April 30, 2004

missing accomplishments

George W Bush, May 2003:
My fellow Americans, major combat operations in Iraq have ended. In the battle of Iraq, the United States and our allies have prevailed.
George W Bush, October 2003:
The 'Mission Accomplished' sign, of course, was put up by the members of the USS Abraham Lincoln saying that their mission was accomplished. I know it was attributed somehow to some ingenious advance man on my staff. They weren't that ingenious, by the way.
George W Bush, April 2004:
A year ago I did give the speech from the carrier saying we had achieved an important objective, accomplished a mission, which was the removal of Saddam Hussein.

April 29, 2004

I came away good about the session

Can someone explain what the hell W meant by this?
Q Mr. President, as you know, a lot of critics suggested that you wanted to appear jointly with the Vice President so that you two could keep your stories straight, or something --

THE PRESIDENT: Yes --

Q -- can you tell us what you think of the value of appearing together and how you would answer those critics?

THE PRESIDENT: Yes -- first of all, look, if we had something to hide we wouldn't have met with them in the first place. We answered all their questions. And as I say, I think I -- I came away good about the session, because I wanted them to know how I set strategy, how we run the White House, how we deal with threats. The Vice President answered a lot of their questions -- answered all their questions. And I think it was important for them to see our body language, as well, how we work together.
Body language - the ultimate weapon in the war on terror.

In the same remarks, he also said this:
Really -- probably best that I not go into the details of the conversation; let them incorporate into their report. There was a lot of interest in -- about how to better protect America. In other words, they're very interested in the recommendations that they're going to lay out. And I'm interested in those, as well.
to which my wife responded, "And I thought they were interested in what kind of underwear he wears."

April 27, 2004

the old grey mare returns

From The Globe and Mail, via the excellent (and similarly green-tinted) blog pogge, comes news that former Canadian Prime Minister Brian Mulroney emerged from his tropical island hideaway (or wherever he's been lurking) to take a swipe at the Liberals. His aim was a little off.

The context: Mulroney was criticizing the government's decision to allow the wife and son of Ahmed Khadr to return to Canada. Khadr, who was killed in the Pakistani-Afghan border region in October, was an associate of Osama bin Laden. The Khadrs are Canadian citizens.

What Mulroney said:
He criticized "the limp and pathetic manner the Liberal government handled the case of the Khadr family, intimates of Osama Bin Laden ... some of whose members have taken up arms in support of terrorism, and yet are welcomed back to Canada with open arms.

"Imagine the signal that these images send to the White House and the civilized world," he told an audience of about 600 people.
When asked to comment, Bush replied, "I've been called better things by worse people."

It seems the old grey mare, in the words of Spirit of the West, is still a few chairs short of perfection. But the Reformatories seem happy to have him aboard; well hey, who wouldn't jump at the chance to embrace the guy who traded in his governing party juggernaut for a rickety two-seater? Stephen Harper, for one. After all, where would Harper be today if Mulroney had stayed on and managed even a moderately poor showing in 1993?

The last word goes to pogge, who nails the former PM in a way all hypocrites deserve to be nailed:
If being wildly unpopular with the Canadian public, merely being suspected of criminal wrong-doing and being regarded by at least a significant portion of the population as being a traitor to this country were sufficient grounds to have one's citizenship stripped, then Brian Mulroney might well be a man without a country today.

a simple question

For the last couple of days the news has been full of stories on Kerry's actions during and after his service in Vietnam. It's at times like these that the US media is clearly shown for what it is: a pair of underwear at the GOP Laundromat, on extended spin cycle. As for the Bush surrogates doing his dirty work, here's a short, simple question someone should ask them:

Was George W. Bush's service in the National Guard more honorable than John Kerry's service in Vietnam?

April 15, 2004

Zbigniew tells it like it is

Political discourse and the timidity of the US media being what they are, it's comes as quite a jolt to hear some ungarnished common sense talk on Iraq. Here's Zbigniew Brzezinski on the News Hour, talking with Jim Lehrer:
JIM LEHRER: To follow up on something you said Zbigniew Brzezinski and move this on to Iraq. The president said last night that our action against Iraq was an action against terror, it's part of the war on terror. Do you agree with him?

ZBIGNIEW BRZEZINSKI: No. No, I don't. It seems to me that we have increased the probability of terrorist attacks in the United States by taking a war into Iraq, a war which is unrelated to what happened on 9/11 and without any serious evidence -- any serious evidence at all of any connection between terrorism directed at us and Saddam's regime which is obviously a malignant regime. It's gone -- but that's not that it is not sufficient for invading a foreign country. I think the excuses we are using are obviously motivated by an effort to justify what has transpired, especially since what has transpired is becoming more and more difficult for us.

But in the meantime, the number of enemies against the United States has maximized and I'm afraid in the Middle East, the United States is increasing of the focal point of generalized hatred. We are being seen as an extension of what the Arabs have been experiencing over the past 40 years. Our occupation is being viewed now a mirror image of the West Bank. The two have conflated in the eyes of the people in the region and what is worse, most of the world views it that way. I think that collectively increases the threat of the United States.
And later he swats down Brent Scowcroft's feeble attempt to praise his former boss's son:
BRENT SCOWCROFT: I think what the president did last night was something I think was vital to do, and that is he presented the picture of a president confident in his policy and determined to make Iraq work. And I think that is vital because I think one of the things people will start saying, it's Vietnam. It's Vietnam. We're going to pull out. We're going to pull out. Well, if we get that impression abroad, especially in Iraq, then we'll never be able to succeed. So I think the president, by showing that kind of determination, has put us on a major step forward.

JIM LEHRER: Do you see it the same way?

ZBIGNIEW BRZEZINSKI: Not quite. I don't think determination is enough. It is good enough to be determined but if you are determined to pursue on a wrongheaded course, it is not going to get you anywhere.

JIM LEHRER: What is the alternative?

ZBIGNIEW BRZEZINSKI: The issue is can we do it well on our own? I doubt it very much. I think to handle Iraq effectively so that these good outcomes that Brent was talking about actually transpire, we have to engage others. We have to engage the U.N. much more actively. And we've delayed this for far too long. We have to make some effort to get our allies engaged. We have in a sense said you can be engaged by sending money and men but we'll do what we want, which is not the way you engage allies. Eventually you have to get the moderate Muslim countries engaged. We were hoping for Pakistani troops and Moroccan troops. We didn't get them.

And last but not least we have to recognize there is no disengagement in Iraq with the Israeli-Palestinian conflict going on because if it is still going on when we disengage, the next Iraqi government will anti-American and anti-Israeli. So determination is not enough. It is a question of the right strategy. And I'm afraid our strategy right now in Iraq is essentially very one sided and rather extremist.

JIM LEHRER: One sided and extremist.
Smile when you say that, Jim.

April 08, 2004

everything changed, sort of

And I may seem cheap to you
But I like to eat my cake
And have it too

- Chris Smither

From the Washington Post:
National security adviser Condoleezza Rice plans to testify tomorrow that the Bush administration was acting in a pre-Sept. 11 mindset in its efforts to combat al Qaeda and other terrorist groups and must be judged in that context, administration officials said yesterday.

At the same time, Rice plans to argue that President Bush focused aggressively on terrorism before the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. The CIA had warned for several months that a massive al Qaeda strike was possible.

April 03, 2004

car 1600, where are you?

It would take a full-time job, working overtime, to keep straight all the Administration’s lines of argument they’re using to defend themselves against charges of dropping the Al-Qaeda ball. The charge and countercharge to date has gone something like this:

Q: How could 9/11 have happened?
A: We could never have imagined terrorists flying planes into buildings.
Q: Well, there were intelligence reports warning of exactly that, no?
A: Yes but they were useless because they didn’t give the date or time of the attack.
Q: But they still mentioned using planes as missiles.
A: No, I meant that I could never have imagined terrorists flying planes into buildings.
Q: Why didn’t you implement the plan left to you by the Clinton Administration?
A(1): We were developing a better plan.
A(2): We did! We were totally serious about terrorism.
Q: What about Richard Clarke’s claims?
A: Richard who? He wasn’t in the loop. He wasn’t at those meetings.
Q: Your chief counterterrorism official wasn’t in the loop?
A: Of course he was. We were all making an effective and coordinated response to the terrorists.
Q: He says Bush told him on 9/12 in the Situation Room to look into Iraq as the culprit.
A: Ridiculous! Bush wasn’t in the Situation Room that day, so Clarke is obviously lying.
Q: President Bush wasn’t in the Situation Room on 9/12? Shouldn’t he have been?
A: He was in the Situation Room. But Clarke is still a liar.
Q: So his claims that you ignored the threat prior to 9/11 is also false?
A: Certainly. Who could ever have imagined that terrorists would fly planes into buildings?

Compare with this excerpt from an episode of that late, great sitcom Car 54, Where Are You? Gunther Toody, that loveable dope, has many of the same qualities as this administration. Toody was the guy who convinced Officer Schnauzer (and the entire squad in the process) that it was Friday when it was really Thursday. He convinces them to invest their relief fund in the stock market, with zany consequences. In this exchange, Toody is clumsily trying to deceive Muldoon in decidedly Bushista fashion:

Muldoon: What are you going to be doing in New Jersey?
Toody: Well I promised Lucille that I'm going to take her to see her sister.
Muldoon: I thought her sister lived in Westchester.
Toody: She does, but I'm going to take her to see her sister in New Jersey.
Muldoon: But I thought Lucille only had one sister.
Toody: She has.
Muldoon: Than how can she have one in New Jersey and another one in Westchester?
Toody: Can't you figure it out?

Berlin bands 2.0

Here's a list of the latest Berlin bands.

Yelena & Schmidt Happens!
Utopiate
The Strong Contenders
Self Conquest
Alexander Robotnick
Oomph!
My Flexible Friends
Maggots
Kenny Martin's Pocket Zone
Kenny Report
Jumpin Juice (Akkordeon-Punk)
JanNotJackson
Interjazzional
The Groove Tubes
Funk Delicious
Fred and the Flying Ladies

the future of gay marriage in Massachusetts

This week the Massachusetts legislature passed a proposed amendment to the state constitution that would 1) ban gay marriage; and 2) establish civil unions with all state-granted benefits. It must pass again next year in order to be put to the voters in 2006. In the meantime, gay marriage will be legal as of May 17.

Governor Romney is acting like the black knight in Monty Python and the Holy Grail, gamely boasting that he'll stop May 17 from happening, some way, somehow, even as Attorney General Tom Reilly and the Supreme Judicial Court lop off his arms and legs. He even claims to be interested in a bill that would abolish civil marriage for everyone, replacing it with universal civil unions and leaving the marriage business to the religions. Don't bet on that happening.

After putting Romney in his place, Reilly ruled that out of state gay couples cannot marry in Massachusetts, thanks to a 1913 law that prohibits marriage to people who cannot legally marry in their home state. That law was a sup to the anti-miscegenation laws in other states, an early 20th century equivalent of the Fugitive Slave Law. How fitting that a racist relic of our legal system has come in handy for the Straight Citizens Council types.

There is plenty to be angry about; the vote on Monday put my state one step closer to enshrining discrimination, intolerance and phobia into its founding document, the central proclamation of its ideals. A small but significant proportion of those opposing the amendment did so because they oppose giving any rights (i.e. civil unions) to gay families. The governor and the House and Senate leadership are against us.

But there is also good reason for pride and optimism. Opposition to the amendment (the good kind) grew significantly from the beginning of the debate in February. Fewer than 10 votes need to change to kill it next year. And by then, the reality on the ground will have already undergone seismic shift. Rather than gay marriage as a scary, icky prospect looming on the horizon, it will be a mundane, daily occurrence.

This year, the status quo was heteros only, and taking constitutional action was the only way to keep it that way.

Next year, the status quo will be lots of happy newlyweds, and taking constitutional action will mean state-mandated divorce, humiliation and shame.

turas mao dhuibh!

As an t-Albannach: Rebels issue receipt after robbing Scots at gunpoint
But the terrifying attack had a comic side when the rebels, wielding AK47s, insisted on issuing their victims with a receipt in case they were attacked by other Maoists along the way.
Leig leis na Himalayas, 'se "turasachd beag-chogach" a tha mi 'sireadh!
In fact, trekking entrepreneur Suman Pandey says that for the growing numbers of people who are coming to Nepal to trek in the war-torn mountains, guerrilla tourism seems to be one of the attractions.

Mr Pandey said: "I am getting the feeling that tourists are quite excited about it. This Maoist meeting is slowly becoming a tourist product."
Saoil am fac' iad an film Restless Natives?