Saturday, November 19, 2005
Democracy Breakin': Ohio's Electric Boogaloo
The Corporate Mainstream Media may not give a damn about our democracy. Neither might the bulk of our politicians on both the Left and Right side of the aisle. But clearly the citizens do, and even at least one rightwing blogger who has recently seen at least some of the light...
The response to our article on the "staggeringly impossible" results of last week's election in Ohio on several Election Reform initiatives which would have struck deep into the heart of far-right Republican Ohio Sec. of State J. Kenneth Blackwell has been notable to say the least.
We felt the report was notable enough that we decided to cross-post it both at BRAD BLOG and at HuffPo where—though it was never added to the front page as a "featured blog"—it has already received an extraordinary 93 comments as of this posting.
To give you an idea of what that story documented, here are the numbers from just one of the four Election Reform initiatives which all ended up failing by numbers which defy reasonable explanation when compared to the historically accurate Columbus Dispatch poll completed and published just days before the Election in the Buckeye state:
ISSUE 3 (Revise campaign contribution limits) PRE-POLLING: 61% Yes, 25% No, 14% Undecided FINAL RESULT: 33% Yes, 66% No
The results on that issue alone was so far askew that it was enough to give the usually dubious Mark Blumenthal of Mystery Pollster pause enough to comment, "These results had MP seriously wondering whether the pollsters or election officials had mistakenly transposed 'yes' and 'no' in their tables."
See the original post for a comparison of Polling vs Final Results for all of the initatives, but suffice to say while the one above was the most inexplicably out-of-whack, the others, with the exception of Issue 1 -- which was the only one supported by Ohio's Republican Governor and on which the Dispatch poll was virtually right on the money on "Yes" voters—all of the initiative Final Results bring the entire election machinery in Ohio once again under deservedly fresh scrutiny.
(We'll remind you that Ohio's results in the '04 Presidential Election squeeker, where just 6 votes for Kerry instead of Bush at each precinct would have changed the entire result for the nation. And also that the results from that election remain completely suspect, largely uncounted, and never recounted according to state law even while several elections officials have either been indicted or remain under investigation for their role in gaming that fiasco...the one in the state which gave Bush enough electoral votes to claim the Presidency).
The original report we filed, discussed an article by Bob Fitrakis and Harvey Wasserman of the Free Press in Columbus where they've been detailing an extraordinary amount of the election chicanery and "irregularities" under the iron-fisted rule of Blackwell, the Ohio elections arbiter and Bush/Cheney '04 Co-Chair in a state which is currently a snakepit of Republican machinery and out-and-out corruption.
Amongst the comments at both BRAD BLOG and HuffPo where the blog item was posted, a few, as expected, have knee-jerked that it must have been the Columbus Dispatch polling that was wrong, rather than the Final Results reported by the State which added brand-spankin' new, and wholly unaccountable, unrecountable, untransparent, and undemocratic Electronic Voting Machines for the first time in this election to 44 of its 88 counties. Machines which use secret software on which voters are asked to trust—but not verify—that their votes will be recorded accurately...or at all.
In addition to those 44 counties (41 of them using the same machines by Diebold, Inc. that the Republican Sec. of State in California recently decertified for their 20% failure rate), several other counties already use Electronic Voting Machines, and nearly all of them use electronic tabulating machines of one brand or another to count those votes.
We spoke yesterday to Fitrakis about the Dispatch poll's "historic accuracy" (which he described as "legendary" in our phone call) and about the various wingnuts who predictably presume the polling, instead of the election results, were wrong.
Fitrakis commented himself on The BRAD BLOG in response to some of folks who he suspects are part of a "deliberate campaign" to spread enough disinformation to put an end to the entire discussion. If so, we will work hard to ensure that they fail at that. Here's the bulk of Fitrakis' response, from which he also pulls information from some of noted-pollster Blumenthal's posts on the matter:
Fact: The Dispatch has always used a mailed-in ballot poll. It was completed on Thursday Nov. 3, just prior to Election Day. The Dispatch poll is so accurate at least two academic studies have been published in Public Opinion Quarterly (POQ). The first paper documents that the Dispatch mail-in poll between 1980-1984 was far more accurate than telephone polling. The study showed the Dispatch error rate at only 1.6 percentage points versus phone error rates of 5%. A companion study published in POQ in 2000 dealt specifically with the question of statewide referenda. A quote from the study: "The average error for the Dispatch forecast of these referenda was 5.4 percentage points, compared to 7.2 percentage points for the telephone surveys."
The academic study concluded that the Dispatch's mail survey outperformed telephone surveys for both referenda and candidate's races.
The fact that the Dispatch was nearly 30 points off in predicting the "YES" vote on Issue 3, which reduced campaign contributions from $10,000 to $2,000, has nothing to do with their widely-respected polling technique. Their astonishingly inaccurate poll can best be explained by the introduction of brand new private partisan company-controlled e-voting machines using secret source code in 44 Ohio counties and the chaos that resulted from untrained election workers being totally reliant on Diebold technicians for results.
People need to look at the recent AP story that describes the massive breakdown at the polling places and the Board of Elections wherever these new e-voting machines were introduced.
Free Press Editor
Ph.D. Political Science
We still wait for the Dispatch to investigate the matter themselves. It is, after all their credibility at stake. At least if they wish for anybody to ever take one of their polls seriously again.
In the meantime, Mystery Pollster Blumenthal—who had pooh-poohed the concerns many of us have about the historically accurate Exit Poll descrepancy with the Final Results in last year's Presidential Election, where they were accurate virtually everywhere...except in the key swing states -- has again decided that it must be the polls that are wrong, never the Election Results:
the venerable Columbus Dispatch mail-in poll, which after decades of outperforming conventional telephone surveys turned in one of the more spectacularly inaccurate performances in recent memory.
While Blumenthal extols the accuracy of the Dispatch polling over the years, whose methodology has been honed for decades, he again takes for granted that results counted on newly invented and programmed voting machines, verified and double-checked for accuracy by nobody, should be trusted instead. That, despite U.S. Homeland Security warnings from just prior to last year's election verifying that Diebold's central vote tabulators are hackable by just a single malicious user, and the non-partisan GAO Report, released barely a month ago after a year-long investigation, which showed that Electronic Voting Machines are not secure, not properly certified and indeed confirming that "[C]oncerns about electronic voting machines have been realized and have caused problems with recent elections, resulting in the loss and miscount of votes."
Hello?! Earth to AP...NY Times...Reuters...WaPo...Anybody out there in Corporate Mainstream Medialand...[thump, thump]...Is this thing on?
But not all is lost. Perhaps the message is getting out despite ostriches like Blumenthal, and democracy haters like those commenters who would do anything to try and discredit those who might put forward information which gives doubt to the legitmacy of elections like those which handed George W. Bush the "Presidency" and showed that Ohio voters are actually crazy about the terrific way that elections are being run in their state!
While readers who follow our work closely know that we have never personally made the charge that Bush stole the '04 election, we have documented for months a mountain of evidence to suggest that it was quite likely stolen for him by somebody, or at least contained enough screaming, troubling and unexplained "irregularities" to put the entire election wholly into doubt.
So with that in mind, we are delighted to see that John Cole, the proprietor of the far-Right leaning blog "Baloon Juice" has displayed enough intellectual honesty and courage in a post yesterday to at least concur that "While none of this means that it actually happened, it certainly means vote manipulation with electronic voting machines could happen and could have happened."
Right. If Cole's pride requires he avoid out-and-out acknowledging the mountain of documented problems with our recent elections (he had previously pounded relentless on those of us who had been making these points), we're okay with that. However, he arrived at his conclusion, we'll take it:
"Electronic voting needs to go the way of the Edsel," said Cole, "if enough of the electorate thinks the vote has been manipulated...that in and of itself does a great deal of damage and should be avoided at all cost."
Thank you. That is no small news from a rightwing blogger who regularly refers to those who question such matters as "moonbats" and "tin foil hat wearers." So in that spirit, we congratulate "wingnut" Cole for understanding at least what is at stake here.
Cole says he is currently reading Mark Crispin Miller's FOOLED AGAIN: How the Right Stole the 2004 Election & Why They'll Steal the Next One Too (Unless We Stop Them). So perhaps it's because Cole has bothered to actually educate himself on some of these matters—unlike most of his rightwing brethren—that he goes on to add about the damage done to our democracy if only due to the growing perception that something is going horribly awry.
I generally am of the belief that in government, if the truth is on your side, perceptions should take a back seat. This is not one of those cases.
It certainly isn't. And even Cole's commenters seem to be finally seeing the light now that they've been given the permission by one of their own.
All of which leads us once again to dust off one of our oft-used phrase: This isn't a matter of Right versus Left, it's a matter of Right versus Wrong.
And furthermore, in hopes that you might help to spread this article, and others like it, far and wide—while the entirety of the Corporate Mainstream Media still refuses to mention even one word about that GAO Report or last years' Homeland Security Warning about Diebold or just about anything else on these matters: Be the Media...cuz someone's got to!
Sat Nov 19th, 2005 at 11:10:13 AM EDT
The best op-eds today are not so much about last night's embarrassing shouting and parliamentary trickery in the House (WaPo and NYT), but about the deeper issues behind Bush's maniacal rush into the Iraq war, the administration's countless lies and manipulation of both intelligence and the CIA, and Bush's utter incompetence in administering a war.
Today's best include "White House plays chicken with a war hero," written by the Boston Globe's Derrick Z. Jackson and Prof. Juan Cole's "Straw Man Resolution in Congress: Joking around with the Lives of the Troops," posted at his blog.
And tomorrow's WaPo carries a must-read op-ed by former Florida senator Bob Graham who was chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence "during the tragedy of Sept. 11, 2001, and the run-up to the Iraq war."
The president's attacks are outrageous. Yes, more than 100 Democrats voted to authorize him to take the nation to war. Most of them, though, like their Republican colleagues, did so in the legitimate belief that the president and his administration were truthful in their statements that Saddam Hussein was a gathering menace -- that if Hussein was not disarmed, the smoking gun would become a mushroom cloud.
The president has undermined trust. No longer will the members of Congress be entitled to accept his veracity. Caveat emptor has become the word. Every member of Congress is on his or her own to determine the truth.
Below, some of the meatiest sections of these important writings:
In a 2002 press briefing, former Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz termed the support of politicians like Murtha for the Pentagon as ''wonderful." In the 2004 vice presidential debate, incumbent Dick Cheney said, ''One of my strongest allies in Congress when I was secretary of defense was Jack Murtha."
For all those shows of patriotism, Murtha was skeptical about the rush to invade Iraq in 2003 of Iraq even though he voted to give President Bush the authorization to go to war. He publicly said Bush beat the war drums before building an international coalition. Murtha said he had not seen anything in intelligence reports that indicated an imminent threat. Murtha said Bush ''has put the country in such a box. He can say, 'You'll undercut me if you don't vote for this resolution.' "
Writes Bob Graham in tomorrow's WaPo:
As chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence during the tragedy of Sept. 11, 2001, and the run-up to the Iraq war, I probably had as much access to the intelligence on which the war was predicated as any other member of Congress.
I, too, presumed the president was being truthful -- until a series of events undercut that confidence.
In February 2002, after a briefing on the status of the war in Afghanistan, the commanding officer, Gen. Tommy Franks, told me the war was being compromised as specialized personnel and equipment were being shifted from Afghanistan to prepare for the war in Iraq -- a war more than a year away. Even at this early date, the White House was signaling that the threat posed by Saddam Hussein was of such urgency that it had priority over the crushing of al Qaeda. ...
Graham then describes his concerted efforts to learn more about the reliability of our intelligence and to obtain reports from the CIA.
Graham was shocked to discover that, inside Iraq, the U.S. had no "operative responsible to the United States" and that "[m]ost of the alleged intelligence came from Iraqi exiles or third countries, all of which had an interest in the United States' removing Hussein, by force if necessary."
This is just stunning. I'm reading Bob Baer's book and he describes in detail how he was trained to go to other countries and develop reliable agents. The U.S. had NO OPERATIVE in Iraq? That's Intelligence 101!
In "What I Knew Before the Invasion," Graham urges:
The American people needed to know these reservations, and I requested that an unclassified, public version of the NIE be prepared. On Oct. 4, Tenet presented a 25-page document titled "Iraq's Weapons of Mass Destruction Programs." It represented an unqualified case that Hussein possessed them, avoided a discussion of whether he had the will to use them and omitted the dissenting opinions contained in the classified version. Its conclusions, such as "If Baghdad acquired sufficient weapons-grade fissile material from abroad, it could make a nuclear weapon within a year," underscored the White House's claim that exactly such material was being provided from Africa to Iraq.
From my advantaged position, I had earlier concluded that a war with Iraq would be a distraction from the successful and expeditious completion of our aims in Afghanistan. Now I had come to question whether the White House was telling the truth -- or even had an interest in knowing the truth.
On Oct. 11, I voted no on the resolution to give the president authority to go to war against Iraq. I was able to apply caveat emptor. Most of my colleagues could not.
The writer is a former Democratic senator from Florida. He is currently a fellow at Harvard University's Institute of Politics.
Juan Cole analyzes Murtha's proposal compared to the fraudulent rseolution brought to the House last night by the GOP, and concludes:
Well, this stupid resolution is not what Murtha was saying, and the vote on it is meaningless. It is worse than meaningless. It is political clowning.
Indeed, given the GIs being blown up on a daily basis, the Republican phony resolution was the equivalent of trying to do a stand-up comedy routine at the funeral of someone's beloved son who had died at age 20.
I don't think the American people will find it amusing. We'll see in 2006 whether they did.
"I don't think the American people will find it amusing. We'll see in 2006 whether they did."
I hope so.
Last night was an embarrassment. We need to keep going back to what the experts -- such as Sen. Bob Graham and Rep. John Murtha -- saw early on as the administration did its sales job on the American people and an easily duped media.
Let's make sure that in 2006, the American people know all about the lies they were told, and that stunts don't dominate the news.
Tim Russert's main guest tomorrow on NBC's Meet the Press (local air times) is Rep John Murtha (D-Pa), the ranking member, Appropriations Subcommittee on Defense. (All other guests are experts on avian flu.) (MTP Podcast)
In fact, I don't actually know such a man, but I do know men who approve of such acts, as long as the victims are human beings rather than dogs. This is the official position of the Bush administration on the interrogation technique known as "water-boarding." According to the Pentagon, water-boarding has been employed "regularly" as a "control measure" at the Guantanamo Bay internment camp. One prisoner was subjected to water-boarding seventeen times in a month.
The Pentagon report also reveals that this prisoner was kept awake for 18-20 hours for 48 out of 54 consecutive days, that he was forced to wear bras and thongs on his head, that he was prevented from praying, that he was forced to crawl around on a dog lead and perform tricks, that he was told his mother and sister were whores, and that he was subjected to extensive body cavity searches despite having spent 160 days in solitary confinement.
All of these techniques have been approved by Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld. Administration lawyers take the position that none of this is "inhumane," that none of it constitutes "torture," and that it is all legal under the Geneva Conventions. Their position logically requires the conclusion that it would be lawful to subject American prisoners of war to the same treatment.
Sen. John McCain disagrees and has sponsored a bill that would ban such practices. As a POW, McCain was tortured by his North Vietnamese captors, so his opinion on the matter carries more weight than that of, say, Vice President Cheney, who carefully avoided military service by procuring four draft deferments during the Vietnam War, and who is now the administration's most enthusiastic proponent of torture.
McCain's bill passed the Senate by a 90-9 vote, but President Bush is threatening to make it the first piece of legislation he has ever vetoed. "Anything we do is within the law," Bush explained last week. "We do not torture." (Orwell: "Political language is designed to make lies sound truthful and murder respectable.")
The Wall Street Journal agrees and describes water-boarding as "merely a psychological technique designed to break a detainee." In an astounding editorial, one of the nation's leading newspapers claims that banning torture - excuse me, a "psychological technique" - would "telegraph to every terrorist in the world that he has absolutely nothing to fear from silence should he fall into U.S. hands."
It takes a special brand of idiocy to argue that people who are eager to blow themselves up in the pursuit of a delusional martyrdom are going to be deterred by the official position of the American government regarding the interrogation of prisoners. The Journal also argues that banning torture may lead to a "mass-casualty attack." This is a phony concern, because interrogators who genuinely believe they are in such a desperate situation aren't going to pay attention to the rules anyway.
What legalizing torture really does is to ensure it becomes routine. (The government has already admitted that at least five prisoners have been tortured to death.) Bush's defense of torture comes down to a single argument: that atrocious acts are permissible in the pursuit of sufficiently important ends. Saddam Hussein and Osama bin Laden would agree.
November 19, 2005
AMERICAN MORAL values should not become collateral casualties of the war on terror. That's what's at stake as the House considers Senator John McCain's amendment to ban torture by the US military and intelligence agencies.
Torture is anathema in any civilized society. It should not be necessary to ban it, and yet McCain's amendment is overdue. Ever since Sept. 11, and the administration decision to explore ''the dark side"-- Vice President Cheney's phrase -- reports have mushroomed about the abuse of detainees.
Mention of that phrase brings to mind Darth Vader, the ''Star Wars" character corrupted by the negative side of the life-affirming force. President Bush, Cheney, the Defense Department, and the CIA have likewise been emboldened by the authority the nation gave them following the attacks. The administration decided in 2002 that anything goes, short of organ failure.
The techniques used by American interrogators include water-boarding, in which a prisoner is tricked into thinking he is about to drown. They aren't quite as bad as those practiced in medieval times, but they can cause death, as happened at Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq last year when, as reported in The New Yorker, a prisoner stopped breathing after his head was covered with a plastic bag and he was shackled in a crucifixion-like pose.
The Senate unanimously approved the McCain amendment to the defense appropriations bill last month. Yet it is stuck in the House because of administration objections. ''We do not torture," said Stephen Hadley, the president's national security adviser, in a television interview this week. So is he in favor of the amendment? ''The president has an obligation . . . to do what we need to do to protect the people of the United States." He added a hypothetical question: ''What happens if, on September 7th of 2001, we had gotten one of the hijackers . . . ?"
This is a difficult dilemma, McCain acknowledged in a Newsweek article. McCain, a victim of torture in Vietnam, concluded that in this one instance, Americans might tolerate mistreatment, but this far-fetched hypothesis should not determine policy.
Torture empowers the most barbaric tendencies of human nature. It erodes support for the United States in the very societies the administration is trying to win to its side in the war on terror.And there's one other reason to oppose it, as explained by McCain in an anecdote from his captivity. He was being tortured, he said, to disclose the names of other fliers in his Navy squadron. To stop the pain, he revealed the names -- of the offensive line of the Green Bay Packers. Torture, more often than not, produces lies, instead of accurate information. It should have no place in this long twilight war.
The techniques have lead to questionable confessions and the death of one man since March 2002, the network said, after interviewing current and former CIA officials.
Former CIA officer Bob Baer told ABC the techniques amounted to "bad interrogation. I mean, you can get anyone to confess to anything if the torture's bad enough."
CIA sources speaking on condition of anonymity described six techniques: "Attention Grab, Attention Slap, Belly Slap, Long Time Standing, Cold Cell, Water Boarding."
The six "Enhanced Interrogation Techniques," as sources called them, were used on a dozen top Al-Qaeda targets incarcerated in isolation at secret locations on military bases in regions from Asia to Eastern Europe, ABC said.
In "Belly Slap," interrogators deliver "a hard open-handed slap to the stomach" intended to cause pain but not internal injury.
In "Long Time Standing," prisoners are forced to stand handcuffed and shackled for more than 40 hours.
In "The Cold Cell" a prisoner is made to stand naked in a cell kept near 10 degrees C (50 degrees F) and is continually doused with cold water.
Water Boarding brings results within seconds, the sources said. A prisoner is tied onto a board with his feet higher than his head, and his face is wrapped in cellophane. When water is poured over him, he begins to gag and begs to confess, sources told ABC.
"The person believes they are being killed, and as such, it really amounts to a mock execution, which is illegal under international law," John Sifton of Human Rights Watch told ABC.
After investigating the claims, the network asked CIA officials for comment, but they "would neither confirm nor deny the accounts. They simply declined to comment," ABC said.
Earlier this month, CIA inspector general John Helgerson said techniques used by the agency appeared to violate the international Convention Against Torture, according to current and former officials who described the report to The New York Times.
The report listed 10 techniques authorized in early 2002 that went beyond those used by the US military on prisoners of war.
Fri Nov 18, 2005 at 11:18:01 PM PDT
Folks, something truly dramatic has taken place over the last couple of days--it's something that dwarfs anything (outside of Plamegate) that we've dealt with for months.
I think we all need to step back, take a breath, and realize what we are seeing here, because it's historic and deeply powerful. What is happening will go farther than anything else in showing just how extremist and fanatical the Republicans really are, and will disgust moderate voters.
The GOP is becoming COMPLETELY unglued. Now, I know we say that every week here on Kos, but this is the real deal.
It's now transparent that the GOP thinks it can reverse the history of the Vietnam War as surely as it thinks it can reverse the 60's Revolution.
Do you remember all the times that we here on dKos and Democrats in congress compared the war in Iraq to the Vietnam war? Do you remember how many times we were pooh-poohed by our own political allies--and called foolish traitors by those on the right wing?
I sure do. I remember it very well.
Well, my friends, now it's the GOP making the comparisons between Iraq and Vietnam AND THEY THINK IT HELPS THEIR CASE!
Many here may remember my much recommended diary "We've defended you five years for this moment", in which I make the case that the entire right-wing coalition has been based on resentful, conservative baby-boomers trying to undo the 1960's. Everything in politics today--and I do mean just about everything--is the playing out of this same boomer vs. boomer dynamic. Kerry vs. Bush, the Swift Boat Vets, Abortion, Race, the whole thing. Just a rehash of the 60's and early 70's, every last bit of it.
Well, this is the same shit, different day, and only slightly different topic.
You see, most of us here believe the Vietnam War was the Wrong War, and was ALWAYS a completely unwinnable war. I happen to think that we have most of the country on our side about that one, as it seems fairly obvious.
But we underestimate the potency of what is known in German as Dolschstosslegende, or, as we say in English, the "Stab-in-the-Back Legend." To quote from Wikipedia,
Many Germans who supported, fought in, or had otherwise known people lost in the enormously costly war, believed the causes for the German/Austrian involvement in the war were justified. They had hoped it would bring a restoration of past glory and a unified German nation-state. Instead, the war caused the deaths of 1,770,000 German soldiers and 760,000 German civilians, devastated the economy, and brought losses in both territory and national sovereignty.
Conservatives, nationalists and ex-military leaders sought others to blame. The common scapegoats were Weimar Republic politicians, socialists, communists, and "international Jewry" -- a term referring to Jews with a perceived excess of wealth and influence. These "November criminals", nationalists alleged, had "stabbed them in the back" on the "home front," by either criticizing the cause of German nationalism, or by simply not being zealous-enough supporters of it. In essence the accusation was that the accused committed treason against the benevolent and righteous common cause.
Due to the highly potent imagery of a "stab in the back", and the common perception amongst political conservatives that politically hostile homefronts defeat otherwise winnable wars, the stab in the back legend is a common legend in a number of modern societies. In particular, the stab in the back legend is often used by conservatives to explain the defeat of the United States in the Vietnam war. In the context of the US involvement in the Vietnam War the stab in the back legend is part of the Vietnam Syndrome complex.
And folks, the Legend is on high display.
Allow me to give you a few delightful quotes from our friends over at RedState.org...
America was stabbed in the back by the POT* By: francisurquhart
Vietnam was lost as a result of a stab in the back. The war was won on the ground. Had the state of affairs as of the signing of the Paris Peace Accords been allowed to continue, there would still be a free South Vietnam today - and there would have been no Cambodian genocide.
South Vietnam was defeated because the Democrats stabbed our ally, and by extention all patriotic Americans, in the back, causing our defeat - which was their aim dating back to the moment when the McGovernite left took over the party.
*POT = Party of Treason
Or here's another wonderful post, from an (appropriately named) blogger named nazgul12:
No, I'm not cherrypicking these. This is literally what these people think. And it gets a lot worse if you venture into Little Green Footballs or Freeperland.
But it's not just bloggers. Oh no. See a selection from this piece by none other than David Horowitz:
And now it's GOP Congressmen, folks.
That's right, GOP Rep. Johnson, in his speech tonight in the anti-Murtha political stunt vote, came out and started talking about how the "peaceniks" wanted to cut and run and leave our troops hanging out to dry just like they did in Vietnam.
And you know what the sickest thing about all of this is?
When all is said and done, the Iraq war is all about aging boomers debating while young men and Iraqis fight and die.
There is only one real dynamic going on in the GOP at this point. Nobody believes there were WMDs now if they ever did. Nobody really thinks it's about terrorism. Nobody really thinks it's even about Saving Face--after all, there's not really much face left to save.
No, my friends. Let me tell you what this war is about now, for those in the GOP:
This war is about proving all those mean, nasty hippies in the 60's and 70's that they were WRONG about Vietnam...and by God we're going to KEEP our troops in there as long as it takes to prove it!
Just like the abortion debate is about sexual control, and proving those nasty hippies wrong.
Just like the global warming debate is about anti-envirowhackotreehuggers, and proving those nasty hippies wrong.
Just like racial equality and Katrina is about proving those nasty hippies wrong--in addition to racism.
Which is why they have to compare John Murtha to Michael Moore--not because of any serious connection between them, or because Michael Moore is wrong--no, it's because Michael Moore reminds them of a dirty, nasty hippie, and Murtha's speech reminds them of the Vietnam debate.
This war in Iraq is about REVERSING HISTORY, no less than the culture wars are about REVERSING HISTORY. The Culture Wars are a means of erasing the 60's revolution--and the Iraq War is a way of refighting and winning Vietnam.
All we are doing is fighting Vietnam again by proxy. We are watching old men who had too much of a stick up their ass to join in the incredible social movements of that time--and have hated all those who participated ever since--attempt to get every last dig in that they can, and reverse history.
We are watching the likes of George W. Bush and Dick Cheney, who never fought in that goddamn war but wish we had just sent enough of them OTHER boys there to die until we won--dig in their heels and insist on sending as many boys to die as it takes to prove those nasty war-protesters like John Fucking Kerry wrong--even if some of those protesters were vets themselves. Or especially so--since they weren't smart or elite enough to stay out of the actual fighting.
Because that's what this is about: reversing the 60's, just like I said in my previous diary.
These people literally believe that they can redeem the defeat we suffered in Vietnam--that they blame on liberals anyway--by proving that we will win if we just "stay the course."
It's pure ideology at this point--all of it. It's just boomer on boomer, round and round and round and round...
But don't worry, GOP boomers: I'm sure that Rambo will come in and win Iraq for you the way he did Vietnam.
Friday, November 18, 2005
Fri Nov 18, 2005 at 02:32:20 PM PDT
Spot the differences between the two versions of the "Murtha resolution".
Whereas Congress and the American People have not been shown clear, measurable progress toward establishment of stable and improving security in Iraq or of a stable and improving economy in Iraq, both of which are essential to "promote the emergence of a democratic government";
Whereas additional stabilization in Iraq by U, S. military forces cannot be achieved without the deployment of hundreds of thousands of additional U S. troops, which in turn cannot be achieved without a military draft;
Whereas more than $277 billion has been appropriated by the United States Congress to prosecute U.S. military action in Iraq and Afghanistan;
Whereas, as of the drafting of this resolution, 2,079 U.S. troops have been killed in Operation Iraqi Freedom;
Whereas U.S. forces have become the target of the insurgency,
Whereas, according to recent polls, over 80% of the Iraqi people want U.S. forces out of Iraq;
Whereas polls also indicate that 45% of the Iraqi people feel that the attacks on U.S. forces are justified;
Whereas, due to the foregoing, Congress finds it evident that continuing U.S. military action in Iraq is not in the best interests of the United States of America, the people of Iraq, or the Persian Gulf Region, which were cited in Public Law 107-243 as justification for undertaking such action;
Therefore be it Resolved by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled, That:
Section 1. The deployment of United States forces in Iraq, by direction of Congress, is hereby terminated and the forces involved are to be redeployed at the earliest practicable date.
Section 2. A quick-reaction U.S. force and an over-the-horizon presence of U.S Marines shall be deployed in the region.
Section 3 The United States of America shall pursue security and stability in Iraq through diplomacy.
And here's the GOP "rewrite":
The GOP version:
Expressing the sense of the House of Representatives that
the deployment of United States forces in Iraq be terminated immediately.
Resolved, That it is the sense of the House of Representatives that the deployment of United States forces
in Iraq be terminated immediately.
Caught in a lie when it initially denied using phosphorus bombs in the assault on Fallujah, the Pentagon had to concede it used the weapons. It fell back on the claim that it only used the incendiary defices on militants, not civilians--but then, in that assault, the Pentagon trapped all males in the city, considering them all insurgents.
Now that the Iraqi government has been forced to investigate the US military's criminal use of phosphorus incendiary bombs during the November 2004 assault on Fallujah, it is important to note how slippery the Pentagon is being about its claim not to have used this dreadful weapon against "civilians."
As I wrote during the assault (see the November 13 article on the 2004 Archive page of my website) two years ago, before the assault began on this city of 300,000, the US military ringed the doomed city. Civilians were ordered to leave, but US troops turned back all men and boys of "fighting age,"--a term that was not defined, but that reportedly was set at 14!--trapping them in what itself was a war crime (civilians must be allowed to flee a war zone under the Geneva Conventions).
So in other words, all adult and adolescent males in the city of Fallujah were considered by the US military to be "insurgents," not "civilians." Ergo, if they were bombed with phosphorus weapons, it wasn't a case of bombing civilians.
This grim history, so reminiscent of the way the Nazis herded jews into villages in Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union before leveling the entire village, gives the lie to the latest effort to dodge a charge of war crimes in Iraq.
For other stories by Lindorff, please go (at no charge) to This Can't Be Happening! .
November 16th, 2005 10:03 PM
WASHINGTON, D.C.--Increasingly, the U.S. is facing charges of war crimes in Iraq. In the most recent horrifying accusations of prisoner torture, the U.S. is accused of standing by while the Iraqi occupation government permitted the excruciating torture of prisoners in a secret jail. These charges have been known since April. Neither the Iraqis nor the Americans did anything about them. All this took place during a period where President Bush was insisting the war was going well, and when Vice President Cheney was lobbying behind the scenes to keep the CIA free to carry out torture in secret prisons abroad. Saleh al-Mutlaq, a Sunni politician, is quoted by the Boston Globe as saying the Interior Ministry detention center has been infiltrated by Shiite militia. "Some Iraqis are having their heads opened with drills, then their bodies are thrown in the streets," he claimed. "This shows that the United States should stop these acts since it is the force that occupies Iraq.’’
Meanwhile Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld reiterated the administration’s support for the Iraqi security forces—the same forces responsible for the cruel treatment of prisoners. "We must be careful not to give terrorists the false hope that if they can simply hold on long enough, that they can outlast us,’’ he said. And Rumsfeld went after Democrats and Republicans who are now criticizing the administration for misleading the country into war, claiming these same politicians stood behind Bush and the government on charging Saddam had weapons of mass destruction before the war began.
"People who are willing to risk their lives [in the military] need to know the truth," Rumsfeld said. "They need to understand that they are there based on decisions that were made in good faith by responsible people."
The AP reported that Manfred Nowak, a special United Nations investigator on torture, renewed calls for an independent probe into the allegations:
"That torture is still practiced in Iraq after Saddam Hussein, that is no secret," Nowak said a telephone interview from Vienna, Austria. "It is shocking, but on the other hand, we have received allegations of these secret places in Iraq already for quite a long time.
Wrestling With History
Sometimes you have to fight the war you have, not the war you wish you had
Sunday, November 13, 2005; Page W12