Wednesday, May 26, 2004

Gum Returns to Singapore After 12 Years

Gum Returns to Singapore After 12 Years

"It's ridiculous that it's easier for 16-year-olds to visit prostitutes than it is to get chewing gum here!"
--Fayen Wong, 22-year old college student. [LINK]

I want to know what, if any brand, our friend Ihsan will be looking for.
(I'm fond of Juicy Fruit and Big Red.)

Tomorrow: Kerry speech on national security and foreign policy

Tomorrow: Kerry speech on national security and foreign policy

John Kerry is due to give a key speech tomorrow on national security and foreign policy. It will mark the start-off of an 11-day period focusing on his ideas for winning the war in Iraq and fighting terrorism. He will allegedly promise to craft a foreign policy that would make it unnecessary to have a conventional military draft.

While Adam Nagourney and Richard W. Stevenson claim that Kerry's Iraq views are much like Bush's , I would implore them and all Americans to weigh this question (posed by LeMoyne College philosophy professor John Schonsheck):

At this point [in the Iraq war],there may well be no good options for either a President Kerry or a President Bush. But that does not imply there are no differences between them.

One distinguishing question that comes to the fore:

"Should we continue to follow the steely-eyed leadership of the candidate who has jumped us into deep water with large rocks in our pockets? Or perhaps more accurately - who has jumped us into deep water, with anvils chained to our necks?"


Gore: Rumsfeld, Rice, Tenet Should Resign

Gore: Rumsfeld, Rice, Tenet Should Resign

In a speech at New York University today, Gore argued that officials, including several of Rumsfeld’s top civilian deputies, should step down because the situation in Iraq is out of control. He called for the resignation of Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, CIA director George Tenet, and national security adviser Condoleeza Rice. [LINK]


27 Rationales for Iraq War

27 Rationales for Iraq War

27 reasons...were any good enough?

See Devon M. Largio's Senior Honors Thesis titled:
Uncovering the Rationales for the War on Iraq:
The Words of the Bush Administration, Congress, and the Media
from September 12, 2001 to October 11, 2002

Department of Political Science
University of Illinois

Ms. Largio covers them all..including everything from the five front-runners – war on terror, prevention of the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, lack of weapons inspections, removal of Saddam Hussein’s regime, Saddam Hussein is 'evil', to the "also-rans" – Sen. Joe Lieberman’s “because Saddam Hussein hates us,” Colin Powell’s “because it’s a violation of international law,” and Richard Perle’s “because we can make Iraq an example and gain favor within the Middle East.” With regard to the Bush administration’s shift from bin Laden to Saddam, Ms. Largio found that Iraq was “part of the plan for the war on terror early in the game.”

A must-read.

[LINK] (pdf)

Conspiracy theories and Sibel Edmonds- Village Voice

Conspiracy theories and Sibel Edmonds-
Village Voice

Why are there so many conspiracy theories swimming around about the death of Nick Berg? At the Village Voice, Kareem Fahim explores the reasons for such skepticism. [LINK]

Richard Goldstein provides an exploration of why the news media keeps silent when rumors (like those surrounding Nick Berg's death) sweep the internet. [LINK]

James Ridgeway is trying to help us figure out why the FBI is going back in time and classifying some pretty basic information (involving 9-11 whistleblower Sibel Edmonds) that's already out there in the public sector. [LINK]

A dedicated Marine fed up with armchair hawks

A dedicated Marine fed up with armchair hawks

This letter to the editor appeared yesterday in the Syracuse Post Standard:

I am a Marine Corps officer in the reserves who was activated and deployed to Iraq in spring 2003 for the invasion phase of Operation Iraqi Freedom. I am proud of my unit and its performance in-theatre. We were going to defend our country against what we thought was an imminent threat to our soil. Regardless, my Marines deserve the highest praise for their performance. They did their duty without exception. They are very simply the best I have ever seen among men.

I would do my duty again in Iraq, as may be the case if a new unit of which I am a part is deployed next year (it's still up in the air, I'm told).

I am a Republican with conservative viewpoints. My point, ironically, is that I am sick to death of all of the "hawks" and pro-war slogans spewed from the mouths of individuals around our country who have never had to stare down a bullet or a piece of hot shrapnel that can very easily tear bodies in half.

Unless you are a hawk who has been in combat, or you have had a loved one go into harm's way and dealt with the long, sleepless hours, not knowing if he or she is alive and well, as my beloved mother had to endure, then shut the heck up! "Send more troops . . . Go get 'em, George" - please! Give such shortsighted individuals a helmet, body armor and a rifle, drop them off in Baghdad in 120-degree heat with no sleep or shower for weeks, and say: "You go get 'em, tough guy."

I'm sorry. I needed to vent that as I watch so many troops and their families who sacrifice on a daily basis. My thoughts are truly with them. God bless them for all they put up with.

Capt. Eric R. Lindgren, USMC


President Bush: Fire Douglas Feith!

President Bush: Fire Douglas Feith!

President Bush needs to make himself accountable as leader of the U.S. by firing those responsible for many accounted-for errors and misleadings.

Douglas Feith is only one of those responsible for the lies and screw-ups regarding the Iraq situation, but there is no doubt he played a major role and needs to suffer the consequences.

If there are no consequences to egregious actions, then the President deliberately harbors the egregious. This would make him vicariously egregious and highly negligent.

How can any American stand for such negligence of duty?


General Tommy Franks on Douglas Feith:

"I have to deal with the f*cking stupidest guy on the face of the earth almost every day."
From Bob Woodward's book "Plan of Attack"


The fact that Bush is failing to clean these incompetents from his administration leads me to confirm my belief that there ARE nothing BUT incompetents in the administration...starting at the very top.

From Pharyngula:

Once upon a time, America stood for liberty, democracy, and forward-thinking confidence. At least we could tell ourselves that we aspired to those things, even if we did frequently stumble over our flaws....

Cicada Sings

Cicada Sings

All these were gather'd at the Scaean gate;
By age exempt from war, but in discourse
Abundant, as the cricket, that on high
From topmost boughs of forest tree sends forth
His delicate music; so on Ilium's tow'rs
Sat the sage chiefs and councillors of Troy.

--From Homer's Iliad

Gas prices: Bush gets a lucky break on public perception

Gas prices: Bush gets a lucky break on public perception

In a recent Gallup poll, one in five people blamed corporate greed for the high cost of gas, and one in five blamed the war in Iraq. Only 5% blamed President Bush, suggesting he has escaped political damage so far.

President Bush is a pretty lucky political soul. If Americans kept themselves properly informed (see NY Times' $40-a-Barrel Mistake), they would easily see how some of the President's failures in leadership have, indeed, contributed to the higher fuel prices.

Until citizens commit themselves to self-education and until they can properly "connect the dots", we are going to be sadly bilked and will never realize who's actually picking our pockets.

Iraq photos (warning: graphic)

Iraq photos (warning: some graphic)

I literally stumbled upon this website today. There is a stunning collection of photos from the Iraq war (in its early stages) on the site. Some are quite graphic and show the ugliness of war. Others are inspirational. Mr. Denne has collected the works of a gifted photographer(photographers?).

Here is the LINK.

Slice of Life at Camps Baker, Hotel, and Golf

Slice of Life at Camps Baker, Hotel, and Golf

I dreamt last night that I was in the center of war-torn Baghdad and I heard the mortar shells exploding and felt a fear I'd not known before. I awoke and knew I was safe, for it was only a nightmare. I thought about the men and women living the nightmare...the troops...and the inncocent civilians of the cities of Iraq.

AP photo

I was reading the Army Times and noticed a nicely-written piece about the soldier's life in the camps and the feelings generated by extended tours.

I saw a reminder of an American's everyday fear and hope while working in Iraq:

Phil Kosnett, a 43-year-old American diplomat who heads the CPA team in Najaf, likes to highlight the contrast between his team’s situation and the image of Foreign Service work as one elegant cocktail party after another. Kosnett, of Black Mountain, N.C., keeps a pistol strapped to his thigh and hopes the mortars that strike the camps every day don’t find their mark.

I found it an unusual lesson- knowing that certain civilians are paid extremely well while the common American soldier takes a meager portion of the civilians' pay. It is also a lesson when you understand that the common soldier is looking forward to leaving the U.S. armed forces in the hopes to strike it rich as a privately-paid warrior.

Also banking on a prosperous future are some of the civilian contractors, especially security experts. One topic of conversation among American soldiers is how much these former Navy SEALs and Special Forces veterans earn, and how the servicemen can get one of those jobs when they get out of the army. The elite among them pocket up to $1,000 a day. That’s the same amount as the monthly bonus given to soldiers whose stay was extended last month.

What is the future of the strength and integrity of the U.S. armed forces when so many are planning on passing up the opportunity for re-enlistment because mercenary work is far more lucrative?

N.Y. Times admits flawed Iraq (Judith Miller) coverage

N.Y. Times admits flawed Iraq (Judith Miller) coverage

On Monday, I had commented:
"Over the past year and a half, I've been saying how wrong these journalists have been and what a disservice they've done to the American people. Will they suffer any consequences? The N.Y. Times will eventually have to apologize to the people of America (and the world) for an inept journalist they still employ..Judith Miller."

Slate had pointed out the truth about Judith Miller's nearly criminal journalism in a May 18th article and commented on the NY Times Editor's notes on May 25.

Today, the New York Times' mea culpa appeared.

See The Times and Iraq

We need to weed out those who perpetuate false and misleading information.
I saw Laurie Mylroie on CSPAN this morning. Not only is she perpetuating the tired fallacies about WMD and the Iraq-9-11 connection, she comes off as a bit of a giggling, bitter anti-Clinton simpleton. I can hardly believe she is professionally supported as a credible academic.