Friday, January 28, 2005

The Iraqi election

The fall of Baghdad didn't do it. Killing saddam's sons didn't do it. The capture of saddam hussein didn't do it. The hand over of "authority" to an "interim Iraqi government" didn't do it. Maybe the election of a 275 member National Assembly, to select a president and committee to then draft a constitution will see us finally "turn the corner" on Operation Iraqi Freedom, bringing "stability", "democracy" and "liberty" to "the region".

The election we heard so much about during, prior to, and since the presidential campaign is finally here. It's funny how many people thought (and still think) it is an election to directly select a president in Iraq. Details weren't that important during the last presidential campaign. This Sunday brave Iraqi citizens, some outside the country, will go to the cardboard voting booth and select 275 leaders out of a field of 7,471 candidates from 111 different parties. One candidate is the former friend of the neo-cons, ahmed chalabi. Will the man who helped CONvince the administration and their closest friends of saddam's weapons of mass destruction, as well as saddam's connection to al qaeda for $300,000 a month be part of the government we've spent so much blood and treasure building?

Eight candidates have been murdered
, polling places have been bombed, and foes of this election(and anything else the United States is a part of in Iraq) have threatened more intense violence leading up to and on election day. The intimidation involved in this election makes what happened in the Ukraine look like a Board of Education election. The world's standards on legitimacy for this election will have to be minimized, if not waived all together. The fact that there are no neutral foreign observers monitoring the vote is, in itself, proof of this.

One can only hope that somehow a civil war doesn't break out, and our troops can be brought home the way the Ukraine, Poland, Hungary, Portugal, and Denmark are planning to.

There was a great speech given at the Johns' Hopkins School of International Studies by Senator Edward Kennedy on America's future in Iraq. In it he describes how "We need a serious course correction, and we need it now." He also addresses the possibilty that "We have reached the point that a prolonged American military presence in Iraq is no longer productive for either Iraq or the United States. The U.S. military presence has become part of the problem, not part of the solution."

Friday, January 21, 2005

Inauguration 2005

With Washington D.C. as secure as it has ever been, yesterday's ceremonies went, for the most part, as expected. The heavily guarded parade route and audience were filled with more supporters than dissenters. According to various reports, the number of dissenters reached between 500 and 10,000+. Some were so "aggressive" that police sprayed them with pepper spray shot through a fire hose.

The president's speech was of ideal's not details (inaugural addresses usually are). The "ultimate goal" he said was "ending tyranny in our world". Mr. President, does that include our tyrannical allies (Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan and Uzbekistan to name a few)? The people of Sudan, Haiti, and China were probably excited to hear that "the United States will not ignore your oppression, or excuse your oppressors." Wouldn't it be wonderful to have a world (or even a country) where each citizen has an equal voice in the election of their government and to have that elected government be answerable to the public that put it there. The left doesn't have a monopoly on dreamers after all. Well, I guess we'll just have to see if this "calling of our time" gets better results than "bring 'em on" and "dead or alive". All and all, Inauguration 2005 was well worth the $40,000,00.00 it cost, lucky the US government has some rich friends (just ask Secretary of Transportation Mineta about his friends at GM's party).

Saturday, January 15, 2005

We're supposed to be the "good" guy.

The remaining "official" reasons for the War in Iraq seem to be the removal of saddam hussein from power based on his noncompliance with international law. His most egregious offense (since the Gulf War) being his lack of accounting for weapons of mass destruction. The weapons were not found by United Nations weapons inspectors in the time allotted them by this administration, nor were they found by the two consecutive United States weapons inspection teams appointed by this administration. In fact, the most recent team does not think there have been weapons of mass destruction produced in Iraq in a decade. The point of this web log entry is not to argue the merit of these inspections or discuss whether or not the former dictator "wanted" weapons of mass destruction, like the ones We possess (What leader wouldn't?). The idea that has struck me lately is that the War in Iraq is a war based on international law enforcement. Doesn't it follow that enforcers of international law must also abide by it?

Specialist Charles Graner was sentenced to 10 years in military prison for his role in the abuses and violations of international law that took place at Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq. Defense of these criminal offenses seems to be three fold. The first defense minimizes the abuses that were committed in the name of "intelligence" gathering. The second compares the actions of Our soldiers with the actions of barbaric kidnappers. Last, but not least, there is the "following orders" defense that didn't work in the war crime tribunals at Nuremberg following World War II and doesn't work now.

Defenses like attorney Guy Womack's "Don't cheerleaders all over America make pyramids every day?" are attempts at minimizing the fact that the specialist and others forced men of faith, albeit misguided but surely extreme, to sin against their religion by having them strip naked, masturbate, simulate oral sex on one another, and stack in pyramids while guards and other inmates watched and were forced to watch. Analogies like Mr. Womack's fail for obvious reasons. And I can't remember any cheerleaders being attacked by German Shepards, hooked up to electrodes, or beaten to death at any pep rally I've ever attended.

The brutal beheadings that have taken place in Iraq are some of the most disturbing acts we've seen in this war. These acts were absolutely atrocious. They were criminal acts committed by terrorists. Are we not in Iraq to put an end to such atrocities? We are supposed to be the "good" guy. Actions like those at Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo Bay tarnish Our image as the world's good guy. As an American, I am insulted by the "they're beheading people" excuse. We are to bring enemies to justice through means within the laws of war, however difficult that may be. We can not lower Our standards, morals, and adherence to international law while simutaneously fighting for them.

Specialist Graner and others have testified that they were following orders. This does not dismiss the fact that they committed these crimes against the oath they are sworn to when enlisted. Offenses were committed by their hands and their boots. This defense does beg the question of how far up the chain of command approval of such methods went (and goes). The investigation conitunes. Attorney General nominee Alberto Gonzales's memo on why the Geneva Convention does not apply to some of those detained by the United States of America is just a glimpse of who may have been involved. The details of specific procedures that were approved of, and by whom, has yet to be made public.

With 202 people killed in the first two weeks of January, one wonders what "intelligence" these tactics produces. "Insurgent" numbers are rising, a suicide bomber killing 22 people at a "coalition" mess hall, and the slaying of the governor of baghdad are just a few of the recent stories coming out of Iraq. Are Our tactics working? Are we seen as "liberators"? I wonder what the "liberated" think of the sentence that Specialist Graner received?

Thursday is Inauguration Day. If you are making the trek to Washington D.C., good luck and thank you. There will be "Anti-war bleachers" set up at 4th St. and Pennsylvania Ave. Let 'em know we're here!

Tuesday, January 04, 2005

2004... Let's Recap.

Well, homophobia and the fear of all things sexual (aka moral values) tried to "save" marriage and swayed an election, while the hetero teen queen, Brittany, got married twice. Amazing images of Mars from rovers Spirit and Opportunity mixed with abominable images from abu ghraib prison. Martha stewart, kobe bryant, and the red sox all made headlines, as the only world "superpower" spent $100 BILLION in treasure and 1,000 troops in blood not to stop the genocide in Sudan, not to aid the victims of the greatest catastrophe in Human history (though i am proud to say little george has upped Our government's donation from the "stingy" intitial offering of $15 million), but instead these sums were and are being used to force a country into "democracy" through the war that little george and little dick started to protect Us from the arms of a WMD-less dictator. Meanwhile osama bin laden has been left to flex his political muscles via tapes, both audio and video.

The 9/11 report hit the best seller list, Fahrenheit 9/11 passionately showed another side of the argument, and 9/11 echoed off the walls of the Republican convention (inside the building, of course). The war on drugs was dealt a hard blow by both rush limbaugh and jason giambi and we all now know who to turn to for advice on how to name our vibrators. Thank you bill o'reilly

Thank you Ray Charles. Thank you Marlon Brando. Thank you Rodney Dangerfield. Thank you Spalding Grey. Thank you Tony Randall. Thank you Christopher Reeve. Thank you Scott Muni. Thank you Bob Keeshan (Captain Kangaroo). Thank you Jack Parr. Thank you Julia Child. Thank you Rick James. Thank you Old Dirty Bastard. Thank you Isabelle Sanford. And thank you yankees organist Eddie Layton. You each made a lasting impression on me.

I'm sure i've missed some big stories and moments from the year 2004. Some i ommitted on purpose. This is a blog after all, it's bound to have some bias, isn't it?

So, watch out for those wardrobe malfunctions and don't take no jive in 2005.


If you haven't already done your good deed for 2005, PLEASE make a donation to the tsunami relief effort. Money is the best thing you can send right now. Groups on the ground there know what to do with it.