Thursday, May 13, 2004

Nicholas Berg-Philadelphia Inquirer Editorial

Philadelphia Inquirer Editorial | Nicholas Berg

The Philadelphia Inquirer did a nice job with this one.

You all have the opportunity to send messages of support and condolence to the Berg family here:

Click here: Guest Book - Nick Berg

Salam Pax Goes to Bloggywood

Salam Pax Goes to Bloggywood

Calling him the "Nick Hornby of the Iraq war", the Guardian gives the world news of its first BloggerStar. There's a film deal for the 'Baghdad blogger'. Media group Intermedia is searching for a scriptwriter. Raed must be proud!, too!

Why can't we take responsibility for Abu Ghraib?

Why can't we take responsibility for Abu Ghraib?

Senator John Kyl's attempt to obliterate conscience through moral rationalization (as quoted below) makes us Americans look weak and excuse-making. Let's take responsibility for what we've done, say we are sorry, and get on with business of punishing those responsible and fixing the system. No more damned excuses. James Inhofe's huffy use of moral rationalization (in the hopes we'll somehow forget what we've done) and political grandstanding makes him look weak and desperate to please and defend the President rather than supporting the Ashcroft-damaged/flimsy hold on democracy by the American citizenry.

Nick Berg's horrible death is being used as a political safety blanket by partisan ghouls and I can't help but wonder if the Bush administration didn't already know about the beheading for some time and waited for the most advantageous political moment (the Abu Ghraib hearings) to pull it out of their hats.(This is not to AVOID putting blame where blame is due--The Allah-abusing murderous terrorists were no stategic brain-trusts themselves for putting it on the internet for the world to see--which proves further to me that these types of people can be defeated by the RIGHT *not rightwing* leaders).

I'm sick of this administration and their unsteady moral rationalizers running from responsibility. They do not represent me, an American. I am ashamed of them. How can I call a man my President when he has no sense of personal accountability? I have little respect for his (lack of) character.

"As bad as some of the things were that were done to Iraqi prisoners, it didn't involve beheading," said Sen. Jon Kyl, R-Ariz.

Conservative talk radio has simmered with anger about the attention paid to Abu Ghraib prison abuses by relatively few U.S. soldiers. In the Senate, Republican James Inhofe said he -- and others -- were "more outraged by the outrage than we are by the (prison) treatment."

Loath to express regret, Bush has apologized repeatedly for the abuse. The issue has deepened doubts about his Iraq policy at a time when his approval rating is at its lowest.

Berg's death gave Bush an opportunity to stop saying sorry.

Political analysts said Berg's death might give Bush a little breathing room.


Oh My God- Bush is Chauncey Gardiner

Oh My God-Bush is Chauncey Gardiner

I saw this at the O'Franken blog and had to post it. I was just saying the exact same thing joke. Ask Anonymoses if you don't believe me.

""Oh my God! George Bush is Chauncey Gardiner. And America is living the movie (originally the book, but this Administration doesn't read) "Being There." Could author Jerzy Kosinski have been so brilliantly prescient? I fear yes. Except, this is one t-v show "I don't like to watch."
Posted by NYCLiberal at 05.13.2004 12.13 PM

"It's a really close analogy - but Bush doesn't have the quiet grace that Chauncey Gadiner had. We'd be giving Georgie the benefit of the doubt. He's not allowed that - ever!

However, Kosinski is truly an amazing writer, and Sellers' portrayal was fantastic."

Posted by lovemelongtimelistener at 05.13.2004 12.35 PM [LINK]


This, of course, is not the first time the observation's been made.
Interestingly, the revelation, when it comes to people, nearly always evokes the respose "OH MY GOD." That's what we usually say when we realize we've been "had".

"I was reading a post by one of our more far right wing members who was saying
that GW Bush is a genius, and that his critics are the fools, and I was transported back to the early 70's and a book by Jerzy Kosinski called"BEING THERE"
It was a brilliant satire about a man who was a simpleton, and only knew the world by what he saw and interpreted on TV. He winds up in Washinton DC where everyone he talks to thinks he speaks with such deep insights about the nature of man, politics, war, art etc. And then I realized that GW Bush'd is actually Chauncey Gardiner. OH MY GOD."

On Tour

On Tour



Making Up with Tom Friedman

Making Up with Tom Friedman

I've been hard on Tom Friedman at times. In his most recent column, I suddenly feel, at last, that we are looking into the frame and seeing the same image staring back at us.

Tom gets my best Mona Lisa smile for this one. (I'm now confident he'll know which of the three frames to choose).

My mistake was thinking that the Bush team believed it, too. I thought the administration would have to do the right things in Iraq — from prewar planning and putting in enough troops to dismissing the secretary of defense for incompetence — because surely this was the most important thing for the president and the country. But I was wrong. There is something even more important to the Bush crowd than getting Iraq right, and that's getting re-elected and staying loyal to the conservative base to do so. It has always been more important for the Bush folks to defeat liberals at home than Baathists abroad. That's why they spent more time studying U.S. polls than Iraqi history. That is why, I'll bet, Karl Rove has had more sway over this war than Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs Bill Burns. Mr. Burns knew only what would play in the Middle East. Mr. Rove knew what would play in the Middle West.

I admit, I'm a little slow. Because I tried to think about something as deadly serious as Iraq, and the post- 9/11 world, in a nonpartisan fashion — as Joe Biden, John McCain and Dick Lugar did — I assumed the Bush officials were doing the same. I was wrong. They were always so slow to change course because confronting their mistakes didn't just involve confronting reality, but their own politics.

Kerry Cites Bush's War Miscalculations

Kerry Cites Bush's War Miscalculations

"Why should we reward more of the same? Why should we reward miscalculations of what it would take to make the peace?" I think that it's been one miscalculation after another, frankly. And arrogance that has lost America respect and influence in the world. They had no plan for winning the peace and now Americans are paying the price."

--John Kerry

John Kerry is criticizing Bush's direction on Iraq.

Republicans call call it political, and I suppose, in some ways, it is. The fact that it is true, however, greatly trumps the fact that it's political. We know politics and truth are seldom bedfellows.

John Kerry was "on-the-money" Wednesday in the 'Truth-department' when he claimed the war in Iraq is being misdirected and that a shake-up is needed to end the Bush administration's mistakes and incompetence. It was, indeed, a sharp critique that sparked Republican criticism that Kerry's making the war a political issue.

Bush's top campaign-man Mark Racicot said, "Political attacks come at a price for the military," I'm sorry, but I must disagree. The military could not have paid a higher price than they have already paid, in precious life.

Racicot went on, "If there was ever a time to refrain from partisan politics, this is it. But all we see from the Kerry campaign and from John Kerry is political exploitation for political gain."

I would think Kerry's failure to mention the misdirection on Iraq would be akin to me seeing a black-widow spider crawling on my best friend's back and failing to mention it.

Our soldiers are in danger.

So mention already, John, Kerry...mention!

*Note: A question about professionalism-
The Washington Post/AP Headline reads as follows: Kerry Calls Iraq War a Failure. Failure is a heavy-duty word to toss around when I see no quote from Kerry using the word "failure" anywhere at all in the article. Professional journalists are not supposed to be politically inflammatory. That's a politician's job. This one AP article has spread to many national news publications. The writer should be reprimanded.

Nick Berg's desire to come homes conflicts with U.S. official statements

Officials acknowledge the presence of the military police at the jail where Nick Berg was being detained, but said their sole function was to "monitor his treatment."

Nick had sent a lengthy e-mail to his family describing the 13 days that he spent in the Shirdta Iraqiyah station near Mosul, an Iraqi detention center where, he said, the United States Military Police supervised and trained the Iraqi officers.

"The M.P.'s were a little surprised to see an American in civilian clothing, and I think out of formality and boredom they decided to do a background check, which involved C.I.D.," he wrote, referring to the Army Criminal Investigation Division.

The next morning, Mr. Berg described F.B.I. agents' questioning as amicable, but pointed. Among the questions asked, he wrote, were: "Why was I in Iraq? Did I ever make a pipe bomb? Why was I in Iran?"

He conjectured that their questions arose from some Farsi literature and a book about Iran that he had. Mr. Berg wrote that after four days he was transferred to a cellblock that included prisoners charged with petty offenses and suspected "war criminals."

"Word had spread due to the presence of certain items amongst my stuff that I was Israeli," Mr. Berg wrote. "So I felt a bit like Arlo Guthrie walking into a jail full of mother rapers and father stabbers as an accused litterbug."

The American military police, in fact, "were pretty stand-up," he wrote. "They heard the chants of Yehudien, Israelein, and told the I.P. prison staff to put me in my own cell."

"I did get on much friendlier terms with the other prisoners after they discovered I could speak a little Arabic and verified I didn't have horns or anything," Mr. Berg said.

Some prisoners, considered political or suspected war criminals from India, Pakistan, Afghanistan and Iran "had been in custody for 40 days without a single interpreter interrogation, just waiting as they still do today, and the Iraqi guards treat these poor fellows — especially the Hindis among them — as real dogs.'

Nick was released on April 6.

Nick's friends and acquaintances at the hotel said he was working on communications towers for some Baghdad hotels. Mr. Infante said he last saw Nick on April 10, writing an e-mail message to his family. "I saw him there," he said, gesturing to the Internet cafe. "I said, `Hello, how are you?'

"And he said, `I want to go home.' "

An F.B.I. statement says that coalition authorities had offered "to facilitate his safe passage out of Iraq," but that Nick refused their help.

That doesn't really jibe with the rest of the story, does it? Common sense would only tell you, from Nick's own words, that he was good and ready to get out of Iraq.

Corrente blog is raising some interesting questions surrounding the shaded circumstances surrounding the death of Nick Berg:
Coflicting statements
Nick's mail from Iraq
Where's the copy of the pending lawsuit?

When Sean met Ehdaa

When Sean met Ehdaa

"I’m Muslim and he’s a Christian. I’m Iraqi and he’s American. It just can’t happen. It did. Love can make miracles. I do believe this now.”
--Ehdaa Blackwell

Do you know the story about the handsome young American soldier and the beautiful Iraqi doctor? The soldier would not disobey the orders of his heart.

A Crisis of Modern Civilization

A Crisis of Modern Civilization

Civilization Sinking to All-time-Lows..
Anti-Imperialists concerned about trend toward barbarism throughout all modern civilization

....let me say also loud and clear - predatory Western Imperialism is not alone in its sinking to these lows of inhumanity. There is an absence of civilized behavior on all sides of this mean and mindless conflict that is truly frightening.

Beheading civilian hostages in the name of Allah? Carrying out suicide missions without concern for civilian casualties, publicly mutilating bodies of dead opponents? Blowing up scores of ordinary Spanish citizens (most of them probably opposed to the war on Iraq) to 'teach a lesson' to the Spanish government? Are you guys human or horror-movie extras?

For all their prattle about 'fighting the Crusaders' these cowards are surely no successors to the great Saladin who fought a principled war of resistance, saving not just fellow Muslims but also the large population of Jews under his protection. A successful resistance that led to the great renaissance of the Islamic world and the creation of societies superior to that of the invaders at that time. (Read your history carefully Bin)

And not very far from Iraq is that mother of all colonial occupations, in the Gaza and West Bank, where the Israeli regime of Ariel Sharon is bent on putting the Palestinians through every trauma that the Jews themselves underwent at the hands of the Nazis. In turn, a section of Palestinian militants are willing to stoop to the level of gunning down pregnant women and children just because they happen to be Jewish settlers on occupied land or dancing on the streets with body parts of dead Israeli soldiers. Liberation from colonial oppression, yes, but liberation from all basic human values?

I hesitate to call all this 'barbarism', a term that for too long has been abused to describe the 'primitive', 'tribal' people of this world - who despite their own bouts of occasional madness have done nothing as systematically evil as we see in Iraq and Palestine. Indeed, what we are witnessing now is nothing short of a crisis of modern civilization and its various concepts and institutions that have either outlived their utility or corroded to the point of complete collapse. A situation that could either lead to catastrophe or provide a chance to reshape the world depending really on what all of us propose to do about it. (Nothing I hate more than getting shot in the bloody crossfire)