Freedom’s March Continues…

Four Detainees Killed in Iraq Riot

BAGHDAD, Iraq – U.S. guards opened fire Monday on prisoners during a riot at the main detention facility for security detainees, killing four of them, the U.S. command said. Six other prisoners were injured…

Monday, January 31st, 2005 by Richard Blair |
Category: Uncategorized

What’s Next? Full Censorship?

In the wake of the Armstrong Williams case comes a study by the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation. It is of High School kids and it finds that fully a third of them think the press should be more restricted. Specifically:

The survey of 112,003 students finds that 36% believe newspapers should get “government approval” of stories before publishing; 51% say they should be able to publish freely; 13% have no opinion.

Asked whether the press enjoys “too much freedom,” not enough or about the right amount, 32% say “too much,” and 37% say it has the right amount. Ten percent say it has too little.

Woe to all of us who cherish our freedoms if these kids grow up to vote.

There’s a lot to say here, about the effect of Bush press policies, the stifling of dissent throughout the Bush Administration, but also about the curriculum of schools, and how NCLB, no matter how many Armstrong Williamses support it, does not promote the critical thinking skills necessary to a healthy Republic.

Monday, January 31st, 2005 by SpinDentist |
Category: Uncategorized

The children are the future

CNN — Freedom of What?

I found this article via Slashdot today, and its quite worrisome.

WASHINGTON (AP) — The way many high school students see it, government censorship of newspapers may not be a bad thing, and flag burning is hardly protected free speech.

[...]

Yet, when told of the exact text of the First Amendment, more than one in three high school students said it goes “too far” in the rights it guarantees. Only half of the students said newspapers should be allowed to publish freely without government approval of stories.

In a time where many of us see civil liberties being eroded by the current administration and majority party, one can’t help but think of the warning: Those who forget history are doomed to repeat it.

Spin’ster, teaching that civics class is becoming increasingly more pressing everyday.

Monday, January 31st, 2005 by forrest |
Category: Uncategorized

U.S. Encouraged By Vote; 83% Turnout Cited

U.S. ENCOURAGED BY VIETNAM VOTE; Officials Cite 83% Turnout Despite Vietcong Terror

By PETER GROSE Special to The New York Times. New York Times (1857-Current file). New York, N.Y.: Sep 4, 1967. pg. 2, 1 pgs

Document types: article

ISSN/ISBN: 03624331

Text Word Count 521

Document URL:

Abstract (Document Summary)

WASHINGTON, Sept. 3 United States officials were surprised and heartened today at the size of turnout in South Vietnam’s presidential election despite a Vietcong terrorist campaign to disrupt the voting.

Thanks to NEPAJim for the fantastic heads up! I wanted to see some authentication to the article before posting, and sure enough, the above is from the ProQuest Archiver at the New York Times. Here’s a link to the full article from DKos.

Monday, January 31st, 2005 by Richard Blair |
Category: Uncategorized

Mixing Politics and Super Bowls

No doubt many ASZers are going to be sick of my fawning over the Super Bowl “bread and circus” atmosphere this week. So, in a preemptive strike, let me just state that I’ve been waiting 25 years for this week, and I’m gonna enjoy it. Say what you will. Nyah.

In the spirit of the political nature of ASZ, though, let me offer this today from the Philadelphia Daily News:

10 Reasons the Pats Should Lose

• 1. The Pats, surely the most boring team in professional sports, have drained the fun out of the game and replaced it with machine-like proficiency. It’s like rooting for a robot.

• 2. The town’s most popular politician lost the White House to the most unpopular president in the history of American politics, and now it wants us to trust it with the Lombardi Trophy? I don’t think so.

• 3. New England is a region, not a city. Get yourself a city, then come back and play.

• 4. This is a perfect opportunity to end all this nonsense about a “dynasty.”

• 5. Pretty boy Tom Brady, who said he wants to be a U.S. senator someday, allowed himself to be used as a tool of the Republican Party by sitting next to Laura Bush at last year’s State of the Union address. At the time, he had never bothered to vote in an election. Super Bowl trophies are not for opportunistic hypocrites.

• 6. Their cheerleaders lack sufficient boobage.

• 7. New England, Old England, whatever – Philadelphia fought two wars to rid itself of the crown, and now we’re going to let those Tory bastards walk off with the Super Bowl?

• 8. Their fans are smug dilettantes who never supported the team until it was a winner.

• 9. With a win, Bill Belichick will surpass St. Vince Lombardi’s post-season coaching record. If this happens, life as we know it will cease to exist.

• 10. Boston already used up its share of sports miracles.

Wake me when it’s over

Belichick must’ve learned public relations from Karl Rove. He has his team so “on-message” that he prohibits his assistants from talking to the press, lest they stray off topic. The New York Daily News reported that even Charlie Weis, the Patriots’ offensive coordinator who’s leaving next season to coach at Notre Dame, has been denied permission to talk to reporters.

Meanwhile, Belichick is the most unquotable being in the English-speaking world. Asked about the praise that’s heaped on his team, he said, “Criticisms are made. Accolades are given. What I try to focus on is our future opportunities and achievements.”

No surprise: As a youth, Belichick was a golf caddy for Spiro Agnew.

Ha-ha… oh, shut up

“In the Senate, the vote to confirm Condoleezza Rice as the next secretary of state was 85-13 in favor. 85-13! No, I’m sorry, that’s what the score of the Super Bowl is going to be when the Patriots beat the Eagles.”

- Jay Leno

Monday, January 31st, 2005 by Richard Blair |
Category: Uncategorized

Homeland Security – A Change Agent for Inconvenient Liberties

With the Chertoff confirmation hearing coming up this week, DHS is going to be receiving a lot of exposure. As Allan Duncan explains in his latest article, Serious Questions for Michael Chertoff, possible connections between Chertoff and terrorist financing networks have never been adequately addressed. And as if that’s not enough, along comes Tom Englehart at TomDispatch to analyze an even more concerning series of articles about the mission and means of the department itself. Englehart introduces a two part posting from Nick Turse, titled The Emergence of the Homeland Security State.

Just keep telling yourself, “9/11 changed everything”. The kleptocracy thanks you.

Monday, January 31st, 2005 by Richard Blair |
Category: Uncategorized

9 billion in tax dollars are hard at work…

accruing interest in someone’s personal account.

WASHINGTON (AP) – The U.S. occupation authority in Iraq was unable to keep track of nearly $9 billion it transferred to government ministries, which lacked financial controls, security, communications and adequate staff, an inspector general has found.

For those of you who need to visualize things to gauge sizes/amounts:

A stack of one billion dollar bills will reach from the ground 120 kilometers upward so that its top 20 kilometers would be immersed in a normal aurora.

By using Google’s conversion tool, one can ascertain that 120 km = 74.56 miles. So, multiply that by 9, and you get 671.04.

So, in Iraq, there is an amount of money equivalent to stack of $1 bills over 671 miles high that cannot be accounted for. True, its probably money backed by the Chinese yuan, but thats even worse, because if its a loan, it has to be paid back sometime. Hurray for being almost 22 and having most of my life in front of me! ;-)

I’m dying for someone to remind me that Bush and the Republicans are fiscally responsible.

Thanks to an anonymous friend in the live blogging post below for the tip.

Monday, January 31st, 2005 by forrest |
Category: Uncategorized

Koufax Awards – Best Post

After many fits and starts, crashed computers, and hospital visits on the part of the fine Wampum staff, it looks like the Koufax’s are chugging along again. Two ASZ posts are nominated for “Best Post” – cruise on over, read some of the exceptionally fine competition, and then vote your conscience.

Payola “Thank You” notes will be distributed upon completion of the nomination voting process.

(Tip of the hat to Sweetpea for the 411 and the kind words.)

Monday, January 31st, 2005 by Richard Blair |
Category: Uncategorized

Tomorrow

Phil Connors (“Groundhog Day”): “What if there is no tomorrow? There wasn’t one yesterday.”

Bill Moyers: There Is No Tomorrow

From the top: “One of the biggest changes in politics in my lifetime is that the delusional is no longer marginal. It has come in from the fringe, to sit in the seat of power in the Oval Office and in Congress. For the first time in our history, ideology and theology hold a monopoly of power in Washington.”

And if you’re still short on belly laughs from the “historic” day of Iraqi freedom there’s always one of my favorites, Macbeth. ;-)

Tomorrow, and tomorrow, and tomorrow

Creeps in this petty pace from day to day,

To the last syllable of recorded time;

And all our yesterdays have lighted fools

The way to dusty death. Out, out brief candle!

Life’s but a walking shadow, a poor player

That struts and frets his hour upon the stage

And then is heard no more: it is a tale

Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,

Signifying nothing.

Is this a dagger I see before me?

Monday, January 31st, 2005 by Kate Storm |
Category: Uncategorized

Iraq Polls are Open – Live Blogging

Richard @ 11:30PM EST, 1/29

The polls opened in Iraq about 20 minutes ago. Quite honestly, I don’t care whether anyone outside of the Green Zone votes or not today — only that the violence and bloodshed is kept to a minimum.

Talking heads on CNN and Fox are positively gushing. It’s like they’re the proud parents of the theocracy that many experts predict will most probably evolve over the coming months. As we go through the day, don’t lose sight of the fact that this thing isn’t about Iraq. It’s a dog and pony extraveganza for America. The ultimate reality show, if you will.

Gah!

Forrest @ 2:45AM EST, 1/30

Signs of a healthy, truly representative government:

AP — Iraqis Begin Historic Vote Amid Attacks

There were no signs of voting in the Sunni Muslim stronghold cities — and rebel centers — of Fallujah and Ramadi, west of Baghdad. Sunni extremists, fearing victory by the Shiites, have called for a boycott, claiming no vote held under U.S. military occupation is legitimate.

Zogby poll indicates that more than 3 out of every 4 Sunnis will “definitely not vote”.

From an Al-Jazeera report, it appears that some of today’s violence may appear to be coming from insurgents posing as Iraqi police as 20 vehicles (consisting of an assortment of police vehicles as well as ambulances) have been stolen by insurgents in the last week. Coupled with the hundreds of police uniforms that have gone missing in recent days (thanks k ols from the comments), instead of the police acting as security, we may see “police” gunning down civilians and ramming explosive-laden ambulances into polling places. Also, thanks to the same Al-Jazeera report, I’ve drawn the conclusion that Samarra must be the San Francisco of Iraq, since the war profiteers and their puppets have deemed the situation there too dangerous to permit voting.

Meanwhile, the head of the local council in Samarra said no citizens would vote because of the poor security situation.

“Nobody will vote in Samarra because of the security situation,” said Taha Husain, the head of Samarra’s local governing council.

No employees turned up at polling centres in Samarra and police were not to be seen on the streets, an agency correspondent reported.

On a lighter note, there seem to be early signs of voter fraud in Iraq’s elections. Sounds like Iraq may need a women’s suffrage movement…

Al-Yawer was among the first to cast his ballot, voting alongside his wife at election headquarters in the heavily fortified Green Zone in central Baghdad. As poll workers watched, he marked two ballots and dropped them into boxes, and then walked away with an Iraqi flag given to him by a poll worker.

Gah!

Richard @ 6:45AM

Up very early on this snowy Sunday — my wife isn’t crazy about driving to work in the snow, and I have the 4WD gas guzzler, so I doffed my chauffer hat about an hour ago and drove her in.

One early impression of the Iraq election has pretty much been confirmed: it’s nearly impossible to get any unfiltered news on what’s happening. Reports are indicating many people have been killed in attacks on polling stations, and that most Sunni areas are not participating in the election.

Despite these downsides, Minitrue reports that it’s all wine and roses in New Iraqâ„¢ today. Expect the BushCo bobbleheads to be glowing like newlyweds on Sunday talk shows this morning.

I’m going back to bed for a few hours.

Kate @ 6:00AM Pacific

Top ‘o the hour “news” on Los Angeles radio… ROFL! “A Historic Day in Iraq! Spirits are high despite 30 people killed in “insurgent attacks”". It doesn’t get better than this, Lovelies. Your entertainment for a Sunday on the Happy Bizarro Planet. During commercial breaks you can read some Rude Pundit goodness

Richard @ 9:30AM EST

Reality or pure bullshit? We blog, you decipher:

An Iraqi election official said Sunday that 72% of the eligible Iraqi voters had turned out so far nationwide.

Adel al-Lami of the Independent Electoral Commission, offered no overall figures of the actual number of Iraqis who have voted to back up the claim.

He pointed out that the percentage of registered voters who had gone to the polls in some Baghdad neighborhoods was as high as 95%.

It’s hard to say how that’s possible when many polling places didn’t even open, almost no one was voting in two of the largest cities, and up to 13 bombings at other polling places were reported. Color me just a wee bit sceptical of Mr. al-Lami’s numbers.

Richard @ 10:40AM EST

Interesting how Iraq’s election can be hailed as “fair and transparent”. Paper ballots and ink on fingers were used in Iraq. For all of the high tech wizardry available to U.S. voters, it seems really difficult to get that same “fair and transparent” feeling about U.S. elections.

Kate @ 8:00 AM Pacific

Free Iraq

“Bush called the Iraqi election “a turning point in the history of Iraq, a milestone in the advance of freedom [sic] crucial advance in the war on terror.”

At the same time, however, his advisers have downplayed the importance of Sunday’s vote by calling it just the first step toward a new Iraqi constitution and fully elected leadership.”

And so it goes.

Update 8:25 Pacific: Robert Fisk: What a Bloody Charade

Richard @ 12:20PM, EST

Let’s don’t forget that the security lockdown was done with a dual purpose in mind – to keep the streets of Baghdad clear, and to bottle up the flow of information.

The various outlets of Minitrue are falling all over themselves this morning proclaiming success. RoveCo did a masterful job of diminishing expectations over the past month or so. Any result short of Zarqawi’s crew lighting off a low yield nuclear device outside of the Green Zone was going to be portrayed as stunningly good.

But let’s step back for a moment. Out of 5000+ polling places, pool reporters had access to 5 for filming purposes. One of Allawi’s stooges claims “72% of voters voted”, with absolutely no facts to back it up, but the SCLM immediately siezes on this as gospel, and obiediently reports the figure. Dozens of people are killed in dozens of polling place incidents, but it’s spun as eggs and omlettes.

By the time the complete story slips out, this sham election will be old, old news and any corrections will run on page A-27 of New Pravda.

And a quick question which will surely be asked many times in the coming days: did the ends justify the means? More on that later…

Forrest @ 11:45AM Pacific

72 percent, my ass.

“Turnout figures recently announced represent the enormous and understandable enthusiasm felt in the field on this historic day,” a commission statement said.

“However, these figures are only very rough, word-of-mouth estimates gathered informally from the field.”

Leave it to American regurgitation media to seize on feel-good rumors and report them as feel-good facts.

Forrest @ 12:15PM Pacific

Sometimes I like the guy, but this time he’s just an idiot. John McCain says if the elections are successful, terrorism will decline in Iraq.

“The insurgents know that if we can pull off the election, then their days are numbered.”

This just doesn’t make sense to me.

Will the Iraq Constitution that is supposed to be written after the elections make terrorism more illegal than it already is?

And what about the question of enforcement? Are the Iraqi police and National Guard going to be more likely to remain on their posts in the face of a strong, well funded and organized insurgency that has support from many of the Sunnis that make up 40% of Iraq’s population?

Then there’s the question of deterrent. I’d imagine that since Iraq will be a “democracy” based on “freedom”, that its Constitution would include some requirements for due process of criminals. Seems to me that the possibility of being thrown into the American gulag system would be a stronger deterrent than actually being treated according to law. A military prison system headed by a man who ignores international law is certainly more frightening than a jury of normal citizens.

Maybe McCain meant that statement to apply only to suicide bombers, those whose days are numbered regardless of the political climate just due to their… uhhh… profession.

Richard @ 5PM EST

The gloatfest in Right Blogistan continues.

Here’s what really chaps my ass. The prevailing wisdom in the Land of Wingnuttery is that we on the left were making small animal sacrifices at the alter of progressive politics, in the hopes of Team Bin-Laden upsetting the Bush Machine. That’s how the election in Iraq is being played today. It wasn’t a test of a people’s will to determine their own destiny, but a horserace between good and evil, and those of us on the left were backing the wrong pony.

I’m really tired of this crap.

Anyway, as Forrest pointed out upthread, the leakage in the feel-good story of “72% participation” is starting. Over the next day or two, expect to see that number drop below the randomly selected “legitimacy” target of 50%.

Over 50 people were killed in election day violence, and as usual, untold scores were injured. I’m not sure anymore what constitutes “acceptable casualties” in Iraq. I do know that if even one person was killed in random violence at a polling place during the U.S. elections, the reaction from Washington would have been blood curdling.

How many times today have the Minitrue talking heads stationed in Iraq used the terms “normal day”, “mortar fire”, “explosions”, and “gunfire” in the same sentence? I quit counting. Sorry, Sheppard, that doesn’t meet my definition of “normal”.

But I am happy, and yes relieved, for the people of Iraq that this day has passed without mass bloodshed. And I hope that in whatever small measure, this process truly represented a step toward, if not the beginning of the end, then at least the end of the beginning.

At this point, what’s more important is what happens when the sun creeps West over the Zagros Mountains tomorrow morning. Hope springs eternal. Maybe it’s kind of zen how “hope” is a very human attribute that spans all languages and cultures.

Monday, January 31st, 2005 by Richard Blair |
Category: Uncategorized
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