Tuesday, May 25, 2004

State Department scores

President Bush's speech at the U.S. Army War College

Bush's comments on Islam: "None of this [terrorism, misogyny, tyranny] is the expression of a religion. It is a totalitarian, political ideology pursued with consuming zeal and without conscious." Not exatly music to Little Green Footballs' ears.

"These two visions – one of tyranny and murder, the other of liberty and life – clashed in Afghanistan. And thanks to brave U.S. and coalition forces and to Afghan patriots, the nightmare of the Taliban is over and that nation is coming to life again."

Actually, Afghanistan is a mess, with women severely repressed almost everywhere outside the capital and warlords running the major cities. In Afghanistan, this is a return to pre-Soviet days, except for the landmines and NGOs all over the place.

"A new Iraq will also need a humane, well-supervised prison system...America will fund the construction of a modern maximum security prison."

It would be an improvement for sexual assault on prisoners to be reserved to other prisoners.

"The fourth step in our plan is to enlist additional international support for Iraq's transition..."

Props given to allies close and estranged.

"The fifth, and most important step is free national elections, to be held no later than next January."

This is was Sistani wants and what we want.

In short, a very good speech. If I were Bush, I would release the rest of the Abu Ghraib pictures and fire Rumsfeld, which would put an end to the scandal by mid-June. I'd also dump Cheney for Sen. Lindsey Graham and put McCain to work finding and rooting out corruption in contracting.


Sunday, May 23, 2004

Why the ICRC remained silent in Abu Gharib

Another surprised person -- from Josh Marshall

The International Committee of the Red Cross is the organization responsible for visiting people detained in international conflicts. As a matter of policy, the reports that the give to the government are confidential, as explained at this May 7 press conference at ICRC headquarters.

Such a policy, in the ICRC's view, improves the ICRC's access to prisoners of war. Beyond reporting on detainees' conditions, the ICRC also lets prisoners communicate confidentially with their families. Accoring to Pierre Krähenbühl, ICRC director of operations:

"On a number of occasions the ICRC was assured that its findings were being taken very seriously, and that measures would be taken; in later visits there were indications that some of the material problems had been addressed; however, more remained to be done, particularly given that 'we were dealing here with a broader pattern and a system, as opposed to individual acts...'"

It can be argued that the ICRC's purpose and the honorable people within the US government would have been better served by releasing the reports in Februrary. However, that would probably expose them to complaints that they were being particularly harsh on the United States.


Tuesday, May 18, 2004

Michael Moore's Fahrenheit 9/11 dropped, retrieved by the Mouse

Michael Eisner, embattled CEO of Disney, decided not to distribute Michael Moore's "Fahrenheit 9/11" earlier this month. Unfortunately for Eisner, the Cannes Festival screened it today and Bob and Harvey Weinstein decided on May 13 to purchase the film and distribute it themselves

If, as Moore accuses, Eisner nixed the film in order to get in good with Jeb Bush, Eisner's actions have had the exact opposite effect. A May 6 New York Times editorial launched the angry, but free publicity. A May or June release would place it in competition with the first wave of summer blockbusters. An August or October release would mess with the Republican primary or invigorate the Democratic base as elections approached.

According to IMDb, the movie will be released in Spain on September 10, 2004 -- not exactly the most subtle move. I hope Moore's distributors release it sometime in August or October -- a September release would grate on an awful lot of American nerves.


Monday, May 17, 2004

Simpsons on Alcatraz

By way of Dr. Hibbard's inoculations, donkey basketball, Bart, the National Anthem and Flag, cable news, Springfield denounced as unpatriotic (and rechristened as Liberty-ville, where everything is $17.76), Lisa and a SWAT team knocking Homer unconscious in church, the Simpsons are sent to Alcatraz, where fellow prisoner Bill Clinton got hosed and another prisoner got tased. In the Ronald Reagan Re-Education Center the Last Registered Democrat told them how to escape. As they swam across the bay, a French warship picked them up and carried them to Paris. They missed America, though, and decided to come back as the people who are always welcome on our shores: undocumented immigrants.

Has Matt Groening been reading too many blogs?


Saturday, May 15, 2004

Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil

Archbishop Pilarczyk Interview

According to Archbishop Pilarczyk, some people at the Vatican are asking whether a priest who abused children once thirty years ago really should be forced from ministry.

It sounds like people in the Vatican have a rather disordered view of mercy and justice and little knowledge of pedophilia. Pedophilia is infamous in that one-time offenders are strongly tempted to repeat their offense. It is not an act of mercy to thrust a repentant sinner into temptation and his soul into years of torment. Alcoholics are not urged to take up bartending and working in liquor stores. Certainly the victim of the pederast will not feel that justice has taken place.

Even if the offender's soul is strengthened like adamant against such unspeakable temptations, survivor's organizations and Altar and Rosary Sodalities are sure to find out, forcing the priest to live under a perpetual cloud with no hope of its being cleared by a jury. The routine transfer of that priest from one parish to another would give gossipmongers in both parishes new grist. And, of course, such priests are more susceptible to false charges of pederasty, this time accompanied by trials and headlines.

In contrast, the American way (probably the Canadian, Irish, Polish and German way as well) insists that priests with 30-year-old records simply be removed from ministry to parishes, being directed instead to a contemplative ministry that offers a life-affirming cycle of prayer, work and rest. Or they can leave the priesthood.


Monday, May 10, 2004

Reader's Digest/AAA challenge

I took the challenge to save a gallon of gas. According to my odometer, I drove 72 fewer miles on Patriot/Earth Week (4/19-4/26) which, with my car, translates to a savings of 2.0 - 2.5 gallons. The main loss came from replacing one car commute to Chicago with a train commute.


Four Freedoms

Looking through Northwestern University's selection of World War II posters, I found this poster, from a speech dated January 14, 1943. If the Democrats are looking for a platform speech, perhaps they can go back 61 years.

We look forward to securing, through planning and cooperative action, a greater freedom for the American people. Great changes have come in our century with the industrial revolution, the rapid settlement of our continent, the development of technology, the acceleration of transportation and communication, the growth of modern capitalism, and the rise of the national state with its economic programs. Too few corresponding adjustments have been made in our provision for human freedom. In spite of all these changes, that great manifesto, the Bill of Rights, has stood unshaken a hundred and fifty years. And now to the old freedoms we must add new freedoms and restate our objectives in modern terms. These are the universals of human life:


Any new declaration of personal rights, any translation of freedom into modern terms applicable to the people of the United States here and now must include:

1. THE RIGHT to work, usefully and creatively through the productive years;

2. THE RIGHT to fair pay, adequate to command the necessities and amenities of life in exchange for work, ideas, thrift and other socially valuable service;

3. THE RIGHT to adequate food, clothing, shelter and medical care;

4. THE RIGHT to security, with freedom from fear of old age, want, dependency, sickness, unemployment and accident;

5. THE RIGHT to live in a system of free enterprise, free from compulsory labor, irresponsible private power, arbitrary public authority, and unregulated monopolies;

6. THE RIGHT to come and go, to speak or be silent, free from the spyings of secret political police;

7. THE RIGHT to equality before the law, with equal access to justice in fact;

8. THE RIGHT to education, for work, for citizenship, and for personal growth and happiness; and

9. THE RIGHT to rest, recreation and adventure; the opportunity to enjoy life and take part in an advancing civilization.

These rights and opportunities we in the United States want for ourselves and for our children now and when this war is over. They go beyond the political forms and freedoms for which our ancestors fought and which they handed on to us, because we live in a new world in which the central problems arise from new pressures of power, production and population, which our forefathers did not face.

There problem was the freedom and the production of wealth, the building of this continent with its farms, industries, transportation and power; ours is freedom and the distribution of abundance, so that there may be no unemployment while there are adequate resources and men ready to work and in need of food, clothing and shelter. It is to meet this new turn of events, that the new declaration of rights is demanded. But in formulating these new rights, we are not blind to the obligations which go with every right, obligations of the individual to use well his rights and to insist on the same rights for others, and obligations of the community to support and protect the institutions which make these rights actual. We believe that the American people are ready to assume these obligations and to take the private and the public action they impose.

(From "National Resource Development," report of the National Resources Planning Board transmitted to the Congress by the President on January 14, 1943)

A tenth right could probably be added: THE RIGHT to breathe clean air and drink clean water.


Sunday, May 09, 2004

Best Secretary of Defense Ever?!

CNN quoted Dick Cheney Saturday night as saying that Donald Rumsfeld was the best Secretary of Defense ever. This indicates that Cheney is both modest and spectacularly ill-informed.

Modest, because Cheney himself was Secretary of Defense for most of Bush I's term, including Gulf War I. Even his detractors cannot deny that the Gulf War I was a spectacular military victory, even if Bush I let Saddam go.

Spectacularly ill-informed, because George C. Marshall (as in Marshall Plan) is perhaps the most distinguished of the excellent Secretaries of Defense who oversaw the birth of the NATO alliance during the Truman and Eisenhower Administrations.

This does not meant that he's the worst. That dishonor would have to go to Robert McNamara.

Why patriots should be mad at the Abu Gharib sadists

Note that the crimes against prisoners took place in October and November of 2003. Some of the prisoners got out either through normal channels or by escaping, while others had news passed on to their families.

According to MSNBC, it gets worse.

"Rumsfeld did not describe the photos, but U.S. military officials told NBC News that the unreleased images showed U.S. soldiers severely beating an Iraqi prisoner nearly to death, having sex with a female Iraqi prisoner and “acting inappropriately with a dead body.” The officials said there was also a videotape, apparently shot by U.S. personnel, showing Iraqi guards raping young boys."

Almost all of those prisoners have extended families with their own private armories to carry out revenge attacks. The surrounding Islamofascist states are more than willing to contribute mullahs and money to fan the flames.

You want to give enemy POWs a mindf***? Treat them humanely. Let Stockholm Syndrome set in, and they'll sing.


Saturday, May 01, 2004

Torture scandal in Iraq

Sgt. Stryker has hundreds of choice words for the criminals in uniform who tortured and humiliated Iraqi prisoners.

Deleted post

I deleted April 30's "Hell in a Handbasket" post. There is a long tradition of offering succor to those who are about to die, whether it is a last meal before the electric chair or some wine drugged with myrrh (Mark 15:23). While I fervently hope that none of the soldiers offered the ministrations posted about yesterday come back dead, this ancient custom of comforting those who are to die has a long and distinguished history.

In metro Chicago, tonight's Ted Koppel broadcast was not dropped. Of the 737 American soldiers who died in Iraq, Koppel read the names of 721 of them. Sixteen names are as yet not in the public domain -- I think it's military custom to inform the families before the news media so that a mother does not learn that her son died on the news.

For some reason I thought of the scourging of Christ with each name, each dead person resounding like the lash on his innocent flesh, each a fresh outrage. Why did they have to die? Was it the cold, evil calculation of a Bush regime so intent to purchase oil "security" at the cost of blood? Was it an act of justice against the evil men who killed two million of their countrymen? Was it necessary that so many die in Iraq so that millions need not die in mushroom clouds sprouting over our cities and theirs? Chances are, those of you reading this will never know.

Happier news

A few hours, ten new countries joined the European Union, including the country that figures most in my ancestry: Poland. I remember the years we Polish-Americans prayed that Poland be liberated. While that dream came true when Gorbachev unlocked Eastern Europe's cage, now Poland finds herself in two advantageous alliances, with France, Germany and the United States competing for her affections.

The ghost of General Dombrowski can now be put to rest.


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