Thursday, September 29, 2005

A Picture's Worth a Thousand Deaths

Photographers have documented some truly demented and sociopathic behavior perpetrated by U.S. troops in Iraq. That these actions are not representative of the bulk of American troops is no longer relevent. By encouraging and coddling the people involved in this subhuman behavior, the leadership within the Bush administration is absolutely obliterating what is left of the U.S. image around the world.

Unless the administration is successful in its cover-up efforts in federal court, more Abu Ghraib photos are coming. They are said to be really bad.

These sick mofos traded these photos for pictures of porn on the internet. The Defense Department made moves like it was going to investigate, for a few hours, then decided we should all just move along. Nothing to see here.

Eugenics, the Republican Way

According to the former Reagan administration secretary of education, and exposed gambling addict, William Bennett, if you abort every black baby, the crime rate would go down.

I bet aborting every white Republican baby would lower the crime rate as well. Additionally, the longevity of human beings around the world would almost certainly shoot up.

Two can play that game, you racist fat f___! Aren't there some ponies running at Laurel Racetrack you can go blow you paycheck on?

The Death of the GOP

Both the New York Times and the Washington Post run articles today that come to the same conclusion: the Republicans in Washington are in a world of hurt. From the DeLay indictment, to the investigation into the Bush administration's revealing of the identity of a CIA agent, to the SEC investigation of a questionable stock sale by the Senate Majority leader-cum 2008 presidential candidate, to the Iraq debacle, to the Katrina debacle, to other low-level investigations and arrests, the GOP is showing its behind to the whole nation -- in HDTV-type clarity.

Now, as a way of declaring a pox on both their houses, it's tempting for those in the know to point out that Democrats have also had their ethics problems in the past. While this is absolutely true, it belittles a point that demands greater attention: over the past 10 years of the so-called "Republican Revolution," the GOP has demonstrated not only the depths of its corruption, but also the staggering heights of its incompetence. This double whammy, well beyond anything seen during the height of the Democratic control of the federal government (some might disagree and point to the Carter years) has proven destructive to the nation and fatal to tens of thousands of human beings.

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

The Magical Listening Tour

Looks like Karen Hughes's Middle East listening tour is going just splendidly:

ISTANBUL, Sept. 28 -- A group of Turkish female activists confronted Undersecretary of State Karen Hughes Wednesday with heated complaints about the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq, turning a session designed to highlight the empowering of women into a raw display of the anger at U.S. policy in the region."This war is really, really bringing your positive efforts to the level of zero," said Hidayet Sefkatli Tuksal, an activist with the Capital City Women's Forum. She said it was difficult to talk about cooperation between women in the United States and Turkey as long as Iraq was under occupation.

Hughes, a longtime confidant of President Bush tasked with burnishing the U.S. image overseas, has generally met with polite audiences -- many of whom received U.S. funding or consisted of former exchange students -- during a tour of Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Turkey this week.

In this case the U.S. Embassy asked Kader, an umbrella group that supports woman candidates, to assemble the guest list. None of the activists currently receive U.S. funds and the guests apparently had little desire to mince words. Six of the eight women who spoke at the session, held in Ankara, the capital, focused on the Iraq war.

Indicted!

Tom DeLay (R-TX), the most powerful man in the U.S. Congress, has just been indicted on charges of conspiracy to break Texas election law. This is not so arcane and irrelevant to us as it may sound.

Tradition dictates that legislative district boundaries get reviewed and redrawn every ten years, after the results of the cenusus are released. In 2003 -- more-or-less mid-decade, and out of nowhere -- Texas decided to redraw its congressional disctrict boundaries again. In so doing, they packed the state's black and Hispanic voters into a handful of districts. This accomplished two goals: 1) created more Republican districts, 2) made the Democrats seem to be the party of only blacks and Hispanics -- a powerful image to construct in the minds of Texans (powerfully negative to white Texans).

DeLay's role is that he apparently used corporate money to fund the effort to have these districts redrawn. It's that use of corporate money which would be illegal, not the the mis-timed and racist redrawing of the districts. That DeLay may have gotten snagged on a tangential issue like the use of corporate money is good news for all those that subscribe to progressive politics. DeLay has been one the absolute most destructive, most Neanderthal of the Republicans in Congress. Anything that hobbles his power can only be a good thing from that perspective.

However, the larger problem still remains: the ease with which state governments can weaken minority voting power by toying with legislative districts. This is but one of the several aspects of the American election system which undermines black and Hispanic political power. Were there true justice in this matter, the federal courts would also invalidate the redistricting that took place in 2003 as a violation of the 1965 Voting Rights Act.

[Shameless plug] All this and more addressed in my book "Ghosts of Florida."

Be A Good Little Minority Now...

Atrios tells us of the latest column by New York Times pundit Tom Freidman, one of those bang-the-Iraq-War-drums liberals who with each passing week find that the intellectual space they have to work in keeps shrinking. The money passage:

That will become clear in the next few months as we see just what kind of minority the Sunnis in Iraq intend to be. If they come around, a decent outcome in Iraq is still possible, and we should stay to help build it. If they won't, then we are wasting our time. We should arm the Shiites and Kurds and leave the Sunnis of Iraq to reap the wind.

How loaded those few sentences are. "What kind of minority" the Sunnis intend to be? Does he mean if they become the uppity-negro-Martin Luther King kind in demanding that their nation's constitution make them equal players that we (the U.S.) are "wasting our time?" Does he mean if they become the know-your-place, boy!-Booker T. Washington kind of minority that only then is "a decent outcome in Iraq" possible? Either way, it's clear that what Freidman, like all the rest who ridiculously expect the Sunnis to accept a paternalistic structure between them and the Shia and Kurd blocs, is really afraid that the Sunnis will prove to be the by-any-means-necessary-Malcolm X kind of minority. The no-justice-no-peace Al Sharpton kind of minority. The God-told-me-to-kill-my-oppressors-Nat Turner kind of minority.

If Freidman fears what Bush has wrought, he should have thought of that before he decided to spend the last three years using the nation's most prestigious newspaper to argue the sunny merits of a plan to illegally, and without provocation, overthrow the government of a Middle Eastern country whose national identity existed only as a figment of the imagination of the Europeans who had cobbled it together and the strongman dictator who ruled it with an iron fist.

And how about Freidman's kicker: if the Sunnis don't play along with the U.S. game plan, "we should arm the Shiites and Kurds and leave the Sunnis to reap the wind." That sounds at best like a call to intentionally encourage a civil war, and at worst like a call to support the genocide of the Iraqi Sunnis. This, again, from the pages of the New York Times.

By the way, I believe the expression Friedman is looking for is "reap the whirlwind," which is exactly what the United States is doing. It is clear that the continuing stress of trying to support and justify an action of George W. Bush is laying waste to what at one time was said to be a fertile mind. This is not only tragic, but given Freidman's prominence in the world of commentators, it is also quite dangerous.

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Money Running Through Their Veins

The Gulf Coast Hurricanes have exposed an unsettling truth about the Republican leadership in Washington:

To them, we -- that is, the people of Earth -- are not actual human beings, as in creatures with the same needs, rights, and desires as they. To them, we are but pieces in an almost metaphysical board game, the object of which is not just victory, but total domination.

George W. Bush has proposed a plan of dealing with the aftermath of Katrina that will be massively expensive -- perhaps $200 million. Perhaps more. And then there's Rita.

In the face of such massive spending, and with regards to the nation's already staggering budget deficit, the Republicans are now fighting among themselves about what spending to cut.

Do we reduce the amount of relief for Katrina? How about cutting health care for the poor? Or let's stop funding the National Endowment for the Arts.

No matter what, we must not touch the tax cuts for the rich, which in the last couple of years have cost us enough to pay for the Katrina rebuilding.

And we must not give those who lost everything in the hurricane any kind of break on our gleaming new ball-breaking bankrupcy bill.

And we must give all of the contracts for rebuilding the region to our rich, connected friends at Halliburton, et. al, without making them even have to bid for them. And of course, we will not even contact any small, perhaps minority-owned, businesses in the region to give them a chance at doing the work.

And we must relieve companies winning these contracts from the requirement of having to pay at least the minimum wage to their workers. And we can't insist that they adhere to affirmative action requirements either.

Lest folks go around believing that we consider them human beings.

Sunday, September 25, 2005

America's Image in the Toilet

Bush Secretary of Propoganda for the Middle East Region, Karen Hughes, is about to embark on a "listening tour" around the region. Hope she has good earplugs:


As Karen Hughes, longtime presidential adviser and new public diplomacy guru at the State Department, prepares to leave this weekend on a "listening tour" of the Middle East, a congressionally mandated advisory panel to the department warned that "America's image and reputation abroad could hardly be worse."

The panel's report, which has been seen by senior officials but not yet officially released, said a fact-finding mission to the Middle East last year found that "there is deep and abiding anger toward U.S. policies and actions." The Advisory Committee on Cultural Diplomacy cited polling that found that large majorities in Egypt, Morocco and Saudi Arabia "view George W. Bush as a greater threat to the world order than Osama bin Laden."

The report warned that televised images of U.S. policy choices -- such as in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the invasion of Iraq -- reverberate across the Arab media and will "long haunt the image of the United States." The committee recommended a series of steps, including increased funding and staffing, to rebuild efforts to promote U.S. culture and ideas -- an essential task that it said has been eroded through bureaucratic shuffling and indifference.

[snip]

Radwan A. Masmoudi, president of the Center for the Study of Islam and Democracy, said that, on a recent trip to the region, he found that the level of anti-Americanism is "10 times what it was just a year ago." He attributed the shift to the war in Iraq and the feeling that the United States is not serious about promoting democracy because it does not confront countries such as Egypt over its political prisoners.

Check out the recommended solutions: more PR!

How about STOP DOING THE THINGS THAT MAKE THE U.S. LOOK BAD? Anybody in DC ever think of that?