Saturday, May 08, 2004

What's the Problem Scottie?

Q Scott, there's a segment of society that differs with the White House as it relates to these pictures and the investigation of the U.S. soldiers' conduct to include Rush Limbaugh who, Tuesday, agreed with the caller, equating the pictures to a college fraternity prank, and said the U.S. soldiers should not be punished because it was an emotional release as they were letting off steam. What's the White House say about that?

MR. McCLELLAN: April, I think the White House says what we said yesterday and what the President has said over the last few days.

Q No, but Scott -- no, seriously. This man is a conservative --

MR. McCLELLAN: And I actually got asked a question earlier today about that matter.

Q But none --

MR. McCLELLAN: And I addressed it then.

Q But if you stand out strongly trying to let the Arab world know that this is wrong and then you have the proverbial spokesperson for the conservative party saying this, doesn't that send a mixed message?

MR. McCLELLAN: The President's views have been very -- have been made very clear.

Why is it so hard to distance yourself from these comments?
Fun for the Whole Family

Must see

Friday, May 07, 2004

From the Guardian


However much the American secretary for state may wish to discourage the use of the word "torture", there is no other word that can describe these acts. In torture and other extreme forms of abuse, the infliction of pain and shame does not necessarily aim at extracting information. Beatings, humiliating rites and verbal insults are often used to make prisoners describe acts or reveal names already known to the police or military. Often, the questions are of little practical value to the torturers and the regime. The redundant interrogations are frequently accompanied by the demand that prisoners sign a document, declaring that they have seen the errors of their ways. The apparent futility of these demands indicates the nature of the torturers' enterprise. They want to destroy the victim's sense of identity.

The evil of torture is not restricted to wanton violence inflicted on the body. Many types of extreme pain and physical suffering, whether in war, during acts of religious martyrdom, or simply as a result of poor health, are endured with dignity and patience. The evil of torture lies elsewhere: it denies its victim the minimum recognition offered by society and law and, in doing so, it destroys the respect people routinely expect from others. More importantly, torture aims to undermine the way the victim relates to his or her own self, and thus threatens to dissolve the mainsprings of an individual's personality. Torture is an embodied violation of another individual. The sexual nature of these acts shows that the torturers realise the centrality of sexuality for their victims' identity. The perpetrators in these photographs aim to destroy their victim's sense of self by inflicting and recording extreme sexual humiliation. As in Jean Améry's description of being tortured by the Nazis, sexual violation is so devastating not because of the physical agony suffered so much as by the realisation that the other people present are impervious to the victim. Torture destroys "trust in the world . . . Whoever has succumbed to torture can no longer feel at home in the world."

It seems to me that he is more outraged that someone "illegally" released the pictures to the press then he is about the actual pictures themselves.
House of Cards...

Greenspan's World Is On Its Ear

NEW YORK - Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan yesterday, speaking via satellite to bankers in Chicago, warned that America's soaring federal budget deficits were a threat to long-term U.S. economic stability even though interest rates remain at historic lows.

At the same time....

WASHINGTON (MNS) - The House of Representatives voted to extend a cut to the alternative minimum tax Wednesday in a 333-89 vote, then voted against a measure to offset tax cuts with cuts in spending.

To summarize:
1) Record deficit
2) Cut taxes
3) Don't cut spending

For the life of me I can't figure out why we even have a problem in the first place....
Polish Pullout to Anger Bush?

BAGHDAD, Iraq (AP) Gunmen ambushed a Polish TV crew south of Baghdad on Friday, killing a producer and a correspondent who was Poland's best-known war reporter, Iraqi and Polish officials said.
So Poland's equivalent to the "Scud Stud" has been killed... that cannot bode well for a country already looking for an excuse to get out of this mess.

Think about it... if it was OUR "Scud Stud," we would be faced with a tremendous public outcry and people would be demanding answers. Serious, incisive, no bullshit, A Current Affair-type answers. We would protest. We would create havoc. We would not rest until our leaders understood the folly of inaction, at which point we would drop a nukular bomb on the Sunni triangle, send our troops to invade another pre-selected country whose ass we knew we could kick ahead of time, and replace the "Scud Stud," and all news for that matter, with reality shows featuring enemy combatants such as, "Guiding the Chemical Light," "The Electrode Company," and "Who Wants to Toss an Iraqi Salad?"
What goes around...

Slave Reward Offered for Capture of British Women Soldiers
Iraqi worshippers were told today that anyone who captures a female British soldier can keep her as a slave.

A senior aide of radical Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr also called on supporters to launch holy war against British troops in Basra.

Sheik Abdul-Sattar al-Bahadli held in his hand what he said were documents and photographs of three Iraqi women being raped at British-run prisons in Iraq.

Al-Bahadli said 250,000 dinars (£195) will be given to anyone who captures a British soldier and 100,000 dinars (£83) for the killing of one.

In no way do I believe this is okay by any means, but the ignorance of our administration to understand the consequences of its actions, or inactions for that matter, is so alarming and unbelievable. Even my dog knows that when he gets in the garbage, he's gonna get in trouble, now granted, my dog is very smart, but he ain't President. Wait 'till the first time this happens and the pictures come out... that's a scary thought.
Who's Doin' Evil Now?

Don Lattin makes the point in the Chronicle, that this torture scandal undermines Dinky's religious rhetoric. Consistently dividing the world in to those who do evil and those who, well I guess, those who don't do evil.

But wait just a minute, Americans are just as capable of doing evil as the rest of the world. After completely alienating the rest of the world with his holier than thou religious proclamations, America gets caught with its' pants down. Maybe you should stick with being president.

As Bishop McKinley Young of the African Methodist Episcopal Church said, Bush "is not the only one who hears from God."
"We did not elect him as priest of the nation," Young said. "We elected him as president."


One thing being lost in the shuffle with all the torture news, is that US forces are launching an offensive against al-Sadr in the south.
All Apologies

Since when did apologizing become big news, first Dinky yesterday and now Rumsfeld today. They act like since this is the first time they've admitted fault then they get to be totally absolved.
These guys' pathology almost rise to the level of John Travolta in Pulp Fiction, when after accidentally shooting a guy in the face he thinks an apology will cover it all,"Did you ever hear the philosophy that once a man admits he's wrong,he's immediately forgiven for all wrong-doings?"
No Vincent, I mean Donald, I actually never have.

Thursday, May 06, 2004

Missing the Point

Headline is:
Bin Laden Said to Offer Gold for Killings
Should be:
Bin Laden Still Active, Threatening American Officials
Feminine Touch

Much has been said about the lack of female voices in the blogosphere. So we here at Ludis, ever striving to be Fair and Balanced, have decided to add a woman as our newest voice. Please welcome, Sheebur.
No Soup for You

Apparently the US has an aid for information policy in Afghanistan:

Pentagon forced to withdraw leaflet linking aid to information on Taliban

The US-led coalition in Afghanistan has distributed leaflets calling on people to provide information on al-Qaida and the Taliban or face losing humanitarian aid.

The move has outraged aid organisations who said their work is independent of the military and it was despicable to pretend otherwise.

Medecins Sans Frontieres, the international medical charity which passed the leaflets to the Guardian, said the threat endangered aid workers. Fourteen aid workers were killed in Afghanistan last year and 11 so far this year.

I guess it's an improvement from the previous policy, which led to the popular reality television game that swept Afghanistan: THINK FAST: Bomb or Food?
In 2003, four men were accused of starting a war for crimes Iraq didn't commit. Now they look to impose freedom on the innocent and serve liberty with an iron fist. If you need to start a war, with no questions asked, you need....

I love it when a sequence of actionable items comes together!

Wednesday, May 05, 2004

25 Should Cover it... For Openers

Billion, that is.

Remember when you needed to borrow(or just talk them in to giving you some) money from your parents? You knew they wouldn't be happy, you already blew the money they gave you last week. So in order to get some cash and not inflame the situation you gave 'em a total low ball number. You always knew you could go back for more.

Well, once again, the Bush Administration can be compared to irresponsible teenagers.

"We ran a little short with the previous 192,000,000,000, so 25 more should cover it. 25 billion...Tops...Yeah, that should cover it...Tops."

My ass. Sorry, kid. Not this time.
Almost unbelievable

Moore: Disney Blocks Distribution of Film

LOS ANGELES - The Walt Disney Company is blocking its Miramax Films division from distributing Michael Moore's documentary "Fahrenheit 911," which criticizes President Bush, according to a statement on Moore's Web site.

The film is highly critical of Bush's handling of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks and his actions leading up the attacks.

"I would have hoped by now that I would be able to put my work out to the public without having to experience the profound censorship obstacles I often seem to encounter," Moore wrote in the statement.

Miramax spokesman Matthew Hiltzik did not immediately return calls for comment Wednesday. Disney spokesman John Spelich also did not return calls early Wednesday.

Moore attributes Disney's decision to concerns that the documentary will endanger tax breaks the company receives from Florida and anger Bush's brother, Florida Gov. Jeb Bush.

Disney has a contractual agreement with Miramax principals Bob and Harvey Weinstein allowing it to prevent the company from distributing films under certain circumstances, such as an NC-17 rating, according to The New York Times, which first reported the story.

"Some people may be afraid of this movie because of what it will show," Moore wrote. "But there's nothing they can do about it now because it's done, it's awesome, and if I have anything to say about it, you'll see it this summer - because, after all, it is a free country."

The often confrontational director won an Oscar for his 2002 documentary "Bowling for Columbine," about the Columbine High School shooting and U.S. gun control policy. He's also known for the 1989 film "Roger & Me," which explored the effects of General Motors on his hometown of Flint, Mich.

"Fahrenheit 911" will be one of 18 films in competition next week at the Cannes Film Festival, Moore wrote.

It's hard not to get discouraged after something like this, but that's the whole point of censorship. Not only to keep something from a wider audience, but to intimidate and discourage opposition. So it makes it even more important to keep the faith. Things like this expose what this country has become, and I think most Americans won't stand for it once they pull their collective head out of their collective... you know what I mean.

Tuesday, May 04, 2004

Par for the Course

Man questioned by Secret Service, fined for throwing flag

WRIGHTSTOWN - Among the 50 or 60 demonstrators lining Broadway Street during the short visit Friday by Vice President Dick Cheney was a small group of young, highly vocal, anti-war protesters.

"I feel Cheney has trampled every right this country has," he said. "So I figured he might as well trample the flag. It was symbolic."

Before he knew it, he’d been grabbed by two men in plainclothes, his arms pinned behind him. He was marched across the street and taken inside the manufacturing plant where Cheney had just finished speaking.

Two men who identified themselves as Secret Service agents came in. They questioned him extensively. They asked about his travels. They asked why he was protesting. They asked about his political beliefs, which he was happy to share with them. He told them Bush and Cheney should be impeached and then imprisoned for war crimes.

They took four Polaroid photographs of him. There was some discussion of a federal charge, because he threw something at the vice president. But because he cooperated and because he did not resist, they let it go. It's on record, though. If something similar were to happen again, he was told, he could be prosecuted in federal court.

In the end, he was given two municipal citations, one for disorderly conduct, the other for "throwing or shooting a missile or projectile." He intends to pay the fines, which will total about $400. He's embarrassed by the second charge.

I guess he should have been in the "free speech zone".
(thanks sheebur)

Your Tax Dollars at Work

Excerpts from Maj. Gen. Taguba report on the conditions in Abu Gharib. From the LA Times via Empire Notes.

I find that the intentional abuse of detainees by military police personnel included the following acts:

Punching, slapping and kicking detainees; jumping on their naked feet.

Videotaping and photographing naked male and female detainees.

Forcibly arranging detainees in various sexually explicit positions for photographing.

Forcing detainees to remove their clothing and keeping them naked for several days at a time.

Forcing naked male detainees to wear women's underwear.

Forcing groups of male detainees to masturbate themselves while being photographed and videotaped.

Arranging naked male detainees in a pile and then jumping on them.

Positioning a naked detainee on a box [of meals ready to eat], with a sandbag on his head, and attaching wires to his fingers, toes and penis to simulate electric torture.

Writing "I am a Rapest" (sic) on the leg of a detainee alleged to have forcibly raped a 15-year-old fellow detainee, and then photographing him naked.

Placing a dog chain or strap around a naked detainee's neck and having a female soldier pose for a picture.

A male MP [military police] guard having sex with a female detainee.

Using military working dogs (without muzzles) to intimidate and frighten detainees, and in at least one case biting and severely injuring a detainee.

Taking photographs of dead Iraqi detainees.

In addition, several detainees also described the following acts of abuse, which under the circumstances, I find credible based on the clarity of their statements and supporting evidence provided by other witnesses:

Breaking chemical lights and pouring the phosphoric liquid on detainees.

Threatening detainees with a charged 9-millimeter pistol.

Pouring cold water on naked detainees.

Beating detainees with a broom handle and a chair.

Threatening male detainees with rape.

Allowing a military police guard to stitch the wound of a detainee who was injured after being slammed against the wall in his cell.

Sodomizing a detainee with a chemical light and perhaps a broomstick.

There's plenty more if you can stomach it.

Monday, May 03, 2004

Now it's time to play
5 Questions with Waingroh

A central strategy in the presidential campaign thus far has been the image of each candidate's "character". This will likely not change, so Waingroh would like to weigh in before the mudslinging gets really nasty (remember, we have 6 more months of this to go!). Each campaign wants to attack the other candidate's character while enhancing it's own. For the Bush Administration, much of this tactic has taken the form of labeling Kerry a "flip-flopper" throughout his career, including recent issues of abortion and defense spending.

Waingroh would like you to now do two things. First, setting the Hannitization of this label aside, let's just say the Republicans are right. Kerry has been inconsistent and flip-flopped on many stances. OK. He is a politician after all. Second, try to put your partisan politics aside, and try, just for the sake of this article, to ignore Bush's own flip-flopping record, and buy the argument that Bush is a direct, unwavering, confident pillar of strength. Choke back the dry heave, and continue. As impartial as you can let yourself be, ask yourself this question: how important to you is flip-flopping when grading the the character of someone who is the leader and representative of the American people?

1. Is it important to you that your candidate be someone who can adapt, even reverse and "flip-flop" policy due to changing circumstances? Or do you think they should trust their instincts, and stay the course no matter what new difficulties arise?

2. Should he be mindful of popular polls and public opinion, so much so that he'd be willing to even give in to political and public pressure if the majority of Americans felt a certain way? Or should he proclaim that polls do not influence his policy, that he and his advisors are the only ones who are capable of making sound policy?

3. Should he be open minded about the realities of politics, and understand that although he may not like a policy, it is in America's best interest to have a diverse political landscape? Or should he tilt all policy-making processes in his own party's favor, and even change the Constitution, to divide the American people into categories of "right" and "don't get it yet" ?

4. Should he be willing to admit, that in this explosive world situation, that he alone does not have it all figured out - and that mistakes may be made along the way - and to admit, explain, and apologize to those mistakes? Or should he, as president, simply be expected to know it all, and admit no mistakes, explanations or apologies, to anyone, ever?

5. Should he be candid about past imperfections and explain other political views he may have had in the past? Or should he hide any potential blemishes and classify all records - both personal and professional - until decades after his administration is over?

These are pretty simple questions, and every American - Democrat, Republican, or independent - has a right to ask them of someone who is campaigning to be the represent them as President. How do Kerry and Bush stand up to those questions?

Partisan beliefs can now commence, read Dr. Boudreaux's post below for answers to some of the above.
Admitting Past Mistakes

Much has been written about this President's inability to admit past mistakes, and Josh Marshall has a great post about it here.

Part of Bush's inability to apologize, is that they only make one plan for whatever policy they are implementing. The Bush policy makers are so wrapped up in changing the world and their place in history, that their plan is the only way.

With us or against us. Period.

When things don't work out as they hoped they just press ahead with the initial flawed policy. After all, what we're doing is great, even ordained by the Almighty. This in turn causes countless other problems and eventually becomes disconnected from reality.

In Iraq it was planned that we'd be welcomed as liberators and the oil revenue would pay for everything. Didn't happen that way. Should we send more troops, internationalize the effort, repeal the tax cuts? No, our plan is fine.

Same thing with the economy. Our economic policy: Tax cuts. The first round sent the economy into the shitter, so how do we fix it? More tax cuts.

I just scares me to think what great plans they'll come up with if they get another 4 years.
Media Matters

I just checked out David Brock's new site, Media Matters, and it definitly qualifys for the Ludis Seal of Approval. We've needed these types of things on the left for years now. With the Center for American Progress, Air America, and now this, we can start to fight back against the Herritage Foundations and the Rush Limbaughs. Although we still need a lot more.
Jerry, Jerry, Jerry

Bremer Takes Back Statements About Bush

At a McCormick Tribune Foundation conference on terrorism on Feb. 26, 2001, Bremer said, "The new administration seems to be paying no attention to the problem of terrorism. What they will do is stagger along until there's a major incident and then suddenly say, 'Oh, my God, shouldn't we be organized to deal with this?'

"That's too bad. They've been given a window of opportunity with very little terrorism now, and they're not taking advantage of it."

"I regret any suggestion to the contrary. In fact, I have since learned that President Bush had shared some of these frustrations, and had initiated a more direct and comprehensive approach to confronting terrorism consistent with the threats outlined in the National Commission report."

Would you share with us what that comprehensive approach is Jerry? Cause obviously McCaesar is too busy winning the War on Terra to tell us.
Naming Names

Joe Wilson's book, The Politics of Truth, is out today in which he names who is responsible for outing his undercover CIA wife. Hopefuly this will blow up in their face. Buy the book through our handy Powell's link.

Sunday, May 02, 2004

One Flew Over Abu Ghraib

Seymour M. Hersh of the New Yorker has an incredible inside account of the Iraqi torture at Abu Ghraib prison. It's a lengthy piece, and has some shocking graphic descriptions of inmate abuses, but Waingroh strongly encourages everyone to read it (Hersh also said on Wolf Blitzer that he has a lot more to tell, but - get this - he's actually waiting until he can prove the stories before putting them in print). Head over to Billmon for a follow up story.

A fifty-three-page report, obtained by The New Yorker, written by Major General Antonio M. Taguba and not meant for public release, was completed in late February. Its conclusions about the institutional failures of the Army prison system were devastating. Specifically, Taguba found that between October and December of 2003 there were numerous instances of "sadistic, blatant, and wanton criminal abuses" at Abu Ghraib.

In brief, the Taguba report explains that the issue of prison conditions at Abu Ghraib (which was the former torture center of Saddam's regime) was brought up 3 different times by officers under General Sanchez, and were ignored - until, of course, the public release of the now infamous photos just last week. In other words, those photos were definitely NOT an isolated case or anything new. It seems Abu Ghraib was run mostly by young Army Reservists, Military Police, private contractors, gas station attendants, night shift workers from McDonald's, and even a few teenagers from the Family Fun Center. Most detainees were civilians picked at random, and served no useful intelligence purpose, but were nonetheless locked away without a charge indefinitely.

There's no need for Waingroh to address the political consequences of this article - it speaks for itself. This isn't a partisan issue. This is the shit that happens when you have an internationally unsupported war, justified by lies, carried out by confused soldiers with dying morale due to extended tours - who are treated with hatred daily from the very people their bumbling Clown-in-Chief promised to liberate, because said Monkey is too busy talking about the difference between medals and ribbons instead of doing his job - which, I quote, is: "protecting the lives of the American people". With six more troops dead today, it's clear W. doesn't view our soldiers as a part of that category. Instead, they are tools. And as Stanley Kubrick so visually taught us in the movie 2001, monkeys like using tools. To smash things.

HAL (eburton): "What are you doing, George?"
Liberal Media

KATE O'BEIRNE, CAPITAL GANG:I don't know who leaked these pictures, but the fact of them could easily now cost American lives, despite what an isolated example it was.
And it's so terribly unfair, as I said, given how the American military, to their credit, operate.