Wednesday, June 21, 2006


Sweet Christ. Americans continue their devolution into the world's most squeamish serial killers. They don't blink an eye at traumatizing, maiming, and murdering children by the scores of thousands, but run screaming for the safety of some judge's robes at the sight of a fucking pussycat.

Are we the most pitiful sight on earth?

Monday, June 19, 2006

Surprise, Surprise, Surprise!

It took me long enough to find it. Why? Because the Washington Post had buried it in B Section. And in less than a day even the search engines didn't turn it up:
"Hours before President Bush left on a surprise trip last Monday to the Green Zone in Baghdad for an upbeat assessment of the situation there, the U.S. Embassy in Iraq painted a starkly different portrait of increasing danger and hardship faced by its Iraqi employees. This cable, marked "sensitive" and obtained by The Washington Post, outlines in spare prose the daily-worsening conditions for those who live outside the heavily guarded international zone: harassment, threats and the employees' constant fears that their neighbors will discover they work for the U.S. government."
The cable itself goes on to describe a daily situation for embassy staff so horrifying that one wonders how the U.S. has even been able to retain anyone to work for it there:
  • Women staffers who have been threatened into covering themselves and not using cell phones;
  • Electricity service down to as little as 4 hours a day despite temperatures of 115 degrees (Riverbend told us as much over a year ago);
  • Ethnic cleansing by political parties and their militias in every province of Iraq, including the ejection of Kurds from Baghdad;
  • 12 hour waits on line to buy gasoline;
  • Kidnappings of staff family members;
  • Threats against staff for simply working at the embassy;
  • Sectarian divisiveness within families and even in the office itself;
  • And a patchwork of rigorously enforced social mores throughout Iraq that require Iraqis traveling outside their neighborhoods to take on the "clothing, language and traits of (each) area", because to do otherwise may endanger their lives.
The memo reports a near complete breakdown of law and order, except for that which is dependent on "local providers" of power and security. Neighborhoods are run by their own governments, complete with their own little armies/police forces, and "the central not relevant...People no longer trust most neighbors." This memo, with Ambassador Khalilzad's name at the bottom, was sent on June 6, more than a week before Bush made his little fantasy flight to photo op and catapult the propaganda with Maliki. That means someone close to him (not him, of course...we know his interest in foreign affairs stops at the Rio Grande) was aware of this miserable situation well before Bush showed up there with the kidnapped press corps. But this administration has never let the truth get in the way of a good opportunity for Newsspeak, or a chance to work those polls he so adamantly denies caring about.

But the most chilling part of the memo has to be this almost fatalistic assessment in the last paragraph:
"Although our staff retain a professional demeaner, strains are apparent. We see that their personal fears are reinforcing divise and sectarian channels, despite talk of reconciliation by officials. Employees are aprehensive enough that we fear they may exaggerate developments or steer us towards news that comports with their worldview. Objectivity, civility, and logic that make for a functional workplace may falter if social pressures outside the Green Zone don't abate."(Emphasis mine.)
Imagine! Steering toward news that comports with one's worldview! Even if it's the truth, and even if it happens to be the quotidian reality of one's life, it could prove fatally inconvenient for the string-pullers, so let's get a lid on it, stat.

gomer1The trifling, lying, and cynical corpse-bandying of this administration is not the surprise here--Christ knows we should have come to expect little else by now. What is unforgiveable is how this story just seems to have fallen down a rathole somewhere. I first found it at Raw Story and Editor and Publisher, but only through a search could I link to the memo itself, via War and Piece. When I tried to locate a link to the Al Kamen article (which DOES have a link to the memo), a search of WaPo's own site yielded nothing at all, and the NYTimes still appears clueless. Way to go, liberal media.

Here's the memo.

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Another Apocalypse Foiled

Well, 6/6/06 came and went and we're all still here.

It's been a slow week for the pre-tribs. Lack of apostasy activity has downgraded the category, and you can't get any duller than that. And no matter how many times their predictions of doom and gloom fall through, they just pick themselves up and carry on. I'm sure there's a medical term for this kind of blind refusal to learn from thousands of years of disappointment, but in laymen's terms let's just call it stupidity. True, the remake of The Omen has darkened our doorstep as threatened, but I haven't heard of any seals being opened recently. More telling, The Rapture Index is holding steady at 157, with this explanation:
"Rapture Index above 145: Fasten your seat belts"
bobdobbsIndeed. I never go anywhere without mine, which is why I'm here typing this instead of dead or maimed for life. But the difference, see, is that I only wear mine in the car.

Failed prophesying is as old as religion. If even Jesus couldn't get this thing to come out on time, why should we think the likes of Pat Robertson will have clearer seeing? But not to fear, dear friends. We still have March 2012 to hang our sackcloth on. And if that doesn't work, they'll come up with something else. In the meantime, one guaranteed-to-fail prophecy is coming up that you shouldn't miss:

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Old Mother Hubbert

Greg Palast's new book, Armed Madhouse, is being sold in two different covers on different sides of the Atlantic. As you'd expect from the land of puritan bowdlerizing and neurotic dithering, the American cover is a pale, gelded version of the British one. Palast is predictably irate, and spraying ammo:
"These are dispatches from the front lines of the class war.

Here is our new world of militarized greed, where America’s panic over lunatics with box-cutters has metastasized into a billion-dollar fear industry; where Republicans sucking on Super-sized Slurpies® are hunting dark-skinned voters to eliminate their rights; where James Baker’s fixer in alligator boots sets up the grab for Iraq’s oil on her way to the rodeo; where miners are suffocated by the same investment bankers who are siphoning off auto workers’ pensions."
Love him or hate him, he brings a refreshingly confrontational approach to dealing with the outrages of the last few decades, and since playing nice and acting "grown-up" have turned out to be such pitiful responses for liberals, maybe it's time to learn a thing or two from the ad hominum king. You can catch him on his tour, and ask him what the hell he has against the Hubbert Curve.

Friday, June 02, 2006


imagesJim Kunstler, whose writing I enjoy and who has made a wonderful contribution to the dialogue about energy, wrote a piece on May 29 that I simply could not let pass by. It begins with some commentary on soldiers returning from Iraq, and makes the mistake of positing an argument based on the assumption that the soldiers are all male. Then there are these comments:
"Another element of the story that stood out was the way these returned soldiers missed the exhilaration and camaraderie of the war zone, and what a contrast it had been to the banalities of civilian life they returned to in small town Pennsylvania. Some were eager to go back over. Others, while not exactly eager, were willing to go back if their national guard unit was called back into rotation.

Though this was not spelled out in the story, you sensed the utter vacuum of masculine roles in American civilian life these days. Everybody, more or less, male or female, has been reduced to the status of a soccer mom, condemned in one way or another, to endless duty driving the family cars here and there and everywhere, assigned the demeaning label of "consumers," with no duties, obligations, or responsibilities to anything greater than fetching Cheez Doodles and Pepsi for the larder back home in the double-wide.

In all the blather about the sufferings of women the past quarter-century, not a whole lot of attention has been paid to the dearth of meaningful roles for men, both socially and in work, and the drawn-out adventure in Iraq has stimulated a recognition that the passivity of "consumerdom" is not enough to keep society sane.

In my opinion, this must even redound into our politics, especially the politics of the Democratic party, if it is going to survive. It has to be re-masculinized. It has to allow men to come back into the centers of power, including the power to speak the truth -- even if the truth hurts somebody's feelings."
Certainly Chris Hedges, who has been there, would have some trenchant things to say about this. This was my response:
""In all the blather about the sufferings of women the past quarter-century, not a whole lot of attention has been paid to the dearth of meaningful roles for men, both socially and in work.."

You're too intelligent a man to really believe this, aren't you? Meaningful roles abound for all of us, everyday. From parent to friend to child to lover to mentor to apprentice, if we live amongst our own kind we live in a rich environment of opportunities to make meaningful choices and live out meaningful lives, regardless of what the television blats at us. And your denigration of the problems women face is not worthy of you. I don't know what world you live in that denies power to men, but it's not the one I've been residing in the last 53 years.

As for "re-masculinizing" the Democratic party, I have to agree with some of your other readers that the problem with the world, including the political parties of the U.S., is that we have swung too far to the Yang side of the spectrum. Chest-beating and displays of plumage and dance savvy are not helping evolve the race. And knowing the nature of the universe, it can only be a matter of time before all this Yang dissolves. Look at the U.S.: we are the most powerful nation in the history of our sorry species. If we truly wanted, we could bring other nations to their knees. Yet ultimately we can't, and why not? Because all our bluster amounts to nothing in the face of the need for diplomacy. Because to change minds and hearts, which is the only real key to security, we need the skills to cajole, persuade, and convince---diplomatic skills that are lost in the masculinist bullshit of threat and war. If war was the answer, we wouldn't still be waging it.

Your argument fails miserably, Jim. We have to find another way, one which doesn't depend on the ascension of one being over another."
Why belabor the point? Live life as a woman for 70 or 80 years, then go ahead and expound on"the blather about the sufferings of women".