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Archives, March 26 to May 23, 2003

Tuesday May 20, 2003.

That Cold Slap In The Face That Wakes You Up

I’ve let my Salon subscription lapse, since I don’t particularly feel like putting money in Andrew Sullivan’s pocket. But I gave Bruce Bower’s site a glance today and saw that he had a column there. It’s well worth sitting through an ad to read:

Santorum's remarks conveyed a staggering disdain not only for homosexuals but for America's founding ideals. And Bush, after swathing two wars in the language of liberty, effectively endorsed a definition of American values that has less in common with the Declaration of Independence than with the restrictionist rhetoric of the Taliban.

It’s the sort of dazzling writing that makes you understand clearly the squalor of the conservative pundocracy in America. Bush is not simply betraying every value they’ve ever professed to believe in, he’s pissing on and kicking dirt over them. Smaller government? Individual rights over collective rights? Freedom of association? Balanced budgets? Does the pundocracy call him on any of this? Oh no…they try to make a pig look like an angel. One Gay conservative American living in exile would put them all to shame, except they all took their shame around behind the barn and shot it the day five conservative supreme court justices throttled the American democratic process in November 2000.

If Salon had given Bower a regular column instead of Sullivan I might still be subscribing. But Talbot would need a common sense transplant for something like that to happen.

by Bruce Garrett | Link

If it seems like I’ve been away from this space for a while, that’s because I’ve been busy at work climbing up a learning curve on a new set of software development tools, and here at Casa del Garrett, getting ready for my next road trip to the southwest. I’m leaving this Friday, on another three week drive out to California and back, with some serious meandering through the four corners area in between. I love that part of the country. Maybe some day I’ll move out there.

A friend will be house sitting while I’m away, so I’ve been busy getting the homestead looking good for him. I’ll be posting updates from the road, Internet connectivity permitting. But no new cartoons. This Friday morning I’ll post a cartoon about my nameless gay couple, and that’ll be all until I get back. Last year I took my scanner and a drawing kit along, but it was hard to work up cartoons, do blog updates on my trip, and unwind and just enjoy myself all at once. This year, unwinding and enjoying myself have to take precedence, because next year that’ll be difficult to impossible, given the fact that the Institute may loose a significant percentage of staff. I may not get another chance to take three weeks and just roam the southwest again for a while. So I need to make the most of this trip.

…And while I’m on the subject actually the gay couple that show up in my cartoons are not really nameless, their names are Mark and Josh. Mark’s the dark haired one, and Josh is the tall lanky blond. They’re my Willie and Joe characters for the American culture war. A friend suggested to me last year that I had a recurring gay couple in my drawings, and while I didn’t then, I could see how some of the couples I had drawn looked somewhat similar. At the time I saw my cartooning strictly in the old style editorial form, and resisted the idea of doing recurring characters. But the more I thought about it, the more I warmed to the idea. I pictured them as young and struggling and very much in love, learning how to deal with life as they find it in the middle of the American culture war. So I went back over my previous drawings and chose the couple pictured in the cartoon of September 30, 2002 (Payday) as the basis for my recurring pair. The cartoon of January 13, 2003 (I Told You So) is their first official appearance. And just to clear things up, the cartoon of November 11, 2002 (Just Keep Walking), is not them. Mark and Josh live in the real world, not the editorial cartoon world of symbolic images. They let me make observations about day to day life. (and “Ignore them and just keep walking” is not something Mark would say, even at a time like that.)

It’s really interesting how the creative process works. The more I drew these two, the more I came to know them, know their histories and their personalities. But I don’t intend to do them as a regular cartoon, at least not at this point. As a cartoonist, I am not one for doing a daily gag strip. My creative side, and sense of humor just don’t work that way. I could do political cartoons all week long though, because I’m opinionated, and I just need to vent after reading the daily news feeds. But I don’t want to just thump a pulpit all the time either. Drawing recurring characters lets me take a different tack now and then.

by Bruce Garrett | Link

Wednesday May 14, 2003.

The Parasites Of Virtue.

With the discovery that a reporter falsified stories for the New York Times comes another: that the Times editors were lax, to the point of gross negligence, in their oversight. The right has been bellyaching for days about a culture of dishonesty at the Times, and it is of a piece with their trademark projection of their own inner failures of character onto others. To understand the culture of deceit in America, go to its ayatollahs, who don’t call the faithful to prayer from the Times building, but from the Whitehouse.

Vis:

Consider this paragraph from the New York Times on May 7 about that already legendary Bush-in-a-flight-suit moment. "The White House said today that President Bush traveled to the carrier Abraham Lincoln last week on a small plane because he wanted to experience a landing the way carrier pilots do, not because the ship would be too far out to sea for Mr. Bush to arrive by helicopter, as his spokesman had originally maintained."

Now that's very interesting. You can be absolutely sure that if an Al Gore White House had comparably misled citizens about the reason for a presidential made-for-television visit to an aircraft carrier, Gore would have been pilloried for engaging in yet another "little lie."

-E. J. Dionne Jr.
The Say-Anything School

As at Enron, there are leading figures in this administration who think that when the real facts don't look so good, it's fine to substitute your own.

-Harold Meyerson
Enron-Like Unreality

For the entire Clinton presidency I watched while republicans, their billionaire right wing enablers, and their hate radio mouthpieces threw one bald faced lie after another into the public dialogue, poured one barrel of poison after another into American discourse, without an iota of regard for the damage they were doing, not just to our political process, but our culture. I remember how amazed some people were at the naked hostility, not just to the Clintons, but to anyone not a part of their own political movement. I remember hearing even sympathetic pundits worry during the final acts of the Clinton impeachment, whether the republicans wanted to win “too much”, as though that could somehow excuse what they were doing. But it wasn’t that they wanted to win “too much” but What they wanted to win to start with. And what they want to win, is an America where authority is absolute, even over truth. Especially over truth.

What problem does a movement, which replaces factual information about AIDS, condoms, and birth control on government web sites with religious right shibboleths, have with a New York Times reporter who lies? How does a movement that monitors the activities of tax payer funded science to prevent it from disturbing the fundamentalist dogmas of its core constituency, convincingly demand truth from journalists? There is lying which is devious and thieving, and there is lying that hates everything fine and noble that is possible to human beings. This administration and the political movement it spearheads, is animated through and through by the latter. How does a political movement, whose president dresses like a fighter pilot for the cameras decades after walking away from a National Guard service that was itself intended to keep him out of the war of his generation, become outraged that a reporter lied? Easy. You decide to embrace your inner runt. You decide that the gutter you can’t be bothered to fight your way out of, is where the rest of the human race ought to just settle down and live too. You decide that all those people with higher aspirations for themselves aren’t just a living reproach to your own cheapness of spirit, but enemies to be crushed, because goodness in others makes the squalor inside of you visible. You quit resenting the human virtue you see around you and start murdering it wherever you can get your hands on it. But first, you take your conscience around behind the barn and you kill it. Then you call yourself a patriot.

The conservative movement cannot endure an American culture that actually values honesty. To encourage honesty in a culture, that culture must give its people freedom of conscience, and that is anathema to cultural authoritarians. Consider Rick Santorum’s recent fulminations against the right to privacy. He spoke for the conservative movement, and it wasn’t simply bellyaching about Roe v. Wade. It was a tirade against conscience. It was the authoritarian’s spit back in the face of the promise of America. Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of happiness? Not if we can help it. Gays must go back in the closet. Women must submit to their husbands. Darkies back to your segregated lives. Heathens must bow to our one true god. And everyone who dreams, who desires, who feels the awe and wonder of life in their veins, must live out their lives within the limits of those who do not dream, who covet but cannot desire, who are terrified of awe and wonder, and whose resent of those who aren’t is bottomless. Where the human potential must be kept down to the highest reach of the lowest among us, honesty is a dangerous virtue to hold. The America of the GOP has no place in it for honesty, but plenty of room for cheats.

by Bruce Garrett | Link

Slouching Toward My Lai…(continued)

Shooting unarmed civilians in Iraq is now offical U.S. Army policy.

I know…I know…they’re only shooting looters. Isn’t it neat how the lawlessness we made inevitable gives our military a great excuse to shoot unarmed Iraqis. No stories about shooting protestors dead. No more disturbing news reports about hapless men, women and children who just happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time getting shot to ribbons by trigger happy American soldiers with fifty calibre machine guns. From now on, they’re all looters.

by Bruce Garrett | Link

Sunday May 11, 2003.

Ugh…

Cartoon for the week is up. If it seems a tad repulsive to you, just think of how squicky it was actually drawing it.

by Bruce Garrett | Link

Stories From George Bush’s America…(continued)

During a classroom discussion on the war in Iraq, two students make comments about president dry drunk that the teacher claims later to regard as threatening. She promptly calls the secret police. They haul the kids out of class and interrogate them, telling them at some point in the process, “We own you, you don’t have any legal rights.”

I have to admire the innocent This Can’t Really Be Happening In America quality of the last quote in the KRON-TV article, by teacher Cassie Lopez:

"I tell you the looks on those childrens faces. I don't know if they'll say anything about anything ever again. Is that what we want? I don't think we want that."

Oh yes they do.

by Bruce Garrett | Link

Thursday May 8, 2003.

This Week, With Karl Rove…

I used to be a regular watcher of This Week, With David Brinkley some years ago. I stopped watching shortly after Brinkley left the show, and it swung from the merely annoying uptight conservative, to the to the hard neo fascist right. What seemed most offensive about the show, was the way it dressed up a political movement devoted to rolling back the twentieth century, as a movement of intellectuals and ideas. It seemed the kind of show you’d create for a bunch of rich corporate executives, who hate all forms of government interference in the marketplace, except for those that help them line their pockets at the expense of the rest of us. But it seems all this time I have been profoundly misjudging This Week on that score. The show wasn’t just a corporate big media shill for the republican party…it was an organ of the republican party. It was a news and commentary program, like Joseph Goebbels radio broadcasts were news and commentary programs.

Sid Blumenthal’s forthcoming book, The Clinton Wars is already causing much throbbing of veins in the kook pews. From just the few excerpts posted at Roger Ailes blog, I can see why. Apparently Dorrance Smith, executive producer of This Week was communications director in the Bush I administration. I never knew this.

If Vlasto was an apolitical scandalmonger at ABC News, Dorrance Smith, producer of "This Week," was ultimately political. Smith had been President Bush's communications director, and his secretary in the White House had been Linda Tripp. "The Washington bureau was like an outpost of the American Spectator," an ABC News correspondent told me. "Dorrance was in constant touch with Tripp. He was calling the shots. He kept opposing views off the air and put views supportive of Starr on the air." (One of the Smith-promoted commentators, Jonathan Turley, a George Washington Law School professor with a specialty in environmental issues, testified before the House in favor of impeachment, and another, Brad Berenson, was to become an associate counsel in George W. Bush's White House. Jeffrey Toobin, the regular ABC News legal analyst, was not permitted to appear on "This Week.")

This goes beyond having a media that is getting into bed with the republican party. This is having a news media, that Is the republican party. This is beyond bias. This is outright propaganda, knowingly put forward as propaganda, specifically to keep the republican party message on the airwaves, and deny access to all opposing viewpoints, save for the ones that can be easily ridiculed and dismissed. This is what Garrison Keillor meant when he said they are republicans first, and Americans second. This is the silencing of the public debate. This is the slow, deliberate strangulation of American democracy. Republicans do not love America. They hate America. They love power.

by Bruce Garrett | Link

Wednesday May 7, 2003.

However, They Do Make The Trains Run On Time

If so many self described republicans and conservatives, favor the supreme court overturning sodomy laws, why is the republican party so vocally against that idea?

I know…I know… The leadership is full of nutcase extremists. But that still begs the question. Why is the republican leadership full of nutcase extremists? Who keeps electing them?

by Bruce Garrett | Link

Monday May 5, 2003.

That Sickening Sound Of Large Metal Objects Colliding

When I saw the TV news helicopters hovering over the road ahead, I figured it for a traffic accident. I’ve lived in my neighborhood just long enough now, to have a pretty good mental map of the terrain. The copter looked like it was hovering around Falls road and 41st street: a busy and narrow intersection just a few blocks from where I live. I hoped it wasn’t too bad. The news copters will often hover around even the smallest of accidents, if they are tying up traffic, and that intersection is a choke point: two major city streets bracketed by your typical, tightly packed Baltimore rowhouses, making expansion impossible. I figured somebody got a little impatient at the traffic light. But that wasn’t it. What I saw when I got there, looked like an explosion had torn up every vehicle for the entire block between 41st street and Weldon Avenue. And in a sense, it was an explosion.

The story I got, second and third hand, was this: Two trucks, an extended cab F-Series Ford travelling north on Falls, and a Jeep 4×4 SUV travelling south, hit each other, not quite head-on, just north of 41st street. A third vehicle, I could not tell you the make other then it was a compact four door sedan, swerved trying to avoid the accident, hit several cars parked on the side of the road, became airborne, flipped over and landed on its roof, just short of the intersection of Falls and 41st.

All three cars were totaled. What became of the drivers and passengers, if any, I cannot say. They had already been taken away to local hospitals by the time I got there. The front ends of the Ford and the Jeep were collapsed up against the passenger compartments. Offset crashes are, I am told, the worst. The driver’s side door of the Jeep was hanging open, and while it didn’t look like there was much impinging into the passenger compartment, the floor of it was all distorted, the driver’s seat almost cocked 45 degrees off center, the floor shift lever twisted 90 degrees around. At first glance, the Ford looked like it was the more survivable. But there was no airbag that I could see deployed inside. It might have been too old to have one. The steering wheel was badly bent, and the driver’s side vent window was broken: a sign someone had to break into the truck, to get the driver out. The Jeep had its airbag deployed. Its driver I later learned, had been taken to the hospital complaining of chest pains. I could learn nothing about the occupant of the third car. The roof had not collapsed, but there was no opening any of its doors. No windows were broken, but the trunk lid was hanging open, and it seemed as though the driver and any passengers had to have been taken out though the trunk.

The parked cars were in various levels of damage. Some looked merely sideswiped. Several had been shoved up onto the sidewalk by the force of the third car’s impact. A minivan had its driver’s side tires ripped almost clean off the wheels. Another had its rear bumper smashed off. It was laying about twenty feet further down the road. A field of debris covered Falls and its sidewalks, almost as if a bomb had gone off in the middle of the street.

None of the people staring wide eyed on the porches of their rowhouses saw it happen. They heard, they told me, a loud noise like an explosion, and when they came out, their street was looking like a junk yard. I never heard if any pedestrians were injured: there is a bus stop right next to where the third car landed, and most times I pass by, there is someone waiting.

Traffic was a mess. Several large tractor-trailers were left idling on Falls, unable to take the short cut through the neighborhood to 41st. But as I walked on home I saw a steady stream of rush hour traffic, trying to pick its way around the accident scene, through unfamiliar territory. You could tell the drivers were frustrated, impatient, and generally pissed off. I know the feeling well. Too damn well actually. Its exactly why I bought a house within walking distance of work. I hate traffic, will go to almost absurd lengths to avoid it, like I did last March, when I rented a hotel room in D.C for a programmer’s conference, rather then drive into and out of the city every morning for three days. I could sympathize completely with the frustration and anger I saw on the drivers around me, save for a small horrified voice inside of me that was saying Chill! Chill! Calm Down!

by Bruce Garrett | Link

Saturday May 3, 2003.

What American Minorities Have Not Forgotten

Toby Keith, who penned the Iraqploitation tune Have You Forgotten, seems to have a history of fashioning the truths of the past, into neofascist wet dreams for today. Here, he sings fondly of lynch mobs:

Grandpappy told my pappy, back in my day, son
A man had to answer for the wicked that he done
Take all the rope in Texas
Find a tall oak tree, round up all of them bad boys
Hang them high in the street for all the people to see that

Justice is the one thing you should always find
You got to saddle up your boys
You got to draw a hard line...

Drawing a hard line:

by Bruce Garrett | Link

Friday May 2, 2003.

Another good one from Fred Clark… this one on Rick Santorum…

Abraham Lincoln, the first Republican president, appealed to "the better angels of our nature." His heirs -- winking bigots like Santorum, Trent Lott and Dick "Fag" Armey -- appeal to the bitter demons of our nightmares. This is sometimes, in the short term, an effective electoral strategy. In the long term it degrades both the candidate and his supporters. Trent Lott is often defiant. He is never truly proud.

by Bruce Garrett | Link

Items on the war crime tribunal docket…

Fred Clark, aka Slacktivist, writes about the criminal mindset that doesn’t see anything particularly wrong with keeping children in the American Gulag:

Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, not one to bother with the niceties of international law, takes an even more radical approach to why the Convention on the Rights of the Child doesn't apply to the children held at Camp X-ray: "These are not children," Rumsfeld said.

He appeared irritated Friday by "this constant refrain of 'the juveniles,' as though there's 100 children in there."

The juvenile detainees are between the ages of 13 and 15 but, the secretary insists, "These are not children." His argument precisely echoes that of every statutory rapist ever convicted of unlawful sexual contact with a minor between the ages of 13 and 15. (It also echoes Sen. Rick Santorum's -- Bigot, Pa. -- argument that Catholic priests' sexual abuse of post-pubescent minors was "consensual.") If Rummy keeps this up, he's going to have to register under Megan's Law.

Then Fred plucks this good one, from the news story in question:

It's hard to know, reading the AP article, who is more hopelessly naive: Michelle Faul, for dutifully, unquestioningly transcribing paragraph after paragraph of clumsy propaganda; or Lt. Col. Johnson, for thinking these kids like Castaway because they love the ocean.

Far away from landlocked Afghanistan, the detainees watch movies in their spare time and have taken a liking to "Cast Away," in which Tom Hanks crashes on an uninhabited island and is isolated for years before being rescued.

"Apparently they like ocean films, because they can see the sea," Johnson said.

Johnson seems to have missed the part of the movie where Tom Hanks -- trapped on an island -- builds a raft to escape from that island. Some other movies the kids at Camp X-ray might like: Papillon and The Count of Monte Cristo, both of which feature lovely seascapes, and The Shawshank Redemption, which ends with an ocean view that rivals what the children can see through the fence of their island prison.

Assuming any of what our American SS men in Camp X-ray are saying to the press is true, and a detail like this seems likely if only for its revealing gullibility, then I expect they’ll wise up down there soon, or someone at the pentagon will drop a line to someone at the Gulag, and they’ll take Cast Away off the positive re-enforcement reward list.

Anyone having anything to do with Camp X-ray had better plan on checking with Henry Kissinger’s lawyers before venturing outside the United States in the future, because that camp is going to, without a doubt, be a source of many war crime indictments to come. Every horror they think they’re hiding down there, will come to the surface sooner or later. And the people of the world will never look at the United States the same way, ever again…

by Bruce Garrett | Link

Andrew Sullivan has a David Brock Moment

OKAY, OKAY: Like Glenn Reynolds [aka InstaPundit], I'm besieged by people who think I'm wrong about the tone of Bush's campaign speech last night. Fair enough. It's a subjective judgment call, and I certainly respect those who took it otherwise. But what amazes me is the vituperative tone, and how many then accuse me of being anti-war, anti-Bush and anti-American. Me? Are politics so polarized that you have to either engage in hagiography or hatred of our leaders? Is there nothing permissible in between?

-Andrew Sullivan, The Daily Dish - May 2, 2003

Ha.

Ha..ha…

Bwah..ha..ha..ha..ha..ha..ha..ha..ha..ha..ha!!!!

by Bruce Garrett | Link

The American Gulag

Arrest and imprisonment without due process. Military tribunals that can put people to death in total secrecy. A head of state who reserves to himself the right to unilaterally declare who is, and who is not, an enemy of the state, strip people of their citizenship and deport or incarcerate them indefinitely. Oh…and one last thing: The Gulag. We have all the ingredients. The first few tentative detainments of American citizens have already happened. People with middle eastern backgrounds at first naturally. Not merely testing the waters, but getting the public, and the celebrity news media, used to the new reality. Do you think it will stop there? Repeat after me: “First the came for the communists, but I was not a communist, so I said nothing. Then they came for…”

by Bruce Garrett | Link

Slouching Toward My Lai…(continued)

An eyewitness from the London Mirror reports today on the second attack on unarmed civilians in Al-Fallujah. The first one killed 13 people, including three boys under the age of 11. Apparently two more Iraqis had to die, because an Iraqi boy threw a sandal at a Jeep.

One of the dead, a young man, lay face up, half his head missing, first black blood, then red spilling into the dirt.

His friends screamed at us in anger, then looked at the grim sight in disbelief.

A boy of 11 lay shouting in agony before being carted off in a car to a hospital already jam-packed with Iraqis hurt in Monday's incident.


-From The Mirror

One more, for the war crimes tribunal docket.

by Bruce Garrett | Link

Things You Leave Behind, When You Stop Being A Renter

Massive central hot water systems, for one.

So I unload the clothes dryer and pad barefooted across the basement, thinking to myself that I need to take a quick shower before going in to the Institute (fridays are my usual telecommute day, but I am needed in the office this afternoon…). Then the stack of Levis by the washer remind me that they need a washing too. I put down the basket of dry clothes, and pick up the pile of blue jeans. It’s a big stack, but I have an extra large capacity washer and dryer down here…

…uh…wait a minute…I can’t be showering while the washer is busy sucking the hot water from the water heater at the same time. Can I? I glance at the water heater, a little 40 gallon affair. I peer down into the gullet of my extra large capacity washer. I size up the stack of jeans. Maybe. But better not chance it…

Being a homeowner is like running Linux. You can have an enormous amount of freedom, as long as you don’t mind assuming responsibility for the thousand little details it takes to make stuff work, that you used to just take for granted.

by Bruce Garrett | Link

Thursday May 1, 2003.

Oh look, they’re showing the president landing on the USS Abraham Lincoln again…

Some points to ponder while sitting at home watching the zillion or so replays of Smirk landing on the USS Abraham Lincoln, from the always amazing TBogg:

  • The Former Texas Air National Guardsman was suspended from flying.
  • The reason for the suspension was failure to accomplish medical examination.
  • The year Smirk failed to accomplish his medical examination: 1972
  • The year the military began testing for drugs during medical examinations: 1972
  • When pinned down during the campaign, Smirk said he hadn’t taken drugs since 1974.

by Bruce Garrett | Link

War Crimes…

Now it starts…

by Bruce Garrett | Link

Slouching Toward My Lai…(continued)

Bob Harris, subbing for Tom Tomorrow, points out how American newspapers manipulate the headlines you read about the ongoing war in Iraq to avoid disturbing their readers. Consider, as he says, the following six headlines, all on the front page of the April 30 edition of the Los Angles Times:

High Court Upholds Jailing of Immigrants
GOP Budges On State Budget
Asia Bands Together On SARS Palestinian PM Urges End To 'Armed Chaos'
Music Industry Tries Fear As A Tactic To Stop Online Piracy
Tense Standoff Between Troops And Iraqis Erupts In Bloodshed

One of those, is not like the others. It’s the one at the bottom, written in a sniveling, equivocating, passive voice, such that you cannot tell from reading it, who did what exactly to whom. Now compare it again to the other five.

This is far from the first time during this war, that U.S. troops have shot at and killed unarmed civilians. Some of the victims in this latest round too, have been children. The rational that our people were fired upon first is always a handy excuse. It was the same in Viet Nam, all the way up to the My Lai massacre, when it finally became sickeningly clear that we had become the blood thirsty monsters we claimed to be protecting the innocent people of Viet Nam from. But back then America had a press that understood its roll in our democracy, is not to stroke the public, but to inform it. The urge is different now.

Fighting in My Lai Results In Casualties

…or, as Harris offered:

Hiroshima, Nagasaki rocked by powerful explosions

by Bruce Garrett | Link

Monday, April 28, 2003.

Cartoons up…

Two this week, one on topic and one about the obscenity of children being imprisoned in Guantanamo Bay. Bad enough the U.S. flag is flying over a concentration camp, bad enough we’re torturing prisoners of war in open defiance of all the international treaties on the conduct of war. But just when you think you’ve seen the bottom of the sewer that is the Bush administration, you learn we’re keeping children in our little concentration camp too. There is no bottom.

More later…I have to go earn a living now…

by Bruce Garrett | Link

Friday, April 25, 2003.

Shameless

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Oh…and David Horowitz.

by Bruce Garrett | Link

Thursday, April 24, 2003.

Am I A Homeowner Now?

I haven’t been ignoring this space, it’s just that I’ve been busy. Firstly, I have three (count ‘em) cartoons on the drawing board(s) this week, and it’s like when you have a head of steam up like this, you don’t dare throttle back. Then there was my front steps.

The previous homeowner laid this real nice ceramic tile all over my front porch. The houses in this neighborhood don’t have those nice marble steps that most of the older Baltimore rowhouse neighborhoods do, but just your basic prefab concrete ones, which tend to age poorly. So I was really pleased with the look of the steps and porch on this house. But last winter, after a particularly bad freeze, some of them started coming off.

The previous homeowner, who I am certain did not do the work himself, warned me that the tiles sometimes needed sealing. But apparently he never used a proper grout sealant, but just plain generic silicon sealer, which I discovered, peels off in the cold. And it looked like a cheesy let’s just fix the problem with duct tape kinda thing anyway. When I saw it, I made a mental note to ask my brother, who has a home improvement business in California, what the right way to fix cracked and shrunken tile grout was. But part of being a home owner is knowing which problems just look bad and which are serious. We had a wet winter here, and after one particularly hard freeze those tiles just started popping right off. By the time the weather had warmed up enough for me to make some proper repairs, I’d lost the tile completely off of one step, and most of one other.

I’ve been repairing the tiles under my brother’s guidance. I send him JPEGs of my problem areas, and he tells me what to buy, and how to do the work. In the process, I uncovered gaps in the old concrete steps behind the tile, which I’m not certain were caused by the water getting in, or were there to begin with and the tile just carelessly laid over them. So first I had to mix some concrete and patch the steps themselves. I was able to recover all the old tile, cleaning the old mortar off with a wire brush, which took most of a day. Then it was mixing thinset mortar with an adhesive and re-setting the tiles. Then came the new grout.

I’m fairly proud of the results on the step that had lost all its tiles. The only way you can tell its been repaired, is that the grout on that one step is all shiny and clean. I have the top of one other step, and a couple tiles on the top of another to reset, and then I’ll scrub everything down and see how it all looks. I’ve never worked with concrete before, let alone laid tiles. I feel like I’ve taken some kind of final exam for my sophomore year of home ownership. In a few more weeks, year three starts.

[Edited Slightly]

by Bruce Garrett | Link

Monday, April 21, 2003.

A Chill Wind Blows…

Actor Tim Robbins, star of Bull Durham, whose politically incorrect views of president AWOL, caused the republican president of the Baseball Hall Of Fame to cancel the fifteenth anniversary celebration of what some call the greatest baseball movie ever made, recently gave a good fire and brimstone speech to the National Press Club, demonstrating precisely why the republican apparatus felt it had to take a swing at him…

A relative tells me that a history teacher tells his 11-year-old son, my nephew, that Susan Sarandon is endangering the troops by her opposition to the war. Another teacher in a different school asks our niece if we are coming to the school play. They're not welcome here, said the molder of young minds.

Another relative tells me of a school board decision to cancel a civics event that was proposing to have a moment of silence for those who have died in the war because the students were including dead Iraqi civilians in their silent prayer.

A teacher in another nephew's school is fired for wearing a T- shirt with a peace sign on it. And a friend of the family tells of listening to the radio down South as the talk radio host calls for the murder of a prominent anti-war activist. Death threats have appeared on other prominent anti-war activists' doorsteps for their views. Relatives of ours have received threatening e-mails and phone calls. And my 13-year-old boy, who has done nothing to anybody, has recently been embarrassed and humiliated by a sadistic creep who writes -- or, rather, scratches his column with his fingernails in dirt.

Susan and I have been listed as traitors, as supporters of Saddam, and various other epithets by the Aussie gossip rags masquerading as newspapers, and by their fair and balanced electronic media cousins, 19th Century Fox. (Laughter.) Apologies to Gore Vidal. (Applause.)

Two weeks ago, the United Way canceled Susan's appearance at a conference on women's leadership. And both of us last week were told that both we and the First Amendment were not welcome at the Baseball Hall of Fame.

A famous middle-aged rock-and-roller called me last week to thank me for speaking out against the war, only to go on to tell me that he could not speak himself because he fears repercussions from Clear Channel. "They promote our concert appearances," he said. "They own most of the stations that play our music. I can't come out against this war."

And here in Washington, Helen Thomas finds herself banished to the back of the room and uncalled on after asking Ari Fleischer whether our showing prisoners of war at Guantanamo Bay on television violated the Geneva Convention.

A chill wind is blowing in this nation. A message is being sent through the White House and its allies in talk radio and Clear Channel and Cooperstown. If you oppose this administration, there can and will be ramifications.

Every day, the air waves are filled with warnings, veiled and unveiled threats, spewed invective and hatred directed at any voice of dissent. And the public, like so many relatives and friends that I saw this weekend, sit in mute opposition and fear...

Clearly Robbins isn’t about to be silenced. But just the attempt at blacklisting him can cause lots of other people to just shut up. Which serves the interests of this administration just fine.

These are the same people, mind you, who keep saying that democracy is going to be established in Iraq. You could say that depends on what they mean by “is”.

by Bruce Garrett | Link

Saturday, April 19, 2003.


"Republicans make a lot of noise about their "big tent." I'm less impressed by the size than by the contents..."

Glenn – A Brooklyn Bridge

That one goes in my quote file. Go read Glenn’s post. Seems republican Arlon “Pink Swastika” Lindner just got a free pass from his fellow Minnesota republicans. How…unsurprising…

by Bruce Garrett | Link

The Assault On Science

The New York Times reported on Friday, that federal officials are now telling scientists that words such as “gay”, “homosexual” or “transgender” should be “cleansed” from their grant applications.

In another example of the scrutiny the scientists described, a researcher at the University of California said he had been advised by an N.I.H. project officer that the abstract of a grant application he was submitting "should be `cleansed' and should not contain any contentious wording like `gay' or `homosexual' or `transgender.' "

The researcher said the project officer told him that grants that included those words were "being screened out and targeted for more intense scrutiny."

He said he was now struggling with how to write the grant proposal, which dealt with a study of gay men and H.I.V. testing. When the subjects were gay men, he said, "It's hard not to mention them in your abstract."

This researcher apparently doesn’t yet get it. He’s not supposed to be doing research that benefits the health and welfare of homosexual, and transgendered Americans. This isn’t a matter of purging politically incorrect language from a grant application, but of purging the science itself.

The titles and abstracts of federally financed grants are available to the public on a computer database maintained by the national institutes. The database, called CRISP, is also frequently read by Congressional staff members on the lookout for research on topics that are of concern to the politicians they work for. Over the years, studies on cloning, abortion, animal rights, needle-exchange programs and various types of AIDS research have been criticized by members of Congress.

Dig it. The American Taliban is now scanning the science databases looking for people doing research into forbidden topics. Why? Simply put, because that research could well one day save the lives of people they would just as soon see die slowly and painfully. This is the power base that supports president defender of the Texas sodomy law. This is the hungry predator, behind the mask of “compassionate conservatism”. You have to wonder how the deep thinkers at the Independent (sic) Gay Forum will be spinning the attack on AIDS research, into proof that the Gay community is better off with republicans in power then democrats.

More dead homosexuals, means more houses for sale in Provincetown?

by Bruce Garrett | Link

Friday, April 18, 2003.

Ann Telnaes!

Pardon My Suspicions…(or not)

Jim Capozzola at The Rittenhouse Review, posts some righteous anger over the destruction and looting of Iraqi antiquities.

This has been just one of the outrages of this war, but it’s one that will last forever. Jim links to a news report from last March in The Philadelphia Inquirer, headlined Treasures in peril, which quoted archaeologists, who warned the Pentagon earlier in the year, of the peril to the human story:

Russell said it's heartbreaking to see "disembodied" Sumerian tablets and decorative nails sold on eBay to private collectors. Even if the objects were someday recovered, he said, they're out of context and can't be used to piece together facts about ancient life.

The objects help tell a story only if they can be studied in context. A clay tablet that describes the sale of 10 sheep by one family to another means nothing unless one knows whose house it came from and when it was written and what else was in the house, Russell said.

"Once a site is gone, the story is gone."

It was to no avail. Rumsfeld called the situation “untidy”, which says it all. Jim is right in calling this the (latest) revenge of the philistines, but I strongly doubt that everyone involved in this catastrophe regarded those ancient artifacts as worthless old junk. Oh, no.

The Sunday Herald of Scotland noted accusations earlier, of US plans to loot Iraq for its antiquities after the war:

Fears that Iraq's heritage will face widespread looting at the end of the Gulf war have been heightened after a group of wealthy art dealers secured a high-level meeting with the US administration.

It has emerged that a coalition of antiquities collectors and arts lawyers, calling itself the American Council for Cultural Policy (ACCP), met with US defence and state department officials prior to the start of military action to offer its assistance in preserving the country's invaluable archaeological collections.

The group is known to consist of a number of influential dealers who favour a relaxation of Iraq's tight restrictions on the ownership and export of antiquities. Its treasurer, William Pearlstein, has described Iraq's laws as 'retentionist' and has said he would support a post-war government that would make it easier to have antiquities dispersed to the US.

Looting has been this president’s trademark M.O. since he first entered politics. Looting, and much monetary largess from other, far more wealthy looters. You can almost see how it worked: A group of “wealthy art dealers” makes a pitch for some Iraqi booty…in exchange for monetary favors, either past or future. And Smirk says, “tell you what boys, war is untidy…so you just tell us what you want out of Iraq, and we’ll arrange for it to disappear in the chaos. Just have your people waiting across the border…here…

Being philistines, they would not have anticipated the international shock and outrage. Being philistines, they surely still don’t understand what all the fuss is about. Oh…okay…this is becoming a public relations thing. Let’s make a few gestures, recover a few items, prosecute a few looters, and if anyone thinks we’re not doing enough we’ll just tell ‘em that war is…untidy…

Profitable though. If you have the right connections. I don’t know for a fact that any of this actually happened. But this is hardly an implausible scenario, and that’s bad enough. My thinking is that a non-trivial portion of the loot from the Baghdad Museum is already safe and sound, in various private collections, and their new owners are already writing the appropriate checks, to all the right people.

by Bruce Garrett | Link

It’s Not Real

Great post from Digby today

...The fact is that they haven't won anything without cheating since Bush ran as a moderate, seized office on a technicality and began to govern from the most radical edge of his party. The tax cut was passed with fuzzy math and outright falsehoods about the beneficiaries and the election of '02 was (barely) won because of smears against a disabled Vet and a coordinated talk radio campaign against a dead man's grieving family. The invasion of Iraq was sold on lies about WMD and ties to terrorists.

The Bush administration, then, really is the political equivalent of Enron...

by Bruce Garrett | Link

Thursday, April 17, 2003.

Why Do They Hate America?

It’s a question you hear regarding the Arab world, and more ironically, about the anti-war protesters here in America. How could any American, in good conscience, argue against fighting the evil that killed over three-thousand American men, women and children on 9-11?

Ah, but is that evil really the enemy of this Administration? Are we really at war to defend the American way of life, against an enemy that hates American values of liberty and justice for all, or is the administration merely using the events of 9-11 to accomplish an agenda that differs from those of Osama bin Laden, and his followers, only in the specifics?

Ronald Inglehart and Pippa Norris writing in the March/April issue of Foreign Policy Magazine, zero in on the root of what motivates the followers of bin Laden, and he is far from alone. The fault line is not, as some say, the clash between the West and the Rest, but rather, the struggle has deeper roots still, in the long and ancient struggle for the autonomy of the individual.

Citing surveys that show strong support for democratic institutions, even in the heart of the Arab world, which is supposed to be hopelessly anti democratic, Inglehart and Norris proceed to demolish the argument that the Arab world is caught in a cycle of bloodshed, tyranny and despotism, simply because it is anti-democratic. The Arab street favors democracy over any other form of government, even, or perhaps especially, when their own countries are rigid theocracies. You don’t begin to see the problem, until you dig deeper:

The WVS reveals that, even after taking into account differences in economic and political development, support for democratic institutions is just as strong among those living in Muslim societies as in Western (or other) societies....

However, when it comes to attitudes toward gender equality and sexual liberalization, the cultural gap between Islam and the West widens into a chasm. On the matter of equal rights and opportunities for women - measured by such questions as whether men make better political leaders than women or whether university education is more important for boys than for girls - Western and Muslim countries score 82 percent and 55 percent, respectively. Muslim societies are also distinctively less permissive toward homosexuality, abortion, and divorce.

These issues are part of a broader syndrome of tolerance, trust, political activism, and emphasis on individual autonomy that constitutes "self-expression values." The extent to which a society emphasizes these self-expression values has a surprisingly strong bearing on the emergence and survival of democratic institutions. Among all the countries included in the WVS, support for gender equality - a key indicator of tolerance and personal freedom - is closely linked with a society's level of democracy.

Just so. Democracy is predicated on freedom of conscience. You cannot have one without the other. Period. A lot of countries like to claim the mantle of democracy for themselves, but the near absence of anything resembling personal freedom, and rights which are constitutionally guaranteed, that the state must respect, tells a different story. And with that loss of personal autonomy, comes a loss of cultural vitality.

Inglehart and Norris take note of how cultural attitudes toward homosexuals indicate how likely democracy is to support and sustain democracy:

The way a society views homosexuality constitutes another good litmus test of its commitment to equality. Tolerance of well-liked groups is never a problem. But if someone wants to gauge how tolerant a nation really is, find out which group is the most disliked, and then ask whether members of that group should be allowed to hold public meetings, teach in schools, and work in government. Today, relatively few people express overt hostility toward other classes, races, or religions, but rejection of homosexuals is widespread. In response to a WVS question about whether homosexuality is justifiable, about half of the world's population say "never." But, as is the case with gender equality, this attitude is directly proportional to a country's level of democracy. Among authoritarian and quasi-democratic states, rejection of homosexuality is deeply entrenched: 99 percent in both Egypt and Bangladesh, 94 percent in Iran, 92 percent in China, and 71 percent in India. By contrast, these figures are much lower among respondents in stable democracies: 32 percent in the United States, 26 percent in Canada, 25 percent in Britain, and 19 percent in Germany.

Here is the struggle the United States faces in a nutshell. It is the one this nation has always faced. Freedom verses tyranny. Equality, verses the divine rights of kings, and the might makes right law of the dictator. We stood for life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. We became a beacon of hope to the oppressed of the world. And in the process, our nation achieved great power and vitality.

And where does Bush stand, in this struggle?

Attack on Judicial Nominee Leads Senate Panel to Delay Vote

WASHINGTON, April 10 ó The Republican majority on the Senate Judiciary Committee delayed a vote today on an Arkansas lawyer's nomination to the federal bench, after Democrats attacked his writings on religion, abortion and the role of women.

...One example the Democrats cited was a 1997 article that Dr. Holmes and his wife, Susan, wrote for a newspaper, Arkansas Catholic, about men, women and Roman Catholicism. The article said that "the wife is to subordinate herself to her husband" and that "the woman is to place herself under the authority of the man" in the same way that "the church is to place herself under the protection of Christ."

The same article went on to say, "It is not a coincidence that the feminist movement brought with it artificial contraception and abortion on demand, with recognition of homosexual liaisons soon to follow."

Preparing for Battle

Pryor is perhaps the most egregious Bush nominee to date. A Federalist Society member, he has repeatedly provided a "vigorous defense" for "Ten Commandments Judge" Roy Moore in his various lawsuits.

During a rally protesting the separation of church and state in 1997, standing along-side the likes of Ralph Reed and Alan Keyes, Pryor confessed that he became a lawyer "because I wanted to fight the ACLU." He then proclaimed that "I will never forget Jan. 22, 1973, the day seven members of our highest court ripped the Constitution and ripped the life out of millions of unborn children" before going on to state

"God has chosen, through his son Jesus Christ, this time and this place for all Christians ... to save our country and save our courts."

Key Republican Not Sure on Patriot Act

James Sensenbrenner of Wisconsin, the House Judiciary Committee chairman, complains that the Justice Department isn't sharing enough information for lawmakers to make a judgment on how well or poorly the USA Patriot Act is working.

"I can't answer that because the Justice Department has classified as top-secret most of what it's doing under the Patriot Act,"

The battle for American science

...if you were contemplating an abortion and were worried about the rumour that it might increase your risk of breast cancer, you might visit the website of the government-funded National Cancer Institute to read their factsheet, which noted that most scientists doubt a link. Or, at least, you might have done so until June last year, when the page, criticised by some Republicans in Congress, simply vanished. (A replacement page was posted last month.) Or maybe you were an Aids activist, elated by the president's unexpected (and genuinely revolutionary) announcement in the State of the Union address of $15bn (£9.7bn) in funding for fighting the epidemic worldwide - and then surprised to find that only around 10% was destined for the Global Aids Fund, while the rest would be funnelled through US agencies, where it is more likely to be accessible to American abstinence-only groups campaigning against condoms...

...Nor, perhaps, was it a surprise that evolution, in this climate, would come in for a renewed bout of questioning. Bush has said that he has not made up his mind on evolution - a stance that is politically helpful in the US, where Christian conservative voters feel strongly but where there is not, on the other side of the debate, a unified "pro- evolution" lobby likely to be turned off a candidate solely on the basis of such remarks.

But John Ashcroft's Department of Justice has proved active: when Michael Dini, a Catholic biology professor at Texas Tech University, announced that he would not write academic recommendations for students who did not "affirm" that there is a scientific explanation of the origin of the species, a creationist student launched a lawsuit. Such lawsuits aren't uncommon. What was uncommon was that Dini, soon after, received a call from government lawyers, demanding the handover of numerous documents, and implicitly threatening to make a minor local dispute into a high-profile federal case.

A man who thieved his way to power, is contemptuously dismantling democracy in America, and gut stabbing the fledgling rule of international law wherever he finds it. Take a good long look at the despotism of the Arab world, and see the future George Bush and his followers are planning for America. It doesn’t matter if the economy tanks, so long as the Bush inner circle can accumulate wealth from the wreckage. It doesn’t matter if American culture looses its strength and vitality. That strength and vitality has always stood in reproach to those who cannot achieve unless the game is rigged in their favor. It is not the anti-war protestors in the streets who hate America.

[Edited slightly]

by Bruce Garrett | Link

Wednesday, April 16, 2003.

Belated Happy Pay For Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell Day…

Having done my taxes early this year, I’d forgotten all about the significance of April 15. For a cartoonist, that day presents a natural topic, and last year I did one that got some pretty good comments. This year’s tax day cartoon will be a bit late, but I feel after several weeks of Bush/War cartoons, I need to take a stroll back to my main topic, and put something up that’s a little less grim.

There’ll be a second one about the war though, because that’s too important a topic to ignore. The Mighty Wurlitzer is busy telling America that the war is won, and all the doubters have been thoroughly shamed. But, the war is not at all over, and I’m not particularly ashamed about protesting this.

Think of it, as Vietnam in reverse. Instead of declaring victory and going home, president dry drunk is declaring victory and digging in. The occupation has just begun, and with it, the killing. Just the other day our soliders fired on a group of unarmed people, killing somewhere between 7 and 10 of them. Of course, the rational was that they were “taking fire”…

Col. Andrew P. Frick, commander of the 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit, which began arriving here only two days ago, said men in the crowd began firing at the marines. The Americans withdrew into the building and continued to receive fire, he said.

When they fired warning shots over the heads of people in the crowd, most of the Iraqis dispersed, he said. When shots continued to hit the governate, the marines decided anyone still in the area was hostile.

"The marines said `OK, the fight is on,"' Colonel Frick said. "And the marines returned accurate fire."

Wounded Iraqis in the city's general hospital today gave a starkly different version of events. They said a controversial Iraqi opposition leader, Mishaan Al-Jabouri, started speaking to the crowd and hailing the arrival of American forces in Mosul.

"They began throwing stones," said Fateh Tata Abed, a 32-year-old man shot in the chest and upper arm. "And the American forces started shooting at us."

A second man, 39-year-old Sadullah Ghanal, gave roughly the same version of events. "After we threw stones at Mishaan Jabouri," he said, "the Americans started to fire on us."

Doctors said all but one of the 26 casualties were men. Mr. Ghanal said he worked in the governate but was not in the building when he was shot. Mr. Abed, the second wounded man, said he was a soldier.

The one female casualty was a wide-eyed 11-year-old girl who shared a hospital ward with the two men. Doctors displayed an X-ray showing a chunk of shrapnel embedded in her lung. Relatives said she had been on the roof of a nearby building when she was struck.

“OK, the fight is on…” Well…if the Israelis can fire on people throwing rocks, I guess U.S. marines can too.

So…my cartoon may be straying from its topic for some time to come. I really can’t, in good conscience, ignore the on-going crimes of president five to four. I am emphatically not saying that crimes against gay and lesbian Americans are not as worthy of notice. I started my little weekly cartoon here because I didn’t think they were getting enough notice by the mainstream political cartoonists. The aggression against gay and lesbian Americans by president smirking frat boy thug and his political power base, is of a piece with their utter contempt, for the American ideals of liberty and justice for all. Civil rights for gay and lesbian Americans are hardly the only things that Bush hates. In Bush’s America, only power has rights. This view threatens everything fine and noble that America ever was, or ever aspired to be. I feel compelled to express that in my political art, in its grim and perilous totality. The hopeful outcome is that the Bush administration is an aberration, like Nixon’s. One that will be eventually discredited, and consigned to the trashpile of other criminally corrupt presidencies. But these neo-fascists are smart, energetic, religiously dedicated to their cult of power, and will, as we have seen, stop at nothing. This nation, and the world along with us, could be on the cusp of a long and dreadful nightmare. I cannot ignore it.

by Bruce Garrett | Link

Tuesday, April 15, 2003.

The Anti-Gay Agenda…It Isn’t Just Homosexuals Who Are The Enemy…

First, Rupert Murdoch’s New York Post helps Maer Roshan take a swing at all those straight guys who aren’t man enough to keep a baseball bat handy, for when those gay guys get too close…

Let's Get One Thing Straight: Dan Peres, editor-in-chief of Details, is not gay. But his magazine sure seems to be. Call him a professional fag stag (the title of a December 2002 piece on homo-lovin' heteros)," Radar says about Peres in its up front "Fresh Intelligence" gossip page.

...Peres is already counterpunching - or should we say slapping - back.

Of course, if sneering at straights who won’t treat homosexuals like vermin doesn’t accomplish the job, there’s always the old fashioned approach:

Girl Beaten Unconscious After Day Of Silence Confrontation
by Michael J. Meade
365Gay.com Newscenter Boston Bureau

(Concord, Massachusetts) Police are investigating the vicious beating of a 16 year old Concord, Massachusetts girl. The attack on Caitlin Meuse followed a heated tirade from a schoolmate who shouted antigay epithets as the girl participated in the National Day of Silence at Concord-Carlisle High School.

The teen was found unconscious in the road near her home Thursday night. The grade 11 student had been beaten on the head and face. She is recovering at Boston Medical Center from a head injury, missing front teeth, a fractured nose, deep cuts, and severe swelling in her face. After spending the first two days in the intensive care unit, barely able to speak, she is now able to sit up in bed her father said.

"She was very upset at why this happened," Carl Meuse said, adding his daughter has no memory of her beating. "She doesn't understand why this happened to her. She kept telling me, `This isn't right.'"

Why it happened: Homosexuality is not the enemy. Decency is the enemy.

by Bruce Garrett | Link

Monday, April 14, 2003.

That Moment, When You Realize You And Your Project Lead Have Slightly Divergent Worldviews…

“…I’m slowly getting used to it, but it’s weird the way Java makes you construct GUIs. Panels within panels within panels within panels.”

“Gridbag is like that…”

“Reminds me of the Monty Python skit, about the Society For Putting Things On Top Of Other Things…”

“Yeah…it could be like that. I don’t like Python.”

“Oh?”

“Yeah.”

“Do you like Firesign?”

“No! I hate Firesign!”

“Oh.”

by Bruce Garrett | Link

Saturday, April 12, 2003.

Lite to no blogging this weekend, until I can finish a cartoon and take care of some housekeeping chores.

Wednesday, April 9, 2003.

Further Evidence Of The Decline In American Education

The usual suspects are lining up to, ah, silence, the National Day Of Silence. This is the now annual event held by gay kids and their supporters in schools all over the country , to call attention to anti-gay discrimination and harassment in schools that intimidates and effectively silences gay and lesbian kids.

"What does sexuality have to do with academics in our schools?" asked Georgiana Pierce, director of Eagle Forum. "Schools offer reading, writing, and mathematics.

But not, apparently, history. At least not in the school attended by this dim bulb from Courageous Christians United:

"This [day of] silence is ironic considering that sexual deviants, who comprise a tiny percentage of the general population, are among the most vocal and aggressive special-interest groups working to impose their fascist vision of unfettered sexual license on the majority of decent, moral citizens," said CCU executive director Steve Klein.

Fascist vision of unfettered sexual license. Fascist vision of unfettered sexual license. Well of course, they can say “Creation” and “Science” in the same breath too. And “Intelligent Design” as if they had an inkling of what intelligent means.

by Bruce Garrett | Link

Tuesday, April 8, 2003.

The End of Pretense…

The Guardian is reporting that the United States is getting ready to use banned chemical weapons in Iraq, ostensibly for riot control…

Last month Victoria Clarke, an assistant secretary in Chemical Donald's department, wrote to the Independent on Sunday, confirming the decision to use riot control agents in Iraq, and claiming, without supporting evidence, that their deployment would be legal. Last week the US Marine Corps told the Asia Times that CS gas and pepper spray had already been shipped to the Gulf. The government of the US appears to be on the verge of committing a war crime in Iraq.

Given that the entire war contravenes international law, does it matter? It does, for three reasons. The most immediate is that there is no such thing as a non-lethal chemical weapon. Gases that merely incapacitate at low doses, in well-ventilated places, kill when injected into rooms, as the Russian special forces found in October when they slaughtered 128 of the 700 hostages they were supposed to be liberating from a Moscow theatre. It is impossible to deliver a sufficient dose to knock out combatants without also delivering a sufficient dose to kill some of their captives.

The second reason is that, if they still possess them, it may induce the Iraqi fighters to retaliate with chemical weapons of their own. At the same time, it encourages the other nations now threatened with attack by Bush to start building up their chemical arsenals: if the US is not prepared to play by the rules, why should they?

The third reason is that the use of gas in Iraq may serve, in the eyes of US citizens, to help legitimise America's illegal chemical weapons development programme. As the US weapons research group Sunshine Project has documented, the defence department and the army are experimenting with chemicals which cause pain, fear, convulsions, hallucinations and unconsciousness, and developing the hollow mortar rounds required to deliver them.

Among the weapons they are testing is fentanyl, the drug which turned the Moscow theatre into a gas chamber. Since March 2002, the government's "non-lethal weapons directorate" has been training the Marine Corps in the use of chemical weapons. All these activities break the convention.

The deployment of chemicals in Baghdad could be the event which finally destroys the treaties designed to contain them, and this, in turn, would be another step towards the demolition of international law and the inception of a bloody and brutal era, in which might is unconstrained by universal notions of right.

You cannot use chemical weapons to wage war against chemical weapons. They are, as the convention makes clear, the instruments of terrorists. By deploying them, the US government would liquidate one of the remaining moral distinctions between its own behaviour and that of the man it asks us to abominate.

I suppose Bush cult of personality republicans will emphasize the distinction that the chemical agents we’re preparing to shower unruly Iraqis with aren’t specifically designed to kill people in mass. And that excuse will probably hold water with most Americans, right up to the point where men, women and children start getting killed with them (at which point hate radio will get busy assuring the American public that the dead Iraqis were probably terrorists). And far as the rest of the world is concerned, deadly or not, these weapons are banned for use in war, which makes their use a war crime. But what you have to understand about the neo-confederates now in control in Washington, is that their contempt for the rest of the civilized world is bottomless. That America stops being a beacon of hope, and becomes instead a renegade power in the eyes of the world, is not a concern of theirs in the least.

So what if America is looked upon with disgust? One thing only: when the most powerful nation on earth looses its moral authority to speak to the values of liberty and justice for all, and the rule of law over the tyrant’s claim of might makes right, then it is more then American honor which has become devalued, but the human future too. The race is no longer to the top, but to the bottom. In his cell at the Hague, Slobodan Milosevic is probably laughing his ass off.

by Bruce Garrett | Link

Monday, April 7, 2003.

Heartbreaking…

Via the Daily Kos… this is sickening, and completely heartbreaking.

Saddam didn’t do this…and we didn’t do it to liberate anyone, or anything more then the Iraqi’s from their oil, and it would seem, their antiquities, and anything else that might be of value to the American economy. This is the bedrock, the human grist, for the Project For A New American Century. This is how empires are paid for. This is what the American Dream has been sold to buy. It was one thing when our nation’s enemies saw this when they looked at us. Now our friends have to see it when they look at us too. War criminals. Get used to the sound of it. War criminals. Years from now they’ll be saying opting out of the International Criminal Court was the smartest thing Bush ever did.

“Can you help get my arms back? Do you think the doctors can get me another pair of hands?”

All together now: “My country ’tis, of thee…”

by Bruce Garrett | Link

Fox News Throughout History

The Website FARK goes the rest of the web one better then a simple comments section or message board. They regularly run “Photoshop” contests (actual use of Adobe Photoshop not required…any good image editor will do…). They’re usually hilarious. Some of the best stuff tacked to the wall at my office comes from FARK’s photoshop contests.

Today they’re running a photoshop titled “What If FOX News Were Around During Other Historical Events” Go sample the wares for one of the few good laughs you’ll have all week. It’s not for the bandwidth challenged however, as your browser will be busy downloading dozens of graphic images.

by Bruce Garrett | Link

That Suddenly Finding Yourself In A Hitchcock Movie Feeling…

I get this interesting sense of turf watching the birds in my neighborhood. The sparrows are apparently the rulers of the alley, while on the street out front, the dominant birds are little house finches, which could also fit the description in my Peterson’s of red finches, as resembling “sparrows dipped in raspberry sauce.” But unlike sparrows, the house finches are clumsy defenders of feeders, ignoring them for periods of time, which gives the other birds a chance to get in and get some. The house finches swarm like sparrows around the feeders, but even the shy woodpeckers can get in past them if they wait for a bit.

As the weather warms up, I’ve been cutting back on the amount of seed I’ve been putting out, to encourage the birds to seek their natural food sources too. I have to watch carefully the mess they create, because here in the city there’s a completely understandable concern about rats taking advantage of what they toss on the ground. So I’m having to work harder then I’d thought, at attracting the birds I want to watch, while keeping my property clean around the feeders. Birds are lovely to watch, but they are messy little dickens. It’s a problem I have to stay on top of constantly. I want to make my feeders attractive, but I can’t make them too popular here in the city, or I might start attracting rats too. So I have to cut back when the weather starts warming up.

For the past couple of weeks I’ve allowed the feeders to empty, rather then refilling them for the morning. But we got a sudden cold snap last night and I woke up to the sound of sleet knocking at my windows. I looked out the bedroom window and saw the sleet piling up on the car windows, so I figured the birds would be needing food. I washed myself up, and wandered downstairs, still waking up a bit, filled a glass of ice tea, and checked the outdoor thermometer on my backyard deck. It was in the thirties all right. I wandered back into the living room and peeked outside the front window. My porch was crammed full of finches, perched on every available inch of railing, and on the rims of the flower pots…all staring right back at me.

Ack! I put some shoes on and got some scoops of bird seed. As soon as I opened the door the finches scattered to the upper branches of my pin oak, and to a neighbor’s bushes where I think they have their HQ. They waited quietly while I refilled the feeders. As soon as I was back inside they were dog piling on them. I wasn’t eaten, but that was kinda spooky.

by Bruce Garrett | Link

The Jihad At Home

Via Atrios. The New York Times reports that “the Army major general who commands Fort Bragg’s training center for special operations forces has invited a group of predominantly Southern Baptist pastors to the base this month to participate in a military-themed motivational program for Christian evangelists.”

Reached at his church in Florida, Mr. Welch, the minister who runs the FAITH Force program, said he was a Vietnam veteran, who trained at Fort Bragg and sought to apply military principles to evangelism.

It’s hard to doubt that no one involved in this even considered the possibility that there might be something wrong with a special forces general organizing a military training session to “apply military principles to evangelism.” This is war don’t you know. One ray of hope in this otherwise grim story, is that at least one Baptist minister, the one who notified Americans United For The Separation Of Church and State, still remembers what a Baptist is.

“God requireth not an uniformity of religion to be enacted and enforced in any civil state; which enforced uniformity, sooner or later, is the greatest occasion of civil war, ravishing of conscience, persecution of Christ Jesus in his servants, and of the hypocrisy and destruction of millions of souls.”
-Roger Williams, founder of the
first Baptist Church on American soil.

by Bruce Garrett | Link

Saturday, April 5, 2003.

Slouching Toward My Lai…(continued)

US heavy-handedness baffles British soldiers

It was difficult to tell who was the more nervous. Rifles remained trained on the mother and children, who were made to stand 20m away from their car while it was searched. American patrols now appear to treat everyone as if they are suicide bombers.

British troops who have witnessed the Americans at close quarters in this war are baffled at their approach to Iraqi civilians. One captain in the Royal Marines, watching a US unit monitor a checkpoint, said: "The Americans are still behaving like invaders, not liberators. They behave as if they hate these people."

Many American troops speak as though they do.

You often hear them describe "Eye-rakis" in disparaging language. One US officer in charge of delivering humanitarian aid earlier this week likened the crush of people waiting to get hold of food and water to a pack of stray dogs.

His troops lashed at those pushing to the front with fists and rifle butts, even firing shots into the air.

I was reading a post somewhere averring to the fact that even most of our soldiers think Iraq had something to do with 9-11. If that’s true, then there would be very little incentive for them to treat the locals with any respect or dignity, even when they knew they were not hostiles. Add to that the fact that in situations like this there are precious few ways to know which locals are your friends, and which are your enemies, perhaps with bombs strapped to their waists, and you have the makings of many American war crimes to come. They’ll be saying in a few years, that pulling out of the International Criminal Court was the smartest thing Bush ever did.

by Bruce Garrett | Link

If I Don’t Care Whether Or Not Your Vow Was False…Why Should God…?

Via Atrios, who calls it an outrage. The Miami Herald is reporting that a U.S. Army Chaplain is offering our soldiers, many of whom haven’t had fresh water for weeks due to a water shortage, fresh bathing water… from his baptismal…

CAMP BUSHMASTER, Iraq - In this dry desert world near Najaf, where the Army V Corps combat support system sprawls across miles of scabrous dust, there's an oasis of sorts: a 500-gallon pool of pristine, cool water.

It belongs to Army chaplain Josh Llano of Houston, who sees the water shortage, which has kept thousands of filthy soldiers from bathing for weeks, as an opportunity.

"It's simple. They want water. I have it, as long as they agree to get baptized," he said.

And agree they do, according to the article. What a surprise. But first they have to sit through one of his hour and a half sermons…

"Regardless of their motives," Llano said, "I get the chance to take them closer to the Lord."

* * *

He calls himself a "Southern Baptist evangelist," and justifies the war and killing with a verse from the Gospel of Matthew, which he often recites: "Give unto Caesar the things that are Caesar's and unto God the things that are God's.

"This means we are called upon by our government to fight and that is giving unto Caesar, as the Bible tells us," he said.

“Forced worship stinks in God’s nostrils.” -Roger Williams, founder of the first Baptist Church on American soil.

by Bruce Garrett | Link

Gaming The Language

I hit several computer geek sites daily. One of the best is the scrappy British site, The Register. Read this little tale of the googlewashing of an anti-war slogan, that for a brief moment became so popular that even UN Secretary General Kofi Annan was using it. There may not have been anything truly nefarious about what happened here, but you had better believe the Mighty Wurlitzer is already adding this one to its tool kit, if it hasn’t already. Dissent in the United States may need its own search engines, or barring that, a ready network of web sites who will work to protect language that the republicans want to erase.

by Bruce Garrett | Link

The Disappeared

Wired News has this story about an Intel programmer who was taken away while going to work. They put estimates of the disappeared so far at 44. But then…who knows?

by Bruce Garrett | Link

Friday, April 4, 2003.

The Paths Of Glory…(continued)

I see the republican apotheosis of Michael Kelly is already starting to make some people sick to their stomach. Figured it wouldn’t take long. It’s one thing to feel sorry for his family and friends, and respect their grief. But then these are the same people who had a shit fit over the memorial of Paul Wellstone.

Michael Kelly died the same gutter crawling thug who not too long ago very deliberately tried to rouse mob passions against pacifists, peaceful people of conscience, because they were not with us, and so they had to be against us. His column, “Pacifist Claptrap”, said all that needed saying about the open sewer that was his conscience. He never renounced it, and it was of a piece with his vitriolic demonization of everyone and everything not part of the republican war machine, not part of the Bush cult of personality. I am not a pacifist, but when you see people rousing the mob against them, against anyone whose entire being strives against violence, however naively they may do it, that tells you that somewhere in that individual’s soul, a vital line has been crossed, something important has been lost. Terrorists took a knife to the American people on 9-11. Kellys’ reflex in that moment, was to grab for that knife, and twist it.

TBogg, who now says his Kelly Moratorium is over, said previously that Kellys’ death was a sad thing. Yes it’s sad, bitterly sad, when someone looses their last remaining chance to find their way back to the human identity. It’s tragic. There is very little about this war that is not.

by Bruce Garrett | Link

Desecrating The Grave Of Edward R. Murrow…(continued)

Atrios vents a little, following Peter Beinart’s wee exercise in excusing the press for selling the country a rosy war. Oh gosh, says Beinart, it isn’t spineless irresolute reporters, but us war hawks who should take the blame. To which Atrios replies:

It has a lot to do with spineless irresolute reporters. Mainstream America believes in nuttier conspiracy theories than anything the "Arab Street," the loony left, or the Birchers can offer up. About half of Americans supported this war (barely) going in. About half also believed that some of the 9/11 hijackers were Iraqis and that Saddam Hussein was personally behind the attack. That's the media's fault.

You know, it wasn’t until Daniel Ellsberg leaked the Pentagon Papers, that anyone in the press started asking serious questions about how we became involved in Vietnam. The grim irony here is of course, that “Present Dangers” by Project For A New American Century has been circulating for quite some time now.

According to a friend of mine, House Whip Tom DeLay called retired general Wesley Clark a blow dried couch Napoleon on CNN the other day. That republican brownshirts like DeLay can feel free to growl those kinds of obscenities on news broadcasts, is evidence of just how spineless and irresolute American journalism has become. What is the bigger disgrace, a nation with no free press, or a nation with a free press that sells out.

by Bruce Garrett | Link

The Paths Of Glory

Michael Kelly, the pundit who called pacifists evil, and “objectively pro facist” has been killed in Iraq. Atrios says “one can respect him for actually going and putting his ass on the line, unlike the rest of the warmongering columnists”. Let us pause, and pay the man his due:

As President Bush said of nations: A war has been declared; you are either on one side or another. You are either for doing what is necessary to capture or kill those who control and fund and harbor the terrorists, or you are for not doing this. If you are for not doing this, you are for allowing the terrorists to continue their attacks on America. You are saying, in fact: I believe that it is better to allow more Americans -- perhaps a great many more -- to be murdered than to capture or kill the murderers.

That is the pacifists' position, and it is evil.
-Michael Kelly, "Pacifist Claptrap"

There is no grievance that is a fit object of redress by mob law.
-Abraham Lincoln

by Bruce Garrett | Link

Memo From The Ministry Of Truth

Michael Tomasky, at The American Prospect, critiques William Kristol’s historical revisionism thusly:

Propagandizing about the present cannot work without first lying about the past, and Kristol and others on the right accomplish this with an easy cynicism. They know that the very moniker "Cold Warrior" sounds hawkish, no-nonsense, America-first-like. This, too, is false. Cold Warriors were hawks, but of a self-questioning and deliberative sort. They were multilateralists who built the very organizations today's hawks are out to tear apart. Further, they understood that authority and power were two different things and that the former did not issue solely from the barrel of a gun. They knew that, just as in the old Westerns, unless the circumstance is absolutely dire and no alternative for survival exists, the good guy never shoots first. Richard Perle and Paul Wolfowitz -- and Kristol -- have nothing whatsoever to do with the old Cold Warriors. And while some opponents of this war are anti-American -- and, sure, silly in their arguments -- far, far more of us have legitimate concerns about the precedent this sets for other nations and the coming boomerang effect the administration's intentionally failed diplomacy (you read that right) will produce.

But legitimate debate means nothing to these people. Only partisan advantage does. The point is to scare the other side, club it into submission, and you do that by setting up a phony argument and repeating it over and over. And, tragically, it works. That's the fun thing about being in the Ministry of Truth: If you say it, it's true.

Read the Tomasky article for a glimpse of the shear brazenness of the republican propaganda machine. Kristol writes sorrowfully that much of the opposition to president Five To Four is based purely on payback for the way Bill Clinton was treated…by the Pat Buchannan wing of the republican party. Which Kristol assures the world has been thoroughly discredited by the party mainstream. Tomasky cites a piece by Andrew Sullivan no less, showing that Kristol was in fact, part of that mob, then goes on to say:

The import of the lie is not merely that Kristol today purports to disdain a posture he in fact endorsed full throttle when it mattered, dishonest though that is. Rather, the importance is the implication that, now that conservatives have thrown Pat overboard, they're sensible, reasonable people.

Now, anyone who ever watched the same people that bellyached for years about how Janet Reno was the biggest threat to our Precious American Civil Liberties since Hitler, cheer on John Ashcroft as he gut stabs the Bill of Rights, has a pretty fair idea of how matter-of-fact their hypocrisy is. But the brazenness of it is still amazing. Its like arguing with homophobes on the Internet. They lie, they know they’re lying, they know you know they’re lying, and they could not care less. Knowing that you know is all part of the fun. And as long as it gets them the desired results, they’re happy. No conscience, need not mean no job satisfaction.

A political movement that uses lies as its principal means of governing, burns the flag whenever it waves it. Whatever you may think about the intellectual abilities of the voters, they cannot even hope to make sensible decisions at the ballot, without any way of knowing the facts. Oh…wait…didn’t Scalia say that there is no constitutional right to vote…

by Bruce Garrett | Link

Slouching Toward My Lai

Excerpts from an article from The Guardian headlined, US troops accused of excess force

After suffering heavy losses in the southern city of Nassiriya, US marines were ordered to fire at any vehicle which drove at American positions, Sunday Times reporter Mark Franchetti reported. He described how one night "we listened a dozen times as the machine guns opened fire, cutting through cars and trucks like paper".

Next morning he said he saw 15 vehicles, including a mini-van and two lorries, riddled with bullet holes. He said he counted 12 dead civilians lying in the road or in nearby ditches.

One man's body was still on fire. A girl aged no more than five lay dead in a ditch beside the body of a man who may have been her father. On the bridge an Iraqi civilian lay next to the carcass of a donkey. A father, baby girl and boy had been buried in a shallow grave...

* * *

A British officer was alarmed when the American marines who were escorting him through the port of Umm Qasr let loose a volley of rifle fire at a house on the outskirts of town.

The officer told Reuters reporter David Fox: "They said they had been sniped out from there a few days ago so they like to give them a warning every now and then. That is something we [the British] would never condone." A US special forces officer said it was sometimes difficult to contain the exuberance of men doing the actual fighting. "You got to realize these guys are single-minded in their training. It's look after yourself and your buddies. How do we know who the enemy is?"

All according to plan I suppose. They said Saddam was the enemy, but we can’t occupy a nation, without treating the people we’re occupying as the enemy too. That’s not just the soldiers…that’s all the men, women and children too. How do you know who the enemy is? Simple. Everyone is the enemy. Just ask the people of My Lai.

by Bruce Garrett | Link

Wednesday, April 2, 2003.

Why Is This Not Surprising…

Seems Richard Condon, KOOJ’s talk radio hate monger, has been venting these violent kinds of feelings before…at homosexuals:

Daily Report
Louisiana Business Inc.
Monday, March 31, 2003

(excerpt)

No cap on Condon: Higher ups are standing by KOOJ Rock 93.7 DJ Richard Condon, who apparently disrupted an LSU peace rally Saturday. Rebecca Breeding, general manager of Citadel Communications, owner of KOOJ, said she intends to find out what really happened at Saturday's rally, where police were called in to keep Condon's followers from attacking a group of peaceniks. Condon asked his listeners last week to join him in protesting Saturday's peace rally, which included a walk from the LSU beach to the amphitheater. "I don't know anything," Breeding said. "I got in here this morning and I was blindsided." In 1996, Condon was fired from a Guaranty radio station known as "The Tiger" for referring to homosexuals as son-of-a-buggers who should be shot in the head. He was reported by The Advocate as having the same sentiment for Saturday's war protesters, apparently saying, "these son-of-a-buggers deserve a bullet in the head." Breeding claims Condon was misquoted in The Advocate's article. "Richard Condon did not say that," she says. Breeding wasn't aware that Condon had organized the demonstration. Read more about Condon and his past antics by clicking here. Meanwhile, Don Gosselin has resigned from Citadel as general operations manager for Baton Rouge to care for an elderly parent.

Clicking on the link provided gets you to an article that talks about Citadel radio’s “comeback strategy”, and how the man who got fired from another radio station after calling homosexuals son-of-a-buggers who should be shot in the head, is hopefully going to get them ratings and ad revenue…

Condon is a key part of Citadel's comeback strategy. It's widely acknowledged at Citadel - in third place among local radio groups - that Condon is their star, their hope. Upper management is betting he has the muscle to power its newly formatted 100,000-watt rock station, Rock 93.7 FM, to stronger ratings as the morning show co-host.

And if in the process he manages to incite a little violence…?

The folks at Citadel aren't worried. As long as people are talkingóor griping - about Condon, that means he's on people's minds. And that's good for business.

Blood to money. That’s the calculation that talk radio makes. The war has been good to ratings. Violence at home can only add to the numbers. And the grim irony here is that they’re all flag wavers. But they don’t love America…they don’t even hate America. America is the city schoolyard, and they’re the heroin pushers. America is the country village, and they’re the meth sellers. They don’t care how much poison they inject into the veins of their communities…so long as they have a profit at the end of the day. They wave the flag not out of love for their country, but to lure in the customers, knowing that once they sample their wares, they’ll be back, hungering for more. Hate is an easier drug to manufacture then Meth.

by Bruce Garrett | Link

American Patriots, As Willing To Spill American Blood As Osama.

They may shout for Bin Laden’s blood, but they’re every bit as willing to take the lives of American citizens as he is. Or failing that, beat them to a bloody pulp. Orcinus gives us a chilling series of posts on the level of hate coming out of talk radio now. They’re openly, and on the air, advocating the beating and even shooting of anti-war dissenters. He notes the story I linked to below, about how KOOJ DJ Richard Condon called for anti war protestors to be shot. That article has…dissapeared…from the web site…but I have a copy of it, and here is the relevant passage from it:

Richard Condon, a morning show host for rock station KOOJ, said he wanted the hecklers to "put these goofballs in their place."

"This has been going on since World War I, and it's the reason they have the right to feel the way they do," Condon said, pointing at the peace protesters marching down Stanford toward LSU.

Despite that right, he concluded, "I think these son-of-a-buggers deserve a bullet in the head."

This followed his proclamation to the crowd at the beach about American military aims that ended with: "And it's about time we nuked Canada's ass!"

Condon's station is one of six in Baton Rouge owned by Las Vegas-based Citadel Communications, one of the largest radio conglomerates in the United States.

Orcinus posts this anonymous email circulating, which, like a Seattle talk show host, instructs people on how to deal with dissenters they happen to meet…

With all of this talk of impending war, many of us will encounter "Peace Activists" who will try and convince us that we must refrain from retaliating against the ones who terrorized us all on September 11, 2001, and those who support terror. These activists may be alone or in a gathering... most of us don't know how to react to them. When you come upon one of these people, or one of their rallies, here are the proper rules of etiquette:

1. Listen politely while this person explains their views. Strike up a conversation if necessary and look very interested in their ideas. They will tell you how revenge is immoral, and that by attacking the people who did this to us, we will only bring on more violence. They will probably use many arguments, ranging from political to religious to humanitarian.

2. In the middle of their remarks, without any warning, punch them in the nose.

…the joke of course being, that this will teach those panty waists that they have to be willing to fight back against aggressors.

But that’s not the lesson that President Splendid Little War, and his sycophants are trying to teach the rest of us. Not really. Here’s the lesson: If someone hits you in the face, go find where they live. Then blow up a few houses in that neighborhood. Randomly blow the arms legs and heads off of a few neighborhood children. Set a few others on fire. Then pepper their playgrounds and the neighborhood churches with radioactive slugs. Foul everyone’s drinking water. Destroy their supplies of food. Let starvation and disease kill a few more. Then, find some Other Guy, do the same things to His neighborhood. Then punch Him in the face.

That guy, or one of his neighbors you firebombed, may then learn the lesson, and go off and find others to share it with. When enough people learn this lesson, that the fighting has spread across the whole earth, and you can’t step a toe outside of your house without somebody throwing a punch your way, or a bomb, claim victory over your attacker, go home, close all the curtains, and watch some TV.

When the next angry fist comes your way, or a bomb takes out Your house, repeat the process. Until your are dead, or nothing is left, whichever comes first.

Do you wonder why the solutions war mongers put forward for achieving peace and prosperity, consistently result in their opposites? That’s because you still think they really value those things.

by Bruce Garrett | Link

We love our gay neighbors…felons that should be locked up for the good of the community though they are…

Michelangelo Signorile’s column this week includes this startling revelation about Mr. Renquist’s neighborhood…

Last month, a gay male couple who were neighbors of Renquist's gave an interview to the Advocate in which they talked about hanging out with Renquist and his wife in their suburban Virginia neighborhood, baking cookies for the justice and doing other neighborly good deeds. Renquist was apparently so fond of the guys that when the men put a "for sale" sign up on their lawn, he ran out and told them they couldn't leave. That's pretty creepy, especially after hearing Renquist's comments and questions last week...

Of course, it’s easy for some folks to enjoy the company of minorities, as long as they know their place. It’s one thing to bake cookies, and quite another to throw a challenge down to the status-quo. Of course Renquist will reward his neighbor’s friendliness with a knife in the gut. The friendship of minorities, does not impose obligations on their social masters.

by Bruce Garrett | Link

Gosh…sex really does get you ratings….

Seems I completely forgot a truism about advertising, namely that sex sells. Since I posted that Dick Cheney-Cassidy shot yesterday, in solidarity with National Make Fun Of Dick Cheney Day, this little web log’s hits have gone a tad crazy. Hmmm…I could add a regular skin shot to the log. But then I’d feel so cheap…

by Bruce Garrett | Link

Tuesday, April 1, 2003.

National Make Fun of Dick Cheney Day.

As decreed by Neal Pollack. And thanks to Tom Tomorrow for reminding me of it this morning…

The Naked Launch Box

(My sincere apologies to gay men and heterosexual women who still have that issue of Rolling Stone carefully tucked away…I just don’t know what got into me…)

by Bruce Garrett | Link

Monday, March 31, 2003.

Notes From George Bush’s America…(continued)

The right wing radio jocks are now openly calling for anti-war protestors to be shot.

This is exactly the atmosphere that led to Kent State.

by Bruce Garrett | Link

Sunday, March 30, 2003.

Off topic cartoon for this week too. Sorry…but don’t you know there’s a war on?

by Bruce Garrett | Link

Friday, March 28, 2003.

What A War Machine With No Brakes Looks Like…

Joshua Marshall has a simple request

Is it possible for the Bush administration to go one day without fulfilling its critics' direst predictions about its war aims and operational abilities? Yesterday, The Washington Monthly released my new article on the Bush administration's grand plan for reforming the entire Middle East. One assertion many found difficult to believe was my claim that the administration would soon seek to provoke wars with Syria and Iran. Today, Don Rumsfeld threatened both countries with just that. Admittedly, this creates some extra buzz for the article and this website as well. But frankly, Don, TPM is doing okay and, buddy, you're starting to get a kinda scary.

Oh…I don’t think that crowd has even Begun to get really scary, yet.

by Bruce Garrett | Link

Images Of Victory

You need to be forwarned that the photos in the link after the following paragraph, via Shocking Elk, are gruesome. I was tempted after reading this quote from Andrew Sullivan’s blog (via TBogg), to just put the images right up here. But images draw the eye more then text, and you need to read his words first I think, to fully appreciate what you’re seeing in the photographs…

KEEP ON HAMMERING: If the war is more protracted, that makes the home front much more important. The propaganda organs against this war will fight hard to weaken American resolve. They are Saddam's only real hope - that Americans will tire of casualties, lose confidence, and make some sort of deal with the devil. With this president, that won't happen. But heaven knows, the anti-war right and left will do all they can to derail a war they so fiercely opposed. They will use even the slightest civilian casualties, however tiny in relative terms, into an hysterical campaign to foment regional unrest and sap morale at home. We have to counter and challenge their every argument. And the White House needs to be clearer now than ever, as Safire points out this morning, that we intend to win no matter what, and that winning means unconditional surrender of the regime. We have to reiterate tirelessly that we are morally in the right; that a regime that is sending its own troops into battle at the point of a gun deserves to die; that a gangster's mob cannot and will not be allowed to terrorize a country and a region for much longer. And at some point, if Saddam's terror mob doesn't crack, we have to live with the higher numbers of civilian and military casualties that a less squeamish battle to destroy it might require. We're not at that point yet - far from it. We're actually still within reach of an amazingly casualty-free victory. But if it comes, and I deeply hope it doesn't, we must simply aim at victory. If we have to live without a perfect scenario - regime collapse, infrastructure intact, civilians spared to an historically unprecedented degree - we have to.

-Andrew Sullivan

An Amazingly Casualty-Free Victory.

TBogg calls Sullivan a cowardly sanctimonious idiot. I disagree. He’s a man without a conscience, without any discernible ability to connect to the humanity in others. He may have had that ability once, but I find even that proposition highly doubtful. He lies to his readers without any apparent sense that their trust is a part of each one of them, placed, in trust, in his hands. He writes not to enlighten, or even provoke, but to rouse the basest of passions, seemingly because those passions are all he is able to trust in himself. He cheers for war, without any visible hint of concern for the powerless ones caught between Saddam’s brutal rule, and Smirk’s naked greed. They are an abstract idea that he can’t quite see from the distance he has retreated from the human identity. They are not real, any more then the concern others express for them could be real. All that is real is the pursuit of victory, whether it is over Saddam, or the Arab people, or liberals, or, like his black velvet Sinatra, anyone who ever dissed him. That is not the consciousness of the idiot, but of the predator. Sullivan is a wolf of the pack, caught up in the running down of the weak one culled from the herd: not Saddam, but liberalism. The images in the link above, are their victory, their fresh meat feasting, over the carcass of those most loathsome of human hypocrisies: sympathy, honor, trust, compassion, and love.

To paraphrase Edward R. Murrow; if the images on the link I have posted have shocked or disturbed you, I am not in the least bit sorry.

by Bruce Garrett | Link

How American Business Will Compete In The International Marketplace Of The Future…

It isn’t only our oil companies who are lining up at the Iraqi horn of plenty. Rep. Darrell Issa (R-QUALCOMM) is asking Rumsfeld to make the U.S. CDMA wireless technology the standard in Iraq, replacing the European GSM standard currently serving the country, and most of the Middle East. It’ll end up making Iraq’s cell phones incompatible with wireless services in neighboring countries, but then anybody with friends or business associates in those countries will probably be in jail anyway…

Qualcomm is publicly claiming neutrality over the whole scheme. They make Eudora, the email client I’ve used for years and years. Eudora is one of the few software products I use regularly, which has always been a steady, reliable tool. But if their conscience is right with making bucks on war crimes, then mine is right with dumping their product right out the window. I’m actually typing this blog entry on my SuSE Linux system (using the Crisp Editor), which I’ve been using more and more as I grow comfortible finding my way around in Linuxville, and there is no Eudora for Linux anyway.

by Bruce Garrett | Link

This Is Not A War Against Islam. No…really…

Light to no blogging until Monday, so I can get a couple of cartoons posted. But here’s a few tea leaves for the rest of you kids to divine the future by…

First, this from The Information Clearing House…

Two leading evangelical Christian missionary organizations said Tuesday that they have teams of workers poised to enter Iraq to address the physical and spiritual needs of a large Muslim population.

The Southern Baptist Convention, the country's largest Protestant denomination, and the Rev. Franklin Graham's Samaritan's Purse said workers are near the Iraq border in Jordan and are ready to go in as soon as it is safe. The relief and missionary work is certain to be closely watched because both Graham and the Southern Baptist Convention have been at the heart of controversial evangelical denunciations of Islam, the world's second largest religion.

That controversy being Graham’s calling Islam “a very evil and wicked religion” After the war settles into its gorrilla fighting against American occupation mode, expect one of these brain dead jackasses to say about the Iraqi people that they love the sinner, but hate their sin.

Then there is this New Yorker excerpt from Atrios, by way of Bad Things

The meeting was scheduled to last twenty minutes, but Bush and Abdullah talked for two hours. At one point, the Crown Prince handed Bush the photographs of the dead Palestinian children. Do you think it's right? he asked. Bush appeared surprised by the photographs and his eyes seemed to well up. One person familiar with the conversation summarized Bush's comments: "I want peace. I don't want to see any people killed on both sides. I think God loves me. I think God loves the Palestinians. I think God loves the Israelis. We cannot allow this to continue." At one point, Bush told Abdullah that he believed Muslims and Israelis were all God's children and that God didn't want to see children from either side die. The meeting ended with both leaders promising to deliver the other side: Abdullah pledged to rein in Arafat and Bush to rein in Sharon.

Someone suggested a break for lunch. Before beginning to eat, Bush bowed his head and reached for Saud's hand. "Let us pray," he said. A look of panic came over the Crown Prince, who was unfamiliar with the Christian custom of saying grace before meals. "What is he doing?" he whispered to an aide sitting nearby. "What should I do?" Powell also looked stricken, as if he couldn't believe what Bush was saying in front of his Muslim guests.

Be afraid, says Atrios, who also notes the following from The New York Times:

The subtleties surrounding the sensitive role oil plays in the Iraqi war may have eluded the United States Army. Deep in some newspaper coverage yesterday was a report that the 101st Airborne Division had named one central Iraq outpost Forward Operating Base Shell and another Forward Operating Base Exxon.

The Pentagon shrugged off concerns that now might not be the time to mention the names of foreign oil companies on Iraqi soil. "The forward bases are normally refueling points -- they're basically gas stations in the desert," a Pentagon spokeswoman said. "Whether or not we're going to lecture everyone that, due to political sensitivities, you should be careful what you call your gas stations, I don't know if that's something that should be done or would be done."

…and this, from the Guardian:

TALLIL AIRFIELD, Southern Iraq (AP) - The first U.S. airplane landed Thursday at a key Iraqi airfield, which forces informally renamed "Bush International Airport."

And finally (surely you haven’t had enough yet) there is this, from Joshua Marshall’s article in the Washington Monthly, titled Practice To Deceive.

Imagine it's six months from now. The Iraq war is over. After an initial burst of joy and gratitude at being liberated from Saddam's rule, the people of Iraq are watching, and waiting, and beginning to chafe under American occupation. Across the border, in Syria, Saudi Arabia, and Iran, our conquering presence has brought street protests and escalating violence. The United Nations and NATO are in disarray, so America is pretty much on its own. Hemmed in by budget deficits at home and limited financial assistance from allies, the Bush administration is talking again about tapping Iraq's oil reserves to offset some of the costs of the American presence--talk that is further inflaming the region. Meanwhile, U.S. intelligence has discovered fresh evidence that, prior to the war, Saddam moved quantities of biological and chemical weapons to Syria. When Syria denies having such weapons, the administration starts massing troops on the Syrian border. But as they begin to move, there is an explosion: Hezbollah terrorists from southern Lebanon blow themselves up in a Baghdad restaurant, killing dozens of Western aid workers and journalists. Knowing that Hezbollah has cells in America, Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge puts the nation back on Orange Alert. FBI agents start sweeping through mosques, with a new round of arrests of Saudis, Pakistanis, Palestinians, and Yemenis.

To most Americans, this would sound like a frightening state of affairs, the kind that would lead them to wonder how and why we had got ourselves into this mess in the first place. But to the Bush administration hawks who are guiding American foreign policy, this isn't the nightmare scenario. It's everything going as anticipated.

Enjoy the weekend.

by Bruce Garrett | Link

Wednesday, March 26, 2003.

A Sense Of What Watching The News Must Have Been Like In The Old Soviet Union

From The Boston Globe:

WASHINGTON -- The Arab world sees pictures of bloodied bodies of young children. They watch scenes crowded with corpses, including gruesome images of dead American soldiers.

Americans see almost none of that. Their view of the war in Iraq, through television and print, is dominated by long-distance photos of bombs going off in Baghdad and intimate battlefield scenes conveyed by reporters who are traveling with US and British soldiers.

The two contrasting visions of this war, one seen by Americans and the other seen in the Middle East, help to sharpen differences over the conflict, say analysts and diplomats.

"Friends from Syria are sending e-mails to me, asking what are the people in the US telling you about the images of civilian casualties," said Imad Moustapha, chief of public diplomacy at the Syrian Embassy in Washington. "My answer to them is very simple and sad: `Sorry, no one is seeing those images here.' "

by Bruce Garrett | Link

Notes From George Bush’s America…(continued)

Where Mr. I’m A Uniter Not A Divider, has brought America to:

VANCOUVER, British Columbia -- On eBay, the highest bid wins -- unless the item on sale is a laser printer from CompAtlanta and the bidder happens to be Canadian.

That's what a tax consultant discovered last week when he tried to buy a printer on eBay, but was refused by the vendor when it was discovered he lived in Vancouver.

David Ingram received notification that his winning bid of $24.50 had been canceled, along with this message: "At the present time, we do not ship to, or accept bids from, Canada, Mexico, France, Germany or any other country that does not support the United States in our efforts to rid the world of Saddam Hussein. If you are not with us, you are against us."

This nation will be generations living down the stain of this president.

by Bruce Garrett | Link


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