Friday, April 30, 2004

Holy Crap
Many bloggers are commenting on the recent news of torture and rape by U.S. mercenaries in the Abu Ghraib prison in Baghdad. Check out Kevin Drum's post, which shows the newly released picture of a U.S. woman giving the "thumbs-up" sign for the camera, as she stands in front of naked prisoners. Where is this picture published? Why, in the Al Jazeera paper and website! Jesus, just when you think it couldn't get worse, it does. Now Saddam's famous torture chambers are open for business again:

"According to sealed charging papers that were provided to The Washington Post, soldiers forced prisoners to lie in "a pyramid of naked detainees" and jumped on their prone bodies, while other detainees were ordered to strip and perform or simulate sex acts. In one case, a hooded man allegedly was made to stand on a box of MREs, or meals ready to eat, and told that he would be electrocuted if he fell off. In another example, the papers allege, a soldier unzipped a body bag and took snapshots of a detainee's frozen corpse inside. Several times, soldiers were photographed and videotaped posing in front of humiliated inmates, according to the charges. One gave a thumbs-up sign in front of the human pyramid."

Steve Gilliard sums up why this is very, very bad:

"What is incindiary are the pictures of a woman humilating Arab men and dogs being sicced on them. These are gross violations of Arab culture and sure to assist the resistance in killing Americans. The idea of a woman humiliating men will go down poorly in the Arab world, as will the idea of dogs being used on prisoners."


"Now, to Arabs, these images are akin to seeing child porn. It couldn't be more offensive or humiliating if you tried. A woman displaying the gentials of Arab men? Dogs? If you wanted a recruiting poster to kill Americans, this would be it."

Bush has already condemmed these actions, but you have to wonder if these pictures are adding more fuel to an already combustible situation......

CEO and Chief
To me, Dubya is more of a "CEO of America" than President. He acts like any other CEO of a large company would; focusing on the "big picture" end results (a free Iraq, a safe world, etc.) than the details. This is why he seems so out of sorts during news conferences (a record low), since he really doesn't know the fine details of policy or of how the world really works. His worldviews are very narrow (bordering on xenophobic), and he would much rather have his staff to handle the details, and then give him direct reports on progress (instead of reading "outside sources," like newspapers!). In his mind, he sets the goals, and the staff is supposed to implement them while he goes on vacation (a record number of vacation days for any President). Now, in these companies, the Board of Directors (substitute the American public as the "Board of America's Directors") can oust the CEO if performances aren't up to snuff, or if the CEO ignores the Board.

As CEO, Dubya really has flopped with his "uniter not a divider" promise, since it seems the public is the most divided about a sitting President since Nixon. How else do you explain the comments regarding his last press conference a few weeks ago, when the average person would seem to think he seemed very uncomfortable, he evaded questions....generally seemed to want to get the heck out of there. Many people came away with "he was so strong" and "he was very confident..."

As CEO, one of the main jobs is to creat a strong "brand image." Dubya has certainly tried to do that, as he paints America acting in god's behalf to bring freedom to the world. This is why the public is so divided about America's CEO right now.....half see him as driving the car over the cliff full-speed, no matter what his passengers are saying, while the other half thinking Dubya has created a noble "faith-based" administration, where the ends truly justify the means, and so Dubya must be supported, no matter what comes out that may be potentially damaging (no WMD, internal secrecy, etc.).

Tuesday, April 27, 2004

History Repeats Itself
Besides being an excellent writer, Billmon is one heck of a researcher. Go check out the full quotes on his blog, and see how Iraq, the U.S., Japan and China are related regarding the June 30th handover deadline...here's just a few of the quotes:

The Bush administration's plans for a new caretaker government in Iraq would place severe limits on its sovereignty, including only partial command over its armed forces and no authority to enact new laws, according to administration officials.
New York Times
White House plans limits to Iraq sovereignty
April 24, 2004

In 1932 Manchukuo was proclaimed an independent state. The last Qing emperor was brought out of retirement and made Manchukuo's ruler, but the state was actually rigidly controlled by the Japanese, who used it as their base for expansion into Asia.
Britannica Concise Encyclopedia

"On June 30th, when the flag of free Iraq is raised, Iraqi officials will assume full responsibility for the ministries of government."
George W. Bush
Press Conference
April 13, 2004

Thank you, Billmon, for your hard work. I know the current administration likes to ignore the past lessons in their quest for a shiny new world order, but you'd think that somebody over at the Iraqi Governing Council would've vetoed the new flag design that discards the "god is greatest" language and looks a wee bit like the flag of Israel! Amazing......

Monday, April 26, 2004

Religion and Politics
Those are two bedfellows that are in and out of the sack more than Jenna Jameson and Ron Jeremy (there...that completes my mandated porn star references of the year!). Atrios culls a bit from the Washington Post regarding the condemnation of Kerry by Roman Catholic Bishops about his views on abortion:

"Does this only apply to abortion?" asked McNeirney, 67, of Bethesda. "What about the death penalty?"

After retiring as a trade magazine editor a dozen years ago, McNeirney founded a nonprofit organization, Catholics Against the Death Penalty, which has 1,200 members across the country. It's a mom-and-pop operation, run by McNeirney and his wife, Ellen, out of their home on a shoestring budget. They are the first to acknowledge that it has nowhere near the political clout or public visibility of the nation's antiabortion groups.

But McNeirney is not alone in questioning whether the church's political vision has become myopic, focusing too narrowly on abortion.

Some Catholic publications, educators and elected officials are also warning that church leaders may appear hypocritical or partisan if they condemn Kerry because he favors abortion rights while they say nothing about Catholic governors who allow executions, Catholic members of Congress who support the Iraq war or Catholic officials at all levels who ignore the church's teachings on social justice.

How about a blanket condemnation of all pro-choice politicians, such as Governor Arnold, or is he too Republican? Add to this Karen Hughes' bizarre linkage between being pro-choice and a terrorist (read the excellent commentary by Steve Gilliard at his blog), and you have the strange world of a President who presided over a record number of executions in Texas claiming to "value life." Why do the religious leaders find a loud voice when it comes to abortion, but far less speak out against war and the death penalty? Throughout history, it seems that major religions want to side with the "winners in war," so they will often find their voices muted when the actual conflicts are going on. The current Pope spoke out against the current conflict, and continues to chide politicians who say that "god is on their side" in battle. He said something to the effect of "god does not side with man in war." Amen to that......

Friday, April 23, 2004

I'm Back!
I've been pretty busy the last two weeks working on prescribed fires down here in Florida......we're rapidly approaching the dry season here, which means that the window for safe prescribed fires is beginning to close, at least until the summer rainy season starts. All three fires that I worked on took place within the Wildland Urban Interface (or WUI for the fire folks). The acreages for the fires are not that impressive (10, 15 and 35), but their fuel loads were - at least 30 years since any fire, and the ecosystems were mainly flatwoods (a fast-growing fire-dependant ecosystem), so the fire behavior has the potential to be very extreme! This is the future of many preserved areas within cities and towns; smaller acreage prescribed fires that utilize numerous resources and require extensive cooperation and communication with many agencies. These ecosystems will burn in wildfires and arson, so prescribed fire becomes that much more vital for land managers........

Monday, April 12, 2004

Kevin Drum over at Political Animal (formally of Calpundit) has a nice bit regarding Dubya's August 6 PDB:

AN EASTER BUSHISM....President Bush this morning: the August 6 PDB said "nothing about an attack on America."

Huh? How about the title, "Bin Ladin Determined To Strike in US"?

How about "After US missile strikes on his base in Afghanistan in 1998, Bin Ladin told followers he wanted to retaliate in Washington"?

How about "patterns of suspicious activity in this country consistent with preparations for hijackings or other types of attacks, including recent surveillance of federal buildings in New York"?

How about "The FBI is conducting approximately 70 full field investigations throughout the US that it considers Bin Ladin-related"?

Look, I know there's a perfectly good case to be made that the PDB merely states generalities and doesn't warn of a specific, impending attack. That's fine as far as it goes, and it's the spin I'd expect the White House to put on it.

But "nothing about an attack on America"? The whole document was about al-Qaeda's desire to attack America. How does he get away with saying stuff like this?

Throughout all of the comments regarding the August 6 PDB, it's clear that the Bush Administration underestimated the seriousness of the threat. I've always felt that the Bush Administration had always treated any Clinton directives with contempt or at the very least they put Clinton directives on the back burner as if to say, "Look, that's nice, but we're in charge now, so run along and we'll get back to you." A more serious question that no one seems to be asking is if they knew there was a very good possibility of airplanes being hijacked, then what happened THE VERY MOMENT the very first hijacked airplane veered off course as it headed to New York? Wouldn't the August 6 PDB (and all other info) at the very least made folks aware that if an airplane lost contact with the tower something very serious was up? And wouldn't this PDB have stirred in Dubya's head that day in Tampa at the school when Card informed him of the airplane?

Tuesday, April 06, 2004

God's Troops.....
I just heard an audio clip of Dubya's comments today regarding the mess in Iraq......his usual bit on how "they hate freedom," and how "freedom is the Almighty's gift to all people." If I am to understand his meaning, then the U.S. is actually enforcing God's will as it were....physically imposing freedom upon people. So we are now Crusaders in a holy war. All we need now is to have the U.S. troops bring Sadr out of a mosque, bound and gagged......I have no idea how any of this is all going to end, it just seems to get worse and worse, but I do know that to have the President start talking about this conflict in religious terms is not a good thing. That rhetoric (whether you believe it or not) only inflames radicals who already have no fear of death.......

George H. W. Bush, "A World Transformed" (1998)
Trying to eliminate Saddam...would have incurred incalculable human and political costs. Apprehending him was probably impossible.... We would have been forced to occupy Baghdad and, in effect, rule Iraq.... there was no viable "exit strategy" we could see, violating another of our principles. Furthermore, we had been self-consciously trying to set a pattern for handling aggression in the post-Cold War world. Going in and occupying Iraq, thus unilaterally exceeding the United Nations' mandate, would have destroyed the precedent of international response to aggression that we hoped to establish. Had we gone the invasion route, the United States could conceivably still be an occupying power in a bitterly hostile land.

Father and son should talk more.......

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