Thursday, August 31, 2006

Happy Birthday, Dad...

James Patrick Fallon, Sr.

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

...on what would be your 95th birthday, and your sixth with God.

Novak : GOP's November Chances "Pitiful"

Week of August 30, 2006 by Robert Novak - HUMAN EVENTS

Writing in super-right-wing (home of Ann Coulter), Robert Novak assesses the chances of the GOP holding ground -- fuhgeddaboud making gains -- in the Congress and finds them "pitiful." Unlike Conservative icon Paul Weyrich, he did not try to spin the reasons why Republicans are about to lose power in the Congress, only the facts of the battlefield. And the battlefield is grim.

Novak points to
Republican fears that, as one House committee chairman has said privately, Republicans will lose 25 seats -- or as we were told that national internal polls suggested, they could lose as many as 26 seats.

Referring to a chart which shows Democratic seats in the House "in play," Novak concludes
The first word that comes to mind with this chart is "pitiful"...There is not one easy takeover target for the Republicans this year. Republicans have failed to expand the playing field on the Democrats' side.

Referring then to a chart showing vulnerable GOP seats, Novak observes that
we see a very rich environment of Democratic takeover targets... the fact that there are so many, compared to so few on the Democratic chart, illustrates the problem Republicans face this year. Any way one looks at it, the odds are clearly stacked against the GOP and in favor of Democrats. Republicans are certain to lose House seats this year, even under the best scenario they can envision.

We've been IN THE DARK for so very long. We're not out yet, but there may be a light at the end of the tunnel.

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

US Census : 1 in 8 Americans Living in Poverty

The GOP is actually playing this as a "good news" story. This is the first year since George W. Bush took office that the poverty rate did not increase, according to the US Census Bureau. Did you hear what I just said? Every year since this administration took office, the poverty rate in the United States of America has risen.

If you happen to be black, the poverty rate is nearly 25%. Good Lord, help us all.

It is important to point one of the parameters of this measurement. "poverty" is defined as living on an annual income of $10,000 as an individual, or $20,000 as a family. $20,000!!! I don't know where you are right now as you're reading this, but I'm in Chicago. I used to live in New York. There are areas in the United States where the functional poverty rate must be much higher than what is being reported here. In some places in the US a family can't survive on $20,000. They'd barely scrape by on $30,000.

According to the report, 37,000,000 Americans, or about 12.6%, live in poverty. However, according to the Center for Economic and Policy Research, this number is probably incorrect. Reuters reports that:

Official jobs figures may considerably underestimate the number of poor and uninsured Americans, according to a new study from the Center for Economic Policy Research.

The U.S. government's Current Population Survey (CPS) is so severely miscalibrated that it could exclude as many as 2.5 million adults who are out of work, the research found.

Great economic news from the Bush administration. Strong economy?

We report. You decide.

Coincidentally, the Jerusalem Post reports that 25% of Israelis live in poverty. What's wrong with this picture?

Monday, August 28, 2006

Weyrich : Dems Should Be Optimistic About November

Conservative icon Paul Weyrich, founder of the right-wing think tank the Heritage Foundation, co-founder, with Jerry Falwell, of the Moral Majority, says that he believes the Democrats will "win control of both the House of Representatives and the Senate this November."

Writing a guest column on Accuracy in Media's website, Weyrich spins the turnaround in public opinion:
The polls show voters angry and wanting to punish the Republicans. The Republicans have an exceptionally large number of open seats. Republican Members, even Committee chairmen, sensed that this was the year to get out. The GOP has had a run of a dozen years of controlling the House of Representatives. Another election and the Member could go out a loser whereas if the Member quits now he can go out the winner. While defense of open seats is easier than is defeat of incumbents, the Republican Congressional Campaign Committee has a lot on its plate.
I'll say. The latest poll (Newsweek's, published August 26) shows Democrats with a 12 point lead over Republicans, 58%-38%. Fewer than one-third of Americans (31%) support George W. Bush's handling of the war in Iraq, with 63% disapproving, Bush's job approval rating hovers at slightly over one-third of Americans (36%), and 65% of Americans dissatisfied with the direction in which the country is moving. Even the terror bump Bush got recently seems to be fading rapidly. Why?
Nearly every day Americans see images of their fellow citizens killed in Afghanistan, Iraq or elsewhere. In addition, whereas a new government was supposed to bring stability to Iraq, the level of violence is three times what it was when the government was formed. We hear experts say that Iraq is in the middle of a civil war. President Bush rejects that, but with troops who were scheduled to come home extended another four months and with 2500 reservists called up, Americans do not see the light at the end of the tunnel. I am sure there must be one -- or is that a speeding locomotive headed in my direction?
My money is on the locomotive. Meanwhile, I've already posted today on our nation's rather crummy economic performance -- unless you're wealthy.
But all consumers hear is that the economy is slowing down, could be on the verge of a recession and so on. They also hear about massive layoffs from the automakers and from industry as a whole. Even the numbers are reflecting an economy growing at a much more modest rate of 2.5% as opposed to 4% growth earlier this year. Even so, voters do not make up their minds on the macro figures the Administration provides. Rather they listen to what they hear at the factory, in the neighborhood or at the lodge. In those places, the economic miracle does not seem to have penetrated their psyche.
Yeah, because -- as I've said -- most Americans are not wealthy. If you're poor or merely middle class, this economy is sucking wind. Growing unemployment, growing poverty, falling income -- a veritable economic Poseidon.

Weyrich's conclusion is non-ideological and quite practical, makes a lot of sense to me, while at the same time echoes something Howie always tells me:
Usually when pollsters ask about Congress, voters say nasty things about that institution. But when asked about their own Congressman, the voter says, oh, no, he is a good guy; we need to keep him in. This year, as in 1994 when Republicans won every seat possible, voters are saying bad things about Congress and then when asked about their own Congressman, only 57% said we ought to keep him. 43% said elect a new person. That number is bound to come down closer to the elections but even if as few as 10% of voters insisted upon electing a new Member it would be a revolution. Stay tuned.
Stay tuned indeed.

Strong Economy

Howie tells me we have a strong economy. He heard it on O'Reilly's show or something. Limbaugh. Hannity. Somewhere. Anyway, that's what he tells me.

"Look at the stock market," he says. "Look at corporate profits." "Economic growth," he says, without defining what that means. "And your next comment will be," he said to me last September, "where are the new jobs? Well, History has shown that the jobs often come within 6 months of the turnaround."

Well I won't point out that according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there were nearly a quarter of a million more unemployed in July than in June, and 7,591,000 unemployed in 2005 (way over the Clinton years, when unemployment continually decreased).

What I will point out is this from the NY Times:

With the economy beginning to slow, the current expansion has a chance to become the first sustained period of economic growth since World War II that fails to offer a prolonged increase in real wages for most workers.

...The median hourly wage for American workers has declined 2 percent since 2003, after factoring in inflation. The drop has been especially notable, economists say, because productivity — the amount that an average worker produces in an hour and the basic wellspring of a nation’s living standards — has risen steadily over the same period.

...As a result, wages and salaries now make up the lowest share of the nation’s gross domestic product since the government began recording the data in 1947, while corporate profits have climbed to their highest share since the 1960’s. UBS, the investment bank, recently described the current period as “the golden era of profitability.”

...At the very top of the income spectrum, many workers have continued to receive raises that outpace inflation, and the gains have been large enough to keep average income and consumer spending rising.

This is not a strong, healthy economy.

Saturday, August 26, 2006

Unbelievable. Welcome to George W. Bush's New Louisiana

LOUISIANA SCHOOL BUS DRIVER ORDERS BLACKS TO THE BACK: Nine Black Kids Were Told to Give Up Seats for White Students

I happened to hear Shelby Steele on Michael Medved's logic-straining (but always entertaining) radio program the other day, hawking his recent book on "white guilt." Steele misses the point (Medved misses the point too, but mentioning that is so redundant as to be gratiotous).

It's not about personal responsibility, although personal responsibility is not a bad thing. It's about reclaiming a sense of social resposibility -- and making a fetish of individual responsibility allows us to ignore our responsibilities to one another.

It's not about whites being motivated by guilt, it's about EVERYONE being motivated by a sincere concern for the common good, not merely for self interest.

Well, here's a story of one woman who apparently suffers from neither white guilt nor concern for others. It was forwarded to me by one of my students. In her commentary, she makes a number of observations:
More and more, it seems that hate is today's leading force. We sue each other, cheat each other, gossip--- there are murders, wars... And more recently there have been an abundance of hate crimes. In my opinion, the suppression of our own cries against racism is the cause of this story. All of the small hate crimes leading to this one went ignored.

In a recent e-mail exchange with Howie, I said that I have never, in my half century on Earth, seen America weaker than it is today. He assumed I was speaking militarily. No, I told him, not militarily, for we have enough firepower to destroy the Earth several times over. In my half century on Earth, I have never seen America morally weaker than it is today.

This is a prime piece of evidence, Howie.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

UK Report : Bush Working for Iran

What will come as no surprise to many -- although Howie will fight this idea tooth and nail -- is that it turns out the greatest beneficiary of the Bush administration's So-Called War on TerrorTM may, in fact, be...IRAN. This, according to a British think-tank:

The report, by researchers at think-tank the Royal Institute for International Studies in London – also known as Chatham House – says: “There is little doubt that Iran has been the chief beneficiary of the war on terror in the Middle East.

“The United States, with Coalition support, has eliminated two of Iran’s regional rival governments – the Taliban in Afghanistan in November 2001 and Saddam Hussein’s regime in Iraq in April 2003 – but has failed to replace either with coherent and stable political structures.”

The report also says that as long as the middle east remains unstable, or grows more unstable, Iran will continue to benefit.

Furthermore, rather than pulling the Iraqi people closer to the US, the invasion of Iraq has left Iran "the most influential power in Iraq."

Heckuva job, Bushie.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Bush Says Iraq Pullout Would Be 'A Disaster'

And he's right.

Yes, you heard it correctly. He is right.

"Leaving before the job would be done would send a message that America really is no longer engaged, nor cares about the form of governments in the Middle East," he said. "Leaving before the job was done would send a signal to our troops that the sacrifices they made were not worth it. Leaving before the job is done would be a disaster, and that's what we're saying."

The problem with the idea of "leaving before the job is done" is that "the job" -- whatever it is, and this administration has been particularly bad at articulating it -- can NEVER be done, so logically we can never leave. Iraq is decades away from anything like democracy, if democracy can be achieved there at all. William Patey, the departing British Ambassador to Iraq, said earlier this month that
"a low-intensity civil war and a de facto division of Iraq is probably more likely at this stage than a successful and substantial transition to a stable democracy."
Yes, getting out of Iraq now or, at the very least, beginning to get out will be a disaster. However, staying in Iraq -- like going in needlessly in the first place -- is a disaster, and it is one that we can and must make the decision to allow, because it is the lesser and more just of the two disasters. It is a disaster that the Bush administration perpetrated. But it is also a disaster that we, the American people, allowed to take place by choosing to remain IN THE DARK rather than looking soberly at the significant evidence that Iraq had nothing to do with 9/11, had no ties to terrorism or to al Qa'ida, had no weapons of mass destruction, and was less a long-term strategic threat to the United States than it was a long-term economic threat to global, unregulated, laissez faire, "free-market" capitalism.

Hugo Chavez, take note.

...Bush was adamant in arguing that the conflict is crucial to the broader battle against terrorism. "If you think it's bad now, imagine what Iraq would look like if the United States leaves before this government can defend itself and sustain itself," he said.

Asked whether that would be true if the United States had not invaded Iraq, Bush responded: "Imagine a world in which Saddam Hussein was there, stirring up even more trouble in a part of the world that had so much resentment and so much hatred that people came and killed 3,000 of our citizens."

And although Vice President Cheney repeatedly implied that an Iraqi intelligence agent met with a Sept. 11, 2001, hijacker five months before the attacks long after the story had been discredited, Bush said that "nobody has ever suggested that the attacks of September 11 were ordered by Iraq."

"I have suggested, however, that resentment and the lack of hope create the breeding ground for terrorists," he added.

The one piece of this mess with which I am most uncomfortable is the prospect for the future self-interests of the United States. Our misguided adventure in Iraq has made the world a much more dangerous place. Rather than being --EVER -- a "central front of the war on terror," Iraq under Saddam was anathema to Islamic fundamentalists, and very likely would have been on al Qa'ida's "hit list" of degenerate "westernized" nations. Iraq, particularly before the post-Gulf War sanctions, had a broad and prosperous middle class, good schools and good health care, subsidized by the Baatist government -- and paid for by nationalized oil profits. There was no desperation there. The United States was SAFER against terrorism when Saddam Hussein was in power in Iraq.

Now, however, al Qa'ida has a foothold in Iraq. And it is growing. Islamic fundamentalist and Islamic resentment against the United States is, arguably, at an all-time high (at any rate, I cannot remember in my fifty-two years on Earth when it has been higher). We will be hit again. We will be the target of a terrorist attack in the future. There is no doubt about it. It is just a matter of time.

The mistake, though, is to think that we can stop the inevitable by remaining in Iraq. "Fighting them there so we don't have to fight them here" is wishful thinking. "We haven't been hit in five years" is wishful thinking. It was eight years between the first and second attacks on the World Trade Center. It will happen when we are not expecting it. It will happen at a moment of vulnerability, and at a point of vulnerability. When it happens, it will be because of what happened under this administration, to a very great extent.

What we need to do to rid the world of terrorism is to rid the world of the root causes of terrorism.

Monday, August 21, 2006

Attorneys : Release Posada-Carriles

An update on the "So-Called War on Terror"TM

Luis Posada-Carriles, his attorneys, and his supporters went before a magistrate Monday. The defense requested their client be released to his family in Miami until his deportation day comes. So far, neither side has been able to find a country that will take in Posada-Carriles. Guatemala, El Salvador, Mexico, Canada and Costa Rica have denied his entry.
Cuba and Venezuela have tried to extradite him for mass murder, but a US Federal judge has blocked his extradition.
"Up until now no country wants him. I think this is political. There's a lot of political pressure. No one wants him because of the baggage," said Janet Arguello, Posada-Carriles daughter.
Baggage. Yes. It is all political baggage.
Her father has been making international headlines since May 2005. The anti-Castro Cuban militant was caught in Miami entering the United States illegally. Meanwhile, he sits in jail awaiting deportation.
Well, he may be making international headlines outside of the United States, and he may be making headlines in Miami, but I can't find an American who doesn't read this blog (there are a few) who has even heard of Luis Posada Carriles.
Cuba and Venezuela blame the former CIA operative for the 1976 deadly bombing of a Cuban jet. Posada-Carriles denies being involved.
It's not just Cuba and Venezuela. How easy it is to make Posada sound merely like some misunderstood child when we say "Cuba and Venezuela blame him." The CIA declassified and released documents that show he helped to plan the bombing.
"All of those incidents, if in fact they occurred, are irrelevant. The only incident with relevancy today is, is there a third country willing, ready and able to take Luis, and there is none," said Eduardo Soto, Posada-Carriles attorney.
Irrelevant? 76 murders irrelevant? Gun-running to terrorists irelevant? Drug running to fund terror irrelevant? Cuba and Venezuela, Eddie. Cuba and Venzuela.
Countries where Posada-Carriles might run the risk of being tortured are off limits.
Fine. Send him to Egypt or Jordan or Morocco or Bagram or Gitmo where we send plenty of other people we call terrorists without having half the evidence of their crimes that we do on Posada. Why are we supporting terror? Why???

His daughter remains hopeful that he'll be able to come home even if it's temporary. She said the stress of his situation has taken a toll on her father's health.

"He looked so old. He was so thin. He was missing teeth. He has heart problems. I wish he could spend his last years of his life with us," said Arguello.

There are 76 families who wish their loved ones could have spent the last 30 years with them.
However, she said her father remains the same person at heart. "He's an extraordinary and generous person. One who would give his shoes up to another inmate who doesn't have a pair. He's a person with a big heart," said Arguello.
Oh, please, stop.
The magistrate heard testimonies from a deportation officer and a friend of Posada-Carriles. The U.S. District Attorney's Office would only say that the request was being reviewed. A ruling could come as early as this week.
Stay tuned. You won't see it on NBC, CBS, ABC, CNN or FOX.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

U.S. Military: Al-Qaeda Gaining Ground In Iraq

Don't let anybody know though, okay?

Reuters : Democracy Alive and Well in Venezuela

An update on "The New Axis of Evil"TM

Despite being labeled a "threat to democracy" by the Bush administration, Venezuela appears to be developing healthy democratic institutions.

A vigorous local press now frequently lambastes Chavez, berating him for buying billions of dollars in weapons from Russia or accusing him of giving away huge quantities of oil to foreign allies. Newspapers run the gamut of political opinion.

Voter registration has risen sharply, the government says, as it brings people -- often poor -- into the political system who never before exercised their right to vote.

Voting rights for the poor....That's one of those socialist ideas the Bush administration is trying to do away with so the US can have real democracy.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

We're at threat level Elmo!*

*No toothpaste from flights out of Britain.

Help prevent potential dry-run terrorist attacks and throw out your toothpaste and shave gel at the airport terminal. Even if you're not on a flight and have never been out of the country before go to your nearest airport and deposit any sort of liquid or gel you may have on you.

But is anyone in the media covering the toothpaste, perfume, shave gel angle of this story?

Thank you WBAY in Wisconsin (where are president visited today).

The San Antonio Press is all over the toothpaste side of this story.

Even the AP has the story boiled down to its basic level, no toothpaste.

ABC is taking the sports beverage, disposable camera side of the story.

MSNBC is taking the more broad "Airport Chaos"headline.

From CBS, An ominouis picture of an airplane with a gray sky in the background and the headline "US:Terrorists were poised to strike"

OK, got the story.

Terror threat up.
Long lines at the airport.
No toothpaste.
And our president is once again reminding us that we are "at war with Islamic facists who will use any means to destroy those who love freedom, to hurt our nation." (It's a tired old line).
But I want information not fear.

Have we learned nothing in 5 years?

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Poll : 60 % of Americans Oppose Iraq War

This is what happens when the news media even minimally do their job, and don't serve as message delivery pawns for the administration.
Sixty percent of Americans oppose the war in Iraq, a 6 percentage-point increase from mid-June and the largest majority against the war yet, according to a CNN poll.

If only they had been doing their job three years ago...

What a Disastrous Mess We Have Created in Iraq
Iraqi and U.S. forces today fought a battle with gunmen in eastern Baghdad as they intensified efforts to quell surging violence in the Iraqi capital. Separately, three U.S. soldiers died yesterday in a bombing southwest of the city...Security forces targeted "individuals involved in punishment and torture'' activities in today's raid, said a statement e-mailed by the U.S. military. A two-hour firefight with members of Shiite Muslim cleric Moqtada al-Sadr's Mehdi Army ensued in the Sadr City area, Agence-France Presse reported, citing an Iraqi defense official...Today's raid was retribution for an Aug. 4 demonstration that al-Sadr's group organized to protest Israel's offensive against Hezbollah in Lebanon, the head of al-Sadr's office in Sadr City, Abdulzahra Al-Suwaidi, told AFP.
The Sydney (Australia) Morning Herald:

The Iraqi Prime Minister, Nouri al-Maliki, has strongly criticised a US-Iraqi attack on a Shiite militia stronghold in Baghdad, exposing a rift with his American partners on security tactics...Mr Maliki, a Shiite, said he was "very angered and pained" by the operation, warning that it could undermine his efforts towards national reconciliation.

"Reconciliation cannot go hand in hand with operations that violate the rights of citizens this way," Mr Maliki said. "This operation used weapons that are unreasonable to detain someone - like using planes."

The surge in Sunni-Shiite violence has been blamed on Mr Sadr, who has emerged as a powerful figure in the majority Shiite population and a pillar of support for Mr Maliki.

Meanwhile, makes a mockery of the right-wing contention that Iraq is "on the brink" of a civil war:

Almost 2,000 bodies were taken to Baghdad's morgue in July, the highest tally in five months of rising sectarian bloodshed which has forced the United States to boost troop levels in the capital to head off a civil war...Major General William Caldwell, chief U.S. military spokesman in Iraq, said on Wednesday that U.S. and Iraqi forces had conducted operations against 10 death squads throughout Baghdad in the last week, and also found 222 roadside bombs.

Sunni Arab leaders have accused Shi'ite militias of running death squads, a charge they deny.

Nearly 45,000 Iraqis have died since our invasion in 2003. Can we stop the pretense now that things are "better" in Iraq than they were before?

America : We Think Dems Will Handle Terrorism Better Than GOP

An ABC News/Washington Post Poll indicates that more people now disapprove of George W. Bush's handling of the US campaign against terrorism than approve, 50%-47%. This used to be Bush's only strong suit politically, and it appears he is losing this one too.

And in what must be a terrible blow for right-wing pundits, more Americans now say they trust the Democratic Party to do a better job in fighting terror than the GOP, 46%-38%.

America, perhaps, is beginning to see the light.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Lieberman Concedes to Antiwar Challenger

Lieberman Concedes to Antiwar Challenger

No surprise here. But I think everyone should consider seriously calling or writing to Sen. Lieberman (in Connecticut, it's One Constitution Plaza, 7th Floor, Hartford, CT 06103 Telephone : (860) 549-8463 Voice (800) 225-5605 In CT (860) 549-8478 Fax; in Washington it's 706 Hart Office Building, Washington, DC 20510, Telephone: (202) 224-4041 Voice, (202) 224-9750 Fax; or go to his Senate website and leave him an e-mail: and urging him NOT to run as in Independent.

Sen. Lieberman: Don't be Ned Lamont's Ralph Nader!!!

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Israel and Hez b'Allah

I haven't written about the current war raging in northern Israel and southern Lebanon (except a brief comment about certain American ideologues who would like to frame it in a context of religious inevitability). This is because it is a topic and an event about which I am profoundly ambivalent. Howie, who hates ambivalence of any sort -- and profound ambivalence in particular -- would call this "waffling." Anyone who knows better would call it "thinking."

On the one hand, I am a fervent supporter of Israel. I have a fundamental belief in Israel's right to exist in peace and to maintain its security. Israel has been the focus of Arab -- and Islamic --hatred virtually since its inception, for reasons far too complex to go into in the confines of this space.

I abhor terrorism, for whatever supposed justification. The killing of innocent civilians is a sin against both God and humanity. I don't care if the perpetrators are Islamic fundamentalists or Irish Republicans. Terrorists are criminals and must be stopped. If need be, they must be killed.
But on the other hand, I've been studying terrorism long enough (both Republican Irish, Loyalist British, and state-sponsored British terrorism; Latin American military and paramilitary death squads -- and their US sponsors and trainers; and fundamentalist Islamic terrorists) to know that terrorism isn't a game and terrorists do not take their actions lightly. Right or wrong, justified or unjustified, the terrorist is motivated by one (or both) of two things: a perception of profound grievance and desperation.

Terror campaigns and terrorist "armies" may be organized and led by extremists, fundamentalists, sociopaths, or even psychopaths, but the "footsoldiers" of terrorism -- the people actually doing the killing and dying -- are people for whom there is no choice, people for whom there is no hope, people for whom there is no future. Violence is, as I have said, the voice of the voiceless. You must acknowledge this. The alternative is to accept the extreme right-wing view that "all Arabs are terrorists" or that "Islam is a religion of hatred."

So I remain profoundly ambivalent. I want to see Israel survice -- and thrive -- in peace and freedom. But I also think Palestinian aspirations for statehood are legitimate and righteous. I think Hez b'Allah as a terrorist organization is Israel's Frankenstein monster, in the same way that al Qa'ida is the United States's monster. We created them.

I also think the current war is wrongheaded on both sides -- a double-dipped miscalculation. I think it will prove to further injure the chances for peace in the middle east, to increase hostility in the developing world to all things "Western," and to make the world far less safe. Whatever the reality, Israel is seen in this episode as the agressor, the use of disproportionate force is condemned all over the world, and a growing pan-Arabic unity is emerging. One Sunni member of the Lebanese Parliament said:

"The Lebanese feel that they are under attack and this has created a bipartisan feeling that we should all unite," says Misbah Ahdab, an independent Sunni MP and a long-standing opponent of foreign involvement in Lebanon.

"Israel wants to separate Hezbollah from the Lebanese people," he says. "But instead the Lebanese feel that the Israeli aggression is not just targeting Hezbollah but all of Lebanon."

Dan Murphy and Sameh NaGuib, reporting in the Christian Science Monitor, note:

Islamists who are hostile to Israel and the US - and to their Arab allies who have criticized Hizbullah - are shoring up support, increasing the chances they will seize power if the elections President Bush has urged for the region take place.

Iran is making new friends, as is Syria. And if history is a guide, a new wave of outrage could bring new recruits to terrorist groups, much as Israel's occupation of parts of Lebanon in 1982 fueled the rise of Hizbullah.

The whole situation bears an eery resemblance to Dublin, Easter Week 1916.

A poorly armed group of extremists launched a poorly planned and executed insurrection against their British rulers, without a hint of support from the Irish people. Crowds of Irish men and women cheered the British soldiers who fought them, and jeered and spat at the rebels who were captured. But the ferocity of the British response turned the tide of public opinion. As the British Army bombed Dublin's center into smithereens day after day, and summarily executed -- without trial -- the leaders of the uprising, the Irish people began to recognize that, even though they were not consulted, and even though they would not initially have supported an uprising, the rebels were fighting on their behalf. It is only after the 1916 Easter Uprising that the Irish Republican Army, their ranks swelled by an influx of new recruits, became a serious fighting force, one that would eventually bring the British government to the negotiating table and win some small measure of independence for the Irish nation.

This is not, of course, what Israel expects to happen as a result of their much-anticipated response to Hez b'Allah's provocations.

There's got to be a better way.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Maj. Gen. Geoffrey Miller Retires -- With Honors

US general who oversaw detentions retires with honors
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It was all "a few bad apples." There was no one orchestrating it from above. How can anyone claim to "support our troops," and let them hang out to dry for committing crimes under order???

But there IS another side to this story...

The Associated Press:

Dog teams were sent to Abu Ghraib in November 2003 on Miller's recommendation. He has said he recommended that dogs be used for detainee custody and control but not for interrogations. Lower-level soldiers, however, have asserted that Miller told them dogs had been useful at Guantanamo in setting the atmosphere for interrogations.
There were "abuses" at Gitmo. Miller was in charge. Then they sent him to Abu Ghraib, and guess what? "Abuses." But that's just coincidence, right?

Maybe not.

Although Miller had no experience of dealing with prisoners, he proved to be a quick learner and quickly put Camp X-Ray (Guantanamo) on a strict military footing. Soon he was able to report to the Pentagon that two-thirds of the 600 inmates were providing him with “actionable intelligence”. Amongst the approaches he introduced were “softening-up” techniques including sleep deprivation, extended isolation, simulated drowning and forcing detainees to stand or crouch in “stress positions”.

...That no-nonsense approach brought him to Rumsfeld’s attention. During his time at the Pentagon, the defence secretary acquired the reputation of being a hands-on operator, involving himself fully in the appointment of the army’s general officers. In Miller, he saw a man after his own heart. When reports started coming in from Baghdad last September about a breakdown of discipline and a lack of operational effectiveness at Abu Ghraib, Rumsfeld arranged for Miller to be seconded from Guantanamo to, as his orders put it, “review current Iraqi Theatre ability to rapidly exploit internees for actionable intelligence.”
Human rights IS NOT a big priority for this administration.

"This is yet another case where you have somebody who is integrally involved in setting the stage for abuse -- implementing tactics that people are now being prosecuted for -- and rather than being held accountable, he's getting honors," said Amnesty International official Jumana Musa.

Military investigators last year recommended that Miller be admonished for failing to monitor and limit the "abusive and degrading" interrogation of a prisoner, but the general who headed U.S. Southern Command rejected the recommendation.

The Army inspector general's office also cleared Miller.
What a pity, a sin, and a shame.