand that people here in this region already see the parallel. What they see are powerful nations that treat the lives of Jewish Israelis and other Westerners as inherently more valuable and worthy of protection than those of Arabs, Muslims and other people of colour. This is the case in Palestine and in Iraq. Europeans and Americans kidnapped by Iraqis and sometimes brutally murdered receive far more attention than the Iraqi children and guests at weddings that Arab television viewers routinely see being pulled out of rubble of buildings bombed by the United States in Fallujah and Samarra. Every sane person must unreservedly condemn the horrifying beheadings that have been taking place in Iraq, but it should be no crime to ask why they are taking place now, and why they never occurred before in the history of Iraq or the region.
More and more we see a world in which those who possess high-tech weaponry and uniforms are entitled to kill people far from their shores with absolute impunity and call it "self-defence" while those who challenge them in their own streets and villages in any way are labelled "terrorists". The world's expressed outrage at Taba and relative silence about Gaza and American actions in Iraq does not go unnoticed in the region. Rather, the double standard only fuels the fires of anger and extremism and leads to ever more desperate and horrid reactions.
Strangely though, Israel, which usually blames the Palestinians for absolutely everything, went to great lengths to exonerate them of any responsibility for the Taba attacks and was quick to blame Al Qaeda despite the absence of any evidence one way or the other. This was, of course, no act of generosity. Israel is simply desperate for the world not to draw the most obvious conclusion: as long as Israel occupies and terrorises an entire nation, Israelis will never find safety or security and will never build a wall high enough to hide from the consequences of the horrors they have wrought.
Kurt Easterwood mentioned these wonderful links about Tony Ray-Jones at the Street Photography List.
The English seen
His work spanned just a decade - he died aged 30 - but with his striking 1960s images of Britons at play, Tony Ray-Jones helped change the face of British photography for ever.
One of the by-products of looking through archives is a kind of artificial clairvoyance: you know what is going to happen next. Sandwiched between some loose papers in the archives of the British photographer Tony Ray-Jones at the Museum of Photography, Film & Television in Bradford was a page from one of those old-fashioned desk calendars, the sort that gets torn off as each day goes by. A large red figure eight and the full date, 7/8/64, Wednesday July 8 1964; the reversed day and month indicated America. On the flip side were a few scribbled notes about how best to expose Pan-X film "for detail". Most of the other sheets contained lists, scribbled in swift capitals: "Some Story Ideas: Sunnyside Colony, Queens (German folk dancing etc), Festival of Flowers (call Buddhist temple), Gypsies and Gypsy weddings, Abyssinian Church Uptown - Fashion show (negro audience), People trapped in small environment - elevators (before door closes), Invisible people - shoe-shiners in Gnd Central, Women who live out of bags, People in Supermarkets - stop them and shoot yell stop. Bus terminals - Make people automatons."
In pictures: The English by Tony Ray-Jones
"A Gentle Madness"
The Photographs of Tony Ray-Jones
faith based = delusional
This is a must read. Did I say this is a must read?
Without a Doubt
Bruce Bartlett, a domestic policy adviser to Ronald Reagan and a treasury official for the first President Bush, told me recently that ''if Bush wins, there will be a civil war in the Republican Party starting on Nov. 3.'' The nature of that conflict, as Bartlett sees it? Essentially, the same as the one raging across much of the world: a battle between modernists and fundamentalists, pragmatists and true believers, reason and religion.
''Just in the past few months,'' Bartlett said, ''I think a light has gone off for people who've spent time up close to Bush: that this instinct he's always talking about is this sort of weird, Messianic idea of what he thinks God has told him to do.'' Bartlett, a 53-year-old columnist and self-described libertarian Republican who has lately been a champion for traditional Republicans concerned about Bush's governance, went on to say: ''This is why George W. Bush is so clear-eyed about Al Qaeda and the Islamic fundamentalist enemy. He believes you have to kill them all. They can't be persuaded, that they're extremists, driven by a dark vision. He understands them, because he's just like them. . . .
''This is why he dispenses with people who confront him with inconvenient facts,'' Bartlett went on to say. ''He truly believes he's on a mission from God. Absolute faith like that overwhelms a need for analysis. The whole thing about faith is to believe things for which there is no empirical evidence.'' Bartlett paused, then said, ''But you can't run the world on faith.''
In the summer of 2002, after I had written an article in Esquire that the White House didn't like about Bush's former communications director, Karen Hughes, I had a meeting with a senior adviser to Bush. He expressed the White House's displeasure, and then he told me something that at the time I didn't fully comprehend -- but which I now believe gets to the very heart of the Bush presidency.
The aide said that guys like me were ''in what we call the reality-based community,'' which he defined as people who ''believe that solutions emerge from your judicious study of discernible reality.'' I nodded and murmured something about enlightenment principles and empiricism. He cut me off. ''That's not the way the world really works anymore,'' he continued. ''We're an empire now, and when we act, we create our own reality. And while you're studying that reality -- judiciously, as you will -- we'll act again, creating other new realities, which you can study too, and that's how things will sort out. We're history's actors . . . and you, all of you, will be left to just study what we do.''
thanks to daily KOS
And don't miss the following comments by Juan Cole to put the above in perspective.
Suskind on Bush: "I can Fly!"
Ron Suskind's profile of George W. Bush reminded me eerily of Mao Zedong, the leader of the Chinese Communist Party. Suskind portrays Bush as filled with unwarranted certainty, sure that God is speaking and working through him, and convinced that decisive action shapes reality in ways that make it unnecessary to first study reality.
This approach to policy-making, it seems to me, should be called Right Maoism. The History Learning Site reminds us that in 1958 Mao initiated what he called the "Great Leap Forward" with the aim of boosting both Chinese industry and agriculture, through the reorganization of China into over 25,000 communes.
' Mao had introduced the Great Leap Forward with the phrase "it is possible to accomplish any task whatsoever." By the end of 1958, it seemed as if his claim was true . . . However, in 1959, things started to go wrong. Political decisions/beliefs took precedence over commonsense and communes faced the task of doing things which they were incapable of achieving. Party officials would order the impossible and commune leaders, who knew what their commune was capable of doing or not, could be charged with being a "bourgeois reactionary" if he complained. Such a charge would lead to prison.
Quickly produced farm machinery produced in factories fell to pieces when used. Many thousands of workers were injured after working long hours and falling asleep at their jobs. Steel produced by the backyard furnaces was frequently too weak to be of any use and could not be used in construction – it’s original purpose. Buildings constructed by this substandard steel did not last long.
Also the backyard production method had taken many workers away from their fields – so desperately needed food was not being harvested. Ironically, one of the key factors in food production in China was the weather and 1958 had particularly good weather for growing food. Party leaders claimed that the harvest for 1958 was a record 260 million tons – which was not true. '
In 1960 alone, as a result of Mao's faith-based initiative, 9 million persons starved to death. The total toll from famine, hunger, and illness in 1959-1962 was around 20 million dead.
The above description of the way in which China fell apart under Mao sounds eerily like contemporary Iraq under Bush, since both situations were produced by the same mantra. Reality doesn't matter. Power creates reality. Suskind says that a senior Bush official told him, "We're an empire now, and when we act, we create our own reality. And while you're studying that reality -- judiciously, as you will -- we'll act again, creating other new realities, which you can study too, and that's how things will sort out. We're history's actors . . . and you, all of you, will be left to just study what we do." This official may as well have been quoting Mao's Little Red Book: ""it is possible to accomplish any task whatsoever."
Astronomy Picture of the Day
Artificial clouds made by humans may become so common they change the Earth's climate. The long thin cloud streaks that dominate the above satellite photograph of Georgia are contrails, cirrus clouds created by airplanes. The exhaust of an airplane engine can create a contrail by saturating the surrounding air with extra moisture. The wings of a plane can similarly create contrails by dropping the temperature and causing small ice-crystals to form. Contrails have become more than an oddity - they may be significantly increasing the cloudiness of Earth, reflecting sunlight back into space by day, and heat radiation back to Earth even at night. The effect on climate is a topic of much research.
thanks to J-Walk Blog
Schieffer was wrong, Kerry was right
Contrary to the moderator's suggestion in the third debate, Social Security is not running out of money. And the Democratic candidate wasn't pandering when he said privatizing it would be disastrous.
CBS New anchor Bob Schieffer did a fine job of moderating the third presidential debate. Except for one thing. And that was when he began his question on Social Security by stating, "We all know Social Security is running out of money."
Social Security is not running out of money. Here are the facts.
thanks to Eschaton
Kerry Statement on Bush Plan to Privatize Social Security
“Just yesterday, we found out that the president told his biggest and wealthiest donors about his big ‘January surprise.’ He’s going to ‘come out strong’ to fight for his plan to privatize Social Security. This might be a good surprise for the wealthy and well-connected, but it’s a disaster for America’s middle class. The president’s privatization plan for Social Security is another way of saying to our seniors that the promise of security will be broken.
“Once again, George Bush is out of touch. He just doesn’t get it. According to the bi-partisan Congressional Budget Office, his risky plan will force benefit cuts for seniors of up to 45 percent – that’s up to $500 a month less for food, clothing, and the occasional gift for a grandchild.
“Even the president’s own economic advisors say his plan will blow a $2 trillion hole in Social Security. And guess who will pay for it? You will. America's seniors are already facing higher prescription drug costs, record high Medicare premiums, and higher gas costs. With family budgets being stretched to the limit, the last thing seniors need is the president's ‘January surprise.’ That's a surprise we can all live without.
thanks to Eschaton
More Social Security
The point of Social Security is, after all, to guarantee an absolute minimum income for seniors no matter what bad luck befalls them or bad choices they've made. There's nothing magical about either the current benefit levels, aside from the fact that they aren't all that generous, or the precise levels of the payroll tax/income cap. We can add a mandatory investment account system without changing the existing rates/benefits at all if we want to. It isn't an either/or proposition.
But, the basic issue I keep returning to is -- how do you devise a loot-free system? How do you devise a system which, either in its initial form or after expected later congressional tinkering, can't be looted to a large degree by the fund managers? I can't come up with one. Then, we're back to the issue of what do we do about a bunch of destitute 70 year olds? And, that's why we have Social Security in the first place...
A new edition of AK47.tv
Bush Lawyer Anticipates Delay in Tally
President Bush's top campaign lawyer said yesterday that the winner of next month's presidential vote may not be known for "days or weeks" after Election Day if the contest is close.
Experts predict that a large number of absentee ballots will be cast, which could take time to count. For the first time nationwide, voters whose names do not appear on the rolls will be allowed to cast "provisional ballots," which will be counted only after a post-Election Day review determines their eligibility.
In addition, some battleground states will count overseas military ballots received after Election Day as long as they are postmarked before Nov. 3. In Florida, for instance, military ballots received through Nov. 12 will be counted.
Tom Josefiak, the Bush-Cheney campaign's general counsel, said he worries that the uncertainty caused by potential delays could undermine confidence in the outcome. "If it's a close election in any one state, it may be days or weeks before we know who actually is the winner," he said. "I hope that doesn't happen.
thanks to Drudge Report
I'll just bet they're concerned. Just like they were in 2000. They don't give a shit about democracy. They are going to do whatever it takes to overthrow a Kerry election. Just like 2004. Except, this time, the Democrats aren't going to take it. Both sides are lining their lawyers up. We had best hope for a Kerry blowout.
Another photography magazine.
A collection of unexpected photography
I've become a huge fan of Jon Stewart's The Daily Show. It's the best news commentary — period. That's really sad. Read this transcript.
Jon Stewart's America
STEWART:In many ways, it's funny. And I made a special effort to come on the show today, because I have privately, amongst my friends and also in occasional newspapers and television shows, mentioned this show as being bad.
BEGALA: We have noticed.
STEWART: And I wanted to -- I felt that that wasn't fair and I should come here and tell you that I don't -- it's not so much that it's bad, as it's hurting America.
CARLSON: But in its defense...
STEWART: So I wanted to come here today and say...
STEWART: Here's just what I wanted to tell you guys.
STEWART: Stop, stop, stop, stop hurting America.
The audience seemed to get what Jon was saying. Carlson (Jon calls him a dick during the show, and he is) and Begala didn't seem to have a clue. Maybe Begala did. Carlson is so wrapped up with himself nothing could get through. The whole show was priceless. Jon is fucking brilliant. Do not, I repeat, do not miss The Daily Show on The Comedy Channel. Best news commentary — period.
You can watch it here.
thanks to This Modern World
The first of my street shooters arrived from Ukraine. Igor came through. The second time I fired it the shutter wouldn't release. With a little coaxing it finally started firing and seems to be working OK. It's hard to say about the speeds, though. Holding the camera up to the light and firing it seemed OK for all speeds but 1/500th. It didn't seem to be letting any light through at all. The film will tell. It is a 44 year old camera and should have a CLA (clean, lube, and adjust) but that will have to wait.
I shot some today and the camera is a joy to use. The black paint is coming off in spots. I had hoped to get away with a touch-up but I can see that the black will have to be repainted. The nylon cover is in good shape but it's a nylon cover and will eventually be replaced by leather. The top is very clean. The lens is worn, but I knew that. The Jupiter 8 is a very good lens but I think this one is going to be a sacrificial lens. I will use it to learn how to CLA a lens. The lens I plan to put on this camera should arrive in a few days. It's a late black Jupiter 12 35mm wide-angle lens. Also an excellent lens. I will finish out the roll tomorrow and get it processed. Then I will see if the shutter leaks and if the speeds are close. I'ts really fun shooting with this camera. Did I already say that? I probably will again.
Here is a Zorki 5 (Similar to my Zorki 6) that has been repainted and had the nylon replaced with leatherett. Very tasty.