Real Genius
Sunday, January 30, 2005
Fifth Time's A Charm
Frank Rich's first paragraph alone cracked me up:
JAN. 30 is here at last, and the light is at the end of the tunnel, again. By my estimate, Iraq's election day is the fifth time that American troops have been almost on their way home from an about-to-be pacified Iraq. The four other incipient V-I days were the liberation of Baghdad (April 9, 2003), President Bush's declaration that "major combat operations have ended" (May 1, 2003), the arrest of Saddam Hussein (Dec. 14, 2003) and the handover of sovereignty to our puppet of choice, Ayad Allawi (June 28, 2004). And this isn't even counting the two "decisive" battles for our nouveau Tet, Falluja. Iraq is Vietnam on speed - the false endings of that tragic decade re-enacted and compressed in jump cuts, a quagmire retooled for the MTV attention span.
Go read the rest.

You Gotta Love This
Didn't read much of that day's print edition, but I wonder which genius really thought they were actual supporters:
(...) The Post got fooled in its special inaugural edition Jan. 21. It published a picture of a middle-aged guy in a tuxedo waving his wallet at an anti-Bush protester and saying he wanted to thank the president for the tax cuts. The man was identified in the caption as Rich R. Danu of Detroit. Thanks to Erik Wemple of Washington's City Paper, we now know that Rich R. Danu was part of a group called "Billionaires for Bush, a bunch of lefty satirists who parade around in jewels and rich-person outfits pushing their 'agenda.' " Other members' names include "Ivana Moore-Enmoore, Robin Eublind and Fillmore Barrels."

Tuesday, January 25, 2005
CNN Again
What kind of network security do these people use anyway?

The team at The Onion seem to have hacked into their servers yet again. The title reads "Democracy finds hope in Iraqi town":
KARMA, Iraq (CNN) -- The concept of democracy appears to have taken root in the dusty town of Karma, a predominantly Sunni community of 75,000 people about nine miles (15 kilometers) northeast of Falluja.
But many villagers are not as interested in talking about the elections as they are about the lack of petrol, gas, electricity and work. They say they receive their information about the elections from TV and say no one has campaigned or even hung campaign posters in their community.
Although most say they don't know who the candidates are or where to go to vote, they say they will vote come January 30.
Abd Al-rahman, a 24-year-old Iraq Force Protection Services employee says he'll vote for interim Prime Minister Ayad Allawi. He says he has received a 200,000 Iraqi dinar bonus from him.
Farther down the road, Iraqis are also preoccupied with what's lacking. They tell Col. Tucker they want to vote but don't know who to vote for.
"We get our information from the TV. But then the power goes out and we have no TV," one man says. Abd Al-Khadar Ali Khayab, a butcher and father of nine, says he'll vote for one of the sheiks of his tribe he has heard is running. But he doesn't know which list he's on or who any of the others on the list are.
"Of course I am going to vote. We need something to change, we can't live like this," he says. But he does not know whom he'll vote for or who the candidates are. A man standing near him said "Allawi, al-Yawar, it doesn't matter. I am not going to vote."
"Do you know when the elections are?" Col. Tucker asked a group of five men. "Yes, it's the 29th," one answered.[emphasis added]

Come to think of it, that does sound an awful lot like the "concept of democracy" in these parts... which kind of dissolves my Onion theory, doesn't it?

Sunday, January 23, 2005
This Woman's Gonna Kill Me
MoDo writes today about --what else-- SpongeBob:
It took Dr. James Dobson, the conservative Christian leader and gay marriage opponent, who claims the president's re-election was more a mandate for his ideas than George Bush's, to point out the insidious underside of the popular cartoon character SpongeBob SquarePants. It takes a sponge to brainwash a child.[Emphasis added.]

And it took Maureen Dowd, the "liberal" New York Times op-ed columnist, who, as we were approaching the election, constantly tried to "be one of the cool kids" as I recall Somerby once say in Daily Howler, and spared no effort to jump down Kerry's throat, imitated in her own little way and her prose what most major reporters of her paper and the Washington Post did by showing two sides of every story in equivalence even when such equivalence was not remotely present, to imply that the election was a mandate for George Bush's ideas and Bush's using the Christian right for his election in every possible fashion somehow does not give the wingnuts the right to claim what they bought with their votes and now own.

A lot has been said about this, and I hope to add some of my own remarks some time soon, but in the mainstream press lies our fundamental problem. And as long as we remain unable to tame them into fairly covering the news, we will suffer. The country will suffer, and as we shall see in the next 4 years in unprecedented examples, the whole world will suffer.

I'm watching Runaway Jury now for the umpteenth time and in the finale, as Rankin Fitch (Hackman) talks to Nick (Cusack) and Marlee (Weisz) in the bar, he asks how they swung the jury their way. Nick says he didn't do anything:

- I let them vote their hearts. That means you lose.

The situation is exactly the same here. The last election was the largest false marketing campaign in history. And the right's disinformation and disenfranchisement of the electorate worked mostly because we failed to goad the press into doing their job properly. We expected them to report the truth fairly and we didn't do everything in our power to ensure that. "The facts" were "biased" as Stephen Colbert once so aptly put in The Daily Show and we remained inert and did not shout out at the top of our lungs that fact at every opportunity we got. Not that that is the appropriate thing to do: It was just the way to win the battle.

And please, please, do not to take the "vote their hearts" expression in its entirety. It is a fact that when they're left alone with their proverbial hearts, most people will vote their instincts and from that we can spiral into an entire bullshit argument about moral values. No, the "vote their hearts" expression here signifies voting what's good and right for them. But of course you must've noticed that construct if you already got this far in reading this post.

Saturday, January 22, 2005

Posted by Hello

Sunday, January 16, 2005
The Other Side Of Abu Ghraib
As Graner gets his sentence handed down, The Guardian/Observer tell us how harshly poor CACI and Titan are also being punished:
Two US defence contractors being sued over allegations of abuse at Abu Ghraib prison have been awarded valuable new contracts by the Pentagon, despite demands that they should be barred from any new government work.
Three employees of CACI International and Titan - working at Abu Ghraib as civilian contractors - were separately accused of abusive behaviour.
The report on the Abu Ghraib scandal implicated three civilian contractors in the abuses: Steven Stefanowicz from CACI International and John Israel and Adel Nakhla from Titan.
Stefanowicz was charged with giving orders that 'equated to physical abuse', Israel of lying under oath and Naklha of raping an Iraqi boy.
It was also alleged that CACI interrogators used dogs to scare prisoners, placed detainees in unauthorised 'stress positions' and encouraged soldiers to abuse prisoners. Titan employees, it has been alleged, hit detainees and stood by while soldiers physically abused prisoners.
Investigators also discovered systemic problems of management and training - including the fact that a third of CACI International's staff at Abu Ghraib had never received formal military interrogation training.
Despite demands by human rights groups in the US that the two companies be barred from further contracts in Iraq - where CACI alone employed almost half of all interrogators and analysts at Abu Ghraib - CACI International has been awarded a $16 million renewal of its contract. Titan, meanwhile, has been awarded a new contract worth $164m.

It must be painful.

It certainly pains me!

Herr Billmon ist zurück
I just noticed today, someone has some really juicy comparisons. And a brand new bumper sticker.

Take a look.

Friday, January 14, 2005
Dr. Cole's quite remarkable remark (emphasis added):
Bush has figured out, apparently, that the American public responds, rather like the apes to which they deny they are related, to posture, grunting and body language rather than to reason and evidence. When I see him smirking and gesturing, I can't help thinking of the ape General Thade (Tim Roth) in Tim Burton's remake of the Planet of the Apes, which used scientific findings about primate behavior and hierarchy to inform the acting.
"Absolutely" used in this way is a vocalization that actually functions as an intimidating agonistic display meant to close off further dialogue by the silverback.

Read the rest.

Thursday, January 13, 2005
Just what exactly did he mean by that?
Reports James Lakely of the Washington Times:
"I think people attack me because they are fearful that I will then say that you're not equally as patriotic if you're not a religious person," Mr. Bush said. "I've never said that. I've never acted like that. I think that's just the way it is."

Let me repeat that:
I think that's just the way it is.

I know we're used to expressions not being where they're supposed to be in sentences or things frequently not coming out right when unscripted, but what exactly do you think was meant by that?

Tuesday, January 11, 2005
Gotta start some way, some day.

Yes, I'm broken. In many of the possible ways.

But the fight goes on. I took a longer break than most, and for mostly work-related reasons, and I'm back.

And off we start with fresh news from across the Atlantic: The Guardian tells us that it looks like the MI6 are going to have themselves a new R that will assess the quality of the intelligence they gather:
MI6 has taken the unprecedented step of appointing a senior "quality control officer" to monitor the credibility and veracity of its secret intelligence, the Guardian can reveal.
The senior official, who will be known as "R" - standing for reporting officer - will be responsible for reviewing secret information provided by British spies and agents in the field, according to intelligence insiders.
MI6 has also appointed what they call a "non-executive director", a high-flier from the private sector with the task of trying to ensure our spies gather secret information as efficiently and effectively as possible.
The moves come in the wake of the fiasco of the government's dossier on Iraqi weapons of mass destruction, and of sharp criticism in the subsequent Butler report of the way MI6 sources and intelligence were handled.

Also reports the Guardian:
The Butler committee questioned the credibility of the few agents MI6 had in Iraq, describing one of its "main sources" as "unreliable".
It disclosed how MI6 withdrew reports from its agents about Iraqi weapons, but only in July 2003, after the invasion.
Lord Butler added that the MI6 sources whose reports formed the basis of Tony Blair's claim that Iraqi forces could fire chemical or biological weapons within 45 minutes of an order to use them "must be open to serious doubt".
His report also concluded that warnings about the limitations of MI6 intelligence on Iraq were not made clear in the dossier, describing the failure as a "serious weakness".

You know, heaven forbid, they wouldn't want to give bad intelligence to 10 Downing Street now, would they? After all, it's not unheard of for such intelligence to make its way to speeches out of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue!

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