spirit of the age
The truth about Sharon
The LA Times admirably decides to run an Op-Ed by Saree Makdisi that attempts to head off the inevitable whitewashing of Ariel Sharon:
The whitewashing of Ariel Sharon: The 'man of courage and peace' story ignores his bloody and ruthless past.
AS ARIEL SHARON'S career comes to an end, the whitewashing is already underway. Literally overnight he was being hailed as "a man of courage and peace" who had generated "hopes for a far-reaching accord" with an electoral campaign promising "to end conflict with the Palestinians."
But even if end-of-career assessments often stretch the truth, and even if far too many people fall for the old saw about the gruff old warrior miraculously turning into a man of peace, the reality is that miracles don't happen, and only rarely have words and realities been separated by such a yawning abyss.
From the beginning to the end of his career, Sharon was a man of ruthless and often gratuitous violence. The waypoints of his career are all drenched in blood, from the massacre he directed at the village of Qibya in 1953, in which his men destroyed whole houses with their occupants — men, women and children — still inside, to the ruinous invasion of Lebanon in 1982, in which his army laid siege to Beirut, cut off water, electricity and food supplies and subjected the city's hapless residents to weeks of indiscriminate bombardment by land, sea and air.
As a purely gratuitous bonus, Sharon and his army later facilitated the massacre of hundreds of Palestinians at the refugee camps of Sabra and Shatila, and in all about 20,000 people — almost all innocent civilians — were killed during his Lebanon adventure.
Sharon's approach to peacemaking in recent years wasn't very different from his approach to war. Extrajudicial assassinations, mass home demolitions, the construction of hideous barriers and walls, population transfers and illegal annexations — these were his stock in trade as "a man of courage and peace."
Some may take comfort in the myth that Sharon was transformed into a peacemaker, but in fact he never deviated from his own 1998 call to "run and grab as many hilltops" in the occupied territories as possible. His plan for peace with the Palestinians involved grabbing large portions of the West Bank, ultimately annexing them to Israel, and turning over the shattered, encircled, isolated, disconnected and barren fragments of territory left behind to what only a fool would call a Palestinian state.
SHARON'S "painful sacrifices" for peace may have involved Israel keeping less, rather than more, of the territory that it captured violently and has clung to illegally for four decades, but few seem to have noticed that it's not really a sacrifice to return something that wasn't yours to begin with.
His much-ballyhooed withdrawal from Gaza left 1.4 million Palestinians in what is essentially the world's largest prison, cut off from the rest of the world and as subject to Israeli power as before. It also terminated the possibility of a two-state solution to the conflict by condemning Palestinians to whiling away their lives in a series of disconnected Bantustans, ghettos, reservations and strategic hamlets, entirely at the mercy of Israel.
That's not peace. As Crazy Horse or Sitting Bull would have recognized at a glance, it's an attempt to pacify an entire people by bludgeoning them into a subhuman irrelevance. Nothing short of actual genocide — for which Sharon's formula was merely a kind of substitute — would persuade the Palestinian people to quietly accept such an arrangement, or negate themselves in some other way. And no matter which Israeli politician now assumes Sharon's bloody mantle, such an approach to peace will always fail.
Keeping up with the Pandas
Do not feed your pets this food
Don't get too excited about those congressional poll numbers
Brad is right; Democrats shouldn't take much solace from the fact that opinion polls show 49% want the Dems to control congress, as opposed to only 36% who want the GOP in charge. I suppose it's better than 49-36 the other way, but it doesn't mean much. There's no national vote on which party gets to control congress, and a lot of people may prefer the Democrats in charge but will still go out and vote for the Republican congressmen just because they've been voting for him for the past fifteen years. You're talking about a series of local races, and the way they all add up doesn't always comport with the electorate's desires.
Is this how the GOP "supports the troops"?
From the NY Times (via AMERICAblog):
A secret Pentagon study has found that at least 80 percent of the marines who have been killed in Iraq from wounds to their upper body could have survived if they had extra body armor. That armor has been available since 2003 but until recently the Pentagon has largely declined to supply it to troops despite calls from the field for additional protection, according to military officials.Even if the 80% figure is high, there's no doubt that a significant number of deaths could have been prevented. But no matter - it's Michael Moore and liberal bloggers who are really endangering US soldiers.
If you read Kevin Drum regularly, you know that he has a quota for talking out of his ass at least once a week. Well, consider this week's quota met.
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Paul Bremer, who led the U.S. civilian occupation authority in Iraq after the 2003 invasion, has admitted the United States did not anticipate the insurgency in the country, NBC Television said on Friday.And the electorate continues to trust Republicans on foreign policy...
Bremer, interviewed by the network in connection with release of his book on Iraq, recounted the decision to disband the Iraqi army quickly after arriving in Baghdad, a move many experts consider a major miscalculation.
When asked who was to blame for the subsequent Iraqi rebellion, in which thousands of Iraqis and Americans have died, Bremer said "we really didn't see the insurgency coming," the network said in a news release.
I am not alone!
From the NY Times:
WASHINGTON, Jan. 5 - Signaling their intent to put up a tough fight in next week's hearings on the Supreme Court nomination of Judge Samuel A. Alito Jr., Senate Democrats said Thursday that they would call at least two witnesses who could question his personal credibility as well several experts on civil rights and constitutional law.Pull out all the stops.
One witness is John G. S. Flym, a legal scholar. In 2002, Mr. Flym served as counsel to a plaintiff suing the mutual fund company Vanguard in a case that came before Judge Alito on the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit.
Judge Alito had pledged at his confirmation hearings for the appeals court in 1990 that he would recuse himself from cases involving Vanguard, which managed his investments, and when a panel including him ruled unanimously in the company's favor, Mr. Flym complained to the court.
Ruchira Paul on "unholy alliance between the Christian right and the Israeli ultra right wing":
The Isaraeli - Palestinian issue is of special interest to the Christian right. Many have wondered why most of them, virulent anti-Semites at heart, are so pro Israel in their public policy pronouncements. The evangelicals' love for a greater Israel has nothing to do with any affinity for "Israeli Jews". In reality, the unlikely alliance is a bit like fattening a lamb for slaughter.The rest.
New and improved
The revamp of the Pandagon blog is complete, and the place looks great.
A quick word about Pandagon, one of my favorite blogs: enough credit cannot be given to Amanda, Jedmunds, and Pam for the job they've done over there over the past few months since Jesse left. In the aftermath of his departure, some people wondered how the site would fare, but I think it's safe to say that it's gotten even better.
Sago Mining Disaster 2006: Don't blame Bush
That's one of those intentionally misleading headlines, because actually I think liberals should blame Bush - but not just Bush. Right-winger bloggers are on the lookout for liberals suffering from 'Bush Derangement Syndrome' and blaming Bush for the deaths of the twelve miners, but actually they should be happy if Bush does take most of the blame for this, because the incident is actually an indictment of the conservative ideology itself, not just a single politician.
The thing is, the Sago mine was a repeat offender with regard to safety violations, and while it's not yet known why this disaster happened, it's clear the mine shouldn't even have been open. But such is life in the GOP's America. Part and parcel of the Republican Party's agenda is a resistance to any serious regulation of business, including regulation designed to protect the safety of workers. Industries are asked to police themselves, or given meaningless fines when their officials should instead be facing jail time.
Republicans (and their 'New Democrat' accomplices) scold progressives for practicing 'class warfare' whenever these unpleasant facts are brought up. Our response ought to be: yes, there's a class war going on all right, but it's being waged by big business and their cronies in government against the 'common' people. That's the lesson to take from this tragedy.
Some of the 'A-list' liberal bloggers have been struggling over what to call what the right-wingers refer to as the 'MSM', or 'mainstream media'. Factesque has what should have been an obvious solution, but these are ingenues we're dealing with.
"...little more than another right-wing statist"
That's conservative John Cole's take on would-be Supreme Court Justice Sam Alito.
And you thought American kids were obsessed with video games
From News of the Weird:
In South Korea, which has the highest rate of high-speed Internet use in the world, more than one-third of the population plays video games, with the result an alarming number of obsessive gamers requiring counseling (and, so far, two deaths after, respectively, 50 and 86 straight hours of playing). According to an October Associated Press dispatch from Seoul, at the many Internet cafes, gamers "typically live on instant (noodles) and cigarettes, barely sleeping and seldom washing." Video games are also a spectator sport: Three cable channels show matches, and the government is building an electronic-sports "stadium," where competitions will be shown on big screens.
Abortion and depression
Joe at Unreal City says that even if a link did exist, it would be irrelevant.
Mr. President, we must not allow a dick-size gap!
I've never quite figured out just exactly why conservatives fear a prosperous China as they never seem to explain it other than as a general concern that China's dick may grow longer than ours.Well, that's the rationale for a great deal of American foreign policy, including the Iraq war. I'm not kidding. I mean, it's not literally about dick size (or is it? ..."We cannot achieve much with so small penis. But you Americans. Wow! Penis so big! SOOO big penis!"). But a major goal of US foreign policy is simply making sure that no other nation becomes as powerful as the United States. Period. No further reason needed. US hegemony is an intrinsic good to the neoconservatives, and they're willing to go to great lengths to ensure it.
Big surprise: the rest of the world isn't so crazy about this policy. Heaven knows why.
Newsweek interviews Chomsky
You were involved in the antiwar movement in the 1960s. What do you think of the Vietnam-Iraq analogy?The only point I'd disagree with slightly is that I think there is an analogy to be made between Vietnam and Iraq, not so much in the nature of the conflicts themselves, but rather in the way the administration has handled the conflict domestically - i.e., a steady supply of doubleplusgood news from the front that bears no relation to reality, promises of 'Iraqization', the demonizing and scapegoating of the anti-war movement, etc. (Link.)
I think there is no analogy whatsoever. That analogy is based on a misunderstanding of Iraq, and a misunderstanding of Vietnam. The misunderstanding of Iraq I've already described. The misunderstanding of Vietnam had to do with the war aims. The United States went to war in Vietnam for a very good reason. They were afraid Vietnam would be a successful model of independent development and that would have a virus effect—infect others who might try to follow the same course. There was a very simple war aim—destroy Vietnam. And they did it. The United States basically achieved its war aims in Vietnam by . It's called a loss, a defeat, because they didn't achieve the maximal aims, the maximal aims being turning it into something like the Philippines. They didn't do that. [But] they did achieve the major aims. It was possible to destroy Vietnam and leave. You can't destroy Iraq and leave. It's inconceivable.
Was the antiwar movement more successful in the '60s than it is today?
I think it's the other way around. The United States attacked Vietnam in 1962. It took years before any protest developed. Iraq is the first time in hundreds of years of European and American history that a war was massively protested before it was launched. There was huge protest in February 2003. It had never happened in the history of the West.
Where do you put George W. Bush in the pantheon of American presidents?
He's more or less a symbol, but I think the people around him are the most dangerous administration in American history. I think they're driving the world to destruction. There are two major threats that face the world, threats of the destruction of the species, and they're not a joke. One of them is nuclear war, and the other is environmental catastrophe, and they are driving toward destruction in both domains.
Mike the Mad Biologist:
...Not getting killed at your place of work is an important issue, and one I think most Americans would get behind. Wouldn't now be a great time to propose mining safety legislation? Put the Republicans on record as "wanting to kill and injure America's miners", or, better, get the damn legislation passed and save lives...
Those who wish to criminalize abortion are desperately trying to prove that abortion causes depression. They've failed.
I'm sure there are some women who get depressed after having an abortion. With religious fanatics and other freaks calling you a murderer and a whore, that's not so surprising.
But guess what? For other women, abortion is no big deal. It's not a difficult decision, it's not a tragedy, it's not a last resort, it's not the only way out of some nightmare situation. It's an out-patient procedure. They find out they're pregnant, get the abortion, and get on with their lives.
The myth that says that women who have abortions are tragic figures - a myth accepted even by some pro-choicers - has got to be laid to rest. Yes, for some women, abortion can be a "sad, even tragic choice" - though again, one wonders how much of this has to do with anti-abortion propaganda being shoved down their throats. But contrary to right-wing fantasy, most women who have abortions don't spend the rest of their lives grappling with guilt. They're not sorry, nor should they be.
Depressives know best
Angelica says that "depressed people see the world more clearly than the rest of us."
Finally, a guy dressed in a chicken suit who will do whatever you tell him to do
By one Russ Vaughn, via Malkin, submitted without comment.
Wikipedia: force multiplier-a military term referring to a factor that dramatically increases (hence multiplies) the combat-effectiveness of a given military force.
In Iraq an IED explodes,
An American soldier dies,
But that blast will grow as the media blow
It up before our eyes.
And trumpet to the watching world,
These fifth column falsifiers,
Like sheep they bleat we face defeat,
Our foe’s force multipliers.
Osama and his minions know,
In combat they can’t beat us;
So they hope and pray will come a day,
Our own media will defeat us.
Ignoring all the good we’ve done,
Liberals focus on the gore,
On losses mounting and body counting,
To prove we’ve lost this war.
They disgraced us once in Vietnam,
So now these leftists feel,
That again they’ll win with media spin,
And make America kneel.
But defeatists aren’t the only ones,
Learned lessons from the past;
Back then we swore we’d lose no more,
This time we’re standing fast.
The Internet’s exposed them,
As elitist media liars;
They stand unclothed and widely loathed,
Our foe’s force multipliers.
Some day when all our troops return,
With Iraq on freedom’s path,
The liberal elite who sought defeat,
May face some Righteous wrath.
Yet more strategery!
Mike the Mad Biologist offers an alternative to the 'Fighting Dems' strategy.
Wingnut of the year
World O' Crap had a contest, and the winner was the very worthy John Hinderaker, a.k.a. "Hindrocket," a.k.a. Ass Missile. Even if Ass Missile had done nothing else all year, he would deserve the prize for this gem, which will haunt him until the day he dies, and then will haunt his children and grandchildren:
It must be very strange to be President Bush. A man of extraordinary vision and brilliance approaching to genius, he can't get anyone to notice. He is like a great painter or musician who is ahead of his time, and who unveils one masterpiece after another to a reception that, when not bored, is hostile.I find it nearly inconceivable that anyone could say such a thing and actually mean it. But there you have it. That's what makes Ass Missile the Ultimate Wingnut, I guess.
"Who wants to die?"
This sounds like something from Project Mayhem:
Apparently some copies of the interactive talking book "Potty Time With Elmo" were clandestinely programmed to say, "Who wants to die?" According to a Local 6 News report, the manufacturer has received more than one complaint about this. The correct statement is, "Who wants to try to go potty?"
Another subversive toy
Ruchira Paul weighs in on the 'Fighting Dems' strategy.
Bush was for court orders before he was against them
Robert Freedland posts an interesting quote from Dubya from way back in April 2004:
...any time you hear the United States government talking about wiretap, it requires -- a wiretap requires a court order ... When we're talking about chasing down terrorists, we're talking about getting a court order before we do so. It's important for our fellow citizens to understand, when you think Patriot Act, constitutional guarantees are in place when it comes to doing what is necessary to protect our homeland, because we value the Constitution.
Just a reminder
AMERICAblog reminds us that in 33 states, it is perfectly legal to fire someone because they are gay.
More on AIDS therapy
Mike the Mad Biologist weighs in, offering his expert's take on the matter.
I've seen any number of bloggers making predictions for the new year, but so far I've only seen one person get it right.
Confessions of a former Republican
Matthew Ortega begins the new year by leaving the Republican Party behind:
Yes, I was once a member of the Republican Party, reflecting the conservative upbringing I had. I bought into what I was told and never second guessed it. I like to believe I think for myself, or whoever is best at feeding my propaganda, which ever comes first. I had always perceived myself as a moderate, yes the m-word, but lately people call me a liberal. If calling out politicians and talking heads by asking questions is considered inherently liberal, then so be it. I guess you'd have to figure that means being Bush Co.'s butt boy and give them the green light to run amok makes you a conservative. The truth of the matter is, I bought into the bullshit talking points of personal responsibility and balanced fiscal management without really looking into it myself. I fault myself because I should have known better. Within the last year and a half or so, I faced reality and this year has really shown me - I want nothing to do with these GOoPers. I have found, through trial and tribulation with help from the blogosphere's de-bullshitter, that I am not one of them. Instead, I want to rectify the ills brought to this country by "compassionate conservatism," just a nice way of saying nicely screwing you out of your money, your civil rights and your liberties.Read the whole thing, as they say.