2004-03-31T11:25:00-05:00


Rage Containment

The more I hear about the events around Fallujah, Iraq today, the more enraged I become. I don’t know if any video or pictures have aired today — photos and video were taken, according to AP — but we Americans need to see and hear and understand the ugly truth of this “occupation”. This has just become too damned important. Some media outlet needs to exhibit some balls, and let the supporters of the neocon movement see this at suppertime. If you are a sensitive person, may I gently recommend that you read this posting no further. It gets pretty graphic.

FALLUJAH, Iraq (AP) — Jubilant residents dragged the charred corpses of four foreign contractors – one a woman, at least one an American – through the streets Wednesday and hanged them from the bridge spanning the Euphrates River. Five American soldiers died in a roadside bombing nearby.

The four contract workers for the U.S.-led coalition were killed in a rebel ambush of their SUVs in Fallujah, a Sunni Triangle city about 35 miles west of Baghdad and scene of some of the worst violence on both sides of the conflict since the beginning of the American occupation a year ago.

It was reminiscent of the 1993 scene in Somalia, when a mob dragged the corpse of a U.S. soldier through the streets of Mogadishu, eventually leading to the American withdrawal from the African nation.The ugly truth is that we are not winning the “hearts and minds” of Iraqis – hell, we’re no longer even in charge of the asylum, it appears:

Hours after the attack, the city was quiet. No U.S. troops or Iraqi police were seen in the area.Driving into work this morning, I was also struck almost senseless by an NPR report on the best selling DVD’s and tapes in Iraq, glorifying the “resistance” and insurgency. You need to listen to this report.

This is so frustrating. How do we stop irrigating the killing fields with blood? You can not tell me that an Iraqi-led government at the end of June is going to have any positive impact on this mess. If anything, things are going to get a lot worse before they get better.

We’re in a classic Catch 22. There’s not even anyone we can turn this over to (like we did with the South Vietnamese army), and say, “See ya – this is now your kettle of fish.” We’re stuck.

My psyche hurts today.

Update: Link to two photos. WARNING – NOT FOR THE SQUEAMISH.

Photo 1

Photo 2

Update 2: I know this post is becoming disjointed, but here’s another example of cognitive dissonance (thanks to Billmon for the pointer):

The CPA, responding to a Baghdad City Council request, is allocating $10 million to brighten the city’s public parks, squares and playgrounds.

The White House

Iraq Fact of the Day

March 30, 2004I feel like I’ve taken a hit of bad acid.

Wednesday, March 31st, 2004 by Richard Blair |
Category: Uncategorized

2004-03-31T09:06:00-05:00



Repeating History

I’m rushed this morning, but in the aftermath of another five soldiers being killed in Iraq, felt moved to write something quickly. As the American death toll in Iraq quickly approaches 600, over the past couple of days, I’ve either heard or read a couple of reports in which the hawkish side of Washingtoon claims that the insurgency is “in it’s death throes”. The same jingoistic voices opine that stateside protests and anit-war sentiment is demoralizing to our armed forces in Iraq, and contributes to encouraging the enemy (whoever that is; I don’t feel the “enemy” has ever been clearly defined).

After watching the Robert McNamara biopic, “Fog of War”, I’m reminded of the spew from Lyndon Johnson’s propaganda machine prior to the Tet Offensive in 1968:

The environment was much different, too. In the early 60s comedian Bill Cosby wrote and performed a wonderful comedy routine called “The Flip of the Coin.” Describing the rules of engagement for the Revolutionary War, he said, “OK, you rebels (those who wanted independence from England), you can go anywhere you want, wear anything you want, and fight with anything you want. You British, you have to wear bright red uniforms and march in a straight line.”

In a very rough sense, that’s what fighting in Vietnam was like. You had no idea who or where the enemy might be. We were fighting in their territory, and they made the most of it. A 10 year-old boy walking toward you might just want something to eat. Or he might be carrying a hand grenade.

In 1968, U.S. General William Westmoreland, the U.S. commander in Vietnam, claimed that “the enemy has been defeated at every turn.” In a strict sense, he was perhaps right. The Americans never lost a major battle of the war. I guess we’ve learned little in the intervening 30 years. Hawks still blame the doves for “encouraging the enemy” and “demoralilzing the troops”. They haven’t learned one of the primary lessons from the Vietnam debacle – that those commanding in wartime are sometimes too close to individual trees to see the forest. When dissenting opinion is essentially squashed in the policy making process (as happened in the Johnson administration, and is now apparently happening in the Bush administration), the generals will march lockstep to the edge of the precipice, and beyond if so ordered.

As a nation, we’ve allowed an ardent group of civilian chickenhawks to wrap themselves in a post-9/11 flag, and drive the generals dangerously close to that precipice. And I refuse to subscribe to the notion that because I do not (and have not) supported Monkey Boy and Uncle Dick’s excellent adventure, that I am giving aid and comfort to the enemy or don’t support the troops “in country”.

By the way, I’m a Vietnam era vet.

Wednesday, March 31st, 2004 by Richard Blair |
Category: Uncategorized

2004-03-30T21:48:00-05:00



Highlights from National Petrochemical and Refiners Association Convention

Bush I, the Daddy of the Shrub stepped up to speak at this very appropriate forum. In front of a throng of conventioneers whose stock options are ringing like cash registers because of record oil industry profits, partly spurred by the LACK of adequate refining capacity, GHW Bush defended his son. And what a bunch of whining it is!

The former president appeared to fight back tears as he complained about media coverage of the younger Bush that he called “something short of fair and balanced.”

“It hurts an awful lot more when it’s your son that is being criticized than when they used to get all over my case,” said Bush, who has often complained about media coverage of both Bush presidencies.The big yahoo whines on Yahoo newsI’m speechless at imagining this scene. I truly can make no more comment.

Wednesday, March 31st, 2004 by SpinDentist |
Category: Uncategorized

2004-03-30T20:53:00-05:00



Little Red Wagon Meets the Little Red Book

OK, I stole the headline from Newsday, along with this shocking news that contrasts horribly with John Snow’s speech about outsourcing today (referenced by Richard Cranium below). Newsday Article

Chicago — Radio Flyer Inc., maker of the little red wagon loved by generations of children, plans to move its manufacturing operation to China.

The 87-year-old company said it would keep its headquarters and distribution business in Chicago but decided the Chicago plant where the metal wagons are built is too expensive to maintain. With the plant closing, Radio Flyer will lay off nearly half its 90 employees.Forget that most of Radio Flyer’s product are already made in China. This is an American brand beloved by kids throughout the ages. I had one. There’s even a movie starring that All-American Hobbit Elijah Wood as a resilient but abused boy persevering through all. I can’t help but think of the movie as a metaphor.

A father reminisces about his childhood when he and his younger brother moved to a new town with their mother, her new husband and their dog, Shane. When the younger brother is subjected to physical abuse at the hands of their brutal stepfather, Mike decides to convert their toy trolley, the “Radio Flyer”, into a plane to fly him to safety.Plot summary by www.imdb.comPerhaps Bush and Snow aren’t brutal stepfathers, but they are clearly trying make outsourcing palatable in a time when Americans are worried about their jobs. Yes, only 90 Radio Flyer employees, but MCI has announced big layoffs as well, and the new jobs figures come out this week.

Meanwhile, I have a friend on a Message Board who cannot afford the diagnostic tests so he can find out if he has stomach cancer. Health care and jobs in the Age of Bush are growing scarcer.

Sometimes one doesn’t have the energy to spit, but disgust is all that propels us.

Wednesday, March 31st, 2004 by SpinDentist |
Category: Uncategorized

2004-03-30T19:23:00-05:00



Cognitive Dissonance, Part II

The cabal never ceases to amaze me. Didn’t getting slapped around by David Kay teach them anything? Oh, that’s right – as Richard Clarke has said, the junta doesn’t listen to anything that might get in the way of their preconceived notions.

U.S. Weapons Hunt Shifts Focus to ‘Intent’ in Iraq

Wednesday, March 31st, 2004 by Richard Blair |
Category: Uncategorized

2004-03-30T14:35:00-05:00



Cognitive Dissonance

Definition: A psychological theory for how individuals reconcile differences/disparities/ambiguities in their expectations or desires and the reality of their world.

There’s no other way to explain why, on a day that George Bush is campaigning in Wisconsin on a jobs platform, that his Treasury Secretary, John Snow, is promoting outsourcing. Being somewhat a victim of outsourcing myself, I’m particularly livid at some of Snow’s comments:

It’s part of trade,” Snow said. “It’s one aspect of trade, and there can’t be any doubt about the fact that trade makes the economy stronger. You can outsource a lot of activities and get them done just as well, or better, at a lower cost. If we can keep the American economy strong and growing and expanding, we’ll create lots of jobs.” To which some folks in Wisconsin replied…

“George Bush is doing some terrible things to America and it’s affecting the Fox Valley,” said Bob Poeschl of Oshkosh, organizer of the Winnebago Peace and Justice Center. “It’s time we get that word out.”

Further down on College Avenue on the site of the former Rich’s Bakery in Grand Chute, another group of protesters gathered.

“This is all about jobs or the lack of jobs,” said Gary Ruhl, a union representative. Makes you wonder what gated-community planet the Bush cabal actually lives on…but then, these guys seem to live such an insulated existence, the duplicity is continually magnified.

Tuesday, March 30th, 2004 by Richard Blair |
Category: Uncategorized

2004-03-30T09:26:00-05:00



Waiting for Luke

Richard Clarke is not Luke Skywalker. Clarke’s a significant Jedi, yet the force is not strong with him. But Clarke is serving as a nice distraction for the Empire. While Vader’s attention is diverted, Luke is going to sneak in the back door of the Death Star.

Who is our Luke Skywalker?

Discuss.

(Oh, and breaking news: the White House has cleared Condi to testify, in public and under oath, before the 9/11 Commission. I guess all the cards and letters worked!!)

Tuesday, March 30th, 2004 by Richard Blair |
Category: Uncategorized

2004-03-29T17:57:00-05:00



U. S. Commission on National Security

I was brought to this subject by a recent column by Molly Ivins, God bless her spunky soul. The focus here is the report of the Hart-Rudman Commission, turned over on January 31, 2001, almost exactly the time Richard Clarke made his recommendations to the Bush White House. The general intent of the Report is to strengthen our homeland security and take the offensive on terror, suggestions Mr. Clarke made as well.

According to the Committee which wrote the report:


We have taken a broad view of national security. In the new era, sharp distinctions between “foreign” and “domestic” no longer apply. We do not equate national security with “defense.” We do believe in the centrality of strategy, and of seizing opportunities as well as confronting dangers. If the structures and processes of the U.S. government stand still amid a world of change, the United States will lose its capacity to shape history, and will instead be shaped by it.Executive Summary of the Hart Rudman Report — FASCINATING reading

Molly Ivins rightly points out that the Bush Administration did not only dismiss Clarke’s suggestions, but also the recommendations of this bipartisan committee, purportedly because it was being championed by Congress. Yes, they were afraid to lose the credit for reshaping the central force of the nations’ foreign policy as regards terror.

Ms. Ivins:

True, the report was initiated by Clinton, but the commission was bipartisan and included former House Speaker Newt Gingrich and other Republicans. On May 5, the White House announced that rather than adopt Hart-Rudman, it was forming its own committee on terrorism headed by Vice President Dick Cheney. That group never met.

All this can be proven, of course. That the White House rejected the Congressional approach because it came from the bipartisan commission, that the Cheney group never met before 9/11. The moral of this story is far more damning that the Bush Administration not listening to Clarke, but it has become familiar. They won’t listen to any Americans who aren’t in the core of the BushCorp team.

But, didn’t Mr. Bush boast about his abilities in bringing people together, in forming bipartisan coalitions when he was Governor of Texas? Or does he forget that, just as he forgot he was in the Situation Room on 9/12?

Rinse and spit. Please try to hit the bowl.

Tuesday, March 30th, 2004 by SpinDentist |
Category: Uncategorized

2004-03-29T13:50:00-05:00



Oh, Fer Christ’s Sakes…

Someone tell me these guys wouldn’t stoop so low. Please tell me they wouldn’t stoop so low.

What’s the over/under on how long this takes to hit Drudge?

We have it on semi-reliable authority that the Bush administration’s next attempt to discount Richard Clarke’s credibility will consist of alleging that he’s a big gay. We have a little trouble figuring out how being gay makes you unable to assess threats to a country’s national security — after all, we trust them to tell us what to wear. Still, it is a great strategy.

That is, as long as you don’t believe there any other homosexuals on the Bush national security team. Hey, it fits the TeamBush M.O. I was going to ask if this crew had any shame left anymore, but I figure I’ll leave that for the Department of Redundancy Department to answer.

Monday, March 29th, 2004 by Richard Blair |
Category: Uncategorized

2004-03-29T09:30:00-05:00



“Thanks for Calling New Jersey – This is Irving…Patel”

Attention John Kerry – we have an issue on aisle three…

I think I’ve found a theme for my time on this blog – continue hammering on the jobs and “offshoring” issues. From the Philadelphia Inquirer today, there’s a New Jersey State Legislator who took up the mantle long before anyone else. She’s looking like quite the genius these days.

She has appeared on Lou Dobbs’ CNN program. A Japanese television station sent a camera crew to her Senate office in a modest neighborhood in Ewing, just outside Trenton, to record a segment for Japan’s equivalent of 60 Minutes.

Dozens of newspapers, magazines, and online news sites have called for comment on what began as an economic ripple and has grown into a tidal wave of controversy: U.S. companies outsourcing tens of thousands of service jobs to India and other low-wage countries.

“I have never seen an issue generate this amount of energy,” said Sen. Shirley Turner (D., Mercer), the surprising spokeswoman for thousands of dislocated workers. “The anger is more than I ever dreamed… . There does not seem to be any end to it.”

Two years ago, Turner – whose district includes Trenton, Ewing, Lawrenceville, Hopewell, Pennington and Princeton – proposed what she considered “no-brainer” legislation: Stop companies with state contracts for call centers, computer coding, and other service work from sending jobs to countries with lower wages.

The anti-outsourcing proposal was one of the first of its kind in the United States, and it passed the state Senate before dying in the Assembly. Turner came up with the idea after hearing of New Jersey welfare recipients being routed to a call center in India where callers were given fictitious American names…

As usual, there’s nothing here that we “early adopters” don’t understand. Poll after poll tell the Kerry campaign that this is where they should be hanging their hats. Lest Mr. Kerry’s camp forget, this single issue is the issue that lit John Edwards brief flame.

Richard Clarke can carry the water on issues regarding the war on terror and Iraq. Focus on the wallet.

Monday, March 29th, 2004 by Richard Blair |
Category: Uncategorized
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