maandag, maart 31, 2003

More Greetings For "The Liberators"

"They made a mistake coming here to fight a people who have faith and who are not afraid to die," said Ahmed Aziz Ahmed, a 38-year-old grocer turned Baath Party militiaman who said he can't wait for his chance to confront U.S. and British invaders. "They think that they can kill Saddam Hussein and rule us," he said with a laugh. "But we are all Saddam Husseins."

Just two weeks ago, on March 16th, with America on the cusp of war, Meet The Press was able to stage an interview with the abstemious and anodyne oil baron-cum-Vice President of the most disasterous Administration in recent American history, Dick Cheney.

What I remember most about watching this interview was thinking what a treat it was that Mr. Cheney was finally able to come out of hiding and grace the nation with his presence on the eve of war to tell the American people, in his indefatigable magniloquence how happy they should be that he and his kooky sidekick, George Bush were brave enough to stand up to that evil dictator Saddam Hussein and send all those Americans off to the desert to liberate those plebeian Iraqi sufferers from their horrible fate and make the world safe once again for democracy and freedom loving peoples everywhere. What a confident man that Dick Cheney was.

"...from the standpoint of the Iraqi people, my belief is we will, in fact, be greeted as liberators..." Mr. Cheney prophesied in between coughing spasms.

Tim Russert, moderator of Meet the Press, continuing to press the issue, boldly forced the issue, asking Dick Cheney:

"If your analysis is not correct, and we’re not treated as liberators, but as conquerors, and the Iraqis begin to resist, particularly in Baghdad, do you think the American people are prepared for a long, costly, and bloody battle with significant American casualties?"

But Mr. Cheney, a man whose confidence knows no bounds when it comes to sending the children of OTHER democracy-loving Americans off to die for his oil profits, did not waver in his belief:

"Well, I don’t think it’s likely to unfold that way, Tim, because I really do believe that we will be greeted as liberators. I’ve talked with a lot of Iraqis in the last several months myself, had them to the White House. The president and I have met with them, various groups and individuals, people who have devoted their lives from the outside to trying to change things inside Iraq. And like Kanan Makiya who’s a professor at Brandeis, but an Iraqi, he’s written great books about the subject, knows the country intimately, and is a part of the democratic opposition and resistance. The read we get on the people of Iraq is there is no question but what they want to the get rid of Saddam Hussein and they will welcome as liberators the United States when we come to do that."

If I were a DJ and this were a turntable instead of keyboard, I would scratch that line over and over again:

"The read we get on the people of Iraq is THERE IS NO QUESTION but what they want to the get rid of Saddam Hussein and THEY WILL WELCOME AS LIBERATORS THE UNITED STATES WHEN WE COME TO DO THAT."

...No question. They will welcome as liberators the United States when we come to do that.
We will be welcomed as liberators.
We....liberators...will be welcomed....
Welcome Liberators! Welcome!

It's a catchy phrase alright. Now, let's see what's been liberated to date:

At the time of this writing, according to the Iraq Body Count Project, Dick Cheney and George Bush have been able to "liberate" between 450-600 Iraqi civilians from their oppressed lives under Saddam. They must certainly be happier now than when they had to live under that oppressive dictatorship, especially those among the "liberated" who were children. They must be really happy because, let's be honest, would YOU want to live an entire life of oppression under and evil regime without being liberated by The Bush Administration?

So many of my conservative acquaintances, all of whom not only became infatuated with the war on Iraq but all of whom irrationally and bellicosely shouted down questions about why it was necessary to invade Iraq and called people "un-American" or "Unpatriotic" for daring to ask to see The Emperor's New Clothes, used to try and remind everyone how lucky they all were that a great Christian like Bush was around to lead America to greatness. They would tell these "unAmerican" people with their "unAmerican" questions, that they were lucky they weren't living in Iraq because if they were living in Iraq, Saddam Hussein would have stuffed them into sausage grinders or gassed them or raped their mothers and daughters just for daring to question him. I want to tell them all how woefully misguided the rest of us were. If I'd have known the liberation was going to be this easy, if I had known that Dick Cheney was something on par with Jeane Dixon when it came to predicting the future, that the Iraqis would trample themselves in their rush to thank America for liberating them, I'd have never questioned the Administration to begin with. We were silly. Impetuous. Just a bunch of liberals re-living the 60s I suppose. A bunch of commies and hippies who won't just shut up and support the troops.

I can tell you one thing for certain, George Bush and Dick Cheney certainly support the American troops. After all, they cared enough about those troops and the spouses and children of those troops that they thought how neat it would be if those troops would be liberators instead of invaders. They care enough about those troops that when some of the liberators die, Dick Cheney and George Bush personally deliver the bad news to the families of those troops who died to liberate those poor Iraqis from that evil dictator Saddam. They care because Dick Cheney and George Bush have sent their own children in harm's way to save America from tyranny and liberate the oppressed Iraqi peoples. I know George Bush cares. He cares so much that he cut veteran's benefits from the budget to support the war.

Human Rights Watch estimates that Saddam has been responsible for the death of as many as a million Iraqi citizens over the course of his tenure, since 1979, when he was first took power as the Iraqi president. That's one million killings divided by 24 years, which, if you round up, comes out to about 42,000 killing per year. If we consider the figure of 600 Iraqi civilians killed by "friendly" liberating fire in 12 days of war, that comes out to about 50 killings per day Worked out over a year, that's only about 18,250 killings per year or, about 23,750 fewer Iraqis killed per year.

So you see, Dick Cheney is right. American troops are liberators. Look at all the lives they're saving! This is a real bargain! The Iraqis should be rolling in the dirt with gratitude. And yet, curiously, they're not. The Bush Administration says this is because Saddam Hussein is scaring all of them and not letting them come out for liberation. This of course, the same Saddam Hussein the Bush Administration says "may or may not" be dead already.

Of course, if Iraqis, as noted by Mr. Ahmed at the top, are "all Saddams" then it won't really matter much who America kills or who they liberate. It seems that the liberating business just got alot more difficult. Good thing America has a man like Dick Cheney who knows better than the Iraqis, how they react when they are liberated.

vrijdag, maart 28, 2003


Due to the fervor of war, the lure of quiet mountains, and the onset of the baseball season, Desultory Turgescence will be unavailable until March 31st. In its absence, feel free to peruse the archives or read the following two pieces over and over again until I get back:

Reading the News and Thinking of the T'ang Poets

When Li Po tried to climb T'ai-hang,
he found its passes choked with snow.
Thwarted, he turned back to lowlands,
to streams sliding through bare willows
where he sat and fished and wrote a poem.
When young, he was a hsia avenger,
righting wrongs with a spoon-headed sword.
Old, he settled things by sitting still.


Before the rebels took Ch'ang-an,
Tu Fu escaped the fabled city
where Christian, Jew, and Manichaean
held court with Buddhists. The Emperor,
who wrote lyrics and composed, had fled.
Months later, crossing moonlit fields
stippled bright with human bones,
Tu Fu wrote that poetry is useless,
in a poem alive these thousand years.


Today our news is much the same.
Near Srebrenica, skulls dot fields
like cabbages, while in Rwanda,
the short tribe hacked up the tall.
"Blood is smeared on bush and grass,"
yet poetry persists through slaughter,
as if the systoles in our raging hearts
held rhythms that could heal, if heard.

by John Balaban, Locusts at the Edge of Summer: New & Selected Poems
Copper Canyon Press


Wreck on the Highway
Bruce Springsteen

Last night I was out driving
Coming home at the end of the working day
I was riding alone through the drizzling rain
On a deserted stretch of a county two-lane
When I came upon a wreck on the highway

There was blood and glass all over
And there was nobody there but me
As the rain tumbled down hard and cold
I seen a young man lying by the side of the road
He cried "Mister, won't you help me please…"

An ambulance finally came and took him to Riverside
I watched as they drove him away
And I thought of a girlfriend or a young wife
And a state trooper knocking in the middle of the night
To say "Your baby died in a wreck on the highway."

Sometimes I sit up in the darkness
And I watch my baby as she sleeps
Then I climb in bed and I hold her tight
I just lay there awake in the middle of the night
Thinking 'bout the wreck on the highway

woensdag, maart 26, 2003

Truth? No Thanks, It Just Gets In The Way

"The British government has learned that Saddam Hussein recently sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa. Our intelligence sources tell us that he has attempted to purchase high strength aluminum tubes suitable for nuclear weapons production. Saddam Hussein has not credibly explained these activities. He clearly has much to hide."
Bush's State of the Union speech, January 27, 2003

Investigative reporter Seymour Hersch's article in this week's The New Yorker notes that thereafter, the story fell apart.

"On March 7th, Mohamed ElBaradei, the director-general of the International Atomic Energy Agency, in Vienna, told the U.N. Security Council that the documents involving the Niger-Iraq uranium sale were fakes. “The I.A.E.A. has concluded, with the concurrence of outside experts, that these documents . . . are in fact not authentic,” ElBaradei said.

One senior I.A.E.A. official went further. He told me, “These documents are so bad that I cannot imagine that they came from a serious intelligence agency. It depresses me, given the low quality of the documents, that it was not stopped. At the level it reached, I would have expected more checking.”

The Bush administration concedes that the documents are bogus but claims the fraud was not committed by Americans. Hersh didn't find the culprits, but he suggests that evidence points to British intelligence officials. He quotes an unnamed "former Clinton administration official" and a "former American intelligence officer" who claim that the Brits have leaked bogus information about Iraq to the British media for years.

According to Slate, CIA analysts are now trying to cover their ass by saying they communicated significant doubts to the administration about the evidence backing up charges that Iraq tried to purchase uranium from Africa for nuclear weapons, charges that found their way into President Bush's State of the Union address, a State Department "fact sheet" and public remarks by numerous senior officials.

In a letter sent to Bush last week, Rep. Henry A. Waxman (D-Calif.) asked for a full accounting of "what you knew about the reliability of the evidence linking Iraq to uranium in Africa, when you knew this, and why you and senior officials in the administration presented the evidence to the U.N. Security Council, the Congress, and the American people without disclosing the doubts of the CIA."

Colin Powell once again, relishes his role of the dupe. He told a U.S. Congressional budget subcommittee two weeks ago that U.S. officials received the information in what he called "good faith." He said they were made available to U.N. weapons inspectors in Iraq, but that they did not come from the United States. Mr. Powell also said the information came from other sources, which he did not identify.

Senator John Rockefeller, the senior Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee asked the FBI on Friday to investigate fake documents the United States used as evidence to the United Nations of alleged Iraqi efforts to acquire uranium from Niger.

"As you know, the International Atomic Energy Agency has recently determined that some of the intelligence documents provided to it by the United States are forgeries," Rockefeller wrote in a letter to FBI Director Robert Mueller.

"These documents were provided to the IAEA as evidence of Iraqi efforts to procure uranium from the Republic of Niger. I am writing to request that the Federal Bureau of Investigation investigate this matter,"

Unfortunately, it doesn't appear that the FBI is making any investigations of the matter. At least not publically.

According to the Voice of America, a spokesman for the Federal Bureau of Investigation indicates the FBI may look into the forgery of the documents.

But the spokesman suggests there will not be a "formal investigation" but rather just laboratory analysis of the phony evidence. He tells VOA the falsification, especially since it was apparently carried out abroad, was probably not a violation of any criminal statutes in this country. Apparently, the President going before the world to justify the attack of another country based upon false documentation is not a "violation" of any criminal statutes in this country either.

If the Bush Administration is looking for additional documents to justify their invasion of Iraq, they should probably just perform Google searches in the future. After all, if they aren't going to bother examining the credibility of "evidence" they use to make false accusations, even something like Revelation 13 can be useful. Revelation 13 is a web site that claims by using Biblical prophecy, one can fully understand the danger that Iraq and Saddam Hussein has been for the world, and why a war with Iraq is necessary.

Allegedly, if a woman carries her baby high in the uterus and her stomach has a round appearance, the chances are excellent she is expecting a clone of Saddam Hussein.

dinsdag, maart 25, 2003

Big Brother Says...

Thanks to The Command Post, I FINALLY found copies of some of those 28 million leaflets the Americans have been raining on the Iraqis. Of them all, I have a few favorites. I wonder how many Iraqi peasants know what military fiber optic cables are...
Time To Pay The Coalition Of the Willing

"The best things in life are free
But you can keep them for the birds and bees
Now give me money
That's what I want
That's what I want, yeah
That's what I want"


Well, the big mystery has been solved. For weeks the country has unsuccessfully requested that the Bush Administration give it some idea of how much this glorious little liberation of Iraq is going to cost. Although you STILL don't know, at least you have an idea of the down payment.

Those of you who pay taxes in the United States might be interested to know that out of the 74.7 billion Bush is asking for, your good Coalition of the Willing buddy, Turkey is getting $1 BILLION of your money to reject the deployment of American troops on their soil, to threaten deployment of its own troops in Kurdish-held areas in northern Iraq, a move bound to inflame Kurdish sentiment and complicate US plans for a post-Saddam Iraq, AND to allow the US to use their airspace for overflights by F-18 fighter jets based on aircraft carriers in the eastern Mediterranean before realizing that the US Tomahawk missiles launched from those carriers would be landing on Turkish soil. Still, quite a bargain when you add it all up.

This must be the sort of business acumen that George W. Bush used in launching a succession of failed oil companies, where he lost millions of his father's friends' dollars.

You might want to compare that amount with the relatively meager $4 billion he's asking for your "Homeland Security".

Democrats on the House Appropriations Committee predicted that the final cost of the war -- which will be borne almost entirely by American taxpayers -- could be twice the amount requested Monday, and Pentagon officials did not deny that more requests would be coming in next year's budget.

Keith Ashdown of the Taxpayer for Common Sense calls the president's $74.7 billion request "an expensive down-payment." The politically moderate group just issued its own cost estimate for the war and reconstruction, concluding that it's likely to cost $110 billion this year and could exceed $550 billion over the next decade.

In addition to this Turkish bargain, falling under the category of "some other programs" are the payoffs to other Coalition of the "Willing" members like Pakistan, Israel, Jordan which, including Turkey, amount to the same $4 billion Bush requested for Homeland Security.

For funding the Invasion of Iraq for the next 6 months, he requested $63 billion.

Let's put it this way: to "liberate" Iraq and to pay off some of the coalition of the willing, you taxpayers will pay about 12 times more in supplemental costs than you will for the supplemental costs of security of your own country. And if you'd like some further comedy, it's a drop in the bucket compared to Bush's proposed 10-year, $726 billion tax cut which primarily benefits the wealthiest one percent of the population of your country.

As the New York Times proclaimed today, this is indeed a Budgetary Shock and Awe.

So work hard America. The mistakes of the Bush Administration are getting expensive.

maandag, maart 24, 2003

Classic Examples of the Devil Quoting the Scriptures
"The devil can cite Scripture for his purpose."
William Shakespeare (1564 - 1616), "The Merchant of Venice", Act 1 scene 3

"Many Iraqis can hear me tonight in a translated radio broadcast, and I have a message for them: If we must begin a military campaign, it will be directed against the lawless men who rule your country and not against you." -- George Bush, March 18, 2003

Iraqi Information Minister Mohammed Saeed Al-Sahaf said yesterday that 77 civilians had been killed and 366 wounded in the southern city of Basra, most of them by cluster bombs. The bombing attacks in Baghdad, meanwhile, injured at least 100 people during the first three days alone, the International Committee of the Red Cross reported.

" will be no defence to say, I was just following orders." --George Bush, March 18, 2003, speaking to Iraqi soldiers.

"I was told to come here. I just follow orders," captured American soldier questioned by Iraqis, March 23, 2003

"It is against the Geneva Convention to show photographs of prisoners of war in a manner that is humiliating for them." Donald Rumsfeld speaking about Al Jazeera's showing of American POWs, March 23, 2003.

“As a party to the Geneva Conventions, the United States is required to treat every detained combatant humanely, including unlawful combatants. The United States may not pick and choose among them to decide who is entitled to decent treatment.” --Jamie Fellner, director of Human Rights Watch´s U.S. Program, January 11, 2002 responding to Rumsfeld's statement that that captured fighters from Afghanistan shipped to Cuba were “unlawful combatants” not entitled to protection under the Geneva Conventions. Human Rights Watch also criticized the reported use of chain-link cages to confine the detainees.

Responding to the outcry of US President, British Prime Minister and US Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld on al-Jazeera's telecasting of the pictures of American dead and prisoners of war as "violation of Geneva Convention", Deputy chief of Jamaat-e-Islami Pakistan, senator Professor Khurshid Ahmad Prof. Khurshid asked, "does it behoove war-mongers like Bush, Blair and Rumsfeld to invoke the Geneva Convention since they are engaged in a bloody war of aggression in utter violation of International law, Hague and Geneva Conventions (1863, 1899, 1907 and 1949) and the UN Charter (Article 2, 27 and 51)?"

As UrenDagenNachten suggests, perhaps Iraq should be asked to send the American POWs to Guantanamo Bay since the Americans are so certain the prisoners there are not mistreated.

"War is a dreadful thing and to sanitize it too much is a dreadful mistake." Ted Koppel, ABC News, March 23, 2003.

"Television networks that carry such pictures, I would say, are doing something that is unfortunate," Donald Rumsfeld, March 23, 2003 on pictures of American POWs and dead soldiers.

"We, however, will not being showing these photos because they are too sensitive for American viewers" self-congratulatory and paternalistic remarks by nearly every major American news network on their rationale behind censoring the news and not showing the images taken by Iraqi state television of the dead and captured American soldiers, to any American viewers.

"The US administration is very sensitive to these pictures, in fact to anything that it regards as detrimental to its cause. That's why Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld became very angry at the popular Arabic al-Jazeera television network for broadcasting the pictures. Washington has put ample pressure on US networks not to show them in this manner." Dutch media analyst Piet Bakker.

"So far", the US Administration has not gone as far as the Israeli government censors who, in a letter, have warned Web sites in its country not to publish sensitive information about the war with Iraq.

But not all the news is bad. Get Your War On has a new installation:

"All I have to say is once this is over, the Iraqi people better be the freest fucking people on the face of the earth. They better be freer than me. They better be so fucking free they can fly."


The White House has just released its transcript of the presidential prayer team's Camp David appeal to Jesus; requesting swift and effortless annihilation of the muslamian hordes.

vrijdag, maart 21, 2003

"Coalition Of The Willing" Continues To Grow

In the UK, many anti-war protesters took to the streets on bikes to express their opposition to the coalition assault. The protest caused traffic problems in cities including London and Sheffield and followed the wave of demonstrations across the UK yesterday.

There is so much love being spread for America's war coalition, America had to close 13 of their embassies and consulates apparently because the protesters couldn't be killed by long range missiles fired by "brave" US forces.

The US embassy warned its citizens in on Friday to avoid the anti-war demonstration being held in Amsterdam on Saturday because it may have an "anti-American character" and "possibly escalate into violence".

In Milan, more than 150,000 gathered to protest against the war.

In Berlin, schoolchildren placed candles on a street leading to the US embassy, which was sealed off by police, heavy concrete barriers and fences. Banners hung on police barriers carried slogans such as "common sense ends when violence begins" and "boycott US products".

In Brussels In Brussels, police used water cannon and tear gas to disperse hundreds of protesters who were throwing stones outside the US embassy. Organisers said 30,000 people joined the protest, though police put the figure at 17,000.

More than 150,000 demonstrators gathered in Athens and in cities around Greece as a nationwide general strike to protest against the war in Iraq brought the country to a standstill.

In the land of Congress' best friend, there were more than 80,000 protesters who took to the streets of Paris to the Place de la Concorde near the American embassy in a loud harangue against the war. Even Americans living in Paris joined in, fustigating against the Bush Administration, declaring: "Americans against the war. Bring our troops home."

In Egypt, riot police used water cannons and attack dogs to keep anti-war demonstrators away from the US embassy.

Protesters hurled stones, pounded cars and shouted about the US and Egypt's leaders. "We want the flag down. We don't want America here at all," said one demonstrator. Egyptian riot police used water canon and batons to beat back crowds throwing rocks and trying to advance on the US embassy in Cairo. "We just wanted to tell the Americans they are no longer welcome here," said student leader Fadlallah Abu Wafia.

In Yemen, three demonstrators and one policemen were killed in demonstrations.

In Buenos Aires, Argentina, federal police fired tear gas grenades and rubber bullets to scatter demonstrators who stoned the US embassy, burned an American flag and chanted slogans describing the US president, George Bush, as "a fascist terrorist".

In Sidney, anti-war protesters set fire to newspapers belonging to a south-west Sydney newsagency and spray-painted "Kill Bush", "Kill Howard" and "Kill Blair" on walls nearby.

Hundreds of Ecuadorans marched on the US embassy in the capital, Quito, burning US flags and chanting "Bush is an assassin".

Dozens of activists converged on the American embassy in Buddhist Thailand. About 7,000 Muslims in Kota Baharu city in eastern Malaysia burned British and US flags as well as effigies of Bush and British prime minister, Tony Blair.

On the homefront, in the largest show of anti-war civil disobedience since the Vietnam War, thousands of activists swarmed downtown San Francisco on Thursday, paralyzing traffic in dozens of intersections and wreaking havoc on businesses in the Financial district. More than 1,400 demonstrators arrested. Assistant Police Chief Alex Fagan Sr. called it the largest, most chaotic protest in 30 years. "Absolute anarchy,'' he said.

And perhaps best summarizing the "democratic" mentality of the PRO-war partisans and Iraqi liberators in America were the counter-demonstrators. One, in Mississippi, a renowned bastion of intelligence, civility and sensibility, carried a sign saying "support the US or keep your mouth shut.". True democracy, Bush-style. As always, the world can look to Mississippi for guidance and keen perception of world events.

To get the mind off war and killing, tonight out at Southpaw in Park Slope, the Dutch band Bettie Serveert will be playing.

donderdag, maart 20, 2003

Cirque de Guerre

Admittedly, you rushed home to join the media circus. War! War! War! was everywhere! Not palatable on the streets. The same hurried faces blurred past you, the same meandering, idiotic cellphone conversations caught in snatches as you strode purposefully home, the same tourist strollers, three paces too slow ahead of you while a drunk who'd started Happy Hour too many hours too early leaned and leered at everyone like they were family. But war was in the air, in the veins, through the underground cables and burning through the telephone wires.

You entered home gasping from two stairs at a time for too many flights, preoccupied with the time and the deadline, before clicking the remote to be invaded: staggered with the plenary of every channel, full bore, going on like a solar powered circus of unreasonable jazz: an Ornette Coleman harmolodic making your head spin with simultaneous illogic from every angle. Relieved that you have not missed the sword swallowing and the fire eating presidents, you settle in and roll a cigarette.

You were glued to MSNBC because it was the only channel with the "deadline" clock ticking down, fixated as though you were staring at One Times Square's North face clock on New Year's Eve, ignorning the iconic advertising, the news crawls, electronic billboards, the flip-flop back to former General So and So, expert of all invasions past, the anchor man with his embalmist's voice and the cartoonish maps of Iraq with arrows and pushpins sticking out of it like a voodoo doll and the strangely serene looking Baghdad.

Soon enough, soon enough: the blood pressure is rising in the ears, the stomach is growling hunger as the ticking grows quicker and louder and the sponsors of the war run commercials with only three minutes to go for mobile phone services and electronic superstore sales.

Every channel flipping for the war as though the world were converging into one hurculean symphonic burst of idiocy.

Under a minute to go! That crazy New Year's Baby can't wait for that ball to drop!


And then their "deadline" clock disappears, as though Christmas were cancelled, time is up! Where are the bombs? Where is the killing? Where is the freedom and the liberations?

They bungle around longer. You lose interest in their desperate attempts to create world events out of nothing. The dust of disappointment is everywhere. You become loud and obnoxious: tell the plants you don't care whether or not they grow, belittle the vegetables in the refrigerator for not being fresher, blame the ashtray for the lack of war.

In a terrifying gesture of ghoulish indifference, you begin to flip through the channels, hoping for a stand up comic or a decent Italian movie, anything but those wound-up little talking heads desperate to make something out of nothing.

And then, before you know it, peeking back again with reluctant hope, a few explosions begin, the excited chatter getting louder, speculations and gnawing confirmation as though the news anchors breathe relief, chanting that they told you so!

Hammurabi, the "criminal junior Bush" as Saddam likes to call him, makes his appearance, looking like waxed fruit with his starched, unimpressive rhetoric and his somber suit. "MurderDeathKill," he murmurs into the screen without conviction. "LiberateMurderDeathKill and FreedomMurderDeathKill," he states as the camera zooms away from the homey scene of the desk behind him crowded with pictures of his daughters and family to angle in on his face and you think to yourself: "Jesus Christ, Alfred E. Newman is declaring war!". But the "criminal junior Bush" is unimpressed. "Won't be easy MurderDeathKill, Reluctant MurderDeathKill but May God Bless MurderDeathKill"

Shortly thereafter, when it becomes apparent the bombing was like a reflexive twitch, not the full blown war we'd been promised all night, when the ex-General experts and correspondants from every sandy patch of Kuwait and the dime store doyens baffled themselves with their own inability to comprehend the motives of a teeny, tiny strike too far away for the remote cameras to see in detail, you begin to fall asleep, somehow, the anticlimax of the events like bad sex in your mouth, one nightmare after another as the television continued to blare subconsciously.

You wake again, shortly after a groggy midnight and there he is, rumors of his demise premature: Saddam, in a clean, neatly pressed military-style uniform and a black beret, giving a speech while wearing thick glasses and reading notes from a stenographer's pad, muttering outlandish threats of death and blood in a strange sort of elderly impotence, repeated exortations to everyone to draw their swords as though this were some sort of medieval battle to be fought on horses instead of sitting, miles underground, cowering from 100 billion dollars worth of precision-guided bombs.

Ugh. You finally shut it off, conscious of the growing feeling that all the while the networks and the viewers are becoming dealers and junkies, needing more and more with each subsequent injection, each telesthetic pang for more blood, more violence a call for higher advertising rates.

Later on, drenched in sweat and sickness, you crawl to the bathroom, recalling to yourself that in one day, as the war grows out of proportion, as the media circus gets louder and the death becomes more acute, in one day you will celebrate Bach's birthday with Cantata 46: Schauet doch und sehet.

woensdag, maart 19, 2003

Coalition of the Willing

With the faddist legions of the chic supporters of the United States invasion of Iraq growing exponentially, Desultory Turgescence thought it would be appropriate for everyone to take a look at the list of the first 25 of America's growing brigade of supporters.

1. United Kingdom
2. Magic Kingdom
3. Australia
4. Never Never Land
5. Fantasy Island
6. TV Land
7. Oceana
8. Mayberry R.F.D.
9. The Kingdom of Prester John
10. Dominion of Melchizedek
11. Planet of the Apes
12. Candyland
13. Land of the Lost
14. Azkaban
15. The Free Republic of Laputa
16. Oz
17. Aker Wood
18. Olistan
19. Grand Fenwick
20. Pays de L'or Noir
21. Krypton
22. Gilligan's Island
23. Land O'Lakes
24. McDonaldland
25. Kings Island

Note that while the American government is currently claiming an additional 20 nations in the Coalition of the Willing, the research team at Desultory Turgescence has not yet, at the time of publishing, been able to confirm the identity of some of the remaining signatories.

dinsdag, maart 18, 2003

Alea Jacta Est

Barber: "How many coffins we got?"
Fred: "Two."
Barber: "We're gonna need at least two more, no matter how you figure. You'd better get busy, Fred."
Hadleyville barber to Hadleyville coffin maker in High Noon

There's something creepy about these last 24 hours. It started with the Three Stooges standing in acute isolation at that US Military base in the Azores islands on Sunday, symbolizing the diplomatic failure of the Bush Administration to twist everyone else to his will to consolidate America's global hegemony. The creepy feeling grew worse watching Bush last night, all alone in a cavernous room in the White House, restate the same inefficacious litany of reasons for ignoring the opinion of the world and to initiate a unilateral, preemptive war on Iraq. Because He Says So.

It isn't surprising Bush is considered by so many to be a cowboy. Chillingly, even Oil Baron and Vice President, Dick Cheney, affirmed his approval of Bush's image as a cowboy. "As a Westerner, I don’t think that’s necessarily a bad idea," he said on Meet the Press last Sunday. "He’s exactly what the circumstances require."

Last night, Bush resorted to what sounded like the dialogue of a cheap Western: Sheriff Bush giving the Hussein Boys 48 hours to leave town or he'd gun 'em down in the street at High Noon. Even more interesting, Bush advocated the vigilante role of America in lieu of the United Nation's unwillingness to bend to his will. In essence, he told the world that if he doesn't like its judgement, he will ignore it.

"It will show that this whole UN detour was an exercise in futility — that this is what the president planned to do all along," said Stanley Hoffmann, a Harvard professor who has spent a lifetime studying war and the trans-Atlantic alliance. "There is no room in the UN charter for the president’s doctrine of preemption, for anticipatory self-defense."

Perhaps what I find most sinister about all of this is that Americans, by more than a 2-1 margin, go right along with the premise. While that margin could probably be chalked up to the fact that the Bush Administration has done everything in its power to obfuscate information about things like HOW MUCH IS IT GOING TO COST Americans to not only fund this little war but also to fund this ridiculous and blundering concept of rebuilding a postwar Iraq.

The one thing the little brains of these automatonic Americans seem to understand is money and it isn't going to take long, even for their simple, bourgeois intellects, to grasp that while their economy sinks to new lows courtesy of their genius president's tax cuts for his rich friends and a series of ineffectual economic plans, the burden of funding a needless $100 billion war effort is going to kick in, leaving those middle class monkies clapping for war now, holding the bag later. After all, who do they think is funding this charade, Haliburton?

But all is not as bleek as the deforested minds of the Bush Administration would like us all to believe. As a bit of what one might call gallows humor, Saddam’s elder son Uday today trashed the American ultimatum to quit Iraq:

"This proposition was made by an inept individual. We will go one better by calling for Bush to leave power with his family," Uday said.

This sort of wishful thinking was echoed in the House of Commons yesterday as Robin Cook resigned from his role as the government's leader in parliament in protest of Blair's feckless push for Bush's war:

"What has come to trouble me most over past weeks is the suspicion that if the hanging chads in Florida had gone the other way and Al Gore had been elected, we would not now be about to commit British troops.", Cook said. To date, three ministers have resigned their posts in protest.

The Dutch parliament don't see things the events as clearly. They've decided on giving "political" support, but not "military" support. Prime Minister Harry Potter Balkenende says he wrestled with the idea of war because "Violence is no solution but it is necessary in specific instances to safeguard peace and the rule of law".

This emergency session of Dutch parliament came on the heels of PvdA leader Wouter Bos, who says he identifies himself "much more with the French position", threatening last week that the formation of the new Dutch government would fail if the Christian Democrats backed a U.S.-led attack on Iraq without support from the U.N. Security Council.

If the cowardly Democrats in Congress had similar backbone and determination, Sheriff Bush might have had to reholster his pistol last night instead of gassing up the War Machine. Then again, why should the pusillanimous pantywaists in Congress care about American soliders risking their lives in war? According to Charlie Moskos, a military sociologist at Northwestern University, a recent study was done on Congress which showed that out of 435 congressmen and a hundred senators, only four had children in the military and only one is an enlisted person..

Quite possibly the most tasteless thing I've seen in the hours since Bush's stoic High Noon ultimatum is MSNBC's countdown clock. It isn't visible from the website, but a quick flip to the channel will allow you to see, in all its garish glory, time winding down as though all of America were about to ring in the new year.

Just so we can all rest assured that America won't be doing this on our own, Secretary of State Colin Powell went out and further discredited and embarassed himself by telling the world that 30 countries will be taking part in what he calls a "coalition of the willing" to oust Saddam Hussein. Hmmm. Either his math is really bad, or he's counting Australia 26 times.

As Nikita Khrushchev used to say: "Politicians are the same all over. They promise to build a bridge even where there is no river."


When the battle was over,
and the fighter was dead, a man came toward him
and said to him: "Do not die; I love you so!"
But the corpse, it was sad! went on dying.

And two came near, and told him again and again:
"Do not leave us! Courage! Return to life!"
But the corpse, it was sad! went on dying.

Twenty arrived, a hundred, a thousand, five hundred thousand,
shouting: "So much love, and it can do nothing against death!"
But the corpse, it was sad! went on dying.

Millions of persons stood around him,
all speaking the same thing: "Stay here, brother!"
But the corpse, it was sad! went on dying.

Then all the men on earth
stood around him; the corpse looked at them sadly,deeply moved;
he sat up slowly,
put his arms around the first man; started to walk . . .

--Cesar Vallejo. November 10, 1937.
Trans. Robert Bly.

maandag, maart 17, 2003

Ready, Set, WAR!

With the UN resolution withdrawn and Citizen Bush preparing to address his nation of war zombies, it appears our days of apocryphal peace are over. Therefore, it is now, almost-officially, time to prepare for war:

Although officially a biproduct of the first Gulf War, here are some highlights of the Iraq War Drinking Game whose rules are still applicable, with a few changes, to the coming war:

If you hear someone on TV say "scud," take a swig of beer and change the channel except during scud attacks

A shot of Kahlua and coffee is kept on the table. Whenever the phrase "ground war," "ground assault," or "ground attack" are used, the first person to grab the shot gets it.

Every time Dan Rather says something stupid, all shout "change the channel." The last person to do so takes a shot and is forced to watch CBS on another TV until the next "scud." I realize that this one is a judgement call, but the odds are that it won't be long before he says something stupid anyway. Of course, if Sam Donaldson is on ABC, change the channel.


Getting my vote for most bizarre anti-war lyrics is the Beastie Boys with their new single In A World Gone Mad:

Mirrors, smokescreens and lies
It’s not the politicians but their actions I despise
You and Saddam should kick it like back in the day
With the cocaine and Courvoisier
But you build more bombs as you get more bold
As your mid-life crisis war unfolds
All you want to do is take control
Now put that axis of evil bullshit on hold


Considering that today, St. Patrick's Day, the consumption of a seemingly noxious green beer is very popular, what color should the beer be for the coming War?

Well, considering the rampant speculation that this is a War for Oil, the first possibility is of course, a beer the color of crude oil. For this, you might try Xingu who produces a black beer which derives its color from using a variety of black-roast malts from South American grown barley but can equally serve to represent the Texas Tea America's troops will be out killing and dying for.

Of course, if this isn't graphic enough for you, there's always the option of red beer which of course, represents the bloodshed of war.
Bottoms Up!

To go along with that beer, maybe you might like to have some pretzels:

A French website is urging people to send pretzels to US President George Bush, who fainted and fell off a sofa in January 2002 after gagging on the salty snack.

The clearly anti-war Daily Mirror, just 3 days after running their Prime Monster cover of a leering, ghoulish Tony Blair, today equates the Big Three of the quasi-comical Azures Summit (the only location the White House could find without enough humans per square mile to muster a decent anti-Bush protest) with the three chimpanzees who hear no evil, see no evil and speak no evil. I think the chimpanzees should complain.

Lastly, in the event you think this war isn't going to cause problems for innocent people, in Malawi, sex workers are considering a price increase for their services due to other price increases triggered by the fear of war with Iraq.

If that isn't bad enough, CBS is concerned that the looming war will get in the way of their very profitable coverage of the NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament. CBS' coverage could be interrupted, disrupted or completely eliminated, depending on what happens in Iraq. "A lot of options are out there," a CBS spokeswoman said Sunday."We're still working on contingency plans.". Am I the only one who finds it strange that while American troops will be out slaughtering Iraqis, a major American network's primary concern is their coverage and advertising revenues for a collegiate basketball tournament? What a country.

DT's idea for a new Viacom/CBS reality show: Let's take Viacom President Mel Karmazin and his family, as well as Viacom Chairman and CEO Sumner Redstone and his family, and send them to Baghdad to watch their gloriously profitable NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament from one of Saddam's soon-to-be-dust-and-rubble palaces. We can call it "Television Executives and Their Families Die For Their Love of Money" and broadcast it in place of the NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament. Certainly this sort of real-life struggle would generate more advertising revenue than a bunch of college kids playing a basketball tournament which will generate an estimate $17.1 million of revenue and yet nothing for the kids themselves.


Nevertheless, for all we know, within a week, even the greedy little war machine of the Bush Administration will have to take a backseat in the news to the mushrooming global health threat which, on its present course, may even outdraw the NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament! Either way, this week promises to be one hell of a rollercoaster ride of fateful events. Good luck and hold on to your hats.

vrijdag, maart 14, 2003

Around the Neighborhood
"There is no benefit in the gifts of a bad man." --Euripides

In protest of the irresponsible, anarchic and crass mass media invasion of this curious and simultaneously boring overkill of the story of Elizabeth Smart's return from the land of the missing, Desultory Turgescence is going to focus today solely on the blogs of others, give props to its peeps, shout-outs, and pop some collars, make efforts to ignore the faux urgence of the news. Whew. I'm exhausted already. Now that I've found the quintessential online rap dictionary all I need is a hip hop thesaurus.

The morning begins with some new intelligence; startling satellite photos courtesy of Grobbo, via Sargasso. Of particular concern was the genetically modified supersoldier.

UrenDagenNachten provides a nice video of Mark Fiore's on preemptive diplomacy.

The Cockeyed Absurdist bemoans the martini fad. The only suggestion I would add is a hot dog martini which would be vodka mixed with beef muscle, curing agents and spices, such as garlic, salt, sugar, ground mustard, nutmeg, coriander and white pepper. A nice Vienna Sausage could be skewered as a garnish and if we were real cretins, we could sell them on the streets of Manhattan from hot dog carts.

Lockhart Steele reports a Howard Dean sighting at Essex and details about the event via Scott Heiferman. I watched Dean on Meet the Press last week and was impressed by alot of his thoughts. Ringing of rationality in particular, speaking on Iraq:

"It matters what we do here for the long-term implications. I have no doubt that if we go to war next week or the week after that we’re going to get rid of Saddam Hussein and have a regime change and that our military will succeed. My concern is what this is going to do to the cooperation and the bilateral institutions and multilateral institutions that we’ve built up in this world for the last 50 years."

Vinod has a compelling review of Robert Kagan's Of Paradise and Power, although I have to admit a growing fatigue with the entire Hobbesian metaphor for international politics.

Everlasting Blort provides a thoroughly entertaining short film called Hercubush, the Bush who started it all.

Lying Media Bastards wins me over on this corybantic condemnation of CNN. Destroy it indeed, this embassy of The Ministry of Truth!

For a multiples of nine explanation of the Psychic Flash Movie, check out Maud Newton's revealing blurb. All this time, I believed it was John Ashcroft sitting there behind the magical little orb, gleening my final number through some new Patriot Act II contraption. That nettlesome math. Can't live with it, can't live without it.

The complexities of the work of phone sex operators was revealed to me this week via The Great Satan Quarterly.

Lastly, the American Girl in Italy discovered her first Florentine soccer match last week. Of course, she hasn't seen "real" voetbal until she's attended a Dutch match. Nothing like a little post-match excitement to really get the blood flowing.

So, before my head gets dizzy and eyes blur from all the linking, quello è tutto. Hope no one feels "highsided".

If so, take a listen the best Dutch band in Nieuwegein: Spinvis.

donderdag, maart 13, 2003

City Council Affirms Its Utility

While it is doubtful that a resolution concerning the war with Iraq, (the square peg of unilateral stupidity God's President Bush is trying so desperately to shove into the round hole of common sense), should be the highest priority on the agenda of the council of a city currently mired in a rather enormous budget crisis like NYC, everyone, it seems loves a show and so a show was put on.

With TV cameras from CNN and networks in Japan, Germany, Spain and France suddenly thrust these usually incognito local politicians onto an international stage, the New York City Council yesterday passed an anti-war resolution following passionate debate which allowed council members who previously stuck to issues like garbage collection and noise ordinances, to ostentatiously invoke the names of leaders like Churchill, the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Neville Chamberlain. The resolution grandly begins:

"Resolution calling on the government of the United States to make all efforts to work through the United Nations Security Council in a manner that would reaffirm our nation’s commitment to the rule of law and the primacy of human rights in our international relationships, and to take all appropriate steps toward securing the participation of other nations and international bodies in the effort to ensure that Iraq does not possess biological, chemical or nuclear weapons and toward promoting human rights for all the people of Iraq; and further calling on the government of the United States to work through the United Nations Security Council and with other nations to ensure the unimpeded access of United Nations weapons inspectors to all areas of and facilities in Iraq and to ensure that the inspectors be given a full and fair opportunity to conduct their efforts in accordance with United Nations Security Council resolutions; and further calling upon the Council of the City of New York to oppose a pre-emptive military attack on Iraq unless it is demonstrated that Iraq poses a real and imminent threat to the security and safety of the United States or its allies or unless other options for achieving compliance with United Nations resolutions calling for the elimination of weapons of mass destruction and the means for their development have failed."

As has been the rule during this worldwide debate on America's preemptive, unilateral war against Iraq, the scorecard of sycophantic zealots who confuse patriotism with intelligence and rational thinkers unmoved by the hypocritical and short-sighted pidgin rhetoric of a president on an ill-advised mission from God, was easy to assemble.

"Let's us not forget that those who declare war are usually not the ones who have to fight it," said Bill Perkins (D-Harlem), sponsor of the revised bill, which passed, 31-17.

Resolution supporter Oliver Koppell (D-Bronx) argued, "This is not an anti-war resolution or a pro-war resolution. It is a resolution that says killing people should always be a last resort."

Gale Brewer, a Manhattan Democrat who also voted for the resolution, sensibly advised: "No city has been more impacted by 9-11 than New York. But based on what we know, a pre-emptive strike by the U.S. would not make the world safer.".

Councilwoman Yvette D. Clark of Brooklyn said she believed it was President George Bush who is sending the wrong message. "If we're going to be looking for a fight," he said, "let's fight poverty, let's fight firehouse closures, let's fight racism and sexism."

On the short end of the stick, like the poor Sheepshead Bay clowns in the 46th District who elected Councilman Lewis A. Fidler into office, there are those who can't seem to stop carping that the 9/11 terror attack left them little choice. "We are sitting today in what should be the shadows of the World Trade Center," Fidler whined, as though the two issues were somehow analogous, "I don't want to be back here in six months naming streets for dead New Yorkers because this country did nothing."

Mr. Fidler cleverly attempts to suggest, in his bankrupted currency of counterfeit thought and incongruous logic that people who voted FOR the resolution DO want to be back in six months naming streets after dead New Yorkers, killed, he hints, by those voting for the resolution. Ahhh, that old familiar vein of love humming through his "You're either with us or your against us" speech that is so popular with the Bush minions. For Fidler, and people like him, here's something to occupy those dizzying thoughts in the future.

"I suggest that you take a walk down the street and take a long, hard look at that gaping hole in the ground, at that gaping hole in our lives," bellowed Councilman Andrew Lanza (R-S.I.) during the vote, referring, one might believe, to the World Trade Center site. Desultory Turgescence suggests that Lanza take a long look at the gaping hole in his own head where the forces of clear analytic thought may have once resided but have now clearly escaped out of only to be filled with the hot air of the sort of hyperbolic rants he currently emits like filthy exhaust pipe pollution.

Margarita Lopez, with the dubious distinction of being the first openly lesbian Puerto Rican ever elected to office, represents my neighborhood in the 2nd District of Manhattan. And she is my local hero because she voted against the draconian anti-smoking bill on the Prohibition of smoking in public places and places of employment due to be inflicted upon us at the end of this month as well as voting for this resolution. Two for two, Señora Lopez. Bien hecho.

If you are interested in knowing how your representative voted (but don't know who that is), check here.

Now if we can only get law Int 0256-2002 overturned, the city of New York will have real cause to celebrate!

woensdag, maart 12, 2003

The Mother of All Tests
"Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man's character, give him power." -- Abraham Lincoln

Yesterday, the British Government set out the "key tests" that Saddam Hussein must pass in order to avoid war. Although to date, no formal response has come from Saddam, Desultory Turgescence believes the tests are too soft and, with the approval of the Pentagon Warlord Donald Rumsfeld, we have embellished the original "key tests" to ensure that such tests are difficult enough for Saddam that he will think twice about messing with the United States again.

1. A public appearance by Saddam Hussein, broadcast in Iraq, in which he is dressed in a buttery soft, rayon Jersey Peasant Maternity Top and Black and White Pom Pom Capri's Perla stretch twill pants and admits possession of weapons of mass destruction, stating his regime has decided to give them up and pledging to cooperate with UN weapon inspectors. He should also admit that he keeps a President Bush poster in his bedroom and wears a God Bless America tee-shirt under his pajamas at night.

2. A commitment to allow Iraqi scientists to be flown to an unnamed erotic Costa Rican resort for a week-long sex vacation during which time they will be interviewed by massage parlor madams and female escorts regarding Saddam's possession of weapons of mass destruction.

3. The surrender of, and explanation of the 10,000 litres of anthrax the Iraqis are believed still to be holding as well as the surrender of, and explanation of the several thousand inflatable Fatty Patty love dolls believed to be in one of Saddam's palaces.

4. A commitment to the destruction of proscribed missiles as well as the mass destruction of weapons of mass destruction which, if undestructed, could lead to mass destruction. Saddam should also demonstrate a commitment to embracing Jesus Christ as his savior and should name President Bush as his favorite political philosopher.

5. An account of the unmanned aerial vehicles and remotely piloted vehicles or drones as well as information which may lead to the destruction of any remaining Chrysler K-cars which could be used to frighten and emotionally scar little Iraqi children from ever wanting to get their drivers licenses and could be used to discourage the import of American made automobiles in Iraq for years to come.

6. A commitment to surrender all mobile bio-production laboratories for destruction as well as a commitment to insight and self-awareness and a willingness to attend the Premiere School of Self-Improvement and Professional Modeling for a minimum period of 20 weeks.

As we know, in the event Saddam should fail to pass any of these key tests, our White House Warlord George W. Bush, is already busy on the phone with swing vote nations like Chile, Mexico and Angola to push a compromise proposal that U.S. and British officials believe could begin to break the impasse at the U.N. Security Council.

Failing that, well, as Daffy Donald Rumsfeld already advised the world yesterday, he doesn't need Britain or any one else to kick Saddam Hussein's ass. He'll do it himself.

dinsdag, maart 11, 2003

American Tax Dollars At Work

Just when you'd begun to imagine that the collective and menacing stupidity of Congress couldn't propagate itself any faster, it is now reported that the cafeteria menus in the three House office buildings changed the name of "french fries" to "freedom fries," a culinary rebuke of France, stemming from anger over the country's refusal to support the U.S. position on Iraq.

"This action today is a small, but symbolic effort to show the strong displeasure of many on Capitol Hill with the actions of our so-called ally, France," noted Hee Haw posterboy Rep. Bob Ney, R-Ohio, the chairman of the Committee on House Administration, stated in such an abstruse and formidable disintegration of rational thought he was left weak-knee'd and lying face-first in pool of cafeteria grease.

Ney, the modern day Plato whose omnipotent committee has authority over the mighty House cafeterias and sends pastry chefs and fry cooks alike trembling with terror and awe, directed the change, after colleague Walter Jones, R-North Carolina, joining in the french fry polemic, circulated a letter suggesting such a move.

In order to put the intellectual capacity of Walter Jones in perspective, note that he was previously honored as a "Friend of the Family" by the Christian Coalition and The "Best and Brightest" recognition for earning consecutive, perfect 100% ratings by the American Conservative Union, the nation's oldest conservative lobbyist union. If anyone is an expert on the danger of something as perilous as the naming of House cafeteria food, it would be Walter Jones.

The saddest aspect of this intransigent act is that these hillbillies don't even know that these dangerous potato things weren't "French" fries until 1918 or so. American soldiers stationed in France gobbled up fried potatoes. They dubbed them "French fries" and liked them so much they wanted to have them at home, too. Of course, at the time, those American soldiers had no idea what kind of traitorous, sniveling backstabbers the French would turn out to be.

Of course, in good food tradition, the French claim to be the inventors of our beloved fries: they originated in Paris on the Pont Neuf (fries are still called like that in the chique French restaurants) somewhere in the middle of the 19th century. As with most "French" inventions, they forgot to note the name of the inventor and they are still searching for proof. As we will see later, even the word "French Fries" has nothing to do with the French.

Pictures and texts proof that fries were all around our country in the second half of the 19th century. The oldest written proof is dated 1862 and mentions a certain Fritz and the widow Descamps as owners of a fry stand on the Liège 'kermis'. In 1891 a picture of both stands was taken.

Jo Gerard, a famous Belgian historian, claims to have proof that fries were invented in the region of the Meuse in 1680. Based on an unpublished document, he writes that the poor inhabitants of this region ate mostly fish. When the river frooze, they cut their potatous in a fish-shape and fried them.

But none of this really matters. The point is, french fries has the word "french" in it and we all know what cowardly, terrorist-loving, bootlickers the French are. We also know that this kind vulgar thinking can only be punishable by the most extreme measures. There is only so much God can do in one day. While he is busy keeping Dubya's enormous intellect occupied, and inventing freedom and democracy for the world, it is honorable men of great acumen and sound reason like Mssrs. Ney and Jones who keep this country safe at night and the good people of North Carolina and Ohio should get our hearty thanks for spawning such honorable patriots.
Post-War Comedy Club

"For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?" Bible, Mark 8:36

While our prized national comedian George Bush noted in his nationally televised skit last week that he prays for "peace", the real beneficiaries of this war on Iraq, salivating like rabid dogs at the prospects war, are praying for something more substantative: billions of dollars worth of rebuilding contracts in a post-war Iraq.

USAID quietly sent a detailed "request for proposals" to bid on the contract to at least five domestic construction companies with international operations to bid on the main contract - Bechtel Group, Fluor Corp., Halliburton Co.'s Kellogg Brown & Root, Louis Berger Group, and Parsons Corp.

The plan is laid out in a 13-page document, "Vision for Post-Conflict Iraq," which US International Aid for Development has distributed only to a limited circle in Washington, in addition to a few American companies.

The Bush Administration is already preparing to award a 900 million-dollar contract to begin rebuilding a postwar Iraq, in what would be the largest government reconstruction effort since Americans helped rebuild Germany and Japan after World War II, the Wall Street Journal reported. The funniest part yet is, guess who is funding this rebuilding contract: that's right, YOU. And the other funny part is guess who will reap the profits of it: YOU? Hahaha. No, those poor little defense and construction contractors, already choking with excitement as their eyes fill with visions of billions pouring into their coffers.

And lest you think this war-for-profit scheme is open to the general public to profit from, only a few companies, all of them American, were invited to compete for the contract under a provision of US procurement law that permits expedited bidding in what one official called "urgent circumstances", the report said.

Construction industry executives said the firms are competing fiercely in part because they believe the work could provide an inside track to postwar business opportunities. A significant prize: oil industry contracts.

"It's a sensitive topic, because we still haven't gone to war, but these companies are really in a position to win something out of this geopolitical situation," an industry executive said. Awwww. Poor witto babies have to westle with their consciences for a moment or two before the blood letting commences and the money spigots open. Really. The price of making an honest buck is almost getting to be too much.

Steven Schooner, a George Washington University law professor, said many billions of dollars are at stake. He estimated that $900 million would barely last for six months given the scope of the projects the administration has mapped.

"The most sophisticated firms that come in first and establish goodwill with the locals obviously will reap huge benefits down the road," said Schooner. "These are going to become brand names in Iraq. That's huge."

Hey, and guess what? A company tied to Vice President Dick Cheney has won a Pentagon contract for advice on rebuilding Iraq's oil fields after a possible war.

Well, I'm sure there is no relation to the fact that the company who paid our noble, honest and decent Vice President, $65 million in stock and salary during his five years as CEO, also won a Pentagon contract for rebuilding a country their former CEO has been set on destroying almost since the day he took office. And certainly, the leaders of Haliburton expected nothing in return for giving poor Mister Vice President a retirement package of $34 million. After all, he did quit Halliburton and sold his stock in the company BEFORE joining the Republican presidential ticket with famed comedian and child actor, George W. Bush.

So next time, when super-clown Dubya, the joke-a-minute president, gets all misty eyed and starts waxing poetic on what an evil man Saddam Hussein is, or how innocent George is just upholding his constitutional duties to protect America, or how he prays for "peace", well, just keep in mind how much our good friends in the White House and their good friends, will be stuffing into their own bloody pockets in pursuit of their altruistic aims and be glad that it isn't their money being used. Just yours.

maandag, maart 10, 2003

September 1, 1939
W. H. Auden

I sit in one of the dives
On Fifty-second Street
Uncertain and afraid
As the clever hopes expire
Of a low dishonest decade:
Waves of anger and fear
Circulate over the bright
And darkened lands of the earth,
Obsessing our private lives;
The unmentionable odour of death
Offends the September night.

Accurate scholarship can
Unearth the whole offence
From Luther until now
That has driven a culture mad,
Find what occurred at Linz,
What huge imago made
A psychopathic god:
I and the public know
What all schoolchildren learn,
Those to whom evil is done
Do evil in return.

Exiled Thucydides knew
All that a speech can say
About Democracy,
And what dictators do,
The elderly rubbish they talk
To an apathetic grave;
Analysed all in his book,
The enlightenment driven away,
The habit-forming pain,
Mismanagement and grief:
We must suffer them all again.

Into this neutral air
Where blind skyscrapers use
Their full height to proclaim
The strength of Collective Man,
Each language pours its vain
Competitive excuse:
But who can live for long
In an euphoric dream;
Out of the mirror they stare,
Imperialism's face
And the international wrong.

Faces along the bar
Cling to their average day:
The lights must never go out,
The music must always play,
All the conventions conspire
To make this fort assume
The furniture of home;
Lest we should see where we are,
Lost in a haunted wood,
Children afraid of the night
Who have never been happy or good.

The windiest militant trash
Important Persons shout
Is not so crude as our wish:
What mad Nijinsky wrote
About Diaghilev
Is true of the normal heart;
For the error bred in the bone
Of each woman and each man
Craves what it cannot have,
Not universal love
But to be loved alone.

From the conservative dark
Into the ethical life
The dense commuters come,
Repeating their morning vow;
"I will be true to the wife,
I'll concentrate more on my work,"
And helpless governors wake
To resume their compulsory game:
Who can release them now,
Who can reach the deaf,
Who can speak for the dumb?

All I have is a voice
To undo the folded lie,
The romantic lie in the brain
Of the sensual man-in-the-street
And the lie of Authority
Whose buildings grope the sky:
There is no such thing as the State
And no one exists alone;
Hunger allows no choice
To the citizen or the police;
We must love one another or die.

Defenceless under the night
Our world in stupor lies;
Yet, dotted everywhere,
Ironic points of light
Flash out wherever the Just
Exchange their messages:
May I, composed like them
Of Eros and of dust,
Beleaguered by the same
Negation and despair,
Show an affirming flame.

vrijdag, maart 07, 2003

Aces Wired, Sheriff Bush Calls Hand

"You've got to know when to hold 'em, know when to fold 'em
Know when to walk away, know when to run.
You never count your money when you're sittin' at the table.
There'll be time enough for countin' when the dealin's done.

Kenny Rogers, "The Gambler"

Sheriff Bush, much like Wyatt Earp, just itchin' to disarm Ike Clanton and his boys, told the world last night that "it's time for people to show their cards, let the world know where they stand when it comes to Saddam."

Very boldly, perhaps the only unpredictable moment of the entire press conference, was Bush's announcement that he's ready to re-live the gunfight at OK Corral, that regardless of the vote on a UN resolution, he is doing whatever he wants, which is clearly, chosing the path of maximum confrontation.

I'm confident the American people understand that when it comes to our security, if we need to act, we will act, and we really don't need United Nations approval to do so.

(That's right George! You don't need no stinkin' international bodies committed to preserving peace through international cooperation and collective security if they aren't going to do your bidding! )

As Bush succinctly pointed out last night:

"They could have showed up at a parking lot and he could have brought his weapons and destroyed them." A parking lot? What is this, West Side Story? Bernardo and Riff, the Sharks and the Jets meeting up in the parking lot at midnight for a rumble?

Last night's spectacle was billed as a "press conference". True enough, it had all the frippery of a press conference: it was, in essence, an interview held for news reporters by a political figure, but like much in the Bush Administration, it followed the letter but not the spirit of a press conference. The fact that the reporters who got to ask the questions were selected in advance underscores once again, for those not paying attention, the desperate need of Bush handlers for message management.

"In this case, we know what the questions are going to be, and those are the ones we want to answer," Communications director Dan Bartlett said.

Bush was given a memo consisting of about 50 possible topics with suggested answers. Then his most senior aides gathered around his desk in the Oval Office and fired practice questions at him.

There were an assortment of uneasy moments as Bush fumbled with how to put even his simplest, most repetetive phrases in order for the public. There were frequent gaps of speech, a groping for even familiar slogans which was not at all like the intellectual pauses of someone paging through a vast repertoire of ideas but rather someone attempting to recall memorized passages in the middle of an oral exam. And there were also moments when, after a particularly rough effort, you could see a wave of relief flooding over his face, as though he'd succeeded at putting another one over on everyone.

This is not to imply that he isn't sincere. Just that he's sincere in a very simplistic way, like the sincerity of a dog. He has no trouble reminding us that liberty is "God's gift to each and every person". He has no trouble sincerely expressing his belief, however unsubstantiated and misguided, that Saddam presents a threat to the safety of Americans. He revels in expressing his belief that he's given Saddam enough time. And he appears to sincerely believe he is doing all Americans a favor by presenting us with this war, even though the majority of America and the world, especially without the UN stamp of approval, is against it.

"My job is to protect America, and that's exactly what I'm going to do. People can ascribe all kinds of intentions. I swore to protect and defend the Constitution. That's what I swore to do. I put my hand on the Bible and took that oath. And that's exactly what I am going to do."

This the kind of disingenuous rhetoric Bush and his Administration excel at. Meaningless palaver designed to persuade a torporific population of somnambulists, with a combination of old-school religious piety and moral righteousness.

"I pray for peace. I pray for peace." he said. Did he have to repeat it because even to him, the first time sounded too ridiculous to fathom? These are the kind of follow-up questions a real press conference would have had. Could you elaborate on this theory of Peaceful Violence of yours, Mister President?

One thing I'm beginning to understand is why the members of the Bush Administration keep saying the same things over and over again. It's because those pesky reporters keep asking the same damned questions over and over again! Questions like: "Why do you continue to try and link Saddam Hussein to 9/11 when there is no evidence of it?" and "Why don't you care that the majority of the world population disagrees with your gut assessment of the threat level of Saddam Hussein?" and "How much is this war going to cost Americans?"

These questions are just an impediment to the real issue at hand which is war with Saddam. As Our Fearless Leader said last night, from the very beginning, that the primary issue for attacking Iraq is:

(Please turn your hymn books to UN Resolution 1441 and join me in song):

"Has the Iraqi regime fully and unconditionally disarmed, as required by Resolution 1441, or has it not?"

And if you don't like that one, there's always the multiple choice menu to choose from:

Saddam Hussein:
A.) Has a long history of reckless aggression and terrible crimes.
B.) Possesses weapons of mass destruction
C.) Refuses to disarm
D.) Tortures and gasses his own people.

There you have it.

This is in essence, the highlight of the disingenuous sort of Luke Skywalker/Darth Vader Zoroastrianism that Bush engages us with. You are with us or you are against us. You will disarm or we will disarm you. The UN Security Council will obey our desires or the UN Security Council will cease to have any useful function for us. Saddam is Evil, the Bush Administration is Good.

In some ways, this disconnected logic seems so simple even President Bush seems to understand it. I'm shocked the rest of the world doesn't yet.

donderdag, maart 06, 2003

Bulgaria, The Forgotton Ally?

"Diplomacy is the art of saying 'Nice doggie' until you can find a rock." --Will Rogers

With the foreign ministers of France, Russia and Germany issuing a joint statement yesterday stating they would not "let a proposed resolution pass that would authorize the use of force.", the meretricious and splenetic Bush Administration has become increasingly isolated in the world over its determination to topple the Iraqi government.

Administration officials have said they expect a Security Council vote on a new United Nations resolution authorizing an invasion of Iraq by the end of next week but to date, only the resolution's sponsors (The U.S., England and Spain) and Bulgaria currently are committed to vote yes.

You might wonder, as Desultory Turgescence did, what possible motive could Bulgaria have in voting for war? Maureen Dowd of the New York Times has already had her fun at the expense of the Bulgarians, opining that the United States "dragoon Bulgaria to offset France dragooning Cameroon," so we have an idea of why the Bush Administration is so suddenly infatuated, but Bulgarians must also be asking themselves, as they like to in the Red Mafia, "What's in it for me?"

Are they still pissed off about the rule of the Ottoman Empire? Are they looking to jeopardize their chances at EU membership or bolster their pending 2004 NATO membership? Are they still angry they didn't qualify for the 2002 World Cup? Or, hmmm, could it have something to do with the United States granting Bulgaria the coveted economic status of "market economy" which will protect Bulgarian companies from charges that they are selling products in the United States at an unfairly low price, a practice known as dumping? Even without the UN resolution vote, Bulgaria has received more than $420 million from the U.S. government in the last decade.

Any number of reasons are possible. Besides increasing aid to Bulgaria, the Bush Administration has already pledged to see to it that Iraq pays its outstanding debts to Bulgaria in the post-Saddam period which amount to $1.7 billion.

According to Bulgarian Foreign Ministry spokesperson Lyubomir Todorov, upon membership in NATO, the moving of US military bases to Bulgaria would be a natural result of NATO enlargement. Bulgarian Defense Minister Nikolai Svinarov said that if US military bases were established in Bulgaria, the redeployment of US troops from Germany to Bulgaria would be very likely.

In addition, Bulgarian support of the United States could potentially come at a price for the Black Sea port of Bourgas. Iraqi charge d'affaires in Sofia Yahia Salih Mahdi said in Bourgas on Wednesday. "All US bases across the world will be targets of our strikes. The true Muslim has to choose between victory and death," He added that seven million people have been armed and prepared to defend Iraq. In his opinion, the probable strikes against Iraq might begin from Burgas where US troops are being stationed.

The Bulgarian Foreign Minister Solomon Passy harshly criticized Mahdi, saying "I think that all ambassadors who are accredited in Bulgaria have to carefully measure their words and to limit them to the diplomatic tone," Passy commented before the regular weekly meeting of the Council of Ministers on Thursday.

So yes, there are plenty of incentives for Bulgaria to side with the Bush Administration. However, before Americans start memorizing the poetry of Ivan Vazov or learn the words to the Bulgarian national anthem, it should be remembered that this isn't the first time Bulgaria has sided with a country in its efforts of war.

In 1941, in return for promises from the Third Reich of gaining back the ever-desirable Macedonian lands, Bulgaria sided with the Nazi and Axis powers. However, much to their credit, Bulgaria's wartime government refused to hand over its 50,000 Jewish citizens to the Nazis in 1943 despite its military alliance with Germany. In fact, tomorrow, the Bulgarian National Bank will issue 2000 silver coins to mark the occasion of 60th anniversary of the rescue of 48,000 Bulgarian Jews.

The next thing the Bulgarian government may need to rescue is themselves. A February 11 Gallup International poll found that only 28% of Bulgarians support a war against Iraq, even if endorsed by the UN Security Council and unless the financial appreciation of the Bush Administration starts pouring in soon, Bulgarians may not be too interested in what their government has to say much longer.

woensdag, maart 05, 2003

Don't Worry, Be Happy

The latest EU figures from the European Commission's biannual Eurobarometer survey, released on Tuesday, show that 47% of Swedes and 43% of Brits believe their lives will improve in 2003.

Portugal and Greece are the most miserable countries, with 39% and 26% of their respective populations believing that their life will only get worse in the coming year.

Desultory Turgescence reports that ironically, those countries with the most miserable and gloomy outlooks of their future also happen to be the favorite vacation spots of the Brits and the Swedes.

And, as Charles Dickens wrote in David Copperfield regarding the best barometer of happiness and misery: "Annual income twenty pounds, annual expenditure nineteen six, result happiness. Annual income twenty pounds, annual expenditure twenty pound ought and six, result misery."

In a nod toward the recuperative powers of Gouda kaas and tulips, according to the Eurobarometer, 56% of the Dutch people think that the quality of life will remain near the same, 29% think that it will get better and 9% believe that it will worsen.

On a brighter note, while 69% of the Dutch are afraid of international terrorism, 75% of the Dutch do not fear a conventional or nuclear war in Europe.

48% of the Dutch has the opinion that it is a good thing that the Euro replaced the national currency, 34% finds this a bad thing. Luxembourg, Belgium and Ireland are still the euro's biggest fans, with 89%, 81% and 80% of the respective populations in support.

No word yet on the percentage of Europeans who fear that a tyrannical, flesh-eating Bush War Machine will spell their ultimate demise and doom the planet to a veritable Dante's Inferno for eternity.