Tuesday, June 22, 2004

Headlines at Iddybud June 22

Headlines at Iddybud June 22

David Brooks: The Importance of Religion in Politics

Bush and Rumsfeld Torture Involvement Questioned

Here's Bill O'Reilly's Final Solution

Kim Sun-il

The New Republic: The New Rationalizations to Support Iraq War
..because the old ones didn't pan out.

Hitchens tries too hard to call Moore a liar

"Fahrenheit 9/11" MPAA Rating Appeal- Mario Cuomo A No-Go

My Condolences go out to Jimmy Breslin for the loss of his daughter Rosemary

Bush and Rumsfeld Torture Involvement Questioned

Bush and Rumsfeld Torture Involvement Questioned

President Bush claimed the right to waive anti-torture laws and treaties covering prisoners of war after the invasion of Afghanistan, and Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld authorized guards to strip detainees and threaten them with dogs, according to documents released Tuesday.

Among the techniques that Rumsfeld approved on Dec. 2, 2002, in addition to grabbing, yelling and 'stress positions':

- Use of 20-hour interrogations.

- Removal of all comfort items, including religious items.

- Removal of clothing.

- Using detainees' "individual phobias such as fear of dogs to induce stress."

In a Jan. 15, 2003, note, Rumsfeld rescinded his approval of some of these recommendations and said a review would be conducted to consider legal, policy and operational issues relating to interrogations of detainees held by the U.S. military in the war on terrorism. Rumsfeld's decision was prompted at least in part by objections raised by some military lawyers who felt that the techniques might go too far, officials said earlier this year.

In Bush's case, Justice Department senior officials said that the 50-page "torture" memo issued to the White House on Aug. 1, 2002,(the one that appeared to justify the use of torture in the war on terror and argued that the president's wartime powers superseded anti-torture laws and treaties) would be repudiated and replaced.

See my headline from Saturday regarding Bush's highly questionable power-grab in regard to the torture memo.

The memo, signed by former Assistant Attorney General Jay Bybee, included lengthy sections that appeared to justify use of torture in the war on terrorism and it contended that U.S. personnel could be immune from prosecution for torture. The memo also argued that the president's powers as commander in chief allow him to override U.S. laws and international treaties banning torture.

Thanks to Yahoo News/AP for use of parts of this article to relay this information to you.

"Fahrenheit 9/11"Appeal-Mario Cuomo A No-Go

"Fahrenheit 9/11" Appeal-Mario Cuomo A No-Go

Lions Gate Films president Tom Ortenberg (whose company is distributing "Fahrenheit 9/11" with IFC Films and Miramax co-chairmen Bob and Harvey Weinstein's Fellowship Adventure Group) will appeal for a PG-13 rating instead of the R that the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) has awarded "Fahrenheit 9/11" for its "violent and disturbing images and for language"......but he'll have to appear without Mario Cuomo. The MPAA has made a decision to prevent Mr. Cuomo from arguing the appeal in person.

Why are they getting an "R' rating? Because an American soldier says the word motherf*****(more than once) and several graphic images of victims of war and abusive behavior by some of our troops appear in the film.

If you think about it, with Bush's raging war in Iraq and its images that cross our paths on cable news and the internet (human cold-blood slaughter and people begging for their lives), real life these days should be rated "XXXX", anyhow. (Even without Howard Stern on Clear Channel stations).


UPDATE: Moore lost the appeal. Moore urged younger teenagers to go see the film anyway. "I encourage all teenagers to come see my movie, by any means necessary. If you need me to sneak you in, let me know," he said.

My condolences to Jimmy Breslin

My condolences to Jimmy Breslin

My condolences go out to Jimmy Breslin. He lost his daughter Rosemary Breslin, 47, last Friday to a rare blood disease.

Mr. Breslin has written a heartful and moving column about how his loving memories colored Rosemary's last day...Rosemary's last breath.

My prayers are with you, Jimmy.


David Brooks: The Importance of Religion in Politics

David Brooks: The Importance of Religion in Politics


David Brooks makes the same point I made a couple days ago in THIS POST.

Brooks says:

It's mind-boggling. Can't the Democratic strategists read the data? Religious involvement is a much, much more powerful predictor of how someone will vote than income, education, gender or any other social and demographic category save race.

Can't the Democratic strategists feel it in their bones how important this is? After all, when you go out among the Democratic rank and file, you find millions of Democrats who are just as religious as Republicans.

Brooks careens off the track when he says:

..the members of the secular left are interested primarily in social issues. What unites them more than anything else is a strong antipathy to pro-lifers and fundamentalists.

I consider myself to be a religious moderate as are many of my friends and family. What turns off many religious Democrats (note I didn't say "secular lefties") is the political dogmatic hypocrisy right-wing pro-lifers reveal. They will press on one issue (ie: abortion) while completely ignoring the pro-life aspect involved in the deaths of untold innocents who die as a direct result of merciless, violent and unjust wars in which their nation fully participates. If all life is truly sacred, it would only follow logic that no self-respecting Christian should back a candidate who seeks out unjust wars he knows will result in killing thousands of innocent people...especially when he lies in order to wage the unjust war.

Brooks forgets the fact that animosity runs much stronger from right-wing fundamentalists to the moderately religious (and even stronger to the secular left). They are positively intolerant. This fundie-group can be downright hateful in their outlook toward anyone who refuses to share their views. Brooks should know better. Culture wars were not started and are not being egged on today by either religious moderates or the secular left who hold steadfast to the principles of freedom as framed in our nation's Founding documents (many of the "secular left" are Libertarians). The Christian conservative group that Bush panders to on their favorite (politically divisive) issues is nearly always at the expense of the most important national concerns and are often issues adversely affecting true freedoms we enjoy in America.

Other than this misinterpretation (in its typical David Brooks-style overgeneralization), I agree when he says that John Kerry must build a bridge to religious moderates.

As I said on June 19th, John Kerry "needs to be unafraid and unashamed to talk about the importance of religion in his own life. Americans want to hear about it. They relate to it."

Here's Bill O'Reilly's Final Solution

Here's Bill O'Reilly's Final Solution

Hearts and minds ain't gonna work in Iraq. Bomb the livin' daylights outta them. Level Fallujah.

They're just people who are primitive. We know what the final solution should be. If we don't know, just listen to Bill. He'll tell ya. If you don't agree, just “shut up” or you will be declared an “enemy of the state.” [LINK]

Kim Sun-il

Kim Sun-il

Hearing Kim Sun-il crying "I don't want to die! My life is important-like your life in important!" has been heartbreaking.

As I watched the nightmare-video of the frightened young man begging for his life, I wondered where the Catholic pro-lifers are? Why are they not screaming out against this war? (especially the Catholic hierarchy.) Where are all the Christians who preach about the sanctity of life? If they fail to see the value in all these innocent lives lost to unnecessary violence, why should we believe in anything else they say about any other issues?

Kim Sun-il is now dead...his self-important and innocent life taken away. He was more complex than a stem-cell or an embryo. He wasn't a soldier. He was a civilian. We sit back and watch perfectly innocent civilians die because it's a cost of the war we're fighting. In doing so--in remaining silent-- we are totally immoral.

Our leaders tell our citizen-civilians in these dangerous nations not to leave those nations "or the terrorists win". This is totally irresponsible. Let's see those leaders sign up to work and walk the daily streets in those treacherous lands.

To all who believe that each life is sacred:
Isn't it time to open your mouths and scream for the insanity and violence of this war to end?

TNR: The New Rationalizations to Support Iraq War

The New Republic: The New Rationalizations to Support Iraq War
..because the old ones didn't pan out.


The editors of The New Republic believed that assuming a nuclear-tipped Iraq could be deterred (given Saddam's history of reckless miscalculation and mass murder) was a naïve idea. They worried that, had President Bush's threats of war against Iraq passed without action, so would the world's (the U.N.'s) vigilance. The editors say they believed France, Russia, and China would likely always have feared a U.S. beachhead in the Arab world more than those countries feared Saddam Hussein.

Now comes the "but"....

The TNR editors now say that waiting to confront Iraq would have allowed the United States to confront more immediate dangers. They admit that, in retrospect, we should have paid more attention to myriad warning signs about the truth behind the dismal intelligence. They say they feel regret, but no shame.

They cling to some of their initial moral reasoning to absolve them from shame as they believe Saddam's Iraq was "a moral cancer at the center of a region whose pathologies were threatening the world". Yet they underestimated the effect on the Iraqi people, now considering the forces of "fanatical Islam, America-hatred, and a penchant for conspiracy theories." They claim our (U.S.) inability to provide security has caused us to undermine ourselves and that as a result, this war's moral costs have been higher than they'd foreseen.

TNR searches for a moral reson to stay in Iraq, and they find it in the simple fact that they are, in a decidedly perverse sense, "free" and that we can assist them to remain "free".

They make what I consider to be a freshly-created naive statement: that people from the Arab and Muslim world are watching..that they "may not hate America any less than they did before the war" (bullshite)....that, "for the time being, they may even hate it more" (Oh, come on, TNR--let's keep things real. We've inflamed the Arab street). TNR's pie-in-the-sky musing is that, with the fall of Iraq's dictator, the people of the Muslim world can finally envision the fall of their own dictators.
(*I have to add this:..."...and America's leaders can lie to their people again so the U.S. can help them to overthrow their dictators."*)

TNR's editors, in their hand-wringing over being oh-so-wrong over the attack on Iraq, bring this all down to the United States triggering a debate about democracy in the Middle East as their one true morally-justified reason for our loss of almost 850 troops after two straight years of proven misleadings from our government.

I'm sorry, but there is such thing as healthy optimism in a realistic light. On the other end of the spectrum, there is pure delusion. If TNR still believes this war--the invasion of Iraq--still carries a glint of moral justice, I don't think they're naive--I think they're reaching..reaching.. in the hope of intuitive redemption and moral absolution.

Hitchens tries too hard to call Moore a liar

Hitchens tries too hard to call Moore a liar

"...speaking here in my capacity as a polished, sophisticated European...it seems to me the laugh here is on the polished, sophisticated Europeans.

They think Americans are fat, vulgar, greedy, stupid, ambitious and ignorant and so on. And they've taken as their own, as their representative American...someone who actually embodies all of those qualities."

- Christopher Hitchens attacking Michael Moore


I read Christopher Hitchens' review of Michael Moore.
(Oh--and I read his comments about Moore's movie 'Fahrenheit 9/11', too).

It seems that Mr. Hitchens is reaching as far as he can to turn Michael Moore's artistic film presentation into a bag of deliberate anti-American political lies.

After seeing Hitchens on CSPAN -June 1st- making a blantantly uncivil public ad hominem attack on Michael Moore and after reading Mr. Hitchens' recent rant on Ronald Reagan, I'm losing my faith in his credibility as an intellectual. I've not seen a stronger post-9/11 change in any intellectual journalist to date...I suspect Mr. Hitchens was philisophically shaken and perhaps ruined by the attack on America.

Here is one example of Mr. Hitchen's well-stretched exaggerations:

If we turn to the facts that are deliberately left out....
..I don't think a pipeline is being constructed yet, not that Afghanistan couldn't do with a pipeline. But a highway from Kabul to Kandahar—an insurance against warlordism and a condition of nation-building—is nearing completion with infinite labor and risk...


Mr. Hitchens makes it sound like a pipeline is not a prime consideration for the U.S. economic interests. Ah! But let's look at reality:

The governments of Pakistan, Turkmenistan and Afghanistan on December 9, 2003, signed a formal protocol agreement in Islamabad after two days of talks on a multi-billion dollar natural gas pipeline project linking the three countries


It didn't take Afghanistan long to sign new agreements for their pipeline once they got their new government started up, did it? Of course, a highway and security will be necessary to literally pave the way to the pipeline dream. Let's not kid ourselves. The proposed TAP gas pipeline would move up to 30-bil cu m/year of natural gas from the Daulatabad fields in southeast Turkmenistan via Afghanistan to Pakistan. It's a wonderful economic opportunity for all invested international companies (and we know damned well the U.S. will be heavily invested).

When we see an intellectual reaching for cheap rationalization while lashing out ungentlemanly against a man he wishes desperately to call a liar, as Mr. Hitchens has clearly been doing, we see a confused soul who doesn't deserve much of our serious attention.

It's a shame. I really used to enjoy Mr. Hitchens. Post-9/11 politics have rolled him into a spinner of confused yarn. He is clearly not the "polished, sophisticated European" (as he tries to pass himself off). Let's use Hitchen's own words and turn them on him..I think he deserves it after the ad hominem attacks that have revealed his true nature: "To describe this film review as dishonest and demagogic would almost be to promote those terms to the level of respectability. To describe this film review as a piece of crap would be to run the risk of a discourse that would never again rise above the excremental."