Saturday, September 18, 2004
[. . .]
The New Zealand Defence Force is refusing to give any details of the withdrawal of the 60-strong Kiwi military engineering contingent, which has been hunkered down in Basra for the past five weeks as violence escalates throughout Iraq.
[. . .]
The situation in Iraq was very different from a year ago.
Our troops were sent in a non-combatant role "but what's happening now is that everyone's a combatant whether they want to be one or not. As time has gone on the situation has become much more lethal and no one can guarantee their absolute safety."
[. . .]
Like rats from a sinking ship.
From The Agonist:
Today the US dropped Costa Rica from the coalition of the willing. The Independent reports of Iraq's descent into the abyss. In Anbar province talks are being held with tribal leaders. They are hoping they will agree to a weapons for troop pullback exchange. I'm not sure who is brave enough for this: Iraqi Airways to resume flights. [my emphasis]
"Hypocrisies shine like cat turds in the moonlight!"
Folks, if you never read one of my links again, please read this one:
Friday, September 17, 2004
[. . .]
It was at this point that Niederer began yelling loudly toward Bush, but supporters at the rally realized Niederer was a detractor and began drowning out Niederer’s shouts with chants of "Four more years!"
The ruckus briefly rattled Bush, who halted her speech and turned toward local dignitaries, but she quickly resumed her comments on the war.
Niederer’s son, Army Lt. Seth Dvorin, 24, was killed by a roadside bomb near Baghdad Feb. 3, while commanding an 18-man convoy. Dvorin was posthumously awarded a Bronze Star and a Purple Heart and was credited with saving more than a dozen soldiers from being killed or injured.
I said, ‘How come your daughters and children of congressmen and senators aren’t fighting in the war if it’s so positive?’" Niederer said last night of what she yelled to Bush.
Niederer is charged with defiant trespassing and was released on her own recognizance. She is scheduled to appear in court on Oct. 12.
(via The Trentonian)
Don't you just love the Republicans? Drowning out the voice of a mother who lost her son with that noxious "Four More Years" chant. Unbelievable.
Another taste to Republican love:
She drew little sympathy from the firehouse crowd."Your son chose to go fight that war!" shouted one woman. "She's got the press she wanted," cracked another.
(via The Trentonian)
And a party with attitudes like this is sending your sons and daughters off to die? Unbelievable.
[. . .]
You gotta read the whole thing.
And everybody knows about that poor woman who was fired for having a Kerry/Edwards bumper sticker on her car. What the fuck is wrong with these people?
Being a born and raised New Yorker (and having lived here for 30 years of my life), you'd figure I'd have been in a boat and come into New York Harbor at least once. Nope. At 0455 this morning, we turned into the Narrows at the entrance of the Harbor and I was on the deck, the bow as you squids call it, the front for us reg'ler folks. I'll willingly admit that I got choked up and more than one tear rolled down my cheek.
In 1951, my mother was at the bow of the Queen Elizabeth (the 1st one) when she emigrated to this country from the remnants of Germany after World War Two. She could never tell the story of how she entered the Harbor without getting choked up, her lip quivering when she told the story of when she saw the Statue of Liberty for the first time. A former German Army nurse, she spent the last few months of the war, and six months after, as an American POW. She'd heard the stories about America from the American GIs, and she knew that is where she'd realize her dreams. She did.
In 1949, my dad came to this country from the United Kingdom, a young Brit, a veteran of the war, serving as a paratrooper in the British Army, in Germany. He too had met American soldiers, and he too had dreams. A year later, he was drafted as an infantryman to fight in Korea. He put his dreams on hold for 3 years and came home alive. He built a dream here too.
At 0455 on 17 September 2004, on the niece of the ship that brought my mom from Germany, I crossed under the Varrazano Narrows Bridge into New York Harbor and counted my blessings that I was born in this great land. I was at the bow of the Queen Mary 2 when I saw the Lady in the Harbor from a whole new perspective. Not as the symbol of America beckoning an immigrant with a dream, but welcoming home one of her sons. I realized my dream in this country. I'm comfortable, but it isn't all about the money. It's about what I have been able to do.
I was able to meet my beautiful wife, a Russian Jew whose grandparents on both sides came to America at the turn of the last century. Is that one of the greatest things about this country or what? Where else in the world is something like that possible. A British-German kid can marry a girl who traces her roots back to the land of the Tsars and the children of Israel. She and I both had dreams. Guess what? Yeah, and life is good.
I was able to choose my destiny to some degree. I chose my occupation, chose whom I wanted to marry, and chose who represented me in the government. I had options, more options than anyone in any other nation on earth. Sure, life threw me curves, and I downshifted and hit the throttle when it did. Sometimes I made it, somtimes I crashed, but I had options there too.
I wasn't born under a tyrannical regime, or in a land with a strict religious code, a land that was occupied by an invading army, or a land torn by flood and famine. I was born in a land that gave me options. At every crossroads in my life, I had choices to make, but I made them of my own free will. As I came into New York early this morning and I passed the Lady, I looked north, to the gaping hole in the downtown skyline. It hurt me to see it from this unique angle, just as it does when I'm driving on the BQE, or crossing over from New Jersey. It was a day I thought I'd lose the love of my life. But in the light of the dawn I knew the Lady was just over my shoulder looking over all of those she welcomed to her shores. I knew this country would survive. It's good to be home, darlin'. I'm a lucky sumbitch to be born an American.
Now I have to go sell a body part to get the Mrs.' little monster sprung from the Hound Hotel. Anybody interested in a slightly (cough) used liver?
And I have to say this. The officers and crew of the QM2 is one squared-away unit. Commodore Warwick runs a tight ship. Thank you for the ride, sir.
Hey, buzz, fuck you and the elephant you rode in on.
Thanks for the rant, bubba. When you hit the wall, you hit it good.
Factchecker's right, but let me build on what he said: We not only CAN take our country back, we damn well HAVE TO!
We're not all idiots in this country. We were complacent about our electoral system and things were different in 2000. We were blindsided by the Bush league and his Supreme Court. Who could have predicted that?
Who could have predicted that a bunch of warmongers were looking for an excuse to take down Saddam and that 9/11 would come along and give them that excuse? Stupid, inept, lying,arrogant warmongers, with no respect for the Constitution they swore to defend, or for the citizens of this country and the rest of the world, at that.
Their treatment of Service men and women, the National Guard, and Veterans is despicable, but about what we've come to expect from a bunch that will impoverish the nation to pander to their rich cronies.
"If We Had But Known" must be our battle cry, not our epitaph. We MUST throw the bastards out, and NEVER, EVER let anything like this sorry excuse for an administration happen again.
It wouldn't hurt for Congress to get its spine back, if it ever had one to begin with. And the media.
I further propose a Grand Jury, once these bastards are out on the street, that will indict them in the name of the American people. They will be arrested, marched off in handcuffs, dressed out in orange, photographed in living color for all the world to see, given a FAIR trial and either be hung, or locked up in the care of guards who have lost people in Iraq. Maybe some who are a little loose, bestiality-wise, who own digital cameras.
I would be more than satisfied with that outcome, even though some may not think it harsh enough. Like it could happen.
What CAN happen is for John Kerry to become President. That would help a lot.
If we have to do it without the people who think watching some so-called reality show is more important than the reality going on all around them, then fuck 'em, we'll do it without them. Somebody's got to.
Thursday, September 16, 2004
A new poll in 35 countries suggests that people around the world would prefer Democratic challenger John Kerry as US president over George W Bush.
Global research company GlobeScan Inc and the University of Maryland found clear leads for Mr Kerry among those polled in 30 of the countries.
Only Filipino, Polish and Nigerian respondents clearly backed Mr Bush.
Most said Mr Bush's foreign policy had made them feel worse about the US since his election in 2000.
Meanwhile, a new survey of American and European public attitudes also suggested there had been a dramatic leap in the latter's criticism of US foreign policy.
More than three-quarters of Europeans surveyed in 10 countries by the German Marshall Fund of the US said they disapproved of President Bush's international actions, 20% more than two years ago.
The survey also showed sharp differences in how governments should respond to potential threats from terrorism and weapons of mass destruction.
More than 80% of Americans thought war could achieve justice - more than twice the proportion of Europeans.
The GlobeScan/Maryland poll, of 34,330 people, was conducted mainly in July and August.
POLL RESULTS (KERRY-BUSH)
Source: GlobeScan Inc/University of Maryland PIPA
Because of access difficulties, polling was restricted to metropolitan areas in 11 of the countries.
"Only one in five want to see Bush re-elected," said Steven Kull, the director of Maryland's Program on International Policy Attitudes (PIPA).
"Though he is not as well known, Kerry would win handily if the people of the world were to elect the US president."
Mr Kerry scored best in traditional US allies, such as Canada and Western European countries.
The highest margin was in Norway, where 74% of respondents backed Mr Kerry compared with just 7% for Mr Bush. The strongest negative views about US foreign policy appeared to come from Germany, where 83% said their view of the US had got worse.
Respondents in all the Latin American countries polled, including neighbours Mexico, also went for the Democrat, with the biggest majority - 57% to 14% - in Brazil.
The picture was more mixed in Asia. Only respondents in the Philippines clearly backed Mr Bush, but there was an almost even divide in India and Thailand.
Organisers of the poll attributed the Philippine result to US aid to a military campaign against Islamist rebels in the south of the country.
Story from BBC NEWS
Wednesday, September 15, 2004
This'll give you something to talk about while those guys are redecorating the boat: http://www.latimes.com/news/opinion/commentary/la-oe-guerriero15sep15,1,1715812.story
Better stories, please
What Jesse says:
That's pretty much the secret to the conservative machine - they're disturbingly willing to disseminate an effective point as a counterbalance to facts, because they realize it's the story rather than the truth that people remember. In other words, they love to lie and it shows.
And the response? Long story short, it's about building up our own narrative machine. Not lists of facts, although they help. Not point-by-point contradictions, although they help. Generating the framework in which all evidence fits is the key - conservatives excel at setting this framework, so even things which blatantly disprove what they're saying must function not against the evidence they've provided, but the story they're told. We need better, more forceful, and more rapid storytellers.
He's absolutely right.
"One upon a time, there was a little pet goat whose name was..." Readers? [NOTE: Be subtle, OK? Keep it suitable for children. The adults will figure it out.]
Robbed this from Corrente because I had too much fun again last night.
Peleliu is an island in the Palau group of the Caroline Islands, 500 miles east of Mindanao in the Phillipines. It had the largest Japanese bomber strip in the western Pacific and its capture was considered essential to the upcoming invasion of the Phillipines.
Intelligence reports just prior to the scheduled invasion showed that Jap air power in the Phillipines had nearly ceased to exist and that the invasion of Peleliu may not have been necessary. Admiral Halsey wanted to call it off and bypass the island, but his superior, Admiral Nimitz wanted it to proceed, so it did.
General Rupertus, Commanding General of the First Marine Division, told the troops it would be all over in a matter of days. It took ten weeks. Ironically, it was called "Operation Stalemate."
The Japs operated out of over 500 caves, left over from mining operations and improved. They had artillery, mortars, and machine guns pre-registered and zeroed in on every inch of the island from commanding heights on the Umurbrogol, which came to be called Bloody Nose Ridge. They had tanks. They were dug in and waiting for the Marines.
The fighting raged cave-by-cave for five weeks. On 20 October the Marines had taken so many casualties that they were relieved by the 81st Infantry Division of the U.S.Army. The island was declared secure on 27 November.
There were 1,252 Marines and 277 soldiers killed. Another 5,274 Marines and 1,008 soldiers were wounded. Over ten thousand Jap soldiers were killed.
Over thirteen thousand men died in an operation that possibly didn't have to happen. It barely made the papers due to the news of the invasion of the Phillipines in October. Historians are still arguing about it and survivors are still bitter about it.
I wanted to write this as it may not make the papers now either.
I wonder if, in 60 years, we'll still be wondering if Bush's war in Iraq had to happen, and if the casualties there were worth it. I think we will have long ago decided they were not.
Tuesday, September 14, 2004
Anyway, we're about 900 miles south of Greenland and 1200 miles west of the Grand Banks. Once again, mist and rain has rolled in but the seas are almost becalmed, and once again I'm looking for a convoy or a battle group heading for the European Theatre. The more I see of the Queen Mary 2, the more she impresses me, a truly outstanding vesssel and crew.
I'll be back later. Where is that fucking aspirin . . .
Monday, September 13, 2004
Anyway, we went to the Railroad Days, mainly to hear our friends, "The Saddle Rash Bluegrass Band." My wife was roommates with Bev, the fiddler, in college 40 years ago and they're still friends, and nearly neighbors, as Bev lives just a few miles away at Lake Tahoe. The band is Bluegrass-based, but hardly traditional. They play Grateful Dead, John Prine, Jerry Jeff Walker and others' songs, along with original tunes. One of my favorites is "Copenhagen":
"She gave me a big wet kiss,
Surprised me with her tongue.
But her surprise was waitin'
Twixt my cheek an' gum!"
I don't know the name of this one:
"Suck it up an' get a job,
Drag a comb across your head.
We're way beyond the sixties now,
And Jerry Garcia's dead!"
They did two sets. In between, a local historian gave a recital of the town's railroad history, talking mostly about the fires which consumed two or three roundhouses in the nineteenth century and conveniently leaving out the part about the exploitation of Chinese labor in the construction of the RR in the 1860's and the racial discrimination thereafter.
We've got a Western reenactment troupe here called "The Railroad Regulators 601." The "601" refers to a vigilante group here way back when that ran miscreants, of which there were many, out of town on a rail. They include prominent citizens and wear period clothes and have gunfights. They had one of their gunfights during the history talk. The historian was cool. At the first shot, he just paused, and after the last shot he picked up again. We could actually hear the gunfights from my house the previous day.
They had a "chili cook-off" between two of the local restaurants. The Mayor of Truckee, in his "Railroad Regulators" costume, handed me some tickets for free chili. He was heavily armed, so I accepted them. Let's see Bloomberg do that.
There was some rolling stock on display, including a giant rotary snowplow which is used to keep the tracks open across the Sierra Nevada. If you ever got caught by this thing, you'd be just a red stain on the snow. Impressive.
It was pretty fun, except my wife stepped in a hole and sprained her ankle. She's still limping.
For more on this go to www.sierrasun.com
Beslan-It broke my heart. True to form, the Russians take a long time to learn from their mistakes. The situation in that school was handled the same way the Communists would have but then, what can you expect from the former head of the KGB?
Iraq-What is there to say? We've lost over a thousand troops now, every day it seems that soldiers die in larger groups, and there's President No Nuts saying we're doing the right thing. I watched an interview with Ol' Bob MacNamara the other night, about his role under Curtis LeMay during WW2 and his days in the White House during Vietnam. The excuses were the same, the rhetoric was the same, and unfortunately, the result will probably be the same as well.
I wrote this as we were leaving New York last week:
I think, as I look out the window and see the lights of Long Island fading into the darkness, about the nation in my rear view mirror, about the crossroads we're at, and the consequences of taking the wrong path.
I remember, when I was a child, the Civil Defense drills as we prepared for the Soviet onslaught of nuclear missiles that would certainly come should the Soviet leader 'push the button'. I have that memory a lot lately, becasue I feel our nation is in greater danger now, not only from the terror without, but from the gang of thieves that is destroying this great nation from within.
They say this is the most important election in the last 50 years and I'd have to agree. Thing is, what do we do if our boy loses? What happens to the nation if the Bush 'n Dick show is allowed to plunder our treasury, squander the lives of our children, and destroy our standing in the world? I mean, I'm afraid they've already harmed us irreparably.
How do we regain our stature? How do we regain our principles? How do we regain our honor?
I was raised with honor, with integrity, and it seems as if those are just buzzwords now, bandied about in campaign speeches to whip the faithful into a patriotic frenzy, false patriotism in my book.
Patriotism is volunteering to defend your country, to fight for your country in a war you know is not right, and then come home and have the courage to stand up and say so. To stand up and say, not just on a soap box in Hyde Park, but before a NATION, that what we are doing is wrong.
The people who impugn John Kerry's honor today are the same who've over-used the words honor and patriotism to the point whrer they are hollow, vague things. They define traitors as those who don't agree with the party line, those who would stand up and question our leaders, who would have the courage to say 'this is wrong'.
Dissent, open debate, these are the hallmarks of freedom. The ability to question our leaders, to question the policies without being branded as traitors, terrorists, or Frenchmen. Though if Bush is reelected, being French might not be so bad. I've always felt more accepted in Paris than I have around the right wing.
There are a bunch of guys who've put their ass on the line to defend what we have. John Kerry's one, my boss Harry, my blog partner Gordon, and me and we all have a big fucking problem with the direction this country is headed. The Brits have the same problems it seems, because Tony Blair . . . well, you know the story.
I heard a couple Americans talking the other night about John Kerry's statement on 9/11. They termed it as 'another John Kerry lecture'. A Brit told me last week that, much as he feels Kerry is the right choice, Americans are too simple to get it, too willing to believe one-syllable words and jingoistic propaganda. He felt that Americans don't want to think, don't want to look in-depth into the issues, preferring to hear feel-good speeches and patriotic slogans. I'm afraid he's right and I'm praying the Presidential debates will be the great equalizer, praying they will show John Kerry as the thoughtful, compentent man he is and Bush as the moronic incompetent. I pray for the country I love.
By the way, we're crossing a time zome every twenty four hours and I'm resetting my watch every night.