Saturday, May 08, 2004

Anti-Corporate Indie Internet Anti-Radio (for Anti-Corporate Indie Internet Anti-Journalists) 

So I started a little, which, if you have a medium to fast net connection, will allow you to stream a "mix tape" of sorts over the web. I put together a bit of a political mix for the time being, and that's probably all I'll do, but if I change it I'll let you know. In the meantime, enjoy! (It comes in a pop up, so you can listen and look at other sites). The best part is, it's quasi-legal.

Atrios ain't got this shit.

Friday, May 07, 2004

Abuse of Power Comes as No Surprise 

"...the man who directed the reopening of the Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq last year and trained the guards there resigned under pressure as director of the Utah Department of Corrections in 1997 after an inmate died while shackled for to a restraining chair for 16 hours. The inmate, who suffered from schizophrenia, was kept naked the whole time.

The Utah official, Lane McCotter, later became an executive of a private prison company one of whose jails was under investigation by the Justice Department when he was sent to Iraq as part of a team of prison officials, judges, prosecutors and police chiefs picked by Attorney General John Ashcroft to rebuild the country's criminal justice system.
" - NYTimes

God bless the New York Times, and the other media outlets, who are really looking at this story as a reason to look at the treatment of Americans within the American Penal System- not merely as an excuse to get these stories into public light, but because it also reveals tidbits like this one:

The corrections experts say some of the worst abuses have occurred in Texas, whose prisons were under a federal consent decree during much of the time President Bush was governor because of violence by guards against inmates and overcrowding. One such case involved a prisoner who was repeatedly raped by other prisoners with full awareness of the guards, who also allowed the prisoner to be bought and sold by prison gangs.

Not that this is a shock, I mean, for Christ's sakes, when you put two groups of white college students together for a couple of days and make one group the "guards" and the other the "prisoners" the same sort of shit happens. We always want to pretend it has to do with anything else but human nature, but it doesn't. It's human psychology. The challenge is how to organize ourselves in ways that these things cannot happen. All of the wisdom in the world stems from this.


Anyone want to take a guess as to how long it will be before we find out that Bush knew about what was happening at Abu Ghraib? Readers, feel free to take a guess below. We can reference this when the news finally breaks.

Defending Lieberman 

Joe Lieberman came under fire from Atrios for his comments (below) at the hearing, but I have to say, Lieberman just phrased his point in a really stupid way, but didn't mean what Atrios seems to think he said. This might be the first time I've ever defended Lieberman, but it's warranted: if you look at the first part of the statement, it looks like the Lieberman is going for the Angry 15 Year Old Contingent of the Republican Party:

LIEBERMAN: I cannot help but say, however, that those who were responsible for killing 3,000 Americans on September 11th, 2001, never apologized. Those who have killed hundreds of Americans in uniform in Iraq working to liberate Iraq and protect our security have never apologized. And those who murdered and burned and humiliated four Americans in Fallujah a while ago never received an apology from anybody.

Which, on its own, makes it look like he's saying that the Iraqi Prisoners were somehow guilty of the above crimes by virtue of being Muslims, and that we don't owe them anything. It looks like something Ann Coulter would say. But there's a bit more to what he says:

LIEBERMAN: So it's part of -- wrongs occurred here, by the people in those pictures and perhaps by people up the chain of command. But Americans are different. That's why we're outraged by this. That's why the apologies were due. (Full Transcript)

In other words, terrorists don't apologize, and that is why we needed to apologize- because what we did was so close to terrorism, that the only thing that can seperate us from them is the intensity of our response, by expressing those apologies and by acting with the proper outrage.

So lay off the Lieb. This time, anyway.

From Kennedy to Rumsfeld 

Ted Kennedy lays out the case against Rumsfeld:

KENNEDY: To the people in the Middle East, and too often today, the symbol of America is not the Statue of Liberty, it's the prisoner standing on a box wearing a dark cape and a dark hood on his head, wires attached to his body, afraid that he's going to be electrocuted. These incidents of torture and abuse resulted in a catastrophic crisis of credibility for our nation.

Now, since the beginning of the war, the International Committee of the Red Cross provided the Pentagon officials with reports of abuses at this prison, saying that some of them were tantamount to torture. They issued serious complaints during an inspection of the prison in October of 2003 and at several other times.

The State Department and the Coalition Provisional Authority appealed to you to stop the mistreatment of the military detainees. Secretary Powell raised this issue at Cabinet meeting and elsewhere, pleading with officials from your department, Mr. Secretary, to see that detainees were properly cared for and treated, and your department failed to act.

The military leadership put the troops in charge of the prison who weren't trained to do the job, and they assigned far too [many] prisoners to the prison than were required to do the job right, and they relied on the civilian contractors to perform military duties, as I understand, including the interrogation of Iraqi prisoners.

And as Senator Levin pointed out, the top-level Defense officials directed guards at the prison to set physical and mental conditions for favorable interrogation of the detainees, a decision that directly resulted in the abuses. And the military leadership failed to respond in a systematic way even after it initiated the 35 criminal investigations into alleged mistreatment of detainees in Iraq and Afghanistan, 25 of these investigations involving a death.

In particular, in December of 2002, military doctors at the Bagram Air Base in Afghanistan ruled that two Afghan men in U.S. custody died from blunt force injuries. No one in the military has been held accountable for those homicides.

You and your senior leadership have shown, I believe, a disregard for the protection of the Geneva Conventions in detainee operations. In January, 2002, you were asked why you believe the Geneva Conventions do not apply to detainees in Guantanamo. You replied that you did not have the slightest concern about their treatment, in light of what has occurred in 9/11.

According to the New York Times, you have known about the graphic photographs, evidence of abuse in the Abu Ghraib prison since mid- January. You told President Bush about these reports of abuse shortly thereafter. And yet, rather than work with Congress to deal with the problem together, you and other top Defense Department officials have apparently spent the last three weeks in preparing the public relations plan.

Can you tell us what exactly did you tell the president about these reports of abuse in late January, and what did he say, and what did you do about it, and why month after month after month had to pass before anything has happened- and then we find out that the pictures came out and that the president is indeed angry? - Full Transcript

Firing the Donald 

Donald Rumsfeld, so you know, never read the 53 page report detailing the torture. Apparently he was too busy reading Bob Woodward's book and highlighting his own name. While Rummy's top general knew about it, and asked 60 Minutes to delay the revelations, Rummy actually talked before congress on what was happening in Iraq- without mentioning what they would see on the show a couple of hours after his testimony.

You might be happy to know that the DCCC has set up an online petition demanding the resignation of Donald Rumsfeld. Kerry, Pelosi, Harkin and The New York Times are already calling for it, with Charlie Rangel looking at starting up the impeachment process. The Times is especially caustic and comprehensive in its demand:

This is far from a case of a fine cabinet official undone by the actions of a few obscure bad apples in the military police. Donald Rumsfeld has morphed, over the last two years, from a man of supreme confidence to arrogance, then to almost willful blindness. With the approval of the president, he sent American troops into a place whose nature and dangers he had apparently never bothered to examine. We now know that no one with any power in the Defense Department had a clue about what the administration was getting the coalition forces into. Mr. Rumsfeld's blithe confidence that he could run his war on the cheap has also seriously harmed the Army and the National Guard.

Exploitation Loves Company 

While soldiers were commanding a 70 year old Iraq woman to crawl around on the ground and let them ride her "like a donkey", according to a new British Investigation, the General in charge was busy making secret videotapes of showering Female soldiers under his command.

Breathtaking, isn't it?

Rush Limbaugh Wants You To Know Something 

Limbaugh on Iraq Prison torture:

CALLER: It was like a college fraternity prank that stacked up naked men --

LIMBAUGH: Exactly. Exactly my point! This is no different than what happens at the Skull and Bones initiation and we're going to ruin people's lives over it and we're going to hamper our military effort, and then we are going to really hammer them- because they had a good time. You know, these people are being fired at every day. I'm talking about people having a good time, these people, you ever heard of emotional release? You ever heard of "need to blow some steam off"?

Uh huh.

Thursday, May 06, 2004

Round Two 

The Washington Post has obtained more photos of Iraqi Prisoners being tortured by American Soldiers. This means the last batch was not "an isolated case"- instead, it's fast becoming a sign of a depraved and exhausted military culture.

On top of torture, which are detailed above, there are other pictures: "The pictures obtained by The Post include shots of soldiers simulating sexually explicit acts with one another and shots of a cow being skinned and gutted and soldiers posing with its severed head. There are also dozens of pictures of a cat's severed head." The article also mentions a photograph of a woman who could be a prisoner (she wears a white wristband) lifting up her shirt and exposing her breasts.

One has to wonder if this is stemming from the extended tours of duty, the sort of Berserker PTSD that comes from prolonged stress in a traumatic situation where life and death is always getting blurred. In Vietnam you had soldiers pissing in dead Vietcong mouths, tearing babies apart- all from the sort of rage that develops from being in a constant state of high anxiety, in literal life or death situations for months at a time. The overall fascination with death- the skinning of a cow, the head of a cat- all of this is highly likely to be evidence of a hysteria that is coming from these prolonged tours of duty in a war that has seen increasing violence and casualties rather than a decrease. You simply cannot sustain any psychological leverage in the face of that.

Wednesday, May 05, 2004

It's A Small World, After All (Part 2) 

A thread has erupted over at the BOP concerning a potential Disney Boycott for blocking the new Michael Moore film. I have a comment over there, but here's the gist of it:

* Disney is afraid of a backlash from organized Conservatives that can ruin the Disney brand
* Conservatives have used market pressures in the past to suppress free speech. They have become so successful that we now have anticipatory nervousness from corporations with politically risky products.
* Corporations have a heavy lobby in politics. The Media (and Telecommunications) Industry is to Democrats what Oil is to Republicans, only we don't go to war over movies, and everyone can boycott a film but no one can boycott gas.
* Striking back at Disney for buckling to a potential marketing pressure (being attacked by organized conservatives) only assists in the conservative powerhold. What we ought to do is hit back at the right, and make them feel economic consequences for supporting the organization of these conservatives.


Why not boycott Motorola or American Express for giving money to the American Enterprise Institute, as well as sharing executives on the council? These are the guys giving money to talking heads in favor of privatizing social security.

Boycott Publix Supermarkets for giving money to "Citizens for a Sound Economy", which trains and recruits activists for the cause of "free markets and limited government."

Boycott Coors Beer, which essentially established the Heritage Foundation.

The most important thing is to understand how these think tanks work: By stealth, and by disguising their corporate ties. When they want to put economic pressure on other companies products that might reflect an anti-business (or non-business-centric) ideal for America, these are the institutions they use to mobilize, misinform, and destroy the integrity of our government. We ought to hit *them* where it hurts, and not just the corporations that buckle under their pressure. Disney isn't the problem- the corporate funding of the "conservative movement" is the problem.

It's A Small World After All 

Michael Moore's new film, which criticizes Bush's connections to the Bin Laden Family, is being blocked by Disney- which operates a sprawling, billion dollar theme park in Florida, which is governed by Bush's Brother, Jeb. Disney has forbidden it's Miramax films subsidiary from distributing it. Watch me feign shock.

"Mr. Moore's agent, Ari Emanuel, said Michael D. Eisner, Disney's chief executive, asked him last spring to pull out of the deal with Miramax. Mr. Emanuel said Mr. Eisner expressed particular concern that it would endanger tax breaks Disney receives for its theme park, hotels and other ventures in Florida, where Mr. Bush's brother, Jeb, is governor."

So much for the free market values of anarcho-capitalism, eh, Bushies?

Buck Hill Nails It 

Buck Hill's David-Brooks-Style-Sociological-Point Construction Kit is right on.

If you aren't familiar with David Brooks, well, good. But here is just one example of precisely what BH is talking about:

"In this place people don't complain that Woody Allen isn't as funny as he used to be, because they never thought he was funny. In this place you can go to a year's worth of dinner parties without hearing anyone quote an apercu he first heard on Charlie Rose. The people here don't buy those little rear-window stickers when they go to a summer-vacation spot so that they can drive around with "MV" decals the rest of the year; for the most part they don't even go to Martha's Vineyard. The place I'm talking about goes by different names. Some call it America. Others call it Middle America." -The Atlantic

Yes, Brooks is an editorial columnist for the New York Times. Maybe it should make me feel dirty for liking Krugman- guilt by association- but Krugman doesn't make me want to constantly vomit on his wispy recollections of the "Two Americas" or subtle condescension to people who are actually capable of reading comprehension and critical thought. Brooks does, and, again, just go read Buck Hill.

War Crimes Might Just Merit A Stern Warning 

"More than two months after a classified Army report found that two contract workers were implicated in the abuse of Iraqis at a prison outside Baghdad, the companies that employ them say that they have heard nothing from the Pentagon, and that they have not removed any employees from Iraq. For one of the employees, the Army report recommended "termination of employment" and revocation of his security clearance. For the other, it urged an official reprimand and review of his security clearance.

But J. P. London, chief executive of CACI, one of the companies involved, said in an interview on Monday that "we have not received any information or direction from the client regarding our work in country - no charges, no communications, no citations, no calls to appear at the Pentagon."
-New York Times

So if you're a private contractor thinking about torturing another human being that happens to be a Prisoner of War, keep in mind, before you beat him to death or let a dog loose on a group of naked prisoners- you could, in fact, face penalties as stiff as losing your job over it. But as we can see here, it's pretty likely that even that won't happen. If you're a soldier, then things are a little different, but still pretty easy:

"In the last 16 months, the Army has conducted more than 30 criminal investigations into misconduct by American captors in Iraq and Afghanistan, including 10 cases of suspicious death, 10 cases of abuse, and two deaths already determined to have been criminal homicides, the Army's vice chief of staff said Tuesday. To date, the most severe penalties in any of the cases were less-than-honorable discharges for five Army soldiers, military officials said. No one has been sentenced to prison, they said." -New York Times

The Yes Men Crash The Heritage Foundation 

The Yes Men, a quasi-situationist group of artists operating more or less anonymously, crashed a Heritage Foundation conference in Chicago at the end of April.

If you're not familiar, the Heritage Foundation is a huge "Think Tank" for Republican, and more accurately, Anti-Democratic (big and small 'd') ideas. If you're wondering where FOX News find economists who approve of Bush tax cuts in wartime, or "Scientists" who think the Greenhouse effect could have benefits, they're probably paid for by the Heritage Foundation- and may even be broadcasting from a Heritage Foundation TV or Radio studio. In the amazingly orchestrated bombardment of misinformation, the Heritage Foundation is the Spectacle's power generator. Which is why the infiltration is nothing short of wonderful. It even provides a pretty much step by step process to crash your own Heritage Foundation event. If you can't muster the energy, they paint a pretty good picture:

We toast the whole thing with glass after glass of free wine and later, accompanying the Heartland Institute's lovely desserts, drinks. The alcohol makes us punchy. When a publisher from Sacramento described the beauty of "population control by market forces," we strain in vain to muster a suitable reply. We do better with the Cayman Islands booster guy: when he explains that the Cayman Islands is able to have such "enlightened" pro-business laws because it's basically just "a rock," we burst out: "How can we make this country a rock?!" Later he explains the importance of the Iraq war by asking rhetorically, "What if we hadn't gone into Grenada?" "What if?" we ask. "Then Grenada would have become a dependency of Cuba," he explains. All is now clear: "Right!" we exclaim. "And if we hadn't gone into Iraq, it would have become a dependency of the USSR." "Right!" the Cayman guy says, before realizing the absurdity of the concept. Finally, as we're leaving the hotel, we go up to the Chilean who had explained his country's miraculous economy and gush "That was fantastic! We want to bring Pinochet to America!"

This is the second really great political art prank I've seen so far this week, I really hope it blossoms.

Birthday Fundraiser Results 

Turns out we got $57.00 together for John Kerry for President for My Birthday today. (You can and should still Contribute if you haven't yet.) Thanks to everyone who gave, it actually helps me feel like I'm doing something worthwhile with this blog. You can take credit below, if you want, but otherwise I'll keep y'all anonymous.

Monday, May 03, 2004

John Kerry Birthday Party Update 

Atrios had better watch his table at the correspondents dinner: My John Kerry Birthday Party Fundraiser puts me squarely in the position of political fundraising powerhouse, having raised a whopping $0.00 in 12 hours!

At this rate, Kerry can't help but to win!

Bush To Iraqi Militants: 'Please Stop Bringing It On' 

WASHINGTON, DC—In an internationally televised statement Monday, President Bush modified a July 2003 challenge to Iraqi militants attacking U.S. forces. "Terrorists, Saddam loyalists, and anti-American insurgents: Please stop bringing it on now," Bush said at a Monday press conference. "Nine months and 500 U.S. casualties ago, I may have invited y'all to bring it on, but as of today, I formally rescind that statement. I would officially like for you to step back." The president added that the "it" Iraqis should stop bringing includes gunfire, bombings, grenade attacks, and suicide missions of all types.

-The Onion

Less Than 60 Shopping Days Till Iraq Implodes 

According to Newsweek, our good friend in the US-groomed Iraq Leadership, Ahmad Chalabi, has been getting cozy with Iran, including Ayatollah Khamenei:

"...some of his top aides have supplied Iran with "sensitive" information on the American occupation in Iraq. U.S. officials say that electronic intercepts of discussions between Iranian leaders indicate that Chalabi and his entourage told Iranian contacts about American political plans in Iraq. There are also indications that Chalabi has provided details of U.S. security operations. According to one U.S. government source, some of the information Chalabi turned over to Iran could "get people killed." -Newsweek

Chalabi says "nuh uh." But this is sort of how revolutionary politics are played- you play both sides, you put on the nice happy face with the superpower and you get the opposition killed in the back room. White House aids are already trying to distance the Bush Camp from Chalabi, which is kind of a tough sell, and will probably last about as long as my internet cache of that MSNBC article.

Fear and Loathing In The Police States 

Jakob S. Boeskov is a Dutch artist whose project, "My Doomsday Weapon", embarked on something akin to performance art as investigative journalism. He came up with the concept for a weapon: "The ID Sniper", which didn't fire bullets, or kill anyone. It simply shot tiny GPS tracking chips into the skin of protestors or suspicious persons, so they could be tracked and followed by the state via satellite.

That, for most conceptual artists, would be enough, but Boeskov went one step further: he went into a weapons trade show in China and posed as the CEO of "Empire North", a fictional Dutch Weapons Manufacturer that was looking for investors in this type of technology, including the pitch: "Using the ID Sniper, you don't get unwanted media coverage, with the ID Sniper we can...." I gesture as if I am holding an invisible ID Sniper, my right index finger pulling an imaginary trigger, pausing: "...MARK the subject with the GPS chip, and then...", I raise my finger, "...track down the demonstrator later on and then apply the necessary means".

It's really a pretty stunning piece of work, the whole diary of the weapons fair- mixing Communist Police States, Big Brother, Terrorism Anxiety, Weapons Culture and Foreign Investment with a nervous 25 year old Dutch artist- is a really fascinating read that doesn't go where you think it might.

"Before I came here, I had some vague ideas about this world being sort of like a James Bond movie -- filled with eccentric cynical inventors, and colourful, ruthless traders. I couldn't have been more wrong: this is reality, not James Bond. And these people are NOT cynical, ruthless evil people - they are basically nice people, who are absolutely one hundred percent convinced that they are doing the right thing. They believe that by pushing all their hi-tech killing equipment, they are fighting for freedom and democracy and all that bullshit. And that's what makes them so fucking scary."

Boeskov is trying to patent his concept for the idea so that it can never be used by any military.

John Kerry For President For My Birthday 

So it's my birthday tomorrow, and if you want to do something nice, here it is: Give a little love and rocket fuel to the Kerry Campaign. They are starting a huge ad blitz in a few weeks that'll dip into the campaign funds, so let's keep him on steady footing. Contribute here: give what you can, and add a dollar. (Even $7.50 is a help. Yeah, $7.50!)

I'll be able to track any donation you make through the above links and I'll let you know how much money comes in, which is, as we all know, directly proportional to how much you all love me.

You guys love me, right?

America In Decline 

The United States has started to lose its worldwide dominance in critical areas of science and innovation, according to federal and private experts who point to strong evidence like prizes awarded to Americans and the number of papers in major professional journals.- New York Times

Gee, I wonder if that has anything to do with our Evangelical Christian President?

Sunday, May 02, 2004

The Things We Do To Women 

Are you a girl about to marry a boy who will only love you if you are a virgin, but don't think the relationship is healthy enough to tell him the truth? It used to be the only solution was honesty and consequence and maybe the guy getting over his basic insecurity about sexual performance stemming from some ridiculous ingrained sense of perpetual competition that, unchecked, will more than likely end up coming out as domestic abuse. But not anymore! Thanks to miraculous ground being broken in broken hymens we have the miracle of re-virginization. Literally, surgery that reattaches the hymen.

"It's like a little white lie, but you do it for love," Vanegas [president of the Ridgewood Center] said."

Here's what the woman has to look forward to after spending $2000 and undergoing surgery to cover up evidence of their wretched and depraved sexuality- for love!: "It hurt even more than originally losing my virginity," she said. "My husband had no idea because all the stuff happened again that happens when you really are a virgin."

What more could a girl want on her wedding night?


That's a Work Ethic 

Thomas Hamill, the Mississippi Dairy Farmer turned Halliburton Supply Truck Driver turned American Hostage of Iraqi Militants who threatened to burn him alive if Americans didn't withdraw from Fallujah, has escaped from a Tikrit building where he was being held prisoner, unharmed. And: "He has spoken to his family. He is now ready to get back to work."

That's "getting back to work" as a Halliburton Truck Driver: the dairy business must be doing pretty bad these days.

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?