Saturday, October 2

Republicans for Kerry

For those of you with Republican friends that have become dismayed with Fearless "as long as it ain't a horse, or honest journalist" Leader, in general, or had the glazed knocked off of their eyes, by his dismal performance in the debate, there is a place to find arguments and a comunity. When one's faith is broken, it is nice to know you have company. Republicans for Kerry has both. Some examples follow.
...This is also to say that the "moral majority" types that seem to have stolen away control away from the Republican party would and should make a clean break from mainstream politics and form their own party with the clear intention of making this country a theocracy....----pabella3

...Though I'm strongly pro-life and moderately against gay marriage, I've tired of them being federal election issues. I believe that too many Christians want to simply outlaw everything that's in conflict with their belief system so they don't have to teach their children the icky details of life, or influence their society for the better....----Dan Rakowski
Now Dan, I like Dan
I was going to stick with Bush this Fall, despite a hundred logical reasons not to, because he is our Commander in Chief during a very difficult war and very trying times.

But I woke up this morning at 2:30 am, and couldn't get back to sleep... I did a lot of thinking. Here's what I was willing to forgive, up to this point, in relation to our president's shortcomings:

I was willing to forgive Bush's attitude toward toward the environment -- I figured 8 years wasn't enough time to make things much worse. I was wrong.

I was willing to forgive how he screwed up estate tax law with no consideration given to the big picture, so badly that it backfired on the state level -- just to make political points.
I was willing to forgive the fact that he didn't win the popular vote -- I got a kick out of seeing democrats so angry.

I was willing to forgive -- just barely -- the fact that he was going to misuse a constitutional convention to EXCLUDE rights from a group of Americans.
Lets allow the other shoe to drop, if the last bit had not established his "cred"
I was willing to forgive these huge deficits -- we're at war, and they're only temporary, right?

But I am not willing to forgive his hairbrained scheme to wreck the financial planning industry while simultaneously lowering tax receipts with his poorly conceived RSA (retirement savings account) proposal.

My protest vote goes to Kerry.
There's boatloads more and I haven't read it all, but if you need help you may find it here.

Friedman has found Shrill

And I like it. Mr "I've been busy writing a book, so if you don't mind a little reminder as I start off this column with that fact" Friedman has a new column out in the NYT. Short Friedman, "We are having our asses handed to us in Iraq." What really pleased me is the following observations.
What happened? The Bush team got its doctrines mixed up: it applied the Powell Doctrine to the campaign against John Kerry - "overwhelming force" without mercy, based on a strategy of shock and awe at the Republican convention, followed by a propaganda blitz that got its message across in every possible way, including through distortion. If only the Bush team had gone after the remnants of Saddam's army in the Sunni Triangle with the brutal efficiency it has gone after Senator Kerry in the Iowa-Ohio-Michigan triangle. If only the Bush team had spoken to Iraqis and Arabs with as clear a message as it did to the Republican base. No, alas, while the Bush people applied the Powell Doctrine in the Midwest, they applied the Rumsfeld Doctrine in the Middle East. And the Rumsfeld Doctrine is: "Just enough troops to lose." Donald Rumsfeld tried to prove that a small, mobile army was all that was needed to topple Saddam, without realizing that such a limited force could never stabilize Iraq. He never thought it would have to. He thought his Iraqi pals would do it. He was wrong.
Sometimes I wonder how some of these pundits have a job peddling their screeds, but Mr Friedman has earned my momentary respect with this analysis of the situation. In fact, I really wish I had made the connection myself as freaking obvious as it is. Thanks to pbb for the hot tip.

Best Debate Description, and yet another picture

Reading some comments at the eschaton, Kay shared this precious observation with us.
About 40 minutes in Thursday night, my husband said, "This is why Andy wouldn't give Barney the bullets." I smiled or something; I was too busy celebrating to appreciate the analogy.

This morning I read Tom Shales in a WaPo column: "One longtime political observer -- among the friends canvassed by this critic -- was more irreverent about the debate and how the two debaters came off: "It was Andy Griffith meets Barney Fife," he said, with Kerry in the Griffith role -- solid, sanguine, sensible -- and Bush as the nervous Fife."

Here you go
quick and dirty

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3 Faces of the Petulant Child

Left. "Ah'm the preznit dammitt!"
Center. "Karl should've let me eat
that ice cream after dinner."
Right. "What the hell am I doing up here."

Graffiti from Iraq

This Yahoo story has the goods on Bathroom graffiti in Iraq.

AL-ASAD AIRBASE, Iraq (AFP) - The US military, which traditionally avoids meddling in politics, is expressing its views about the US presidential race in the one place where a soldier can speak his mind freely: the latrines.

AFP/Illustration Photo

Here, in graffiti, young soldiers wax philosophical -- albeit crudely and with a fondness for four-letter words -- about God, death, President George W. Bush (news - web sites) and his democratic rival John Kerry (news - web sites).

And if one straw poll is to be believed on this gigantic air base in the western Iraqi desert, Kerry is due to rout Bush in the November 2 elections after the Massachusetts senator picked up 73 votes to 58 on the bathroom wall.

However, the vote has come in for criticism amid suspicions Kerry supporters voted more than once due to the identical hashmarks on his side of the column inside the foul, humid brown and green plastic stalls, known as "Port-a-Johns".

While independent presidential candidate Ralph Nader (news - web sites) received nary a mention, some marines nominated pornography kingpins Hugh Hefner and Larry Flynt onto the latrine wall ballots.

What follows is a selection of some of the goodstuff.

"Here I sit cheeks a-flexin'. Bout to make another Texan," one rhyme reads, repeated in multiple stalls.

"Fuck Texas" reads another slogan, prompting threats of death from a defender of the Lonestar state.

Another slogan reads: "Texas = steers and queers," in a crude verbal assault on Texans' code of manhood.

One diatribe says: "The only thing Bush cares about is a good fight to make a name for himself. If you think he really cares about us you're out of your fucking mind. If you really believe 9/11 is related to Iraq then you're just as delusional as the hippie that thinks there will ever be world peace.

"You're not fighting for America. You're fighting for fucked-up politics. End of story Cinderella."

Another pundit opines: "If you are a retard, vote Bush. He is too!"

While bush does have some support, it comes from Rush Drunk, mouthbreathers, claiming Kerry will cut your pay, or in the form of challenging Kerry's manhood. I hope our brave fighting men got a snootfull of Dubya's petulant child act. Thanks to SoLeft at the eschaton for the headsup.

Thursday, September 30

Bush Blew It. He Isn't Up to the Job and You Know it.

I had a short vision in the minutes before the debate. I pictured a pinhead sneaking off, looking for a place to hide and finding a woodshed, and slipping inside.

Out of the corner of my eye, I catch sight of a dude that resembles that dude that played atticus in that movie- "to kill sompthin' or 'nother" -walking in the direction of said woodshed, with an object, obscured by the setting sun in the background, in hand. There is a certain dignity in the stride of the man with a purpose, meanwhile pinhead sidles down, for a nice comfy nap. I kina feel sorry for the little guy.

What a show folks, if you had the divine opportunity to watch the split sceen, watching the CiT smirk, purse his lips and generally look like a petulant child.
It was a sight to behold.

In the good news department

Another Republican and son of a former president, has decided to leave the party and endorse Kerry. John Eisenhower, son of the Former Five star General, and President of the United States, Dwight D. Eisenhower, has pulled his support from Bush and now plans to vote for John Kerry.
In a rare public announcement, Eisenhower said he switched his party affiliation from Republican to independent after 50 years after losing confidence in his former party. He said Kerry has demonstrated courage, competence and a concern for tackling the "widening socio-economic gap in this country."

"There are times when we must break with the past, and I believe this is one of them," Eisenhower wrote in the opinion column published Tuesday in The Union Leader of Manchester, N.H.

The column assails President Bush (news - web sites) and the GOP for federal budget deficits, for "unilaterally" invading Iraq (news - web sites) and for infringing on personal liberties.
"The fact is that today's 'Republican' Party is one with which I am totally unfamiliar. To me, the word 'Republican' has always been synonymous with the word 'responsibility,' which has meant limiting our governmental obligations to those we can afford in human and financial terms.

"Today's whopping budget deficit of some $440 billion does not meet that criterion," Eisenhower wrote.

Eisenhower, a former U.S. ambassador to Belgium and author, was a registered Republican for 50 years — until the Bush administration's decision to invade Iraq "as a maverick," he wrote.

"Recent developments indicate that the current Republican Party leadership has confused confident leadership with hubris and arrogance," he wrote.

Eisenhower scolded the Republican leadership for embracing a tax code that "heads us in the direction of a society of very rich and very poor."

"Senator Kerry, in whom I am willing to place my trust, has demonstrated that he is courageous, sober, competent, and concerned with fighting the dangers associated with the widening socio-economic gap in this country," he concluded.

Thank you Mr. Eisenhower, you sir are a true Patriot.

BTW, is it just me having trouble getting the Eschaton to finish loading. Ive been having trouble for the last couple of days, though a window did open up yesterday afternoon.

No wonder good news is hard to find

A visit to Steve's has a post containing the contents of an email written by a WSJ reporter living in baghdad that was originally posted on Romanesko's Media News page. The letter was originally written for consumption by fellow reporters, and now the cat is out of the bag.
Subject: From Baghdad

Being a foreign correspondent in Baghdad these days is like being under virtual house arrest. Forget about the reasons that lured me to this job: a chance to see the world, explore the exotic, meet new people in far away lands, discover their ways and tell stories that could make a difference.

Little by little, day-by-day, being based in Iraq has defied all those reasons. I am house bound. I leave when I have a very good reason to and a scheduled interview. I avoid going to people's homes and never walk in the streets. I can't go grocery shopping any more, can't eat in restaurants, can't strike a conversation with strangers, can't look for stories, can't drive in any thing but a full armored car, can't go to scenes of breaking news stories, can't be stuck in traffic, can't speak English outside, can't take a road trip, can't say I'm an American, can't linger at checkpoints, can't be curious about what people are saying, doing, feeling. And can't and can't. There has been one too many close calls, including a car bomb so near our house that it blew out all the windows. So now my most pressing concern every day is not to write a kick-ass story but to stay alive and make sure our Iraqi employees stay alive. In Baghdad I am a security personnel first, a reporter second.

Is it little wonder that all the great news that lurks in every little corner in iraq, fails to see it to the light of day? This gives me an opportunity to use some of a historychannel show I transcribed, for contrast purposes. From Hard Target last Sunday, guest Michael Rubin from the American Enterprise institute, made the following claims about the situation in Iraq the last time he was there.
When I came to Baghdad last July I would see very few women on the street and those that I did see would be walking around basically covered all in black. When I asked my Iraqi friends who were accomanying me, what was going on, they said that it wasn't out of religious conviction, it was out of fear, security, women were afraid frankly of being kidnapped or raped, but starting around October I began to see women on the streets, teenaged girls together without men, without their families around, window shopping, hanging out in Ice cream parlors, at restaurants and that sort of thing
I wonder how freely the Ice cream is flowing these days, or how much window shopping is going on. Granted this report dates from nearly a year ago, which I think was right around the time we started rounding up people and torturing them, about a month after the time that Abu Ghraib recieved a visit from the Head man at Gitmo, Major General Geoffrey Miller.
It's hard to pinpoint when the 'turning point' exactly began. Was it April when the Fallujah fell out of the grasp of the Americans? Was it when Moqtada and Jish Mahdi declared war on the U.S. military? Was it when Sadr City, home to ten percent [2.5 million] of Iraq's population, became a nightly battlefield for the Americans? Or was it when the insurgency began spreading from isolated pockets in the Sunni triangle to include most of Iraq? Despite President Bush's rosy assessments, Iraq remains a disaster. If under Saddam it was a 'potential' threat, under the Americans it has been transformed to 'imminent and active threat,' a foreign policy failure bound to haunt the United States for decades to come.
April in Fallujah was a start, pictures from Abu Ghraib, sealed the deal. The Iraqi's had heard all about the goings on in that prison and were likely convinced of the veracity of the tales told, but to see the pictures, and possibly be able to identify friends neighbors or reletives......all bets were off. Game over. Not in keeping with the rosy outlook we keep hearing about. I would not be suprised if Sadr City, might not be one of the places that will not participate in the "January *cough* farce *cough* Elections". It gets worse of course.
Iraqis like to call this mess 'the situation.' When asked 'how are thing?' they reply: 'the situation is very bad."

What they mean by situation is this: the Iraqi government doesn't control most Iraqi cities, there are several car bombs going off each day around the country killing and injuring scores of innocent people, the country's roads are becoming impassable and littered by hundreds of landmines and explosive devices aimed to kill American soldiers, there are assassinations, kidnappings and beheadings. The situation, basically, means a raging barbaric guerilla war. In four days, 110 people died and over 300 got injured in Baghdad alone. The numbers are so shocking that the ministry of health -- which was attempting an exercise of public transparency by releasing the numbers -- has now stopped disclosing them.

Insurgents now attack Americans 87 times a day.
How did that go Georgie boy? "Bring 'em On"? They brought it and we don't seem to have the, eh, how did you put it? "We've got the force necessary to deal with the security situation." Oh yeah. Not so much george, While it would be fun to believe that all those iraqi girls are hanging out in Ice Cream shops, etc, that fantasy, if it ever existed, is long gone buddy.
One could argue that Iraq is already lost beyond salvation. For those of us on the ground it's hard to imagine what if any thing could salvage it from its violent downward spiral. The genie of terrorism, chaos and mayhem has been unleashed onto this country as a result of American mistakes and it can't be put back into a bottle.

The Iraqi government is talking about having elections in three months while half of the country remains a 'no go zone'-out of the hands of the government and the Americans and out of reach of journalists. In the other half, the disenchanted population is too terrified to show up at polling stations. The Sunnis have already said they'd boycott elections, leaving the stage open for polarized government of Kurds and Shiites that will not be deemed as legitimate and will most certainly lead to civil war.

I asked a 28-year-old engineer if he and his family would participate in
the Iraqi elections since it was the first time Iraqis could to some degree elect a leadership. His response summed it all: "Go and vote and risk being blown into pieces or followed by the insurgents and murdered for cooperating with the Americans? For what? To practice democracy? Are you joking?"
As long as President Fantacy Island, continues to smoke whatever it is he is smoking, and refuse to acknowledge the actual realities on the ground, things are likely to get so bad that Kerry will be saddled with "Mission Impossible", when he takes office in January. Of course if the criminals pull off whatever multifront election fraud they have planned, you can take it to the bank that Fallujah will be carpet bombed starting the first weekend of November, and selective service offices allready in place will be ready to start a draft. As casualties mount you can thank the FUBAR in Chief, and his NeoCon puppeteers for the lofty dreams, of a co-dependant, sphere of capitalistic freedom, that free market utopia, for soiling the good name of liberty, and democracy, and in our name to boot. Thanks, Jackass.

Wednesday, September 29

Defender of an American Way

Below are a couple of pictures of our angry professor, who by now is probably having a few regrets about having his spleen venting invective posted on line.

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If you like you can visit the Professors Web Site.

White hot Rage, Frustration, the fighting 101st Keyboard Brigade.

The following was brought to my attention at Gilliards, which directed to Obsidian, and to a place called Horse Feathers, where the following letter was posted. I am not gonna go through the whole thing, but challenge a few assertions made by it's author. I would recomend taking a look at the source at horse feathers and also the comments made by Steve and Edward at obsidian.

Letter To Our Enemies

I'm an ordinary American. Wife (whom I love and respect), 2 kids (to whom I would give both of my kidneys), 2 cars (ten years old), big mortgage, and a job not always pleasurable.

I've worked hard all my adult life to provide for my family, to be useful, and not go out of my way to injure anyone. Like most Americans, I knew little about arab-muslim culture and believed that the developed nations were partly responsible for the poverty and authoritarian regimes that infest the middle east.

Happy that you have been able to keep your instinct to throttle those that piss you off in check. I must admit that at times I can think of a few unauthorized uses for a 2x4, but I too have been lucky to keep those impulses in check.
Unlike most americans I have been somewhat interested in understanding the other cultures that share a place in the world with us, and what effect our actions may have on cultural sensibilities in the various regions of the world that we operate. I feel that a failure to understand our impact on the world stage has had, and will continue to have disastous consequences for our nation. You are correct when you suggest the complicity of developed nations, including our own.
Things changed on 9/11/01 when you ruined the lives of at least 10,000 Americans.
I am sorry but I must respectfully disagree. Nothing changed, Ill admit that what happened was on a larger scale than we are accustomed to, and hit us instead of someone else, but it remains a criminal terrorist act, yet another in a long line of tragic uses of the tactic. If anything we really should not have been suprised. Terrorists tried to take out the WTC in 1993 (killing 6 and wounding 1000), in a spectacular act of terrorism, that was not eclipsed until homegrown terrorists struck in Oklahoma City (killing 168).
These people instantly became my countrymen and you became my mortal enemy.
I believe that "these people" were always your countrymen, and if it is not to much to ask, could you be a bit more clear who you are referring to as your mortal enemy, because by most accounts, the perps died in the attacks.

Ordinary Americans are arming themselves for war with you. I and many of my friends have closets full of handguns, rifles, shotguns and thousands of cartridges.

If we had enough ammunition and time, we would kill every last one of you.

OK this is the part where I start getting a tad nervous. I think you could go along way towards calming my fears if you would specify who exactly is the target of your anger and rage. I can't stress enough the importance of defining a specific enemy, before we load up the weapons and go off in search of the enemy. We really don't want to be guilty of killing innocent people. That would only open another can of worms, one we could avoid by the judicious use of the force that you endorse.

We completely support our President and our armed forces. We only wish they would destroy you faster, but we are certain that they will.

It is becomming clear to me that you do not have a clearly defined enemy. I support the troops, but it is clear to me that the president has not earned my support. If this enemy that you speak of is Al Qaeda, our president failed to destroy that enemy, when he turned his sights on the removal of Saddam. Was Saddam a bad guy?, sure, was he a threat to our security?, saddly no. Are there terrorists in Iraq?, sure. Are we killing Iraqi's fighting to liberate their country form an occupying force?, unfortunately we are. Are innocent people caught in the crossfire being killed and maimed? Might their reletives feel the same anger that you do, might they have justifiable visions of revenge?
We no longer listen to the insane words of Kerry, Harkin, Kennedy, Clark, and others whom we now see as ideologues who would sacrifice our country and our lives on the alter of their vanity and desire for power.

We no longer listen to our secular mullahs, our media fools, preaching hatred of America and sapping our will with their lies and deceptions.
Here is where you lose me. I can understand your hatred of muslims and your desire for retribution, though I certainly would not sanction it. But when you categorize the words of respectable and thoughtfull people who have devoted their lives to public service as insane, and suggest that they and anyone who might agree with them "would sacrifice our country" I think you have gone too far. I fear that you would consider me one of these ideologues, and if your letter addresses me as well as Islamic terrorists, then we have a problem, because now your sights are trained on me and sir, I am not your enemy.
We watch your cowardly methods of killing by beheading. We are disgusted. But we are not afraid.

You turn your women and children into walking bombs. We are disgusted. But we are not afraid.

You shoot and rape children. You kill their mothers before their eyes. You burn, hang, and tear apart the bodies of your victims, and then play with body parts. We are disgusted. But we are not afraid.

Why should we fear you? What ARE you to be feared? You are cowards. Your bravado is a clown mask that hides the soul of a ghoul. You are not able even to manufacture the knives you use to butcher your bound victims.
Unfortunately it would appear that we have also shot and raped children over there. In fact it seems that the only cultural sensibilities that we accustomed ourselves with was the knowledge that shame and humiliation could be used to soften up "intellegence assets" and unfortunately people who had nothing to do with the insurgency. As far as the manufacture of knives is concerned, some of the best knives ever made were were composed of "Damascus steel", and Pakistan happens to be an exporter of cheap knives. I might even suggest that there is a forge somewhere in Iraq.
One day soon, our planes and missiles will begin turning your mosques, your madrasses, your hotels, your government offices, your hideouts, and your neighborhoods into rubble.

And then our soldiers will enter your cities and begin the work of killing you, roaches, as you crawl from the debris.

The above makes it clear that your thinking is clouded by rage. Where outside of Iraq are these planes and troops headed. We have already accomplished most of the above in Iraq, and things arent really going too well over there right now. This is why I suggest that you be specific in describing our enemies, because the above looks to me like an endorsement to carpet bomb most of asia, and kill the survivors. Who are we gonna bomb and who are the roaches. Are we gonna go after Pakistan, the entire Arabian penensula, Syria, Iran, Egypt, Tunisia, Lybia, Algeria, Morrocco, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, Kyrgystan,Tajikistan, Indonesia? Are we going after all the Muslims or all the Arabs. I remain confused about who we are supposed to kill, and that bothers me.

As cowards, you will have your hands in the air and you will get on your knees begging for mercy. And we will instead give you justice. Your actions and your words long ago placed you far from any considerations of mercy. You are not men.

And if you come to this country and harm a child, shoot a mother, hijack a bus, or bomb a mall, we will do what we did in 1775. Millions of us will form militias.

We will burn your mosques.

We will invade the offices of pro-arab-muslim organizations, destroy them, and drag their officers outside.

We will tell the chancellors of universities either to muzzle or remove anti American professors, whose hatred for their own country we have tolerated only because we place a higher value on freedom of speech. But we will no longer tolerate treason. We will muzzle and remove them.

Thanks for clearing it up for me. Your target is the religion of Islam, and those that you see as traitors, people who would exercise their first ammendment rights and happen to disagree with your world view. On how many fronts do you plan to prosecute this war. It would seem to me that you see the enemy around every corner, and I am now convinced that you would view me as one of them. So you advocate the torching of mosques, the beating or murder of members of pro-Arab-Muslim-organizations, and the removal and muzzling of "anti-American Professors. Could we agree on a few ground rules before your militia bands start roming the countryside looking to take out enemies of the state?

We will transport arab-muslims to our deserts, where they can pray to scorpions under the blazing sun.

You have fucked with the wrong people.

We will rid the world of your foul breath.

Your caliphate will be your grave.

I hope that made you feel better, got some of that hate and rage out of the system and can proceed with a clearer mind. What troubles me most are the folks in agreement.
Great post I really loved it and many thanks to Vilmar at BMEWS for the link.-al
The ammo this rifle uses is the same as the AK47, which you will find many of your patriotic neighbors are also shooting. Standardizing on a common cartridge is a good thing.

BTW - I found out about this site from Kim du Toit's blog. Glad to be here.-magnus
Well Said!-Lincoln
revenge is wonderful-bernard
Outstanding brother!-Wolf
"we will do what we did in 1775. Millions of us will form militias" , hope to see you there!-Ruger
I second the AWRM link. This isn't the white power government hating web site that the media warned you about. Just a bunch of good but vigilant guys trying to be prepared for whatever domestic duty they may be called into action for.

You want to see change in this country? Lobby congress and the president to loose the militia against invaders coming over the Mexican border. Guests in this country are welcome through the front door, but sneak in the back window and we'll shoot you on sight.-magnus
I fought those bastards in Somalia only to have my weak government take us home after some of my friends were killed and I was wounded. We did our jobs and were ready to finish it. However too many didnt have the stomach too, nor the brains to let our Generals fight the way it is needed. If it comes time for us to form the militias and fight as brothers, I am there, and so are many more.-RangerLee
The good professor, who did in fact authorize it's publication, adds the following:

It's more than nice to know that my feelings are shared by so many other folks--most of whom have served their nation longer and better than I.

For a long time I've become more and more alien to my (former) friends, and they to me. Unless there is something fundamentally different in how we make sense of things, I can only believe that they have never allowed themselves (never "lowered" themselves enough) to imagine what it would feel like to jump out of the Twin Towers to avoid being burned to death, and never listened to a man scream through his bleeding neck stump after being butchered before the camera.
But, for the record, I want to say that I did not write my Open Letter to Our Enemies to incite violence; and I do not advocate taking any illegal actions. [I'm sure you understand...]

I was writing to express the burning rage I feel every time another of our soldiers is killed and every time politicians, media heads, and academics discredit our nation and weaken our morale. I was writing what I believe will happen if our enemies attack us again.


While i am sure that the exercise of writing this letter was cathartic, this rhetoric of blind hatred is exactly the type that is used to incite violence, it is language that fires the passions of the lynch mob. Because you say otherwise does not absolve you of responsibility. The terrifying thing is how many seem to be willing to join you in this war. This guy is a perfect example.

These muslims even want to wipe out 'simpathizers' living among us within our own country. This means you Dan Rather, this also means you Habib at the local 7-11, this also means you Jimmah Carter, this also means you Nancy Pelosi - sorry, they don't negotiate. They won't be bribed. Too bad for Clinton, that was his strongsuit.

For once and all it is time for all Americans to decide. You have two choices... Grab Your Nuts, or Grab Your Ankles. Which way is it going to be. The hippie-days of koombaya are over, junior.

I'll be in the later category standing shoulder to shoulder with Mr. Kozloff, RangerLee, Magnus and other people willing to put it all on the line to protect our country from the true enemies, outside and within.

Thank you again, Mr. Kozloff. You are a true American, and I am proud as hell to have you on my side.


I feel safer now, knowing that while the rage seems primarily directed at brown turbin wearing folks, a peripheral front of attack would include former presidents, and present members of congress. At least I am not first on the enemies list, which should give me some time to maneuver when the shooting starts. There is plenty more over there to enjoy, and many sane points made in the comments.

Tuesday, September 28

What the hell

From Suburban Guerilla to the Poor Man, inspiring a nod of one of my personae, an oldie but a goody. The following showed up in my inbox about 2 1/2 years ago and I don't think I stopped laughing for days. I am a sick bastard by most accounts.

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This is Just Horrible

A friend of a medic working in Iraq forwarded this email for publication. On the off chance that any of you that visit this fine establishment and don't check out Gilliards place on a regular basis, I will post some of it here and suggest you read the rest. Pass it along. This needs coverage far and wide.
The daily news reports are somewhat antiseptic and it's easy to lose track of the meaning of the words. Those in our positions should not.

This is a note I received this morning from a colleague working in Iraq. This is what it's like. Today. Last week. I've taken the ID off of it, but it's a trustworthy source from my immediate sphere of friends and I know him well.

GSW is gunshot wound. EPW is Enemy Prisoner of War. IED is Improvised Explosive Device (a roadside bomb). KIA is Killed in Action.

Subject: Casualty report


How is everyone at [Deleted]? I suspect things are all still going well and the clinic continues to run smoothly. Apart from a sighting of the bat in the bat cave, things in general are about the same out here. The bat was a trip, as it flew around in circles in the hooch like, well, a bat out of hell I guess. The casualties picked up some this week which was too bad, and we had one day in particular which was a bad one. Otherwise life out here has developed a routine, and it seems as though the time is starting to go by faster. The team itself is getting better and more efficient with each resuscitation, and we all seem to work well with each other for the most part. Our surgeon, although for the most part a really good guy, can get a little uppity sometimes if things don't go exactly how he says they should (he seems to think the only person in the room with any clinical judgement is him), but even that isn't really a big deal. It's just a bit of an adjustment stepping out of the role of being in charge and being the boy again. I'm good at being the boy and can do what I'm told as well as anybody else, but it has been a bit of an adjustment. Anyway, I thought I'd drop you a line to let you know we've seen over the last couple of weeks or so.

I'm not sure if I told you about the family who came in I think a little over a week ago (time out here is a weird thing and hard to keep straight). The story is a little muddled, but apparently they ran a check point. It's unclear whether they confused stop with go or if they were really running the check point, but regardless of the specifics they ran a check point and were taken under fire by a combination of M-16's and at least 1 50cal machine gun. The car was apparently a wreck and we had 5 casualties come into us. There were apparently 2 or 3 KIA at the scene, including a young child who I think was 8 (they don't bring the civilian KIA in to us thank goodness). The guy I took care of had his right foot nearly taken off by a 50cal round. It was hanging by tissue and sinew, and ultimately got amputated. Apart from now being a legless old man, he otherwise did fine. The other casualties included an old woman with a GSW to the L chest who had a large L sided hemothorax with 800cc of bloody drainage. She eventually developed respiratory distress and got intubated, but otherwise didn't have any injuries. She was transferred to Al Asad, but I have no idea what happened to her after. Another woman had a GSW to her L flank, and despite maybe having a hemotoma around her L kidney on FAST exam was otherwise hemodynamically stable and did fine while she was here. Another guy had a GSW to his L shoulder and developed a tension PTX (picked up on follow up exam as subQ air). He had a chest tube placed and his shoulder dressed and did fine while he was here. He was also sent to Al Asad. The 5th guy had a some superficial wounds but did fine. We had a couple other Iraqi civilian/EPW casualties related to check point violations around the same time (I'm not sure if this was because the Marines have been jumpy recently, or there was some kind of insurgent offensive going on).

One guy was driving a water truck and had both feet nearly completely taken off by a 50cal round. Impressive injuries which shattered the bone and left his L foot dangling, but he was amazingly neuromuscularly intact. He kept both legs, and after having on external fixater placed on his L leg he was sent to Baghdad for definitive repair. Another guy had several GSW to his chest but had amazingly had no significant injuries and didn't require any procedures. Bullets are funny things and seem to have a mind of their own sometimes.

And the last Iraqi civilian was a poor old woman who came in last night at around 0400. The Marines were apparently conducting a house to house search, and this woman didn't answer her door right away. Can't blame her really because at 0400 we didn't answer our door right away either when they came to tell us about her. She apparently did answer, but not in time, for as she was reaching to open the door the Marines blew the lock with a shotgun. It appears as though she took most of the shotgun blast to her L arm, for when she came in the L distal L humerous and proximal radius were shattered with no complete loss of structural integrity to her L arm. Although the arm was vascularly intact, she had no sensation and ended up losing the arm. I got to intubate her in the OR, but otherwise all of these stories are pretty tragic and sad, and events like these unfortunately will not go far in the campaign to win the hearts and minds of the people. It's difficult to really explain the emotions they conjure (other than sadness I'm not sure I had to many), but one question comes up over and over again when I see these types of accidents- "What the fuck are we going out here?" I guess that's not really for me to ask right now though. I don't place any blame on the Marines for this stuff. They are doing their job, and if I went out everyday with the prospect of getting killed by an IED or some other unseen enemy, I would most assuredly shoot first and ask questions later in the wake of any suspicious activity. It's a dangerous place, and one can only hope that it gets better over the next few years.
He unfortunately had also sustained a head shot from a sniper (who knows if it was the same one or not), and he died before he got here. When we saw him, the back of his head was shattered and you could feel the bones floating around. While moving him into the body bag, his bandage slipped off his head, and I found myself looking into the young man's eyes. He had big green eyes, and appeared to be looking right through me. What he was asking me I don't know, and will probably never know. Although I had his blood all over my boots and pants and was a bit shaken as I was washing it off, he has not haunted me the way some of the others have, so I don't think he was angry with me in any way. It was a bit disturbing and capped off a shitty day.

The last 2 Marines we had come in the other day. Their tank was hit by some kind of missile, and I think these were the guys up in the turrets. One guy came in KIA with the left side of his face blown away, and his left arm missing. I didn't go see this guy (I don't know but maybe I needed a break). The other guy came is with an open fracture of his L humerous with exposed muscle and the like all up the back of his arm, and open fractures of several of his R metacarpals with avulsion of most of the skin off his R hand. He had a small L neck hematoma and some superficial facial lacks, but he had a GCS of 15, was talking to us, had bilateral breath sounds and was hemodynamically stable.
Can someone explain why we should keep the guys that made this mess, in charge.

Baghdad Year Zero, by Naomi Klein

There is a long and comprehensive analysis of the "post war" Iraqi Rebuilding Activities, written by Naomi Klein for Harpers Magazine. She discusses in detail the battle between the pragmatists, and Neo-Con Fantasy Islanders (the pragmatists never had a chance).
The problem is that governments, even neoconservative governments, rarely get the chance to prove their sacred theory right: despite their enormous ideological advances, even George Bush’s Republicans are, in their own minds, perennially sabotaged by meddling Democrats, intractable unions, and alarmist environmentalists.

Iraq was going to change all that. In one place on Earth, the theory would finally be put into practice in its most perfect and uncompromised form. A country of 25 million would not be rebuilt as it was before the war; it would be erased, disappeared. In its place would spring forth a gleaming showroom for laissez-faire economics, a utopia such as the world had never seen.
The fact that the boom never came and Iraq continues to tremble under explosions of a very different sort should never be blamed on the absence of a plan. Rather, the blame rests with the plan itself, and the extraordinarily violent ideology upon which it is based.

I continue to be fascinated by the republican embrace of victimization, given that they are in charge of all branches of government, and have nothing to fear from the fourth estate, and benefit from two outright propaganda organs in FOX and Rush. And while I have no problems with the concept of or desire to build a utopian society, at this point all previous attempts have failed, but I guess if you have really big dreams, who knows you might get lucky (and wake up with crabs anyway) or something (the head of your utopian dream handed to you on a plate).
The theory is that if painful economic “adjustments” are brought in rapidly and in the aftermath of a seismic social disruption like a war, a coup, or a government collapse, the population will be so stunned, and so preoccupied with the daily pressures of survival, that it too will go into suspended animation, unable to resist.
That, in essence, was the working thesis in Iraq, and in keeping with the belief that private companies are more suited than governments for virtually every task, the White House decided to privatize the task of privatizing Iraq’s state-dominated economy.
Bremer unleashed his shock therapy, pushing through more wrenching changes in one sweltering summer than the International Monetary Fund has managed to enact over three decades in Latin America. Joseph Stiglitz, Nobel laureate and former chief economist at the World Bank, describes Bremer’s reforms as “an even more radical form of shock therapy than pursued in the former Soviet world.”
Something familiar about this....ah yes, something about destroying the village to save it. Maybe I should ammend the part about supporting attempts of building utopia. I get the strange feeling that for wingers and Neo-cons, they have a utopian vision based on the guilded age, where capital trumps humanity, and those without the first might as well get on with their rat stew. " Please, please, kids, stop fighting.
Maybe Lisa is right about America being the land of opportunity, And Adil got a point about the machinery of capitalism being oiled by the blood of the workers." -- Homer Simpson
The tone of Bremer’s tenure was set with his first major act on the job: he fired 500,000 state workers, most of them soldiers, but also doctors, nurses, teachers, publishers, and printers. Next, he flung open the country’s borders to absolutely unrestricted imports: no tariffs, no duties, no inspections, no taxes. Iraq, Bremer declared two weeks after he arrived, was “open for business.”

In my opinion, this decision destroyed any possibility of a smooth transition, and almost certainly guarenteed the escalation of the insurgency. I was so shocked by the news, that I know exactly where I was and what I was doing when I first heard about it. I was working in a bakery, listening to the news on the radio, and at the time standing over the 60 quart mixer waiting for a 30 loave batch of whole weat to finish mixing, I believe that the first words out of my mouth were along the lines of "WTF?" Did anyone tell bremer that most people were reluctent members of the Baath Party, that in most cases their employment depended on it, and in fact the majority of these people did not support Saddam? Did anyone tell bremer that firing the army en masse (composed as was the Baath party by many, who had no particular allegiance to Saddam) might be a stupid idea that might bight us in the ass? Apparently not.

I remember reading, during that summer of 2003, an interview with an Iraqi engineer about the cost of rebuilding a bridge, work that had been contracted to an american firm at a cost in excess of a million dollars. The Iraqi engineer claimed that the Iraqis could rebuild the bridge for a cost of around 300,000 dollars. I was going to let this fly, unsourced, but have discovered that the original story came from that organ of anti-american propaganda Baghdad Burning.

Listen to this little anecdote. One of my cousins works in a prominent engineering company in Baghdad- we’ll call the company H. This company is well-known for designing and building bridges all over Iraq. My cousin, a structural engineer, is a bridge freak. He spends hours talking about pillars and trusses and steel structures to anyone who’ll listen.

As May was drawing to a close, his manager told him that someone from the CPA wanted the company to estimate the building costs of replacing the New Diyala Bridge on the South East end of Baghdad. He got his team together, they went out and assessed the damage, decided it wasn’t too extensive, but it would be costly. They did the necessary tests and analyses (mumblings about soil composition and water depth, expansion joints and girders) and came up with a number they tentatively put forward- $300,000. This included new plans and designs, raw materials (quite cheap in Iraq), labor, contractors, travel expenses, etc.

Let’s pretend my cousin is a dolt. Let’s pretend he hasn’t been working with bridges for over 17 years. Let’s pretend he didn’t work on replacing at least 20 of the 133 bridges damaged during the first Gulf War. Let’s pretend he’s wrong and the cost of rebuilding this bridge is four times the number they estimated- let’s pretend it will actually cost $1,200,000. Let’s just use our imagination.

A week later, the New Diyala Bridge contract was given to an American company. This particular company estimated the cost of rebuilding the bridge would be around- brace yourselves- $50,000,000 !!
Yes, shenanigans like these certainly contributed to the possibility that Americans were not interested in liberation, but well, to put it bluntly, looting. And 13 months later, I am supposed to believe that terrorists traded in their airling tickets to America, for tickets to Amman. Surely you jest. Back to Klien and Bremernomics.
At first, the shock-therapy theory seemed to hold: Iraqis, reeling from violence both military and economic, were far too busy staying alive to mount a political response to Bremer’s campaign. Worrying about the privatization of the sewage system was an unimaginable luxury with half the population lacking access to clean drinking water; the debate over the flat tax would have to wait until the lights were back on.
Some people were paying attention, of course. That autumn was awash in “rebuilding Iraq” trade shows, in Washington, London, Madrid, and Amman. The Economist described Iraq under Bremer as “a capitalist dream,” and a flurry of new consulting firms were launched promising to help companies get access to the Iraqi market, their boards of directors stacked with well-connected Republicans. The most prominent was New Bridge Strategies, started by Joe Allbaugh, former Bush-Cheney campaign manager. “Getting the rights to distribute Procter & Gamble products can be a gold mine,” one of the company’s partners enthused. “One well-stocked 7-Eleven could knock out thirty Iraqi stores; a Wal-Mart could take over the country.
Who thinks this is good for the Iraqi's? I forgot, this is about what's good for the Americans, or more importantly the Shareholders of Southland and Wal-Mart. We don't need no stinkin' hearts and minds, or respect for a culture that is thousands of years old.
As the British historian Dilip Hiro has shown, in Secrets and Lies: Operation ‘Iraqi Freedom’ and After, the Iraqi exiles pushing for the invasion were divided, broadly, into two camps. On one side were “the pragmatists,” who favored getting rid of Saddam and his immediate entourage, securing access to oil, and slowly introducing free-market reforms. Many of these exiles were part of the State Department’s Future of Iraq Project, which generated a thirteen-volume report on how to restore basic services and transition to democracy after the war. On the other side was the “Year Zero” camp, those who believed that Iraq was so contaminated that it needed to be rubbed out and remade from scratch. The prime advocate of the pragmatic approach was Iyad Allawi, a former high-level Baathist who fell out with Saddam and started working for the CIA. The prime advocate of the Year Zero approach was Ahmad Chalabi, whose hatred of the Iraqi state for expropriating his family’s assets during the 1958 revolution ran so deep he longed to see the entire country burned to the ground—everything, that is, but the Oil Ministry, which would be the nucleus of the new Iraq, the cluster of cells from which an entire nation would grow. He called this process “de-Baathification.”

A parallel battle between pragmatists and true believers was being waged within the Bush Administration. The pragmatists were men like Secretary of State Colin Powell and General Jay Garner, the first U.S. envoy to postwar Iraq
On the other side was the usual cast of neoconservatives: Vice President Dick Cheney, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld (who lauded Bremer’s “sweeping reforms” as “some of the most enlightened and inviting tax and investment laws in the free world”), Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz, and, perhaps most centrally, Undersecretary of Defense Douglas Feith.
What a dreamy investment opportunity Iraq was going to become, a new Gold rush, if you will
The Iraqi Year Zeroists made natural allies for the White House neoconservatives: Chalabi’s seething hatred of the Baathist state fit nicely with the neocons’ hatred of the state in general, and the two agendas effortlessly merged. Together, they came to imagine the invasion of Iraq as a kind of Rapture: where the rest of the world saw death, they saw birth—a country redeemed through violence, cleansed by fire. Iraq wasn’t being destroyed by cruise missiles, cluster bombs, chaos, and looting; it was being born again. April 9, 2003, the day Baghdad fell, was Day One of Year Zero.
A Reagan-era diplomat turned entrepreneur, Bremer had recently proven his ability to transform rubble into gold by waiting exactly one month after the September 11 attacks to launch Crisis Consulting Practice, a security company selling “terrorism risk insurance” to multinationals. Bremer had two lieutenants on the economic front: Thomas Foley and Michael Fleischer, the heads of “private sector development” for the Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA). Foley is a Greenwich, Connecticut, multimillionaire, a longtime friend of the Bush family and a Bush-Cheney campaign “pioneer” who has described Iraq as a modern California “gold rush.” Fleischer, a venture capitalist, is the brother of former White House spokesman Ari Fleischer.
If you really want to know why the American presence in Iraq is currently a "screwed pooch walking" read the rest of the article. As soon as Bremer was installed Iraq was lost. As soon as the Iraqi's (possessing a long and prosperous history in all manner of trade) caught a wiff of our real intentions, the game was up, insurgency mounted and the vicious cycle was started. It was only a matter of time before political pressure would lead to demands to put down the uprising, leading to roundups, leading to torture, leading to "screwed pooch walking" and all the while Presnident Fantasy Land and his minions are trying to sell the lie that everything is just dandy.

Monday, September 27

Liked it so much I had to rip it off

Shamelessly ripped off from Counterspin

Great Photo IMO

And Lo the power of Trackback. Boatloads of Billmon Readers visiting today, and I have run into a lack of inspiration, and therefore have nothing to offer, to keep you folks around. I only wish that I had been more inspired recently and had some good stuff up on the front page for your perusal. I guess it might be time to put up a greatest hits link up. In any event thanks for dropping by. I am as disappointed as anyone that Billmon has closed the Whiskey Bar. I will miss his insightfull commentary. His was one of the places that inspired me to start my own.

Sunday, September 26

Billmon's Back

Jumpin jeehosaphat, "the man" is back. Just a rather trenchant graphic to be sure, but at least we know He's still around. Digby also has a post up about blogging, and the attention it is recieving this weekend and Billmon has an article published in the LA Times. I Look forward to his first post back, although if he wanted to continue playing with photoshop I wouldn't mind too much.


I was informed by fellow eschatonian shirty, that the closed sign is up at the Whiskey Bar. Too bad. It was fun while it lasted. Thank You Billmon for all the great work.

Biden vs Wallace, THK vs Heckler

Joe Biden did a nice smackdown of Chris Wallace and the media on a visit to the Fox televisions studio this morning.
WALLACE: Senator Biden, how do you reconcile those two statements as anything more than saying what would get you the most votes at two different times?

BIDEN: Well, that's easy. There's nothing at all contradictory at the time. The assumption was, when Saddam Hussein was knocked out, that we'd act rationally and we'd manage the situation in Iraq, that there wouldn't be chaos.

And the fact of the matter is, that what we have done, we have traded a dictator, who, in fact, no one wanted to stay there, happy they're gone, like to have him gone, thinks it's good we're gone, and it's resulted in chaos because of the incredible mismanagement, as Dick Lugar said, of this president.

That's a statement of fact. It's very, very good he's gone. Kerry's happy he's gone. Kerry would have done everything to get rid of him. But he would not have mismanaged and sent so many mixed signals that this administration has, so that the end result is today we have something close to chaos in that region.

WALLACE: But, Senator...

BIDEN: That's totally consistent.

WALLACE: First of all, the situation back last December when he was saying this was bad. That's why Howard Dean was doing...

BIDEN: No, nothing like this. It wasn't even remotely like this, Chris. It wasn't remotely like this.

WALLACE: Forgive me, but there were heavy casualties. That's why Howard Dean was doing so well.

BIDEN: Chris, there weren't. There are 700 causalities since he said that. Seven hundred casualties since he said that, Chris. Over probably somewhere in the order of 6,000 or 7,000 wounded since then, Chris. Five, six, seven, eight times the number of bombings, Chris.

Come on, as they say where I come from, get real. It wasn't remotely the situation it is now.

At the time, you had the international community saying they wanted the G-8 and the neighbors to get together. They weren't talking about anything massive. John Kerry back then, Joe Biden back then said, "We should have the G-8."

I met with Allawi right after — in Baghdad with him immediately after he got sworn in. He said to me he wanted a regional meeting. He asked if I could help. He said the G-8 should be involved. I came back and wrote a report to that effect. The administration and Rumsfeld said, "We don't want any meeting over there." And now all of a sudden they're deciding on a meeting?

At the time that John Kerry said that back in December, it was the expectation was we would have spent by now $12 billion to $14 billion rebuilding Iraq. This administration has spent less than $500 million of the appropriated money.
Look, this guy's in a tough, tough, tough spot. John Kerry wasn't criticizing him. John Kerry was pointing out — why is it you guys — I mean, here the president of the United States of America stands up there and sends this signal to the entire world that our intelligence community isn't worth a damn, all it does is guess. And you guys say when he says, "Well, he really meant to say estimate," you say, "well, OK."

Kerry says something, you know what he means, and you make it sound like he's indicting Allawi. That's malarkey, pure malarkey. He wasn't indicting Allawi. He was saying, "Level with the American people, Mr. President, for god's sake.

And the last thing I want to make this point: I find the way the opposition is dealing with this is really, really dangerous. They're telling everybody that basically if Kerry becomes president of the United States, he's not going to stick with Iraq.
Nice work Joe. And Teresa Heinz Kerry confronted a heckler during an appearence in Colorado.
Teresa Heinz Kerry delivered for her supporters when she talked back to a heckler who implied her husband's a flip-flopper.

During a question and answer session, a young man demanded to know why Kerry voted to give Bush authority to attack Iraq but voted against an $87 billion appropriation bill to support the war effort there.

"Is that the kind of thing he would do as president?," the man asked.

Heinz Kerry sharply asked the man whether he had read the legislation that was voted on.

When he said no, she told him that Kerry had supported $60 billion in military appropriations for Iraq, but would not vote for the full $87 billion because he considered it a "blank check." Kerry was one of 11 Democrats to vote against the bill.

"And we knew they'd already given Haliburton millions in no-bid contracts," she snapped, referring to the company formerly led by Vice President Dick Cheney.

"If you want to say (Kerry) flip-flopped, just say so, don't try to hide," Heinz Kerry scolded.

The young man responsed with chanting "Four more years!" as he walked out of the auditorium. The partisan crowd's cheer of "Six more weeks!" quickly drowned him out.

Roberto Costales of Canon City liked the way she dealt with her heckler.

"Did you notice how she handled that one guy? I bet she doesn't back down from anybody," he laughed.
The mouthbreathing media will likely have their panties in a bunch over her "assertiveness", but you know what, screw them.

How did Bill put it? Oh Yeah.

.. we live in an interdependent world in which we can’t kill, jail, or occupy all our potential adversaries, so we have to both fight terror and build a world with more partners and fewer terrorists.

It doesn't get any more simple than that.

The revisionist History Channel part 2

The show is called Hard Target, and features a group of "experts" opining on a topic of the day. I usually move on to something else when it comes on, but today they are discussing Iraq, and so Far the Players are a "Playah" Micheal Rubin, from the AEI and a former Reagan Defence Department official Lawrence "of Arabia" Kolb, who was just about to explain the "Bush" Doctrine, when I paused the channel. Now on to the transcript. Actually it may be a good Idea to see if someone else has already done the work. Nope, I'll have to do it.
Hello I'm Jeff Bora, welcome to hard target, in our historical crosshairs, the Bush Doctrine and its impact on the United States, and the world. I'm joined by Michael Rubin of the American Enterprise Institute, Michael has traveled widely in post war iraq, and his book "into the shadows" goes inside modern Iran. Michael welcome to the show.

Michael: Thanks for having me Jeff

Jeff: Welcome back from Iraq

Michael: Thank you, it's good to be here

Jeff: Are you wallowing in all the electricity and creature conforts in America

Michael: Especially the air conditioning

Jeff: (laughter) Now you've traveled widely in Iraq both before the war and after the war, how has it changed?

Michael: Well before the war I was teaching for an acedemic year in Iraqi Kurdistan. This time while I visited Iraqi Kurdistan I based myself in Baghdad, as a political officer within the Coalition Provisional Authority (hearafter CPA), but rather than live inside the Green Zone the security zone, which the americans have set up, I decided to live on the street, in different neighborhoods of Baghdad, among ordinary Iraqi's

Jeff: In the so called Red Zone, the area beyond the Green Zone.

Michael: Well the thing is what the iraqi's do is call the Green Zone the Red Zone and referr to the rest of Iraq as the Green Zone, but in that capacity I was able to,

Jeff: Is this an early indication of what we are up against?

Michael: Perhaps

Jeff: We say black they say white?(laughing)

Michael: It seems to increasingly be the case, but I was able to travel down to the Shia holy towns of Najaf and Karbala, down to Basra, [alto?] Ramadi and Rallujah, and basically see Iraq along with ordinary Iraqis walking around in street clothes, and being able to get not only the interviews with the political figures, but also man on the street interviews that are simply not possible if you are a part of a military convoy.

Jeff: You're the right guy to have on the show then, because this is something that really mystifies me. If you read news reports here in the United States, there just, they're completely contradictory, some say things are going great some say things are going to pot and then one day were up the next day we're down, what is the real situation on the ground in Iraq today as experienced by someone like you traveling around the country?

Michael: Since the beginning of April things have definitely soured, with the uprising in Fallujah and the violence surrounding Muktada Al Sadr, that said, whenever I travel a country, I will look at what people are spending their money, and I dont mean restaurants and everyday purchases, I mean what they are really investing in. When someone is willing to lay down 300,000 dollars to open a resaurant in Baghdad, that indicates that they have some confidence in the future. In Sadr city which was the heart of this, the shia uprising of MAS, houses have gone from around 18,000 dollars a piece, under Saddam to around 54,000 dollors a piece today, likewise in the upper middle class section of Mansur, houses are going for well over a million. People only spend that kind of money, if they feel that its gonna be theirs that there is not gonna be anarchy and chaos, likewise one of the things I'll also do is look at the situation of the women in these countries.

When I came to Baghdad last July I would see very few women on the street and those that I did see would be walking around basically covered all in black. When I asked my Iraqi friends who were accomanying me, what was going on, they said that it wasn't out of religious conviction, it was out of fear, security, women were afraid frankly of being kidnapped or raped, but starting around October I began to see women on the streets, teenaged girls together without men, without their families around, window shopping, hanging out in Ice cream parlors, at restaurants and that sort of thing.

Jeff: We often hear a reference to a silent majority in Iraq that really wants stabilization, that really wants good relations with the United states and other powers in the region and that this whole thing is being hijacked by some extremist
minority, is that the case from your experiance from your contacts there.

Michael: Yes yes there are two issues there's defininately a silent majority I would actuially argue that the silent mahjority is sitting on the fence one of the issues the phenomina which the us govt most underestimated before the war to liberate iraq was just the impact of 1991 on the shia community. On February 15, 1991,the former president Bush, got up and claled on iraqi's to rise up and overthrow Saddam, they did we failed to support them, 10's of thousands were massacred. iraqi's aren't convinced that we're actually going to stay the course and not hand them over to the radical minority again, thats really hampered us, plus all the.......

Damn the time ran out, mental not next time, record the damn thing.
Too bad that I ran "out of tape" but there were some fine nuggets from Fanasy Land in the little that I managed to get down.

When the USA "Jumped the Shark"

Last week sometime I happened across a mid eighties movie called Delta Force. This movie is just abominable. Starring Chuck Norris and Lee Marvin, this movie was bad on every level, compellingly bad. Cliché, and cardboard characature abound. It is like a combination of Rambo, James Bond and the Dirty Dozen, with none of the stuff that made those movies entertaining. In an alternate academy, the missle shooting motorcycle would have been up for the lead actor award. As far as I know this was the first movie that focused our rudderless bigotry on the ragheaded boogyman, and set the stage for public acceptance of the two wars to follow.

Chuck starts as a Delta Force team leader, who is charged with taking the ragtag bunch on a rescue mission involving terrorists and hostages. American Hostages. Militant Islamic terrorists. Good guys vs the embodiment of evil. In fact since 1986 when the movie was released, 99% of the jobs available for actors of arab descent, involved roles as terrorists, or their sympathisers. A shame for us all.

It is no wonder that we have become so thirsty for arab blood. The movie debut came in the middle of the Reagan era when as a country we were still licking the wounds of our retreat from Lebanon, the scab that covered the still unhealed wounds of vietnam.
Hollywood was quick to take advantage of the new arab boogyman. The Cold war was winding down, and as a few stalwart teenagers were able to save their town from the russians in Red Dawn, the soviet menace became less menacing. By the time that Rambo 3 came into being it had hybridised into a battle between our old cold war enemy, and our new religious one, Islam.

At some point I may revisit this thematizoa, and include an analysis of the fundimental problem in the region, the Isreali Palestinian conflict, and why as a large player on that stage our inability to foster a resolution of that conflict, has led us into a sea of troubles. But for now there is some spectacular Historical revisionism going on at the History Channel, and I am in a transcripting mood.