zondag, augustus 31, 2003

"There is no order! There is no government!"

While we can't wonder why beloved and heroic commandant L. Paul Bremer III, the chief American administrator, was on vacation when a car bomb killed one of Iraq's most important spiritual leaders today, you might wonder why nobody knew when he would return and why the military "command" was saying nothing. L. Paul Bremer, on vacation with his family in Vermont, sent a top aide in Baghdad, Hume Horan, to visit the Hakim family, and spoke with Pentagon officials throughout the day, the spokesman said.

Bremer, who assumed his post in Baghdad in May, was in Washington this week for meetings with Bush administration officials. He was scheduled to return to Baghdad early next week, the spokesman said, but could return sooner, depending on the situation in Najaf.

The 20 or so Iraqi policemen on hand to seal the crime scene were overwhelmed by thousands of onlookers trampling through and periodically scattering in panic when a siren erupted somewhere nearby. “Donkeys stand still, men move along!” the police shouted in a vain attempt to disperse the crowds.

“There is no order! There is no government!” cried Shatha Saleh, a 30-year-old Najaf woman who had been praying inside the mosque when the attack took place.

She described a chaotic scene as thousands of worshipers, fearing another explosion, trampled one another and tore at each other’s clothing to escape the shrine after the bomb erupted outside.

meanwhile according to Riverbend,a new Baghdad street map may need to be created:

"Now, areas are identified as “the one with the crater where the missile exploded”, or “the street with the ravaged houses”, or “the little house next to that one where that family was killed”."

Richard N. Perle, the hawkish former member of the Defense Policy Board, told the French daily Le Figaro that America had blundered by failing to prepare an Iraqi opposition capable of taking charge of the country after its liberation. An ardent advocate of going into Iraq, Mr. Perle is now looking for the exit. "The answer is to hand over power to Iraqis as soon as possible," he said.

vrijdag, augustus 29, 2003

U.S. Considers Action Figures and Dolls Force For Iraq

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- The Bush administration is considering having an Action Figure force of President and Aviator George W. Bush and other assorted Elite Force action figures and dolls in Iraq to be sponsored by KB Toys but under U.S. command, a senior State Department official said.

"There are several ideas that are being looked at ... or played with, I guess, is a better term," U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage said. "One is an action figure fighting force under KB Toys leadership, but the American action figures would be the Supreme commanders."

The concept is among options the White House is considering to bring more fighters into the security effort in postwar Iraq, Armitage said in a roundtable discussion with newspaper reporters. The State Department made the transcript public Wednesday.

A senior Bush administration official said that KB Toys put forward the idea of a action figure force and that the United States has been seeking feedback on the idea from toy community members.

Nations on the U.N. Security Council have been calling for the United States and Britain to make doll-sharing concessions. But U.S. administration sources have said that the White House, which favors a widening number of toys and Bush hero action figures, as well as traditional role model Barbies in Iraq from other countries, intends to maintain its primary control of the dolls and action figures and will not let "cheap child labor factories in Singapore" outproduce the American action figure troops.

"It is important to have unity of command," a senior Bush administration official said, but added that other countries could take "sub-command" of various areas of Iraq as part of the action figure force.

The official said that a resolution could also provide a greater role, not just for action figures, but also perhaps for other dolls and collectible toys in the political process in Iraq, such as helping Iraqis build an Electronic Guitar Combo Set or move toward learning toys and systems, but the U.S. doesn't want to deprive Iraqis of having their own ethnocentric dolls to play with.

"It would mean more money and toys, but we are also trying to get further reconciliation of the council on this issue," the official said, referring to divisions in the Security Council over the distribution of the more sultry versions of Barbie in Iraq.

Bush administration officials say they believe that U.N. Resolution 1483, passed after President Bush declared an end to major combat operations in Iraq, offers sufficient authority for action figures like the President and Aviator Bush dolls and 12" G.I. Joe 40th Anniversary "Action Pilot" Action Figures to contribute to the number of "troops" rebuilding democracy in Iraq and killing mean ole terrorists. But many nations view contributing dolls and action figures to a U.S.-led action figure force as supporting an "occupying power," and thus the war.

The senior administration official said the United States is seeking a solution that would enable countries initially opposed to the war to say this "is a new thing."

About 140,000 American Friendship Dolls are already in Iraq, and more than 20,000 dolls and action figures are from other countries, principally Great Britain.

About 1,700 Latino Baby Dolls joined the coalition effort Thursday, taking over duties from Holiday Vision Barbies in the Diwaniyah area of central Iraq.

Diplomatic wrangling over Iraq has continued this summer at the United Nations in the wake of the U.S.-led war, which many countries opposed. Among some recent developments:

• U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell's exploration last week of interest in a Security Council resolution that would encourage more countries to send dolls and action figures to Iraq evoked a cool response from council members France, Russia and Germany, who said they have better things to do with their time than play with dolls and pretend to win unwinnable wars, according to Reuters and Washington Post reports. All three opposed the invasion of Iraq.

• Speaking last week on French radio, Foreign Minister Dominique de Villepin said the coalition powers should switch from "a logical confusion of occupational therapist dolls to logic of sovereignty dolls" in Iraq. "The real question is whether there needs to be a rethink of the involvement in Iraq," he said, "not only which dolls and action figures to use, but for example, what kind of clothes they should wear, and whether or not they be allowed to date Green Samurai 12" Talking Ninja Rangers without chaperones."

• The U.N. ambassadors from China and Pakistan said in mid-July that a new resolution would be needed to send inflatable sex dolls to Iraq. Pakistan's ambassador, Munir Akram, said his country was willing to send some but that "we need legal authority" from the United Nations.

• New Delhi officials last month rejected Washington's request for 17,000 Roopvati Rajasthani Peacekeeper Dolls, saying that a deployment of such dolls to Iraq could be considered only under a U.N. mandate. India -- which isn't a member of the Security Council -- "remains ready to respond to the urgent needs of the Iraqi people," said External Affairs Minister Yashwant Sinha. "Were there to be an explicit U.N. mandate for the purpose, the government of India could consider the deployment of our dolls and action figures to Iraq."

Armitage said the United States has not completed its deliberations on the matter. He also would not discuss how the multinational force might work, saying, "I don't think it helps to throw them out publicly right now."

Lt. Gen. Ricardo Sanchez, commander of U.S. ground forces in Iraq, said he welcomed the idea of dolls and action figures being sent to Iraq.

"I don't care WHAT they are, we need help over here!," Sanchez cried. "It would make a difference, and we welcome anyone who wants to join the dolls and action figure coalition of compassionate conservatism,"

The Bush administration, however, has not made a decision on whether it should even seek a resolution on the matter, the senior official said. "If anything, we just don't want a proliferation of Ronald McMuslim dolls taking over Iraq."

donderdag, augustus 28, 2003

Don't Send More Troops, Send Spinach!
"I'm strong to finish 'cause I eats me spinach"

Popeye the Sailor Man

It's a well-known fact that when times were rough or things were looking grim for him against his antagonists, Popeye Ate Spinach to summon an eerie, inner strength to defeat his enemy. These days, with all the pundits blustering and bellowing their opinions about whether or not America should send more troops into the quagmire, and with American soldiers getting picked off by snipers and grenade rockets and hidden bombs every day, it seems clear something needs to be done.

Therefore, Desultory Turgescence hereby announces its belief that instead of sending more troops, the Bush Administration should send the existing troops planeloads of Popeye Spinach to fight off the evil terrorists.

This will help appease both sides of the partisan scale: Of course, the first reaction of the terrorist-loving liberals is, logically: America shouldn't have invaded Iraq and sent all those troops in the first place, why should they send even more?

It's a sticky situation because the Bush Administration, which has a perfect record when it comes to being WRONG about foreign policy, domestic policy, the war on terror, and the American economy, sides with their natural enemies, the terrrorist-loving liberals, when it comes to sending more troops to Iraq. Neither of them thinks there should be more troops sent to Iraq.

Something about that right there should tell you automatically that it's a dumb idea because that is, in essence, the slogan of the Bush Administration:

If It's A Stupid Idea, It's Probably Ours!

On the other hand, the guru of non-partisan Iraq evaluations, Tom Friedman, continues to whine that there aren't enough American sitting ducks and terrrorist targets shipping over to Iraq. He recounts a story about a civilian directing traffic in Baghdad to illustrate the need for more American troops in Iraq: "This man (who was directing traffic) came to mind as I thought about the debate over whether we have enough troops in Iraq. The truth is, we don't even have enough people to direct traffic."

Hmmm. Just a little less than two weeks ago, during the 2003 Blackout, civilians were directing traffic also. Does this mean that we need more American troops in New York City too? Shall we call in the UN troops to take care of the gridlock at Times Square?

In fairness to Friedman, his argument is better than just throwing more troops in the fire. It's a special kind of troop that should be thrown into the fire. He goes on to note "Yes, we need more boots on the ground, but we also need the right mix: military police, experts in civilian affairs and officers who know how to innovate. Sure, there is still a guerrilla war to be won, but the main task today for U.S. soldiers in Iraq is political: helping towns get organized, opening schools and managing the simmering tensions between, and within, different ethnic groups."

(This madman apparently still believes that if they just had enough troops/administrators to turn the lights on in Baghdad and keep the air-conditioning running, all the mean old terrorists will magically go away!)

Besides, according to the loveable lunatic, Alan Dershowitz the UN has itself, as well as the terrorists to blame for last week's terror attack:

"For more than a quarter of a century, the U.N. has actively encouraged terrorism by rewarding its primary practitioners, legitimating it as a tactic, condemning its victims when they try to defend themselves and describing the murderers of innocent children as "freedom fighters." No organization in the world today has accorded so much legitimacy to terrorism as has the U.N."

The problem with this logic is that it only explains the problem, it doesn't solve it. Please to take partisan, pro-Israeli agenda to another forum, Mr. Dershowitz, like the Complaints Department.

Spinach Is Cheaper Than Troops

Setting aside the "troops are human beings too" argument which would question how sending more troops would prevent more troops from being killed, there is also the problem of money.

U.S. civil administrator in Iraq, Paul Bremer told The Washington Post that Iraqi revenue would not be enough to cover the bill for economic needs that he described as ''almost impossible to exaggerate.'' Explaining the huge cost of the project, Bremer said it would cost $2 billion just to meet current electrical demand and an estimated $16 billion over four years to deliver clean water to all Iraqis. The figures, which must be added to the $4 billion the Pentagon spends each month on military operations in Iraq, offer the latest evidence that the price of the Iraqi occupation is growing substantially, The Post reported.

Now compare those overwhelming costs to the price of a spinach seed. Virtually nothing! So by sending spinach, or even spinach seeds, not only are you saving American lives, but you are helping make American troops stronger! All this for the low low price of a seed of spinach! What a bargain for the American War Consumer!

Better still, if you're low on cash, you can always get it on credit. As Robert Samuelson of the Washington Post notes on America's 60-Year Credit Binge:

"One reason Americans could spend freely is that they went deeper into debt. Indeed, the democratization of debt is a great story of the late 20th century. In 1946, just after World War II, consumer debt amounted to 22 percent of household after-tax income, reports the Federal Reserve. (That is, for every $10,000 of income, there was $2,200 of debt.) Now debt is almost 110 percent of income. More families borrow, and debtors have more debt in relation to income."

No wonder that the Congressional Budget Office warned that federal finances have worsened and that continued spending and tax trends threaten to dig a deeper and longer federal budget deficit. Holtz-Eakin said as his office projected that the current federal budget will run a $401 billion deficit this year, and rise to $480 billion next year, the largest deficits in the nation's history.

If you don't want to go into debt, maybe you should just become a CEO Whore for an airline. In the midst of an airline industry meltdown allegedly so profound that they had to beg the American government for a handout, it is reported that:

"Delta Air Lines, Northwest Airlines and Continental Airlines gave their chief executives raises after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks even as they laid off a total of 33,000 workers, according to a study by two nonprofit groups.

The attacks cost the industry as much as $2 billion in lost business, according to a Washington University study. As revenue plunged and Continental's Gordon Bethune, Delta's Leo Mullin and Northwest's Richard Anderson cut jobs, they received raises of $1.2 million to $3.4 million, the study by the Institute for Policy Studies and United For a Fair Economy found.

Wouldn't you just love to see this greedy pig's head on a pike just outside the airport? Or maybe this debauched glutton's entrails spread across the runway like oleo?

Truth Gets In Way Of President Bush's Fantasy World

Meanwhile, WAY over on the other end of the scale, weighing in on the debate, Mr. Bush Tuesday said to retreat in the face of terror would only invite further and bolder attacks on U.S. led forces. He also stressed that coalition troops are confronting terrorists in Iraq, in Afghanistan and other places so terror will not spread to the streets of America.

As usual, President Bush's Fantasy World differs substantially from reality. Sometimes that's just because he's an ignorant puppet doing the bidding of more insidious and mal-intentioned flesh eaters like Dick Cheney or Paul Wolfowitz or Rummy and sometimes, it's because he can't seem to tell the truth.

Yeah, we can always be sure he's going to protect the streets of America. We can always count on Rocket Scientist President Jesus Bush to make sure that the streets of America are safe. Just like he did after 9/11 when the White House instructed the Environmental Protection Agency to lie, give the public misleading information, and tell New Yorkers it was safe to breathe when reliable information on air quality was not available:

"When the EPA made a September 18 announcement that the air was 'safe' to breathe, it did not have sufficient data and analyses to make such a blanket statement," the report says. "Furthermore, the White House Council on Environmental Quality influenced . . . the information that EPA communicated to the public through its early press releases when it convinced EPA to add reassuring statements and delete cautionary ones."

I like that. Keep the news happy and upbeat. It's a shame Fox News can't be our only source of information in the world. You know why? Because if it were, we'd never have to hear all this pissing and moaning about troops dying one by one in Iraq or listen to any debates about whether we should send spinach or ten million American actors in soldier's uniforms and Big Macs to Iraq because America would have already won the war again. Just like they did already last May.

I don't have photoshop myself but I'm sure there will be plenty of fun had with the latest Saddam Wanted Poster.

President Bush's email via Je Blog

9/11 television archive

Internet Archive

Online Literature Library via The Ultimate Insult

woensdag, augustus 27, 2003

Moore Claims Ten Commandments Statue Is A "Viable Fetus"

Suspended Alabama Chief Justice and religious crackpot Roy Moore now claims that the 2.6-ton granite Ten Commandments monument taken hostage in the state judicial building's rotunda is a "viable fetus" and vowed to fight to keep the "evil courts" from "taking an innocent life" that is protected by the Fourteenth Amendment's guarantee that life shall not be taken without due process of the law.

"I stand before the Court of the Judiciary because I cannot, in good conscience, allow this Ten Commandments monument which has, over the course of the weekend, become a viable fetus, a human life that should be cherished, not destroyed, to be removed from this judicial building which is, after all, the womb of this fetus. Right away, some will say that abortion is not a matter of life and death, arguing that a Ten Commandments statue-fetus is not a "person", or a "human being". Yet, medical research proves that the fetus is a living organism from the moment of conception. Clearly this statue was conceived, otherwise, it wouldn't be here today," Moore told cheering supporters outside the building Monday afternoon.

Other Moore supporters filed a lawsuit Monday in federal court in Mobile in a last-ditch bid to prevent the carved stone monument from being moved, arguing that removing the monument would amount to a government endorsement of a "legislated abortion," according to the complaint.

U.S. District Court Judge William Steele has agreed to hear the case Wednesday at 3 p.m. (4 p.m. EDT).

Moore argues that the Ten Commandments statue which has become a human fetus is the foundation of the U.S. legal system and that forbidding the Judeo-Christian life form violates the First Amendment.

"It's not about a monument," he said. "It's not about religion. It's about killing innocent human lives, the unborn, even if it appears as a Ten Commandments statue, is a viable human individual and should not be killed by anyone other than almighty God," he said.

Last week, Moore's colleagues on the Alabama Supreme Court overruled his defiance of a federal court order demanding the 2.6-ton granite monument's removal, and the state's Judicial Inquiry Commission suspended him from office.

Monday afternoon, police put up their own statue of a metal fetus being sucked into a very large vacuum in order to scare people who have gathered in support of Moore.

"Christians are offended at many things in today's society," Moore told about 150 supporters. "They're offended at abortion, at sodomy in our streets, pictures and films depicting human beings engaged in sexual acts with farm animals and Southerners, at kids getting killed in school, at evil and insidious human beings like Democrats to be allowed to live...

"And yet, we seem to be ashamed at standing up and speaking the truth -- of acknowledging that this Ten Commandments statue was created in the image of God and endowed by him with our rights of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness,"
he said.

The Judicial Inquiry Commission charged Moore with six ethics violations for defying a federal court order to remove the monument and have implied that he seek psychiatric counseling.

One of Moore's lawyers, a partial birth abortion survivor and former state Supreme Court Justice Terry Butts, said the chief justice's defense team will
"actively mount a very vigorous defense of the allegations that have been made against the chief justice."

Commission spokeswoman Margaret Childers said Moore has 30 days to respond.

The state's Court of the Judiciary could decide to punish Moore, and could even decide to abort him retroactively from his trailer park mother's womb by virtue of a special time machine created by Alabama state officials to go back in time and abort felons and other criminals before they are born.

Many backers waited outside the building through the weekend, threatening to block efforts to remove the monument.

Alabama could face $5,000-a-day fines until the monument is removed.

Patrick Mahoney, director of the Christian Defense Coalition, said one company contacted about removing the monument has refused to do so, and he urged Moore's supporters to boycott any company that took the job.

"Today let it be known that any multinational defense contractor or any company that would transport the viable human life from its rightful womb in the state judicial building's rotunda, if you move this monument, we will call for a nationwide boycott of you, or, if necessary, we will hire more anti-abortion assassins to hunt you down like critters and vermin" he said.

"We see the First Amendment to protect religious liberty, not kill innocent babies," Mahoney said.

Moore installed the monument in August 2001 without consulting the other justices and claimed it was an unborn fetus which could not be aborted.

Three Alabama lawyers who often had business at the judicial building sued, and U.S. District Judge Myron Thompson ruled that the monument was an unconstitutional promotion of religion and not an unborn fetus.

Moore appealed the decision, but the U.S. Supreme Court refused to stay Thompson's order demanding the monument's removal by midnight last Wednesday.

Moore refused to comply, prompting the state Supreme Court's other justices to overrule him.

dinsdag, augustus 26, 2003

Rumsfeld Says No More U.S. Troops Needed, Unless They Are Needed...

"Whoever fights monsters should see to it that in the process he doesn't become a monster." --Friedrich Nietzsche

SAN ANTONIO (AP) - Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld insisted Monday that the U.S. military has enough troops to perform all its missions, including the war in Iraq but if the lightning-quick and cat-like strikes of the invasion forces do not overwhelm and turn to dust all enemies everywhere in a matter of a few hours, a few hundred thousand troops more may be necessary.

Rumsfeld told thousands of veterans attending the 104th Veterans of Foreign Wars meeting that, like all of its allies, U.S. military officials don't want more American forces. But, he cautioned, (because there must always be a caveat), if that should change, say because combat troops are acting as an untrained billion dollar police force and haven't been home in years and are openly rebelling against an idiotic leadership and command back in the United States, he said he wouldn't hesitate to recommend to President Bush that the U.S. force level be raised so that the 49% of registered American voters who recently said they would not back the President for a second term, could all be shipped on the next plane out to Baghdad, handed badges and guns and told to do it themselves.

Addressing critics who suggest the war may cost much more than the administration originally acknowledged, Rumsfeld said the United States can afford whatever final troop strength is necessary for national security, even if it cost every penny in the Administration's piggy bank. "If we run low on cash, we'll sell our Liberals to the French," Rumsfeld noted.

Still, he noted that any increase in forces now would require cuts in other parts of the federal budget, like the part that runs the government.

Rumsfeld said one way to avoid that is for Congress to approve his request for flexibility. Give up the coin, cough up the cash, extend our credit. He wants convicted felons to perform some nonmilitary jobs now being performed by those in uniform because they work cheap and they're mean. The secretary said that would free up some 20,000 to 25,000 troops to destroy the infrastructure of other sovereign nations around the world and lead other volatile areas into anarchy and chaos.

On Sunday, top U.S. officials cited better intelligence and increased cooperation with Iraqis as keys to countering the rising number of terrorist attacks that have hampered rebuilding efforts. They also cited wild tales of cities filled with bullion and golden elephants, exotic dancers and ebullient castrati.

L. Paul Bremer, the U.S. civilian chief in Iraq, and Gen. Richard Myers, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, welcomed more assistance from other countries to help stabilize the situation.

Bremer told Al-Fox News Sunday that it was "hard for me to see how the U.N. itself can play a further military role because the U.N., in my experience, is a useless collection of sniveling wimps who won't kill as fast as we like.''

At least some U.N. control is a condition that France, India and other nations have insisted on before sending troops. Bremer said all military forces should remain under command of the U.S.-led coalition, because "we are the only ones brave and heroic enough to kill all the bad guys. The U.N. clearly has a vital role to play in the reconstruction of Iraq. In these dusty conditions, my shoes need constant shining, for example. Many toilets need to be cleaned, the restroom facilities at highway rest stops, for example, are atrocious."

Questions about U.S. troop strength in Iraq have heightened since the truck bombing of U.N. headquarters in Baghdad last week that killed the United Nations' top envoy and at least 23 others.

About 150,000 American troops are in Iraq, along with 20,000 soldiers from Britain and other coalition countries. Roughly 50,000 Iraqis are working with the United States on security matters, like how to blow up the U.N. headquarters.

Earlier yesterday, Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry charged that the Bush administration has failed U.S. troops in Iraq while neglecting soldiers who served in past wars.

Kerry, a veteran of the Vietnam War, said as president he would get everyone except Americans to fight in Iraq, give a $10 million a year raise to each U.S. soldier to put their pay more in line with other dangerous careers, like NBA basketball players, and would basically "promise anything to anyone if it helps get me elected. I'm a war veteran. I ride a motorcycle. I write poetry. I'm Everyman, King of The Heroes of The World!"

Kerry, who formally announces his candidacy next week, is casting himself as the only Democratic candidate who knows how to kill as good as Bush does, capable of neutralizing Bush's advantage on national security issues. Kerry was highly decorated for his killing Vietnamese children during the Vietnam War. He knows how to kill.

Meanwhile, Administration leaders continued to deny that Iraq was turning into Terrorstock 2003

But a leaflet was discovered on the roads leading to Baghdad yesterday:

The largest terrorist get-together is coming to Baghdad. Three years of Killing.... Camping out under the stars..... This is going to be a "serious" party!!

Months to plan the trip..... Save some money..... Create believable lies for parents, bosses, loved and unloved ones..... Round up your travel buddies or lover and hit the road.

The Iraqi city, county, and state officials know what to expect and feel confident in their abilities to handle traffic, crowd control, sanitation, medical emergencies, and any unexpected problems. They are prepared.

"From the point of view of the al Qaeda types, this is a pretty important battlefield for them," said L. Paul Bremer, U.S. civilian administrator for Iraq. Mr. Bremer made his comments on CNN's "Late Edition with Wolf Blitzer" and appeared on the other Sunday political talk shows, where he outlined the new front line against terrorism. Mr. Bremer also said Iraq would be the logical arena for international terrorists to gather and make a stand.

"It's a plausible argument, because the terrorists hate everything that we stand for, the United States, and they hate the vision we have for Iraq, because the vision we have for Iraq is fundamentally threatening to the terrorists' vision," Mr. Bremer said.

Rumsfeld, who called the quick toppling of Saddam's regime "a breathtaking accomplishment," played down the continuing resistance in Iraq. He labeled the guerrilla fighters "dead-enders," and compared them to either bands of schoolchildren taking advantage of a substitute teacher, or, Nazis who fought on after World War II had ended.

"The coalition forces can deal with the terrorists now in Iraq, instead of having to deal with those terrorists elsewhere, including the United States," Rumsfeld said. "Everyone knows that if we keep the terrorists busy killing American troops in Iraq, they won't have time to come here and kill us in America."

Jessica Stern, the author of "Terror in the Name of God: Why Religious Militants Kill," wrote an ominous op-ed column in The New York Times, in which she describes the influx of Saudi fanatics into Iraq and how al-Qaeda is using the invasion for recruitment.

Stern says the young recruits see television images of American troops and tanks in Baghdad and are deeply humiliated. She spoke to a Saudi dissident leader in London.

"He told me that some 3,000 young Saudis have entered Iraq in recent months, and called the war 'a gift to Osama bin Laden."

You can just call President Bush "Mr. Santa Claus."

It's also spurring analysts to ask if Iraq is becoming the new Afghanistan - a magnet for Islamic extremists bent on waging jihad against the United States in the heart of the Arab world.

"Iraq is developing as Al Qaeda's new battlefield," says Rohan Gunaratna, an author and terrorism expert. "Without a theater of jihad, they cannot produce terrorists for operations anywhere else. They lost Afghanistan, so they needed a new combat theater in which to train and inspire. And the US invasion gave it to them."

President Bush, busy clearing brush on his ranch and kicking back for a few weeks of fun and relaxation, couldn't be bothered to comment his growing and enormous list of foreign and domestic policy favors. It is rumored he may make a speech to the American Legion in St. Louis tomorrow but, noting that it "takes a long time" to compose the labrynthical sort of absurdist fiction that his Administration is known for, he may not be able to give any more speeches until the end of the year when Dick Cheney will emerge from a pool of blood and oil and congeal in front of television cameras to announce that he has taken over Earth.

maandag, augustus 25, 2003

Voters Don't Want Bush Re-Elected

The majority of American voters would not like to see President Bush re-elected to another term according to a poll by Newsweek magazine.

The survey released Saturday showed that 49 percent of registered voters would not back the president for a second term if the vote were held now. Forty-four percent would support Mr. Bush's re-election. Looks like the President might take the Small Change Train out of town someday after all.

If it can't happen fast enough for you, try the Recall Bush website via Left Blank.

Two weeks from today, the guys and gals from Desultory Turgescence will be Moving To England.

In the meantime, someday, we can all sing again:

Small Change
(Got Rained on with His Own .38)

Tom Waits

Well small change got rained on with his own .38
and nobody flinched down by the arcade
and the marquise weren't weeping
they went stark-raving mad
and the cabbies were the only ones
that really had it made
and his cold trousers were twisted,
and the sirens high and shrill
and crumpled in his fist was a five-dollar bill
and the naked mannequins with their
cheshire grins
and the raconteurs
and roustabouts said buddy
come on in
cause the dreams ain't broken down here now
now ...they're walking with a limp
now that

small change got rained on with his own .38"
and nobody flinched down by the arcade
and the burglar alarm's been disconnected
and the newsmen start to rattle
and the cops are tellin' jokes
about some whore house in Seattle
and the fire hydrants plead the 5th Amendment
and the furniture's bargains galore
but the blood is by the jukebox
on an old linoleum floor
and it's a hot rain on 42nd Street
and now the umbrellas ain't got a chance
And the newsboy's a lunatic
with stains on his pants cause

small change got rained on with his own .38
and no one's gone over to close his eyes
and there's a racing form in his pocket
circled "Blue Boots" in the 3rd
and the cashier at the clothing store
he didn't say a word as the
siren tears the night in half
and someone lost his wallet
well it's surveillance of assailants
if that's whatchawannacallit
and the whores hike up their skirts
and fish for drug-store prophylactics
with their mouths cut just like
razor blades and their eyes are like stilettos
and her radiator's steaming
and her teeth are in a wreck
now she won't let you kiss her
but what the hell do you expect
and the Gypsies are tragic and if you
wanna to buy perfume, well
they'll bark you down like
carneys... sell you Christmas cards in June

small change got rained on with his own .38
and his headstone's
a gumball machine
no more chewing gum
or baseball cards or
overcoats or dreams and
someone is hosing down the sidewalk
and he's only in his teens

small change got rained on with his own .38
and a fistful of dollars can't change that
and someone copped his watch fob
and someone got his ring
and the newsboy got his porkpie Stetson hat
and the tuberculosis old men
at the Nelson wheeze and cough
and someone will head south
until this whole thing cools off cause
small change got rained on with his own .38
yea small change got rained on with his own .38

vrijdag, augustus 22, 2003

Friday Out On The Links

Either out of sheer laziness or because it hasn't been done here in awhile, it's time to pass along some links, highlight some blogs, separate the wheat from the chaff, give the devils their due, etc., etc.

"What can I say? He (Al-Chalabi) is incredible in interviews- almost as good as Bush (comically infuriating). I can see why the Pentagon adopted him- he would be fun to train, a pet monkey of sorts…"

read more at Baghdad Burning, a riveting new girl blog from Iraq.

Uren.Dagen.Nachten provides a flashcard to help the American military learn to distinguish between a camera and a rocket launcher. They need all the help they can get. Now it seems they've been able to "capture" Chemical Ali, the same man they claim to have killed more than four months ago. No wonder they're so confused.

Of personal interest since it's only a matter of a few weeks now before our move there and relocation kicks in: Virtual Brum via The Whole Wide World of Fat Buddha who moved from Idle Thoughts of a Fat Buddha "for the time being" but hasn't returned...(shall we consider this the "new" permanent site?)

What's the real truth about Stratford-Upon-Avon? All I want to know is what the commute is like to Birmingham.

By the way, I love Nigerian Spam so much, I've started a new blog for it. Dunno if it's the first, but by the time I'm through, it will be the most comprehensive. Feel free to send me your favorites.

In case you can never get enough, more nice snaps of the Blackout parties via Lockhart Steele.

Chez Lubacov is back up with some desert music.

Nigel In Europe is an exhaustive examination of an already exhausted experience (Yankee traveling through Europe) with the caveat that the sketches and photographs are more enduring than your usual tourist-fare postcards.

Travelers Diagram has three new Strokes songs recorded live

Which reminds me, some friends of mine have finally put a few of their own songs on the web.

Sure, why not a gratuitous plug for Sports Amnesia which will be changing its format to EPL play within a month?

Unrelated, but no less interesting, is I, Asshole and her breakup with jogging.

Design Your Own Hell and Kafka Flash Animated via Left Blank.

Special interest in The Blog of Death?

NORML presents a drug war cartoon from Mark Fiore.

Time for Breakfast!

I remember the controversy over the Piss Christ but this Bush Christ business is a little too close for comfort. I wonder how come God hasn't had anything to say about it yet.

Even GQ is getting in on the act.

Lastly, since I just heard it for the first time two nights ago and am just 13 years behind the times:

Lester Bowie's Brass Fantasy.

Listen here.

donderdag, augustus 21, 2003

HACKER ALERT: Bush Team Launches Grassroots-Oriented Campaign Website

An amusing new and entertaining site filled with all the traditional lies and obfuscations you've come to know and love and even a couple of new ones, has been launched on the dying landscape of the internet like a cannon shot across the universe. It's called Bush-Cheney 04, a wonderful domain where the sick and the demogogically shifty congeal and prevail.

It's a cold and lonely world out there for neophytes but the guys and gals at Bush-Cheney 04 have put together an astonishing collection of all of the classic distortions of fact, revisionist history and outright lies the Bush Administration has mustered since the call to Invasion 2003 and it has all the earmarks of a classic in the making.

First of all, this is no five and dime presentation. You might begin your stroll at the George Bush Online Store where you can purchase such classics as the Viva Bush t-shirts and g strings. If you ask at the counter, you might be able to find one of the few remaining Fuck Bush t-shirts but don't let Dick Cheney know. He's still upset that copies of the docket of his DWI case in Wyoming haven't been selling better.

One of my favorite sections is the "Weekly Photo" shot which today shows President Bush lending a hand to help dig mass graves for Iraqi civilians. I can't wait for the t-shirts to become available online.

A crazy poll to test the ignorance of voters asks: How many working families are benefiting from President Bush's Jobs and Growth Act? (the punchline is that the multiple choice answers do not provide answers lower than 12 million!!)

(Upon further review, it's quite possible there was some coding problems from the website designers who actually meant to ask, if 12 million is the answer, "How many corporate whores are benefiting from President Bush's Jobs and Growth Act?" or "How many working families are out on the streets begging for money because of President Bush's Jobs and Growth Act?", but its difficult to tell the true motivations behind the poll.

The same can be said for the Quick Vote which asks us Which part of President Bush's compassionate conservative agenda is most important to you?

Is that like a Quick Vote which asks: Which part of your body would you most like to have clamps and electrodes attached to in order to receive your 2004 volts of compassionate conservativism?

The Web site also includes a feature designed specifically for “bloggers.” Supportive bloggers can place a unique news feed box on their Web site that instantly posts news items onto their weblog the moment GeorgeWBush.com is updated. Bloggers who do not support President Bush in loud and officious colors and use words of infatuation and unquestioning support will be tracked down, one by one and placed into the custody of Almighty God's Attorney General, John Ashcroft.

Although not explicitly stated but otherwise heavy-handedly implied, visitors are encouraged to "Keep America Strong" by signing up to be a Bush Team Leader and donate not only your money, but your flesh and blood. If the computer registers your yearly income at over $ 2.5 million, a special pop-up video ad is generated which features a guffawing President slapping his knee with the dismembered limbs of Iraqi children killed by errant American missiles during the "Liberation" of Iraq with the admonition that "Killing Isn't Cheap. Pay Up Or Move To Another Tax Bracket"

Perhaps most touching is the President's personalized message to his website's visitors entitled "A Charge To Keep" which is a compelling and simultaneously haunting manifesto about the ins and outs of the campaign trail, the ying and yang of killing and the thrill of partisan politics.

A Charge to Keep
By President George W. Bush

Thank you for taking the time to visit my campaign website. I appreciate your interest and involvement. Together we are laying the groundwork for an indestructible hegemony that will bloom to fruition next year. Thank you in advance for the emails of love and support that Jesus has told me you will send, the phone calls Jesus has told me you will make, the clearly Christian signs of support you will put in the yards of your Arab neighbors and set fire to, and the other grassroots activities that will support our re-election and help us achieve victory by squashing, muting or killing every last vestige of protest from the terrorist-loving mouths of your cowardly countrymen who opposed this great Leadership.

My campaign is going to take a hopeful and optimistic message to the American people: We want to kill. Yet at the same time, we want profits. I hope you will show your support by taking action in your community. Spy on your neighbors, report suspicious activity, especially any words spoken against the Administration or any refusal to praise Jesus, attend church regularly and steal from the poor to give to the rich.

Vice President Cheney and I are focused on the nation’s top priorities – our nation's upper class have suffered through tremendous struggles and they need our help, we also need to create an even more confusing security apparatus which will pay lip service to fighting terrorism while simultaneously working with a steadfast and dogged determination to rip every last privacy right from the cold, dead hands of the people who do not support us, and of course, we have to teach the editors of our nation's media outlets how to emulate the wonderfully successful Fox News Channel in how to report fiction as fact and vice versa. The War on Terror requires it. We will continue to earn the confidence of the American people or we will send John Ashcroft after them to keep this nation prosperous, strong and secure.

I came to office to make problems, to pass them on to other Presidents and other generations. I came to seize opportunities and not let them slip away. In the last two and a half years, our nation has learned the value of killing and a zest for being lied to, and I am proud of all of you.

On September 11, 2001, terrorists declared war on the United States, and we have taken the fight to the terrorists although they don't seem to realize it yet. Although we haven't captured or killed any of the top terrorists I vowed to capture dead or alive, we have killed many innocent civilians that were getting in the way of Democracy in Iraq and we have captured or killed many low level "terrorists" or people we think are terrorists anyway, and well, we've spent alot of your money so we must be getting somewhere. Just remember, success in this war on terrorism isn't something you're just going to hear about. It will come in many shapes and forms. Just trust me on that one. We're winning. In Iraq, America and the coalition partners your tax dollars bought and paid for, temporarily removed a brutal dictator and replaced him with instability, chaos and anarchy. We are working with the Iraqi people and other nations to wreak as much havoc as possible while bungling as many opportunities as we have available in an enormous and unprecedented failure to build a free, democratic and peaceful Iraq that no longer harbors illegal weapons or supports terrorists.

This administration has proposed and signed into law historic legislation – including constitutional reform which surreptiously takes away the standard privacy rights of most citizens, tax relief for our nation's wealthiest people because they need more money and if you know what's best for you, you'll agree. We have worked to advance our agenda of Pax Americana by applying the worst and most dangerous ideas to the task of helping our fellow citizens in need. We are rallying any and all armies, regardless of cost to ensure that every person, every child and family, and every community can enjoy broadcasts of invasions of sovereign nations and revel in the lies and screaming hypocrisy blaring out at you from every direction.

There is still much work to be done in Washington. We are working to weaken health care for all Americans because frankly, it's just too damned costly and if you believe in Jesus Christ as your savior, you don't need health care anyway because Jesus will take care of you. We will continue to expand economic opportunities for our favorite friends and those who pledge the most money to our reelection campaign, and I will not be satisfied until every American is out looking for work, whether there are any jobs out there or not. This administration is committed to expanding the wealth of its richest and smallest percentile across the globe, for our own security and for the benefit of ourselves alone. We believe that this nation is the home of Jesus Christ and the defender of Jesus Christ, and we will keep this charge of history.

We intend to make good use of every day that we have the opportunity to take advantage of the ignorance of the American people, and hope that through our efforts we will be fortunate enough to continue to serve.

Praise Jesus!

Your President,

George W. Bush

woensdag, augustus 20, 2003

Bush condemns U.N. blast in Iraq

Says U.S. resolve won't waver "yet"

CRAWFORD, Texas -- Declaring that "terrorists are testing our will," an angry President Bush on Tuesday condemned the fatal truck bombing of U.N. headquarters in Baghdad and vowed the attack would not deter U.S.-led efforts to destroy that country by themselves.

"We've done a wonderful job to date of destroying the infrastructure of Iraq, depriving the Iraqi people of power and water, killing innocent women and children and frankly, we don't need any help."

Around America, citizens expressed their confusion over the inconsistencies between the Bush Administration calling the UN "irrelevent" when it refused to rubber stamp the US invasion of Iraq and its current condemnation of the destruction of U.N. headquarters in Baghdad. In a recent CNN poll, more than 70 percent of Americans believed that the UN "is our enemy" and that the UN "supported terrorists and was behind 9/11."

82 percent, say they believe the United States has found clear evidence that the United Nations was working closely with the al-Qaida terrorist organization.

"Hell, I thought we were supposed to be cheering the destruction of those terrorist-loving UN bastards" said a fascinated Gregory Till, as he watched President Bush's speech on Fox News.

Nevertheless, the Bush Administration is not taking the bombing of the UN headquarters lightly.

"The civilized world will not be intimidated," Bush said. "And these killers will not determine the future of Iraq. Only American-sanctioned killers can determine the future of Iraq"

Several unnamed sources in the Administration seem now to believe that a revisionist state seeking to parlay its momentary advantages into a world order in which it runs the show for the rest of the world, might not be the greatest idea after all.

"We'll see whether or not the United Nations will be the United Nations or the League of Nations when it comes to dealing with this man who for 11 years has thumbed his nose at resolution after resolution after resolution after resolution," Bush fondly recalled, repeating earlier remarks he made in October at a White House event for Hispanic leaders. "But if we decide the United Nations is useless and should be destroyed, we will do it ourselves. We don't need the help of Iraqi subversives foolishly clinging to the dying dreams of their despotic history."

The blast killed at least 17 people and wounded dozens, U.N. officials said. The explosion came on the heels of a US invasion of the country, the subsequent slaughter of thousands of innocent civilians and sabotage against oil pipelines in northern Iraq and an attack on a water pipeline in Baghdad that left much of the city without water.

Bush, who cut short a golf game and his prayer meetings in Waco, Texas, and returned to his ranch shortly after the attack, said he had spoken to U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan and offered to finish the job by blowing up the rest of Iraq before they had a chance to recover.

"The terrorists who struck today have again shown their contempt for our ability to destroy Iraq on our own," Bush said. "We have already shown our fear of progress and our hatred of peace. We, not they, are the enemies of the Iraqi people. We, not they, are the enemies of every nation that seeks to help the Iraqi people. So let's get that straight. We don't want any two-bit terrorist act getting in the way of our efforts."

Earlier in the day, Bush had offered an upbeat assessment about progress in Iraq, citing the "significant deconstruction effort" in that country and applauding the shooting of the Reuters cameraman fatally shot by American soldiers in Iraq on Sunday as he filmed outside a prison.

"I'm really pleased that we've eliminated another potential terrorist, another of the last remnants of that evil regime," Bush said.

The U.N. blast came as a seven-member congressional delegation was in Iraq. The lawmakers were not at the U.N. headquarters at the time and were not injured.

The delegation cut short its visit in Iraq by several hours and was due to go to the next stop in Kuwait, congressional and administration aides told CNN.

Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison, a member of that delegation, told CNN by phone the terrorist attacks in Iraq "have been getting more professional, perhaps even more professional than our own troops" but, like Bush, she said the U.S. commitment to the country would not waver unless it was politically expedient to do so.

"It doesn't in any way diminish our resolve, but of course if opinion polls shift, we may have to find another rogue nation to focus on to divert attention from the mess we created in Afghanistan and in Iraq," the Texas Republican said.

dinsdag, augustus 19, 2003

How I Spent My 2003 Blackout

The folks down in Esquel, who frequently don't have or need any electricity of their own as they ski down the slopes La Hoya in battery-operated miner's helmets slurping pisco sours and chanting revolutionary's songs, have asked me to update them on the big Blackout of 2003. These folks, students mostly, who spend long, cold nights in typical Patagonian student housing drinking hierba mate and learning how to play Led Zeppelin tunes on ukeleles, don't get much news of the outside world these days and rely heavily on Desultory Turgescence's skewed and painful renditions of world events so, para mis amigos abajo, here is the lowdown and school report on How I Spent My 2003 Blackout:

The first thing to know was that I missed Manhattan's 9/11. I got stuck in DC with the crappy, low budget version of 9/11 with one lousy burning Pentagon, super hunk Donald Rumsfeld emerging from the ruins with his shirtsleeves rolled to the elbow like the new great American hero and alot of unsubstantiated rumors, like planes flying into Congress and bombs going off at the State Department which, although they sounded intriguing, never quite materialized as reality and thus kept DC far below NYC on the great terrorist disaster stories totem. I was infinitely jealous of all my friends who got to bond during all the terror, who got all the hoopla and highlights, had the cool Mayor who seized control of the situation and garnered all the sympathies of Americans everywhere, while the stupid capital of America got sloppy seconds for news coverage, once again, Manhattan hogging the spotlight.

So when the lights flickered and went dead, as I emerged from the darkness of the emergency exit stairway and shoved open the emergency doors onto the bright sunlit street, there was a vague sense of anticipatory redemption running through me. Finally, a brush with real chaos, I thought to myself. Traffic, as it always is, was at a standstill on Varick Street. Big deal. No Godzilla versus Mothra battles across the skyline. No shrieking pedestrians, sprinting down empty avenues towards the Hudson River with the wild look of catastrophe written across their panic-stricken eyes. Just the lack of traffic lights, the same endearing horn-squashing assholes who typically populate the traffic tie-ups and slightest slowdowns and alot of people milling around aimlessly like animals in those safari zoo places where they're roped off within 40 acres to roam, get regular meals and have no natural predators but still wander around looking slightly confused and out of place as though they've walked on stage five minutes before their cue and didn't know how to improvise.

When I'd covered the twenty minutes it normally takes to get home, wanting to burst into a song called "It's the WHOLE East Coast!" and spread the good news to everyone around me, the old neighborhood was in a cautiously festive mood. After all, it was just a blackout.

Here's where it got comical: Mayor Buffoonberg told everyone hey kids, it's not terrorism, it's just a blackout. The power failure appears to be an "accident", not terror oriented, he said. What a comfort, I thought, recalling how only two days before, there he stood in all his stumpy anti-smoking bloatedness lying to anyone who would listen that the cops had been "right on top of it" when those kids wandered onto the tarmac of JFK airport for an hour before walking in themselves to the airport police and to seek help in figuring out where the hell they were. On top of it? Christ, those kids practically had to assault those cops to get them to pay attention. So our dear Mayor's credibility is a little apocryphal.

Things became even more ominous when I heard through the grapevine that beloved and heroic President Bush even assured anyone naive enough to pay attention to him when he managed to mumble:

"One thing I can say for certain, this was not a terrorist attack."

That was when I started getting all sweaty, testing the water from the sink every ten minutes for radioactivity and longingly eyeing the duct tape and plastic sheeting at the foot of the windows. (By the way, the Department of Homeland Security's suggestion that we duct tape plastic sheeting over our windows doesn't do us much fucking good when it's 500 degrees outside and we need the windows open to be able to breath!)

But back to the matter of plausible excuses. First of all, he could say for certain, like 10 seconds after we lose power, that it wasn't terrorism. This from the same Idiot Collective that tells us every day that terrorists will attack us again but they just don't know when, where, how or how much. On the other hand, one could view this information with even deeper skepticism. Perhaps the reason the federal government can tell us with "certainty" that it wasn't terorrism is because THEY are the terrorists. Hmmm. Wonderful things to ponder as the room temperature in the apartment increases from a meatlocker-like 55 degrees Fahrenheit to a tropical 85 degrees in a matter of hours.

Inventory and Reflection on Modern Technology

Upon arrival to the slowly broiling apartment, some sort of long-dormant survivalist instincts began to kick in. After a prolonged inventory of the apartment contents for emergency kits, canned foods, potable liquids, flashlights, candles and lighters, I discovered there were no candles that hadn't already been burnt down to a nub, serving as a contemporaneous ashtray, but I did find a tent and mosquito netting that had gone missing somewhere in the depths of the closet several months ago, three lighters, three cans of tuna, two cans of refried beans and a variety of still-cold juices and water.

But all this was just nervous activity to prolong avoidance of the real issue at hand as the disheartingly brutal truth finally began to hit home. There is no internet. There is no television. There is no music. Quite nearly total sensory deprivation. This lead immediately to the acknowledgement that for the first time in many, many months, there was going to be something called Idle Time to deal with. No internet? No tv? No music? What the fuck are you supposed to do to keep yourself from crawling up the walls in what looks like some LSD-induced freak-out, screaming and throwing sheets of classical music around the apartment like a rabid chimpanzee who has seen Space 2001 too many times?

Ah, yes. The bucolic pleasures. Reading. Writing. Sexual release.

Then of course, there was the enticing alternative of figuring out how to survive if the whole city went mad and there was a need to defend oneself. So a new inventory was taken.

First was the typical stuff you could throw out your window at the marauding civilians attempting to attack the fortress and rip it open to grab all the goodies inside. The first thing would be the electrical shit:

a.) Because without power, you realize how utterly useless your television, computer monitor, heavy stereo equipment and assorted electrical appliances are.
b.) Because these assorted electrical appliances are oftentimes heavy and work well as a weight to drop on the heads of and kill rioting peasants below with.

Then I eyed the books. Yes, it's true that without power, the value of books grow exponentially with each day that passes without power. But beyond their practical use as entertainment, books have other uses as well. For example, the heavier tomes, the hardcovers, the encyclopedic volumes, and the dreaded coffee table books can all be used as weapons. When seige is lain upon my castle, can you imagine, for example, the damage that could be done with a hardcover copy of Infinite Jest?? What about I drop all 870 pages of Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix on them?

Later, I hit upon some of the more obvious choices for weapons. The cutlery. And beyond that, ALL the silverware for that matter. If people can grind plastic cafeteria spoons into deadly shivs in prison, then certainly my elaborate collection of chopsticks and my plastic utensils, still sealed along with the salt and pepper and the little napkin inside their plastic wrapping from years of getting delivery, are going to come in handy.

The other use for books, especially the paperbacks, is that they are great for indoor trashcan fires. This is more a use in the winter months when the room needs heating than in the summer months when the indoor temperature is already high enough to roast marshmellows in, but fire itself, whatever it is created out of, can always prove to be a useful weapon.

This then brings us to the old lighter and aerosol spray can trick of making huge flames dance out like the St. Elmo's Fire scene when Jules suffers a quasi-nervous breakdown, locks herself inside her apartment in the dead of winter, opens every window and attempts to freeze herself to death and Billy saves the day, busting through her front door, shutting the windows just in time and talking Jules back from the brink with wild tales of electric flashes of light that appear in dark skies out of nowhere and uses the lighter and aerosol spray can to prove his point. This kind of fire-spewing act is sure to repel looters and gawkers.

But things got a little boring when I began measuring bookshelves for handleability. How well does it fit in an enclosed hand? How easy is it to swing like a club? How well does it burn when dipped in lighter fluid and tossed out the window onto the street? I decided that, lacking a transistor radio and a flashlight, I could at least take a peek outside to find out what the other natives were doing by then.

Outside, It's America

I headed for the corner bodega to see what sort of chaos and havoc was being wreaked on the neighborhood. The hardware store on 7th and 2nd Avenue as well as the drugstore at 5th and 2nd, had already produced conga lines of desperate, sweaty and frightened potential customers looking as though they would begin foaming at the mouth once the minimal stock of flashlights, spades and power mowers were officially sold out. The bodega on the southwest corner of 7th and 2nd was dark and filled with more obnoxious people surreptitiously shoving into lines and selfishly trying to buy up everything their greedy little paws could hold with complete disregard for their neighbors. It was then I realized for the thousandth time how the old neighborhood is slowly metastasizing into a haven of non-smoking yuppie nutritionists with cellphones surgically attached to the sides of their heads.

This reminds me: Don't believe all the bullshit you read about New Yorkers being such a placid, loving folk bleeding altruism on every street corner during times of chaos and struggle. They are human, after all. Like everyone else, they shove their way through emergency exits and subway tunnels, pushing pregnant women out of the way as survivalist corporate raiders and Wall Street cannibals grind the rest of humanity beneath their heel like a smoldering cigarette butt. It's true that in a city that seems as nasty and as cut-throat bottom line as does New York, it is surprising that they haven't killed each other off by the following morning after any remotely chaotic incident but is it really this schmaltzy bullshit about being a New Yorker that does it or is it simply being a fellow human being?

One of the things that nauseated me once power was restored and I had access to the evil New York One News channel all over again, was watching these nonchalant, self-congratulatory "sufferers" recite like a jingoistic mantra, the belief that they were New Yorkers so they had to shrug off extreme adversity, as though there was something inherent in the DNA of brushing against unhygienic commuters ten times a week in a smelly, overtaxed underground transportation system. Had to wait 30 hours in crushing rush hour traffic? No problem. Nearly asphixiated in the crush of commuters trampling you in the subway tunnels as they rushed to escape the rats and find fresh air above ground? Simple. Walked home from Manhattan to the far reaches of Rockaway Beach on the bloody, ragged remains of what used to be the soles of your feet? Big deal! "Oh, nothing but kryptonite phases me baby, I'm a New Yorker!"

The funny thing is, instead of the pseudo-refined savages they normally burlesque, during times of chaos, New Yorkers revert to acting like Suburban Americans. They hold BBQs in the street, play music, sing, greet and treat their neighbors like fellow human beings instead of some sort of toxic subterranean human replicants. For awhile, they were almost normal.

We really should have more ruinous emergencies and breakdowns like this if it means that people get to walk down the middle of avenues like cool human beings again. For awhile, as I wandered down Second Avenue towards Houston Street, I hallucinated vast expanses of grasslands where once there was asphalt and honking horns. The surrounding neighborhoods and streets had almost begun to metamorphasize into one brobdingnagian Deadhead village of non-looting catastrophe joyriders. Where normally there were taxis and delivery trucks and teeming masses of traffic, there were now slack-key guitars and Hari Krishna finger cymbals being played, mothers dancing with their babies, meat roasting on impromptu street barbeques, the occasional emergency response vehicle and the slowly slackening stream of Downtown office workers schlepping it back to their apartments on the Upper East Side and Spanish Harlem.

Oddly enough, even though I don't smoke "tobacco" anymore, one of the first things that crossed my mind as I wandered around was that at least all those tortured smokers were finally going to get some relief. After all, with the power out everywhere and the cops and designated enforcement employees or whomever it is writing tickets to enforce Mayor Buffoonberg's criminally inappropriate no-smoking regulations, were going to have more important things on their minds. Maybe the city wouldn't go hellhound mad with looting but you can be sure that in the middle of a power outage and the unairconditioned indoor bars steaming up like saunas, no one was going to worrry about a little second-hand smoke gushing down into their lungs and instantly killing them.

Boredom Zenith, Part Deux

While the block parties blared on, I sat sweltering inside the apartment listlessly thumbing through a pamphlet on alchohol-induced blackouts and waiting for Sigrid to make it back from Roosevelt Island. Having already assessed the chaos of rush hour traffic, I figured there was no way she was going to make it home by car before nightfall. Little did I know that because the electric pumps at gas stations were useless, she couldn't tank up to get across the bedlam of the 59th Street Bridge. While I began developing a mild carpal tunnel syndrome from flicking on my lighter so many times to touch to the rim of the bong's bowl and further, coughing up spasms of high-grade weed and nearly passing out from a lack of oxygen, Sigrid had grabbed her bike with the flat front tire and rode it all the way back to the apartment.

When she arrived, simultaneously gasping for air, sweating, begging for a cold beer and dying of hunger, I had worked myself into such a stupor, I could barely speak. Something like those patients in the Turkish prison in Midnight Express only I wasn't drooling yet. A flicker of recognition passed vaguely into my slowly focusing eyes.

"We should have no dialogue," she murmured. "Just beer and cigarettes and food, in that order."

So we headed back out into the black lung streets of coal mine Manhattan to join in the fun. Out past First Avenue on 5th St. there is a series of bars and clubs that melded together in an outdoor party of suddenly-brazen automotons breaking beer bottles on the pavement, overturning lawn furniture and making weird shrieking noises when tenants above dropped stink bombs down on them to break up the noise and the party. The only thing missing really, were the Mardis Gras beads and the hurricane glasses.

Without flashlights, it was difficult to see our path by the glowing embers of cigarettes. Everywhere you stepped was the sound of crushed glass beneath your feet. We circled the block, coming down Avenue B towards Tompkins Square Park where you could see the trashcan fires burning from a block and a half away. The worst part, the part that almost drove us in prematurely, was not the threat of looting or wilding or the fires or the randomly dropped bottles, but the rats. Especially in Tompkins Square Park where you could almost hear them and their high-pitched squealing on the periphery, waiting to move in and take little nibbles off of everyone's toes. Ironically enough, just that afternoon, Mayor Buffoonberg had planned to unveil and publicize a new get tough, "War on Rats" policy but amid the excitement of the blackout of course, this absurd new effort was lost. He can end smoking and preach his ill-suited morality to all the world in New York City but the rats are another matter altogether. The rats, like the pigeons, will be here long after the last light has been turned on. The rats, it seems, are mirrors of ourselves in New York City; a revelatory psychology of desperate, overpopulated, hungry, looking for action. What we really needed, in this Heideggerian counteraction against the mechanistic tendancies of the modern world, was some fresh rat meat to grill ourselves some burgers with.

maandag, augustus 18, 2003

To Brooklyn Bridge
Hart Crane

How many dawns, chill from his rippling rest
The seagull's wings shall dip and pivot him,
Shedding white rings of tumult, building high
Over the chained bay waters Liberty--

Then, with inviolate curve, forsake our eyes
As apparitional as sails that cross
Some page of figures to be filed away;
--Till elevators drop us from our day . . .

I think of cinemas, panoramic sleights
With multitudes bent toward some flashing scene
Never disclosed, but hastened to again,
Foretold to other eyes on the same screen;

And Thee, across the harbor, silver-paced
As though the sun took step of thee, yet left
Some motion ever unspent in thy stride,--
Implicitly thy freedom staying thee!

Out of some subway scuttle, cell or loft
A bedlamite speeds to thy parapets,
Tilting there momently, shrill shirt ballooning,
A jest falls from the speechless caravan.

Down Wall, from girder into street noon leaks,
A rip-tooth of the sky's acetylene;
All afternoon the cloud-flown derricks turn . . .
Thy cables breathe the North Atlantic still.

And obscure as that heaven of the Jews,
Thy guerdon . . . Accolade thou dost bestow
Of anonymity time cannot raise:
Vibrant reprieve and pardon thou dost show.

O harp and altar, of the fury fused,
(How could mere toil align thy choiring strings!)
Terrific threshold of the prophet's pledge,
Prayer of pariah, and the lover's cry,--

Again the traffic lights that skim thy swift
Unfractioned idiom, immaculate sigh of stars,
Beading thy path--condense eternity:
And we have seen night lifted in thine arms.

Under thy shadow by the piers I waited;
Only in darkness is thy shadow clear.
The City's fiery parcels all undone,
Already snow submerges an iron year . . .

O Sleepless as the river under thee,
Vaulting the sea, the prairies' dreaming sod,
Unto us lowliest sometime sweep, descend
And of the curveship lend a myth to God.

zaterdag, augustus 16, 2003

It didn't do much good for us while we were without power for the internet or television, but here it is, late or not: CNN's Iraqis' top 10 tips for enduring blackout in the heat:

10. Sleep on the roof

Without power -- and hence without air conditioning -- Iraqis have taken to climbing up stairs in the hot nights. Some install metal bed frames on rooftops, while others simply stretch out on thin mattresses. "We sleep on the roof," said Hadia Zeydan Khalaf, 38, wearing a black head-to-toe abaya in the hot sun. "It's cooler there."

9. Sit in the shade

Many Iraqis go outside when the power's off. "We sit in the shade," said George Ruweid, 27, playing cards with friends on the sidewalk. Of the U.S.
blackout, he said: "I hope it lasts for 20 years. Let them feel our suffering."

8. Head for the water

"We go to the river, just like in the old days," said Saleh Moayet, 53. Several people said they had seen American beaches on television, and suggested
they might be a good place to sit out the blackout. "They have so many beautiful beaches," said Hamid Khelil, 44. "They should go where it isn't so hot."

7. Shower frequently

"I take showers all day," said Raed Ali, 33. "Before I go up to the roof to sleep, I take a shower and I'm cooler."

6. Buy blocks of ice

When refrigerators shut down, there's no better way to keep food cool. Mohammed Abdul Zahara, 24, sells about 20 a day from a roadside table. "When it's hot people buy a lot of ice," he said.

5. Check for bitter-enders

"They should go to the power stations and see what the problem is," suggested Ahmed Abdul Hussein, 21. "Maybe there are followers of Saddam Hussein who are sabotaging their power stations. That's what happens here."

4. Get a generator

Abbas Abdul al-Amir, 53, has one of a long row of shops selling generators in Baghdad's Karadah shopping street. When the power goes out, sales go up. "I sell about 30 generators a day," he said. "When the shutdown lasts I can sell even more."

3. Call in the Iraqis

Some suggested the Americans ask the Iraqis how to get the power going again. "Let them take experts from Iraq," said Alaa Hussein, 32, waiting in a long line for gas because there was no electricity for the pumps. "Our experts have a lot of experience in these matters."

2. Use foul language

"When the power goes out, I curse everybody," said Emad Helawi, a 63-year-old accountant. "I curse God. I curse Saddam Hussein. And I curse the Americans."

And No. 1: Take to the streets

The most frequent suggestion among Iraqis for Americans suffering without power was protest. Some said demonstrations can be effective in persuading
authorities to turn on the switch. "We held protests. After that we had fewer blackouts," Ahmed Abdul Hussein said without even a hint of sarcasm. "I'd suggest Americans go out and demonstrate."


"Let's wait for the blackout
The lights are too bright
Let's wait for the blackout
Wait for the night"

Goo Goo Dolls -- Wait For The Blackout

Desultory Turgescence Top Fifteen List of Best Things About Being In 2003 NYC Blackout

15. Leaving work early on Thursday because all the computers and the lights went out.
14. Not being trapped in the subway and having to walk through the dark tunnels with rats running all over my feet.
13. Living in Manhattan and not living in Brooklyn or in Queens or anywhere else where you had to schlep across a bridge in the intense heat and humidity of the late afternoon with thousands of other people to get home.
12. Hitting the bodegas before they ran out of batteries, flashlights and cold beer.
11. Not being pregnant and having a blackout baby.
10. Thursday night neighborhood block parties and huge bonfires up the street in Tompkins Square Park.
9. Being able to look up at the sky and actually see stars and constellations not drowned out by the artificial lights of Manhattan.
8. Not having to listen to idiots mindlessly chattering away on their cellphones which were useless during blackout.
7. No "Fair And Balanced" news coverage to avoid since there were no televisions available.
6. Using the old "freezer is defrosting" excuse to wolf down gallons of melting ice cream.
5. Unexpected three day weekend discovered when power was still out Friday morning.
4. Watching people line up at pay phones like obedient automotons to check in with their jobs.
3. Impromptu street barbeques as people attempted to cook meats before they rotted.
2. Meeting/talking to all my neighbors for the first time.
1. Sweet melody of air conditioning unit clicking back on as lights flickered on and massive cheering in the streets as power finally returned at 9:03 PM.

All in all, a good time, a fun experience and one which lasted just about as long as would be pleasant without computer/internet fix and sweltering in heat and humidity without air conditioning trying to make oneself feel better by imaging that people lived like this every day in the 1930s.


But, having read the papers for accounts of what was going on, two notices jumped out at me:

The first one was the speed with which normally incompetent and inaccurate government officials, like the Mayor of New York City and The President of the United States, could reassure everyone that the blackout was not the result of a terrorist attack. Hmmmm. And your basing this unsubstantiated opinion on......? Wishful thinking? 911, 4:11 blackout?

And of course, the wonderfully inept President Bush parroting the lines of one of bureaucrat lackies when he suddenly "discovered":

"I think this is an indication of the fact that we need to modernize the electricity grid ... make the electricity system have the redundancy necessary so that if there is an outage, like there has been throughout our history, that it doesn't affect as many people as it did in the past."

He's a genius. No wonder he's the ruler of the world.

Fortunately, buzzflash is quick to point out that:

In June of 2001, Bush opposed and the congressional GOP voted down legislation to provide $350 million worth of loans to modernize the nation's power grid because of known weaknesses in reliability and capacity. Supporters of the amendment pointed to studies by the Energy Department showing that the grid was in desperate need of upgrades as proof that their legislation sponsored by U.S. Rep. Sam Farr (D-CA) should pass.

Unfortunately, the Bush Administration lobbied against it and the Republicans voted it down three separate times: First, on a straight party line in the U.S. House Appropriations Committee, then on a straight party line the U.S. House Rules Committee, and finally on a party line on the floor of the full House [Roll Call Vote #169, 6/20/01].

As AP reported at the time, the amendment would have amendments that would have doubled the bill's money for energy assistance for the poor to $600 "provided $350 million to support loans to improve the capacity of transmission grids. 'It's pure demagoguery,' House Majority Whip Tom DeLay, R-Texas, said in a brief interview regarding the Democratic amendments. 'If Democrats had an energy policy, they'd have had one in the last eight years. They have no credibility on this issue whatsoever. They are responsible for the energy crunch more than anybody I know.' Spotlighting the high political stakes, House Minority Leader Dick Gephardt, D-Mo., took the unusual step of issuing a written statement about the committee's energy votes. He said President Bush and Republicans are 'committed to helping the Big Energy special interests' and accused them of obstruction." [AP, 6/14/01].

No terrorists here. Just inept government officials.

In any case,

We've Got Power!

donderdag, augustus 14, 2003

Undercover Genius: Fake Terrorists Buy Fake Missiles And Launch Hysterical Media Spin

There's an old expression in the Bush Administration that if you can't find any terrorists to fight the war on terrorism against then make some up. Yesterday, a British arms dealer, Hemant Lakhani, was arrested yesterday in Newark, N.J., on charges that he tried to sell a Russian-made, surface-to-air missile to an American undercover agent posing as an operative for al-Qaida, law enforcement officials said.

The Russians, alerted by the U.S. authorities, supplied the arms trader with a fake missile, built by American and Russian agents to appear to be a real one, which he tried to sell to American agents posing as terrorists. No real terrorists were ever connected to the plot.

The Bush administration has insisted that it is moving aggressively to respond to the threat of terrorism, but it has refused to support legislation now in Congress that would require the government to spend billions of dollars to outfit thousands of passenger planes in the United States with the antimissile technology now used on military planes.

Vice President Dick Cheney reiterated the Bush administration's stance against terrorism on Tuesday, saying the United States is prepared to take aggressive action to protect its citizens, even if they have to use fake terrorists and fake missiles instead of real ones.

"We've come to realize that if we are to protect the American people against FBI agents posing as determined enemies, we cannot always rely on the old strategies that were good enough during the Cold War," the vice president said. "It isn't easy keeping Americans terrified enough to ignore the pathetic disaster of an economy we oversee and to ignore how we slaughter innocent civilians in Iraq to "save" them. In order to keep Americans on the edge, and because frankly, the elevated alert status was getting too costly for the states we've bankrupted, we decided it would be just as effective to make up a story about terrorism so everyone can go back to being scared and ignoring the real issues around them. After all, the real threat to the United States and its people as well as our friends and allies, is the truth," he said.

Cheney, in a rare public sighting outside of his nornally "undisclosed" location, told a crowd of more than 200 supporters that the defining moment for himself, President Bush and the rest of the administration was Sept. 11, 2001. He said it was a day none of them will forget because "it gave us a great basis for making up this ridiculously vague "war on terrorism" that allows us to pretty much do whatever we want in the name of fighting terrorism."

Cheney acknowledged that the administration's strategy in the war on terrorism has been challenged by those who believe the country should not engage in military action unless attacked first. He argued that those who do not agree with the administration's strategy are either terrorists or terrorist supporters and should be either imprisoned or killed, whichever is easier.

"And make no mistake, this president is prepared to give the appearance of protecting us against further attacks even if that means making it all up with fake terrorists and fake missiles," Cheney told the cheering crowd.

In a traditional case of "do as I say, not as I do," federal prosecutors and FBI officials characterized the Lakhani case as an "important" victory in the war against terrorism, stressing that Lakhani had no qualms about dealing with terrorists. Although the United States has routinely sold real weapons of mass destruction to real countries that sponsor terrorism, an individual doing the same thing on the open market to fake terrorists with fake missiles apparently is the wrong thing.

So, to review, for those of you terrified by big headlines and idiot media coverage that plays to it because FEAR sells:

1. The "terrorists" weren't really terrorists, they were federal agents who were "posing" as al Qaeda operatives.

2. These dangerous missiles that were smuggled into the US were actually inert, SA-18s. Duds. Useless missiles.

3. The arrested man was NOT connected to a known terrorist group, but was thought to be more of an arms dealer or smuggler.

4. While the Bush Administration continues to refuse to spend money to outfit airliners with the sort of antimissile technology needed to protect civilian airlines from real terrorist attacks, they ARE willing to spend all the time and effort and resources necessary to conduct an 18-month long "sting" operation that nets a weapons dealer, NO terrorists and NO missiles but does allow the Administration to project the illusion, through the magic of a lapdog media, that they are actually doing something to protect its civilian airliners.

5. In the absence of capturing "real" terrorists who are really plotting acts of terrorism against the United States, the Bush Administration is happy to support creating fake news of fake terrorists in hypothetical situations so it appears they are actually going about their war on terrorism with some degree of competence. This fake news, projected and analysed via the media then becomes big headlines that the average American reads and then thinks: "Ooooooh. Terrorists were going to kill us all. Good thing the Bush Administration is here to protect us!"

Good thing indeed. As U.S. Attorney Christopher Christie summarized, "the terrorists have lost an ally," proving once again that a hollow victory is better than no victory at all.

So stay tuned, at this rate, the FBI will have arrested every fake terrorist in America in no time.

woensdag, augustus 13, 2003

Bush Urges Slaughter of "Terrorist" Trees

"I cut down trees, I skip and jump,
I like to press wild flowers.
I put on women's clothing,
And hang around in bars

Monty Python: The Lumberjack Song

From Marine One, Bush surveyed the devastation left by wildfires that have scorched more than 100,000 acres around this mountaintop community in the last two summers and shook his head with disgust.

From a mountainside where visitors once beheld dense stands of conifers, President Bush on Monday expressed hope that the scene of wildfire devastation would inspire the nation to adopt his Kill The Trees initiative, otherwise known to the public as the Healthy Ha-Ha Forests Initiative Wink-Wink

"We need to "thin" our forests in America," he said to applause from more than 100 rabid Christians and logging company representatives with chainsaws in their hands. Hearing chants of "USA! USA!" from the forestry officials and lumberjacks, Bush took hold of a bullhorn, climbed to the top of a small pile of burned trees, and put his arm around a forest ranger. While the other members of the crowd gathered around complaining that they couldn't hear the magical President's words, Bush announced:

"I can't talk any louder. I want you all to know that America today -- that America today is on bended knee in prayer for the destruction of all the trees that are burning up and causing alot of unnecessary damage and alot of fire fighting expenses. This nation stands with all the good people of America who hate and despise terrorists and trees as much as I do." There were additional shouts from bystanders and complaints from some of the trees that they still couldn't hear the President, who grabbed the bullhorn again:

"I can hear you. I can hear you. The rest of the world hears you. And the trees that burned these forests down will hear all of us soon!" As the crowd chanted: "U.S.A.! U.S.A.!," Bush continued: "Trees are the work of the devil! Just look at all the forest fires they cause! Americans are tired of having to put out all these fires of evil! Who needs trees! Destroy the evil forests!" he called out with a bullhorn like a male cheerleader.

"Kill them all!" the crowd shouted with vigor, starting up their chainsaws. "Cut down all the evil trees!" the chanted.

Bush said the Healthy Forests Initiative would help prevent destruction by reducing legal obstacles to logging projects in fire-threatened areas

Critics say the initiative will make it too easy for logging companies to cut down trees in national forests and will limit the public's input in forest management decisions. President Bush thinks that's a bunch of poppycock.

"Forest-thinning projects make a significant difference about whether or not wildfires will destroy a lot of property," Bush said. "Jesus told me there aren't any trees in heaven so what do we need them here in America for? We don't have many trees left in Texas and look how good Texas is doing!"

"We saw the devastation, we saw the effects of a fire run wild, not only on hillsides, but also in communities, in burned building, lives turned upside down because of the destruction of fire," Bush said. "Trees, in many ways, because of the destruction they cause, are like terrorists. They could start forest fires so we'd better cut down all the trees to protect America just like we cut down American privacy rights so terrorists can't hurt us and Jesus saves us all."

The Forest Service and Interior Department estimate 190 million acres are at risk for catastrophic fire.

The invited guests, from loggers to new homes builders to public officials to private homeowners, have a stake in preventing forest fires like the "Aspen" conflagration that roamed virtually at will for a month across more than 130 square miles of the Santa Catalina Mountains north of Tucson.

For many years, Bush said, well-meaning federal policymakers actually worked against the health of forests by opposing aggressive removal of small-diameter trees and other forest fuels.

"The decades of neglect, the decades of failed policy have meant that our forest fires are incredibly hot, incredibly catastrophic,"Bush said. "It's going to take alot of chainsaws and alot of killing to solve the problem, and we better get after it now with good, sound forest-killing practice."

He repeatedly referred to the plan as "common sense."

Not only common sense, but THE BIBLE says it's the right thing to do. Deuteronomy 20:19-20 says:

"However, you may cut down trees that you know are not fruit trees and use them to build siege works until the city at war with you falls."

See? These terrorist trees causing forest fires are not fruit trees and we can use the trees that everyone cuts down to fight terrorism.

US Attorney General John Ashcroft agrees. "The Department of Justice has a solemn obligation to ensure that terrorists, pretending to be forests, are prosecuted to the fullest extent of the remaining shreds of the Constitution. Trees should be destroyed as quickly as possible to prevent any possibility of terrorist infilteration or further acts of terrorist forest fires,” Ashcroft wrote in the memo issued July 28. "Further, the trees that have been killed can be used to build a giant tree wall that will keep all the terrorists out of God's America"

As the president flew by helicopter to the mountaintop, 250 environmentalists - among them state Rep. Phil Lopes, D-Tucson, several firefighters and Summerhaven residents - protested at the base of the mountain. They were sprayed with what appeared to be a liquid form of anthrax while President Bush laughed and gave them all the finger.

And two irrelevant Democratic presidential candidates weighed in from the campaign trail, whining and complaining about the plan that left-wing, terrorist-loving liberal critics claim puts too few controls on the logging industry. Senators Joe Lieberman and John Kerry, both of whom will do and say anything if they think it will help their election chances, minced no words.

Calling Bush's plan "an excuse for a timber industry giveaway," Lieberman, of Connecticut, said in a statement, "Unlike our first president, George Bush just can't come clean about his plan to cut down trees."

Kerry, of Massachusetts, said he agrees that thinning must be done near developed areas, but Bush's plan allows logging of federal forests hundreds of miles from communities.

Back on the mountain, the U.S. Forest Service's Larry Humphrey, incident commander for the "Aspen" fire, said, "You've got to thin the entire forest. Jesus told the President it was time to kill the trees. A one-mile buffer is not going to do it."

As Bush greeted well-wishers on the mountain, Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., said he believes the Senate will surmount two stumbling blocks and pass a bill along the lines of the one approved by the House.

The first question involves the diameter of the trees that can be harvested. Commercial loggers have little interest in clearing small growth unless they also can take large trees.

Legal constraints are the other issue, McCain said.

The Senate is trying to "work out a reasonable process where they (the public) get their day in court but it doesn't turn out to be three or four years in court."

Kerry complained that Bush's claims that environmental concerns delay logging projects are not true.

The president spent about three hours in southern Arizona before flying to Denver for a Republican fund-raiser.

He traveled from Tucson by helicopter to address and mingle with the gathering of Forest Service and law-enforcement personnel, firefighters, American Red Cross workers and property owners in the village of Summerhaven at the 8,000-foot elevation.