Saturday, August 13, 2005

"MESS-O-POTAMIA"--

When you read something like this, it just leaves you wondering how to react. This is a Washington Post article detailing the discovery of chemical weapons precursor agents in a warehouse in Mosul.

I perused a Daily Kos diary about this topic, and in the comments, I noticed that many Kossacks are wary of going full-bore into the idea that these are weapons-grade agents, as opposed to being innocuous agricultural chemicals, such as pesticide precursors. While I understand the concern, I have no reason to disbelieve the Pentagon's claims on this simply because the discovery of chemical agents snuck in by the insurgents simply does not help this administration or the Pentagon--instead, it reminds us of the bitter irony that the administration has, by its invasion created the very situation in alleged response to which invaded in the first place.

Add to this the simple fact that no mention of this discovery has been made on any of the typical right-wing sources (Drudge, RedState, Fox, Powerline, Newsmax, etc.), whereas randomly hollow tubes that that pre-dated the invasion were frontpage news for these places before, and you get the impression that this is a piece of news that simply does not bode well for current administration policy.

The more interesting developments from this story (should these chemicals prove, in fact, to be weapons precursors targeted for use against American and Iraqi soldiers) will be if an investigation into their origin tracks them down to a foreign country (that is to say, most likely Syria or Iran). Would this give the administration the excuse it needs to initiate regime change in either of these two countries? Keep in mind that Bush just today reiterated his position on Israeli TV (in stronger terms than before) that military action against Iran is most certainly on the table. If so, would they do it, and how much public support would they have?

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

"AMERICA SUPPORTS YOUR FREEDOM WALK"--

Donald Rumsfeld and the Department of Defense have announced their plans for the fourth anniversary of the Sept. 11th attacks: a march from the Pentagon to the Mall, followed by a country music extravaganza. They have christened it the "America Supports Your Freedom" walk. Steve Gilliard, one of my favorite bloggers, has made an entry (citing a Daily Kos diary) about this, and his points are well-taken, but I'd like to take this a few steps further.

First of all, let's start with the name. "America Supports Your Freedom Walk"? That sounds like the worst combination of Orwellian lingo and advertising gimmickry. It reminds me of when I was in Berlin and my friend showed me her old school calendars from when the GDR still existed--it had markings for things such as "Nazionale Deutsch-Sowjetische Freundschafttag" (National German-Soviet Friendship Day). I never expected to see such trite, state-sponsored propagandistic phraseology out of my own government.

Next, we move on to the combination of a) the name, and b) the event. Ideally, on September 11th of every year, we should be honoring the memory of those who died--both Americans and foreign nationals of all races and religions--in the worst attack on our soil since Pearl Harbor. Instead, the Pentagon has decided to use the occasion to intrude on the painful private and personal memories of the victims of this tragedy to stage a publicity event in support of a failing plutocratic neo-Wilsonianist crusader ideology. Exploiting terrorism has been a standard practice for some people for a long time now, but this just steeps to quite a new low.

Furthermore, this name and the very idea of this "walk" serves to further conflate 9/11 and the invasion of Iraq. One would have to hope that the transition between the terror attacks on our country and the vague idea of "Freedom" at the tip of a spear comes a little less intuitively to the American public at this point.

Lastly, we move on to the country music extravaganza. Let me just say first that music in support of a cause is a good thing: Live Aid, Darfur relief, the original Sept. 11th telethon--these are good. They are pro bono (and pro-Bono!) concerts to raise money for causes that need it. But this is a totally different kettle of fish. This is a commercialized exploitation of private tragedy. Do the Sept. 11th families benefit? No. So who does? The Pentagon's publicity deparment! And does anyone think it's any surprise that the Pentagon has chosen country music to headline this event, in spite of the fact, as stated previously, that the attacks occurred in the most urban and diverse environment of the face of the earth? Of course not. I've got nothing against country music per se. I don't like it as a style--it grates on me--but I have nothing against it. The fact of the matter remains, however, that country music is most popular with--you guessed it--Red State NASCAR republicans.

It's quite clear that the Pentagon cares not one whit for the the victims of September 11th. It's just using infamy and emotion of the day to prop up support for its failing policies and "shore up the base" among its core constituency. A desperate, craven, and ultimately immoral attempt at a publicity stunt.

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

SECRET DETENTIONS/U.S. CONSITUTION:

I recently read an excellent piece of work by Correa concerning Judge Coughenour, whose proclamation about the importance of the Constitution as applied to terror trials was roundly criticized by right-wingers who enthusiastically prefer junta-style military tribunals.

This got me to thinking about how important the constution is to those of the Republican persuasion. It wasn't very long ago, after all, that Bill Frist was trying, at Dobson's behest, to eliminate the ability to filibuster judicial nominees, after re-christening the move the "Constitutional option"--so called because in their logic, or lack thereof, the Constitution's mandate to the Senate to "advise and consent" on nominees guarantees an up-or-down vote on each one. The right-wingers had, at that time, a seeming respect for the lettering of the Constitution.

Or, more strikingly, take the abortion debate. We all know that the anti-choice crowd's more fundamental argument for overturning Roe v. Wade stands not on the intrinsic merits of the Roe decision itself, but rather on the Griswold v. Connecticut case that established the right to a reasonable expectation privacy as a right not explicitly expressed in the Constitution, but definitely discernible from an intentionalist point of view, based on a bunch of other "circumstantial evidence" found within the Constitution, such as safeguards against unreasonable search and seizure. According to them (and you can find this argument against privacy stated in this Rich Lowry Piece on the National Review Online), since the Constitution doesn't explicitly speak to the question of abortion and a right to privacy, said rights and privileges do not exist.

We see here a profound respect for the Constitution's literal words on these two issues, despite how wrong they may or may not be. So why don't these people have an equal degree of respect for the very literal words of the constitution when it comes to the right to trial, the right to legal counsel and the right to face one's accuser? Why is it that we have the "Constitutional Option" and "Strict Constructionists", but Judge Coughenour is accused of being a traitorous terrorist sympathizer for pointing out the positive results with regard to intelligence-gathering and law enforcement that emerged from Ressum's trial?

I think that the common ground isn't based on principle, constitutional or otherwise--it's based on a desire to see people suffer for crimes real or imagined, and whatever arguments can be brought to bear to accomplish this objective--regardless of how contradictory they may be when juxtaposed--will be brought to bear to accomplish this goal.