Experience past quickies: one. two. three. four. five. six. seven. eight. nine.ten.eleven.
Experience more recent quickies: thirteenNov 2004
Let me explain - Well, I've got a friend that uses what I call, "The Puppet Method" to meet single women in nightclubs. [Oh yeah, the old, "I've got this friend..." trick.] Here's how he does it:Don Diebel is "Americas #1 Singles Expert" and the owner of Getgirls.com. A marvelous source of information on how to use hypnotism, Pheromones to get laid. There's even "Liquid Magnet" where ever-so-charming Don says, "Unfair to women? Sure it is. But, isn't it about time?"
- First, you will need a hand puppet. You can buy them at your major toy stores such as Toys R Us.
- Bring your hand puppet with you to a nightclub where there are lots of single ladies.
- When you see a girl that you're attracted to, approach her and tap her on the shoulder lightly with your puppet and when she turns around raise your hand puppet towards her face and say something like this with your puppet, "Hi beautiful, would you like to dance with me?" Move your puppet up and down with your hand as you are saying your script just as if the puppet was really talking. And be sure to talk in a real silly voice.
- What happens next? She's going to die laughing and think that you are so funny. Plus, you will make a very favorable impression on her because women love a guy with a sense of humor. And, of course, she will most likely dance with you.
Officials of several charities, some Republican members of Congress and some administration officials say the food aid budget for the fiscal year that began Oct. 1 was at least $600 million less than what charities and aid agencies would need to carry out current programs.-IHT
"We are all at a crossroads, struggling with the budgetary crunch, but the problem is, there isn't enough to go around," said Ina Schonberg, director of food security programs for Save The Children....
The administration blamed the recent cuts on the huge demands from food crises this year, especially in Africa, and the long delay in approving a budget.
Chad Kolton, spokesman for the Office of Management and Budget, said the administration "acknowledged the need for additional resources" in food aid, but said there was no way he could say whether more programs would be cut in the coming year. "The vast majority of resources available is going to emergency food aid," he said.
For the other programs that have been cut back, he said, "We are going to look at a couple of different things, such as the importance of the program and whether it is able to produce results."
One administration official involved in food aid voiced concern that putting such a high priority on emergency help might be shortsighted. The best way to avoid famines is to help poor countries become self-sufficient with cash and food aid now, said the official, who asked not to be named because of the continuing debate.
TUCKER CARLSON (12/16/04): [Gene] Sperling, the Democratic position on Social Security appears to be, everything is fine. The system is not going to blow up for quite some time. In the meantime, calm down. And the Bush administration's position, as you know, is, let's do something about it now, because, pretty soon, the bill is going to come due.-CNN's Crossfire The rest of the TDH piece is full of more news on Social Sercurity.
I want to put up probably the most famous poll ever taken on Social Security. It was taken 10 years ago. But I think it says something important.
SPERLING: I know exactly the one you're talking about.
CARLSON: Yes. This was taken by Luntz Research, Frank Luntz. And it asked two questions. Will Social Security exist by the time you retire? Twenty-eight percent say yes. Second question, do you believe in UFOs? Forty-six percent say yes.
More people believe in UFOs than they do in Social Security being there when they retire! The Bush administration is on the side of the vast majority of the public. It's on the side of history.
Under Ayad Allawi's regime, "multinational forces" remain immune from legal redress, rarely accountable for crimes committed against Iraqis. The gap between women members of Allawi's regime and the majority of Iraqi women is widening by the day. While cabinet ministers and the US-UK embassies are cocooned inside the fortified green zone, Iraqis are denied the basic right of walking safely in their own streets. Right of road is for US tanks labelled: "If you pass the convoy you will be killed."- Quiet, or I'll call democracy:Iraqi women were long the most liberated in the Middle East. Occupation has confined them to their homes -by Haifa Zangana
Lack of security and fear of kidnapping make Iraqi women prisoners in their own homes. They witness the looting of their country by Halliburton, Bechtel, US NGOs, missionaries, mercenaries and local subcontractors, while they are denied clean water and electricity. In the land of oil, they have to queue five hours a day to get kerosene or petrol. Acute malnutrition has doubled among children. Unemployment at 70% is exacerbating poverty, prostitution, backstreet abortion and honour killing. Corruption and nepotism are rampant in the interim government. Al-Naqib, minister of interior admitted that he had appointed 49 of his relatives to high-ranking jobs, but only because they were qualified.
What should we do with US classics like Cat on a Hot Tin Roof or The Color Purple? "Dig a hole," Gerald Allen recommends, "and dump them in it." Don't laugh. Gerald Allen's book-burying opinions are not a joke.-The Guardian
Earlier this week, Allen got a call from Washington. He will be meeting with President Bush on Monday. I asked him if this was his first invitation to the White House. "Oh no," he laughs. "It's my fifth meeting with Mr Bush."
"Traditional family values are under attack," Allen informs me. They've been under attack "for the last 40 years". The enemy, this time, is not al-Qaida. The axis of evil is "Hollywood, the music industry". We have an obligation to "save society from moral destruction". We have to prevent liberal libarians and trendy teachers from "re-engineering society's fabric in the minds of our children". We have to "protect Alabamians".
Cutting off funds to theatre departments that put on A Chorus Line or Cat on a Hot Tin Roof may look like censorship, and smell like censorship, but "it's not censorship", Allen hastens to explain. "For instance, there's a reason for stop lights. You're driving a vehicle, you see that stop light, and I hope you stop." Who can argue with something as reasonable as stop lights? Of course, if you're gay, this particular traffic light never changes to green.
Straight-up lies, disinformation. I was going to say just like Iraq, but it's far more brazen since our knowledge in this case is much more certain. See this excellent post by Kevin Drum for more on the reality about Social Security's fiscal health and long-term viability.In another post Josh offers up an analogy as to what the Repblicans are trying to do.
The White House’s two-day economic summit concluded this afternoon with closing remarks from President Bush in which he reiterated “his” plans to deal with the country’s massive deficit. Proving how difficult it can be to get an intelligent sounding quote from this President, Reuters was forced to settle for his quasi-coherent assertion that “if the deficit is an issue, which it is, therefore it’s going to require some tough choices on the spending side.”-In These Times
Apparently, now that Bush’s tax cuts for the wealthy and his imperialist excursion into Iraq have created a record $412 billion annual budget gap, we’re expected to believe that his scheme to privatize Social Security, debunked by Dean Baker in a recent In These Times article, is going to save the economy by drastically cutting the government’s financial responsibility to its most needy citizens. Shift the tax burden onto the working class in the name of “tax relief,” send their children to Iraq with promises of spreading freedom, and then pay the bill by eviscerating their retirement fund under the guise of fiscal responsibility. Excuse me, Mr. President, if I don’t know whether to laugh or cry at the sheer cynicism of it all.
Say it loud, say it proud:-[more]
There is no problem with Social Security!
Some see a problem in the gap in program financing (benefits minus payroll taxes) that is foreseen after 2042. The ten trillion number you hear refers to the sum of all such gaps after 2042, in perpetuity, discounted to present value for year 2004.
President Bush is currently riding high on his election mandate and enlarged majorities in both the House and Senate. With the Democrats in disarray, and the commitment of the top leadership in question, supporters of Social Security have cause to worry about the prospects for its future. However, there is an important, but little known, piece of political history surrounding efforts to cut Social Security that should provide comfort.-[more]
Something about that annoyed me because they were using a guy who has slightly lost his faculties. They didn’t mind making a fool of him if it could hurt me. I mean, he’s an old fool in lots of ways, but he’s a noble old fool. The Nation is now just an echo chamber for every kind of moral cowardice.I do find it a bit annoying how often writers spout off sentences without any real attempt to prove their content. Hitchens is certainly guilty of it in the article Leiter rants about. However, I find inconsistencies in his own rant.
[A]ll faiths are not always equally demented in the same way, or at the same time. Islam, which was once a civilizing and creative force in many societies, is now undergoing a civil war. One faction in this civil war is explicitly totalitarian and wedded to a cult of death....Then he goes on to say, "Is there any reputable scholar of the Islamic world who thinks this is the situation?" I'm not sure if this is a legitimate question or more of a accusation that no scholar of such credentials thinks this. Of course, why it requires a scholar to recognize that certain elements within Islam veer toward the suicidal and totalitarian seems odd. It seems that it would be harder to prove the opposite.
Only one faction in American politics has found itself able to make excuses for the kind of religious fanaticism that immediately menaces us in the here and now. And that faction, I am sorry and furious to say, is the left.And he responds to it...
Pure fiction, of course: first, because there is no left in American politics; second, because we have just been through a political campaign in which the Democrats were out-toughing the Republicans all the way through (how many times did John Kerry promise to kill, kill, kill?); third, because no one on the marginalized left in America--not Noam Chomsky, not Z Magazine, not Howard Zinn, etc.--has made any of these arguments.Saying that there is no left in American politics seems a little odd after going on to name a number of leading leftists. Perhaps, the demonization of the left has created a strong sense of denial even while accusing people like Hitchens to be on the right, when he surely engages either side when it suits him.
The blood-maddened thugs in Iraq, who would rather bring down the roof on a suffering people than allow them to vote, pictured prettily as "insurgents" or even, by Michael Moore, as the moral equivalent of our Founding Fathers.This is from a smear by Joe Scarborough, which may have come about from Moore writing:
The Iraqis who have risen up against the occupation are not "insurgents" or "terrorists" or "The Enemy." They are the REVOLUTION, the Minutemen, and their numbers will grow -- and they will win.(oh wait: Leiter has an "UPDATE" addressing this) Moving right along... I agree with Leiter that the idea that Bush "may subjectively be a Christian" is laughable as well as Hitchens ideas about the Taliban no longer being a threat, the al-Qaida network has been hurt much, and that Islamic religious extremists being even more infuriated is a good thing. I wouldn't be so quick to attribute all of Hitchens lackluster logic to alcohol-comsumption. Bush is capable of enough with, we assume, no alcohol at all.
America Beyond Capitalism What a "Pluralist Commonwealth" Would Look Like from the author of The Coming Era of Wealth TaxationThe Final Now with Bill Moyers airs this week.
"Information is part of the battlefield in a way that it's never been before," one senior Bush official told the Los Angeles Times. "We'd be foolish not to try to use it to our advantage." Chief Pentagon spokesman Lawrence Di Rita cites "the battle of perception management" as the reason for the shift. "Where the enemy is clearly using the media to help manage the perceptions of the general public, our job is not perception management but to counter the enemy's perception management.". . .
The list of Kerik's faults being paraded in the press during the course of the week included: his abandonment of his girlfriend and their lovechild in North Korea (the "family values" right didn't care for that one); his use of Department of Corrections cops to campaign for a Republican mayoral candidate; his bankruptcy; his awarding an honorary police commissionership to his publisher; his misuse of over a million bucks allocated to buy cigarettes for inmates of the city's jails; his $6.2 million windfall doing an insider trade in stock from Taser International, which did huge business with the Dept. of Homeland Security Bernie was supposed to head; or -- the latest development -- the fact that his housekeeping nanny had an immigration problem (and Bernie would have been in charge of the INS in his new job), and that he hadn't paid taxes or withholding on the (undoubtedly underpaid) immigrant nanny's wages (in other words, Bernie the Cheapskate was paying her off the books -- making him a serial IRS flouter, just as he was in the $1 million cigarette scam involving a foundation under his tutelage). And there was a lot more.-Doug Ireland-[more]
This was a huge embarrassment for Kerik's business partner, Rudy Giuliani, who lobbied unrelentingly for the appointment of Kerik -- his former bodyguard -- to the DHS post, calling Dubya twice to press for Kerik. Some creative paranoids already see in Kerik's withdrawal Karl Rove's revenge on Giuliani, who'd supported John McCain back in 2000.
But it was an even bigger embarrassment for this White House. The arrogant hubris of the Bushies, flushed with their victory, in putting the president before the TV cameras to announce the Kerik appointment without even waiting for his FBI background check to be completed (as the AP noted) bespeaks an incompetence on the part of Bush's team that is of the same stripe as the arrogance that invaded Iraq without the necessary troops or equipment on . . . If the Bushies and their footpads couldn't even turn up Bernie's funny-money dealings (most of which were available through a simple Nexis search) or a blackmarket nanny, is it any wonder they can't find Osama?
ACCORDING TO JOURNALIST Lynn Landes, 80% of all votes in the last presidential election were counted by Diebold and ES&S-Provrev
Prof. Antony Flew, 81 years old, is a legendary British philosopher and atheist and has been an icon and champion for unbelievers for decades. His change of mind is significant news, not only about his personal journey, but also about the persuasive power of the arguments modern theists have been using to challenge atheistic naturalism.It is interesting that one appearing so intelligent could say, "the argument to Intelligent Design is enormously stronger than it was when I first met it." It may have become more clever in its arguments, but no more closer to the truth than it ever was. Consider this article which picks apart "the first and only stab at science we’ve seen out of the ID movement." As ID is an attempt to destroy and subvert science I am not surprised they have managed to fool this philosopher unequiped to detect the validity of the science.
As for Islam, it is, I think, best described in a Marxian way as the uniting and justifying ideology of Arab imperialism. Between the New Testament and the Qur’an there is (as it is customary to say when making such comparisons) no comparison. Whereas markets can be found for books on reading the Bible as literature, to read the Qur’an is a penance rather than a pleasure. There is no order or development in its subject matter. All the chapters (the suras) are arranged in order of their length, with the longest at the beginning. However, since the Qur’an consists in a collection of bits and pieces of putative revelation delivered to the prophet Mohammad by the Archangel Gabriel in classical Arab on many separate but unknown occasions, it is difficult to suggest any superior principle of organization.In my brief reading of the Qur'an, I found it horribly mysogynist and saw absolutely no value in further reading.
One point about the editing of the Qur’an is rarely made although it would appear to be of very substantial theological significance. For every sura is prefaced by the words “In the Name of God, the Merciful, the Compassionate.” Yet there are references to Hell on at least 255 of the 669 pages of Arberry’s rendering of the Qur’an (34) and quite often pages have two such references.
Whereas St. Paul, who was the chief contributor to the New Testament, knew all the three relevant languages and obviously possessed a first class philosophical mind, the Prophet, though gifted in the arts of persuasion and clearly a considerable military leader, was both doubtfully literate and certainly ill-informed about the contents of the Old Testament and about several matters of which God, if not even the least informed of the Prophet’s contemporaries, must have been cognizant.
This raises the possibility of what my philosophical contemporaries in the heyday of Gilbert Ryle would have described as a knock-down falsification of Islam: something which is most certainly not possible in the case of Christianity. If I do eventually produce such a paper it will obviously have to be published anonymously.
... I would never regard Islam with anything but horror and fear because it is fundamentally committed to conquering the world for Islam. It was because the whole of Palestine was part of the land of Islam that Muslim Arab armies moved in to try to destroy Israel at birth, and why the struggle for the return of the still surviving refugees and their numerous descendents continue to this day.
The practice of critical history is also continuous with that of science. As in science, the results of historical inquiry are not predetermined by principles of interpretation. Historians could have ended in supporting the Bible; we could have discovered that Jewish history, for example, follows a pattern of disloyalty and retribution. We could even have found something about a transcendent force behind events, and changed how we do history accordingly. We did not. In the modern world, we had to risk putting sacred history to the test; unless revelation is an objective historical fact, as conservative theologians fear, God itself increasingly becomes a psychological metaphor. And if critical historians had confirmed the claims of our religions theologians would surely be celebrating. Instead, we have found that our history fits the naturalistic world of science. The only purposes shaping the courses of events appear to be our own. If theologians now cry foul, this shows the depth of loyalty to their myth, but no more. We have learned something about how to do history, as well as natural science; theological spin-doctoring under the name of “interpretation” is not part of either.-Taner Edis
Youngsters participating in federally funded abstinence-only sex-education courses frequently receive inaccurate or misleading information, the Washington Post reported on Thursday.
According to a congressional staff analysis, some courses teach that touching a person's genitals can lead to pregnancy, abortion can lead to sterility and suicide, and half the gay male teenagers in the United States have tested positive for the AIDS virus, the Post said.
This is what it takes to get people’s attention: virtual total destruction of your habitat…-Laughing Knees, Miguel Arboleda
Over 80% of the forest that covered almost the entire archipelago of the Philippines has been decimated. I remember as a boy in 1971 visiting the Pagsanjan river south of Manila and being overwhelmed by the heavy lushness of the rain forest overhanging the banks of the river, the trees filled with the calls of birds and monkeys. I visited again in 1992 and found the water flushed brown with mud, floating with garbage so thick that you could barely see the river water, carcasses of pigs and dogs in various states of decomposition bobbing past the dugout canoes being punted upriver while the river guides, in between incessant demands for “Pipty dollars, you hab?”, tried to direct me to “Look at ta wonderpul natural beauty op to ren porest!”. All I saw and heard were banks bare and dusty from clear-cut forest cover and the silence of birds and monkeys long gone. This has happened throughout the Philippines and the soft, volcanic mountainsides have given way to treacherous erosion that now contribute to the disaster of the four ferocious typhoons this week.
People can complain that they are helpless to do anything, that the problem of environmental destruction is beyond our individual abilities to change, but that is merely an excuse to continue with the way of life we are all so used to. As long as we don’t seriously act the world will continue its gathering momentum of decline until we will truly be helpless in the throes of planetary reaction: worldwide monster storms, coastal lands drowned by huge seas, massive starvation, wars and mass migration that make Iraq look like mites at play. Exactly what will it take for the whole world to finally take heed?
Since there seems to be a push among some economists to use infinite horizons for policy purposes, it's worth seeing what the infinite horizon might mean when assessing things other social insurance programs. To take one cheap shot (excuse me, example) let's look at a recent analysis by the World Bank of the impact of NAFTA on Mexico's growth rate (Lederman, D., Maloney, W., and Serven, L. Lessons From NAFTA for Latin America and the Caribbean Countries: A Summary of Research Findings. 2004. Washington, D.C.: World Bank).-Maxspeak
The basic story was that the World Bank wanted to find a way to show that NAFTA had increased Mexico's growth so that the deal could be properly celebrated as a success on its tenth anniversary. The probelm is that Mexico's per capita GDP growth has been only slightly above 1.0 percent in the post-NAFTA era, a dismal record for a developing country. This growth record is also poor when compared to Mexico's pre-1980 growth performance. From the fifties through the seventies, per capita GDP growth averaged more than 3.0 percent annually.
Newtopia: The US Corporate media consistently characterizes the Iraqi resistance as "foreign terrorists and former Ba’athist insurgents". In your experience, is this an accurate portrayal? If not, why?-Newtopia interview with journalist Dahr Jamail
Dahr Jamail: This is propaganda of the worst kind. Most Iraqis refer to the Iraqi Resistance as “patriots.” Which of course most of them are-they are, especially in Fallujah, primarily composed of people who simply are resisting the occupation of their country by a foreign power. They are people who have had family members killed, detained, tortured and humiliated by the illegal occupiers of their shattered country.
Calling them “foreign terrorists” and “Ba’athist insurgents” is simply a lie.While there are small elements of these, they are distinctly different from the Iraqi Resistance, who are now supported by, very conservatively at least 80% of the population here.
There are terrorist elements here, but that is because the borders of Iraq have been left wide open since the invasion. These did not exist in Iraq before.
The Bush regime like to refer to anyone who does not support their ideology and plans for global domination as a “terrorist.”
Here, these fighters in the Iraqi Resistance are referred to as freedom fighters, holy warriors and patriots.
DJ: Iraqis are of course shocked and outraged by the beheadings and kidnappings of people like Margaret Hassan. So many also believe it was a CIA/Mossad plot to keep aid organizations and journalists out of Iraq in order to give the military and corporations here a free hand to continue to dis-assemble and sell off the country.
Newtopia: On Nov 18 in one of your dispatches you wrote, "Journalists are increasingly being detained and threatened by the U.S.-installed interim government in Iraq. Media have been stopped particularly from covering recent horrific events in Fallujah." What are the predominant differences between your reporting and that of the corporate media and embedded reporters, or that of Iraqi and Muslim journalists? In other words, what does each group do with the same pieces of information? Do you feel you have a freer hand by being "unembedded"? Have you or anyone you know been intimidated or harassed in any way?
DJ: Myself and most Arab and western independent journalists here show the costs of war. Report the massacres, the slaughter, the dead and wounded kids, disaster that this occupation truly is for the Iraqi people. Report on the low morale of most soldiers here, report on how doctors now state openly that due to lack of funds and help from the US-backed Ministry of Health, they feel it is worse now than during the sanctions.
I do feel I have more freedom because I am “unembedded.” I’m flying under the mainstream radar of censorship.
I have been attacked from some mainstream sources and pundits. Fox propaganda channel invited me on after I accurately reported the sniping of ambulances, medical workers and civilians in Fallujah last April…I declined the set up because I didn’t have a desire to have my character assassinated.
My website has taken some attacks by hackers…but so far we’ve managed the onslaught. I receive some hate mail via my site, and have received one death threat…so far.
DJ:I think the military is killing so many civilians for several reasons. Primarily, because they have been put in an untenable situation by their Commander in Chief-that is, a no-win guerilla war against an enemy who now has the massive support of the populace. Thus, anyone, anytime could be an attacker. So they are shooting first and asking questions later because they are scared to death.
They are using a conventional military to fight a guerilla war-and just as in Vietnam, it is a disaster and utter failure.
Then there are the soldiers who have completely dehumanized Iraqis, and I’ve spoken with some who seem to actually enjoy killing them.
Of course it doesn’t help that this is sanctioned and encouraged by the US government, and that blinding religious ideology appears to have filtered down into many of the soldiers here. “You are either with us, or you are against us.” Iraq is now full of fields of death. There is carnage in the streets everyday in Baghdad, as well as other cities throughout much of the country.
Newtopia: Tell us about the raid on the Abu Hanifa mosque, and what it means in the larger scope of the war?
DJ: At 12:30pm on Friday, November 19th, US troops and Iraqi National Guard sealed the Abu Hanifa mosque in the al-Adhamiya district of Baghdad. The Imam, a longtime outspoken critic of the occupation, was detained.
The raid occurred during Friday prayers, and people began praying loudly because they were very afraid due to the fact that over 100 armed soldiers were pointing guns at them. They were instructed to be quiet, but the worshippers continued to pray, and were fired upon. Four people were killed and at least 9 wounded, along with 30 people detained.
This mosque had been raided at least 5 times previously, with no weapons ever having had been found.
Abu Hanifa is the largest and most prominent Sunni mosque in Iraq, as well as one of the most important in the entire Muslim world. This blatant act of provocation (the Imam could have just as easily been detained on any given day in his office or home) has resulted in heavy fighting throughout Baghdad and a new curfew in al-Adhamiya, along with home raids and more detentions.
This action will draw in even more fighters to the resistance. This is obviously just one step in the attempt to crush a largely Sunni resistance.
Republican environmental politics as usual? While the president's policies seem to be standard for his party, Bill Moyers thinks there's more than meets the eye. On receiving Harvard medical school's Global Environment Citizen Award, Moyers posits that destruction of the environment isn't just good for big business, it's a self fulfilling prophecy of the apocalypse. Not just any old apocalypse, it's The Rapture, complete with plagues for the non-believers and immmediate ascension to the right hand of God Himself for the righteous.-Metafilter, jimray
Two days after Moyer's speech, Science magazine looks at the scientific consensus on global warming. If you're having a hard time explaining all this to your kids, don't worry, your tax dollars are hard at work.
Mr. Bush's attempt to draw a connection between the Saudi attack and Iraq struck some foreign policy specialists as an over-simplification that ignored the complicated web of alliances and animosities that characterize the Middle East.
Rather than an attack on democracy, they said, the attack probably stemmed from the long-running struggle by Islamic extremists against Saudi Arabia's undemocratic, Washington-backed monarchy.
Unless the world's wealthiest countries comply with their past pledges, some 45 million children in the worlds poor countries will die needlessly over the next decade, according a new report released Monday by British-based development group, Oxfam.
Despite the fact that Group of Seven countries Germany, France, Italy, Japan, Britain, the United States, and Canada are richer than they have ever been, they are spending only half as much in real terms in development assistance as they did in 1960...
READER MICHAEL POBER says he got this from a 'Tex-czech friend and student:' "The Republican National Committee announced today that the Republican Party is changing its emblem from an elephant to a condom. The committee chairman explained that the condom more clearly reflects the party's stance today, because a condom accepts inflation, halts production, destroys the next generation, protects a bunch of pricks, and gives you a sense of security while you're actually getting screwed."-The Progressive Review
Today, federal and state governments spend between $40 and $60 billion per year to fight the war on drugs, about ten times the amount spent in 1980 -- and billions more to keep drug felons in jail. The U.S. now has more than 318,000 people behind bars for drug-related offenses, more than the total prison populations of the United Kingdom, France, Germany, Italy, and Spain combined.-Cato Institute
Our prison population has increased by 400 percent since 1980, while the general population has increased just 20 percent. America also now has the highest incarceration rate in the world -- 732 of every 100,000 citizens are behind bars.
The drug war has wrought the zero tolerance mindset, asset forfeiture laws, mandatory minimum sentences, and countless exceptions to criminal defense and civil liberties protections. Some sociologists blame it for much of the plight of America's inner cities. Others point out that it has corrupted law enforcement, just as alcohol prohibition did in the 1920s.
Those who cover war dine out on the myth about war and the myth about themselves as war correspondents. Yes, they say, it is horrible, and dirty and ugly; for many of them it is also glamorous and exciting and empowering. They look out from the windows of Humvees for a few seconds at Iraqi families, cowering in fear, and only rarely see the effects of the firepower. When they are forced to examine what bullets, grenades, and shells do to human bodies they turn away in disgust or resort to black humor to dehumanize the corpses. They cannot stay long, in any event, since they must leave the depressing scene behind for the next mission. The tragedy is replaced, as it is for us at home who watch it on television screens, by a light moment or another story. It becomes easier to forget that another human life has been ruined beyond repair, that what is unfolding is not only tragic for tens of thousands of Iraqis but for the United States.-concerning Generation Kill: Devil Dogs, Iceman, Captain America and the New Face of American War
One of the Marines in the book returns to California and is invited to be the guest of honor in a gated community in Malibu, a place where he could never afford to live. The residents want to toast him as a war hero.
"I'm not a hero," he tells the guests. "Guys like me are just a necessary part of things. To maintain this way of life in a fine community like this, you need psychos like us to go out and drop a bomb on somebody's house."
He reminds us of the lopsidedness of the war, something painfully apparent to Iraqis and perhaps not always appreciated by those who were embedded with the invading force. American and British fighter jets had total control of the skies and carried out air strikes with few losses and little more than desultory antiaircraft fire. Anderson, through his own blunders, quickly uncovers the humiliation Iraqis feel, a humiliation that, even though they hate the dictator, sees them rejoice in the supposed downing of an American jet or the crippling of an American tank. The abject humiliation endured at the hands of the invading Americans goes a long way toward explaining the virulence of the current armed resistance to the occupation.-concerning The Fall of Baghdad
Anderson has a sensitivity that saves his book from being, like so many war memoirs, voyeurism. He keeps to a minimum the pornographic images of violence and deprivation. He manages to write with empathy about ordinary Iraqis, who deserved neither Saddam Hussein nor the Americans. Although the Iraqis he follows are confined largely to the elite or the small staff who work for him, he nevertheless puts a human face on the suffering endured by those on the other end of our weapons systems. The privations of the Iraqis, of whom as many as 100,000 may by now have been killed in the invasion and occupation, is something that few of us saw during the war, although horrifying images were disseminated through the Arab networks such as al-Jazeera. Such images make it hard to sell the enterprise of war or boost the circulation of newspapers or the ratings of cable news channels that use the myth of war to attract viewers or readers. This mythic narrative of war is what most at home desire to see and hear. The reality of war is so revolting and horrifying that if we did see war it would be hard for us to wage it.
-MetafilterIf we were having this conversation in 1985, and I had said to you, “Four years from now the Soviet Union will collapse and in six years it will disappear,” you would have thought, “This is not a reliable observer.” But the U.S.S.R. is gone -- disappeared -- and we didn’t predict it. Russia today is a much smaller country than the former Soviet Union. The CIA had all the wrong data. We also made a mistake when we concluded that we had won the Cold War. We had almost nothing to do with what happened in the Soviet Union: there were internal issues and it certainly wasn’t Star Wars. We now know in detail how Gorbachev brought Sakharov out of exile in Gorky to address the Politburo on, “What would you do about a ballistic missile defense?” Sakharov said, “It’s easy to overwhelm it with missiles. I wouldn’t spend a ruble on it.” And they didn’t. But in mistakenly thinking that we won the Cold War, we strongly imply that we did something to cause that. Instead, the Soviet Union collapsed because of overstretch, a case of imperial overstretch.
An Empire of More Than 725 Military Bases An interview with Chalmers Johnson, author of Blowback and The Sorrows Of Empire
Well, I`m the host of "Democracy Now" that comes out of Pacifica network. Pacifica was founded 55 years ago by a man named Lew Hill. He was a conscientious objector, refused to fight in World War II. When he came out of the detention camps, he says, There has -- he said, There has to be a media outlet run not by corporations that profit from war but by journalists and artists, and so Pacifica Radio went on the air April 15, 1949. It was 3:00 o'clock in the afternoon. Lou Hill welcomed people to the airwaves of the first Pacifica station, KPFA. Oh, he had to give out FM radios because FM was in its infancy.The rest of the interview is a great read, especially for the dirt on Tom Brokaw and the comments about the Charlie Rose interview.
And then immediately, as they turned it on, he was asking for money because Pacifica pioneered the idea of listener-sponsored radio. It`s been adopted by NPR and PBS, the idea of not turning to corporations but turning to listeners for support, the idea of not being run by corporations that as George Gerbner, professor of journalism at the Annenberg School at University of Pennsylvania and founder of the cultural Environment Movement says, not run by corporations that have nothing to tell and everything to sell, that are raising our children today.
Pacifica Network grew to five stations. In the 1950s, Paul Robeson, the great actor, intellectual, singer, activist, when he was white-listed from almost everywhere in this country, except a few black churches, knew he could be heard on KPFA. James Baldwin, debating Malcolm X on the effectiveness of nonviolent civil disobedience, the lunch counter sit-ins of the South, knew he would be broadcast on WBAI. And then when our Houston station, KPFT, went on air in 1970, it`s the only radio station in the country whose transmitter was blown up. In fact, it was blown up twice by the Ku Klux Klan.
And when the Exalted Cyclops, or Grand Dragon -- I get their titles confused -- talked about it, he said it was his proudest act, I think because he understood how dangerous Pacifica is, dangerous because it allows people to speak for themselves and when you hear someone speaking from their own experience, that breaks down bigotry and stereotypes that lead to these hate groups. So for many years now, the Pacifica family of five stations -- WBAI in New York, WPFW in Washington, with KPFT in Houston, KPFA in Berkeley and KPFK in Los Angeles, and then all the community radio station affiliates, we have provided a sanctuary for dissent. And I think that`s so important. I think dissent makes this country healthy. That`s where I come from.
"Democracy Now" was founded in 1996 as the only daily election show in public broadcasting. I host that show, a daily, unembedded, international, independent grass-roots news hour. Several years ago, we were on several dozen community radio stations. And now we are broadcasting on over 220 Pacifica radio stations and affiliates, increasingly NPR stations, public access TV stations around the country. Now we`re on PBS, and we broadcast on Dish Network Free Speech TV, which is channel 9415, the oldest non-profit TV station in the country.
Forty democratic senators were gathered for a lunch in March just off the Senate floor. I was there as a guest speaker. Joe Biden was telling a story, a story about the president. "I was in the Oval Office a few months after we swept into Baghdad," he began, "and I was telling the president of my many concerns" - concerns about growing problems winning the peace, the explosive mix of Shiite and Sunni, the disbanding of the Iraqi Army and problems securing the oil fields. Bush, Biden recalled, just looked at him, unflappably sure that the United States was on the right course and that all was well. "'Mr. President,' I finally said, 'How can you be so sure when you know you don't know the facts?"'
Biden said that Bush stood up and put his hand on the senator's shoulder. "My instincts," he said. "My instincts."
Biden paused and shook his head, recalling it all as the room grew quiet. "I said, 'Mr. President, your instincts aren't good enough!"'
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."
Who besides guys like me are part of the reality-based community? Many of the other elected officials in Washington, it would seem. A group of Democratic and Republican members of Congress were called in to discuss Iraq sometime before the October 2002 vote authorizing Bush to move forward. A Republican senator recently told Time Magazine that the president walked in and said: "Look, I want your vote. I'm not going to debate it with you." When one of the senators began to ask a question, Bush snapped, "Look, I'm not going to debate it with you."
I eventually finished the piece and decided to go see the war since I had been in Beirut and Angola, but had never seen trench warfare, which is what I was told they had going in Iran. So I took a taxi to the front, introduced myself to the local commander, who had gone, as I recall, to Iowa State, and spent a couple days waiting for the impending human wave attack. That attack was to be conducted primarily with 11-and 12-year-old boys as troops, nearly all of them unarmed. There were several thousand kids and their job was to rise out of the trench, praising Allah, run across No Man's Land, be killed by the Iraqi machine gunners, then go directly to Paradise, do not pass GO, do not collect 200 dinars. And that's exactly what happened in a battle lasting less than 10 minutes. None of the kids fired a shot or made it all the way to the other side. And when I asked the purpose of this exercise, I was told it was to demoralize the cowardly Iraqi soldiers.
It was the most horrific event I have ever seen, and I once covered a cholera epidemic in Bangladesh that killed 40,000 people.
Waiting those two nights for the attack was surreal. Some kids acted as though nothing was wrong while others cried and puked. But when the time came to praise Allah and enter Paradise, not a single boy tried to stay behind.
Now put this in a current context. What effective limit is there to the number of Islamic kids willing to blow themselves to bits? There is no limit, which means that a Bush Doctrine can't really stand in that part of the world. But of course President Bush, who may think he pulled the switch on a couple hundred Death Row inmates in Texas, has probably never seen a combat death. He doesn't get it and he'll proudly NEVER get it.
Welcome to the New Morality.
Jon Ronson knew from his investigation into US military intelligence that top brass had adopted some strange practices. Jamal al-Harith, the Briton released from Guantánamo in the spring, confirmed it: here, in our second extract from Ronson's revealing new book, he describes the discordant sounds and apparently random music played to him during all-day interrogation sessions, and four psychological warfare experts give their reaction
If you voted for Bush, didn't vote, or voted no on gay marriage, I hope you get drafted. I hope they stick you in my unit, and you go with me to Iraq when my unit goes back in September. I will laugh when you see what soldiers in that country face on a daily basis. I hope you work with gay soldiers too. I did. One of them saved my life. Think he shouldn't have the right to get married? Fuck you. He fought just as hard as I did and on most days, did his job better than me. Don't tell me gays don't have the same rights you do. Think the war in Iraq is a good thing? I'll donate my M-16 to you and you can go in my place.-A US Soldier.
8. National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice said that high-strength aluminum tubes acquired by Iraq were "only really suited for nuclear weapons programs," warning "we don't want the smoking gun to be a mushroom cloud." The government's top nuclear scientists had told the Administration the tubes were "too narrow, too heavy, too long" to be of use in developing nuclear weapons and could be used for other purposes.
"Although I am not personally in favor of the legalization of drugs, the general feeling is that the opportunity has been missed to profoundly reform a dangerous and obsolete legal framework and replace it with a modern and effective policy," wrote Kendall, who headed the international police body from 1985 to 2000 and who remains its honorary head.-Progressive Review
Drug prohibition simply does not work, Kendall pointed out. Despite decades of suppression efforts, "cannabis has become a common substance with high rates of consumption, sometimes more accessible than alcohol," he wrote, while the distribution of drugs like cocaine and ecstasy is steadily increasing despite the billions of dollars poured into the drug war.
Scientists are trained to rigorously pursue the truth through empirical research and experimentation, transparent methodologies, constant testing of hypotheses, and review and critique by technically qualified peers. Most unflinchingly share their findings, whether the news is good or bad. Politicians, on the other hand, don't like to say what their constituents don't want to hear. As one of our most famous living biologists, E. O. Wilson, said recently, "Science is not a religion, ideology, or lobby -- it is simply the best method hit upon to acquire knowledge about the real world."-Orion
American political leaders generally have respected scientists over the years. The late Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan said, "Everyone is entitled to their own opinion; they're just not entitled to their own facts." That maxim has held true until now. Science is under assault by the Bush administration and some congressional leaders -- a situation that should make us all, regardless of our political leanings, very worried. The intent behind this assault is to confuse our understanding of truth and to erode the public's trust in science through political manipulation of scientists and their research results. We all will pay a dear price for allowing it to continue.
The federal government, in its first full response to the challenges to indefinite detention of terrorist suspects at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, has made clear how little it believes it lost when the Supreme Court last June gave the detainees a chance to seek their release. Relying as the Justice Department often has on a sweeping claim of presidential warmaking power, the 75 pages of legal argument filed in U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C., on Monday urge a dismissal of all the detainees' challenges with no relief whatsoever.-Tom Paine
The Supreme Court's ruling, according to the main point of the government's brief, "did nothing more" than allow the detainees to petition for their release. That, it says, was purely a jurisdictional ruling, and the Court in no way offered any view of what should happen once the habeas challenges were pending in District Court. When the merits of the challenges are faced, the brief contends, there are "clear answers" to the questions they raise: "The petitions must be rejected."
The Court, it argues, " did not overturn settled precedent that our Constitution affords no rights to aliens held aborad, or that the treaty and convention provisions relied upon by [the detainees] are somehow actionable in court; indeed, the Court expressly declined to address 'whether and what further proceedings' would be appropriate after remand of the cases to the District Court."
A new source has emerged with what she says is personal knowledge about why George W. Bush prematurely left his Texas National Guard unit in 1972--because nerves, fear and a possible drinking problem were affecting his ability to pilot his F-102A plane.-The Nation
Finally, near the end, Kerry praised Bush for his public service, and his wife, and his daughters. "I'm trying to put a leash on them," Bush said. That was hard work, too. "Well, I don't know," replied Kerry, who also has daughters. "I've learned not to do that, Mr. President." Even in the banter about parental control, Kerry gained the upper hand.-Salon
But Bush lost more than control in the first debate. He lost the plot.
So yesterday the US government's head weapon inspector issues a report showing the Iraq had no WMDs, or capability to produce WMDs, at the same time that Dubya's administration was claiming that Saddam was such a deadly threat that the US needed to attack.-Pacific Views
So what does VP Cheney have to say about this? The fact that Saddam had no WMDs made it even more urgent that the US attack Iraq.
Our brain hurts trying to follow that logic.
Doug Giebel thinks Bush's world is falling apart. Readers of FmH know that I have long speculated that Bush is an incurious and malleable patsy of his handlers in the misadministration; a rigid credulous ne'er-do-well of simpleminded faith who has not been lying so much as lied to by his advisers puppetmasters. Giebel agrees, and thinks that what we were seeing in the first debate was Dubya's dawning realization, despite being the "most insulated leader in our history", of the contradictions. It is crediting Bush with alot, I know, to think that he is beginning to grasp this. Giebel actually seems to pity the man, which is a neat solution to the pain it causes some of us to hold him in such utter contempt.-FmH
Meanwhile, the Bloated, Bloviating Blowhole of BS, that endless font of lies and distortion, Michael Moore, attends the Democrat convention and shares a skybox with Mr. Malaise, the appeaser of anti-American dictators from Kim IL Sung to Castro to Hugo Chavez, the King of the Useful Idiots, Jimmy Carter. Is it just me or was it more than a tad ironic that in her statement last week denouncing the SVFT ads, a Kerry campaign flak made reference to one of Michael Moore's many scurrilous lies?-Teri
The plight of women in developing countries isn't addressed much in the West, and it certainly isn't a hot topic in the presidential campaign. But it's a life-and-death matter in villages like Meerwala, a 12-hour drive southeast from Islamabad.-the very same NYT Teri despises
In June 2002, the police say, members of a high-status tribe sexually abused one of Ms. Mukhtaran's brothers and then covered up their crime by falsely accusing him of having an affair with a high-status woman. The village's tribal council determined that the suitable punishment for the supposed affair was for high-status men to rape one of the boy's sisters, so the council sentenced Ms. Mukhtaran to be gang-raped.
As members of the high-status tribe danced in joy, four men stripped her naked and took turns raping her. Then they forced her to walk home naked in front of 300 villagers.
In Pakistan's conservative Muslim society, Ms. Mukhtaran's duty was now clear: she was supposed to commit suicide. "Just like other women, I initially thought of killing myself," said Ms. Mukhtaran, now 30. Her older brother, Hezoor Bux, explained: "A girl who has been raped has no honorable place in the village. Nobody respects the girl, or her parents. There's a stigma, and the only way out is suicide."
A girl in the next village was gang-raped a week after Ms. Mukhtaran, and she took the traditional route: she swallowed a bottle of pesticide and dropped dead.
But instead of killing herself, Ms. Mukhtaran testified against her attackers and propounded the shocking idea that the shame lies in raping, rather than in being raped. The rapists are now on death row, and President Pervez Musharraf presented Ms. Mukhtaran with the equivalent of $8,300 and ordered round-the-clock police protection for her.
Ms. Mukhtaran, who had never gone to school herself, used the money to build one school in the village for girls and another for boys - because, she said, education is the best way to achieve social change. The girls' school is named for her, and she is now studying in its fourth-grade class.
"Why should I have spent the money on myself?" she asked, adding, "This way the money is helping all the girls, all the children."
I wish the story ended there. But the Pakistani government has neglected its pledge to pay the schools' operating expenses. "The government made lots of promises, but it hasn't done much," Ms. Mukhtaran said bluntly.
She has had to buy food for the police who protect her, as well as pay some school expenses. So, she said, "I've run out of money." Unless the schools can raise new funds, they may have to close.
Meanwhile, villagers say that relatives of the rapists are waiting for the police to leave and then will put Ms. Mukhtaran in her place by slaughtering her and her entire family. I walked to the area where the high-status tribesmen live. They denied planning to kill Ms. Mukhtaran, but were unapologetic about her rape.
"Mukhtaran is totally disgraced," Taj Bibi, a matriarch in a high-status family, said with satisfaction. "She has no respect in society."
…please stop saying that the Vietnam war was a mistake. Only those who believe that defeating the Soviet Union and ending the Cold War was a mistake would believe that, a group that includes Senator John Kerry.Of course, it could be as she goes on to say, "…that goes along with thinking the Reagan years were eight years of "moral darkness." If you read this post, then I guess I'm guilty as charged.
...much of what goes wrong in and around government is far more a product of culture than of conspiracy. If you plant corn in a field you are going to get corn and not cauliflower. If you impose prohibition - for either alcohol or drugs - you are going to create a massive class of criminals as well as corrupt law enforcement and politicians. If you train young men and women in unrestrained violence you may end up with Abu Ghraib. If you train college students to see themselves as chosen keepers of political and social truths you are going to end up with the Washington Post city room. And so forth.-Sam Smith
As America sinks deeper into its culture of impunity, in which corruption is the norm rather than a deviance, the country's elite will lash out at those who questioned its acts, its morality and its wisdom. But please don't think there necessarily has to be a conspiracy involved. In many case it's just the way they growed.