Friday, April 30, 2004


Here is a discussion and link about the advance in reverse in Fallujah.


Patrick Cockburn has been writing from Iraq for a few weeks now. The problem with allowing a "free" press during war and occupation become apparent while reading PC. It still amazes me though how in the US the respectable debate is more about 150,000 troops, the hawks vs. 180,000 troops, the doves or multilateral occupation vs. unilateral occupation or we should torture "terrorists" vs. silence.

Thursday, April 29, 2004

Who Is John Negroponte?

The new Ambassador to "Iraq" is now being interviewed in the Senate. Who is the rogue?

Multiple Choice Test


Wednesday, April 28, 2004

The Burden of Empire

Here's how some in the foreign policy elite are talking about Iraq these days. Is it time for partition? I highly doubt it but it goes to the depths of soup they are in.

The Lessons of History

The war with Spain in 1898 was "splenid little war" (John Hay) and a long brutal occupation. Myself and others argue that the war with Spain is probably more of a proper historical analogy than Vietnam is to Iraq.


An open letter to the neo-con puppet masters. Thanks Scott for this hilarious site.

Here's a Beauty From the War Camp!

My own mistake was thinking more about the justice of overthrowing Saddam Hussein's tyrannical regime than about the difficulty of building a new postwar Iraq. I still think the war was a just cause, but I worry that its costs may one day outweigh its benefits. I don't regret my support for toppling Hussein, but I wish I had followed those red flags and examined more carefully how America could win the peace, after it won the war.

David Ignatius in yesterday's Washington post.

I'm speechless, but follow the link for some commentary on the parlor chair killers. These guys have influence and now they say "sorry I didn't really think lots of people would get killed!" DESPICABLE!

Tuesday, April 27, 2004

Remember Less Terrorism and the Collapse of Resistance?

Saul Landau makes the obvious point that the resistance has not collapsed after the capture of Saddam Hussein and that terrorism has certainly not declined sice the invasion.


The BBC puts it very politely. Who will rule Iraq after June 30?

Doomed To Repeat?

Rashid Khalidi has a new book on western imperialism and Iraq. I heard him on the radio last night and I whole heartedly recommend Sean Hannity and Bill O'Liely read it. The problem is that Bill and Sean don't seem to have the attention span that would get them through. Imperialism has followed a remarkedly similar process since the French revolution. Khalidi's quotes from Napoleon, the British colonial authorities and Rummy are golden. Go to this site and read the 12 page summary. Resurrecting Empire: Western Footprints and America's Perilous Path in the Middle East, by Rashid Khalidi.

Monday, April 26, 2004

Why Does Bush Still Have Support On Iraq?

The question of how Bush can still have support on Iraq given he lied, it's a unmitigated disaster, and there is no light at the end of the tunnel baffles me. Three ideas are out there that seem plausible.

1. People in the United States for the most part are gullible fools who for the most part are just plain ignorant on issues concerning the rest of the world. Exhibit A: MOST AMERICANS STILL THINK THERE ARE WMD's AND SADDAM IS LINKED TO AL-QUEDA AND 9/11 (see this report from the U. of Maryland).

2. There is no alternative put forward by the "opposition." Kerry's plan is more troops.

3. If people in the US admit that the policy is now a failure they have to admit that they made a mistake in supporting Bush et al to begin with. They can't do this now particularly now that hundreds of US soldiers have died (I would mention Iraqis here but most US citizens could care less about them). This is why Bush is going to win. This idea comes from Joshua Micah Marshall.

Friday, April 23, 2004

SEIU Kicks Off Campaign To Take On the "New Economy"

The Fight for the Future campaign was kicked off today by the Service Employee International Union, SEIU, a campaign to take on the downward trend of wages and work conditions in the US. Go to the site and contribute, not just economically, to this plan of action.

Probably One of the Funniest Onion Lines Yet

Libertarian Reluctantly Calls Fire Department

Let's Go Noodling

Here's a film/documentary worth the 53 minutes. Ever go fishing by hand? It's only legal in 4 states. A must see.

John Kerry On War Crimes

Here's what John Kerry said about his conduct in Vietnam in 1971 and 2001. For a more thorough discussion see The Atlantic article of December 2003.

Kerry Says My Family Owns A SUV Not Me

Kerry says that his family owns the SUV not me!

Thursday, April 22, 2004

Anything For the Cause

The Canadian answer to the WAR ON TERROR.

Pundits Say: "Kerry Should Move Right"

FAIR has a good analysis here. The mainstream pundits for years have argued that Democrat presidential candidates need to move right because they are out on the left wing. Kerry too left wing? Have you seen his proposals? More troops in Iraq and cut corporate taxes, renegade Trotskyist!

Wednesday, April 21, 2004

Mouse Gives Birth Without Male

Maybe the rantings of the Campbell Scott in Roger Dodger have some truth about the future of men?

What Would Che Have Done?

Hugo Chavez gets a consultant.

Adam Shatz On Diasporism

Here's a review of a book seemingly worth reading on dissident Jewish voices and Israel.

Polls and Mess O Potamia

The latest polls state that most United States citizens think that Bush is right on in Iraq! This shows either a complete disconnect from reality, ignorance of what is happening in Iraq and the lies that got us there, or a willing embrace of empire and the thuggery that comes with it. I think it is a combination of the two. This being said, WHERE IS THE OUTRAGE? Where is the concern that these policies will create more violence towards me and my family? Is this not a problem? This is to say nothing of the carnage that is being churned up for the Iraqis.

Tuesday, April 20, 2004

Mordechai Vanunu "freed"

Mordechai Vanunu , the courageous Nuclear Technician who revealed information on Israel's nuclear program has been "freed" from 18 years in an Israeli jail. He will not be able to leave the country however as well as a number of other conditions on his activities.

Monday, April 19, 2004


In the central valley of CA, based in Fresno, last week. Paul and Mary, the friends I stayed with call it Calibama. Why? It's an aging 20th century city that was, and is, still based on agriculture. Lot's of services have grown up around ag and the wages that go along with such industries. Like the rest of CA sprawl reigns. More people move in, build more strip malls. They go on and on....

One of the most ideal aspects of Fresno is its location. It is 50 miles from Yosemite and 35 miles from Kings Canyon. We also visited the south fork of the Merced river. There was an incredible hike there on a perilous trail that reminded me of the Treasure of the Sierra Madre, funning because at the end of the trail there was a gold mine and it was in the Sierra. Needless to say Paul and Mary and thier friends did not make it back and I won the lottery when I was out there.

Thursday, April 08, 2004

Senator Byrd on the Only Reasonable Policy In Iraq

Byrd say's out now.

Taxes Schmaxes

From 1996 till 2000 60% of corporations paid 0 in taxes.

Normon Solomon on Thinking the Unthinkable

Here's an idea US Troops Out of Iraq! Solomon makes the obvious point, that for all the liberal hand wringing and conservative hand rubbing over the increasing violence in Iraq that they, like their predecessors in Vietnam, will eventually have to succumb to our simpelton slogan eventually. But only after 10, 20, 300, 900 thousand deaths?

USA Today Renegade? Or Giving the People and Editors What They Want?

Arab "terrorists" who use ambulances to kill. Sound familiar?

Bolsheviks in Your Bathroom?

Here's a post on a blog I wrote today about the role of the authoritarian left and the anti-war movement. This is an old song, both ways.

Wednesday, April 07, 2004

Attacking Churches an Outrage, A Mosque?

I like to see how the stenographers cover these events at times. Here's the official position of the US Army on the bombing of the Abdul-Aziz al-Samarrai mosque as reported by ABC "News:"

But Marine Lt. Col. Brennan Byrne said he ordered the mosque attacked after his men came under fire from 30-40 insurgents inside and militants left the compound in an ambulance and shot at U.S. troops.

"If they use the mosque as a military machine, then it's no longer a house of worship and we strike," he said.

Once Again Deserving and Undeserving Victims

Massacre in Afghanistan? What massacre?


The Iraq occupation has clearly moved to another level this week as Robert Fisk describes in this report. In 1920 the British took three years to unite the Sunni and Shia, it took the US around one states Fisk. I think this proposition too strong from everything I have read. Enough Shia still want the US to stabilize things until they can take control when and if the US leave. But if the US is seen as unable to achieve at least stability, which more and more seems the case, then the Shia will dump them as quick as a hot pebble in Mecca during the Hajj!

Another important point brought up recently by Rashid Khalidi is that the much ballyhooed June deadline for a US withdrawal is much ado about nothing given that the US will have installed the new regime and that the US will retain indefinitely the largest embassy in the world in Iraq to "manage" affairs there.


Some times you must look around and say what's the point?! My god, the rest of the world can see that this nation is run by a band of fanatics, Rwandan genocide, 3 billion people living on less than $2 a day, the Packers 4th and 26, etc... So why should I lift a finger to change anything, it's not going to do any good anyway,? I agree. No, just kidding. Contrary to Francis Fukuyama and company history has not ended. Just because because Stalinism has collapsed does not mean that people from this point onward will just accept the idea that idiots like Ross Perot and not so idiots like Bill Gates and Alan Greenspan will run the world. Capitalism is a relatively new social/economic sytem and eventually will be replaced. The question is what with? Pessimism will certainly leave the answer to this question to the most retrograde elements of our society. But thousands of people have not given up and are still trying to fight the good fight to this day. So get off your ass and do something.

Mess O Potamia

The most interesting analysis/debate on the mess in Iraq and its impact on US politics I have seen lately is Steve Perry's debate with his liberal colleague Mark Gisleson. Perry argues that there is a major problem of empire literacy if Bush's numbers keep going up as Richard Clarke credibly testifies about the Bush regime's obsession with Iraq and I might add the current nastiness also. For a teacher in some ways it is not surprising given that on any given day I see students nod and agree about this issue and that and later when asked to give analysis or an opinion on a related topic the exact opposite opinion/analysis will come out of the heads of the young scholars. It is not the most intellectually rigorous citizenry in the world I guess.

Actually, I take this back, the Onion debate on Iraq was far better!

Monday, April 05, 2004

O'Merica Factor

In the interest of disclosure the following comments are surely influenced by Thomas Frank.

Al Franken and his liberal band will not be successful in reproducing an angry rank and file liberal base because for the most part liberals aren't very angry. They might hate the dim Bush and his clan and have disdain for his bible thumping followers but they really aren't that pissed off at the state of things. They are not going to appeal to the group that truly have something to be angry about because for the most part they are liberal centrists and thus do not have fundamental issues with the state and economy.

There are 4 main liberal constituencies that consistently vote and agitate for the Democratic Party, Jews, Blacks, organized labor households, and government workers. This is the base of the New Deal and Great Society coalition which has been under dramatic attack for the last 30 years. The group that has been under the most consistent and fierce attack and has thus seen the greatest defections is organized labor. The Right has very consciously pursed an economic and political strategy for this group; undermining workers ability to organize and appealing to white male workers on cultural grounds. They have been particularly successful with a specific group of working class men, the Reagan Democrat. This group tends to be ethnic, Catholic, from one of the rust belt states, and is from a formerly New Deal household.

Who's angry? Who isn't? Who cares?

There are lots of angry people in the USA. For our purposes though we will just look at how this affects the electoral opposition, the main target of Air America. Blacks in the US are very angry but for the most part don't vote. They are strategically important however and the small numbers that do vote are courted, particularly in the black church, where money is lavished to local preachers who have abilities in turning out high numbers of middle class voters.

Organized labor households, the few that are left, are also angry after years of givebacks, speed up, lockouts, etc... lots of organized work forces are exhausted and just happy to sign off on the next contract.

Government workers, most of whom are organized are also angry. They are pissed for many of the same reasons as above but they have the added ire because they are the whipping boy's of all sorts who see them as the hand maiden of of the evil "welfare queen," re black, and is grossly overpaid.

Jews are angry that these idiot gentiles are so dumb that they would elect such fools to represent the most powerful nation in the world. They are only intellectually angry however as opposed to being angered by their material condition or because of racial injustice because most are materially comfortable. In terms of foreign policy Jews tend to be very progressive and on the non-interventionist end of the spectrum and even to the left of most Americans on Israel. This being said the most reactionary Zionists dominate the debate from the Jewish community and this includes the most "doveish" Democrats.

I isolate these groups not because they represent such a large portion of US society but because we have such dismal voter participation that even small groups can have a large impact on elections. For example Jews are a very small minority in this country but they vote in high numbers and live in strategic states, thus their importance. Particularly in presidential elections, because of the electoral college, this point is salient.

This being said the Democrats take their core constituencies for granted, they will vote for us anyway so why should we vote for them seems to be the approach. The Democratic Leadership Council, the most dominant faction of the Democratic party at this time, Clinton, Gore, Liberman, Kerry, Edwards, are all members, epitomizes this position. The famous triangulation strategy of Clinton is its most clear implementation on the national level; steal the Right's thunder by adopting their policies and throw some platitudes to the base to keep them happy. For instance, welfare reform, free trade, interventionism. Clinton was for all three and some how liberals think he was the greatest. I thought they were against these things?

A round about way to get to Air America but here goes. Both in style and substance Franken and co. will not break from the Clinton model. The problem in a nutshell is lots of liberals listen to the radio, it's called NPR. It's the most listened to radio news program in the country. The listener likes folksy stories, folky music, business news, and non-mukraking journalism. NPR delivers in spades. Rarely does the government in power have a beef with NPR because for the most part they are stenographers. The commentary that comes across is always "balanced" meaning a liberal and a reactionary. It well represents the US political spectrum and elite opinion. Liberals like this approach and they listen in. NPR fills the niche that Al is coveting.

The problem here then is who is going to listen to Al? I'm not sure. They are centrists so they are not going to expand the base by appealing to issues of labor, radical re-distribution of wealth, expansion of democracy, racial appeals or calls for a new role for regulation and government in our lives to say nothing of nationalization of industry and such. They like Clinton and Kerry and will thus parrot their positions. They will do this because they are fairly comfortable themselves and don't see a real need for any radical change.

To style, Rush is a right wing populist. He has identified an enemy, government, minorities, labor unions, environmentalists, feminists (re. women), the ACLU and has tried to create a constituency out of an insecure population. He has been particularly successful with white males, who now tend to vote Republican. He has a ranting, angry style. He is emotional, he is passionate. Everything that Al Franken isn't.

Have you heard Al's rap? It's boring, barely passionate, wishy-washy and obsessed with Bush, not a systematic approach to issues that people are pissed about. Even the name of his program is reactive. Why would you listen to Al besides wanting to be mildly humored?

Friday, April 02, 2004

Is Bremer Loved?

Naomi Klein travels in Iraq and even with lots of cash can't get a room. I wonder why? She says Bremer is hated.

Is Arafat Next?

Ariel Sharon says that Yasir Arafat and Hezbollah's leader are fair game for assassination. Again, in war I think he is correct but I hope supporters say the same if Sharon gets his.

Thursday, April 01, 2004

How Israel Works The Press

If you don't cover the stories we want covered you are biased against Israel say's Natan Sharansky, Israeli Minister of Diaspora Affairs. Here's how you work the press.

President And Press Think Inability To Find WMD In Iraq Is Funny!

The President makes jokes about WMD and the press thinks it's funny.

The Minimum Wage

1969, Minimum Wage -- $1.30, or $6.60 in 2004 dollars.

Today: $5.15

Does Israel Want To Provoke Terror?

The logic of the occupation leads to this seemingly absurd question. The author of this article argues that Israeli leaders and the majority of citizens have followed the logic of perpetual war so fully that now the next outrage becomes the pretext for further brutality and expropriation of land. I'm not totally convinced but they are ideas worth considering.