Seven Degrees from Normal

Two people, eighteen years of marriage, seven college degrees.

Wednesday, December 29, 2004

Oh, lord

Navy SEALs Sue AP Over Iraq Prison Photos

I guess it could be worse. Initially I thought they were claiming copyright infringement.

Saturday, December 25, 2004

In the name of the father . . .

Happy Christmas.

Today's holiday edition of the WaPo leads with a cheerful piece on how we failed to come up with any kind of Phase IV (i.e., after the fighting) operational plan for Iraq. How could such a thing happen? you ask. Well,

Wilson's essay amounts to an indictment of the education and performance of senior U.S. officials involved in the war. "U.S. war planners, practitioners and the civilian leadership conceived of the war far too narrowly" and tended to think of operations after the invasion "as someone else's mission," he says. In fact, Wilson says, those later operations were critical because they were needed to win the war rather than just decapitate Saddam Hussein's government.

There's a difference, you see, between "taking out" Saddam Hussein--which, as long as there is a world-class military force at hand, could be accomplished by any moderately competent chief executive, or even a reasonably intelligent German Shepherd, probably--and conducting and winning a war that results in a stabilized country. And I don't mean "results in a stabilized country thirty years from now after all the oil dries up." No, I mean "results in a stabilized country before the country devolves into chaos, destroying the lives of the people you are ostensibly liberating." That George W. Bush, the man who offered to go "mano a mano" with his own father when accused of being a drunken lout, could not discern the difference, hardly suprises. What's a little more disheartening is that evidently most of our senior military staff were happy enough to go along with the plan of dethroning Hussein and switching immediately to chest-thumping, flightsuit-wearing, all-hail-the-conquering-hero mode. All that messy cleaning-up-after-yourselves stuff, the stuff that happens after the credits have rolled in the movies, just didn't interest enough of them. They wanted to blow up stuff, have everyone tell them how cool they were, and take their victory lap. This is our vaunted professional military leadership?

I don't remember if it was Atrios who said it first, or Oliver, or someone else, but "Hulk smash!" is not a foreign policy. Watching W. play out his petty bloodlust/Oedipal urges at the cost of 100,000 innocent lives is bad enough. Aren't there any grownups around who have noticed that this kid breaks every toy he plays with?

Thursday, December 23, 2004

Buy blue!

What do Barnes & Noble, Costco, J. Crew, Gallo Wineries, Sonic, and Starbucks have in common?

How about Walmart, Circuit City, JC Penney, Victoria's Secret, Bath and Body Works, Home Depot, Coors, The Olive Garden, and Hallmark Cards?

The first group, you should do business with.

The second group is giving your money to the GOP.

I'll have some social justice with extra chili and cheese, please!

Monday, December 20, 2004

Watching our backs

One of the organizers of the Jazz Funeral for Democracy, coming up in New Orleans on Inauguration Day, writes in with the comforting news that he is also a criminal defense lawyer. So mourners need not worry about disappearing without a trace into the Louisiana prison system.

If you follow the link above, you'll see that the organizers have negotiated a block of really cheap hotel rooms for the event. How much of an excuse do you need to go to New Orleans?

Wednesday, December 15, 2004

Oh, right, the blog

Frankly, there's just been too damn much going on to choose what to talk about. The whole Kerik nomination/de-nomination thing has been heartening; I wasn't surprised at all that the guy turned out to be such a goon, or that the media was so quick to give him a pass on his goonhood, but I'm delighted that enough stuff actually came out to make him an untenable candidate even for the Bushies. A piece in today's NYT attributes this collapse primarily to a) Bush's own enthusiasm for Kerik and b) Alberto Gonzalez's gross incompetence, which bodes well for the office of Attorney General over the next four years.

James Wolcott has a hilarious/scary description of Kerik, whom he met in person, on his blog (which I highly recommend):

Kerik exuded too much quiet authority and dramatic effect, trying a shade too hard to convey that he knew things he couldn't speak of and was working from the deep inside, privy to secrets that he carried locked inside the bank vault of his barrel chest. I could see how this tough-guy shtick--which obviously wasn't entirely shtick, but a tough streak that had been refined into an urban lawman persona--would impress fake swaggarts like, well, George Bush, who likes to play dress-up as a range hand and fighter pilot to show what a Hungry man entree he is.

I hesitate to say the system "worked" in Kerik's case, but the fact that it did manage to vomit him up before he could do real damage is an encouraging sign (though I still caution that there will be no functionaing security appparatus in this country for the next four years). And there are others: The WaPo has a story today on powerful groups that allied with Bush in the past but are actively opposing his current fiscal bacchanal - the AARP being one (and it's the least they can do to atone for supporting the obscene profit-windfall for pharmaceutical companies commonly referred to as the prescription drug benefit plan). The happy idea of making businesses pay taxes on the health benefits they give employees appears to be dead already. More and more attention is being paid in mainstream media to the overwhelming evidence of continued, planned, systematic abuse of prisoners, sanctioned at high levels.

Perhaps, if we haven't hit bottom quite yet, we are almost there?

Thursday, December 09, 2004


Amy forwards a piece from Hullabaloo addressing just where the hell fundamentalism comes from. It ain't a pretty picture. Digby refers to Davidson Loehr's "The Fundamentalist Agenda,"
which is also a good read. If fundamentalism has a biological basis (and I'm convinced; it's too illogical to be anything else), that says a lot about what strategies will and won't be (have and haven't been) successful in challenging it.

Rumsfeld redux

Maureen Dowd asks how this dangerous chucklehead kept his job. I think it's pretty clear: he's the sacrificial lamb being fattened as we watch. With the prisoner abuse scandal clearly set to burst through the dike at multiple points, they need a fall guy, and who better than Rummy? Everyone already hates him anyway. Getting him out into the field to insult the troops will just make his downfall all the more satisfying to those not interested in ultimate causes. If Rummy is hated enough, no one will look higher than Rummy, is what I assume Rove is thinking.

Tuesday, December 07, 2004

Catching up

Sorry, I haven't been feeling very bloggy lately, what with the holiday and the cold and flu season and the gay-bashing and all. But I am tickled by the idea of protesting Bush's inauguration with a Jazz Funeral for Democracy in New Orleans - starting in Congo Square, no less. I have no real desire to go all the way to D.C. to get roughed up and thrown in jail by public servents funded by my tax dollars, but I might go to New Orleans for it.

My theory is, better to get arrested now, with your friends and family knowing exactly when and how it happened. Because they'll be coming for all of us eventually.

I bet New Orleans jails are pretty scary though.