Wednesday, August 30, 2006

The Massacring Civilians to save Civilians Merit Badge: Haditha Marine was recommended for a medal?

You know, it's funny to joke that the Bush Administration gives its highest honors to its most incompetent cronies. George Tenet, L. Paul Bremer and Gen. Tommy Franks were awarded medals of honor for their work in Iraq. That's right, George "Slam Dunk" Tenet, L. Paul "De-Baathification and a misplaced $9 billion" Bremer, and Gen. Tommy "We don't need any more soldiers on the ground, thank you" Franks, medals of honor. Greeeeeeat. Well, that's old news. New news to file under "WTF?":

The Marine Sergeant who led the Haditha assault where they killed two dozen Iraqi civilians was recommended for a medal for his heroism by the only Marine officer present, Lt. William T. Kallop. Sergeant Frank Wuterich has since been promoted to Staff Sergeant, and Lt. Kallop is now 1st Lt. Kallop. So even though it was only a "recommendation" (meaning it didn't get farther in the formal awarding process), both of them have been promoted since Haditha. And Kallop's description of Wuterich's "heroism" ignores, oddly enough, the entire issue of civilian deaths, instead focusing on the now-likely-to-be-fictional insurgent attack. ("There was no IED.") While established details may change as the investigations continue, it still sort of beggars belief that Wuterich was nominated for a medal, and the Lt. Kallop's report doesn't mention any civilian deaths.

At our current rate of rewarding incompetence, Clarence Thomas will be named King Regent of the World next.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Iran: Can't get fooled again?

Fool me once, shame on President Bush.

Juan Cole, U of Michigan professor and Middle East expert (and lightning rod for Rightist backlash against "experts" and their "facts") takes down the recent report on Iran's level of threat to the US -- pointing out, correctly, that there is no known evidence that they have the near-term capability to produce nuclear weapons, that many of those hyping their danger are, you know, the same types who hyped Iraq's dangers, and that the report misuses work from the International Atomic Energy Agency, which apparently said, as of last January, that "Iran has continued to facilitate access under its Safeguards Agreement as requested by the Agency, and to act as if the Additional Protocol is in force, including by providing in a timely manner the requisite declarations and access to locations." Not to mention that Iran has every legal right to enrich uranium for nuclear energy (not weapons), under treaties that it is still in compliance with (unlike the several nuclear treaties the US has opted out of under Bush II, and Israel, which has never signed the Nonproliferation Treaty -- Iran has).

Further, political scientist Virginia Tilley makes the argument that Iranian Prez Ahmadinejad hasn't been saying what you think he's saying. She makes the very believable argument that his comments on Israel and its destruction have been mistranslated and his aggressiveness towards that state and denial of the Holocaust therefore misrepresented. She cites Juan Cole, among other Middle East experts, and it is at least plausible, given that CNN did mistranslate him (and apologized for it) as saying that Iran wanted nuclear arms, when he in fact said nuclear energy. She also argues that his Holocaust comments are not denials of its existence, but rather that he has questioned its use as a rhetorical tool for Israel's aggressive "offense is the best defense"-ive reactions. Additionally, she says that knowledge on the Holocaust is less widespread than we might imagine, and that this is hardly unbelievable given, say, US citizens' ignorance (and occasional outrage) over the observably true fact that two million Vietnamese were killed in the Vietnam war -- certainly, a horrific event for the population of Vietnam, whatever you think of that particular inadvisable war. I'd also cite US ignorance over the thousands of Nicaraguans dead from Iran-Contra, the general repression of the US-supported Somoza regime there before that, Pinochet's crimes, and even our likely ignorance over the scale of the current crisis in Darfur. I, for one, can't name numbers -- only reiterate sound bites that it is/was a genocide and, you know, large and bad. So, point is, it is certainly plausible that Ahmadinejad has been nowhere near as militant as he's been portrayed. Soemthing never quite seemed right to me about the reporting on him, perhaps this is why. He's portrayed as a Kim Jong-Il type, but he really doesn't seem THAT kind of insane to me. I, as some of you, have a counter-reaction of "is she just an apologist for him, or at best taking the rosiest possible translations?" I mean, the broad point that we can't afford to underestimate dangers to us when the stakes may be substantially high is not invalid -- but we still need to have proof for things, imho. (None of the formalized insanity of the One percent doctrine for me, thank you.) So while I'm not capable of evaluating Prof. Tilley's evidence, I'm also not capable of providing any concrete evidence she's incorrect. Think about it -- is there any evidence Ahmadinejad is as militant as he's portrayed? Any proof he is crazy enough to want to attack countries that certainly can then wipe his country off the map? (I.e. the US or Israel.) Nuclear weapons have been in existence for decades, and still have only been used by... us, the US. We had our reasons (whose conclusions I question, but that's a different story). But nonetheless, in the issue of the insanity of destroying millions of people, only we have enaged in that. In the insanity of mutually assured destruction, well -- no one has ever engaged on that with nukes, and need we say that WE had the same posture on that as the USSR? Dr. Strangelove notwithstanding, we've not proved we're necessarily saner than self-concerned despots with nukes who refuse to use them so as to save their own hides. SO -- I'm just sayin', while it's too early to assume Ahmadinejad doesn't mean us harm and indeed is not the "Jew-hating, Holocaust-denying Islamo-fascist who has threatened to 'wipe Israel off the map'" he's been said to be, it's also way too early to determine he IS, barring the "truthiness" we feel of an Iranian head of state being antagonistic, messianic, anti-semitic, and dangerous. Just because we looked Iran up in our gut and found it under "danger" doesn't mean that we're on our path to not being fooled again...

Monday, August 14, 2006

"Even women can have tiny dicks."

What the hell? you ask.

This the hell. In an unusually light-hearted J-post, I point to this article by Slate Ad Report Carder Seth Stevenson. Apparently, Hummer is trying to sell to the tofu set. Seth reports that new TV spots from Hummer for its H3 are aiming specifically to say, "Feel wimpy because you're the dude at the supermarket buying tofu and tempeh instead of the Fred Flintstone Brontosaurus Prime Rib? Buy a big fucking car! Now, less fucking big than before!" (It's now-shrinkaged size is I guess a selling point to tofuers: destroy the world somewhat slower than otherwise! Buy a Hummer, you Dirty Hippy! It's GOOD for the environment cuz it's SMALLER!) Seth reasonably points out that calling attention to the "I have a small penis" aspect of Hummer pop psychology may not be the best of ideas. The "women with tiny dicks" (now there's a rock band name if there ever was one) line comes from one of Seth's readers who suggests that this is the (unifying?) message of the she-version of the commercial, where a mom doesn't stand up for herself and her kid when they're pushed out of line by another kid and obnoxious mom on the playground. What does she do? Goes to buy an H3! As Seth implies, this confusing vein of you-go-girlness has apparently failed to run afoul of feminist takes as of yet. This in comparison to the rather quick backlash, apparently, to the male version that originally ended with the tagline "Restore your manhood." (Now it's "Restore the balance" -- apparently tofu shrinks your penis, but the Hummer will pump it up again like SPAM-email Cialis. Balance restored. Without the direct implication that you're a short dicked man -- or woman.)

I don't have any idea what to think about this other than "Um... ok," but I think the reader's line "Even women can have tiny dicks, and the Hummer is the cure" deserves to be repeated.

Friday, August 04, 2006

Sen. "Mentum" Lieberman: Using Bush'shit Dirty Tricks

I haven't seen much news of this in other places: Lieberman using DC Lobbyists to pose as average citizen-supporters. I found it thanks to Tom Tomorrow. Of course, MyDD's Matt Stoller (he of the first link) acknowledges that MyDD's Aldon got there first.

It has run in a story by Jennifer Manes in Connecticut's Record-Journal (at least a trial subscription necessary). As Stoller asks, will the mainstream media pick it up, though?

My guess: judging from the oh-so-extensive coverage of Bush's use of this tactic in 2000 (documented, according to journalist Eric Alterman in his book What Liberal Media?, in the Bush campaign's tax documents as they hired entertainment for their out-of-town "average Florida citizen" protesters), I'm gonna say... um, no.

Though, on The Coffee House, Nathan Newman points out that there's no particular guarantee that Lamont is a super-progressive member of Left Blogistan -- actually, there's significant evidence against this. He is, however, better tha Lieberman, and perhaps can be considered a minor good instead of lesser of evils (my words, not Newman's).

To wrap all this up, Billmon points out the Lamont still pretty much falls into the rest of the Dipshit Dems as far as the conflagration and tragedies in the Middle East, a disappointment in this area like Howard Dean, who recently took the opportunity with other Dems to chide the Iraqi Prime Minister over his critique of Israel's role in the conflict with Lebanon for insufficiently blame the Lebanese, who are rather busy getting blown up. (Hezbollah is of course acting criminally as well and busy blowing up swaths of Israel, but when 300 or so civilians have died on one side, and something like 12 on the other, well... my sympathies in general lie with the heavier civilian casualties, the people of Lebanon, who are seemingly being collectively punished by Israel. A scan of the linked document shows that both sides are perpetrators of war crimes, but the greater capacity of Israel to destroy and deprive civilian entities indiscriminately places, in my opinion, a greater burden on them -- this is a burden they themselves have taken on through their choices of targets. (Not to mention that it doesn't seem to be, you know, WORKING.) To synthesize Billmon and Newman, Lamont should be supported -- as I blogged earlier, NYT's endorsement of Lamont over Lieberman points out the nature of his actions antithetical to, in my opinion, democratic dissent and Democractic dissent -- but Lamont also should not be viewed as a great white hope. Which, you know, I don't.

If you want to be crazy, crazy like a fox, there's also the Green, Ralph Ferrucci.

Sigh. It's too bad the Greens imploded over 2004....