Saturday, September 09, 2006

James Wolcott Gets It Right

So we've discussed he effects of September 11 five years down the road for America. What about the harm it did Osama bin Laden?

Well....none. If anything, it helped him. From Wolcott:
"Bin Laden might boast that he had achieved terrorism's equivalent of an atomic chain reaction: a self-regenerating cycle of outrage and foreign-policy overkill, aided by anniversary journalism and fuelled by the grim scenarios of security lobbyists. He now had only to drop an occasional CD into the offices of al-Jazeera, and Washington and London quaked with fear. The authorities could be reduced to million-dollar hysterics by a phial of nail varnish, a copy of the Qur'an, or a dark-skinned person displaying a watch and a mobile phone."
We lost a lot more than he won, but he did win.

The Envelope, Please....

Say hallo to my leetle fren'!

Friday, September 08, 2006

9/11, Five Years Later: How Has America REALLY Changed?

Time Magazine this week features as its cover story, this:...then they go into pointing out that, in fact, we lost quite a bit:
This has become the loss with no grave, no chance for mourning, because we still live it every day--the loss of that transcendent unity, global goodwill, common purpose born of righteous anger that wrapped us like a bandage those first months after the attacks: a President with a 90% approval rating, a Congress working as one, expressions of sympathy and offers of help from every corner of the planet. WE ARE ALL AMERICANS, said Le Monde.

That unity was never going to last. The world more easily prefers a superpower when it's wounded and weakened than when it rises and growls. But we have not merely returned to the messy family arguments of Sept. 10. We are divided at home, dreaded abroad, in need of a hard conversation about America's vital interests and abiding values but too bitter and suspicious to have it.
"We are all Americans"...I thought about that for a while, and realized that we can lay the blame squarely at the doorstep of the Republicans and Bush for this.

We Are All Americans...unless your name is Muhammad, or Ali.

We Are All Americans...unless your religion requires you to wear a turban on your head, or a burqa or caftan.

We Are All Americans...until you disagree with the President's "war."

We Are All Americans...unless you're a Democrat.

We Are All Americans...unless you're a liberal.

We Are All Americans...unless you complain about the loss of freedoms, the horrid prosecution of the military action in the Middle East.

We Are All Americans...unless torture disturbs you.

We Are All Americans...unless you question Israel's actions in Lebanon.

We Are All Americans...unless you're running against George Bush.

We Are All Americans...unless you work for a living, or your name is Warren Buffett or George Soros.

We Are All Americans...unless you live on a coast.

We Are All Americans...unless you're gay or lesbian.

We Are All Americans...unless you're foolish enough to actually pay taxes.

We Are All Americans...unless your state pays more in income tax than it gets back from the Federal Government in spending on programs and homeland security.

We Are All Americans...unless you're poor.

We Are All Americans...unless you go to public school and get left behind.

We Are All Americans...unless we can say you aren't.

(I can see this post will be updated frequently throughout the day, so feel free to leave ideas in the comments)

We are all Americans... unless you're from New Orleans.

We are all Americans... unless you don't worship the way we say you should.

We are all Americans...Unless you want to exercise your freedom of speech

Friday Cat Blogging

Possible new pets for me? I'm a-goin' huntin' tomorry...count toes, folks.

Friday Music Blogging

The one and only OMD

Pope Benedict Makes Some Changes

And now, a hymn from the book of Braumeister:

Here's to good friends.
Tonight is kind of special.
The beer we'll pour
must say something more, somehow.
So tonight (tonight),
Let it be Lowenbrau (let it be Lowenbrau).
It's been so long.
Hey, I'm glad to see ya.
Raise your glass.
Here's to health and happiness.
So tonight (tonight),
Let it be all the best.


Thursday, September 07, 2006

Go Get 'Em, Bill!

TPM Cafe has obtained the full text of the letter Bill Clinton's lawyers have sent regarding that egregious, error-filled and slanted docu*koffkoff*dra-maaaaaaaa that Bob Iger over at Disney is foisting on America in "celebration" of September 11.

An excerpt:
We challenge anyone to read the 9/11 Commission Report and find any basis for the false allegations noted above or the tenor of the drama, which suggests that the Clinton Administration was inattentive to the threat of a terrorist strike.

Frankly, the bias of the ABC drama is not surprising given the background and political leanings of its writer/producer, Mr. Nowrasteh, which have been well-documented on numerous conservative blogs and talk shows in his promotion of this film. Mr. Nowrasteh’s bias can be seen in an interview he gave to David Horowitz’s conservative magazine Frontpage, during which he said:
"The 9/11 report details the Clinton’s administration’s response – or lack of response – to Al Qaeda and how this emboldened Bin Laden to keep attacking American interests. The worst example is the response to the October, 2000 attack of the U.S.S. Cole in Yemen where 17 American sailors were killed. There simply was no response. Nothing."

But as Sandy Berger told the 9/11 Commission: “[T]o go to war, a president needs to be able to say that his senior intelligence and law enforcement officers have concluded who is responsible.” And as the 9/11 Commission report repeatedly acknowledges, the US did not have clear evidence of bin Laden’s connection to the attack on the USS Cole before the end of the Clinton Administration (p. 192, 193, 195 & executive summary).

While ABC is promoting “The Path to 9/11” as a dramatization of historical fact, in truth it is a fictitious rewriting of history that will be misinterpreted by millions of Americans. Given your stated obligation to “get it right,” we urge you to do so by not airing this drama until the egregious factual errors are corrected, an endeavor we could easily assist you with given the opportunity to view the film.


Bruce R. Lindsey

An Amazing Animation

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Why September 11 Matters

Watch this video, and remember the lies we were fed.

The story behind it.

Now, If This Don't Just Beat All....

By now, no doubt, you've read that, as Bush was mentioning Osama bin Laden's name more times in one hour than he has in four years, Pakistan was moving to give amnesty to the Taliban and Al Qaeda.

Yea, you heard that right:
Osama bin Laden, America’s most wanted man, will not face capture in Pakistan if he agrees to lead a “peaceful life,” Pakistani officials tell ABC News.

The surprising announcement comes as Pakistani army officials announced they were pulling their troops out of the North Waziristan region as part of a “peace deal” with the Taliban.

If he is in Pakistan, bin Laden “would not be taken into custody,” Major General Shaukat Sultan Khan told ABC News in a telephone interview, “as long as one is being like a peaceful citizen.”

Bin Laden is believed to be hiding somewhere in the tribal areas of Pakistan, near the Afghanistan border, but U.S. officials say his precise location is unknown.

In addition to the pullout of Pakistani troops, the “peace agreement” between Pakistan and the Taliban also provides for the Pakistani army to return captured Taliban weapons and prisoners.

“What this means is that the Taliban and al Qaeda leadership have effectively carved out a sanctuary inside Pakistan,” said ABC News consultant Richard Clarke, the former White House counter-terrorism director.
Apparently, General Sultan was...well, overruled, however.
The government of Pakistan today denied it would allow Osama bin Laden to avoid capture under terms of a peace agreement it signed with Taliban leaders in the country's North Waziristan area.

"If he is in Pakistan, today or any time later, he will be taken into custody and brought to justice," the Pakistani ambassador to the United States, Mahmud Ali Durrani, said in a statement.

The ambassador said a Pakistani military spokesman, Major General Shaukat Sultan, had been "grossly misquoted" when he told ABC News Tuesday that bin Laden would not be taken into custody "as long as one is being like a peaceful citizen."
D'huh? And yet, ABC news prints a transcript of the original conversation:
Q. ABC News: If bin Laden or Zawahiri were there, they could stay?

A. Gen. Sultan: No one of that kind can stay. If someone is there he will have to surrender, he will have to live like a good citizen, his whereabouts, exit travel would be known to the authorities.

Q. ABC News: So, he wouldn't be taken into custody? He would stay there?

A. Gen. Sultan: No, as long as one is staying like a peaceful citizen, one would not be taken into custody. One has to stay like a peaceful citizen and not allowed to participate in any kind of terrorist activity.
So General Sultan is saying that, if bin Laden surrenders, they'll take him into custody, but hey, they aren't going to sweat the small detail of finding him.

But go re-read the Pakistani denial again. Oh hell, I'll let General Sultan fill in my thinking:
General Sultan said today it was "hair splitting" to speculate whether troops would be sent in if bin Laden was found in North Waziristan.

"If someone is found there, we will see what is to be done," General Sultan said today. "Pakistan is committed to the war on terror, and of course we will go after any terrorist found to be operating here," he said.
In other words, the nuanced position is that IF Pakistan finds bin Laden, they'll capture him.

Well, that's a little bit better than "if he turns himself in," but now the question has to be asked, "How much effort is our new-found know, the one with clowns to the left of them, jokers to the right...going to put into hunting bin Laden down?"

My guess? About as much as Bush put into finding WMDs in Iraq (see my Rose Coloured Goggles post). The frightening fact is, between Iraq, Afghanistan and now Pakistan, bin Laden has gained more ground, earned more territory to operate in, than before 9/11. That means more places to hide, but also more places to plot, plan and stash supplies and ammunition.

And we're safer?

, ,

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Viewing The World Through Rose-Coloured Goggles

White House: U.S. safer but not yet safe

By MERRILL HARTSON, Associated Press Writer
2 minutes ago

WASHINGTON - The Bush administration proclaimed significant progress in the war on terror Tuesday but said the enemy has adjusted to U.S. defenses and that "America is safer but we are not yet safe."

Releasing an updated counterterrorism strategy in advance of a speech that President Bush was to deliver later in the day, the White House said: "The United States and our partners continue to pursue a significantly degraded but still dangerous al-Qaida network."
Pursue them....where, precisely?

In Iraq? There was no Al-Qaeda in Iraq until we invited them in. Afghanistan? Where the Taliban has ramped up an insurgency to drive American troops out, thus diverting resources from the hunt for bin Laden and Al Qaedans?

Where precisely are we pursuing them?

This "safer, but not safe" trope is bullshit from the get-go. There have been more terror attacks in more countries, killing more people each year since we invaded Iraq than there were before.

We're "safer"? No, we're not. The fact that we haven't had any attacks inside our borders does not mean we're safer. Safer means when we no longer have to be as worried about attacks, period. This kind of safer is like saying "Well, we installed a new lock on the door, and bought a gun. I guess that makes us safer."

Nope. Just means you're better able to defend yourself. "Safer" in that example would be moving to a neighborhood where you don't need a new lock and gun.

Similarly, to say that we are safer because "...we have substantially improved our air, land, sea and border security..." is ludicrous. All it means is we've raised the stakes for attacking us, which means a) our defenses can and will be breached, and b) when they are breached, the attacks will be faar more devastating and destructive than anything the world has seen yet, including Sept. 11.

Security cannot be protective, unless it is in a closed system, something the United States cannot be. The best security can do is to make it more difficult, put up more obstacles, to an attack. Psychology tells us that the harder someone works to solve a puzzle, the greater the reward had better be. Since Al Qaeda and other terror groups set their own terms for rewards, it's not impossible to see that they will set in motion an attack that will guarantee the United States permanent injury.

Buildings can be rebuilt. Lives lost, mourned, and families can move on. But freedom and peace...those are the real victims that Al Qaeda will target.

Monday, September 04, 2006

Potential Darwin Award Winner

"Crocodile Hunter" Irwin dies

By Paul Tait

SYDNEY (Reuters) - Steve Irwin, the quirky Australian naturalist who won worldwide acclaim, was killed by a stingray barb through the chest on Monday while diving off Australia's northeast coast, emergency officials and witnesses said.

"Steve was hit by a stingray in the chest," said local diving operator Steve Edmondson, whose Poseidon boats were out on the Great Barrier Reef when the accident occurred.

"He probably died from a cardiac arrest from the injury," he said.
I have to admit that, while I admire his commitment to the natural world and the amount of attention he's drawn to endangered species like the crocodile, Irwin's antics have always made me a little ill.

And that's before he jeopardized his infant son! The way he would harass snakes and other reptiles in order to get them to take up defensive postures and attack stances were less fascinating and more nauseating.

Sting-ray tails, as you can see here, don't flex very much, so in point of fact, for someone to get stung generally you have to step on the tail, or in Irwin's case, impale yourself either while surprising the ray on entry (hey, it *could* happen) or harassing it by swimming right behind it, and it suddenly stops or you've been handling a ray, always a no-no. The fact that it was a chest injury means Irwin was upright when it happened, so it's unlikely he was swimming behind it. Iriwn has a history of harassing sea life. You can do the math here.

This photo, by the way, was taken off Grand Cayman at Sting Ray City, a place where tourists, both snorkelers and scuba divers, can hand feed the rays (and yes, that's my daughter under the ray, so as you can see, I trusted the ray more than I would have trusted Steve Irwin with her.) If you click on the photo, you'll see thebarb, standing pointing dorsally in the upper part of the picture. The rays at Sting ray City are very friendly and very used to humans. The only recent incident at this location, where sting rays congregate in the dozens, was a small boy who was bitten by a moray that got confused in murk kicked up by excited tourists. Sting rays can use their tails in self-defense, but it's hard for them to position themselves to whip it around, as their eyes nearly face forward like ours.