Moon of Alabama Brecht quote
October 31, 2006

Dead Lines

The United States agreed yesterday to bend the deadline for Iraq to disarm.
U.S. agrees to bend U.N. deadline for Iraq to disarm fully, Baltimore Sun,  March 12, 2003

Until now, the US attitude has been that the UN's help is welcome as long as it does not interfere with its plans and deadlines.
Face the Facts on the Iraq Deadline, FT,  April 21, 2004

Bush's deadline democracy managed to propel the process forward and appears on the verge of creating a new government with legitimacy earned at the ballot box.
In Iraq, Bush Pushed For Deadline Democracy, WaPo, December 11, 2005

Growing numbers of American military officers have begun to privately question a key tenet of U.S. strategy in Iraq — that setting a hard deadline for troop reductions would strengthen the insurgency and undermine efforts to create a stable state.
RESISTANCE TO DEADLINES FOR IRAQ IS WEAKENING, LAT, October 31, 2006

U.S. forces ended a five-day-old military blockade of Baghdad's impoverished Sadr City section Tuesday, meeting a deadline set by Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki amid tensions between U.S. and Iraqi officials and pressure from the anti-American cleric whose militia controls the sprawling Shiite slum.
...
Precisely at 5 p.m. local time (9 a.m. EST), the deadline set by Maliki, U.S. armored personnel carriers pulled away from the roadblocks. Young men in pickup trucks drove through the streets waving banners of the Mahdi Army, and drivers of other vehicles honked their horns in celebration.
Maliki Orders Lifting of Checkpoints Around Sadr City, WaPo, October 31, 2006

Posted by b on October 31, 2006 at 03:58 PM | Permalink | Comments (15)

WB: I Didn't Do It +

Billmon:

II. A Secondary Issue

I. I Didn't Do It

Posted by b on October 31, 2006 at 12:31 PM | Permalink | Comments (13)

Fresh Open Thread

News & views ...

Posted by b on October 31, 2006 at 04:02 AM | Permalink | Comments (107)

WB: Mission Accomplished

Billmon:

Mission Accomplished

Posted by b on October 31, 2006 at 12:40 AM | Permalink | Comments (4)

WB: Politically Incorrect ++

Billmon:

III. How I'm Feeling at the Moment

II. Out of the Closet

But I have to ask: Which is the greater failing -- ignoring the racism that goes on every second of every minute of every hour in this country, or telling a minstrel joke? And if it's the former, how many of my critics are really in a position to pass judgment on me?

I. Politically Incorrect

Posted by b on October 31, 2006 at 12:38 AM | Permalink | Comments (52)

October 30, 2006

WB: The 51% Solution

Billmon:

[T]he important lesson (one the Ronald Brownsteins of the world will never, ever mention in print) is what Rove's 51% strategy says about the America's future. Because if Turd Blossom is right (and he may well be) then this isn't really one country any more. It's a battlefield divided between two bitterly hostile partisan armies, with an indeterminate number of undecided or uncommitted voters -- "the civilians" -- left stranded out in no man's land.
[...]
But while Karl may be OK with this, and the pod people of the authoritarian right may be OK with this, and I may be OK with it, I don't think the indeterminate number of uncommitted voters who are stranded out there between the partisan lines are OK with it. They seem to want something more than a 51% solution, and they don't seem to understand why they can't have it.

The 51% Solution

Posted by b on October 30, 2006 at 03:59 PM | Permalink | Comments (14)

WB: Traditional Family Values

Billmon:

Weldon Influence Peddling Inc. appears to have grown too fast for its own good.

Traditional Family Values

Posted by b on October 30, 2006 at 12:48 PM | Permalink | Comments (3)

WB: The Computer Ate It

Billmon:

After all, if the computer is going to eat all the data, why bother collecting any?

The Computer Ate It

Posted by b on October 30, 2006 at 03:24 AM | Permalink | Comments (11)

WB: Miller's Crossing

Billmon:

Miller's Crossing

Posted by b on October 30, 2006 at 03:17 AM | Permalink | Comments (5)

WB: Crying Uncle

Billmon:

Crying Uncle

Posted by b on October 30, 2006 at 12:37 AM | Permalink | Comments (50)

October 29, 2006

WB: Infectious Disease ++

Billmon:

III. Kiss and Make Up

II. Science Experiment

I. Infectious Disease

Posted by b on October 29, 2006 at 04:45 PM | Permalink | Comments (4)

WB: Tell Me Lies

Billmon:

If it was as easy to win wars as it is to hoodwink the voters, our troubles in Iraq would have been over long ago.

Tell Me Lies

Posted by b on October 29, 2006 at 01:22 AM | Permalink | Comments (13)

WB: Crime and Punishment

Billmon:

Crime and Punishment

Posted by b on October 29, 2006 at 01:20 AM | Permalink | Comments (2)

October 28, 2006

Redneck Heaven

Jerome, who had posted here for a while, is holding up the mirror to the Daily Kos crowd.

Is DailyKos a rightwing website? he asks. I recommend to read it - he is pointing out what's wrong with them.

And of course Dkos is right wing when you hold a European center-left position like Jerome does.

Having an even more leftwing (European-scale) position, a lot of DKos' feels like redneck heaven to me.

Posted by b on October 28, 2006 at 03:43 PM | Permalink | Comments (130)

Jana Nitsch - Updated

Jana2s

(update below)

Jana is one of my favorite local street artists. She sings balads/chanson in four languages, with an impressive voice and seemingly in trance.

Today she had selfmade CDs for sale.

Drachenblut (mp3) is sung in bard style and a mixture of modern and medievial German

Living A Sunday (mp3)

my favorite: Gold ("why aren't you here with me ...") (mp3)

(I didn't compress much, so filesizes are about 4Mb)

bigger pic, another pic

(sorry, only cellphone cam pics)

How do you like her music? I'll let her know your opinion.

Update:

Today I met Jana for a coffee/tea and did get the CDs for those of you who asked. (And yes Rowan, she is really pretty ...)

Here are four more songs by her, though only as teasers - i.e. incomplete. Still, very enjoyable music - give it a try.

Toute En Ronde, Mis Sueños, Is It Okay? and something special.

If you want to have a CD by this coming star, let me know.

Posted by b on October 28, 2006 at 11:52 AM | Permalink | Comments (59)

WB: The Enemies of Truth

Billmon:

You could say: To hell with old media, they're just a bunch of senile dinosaurs anyway, who cares who they pander to? But old media, for better or worse, still set the news agenda, and still dominate the political process. And they're doing an energetic, if not yet totally successful, job of sucking up new media and sticking them in the same corporate straight jacket. If they decide, as matter of cold capitalist calculation, that one-party Republican rule is the smart way to bet, that could also be come a self-fulfilling prophesy.

Maybe I'm wrong -- I hope I am. But if I'm right, then there may come a time when progressives look back and sigh for the good old days when journalistic "objectivity" still encouraged the corporate media to give the truth and conservative propaganda equal weight, instead of simply repeating the latter.

The Enemies of Truth

Posted by b on October 28, 2006 at 12:36 AM | Permalink | Comments (58)

October 27, 2006

WB: Men of Dishonor

Billmon:

Men of Dishonor

Posted by b on October 27, 2006 at 12:54 PM | Permalink | Comments (18)

Misleading AP Headlines

The above screenshoot, clipped from the current Yahoo news site, is a typical part of the low level propaganda effort against Iran. But it seems to be also part of trend with Associated Press stories where the headline belies the article.

The full headline here is "Report: Iran Has Expanded Nuke Program" and it is also used by ABC News and several other sites who carry Associate Press feeds.

Websters defines a nuke as:

1 : a nuclear weapon
2 : a nuclear-powered electric generating station

All Iranian officials claim to have no nuclear weapon program. The IAEA head, Mohamed ElBaradei says there is no proof that Iran has such a program.

As for Iran, [...,] El Baradei says it is not yet clear if the Iranian government has embarked on that same path [as North Korea].

"I say that the jury is still out. ..."

Iran has announced through its "unofficial" student news agency, that it has fed Uranium gas into its second lab size row of centrifuges to test enrichment to civilian use level - this under official IAEA observation.

Indeed the body of the AP report above does not claim anything about an "expanded nuke program", but is a relative neutral round up of the issue.

So why does the headline editor at AP thinks he needs to stir the fire under the cauldron? How does s/he arrive at an "expanding nuke program"?

And no, this is not just an issue of the war on Iran or even U.S. foreign policy.

Josh Marshall pointed to a similar case of a completely misleading AP headline two days ago.

An AP piece carried by several news outlet, claimed in the headline: "Michael J. Fox ads for Democrats spark backlash."

As Josh says:

The article, which is from the AP, completely belies the message of the headline.

I do smell a trend here and wonder who really pays the AP headline writer.

Please let me know of other cases like these. I'm sure they are out there.

Posted by b on October 27, 2006 at 11:38 AM | Permalink | Comments (7)

OT 06-101

OT 101 - How to post on an open thread - starting now

Posted by b on October 27, 2006 at 02:37 AM | Permalink | Comments (74)

WB: Table Talk with Bush

Billmon:

On the other hand, having to spend several hours listening to Shrub's annoying verbal mannerisms -[...]-  would be pretty excruciating, too.

Table Talk with Bush

Posted by b on October 27, 2006 at 12:44 AM | Permalink | Comments (6)

WB: Road Kill

Billmon:

I think I hear that same sound coming from the Rovian machine right now -- a doomed, crazed animal in its final death throes.

Road Kill

Posted by b on October 27, 2006 at 12:39 AM | Permalink | Comments (9)

WB: Paranoia Watch

Billmon:

We'll know soon enough which explanation is correct.

Paranoia Watch

Posted by b on October 27, 2006 at 12:35 AM | Permalink | Comments (5)

October 26, 2006

WB: Declare Victory and Go Home

Billmon:

Why "declare victory" in Iraq just so you can "declare victory" a little bit later in Afghanistan?

Well, I guess it is a British tradition of sorts.

Declare Victory and Go Home

Posted by b on October 26, 2006 at 01:39 PM | Permalink | Comments (37)

Videos

via Healing Iraq:

- a video filmed by a doctor showing the daily life in an Iraqi hospital (klick on "Latest Programme" on the right)

A Shia women in an ambulance (33:00):

Where is Saddam Hussein? Bring back Saddam! It wasn't like this under him. Let him starve us and kill us! We just don't want it to be like this!

- a happy Eid bonus by Iraqi Konfused Kid: a "tribute for the four friends who were killed in a roadside explosion week before their graduation"

Thought you might care ...

Posted by b on October 26, 2006 at 12:39 PM | Permalink | Comments (4)

WB: Jersey Barrier

Billmon:

[N]o jolt to the old conservative limbic system.

That is, not unless Rove pays some gay hookers -- or better yet, racially mixed gay hookers -- to go French kiss in front of the Supreme Court building in Trenton.

Jersey Barrier

Posted by b on October 26, 2006 at 01:10 AM | Permalink | Comments (7)

WB: Amnesia: The All American Disease

Billmon:

300 million people, and about 300 million working brain cells among them.

Amnesia: The All American Disease

Posted by b on October 26, 2006 at 01:06 AM | Permalink | Comments (8)

October 25, 2006

A Dunk In Water

Q Would you agree a dunk in water is a no-brainer if it can save lives?

THE VICE PRESIDENT: It's a no-brainer for me, but for a while there, I was criticized as being the Vice President "for torture." We don't torture. That's not what we're involved in. We live up to our obligations in international treaties that we're party to and so forth.
Interview of the Vice President by Scott Hennen, WDAY at Radio Day at the White House, October 24, 2006

Defendant: Asano, Yukio
Docket Date: 53/ May 1 - 28, 1947, Yokohama, Japan
Charge: Violation of the Laws and Customs of War: 1. Did willfully and unlawfully mistreat and torture PWs. 2. Did unlawfully take and convert to his own use Red Cross packages and supplies intended for PWs.
Specifications:beating using hands, fists, club; kicking; water torture; burning using cigarettes; strapping on a stretcher head downward
Verdict: 15 years CHL
Yokohama Class B and C War Crimes Trials (emphasis added)

Posted by b on October 25, 2006 at 02:46 PM | Permalink | Comments (5)

WB: The Commissars ++++

Billmon:

V. Forked Tongue
---

IV. Jungle Boogie
---

III. The Lunatic Fringe
---

II. A Fresh Diagnosis
---

Commissars? To quote Homer Simpson: Did we lose a war or something?

I. The Commissars

Posted by b on October 25, 2006 at 01:28 PM | Permalink | Comments (8)

WB: Some Like It Hot

Billmon:

Now it's the Rovians who potentially are standing in the oppressor man's shoes. Would they really have the stones to try to steal an entire congressional majority, wholesale instead of retail? I guess that would depend on how narrow the Democratic margin was on November 8, and how many close races there were -- close enough to make a challenge seem at least halfway plausible.

Some Like It Hot

Posted by b on October 25, 2006 at 08:03 AM | Permalink | Comments (29)

WB: Expert Testimony

Billmon:

Considering how razor-close the Missouri race appears to be, Rush may have just single-handedly booted away a Republican Senate seat.

Go Rush! Go!

Expert Testimony

Posted by b on October 25, 2006 at 01:36 AM | Permalink | Comments (14)

WB: The Boxer ++

Billmon:

III: Birds of a Feather

II: RSVP

I. The Boxer

Posted by b on October 25, 2006 at 01:33 AM | Permalink | Comments (3)

October 24, 2006

WB: The Mr. Magoo of Journalism

Billmon:

[M]aybe Howie just needs to get his eyes checked.

The Mr. Magoo of Journalism

Posted by b on October 24, 2006 at 02:19 PM | Permalink | Comments (4)

WB: Campaign Promises

Billmon:

[A]fter banging his head on his podium several times in frustration, Snow also gave full credit for "Iraq's miraculous turnaround" to House Republican leaders, calling it "proof positive" that "Denny Hastert really knows how to bring home the bacon."

Campaign Promises

Posted by b on October 24, 2006 at 12:45 PM | Permalink | Comments (2)

Depressing State of Affairs

Something must have hit me - I agree with National Review. At the Corner Kathryn Lopez posts the transcript of an interview the Philadelphia Inquirer had with Democratic Senate candidate Casey.

She says:

All that's pretty clear here is that it's a deeply depressing state of affairs when this man could be elected to the United States Senate ...

I agree. Here is part of the interview:

Interviewer:  Well, it might have been misreported this morning, but it certainly seemed to me as if you were endorsing the NSA program which is warrant less wiretapping without court oversight.

Casey:  Well, I think, look, my position all along has been you've got to have the ability to wiretap known or suspected terrorists, and I am going to make sure that everything I do in this area is focused on anti terrorism and making sure that we are being as tough as possible to ferret out any kind of plot or and kind of terrorist activity.

Interviewer:  Bob, it's real simple, and it seems to me you are dancing around it.  Either you believe that the President or his designees need to go to the FISA court and provide some probable cause for the wiretapping, or you don't.  They say they don't.  They say they can do it on their own say so and there's no oversight of whether the person they're wiretapping is actually credibly a terrorist suspect or not.  That's the issue.  Do they have to go through the FISA court or not?  Nobody's debating that we need to wiretap suspected terrorists.

Casey:  You know very well that Senator Specter has worked very hard on this to try to get this right and I think with bi-partisan cooperation, working with people like Senator Specter, as I know I can, that we can get this right. I don't, I don't, I don't see what the...

Interviewer:  It's a real simple question. Do they need to go through the FISA Court as the FISA law has said since 1973 or don't they? They say they don't. We say they do. What do you say?

Casey:  I think it's worked well.

Interviewer:  What has worked well?

Casey:  I think it's worked well when you use that system and you use it in the context of making sure that we are doing everything possible to, to...

Interviewer:  So, are you saying that the president has been breaking the law since 2002, or whenever the NSA program started?

Casey:  I'm saying that people like Senator Specter have a lot of questions about whether or not the law was broken.  I don't think anyone has made a determination about that.  I think that's pretty clear.

Yukk

Posted by b on October 24, 2006 at 12:08 PM | Permalink | Comments (24)

OT 06-100

news & views ...

Posted by b on October 24, 2006 at 01:45 AM | Permalink | Comments (97)

WB: The New Dick

Billmon:

The irony (or sadness) of it is that Lieberman got his start in politics as an anti-Vietnam War liberal ...

The New Dick

Posted by b on October 24, 2006 at 12:42 AM | Permalink | Comments (1)

WB: Everything He Knows He Learned in Kindergarten

Billmon:

[A] warm glass of milk and a few choruses of Hail to the Chief ought to make Mr. Grumpy feel better.

Everything He Knows He Learned in Kindergarten

Posted by b on October 24, 2006 at 12:19 AM | Permalink | Comments (5)

October 23, 2006

WB: It's All Clinton's Fault

Billmon:

I realize that made absolutely no sense whatsoever, but I was just trying to think like a Republican.

It's All Clinton's Fault

Posted by b on October 23, 2006 at 06:07 PM | Permalink | Comments (9)

WB: Course Work

Billmon:

Bernhard over at Moon of Alabama took a stroll through the White House web site and found no less than eighteen of them (all of which no doubt will be scrubbed from the site by morning.)

Course Work

I disagree a bit with Billmon over this one. First, not me, but the whitehouse.gov search-engine did find 153 occurrences of "stay the course" - all in official documents and all caught with one simple search. About a third to half of those are direct utterings of Scrub, his wife or Cheney. I only copiedy 18 of those. There are many more of these. But just how long can you bear to walk through such crap?

Unlike Billmon I don't think they will scrub the site. They'll just further try to redefine the meaning of "stay the course". Dan Froomkin documented today how that effort is proceeding:

And on Friday, in what I suspect is the first time in briefing-room history, Snow banged his head against the podium in exasperation with a reporter who was trying to get him to confront some of his own contradictions.

Nobody said it's easy, but banging his head will not deminish Snow's abilities for a real debate like the above with the usual press room trash - so why shouldn't he continue to so so?

As long as the media keeps reporting the official talk without taking a position in favor of reality, no facts will matter. If "stay the course" now suddenly means to dissolve the US Army, who would dare to report otherwise?

---
BTW:

Where is that Repub victory party on Nov. 8 taking place? I could use a free drink by then ...

Posted by b on October 23, 2006 at 05:35 PM | Permalink | Comments (17)

WB: The Price of Failure

Billmon:

Another way to put it would be that Shrub has finally, at long last, completed the process of failing upwards.

The Price of Failure

Posted by b on October 23, 2006 at 04:00 PM | Permalink | Comments (4)

WB: The Temp

Billmon:

The Temp

Posted by b on October 23, 2006 at 03:44 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)

"153 results found" +

Billmon:

How I'm Feeling at the Moment

Bernhard adds:

Search whitehouse.gov by keyword

Results for: "stay the course"

153 results found, top 100 sorted by date

A free Iraq will mean a peaceful world. And it's very important for us to stay the course, and we will stay the course.
President Discusses AIDS Initiative, Iraq in Botswana, July 10, 2003

It's in the national interest of the United States that a peaceful Iraq emerge. And we will stay the course in order to achieve this objective.
President Bush, Ambassador Bremer Discuss Progress in Iraq , October 27, 2003

... they want us to leave, because they know that a free and peaceful Iraq in their midst will damage their cause. And we will stay the course, we will do our job.
President Bush Visits California -- Talks to Victims of Fires, November 4, 2003

We will stay the course, and as more and more Iraqis realize freedom is precious and freedom is a beautiful way of life, ...
President Bush, Italian President Ciampi Discuss Iraq , November 14, 2003

I was able to assure them that we were going to stay the course and get the job done, ...
President Discusses Trip to Iraq with Reporters, November 27, 2003

And as in the aftermath of the terrible attack on Pearl Harbor, our Nation will stay the course, and we will prevail.
National Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day, 2003 , December 5, 2003

We will stay the course until the job is done, Steve. And the temptation is to try to get the President or somebody to put a timetable on the definition of getting the job done. We're just going to stay the course. And it's very important for the Iraqi people to know that.
President Bush Holds Press Conference, December 15, 2003

I told the family how much we appreciated his sacrifice -- he was killed in Iraq -- and assured him that we would stay the course,
President Bush Discusses Iraq, 911 Commission with Reporters , April 5, 2004

We will stay the course. The Iraqi people don't have to fear taking the risk toward freedom and democracy because America won't turn and run.
Global Message, April 6, 2004

Look, this is hard work. It's hard to advance freedom in a country that has been strangled by tyranny. And, yet, we must stay the course, because the end result is in our nation's interest.
President Addresses the Nation in Prime Time Press Conference, April 13, 2004

And that's why we're going to stay the course in Iraq.
Bush, Blair Discuss Sharon Plan; Future of Iraq in Press Conference , April 16, 2004

...

If we don't lose our nerve, if we stay the course, someday down the road, an American President will be working with democratically-elected leaders in the broader Middle East at the table to keep the peace.
President's Remarks at Mike Sodrel for Congress and Indiana Victory 2006 Reception, March 24, 2006

And I'd just like to reiterate what the other governors have said, that it is very important that we stay the course, that we provide support for these incredible people that are doing such a service for liberty around the world and protecting our freedoms here.
President Meets with Governors Who Traveled to Kuwait, Iraq, and Afghanistan, April 19, 2006

And I saw people wondering whether the United States would have the nerve to stay the course and help them succeed.
Remarks by the President at the 2006 President's Dinner, June 19, 2006

As a matter of fact, we will win in Iraq so long as we stay the course.
Remarks by the President at "Green for Wisconsin" Reception, July 11, 2006

But there's no alternative but to stay the course with it. And we will.
President Bush and Prime Minister Blair of the United Kingdom Participate in Press Availability, July 28, 2006

We will stay the course, we will help this young Iraqi democracy succeed,
President Bush's Remarks Upon Arrival in Utah, August 30, 2006

Stay the course also means don't leave before the job is done. And that's -- we're going to get the job done in Iraq. And it's important that we do get the job done in Iraq.
Press Conference by the President , October 11, 2006

Posted by b on October 23, 2006 at 02:36 PM | Permalink | Comments (5)

WB: Rectification of Errors +

Billmon:

II. Hard to Keep Up

I. Rectification of Errors

Posted by b on October 23, 2006 at 01:03 PM | Permalink | Comments (3)

WB: Babbling Idiots

Billmon:

Small wonder then, that the policy "debate" has now crossed the line into complete fantasy -- like a long piece of dialogue from Waiting for Godot. The realists have turned into surrealists. Baker now sounds almost as naive and deluded as Bush.

Babbling Idiots

Posted by b on October 23, 2006 at 06:52 AM | Permalink | Comments (41)

South Korean Protests? - Not Really ...

Shortly after North Koreas first nuke test, there were reports on CNN and elsewhere about South Korean protests against NoKo. The most replayed TV clip included the burning of a North Korean flag.

These protests looked as genuine as the tearing down of Saddams statue in Baghdad. Was the main stream media telling a straight story here or was the reporting biased?

Monolycus, who lives and teaches in South Korea, gives us his impression.

by Monolycus

My position then (as it is now) is that there is no peninsula-wide hysteria as you see reported on CNN.

I did not think it would be any problem to write up an authoritative article to that effect, complete with sources and pictures. But I discovered very quickly that what I am trying to do here is to prove a negative. Few people write about things that haven't happened to them.

I've tried to interview many, many people about this non-issue. They are aware of how they are being portrayed on CNN and elsewhere, they just don't think it's important enough to make a fuss about.

A standard South Korean response to a Westerner who tries to make them see something as important is "Don't worry about that", and that was the bulk of the responses I received when I asked about North Korea, Kim Jong-il, nuclear weapons or the United Nations.

It's just not something they feel is worth worrying over for a few reasons.

To begin with, as I mentioned once in a comment shortly after the Monday of NoKo's test, I was told "If we die, they die". If North Korea possessed tactical nuclear weapons with a low blast radius and had a delivery system with the means to send them anywhere with the slightest degree of accuracy (there is no indication that either of these conditions are close to being fulfilled), the winds on the peninsula blow roughly northwards for six months out of the year.

This would send any fallout or contamination almost directly back onto Pyongyang. If South Korea is going to be truly worried about an attack from NoKo (and there is no indication that they are), it would not be until the winter-spring months when the prevailing winds blow more north to south.

I don't suspect that even this is a tremendous consideration given that Israel recently used depleted uranium munitions on its own doorstep (Lebanon), but Koreans are not Israelis, and the quality of the food they eat and the air they breathe is something that is generally on their minds.

More importantly, though, it is not in South Korea's interest to become too belligerent with North Korea, because they simply do not have the inclination to escalate a conflict.

The United States has been decreasing its troop strength in South Korea and NOBODY here wants to see a larger US presence. During one of my interviews, I was told in no uncertain terms that "Yes, we hate North Korea. But we hate Mi-guk (the USA) even more. And we hate Il-bon (Japan) even more than that."

The Korean hatred of Japan is entirely understandable given the events between 1910 and 1945 in which Korean women were forced into sex-slavery, medical experiments were performed upon captured Koreans, an attempt was made to stamp out the Korean language, and even to this day, Japan has tried to expand its territories to include traditionally Korean geography. South Koreans are hearing the rhetoric from Japan and they are extremely suspicious about what this might entail.

I would sooner expect to see an Israeli-Palestinian alliance than the South Koreans lending their support to a Japanese military venture.

So why do the South Koreans, who were ostensibly liberated from the Japanese by US forces, also hold on to such profound anti-US sentiment? It is primarily because the US established "permanent bases" within South Korea (sound familar?) and the behaviour of US servicemen to host populations, while never stellar, has become decreasingly tolerable over the years.

USGI's are often drunken and combative with the locals (in stark contrast to Asian sensibilities), and fewer and fewer South Koreans are alive to remember any pre-1953 US nobility. These days, all they see are newspaper reports about once per week involving a drunken members of the US Army assaulting cab drivers. USGI's are still tolerated by most, but only just.

Now, when I heard about South Korean demonstrators burning North Korean flags in the MSM, I was immediately suspicious. To begin with, I have seen a total of zero anti-North Korean demonstrations and after making a few inquiries, would not know where one could obtain a North Korean flag in the first place (the unofficial consensus is that it is illegal to sell one here). Flag burning is not a typical Korean form of protest, anyway... it is illegal to do so, and that is an official consensus.

In addition, the kinds of groups who stage protests, do so against US interests and in support of reunification with North Korea (groups such as the unpopular "Hanjungnyon", for example). Incidentally, there is some question as to how "independently" violent protesters like these are operating. They are certainly a minority and nobody takes them very seriously.

A genuine South Korean protest generally involves a speaker with a bullhorn, some traditional drum music, oversized posters, and occasional go-go dancers (It's just something they do here, don't ask me to explain it).

The only thing I have seen reflecting a genuine South Korean sentiment in the media is a small side-comment by Michael Levi speaking on behalf of the Council on Foreign Relations:

"Opinion will be mixed there. This is one place where the United States really needs to engage a whole variety of forces. We're going to see in the news photos of South Koreans burning North Korean flags, etc. But we shouldn't conclude that reflects the preponderance of public opinion. There is a widespread belief in South Korea that this is as much America's fault as North Korea's. Seeing how public opinion plays out in South Korea will be very interesting."

South Korea does not need to take Michael Hirsch's advice to "calm down" about things they never really got worked up in the first place.

Posted by b on October 23, 2006 at 06:19 AM | Permalink | Comments (14)

WB: The Belly of the Whale

Billmon:

The Belly of the Whale

Posted by b on October 23, 2006 at 01:17 AM | Permalink | Comments (14)

WB: Tickling the Limbic System

Billmon:

[L]imbic politics is definitely here to stay, and if the winners in such a system have an almost congenital tendency towards utter incompetence when it comes to actually governing (an advanced cerebral function if ever there was one) nobody ever said the American system of government -- or America itself -- has to last forever.

Tickling the Limbic System

Posted by b on October 23, 2006 at 01:14 AM | Permalink | Comments (6)

October 22, 2006

Hold the Gun to His Head

"Let's hold a gun to Maliki's head and make him sign our wishlist." That is what, according to the New York Times, the Bush administration is planing for the Iraqi government:

The Bush administration is drafting a timetable for the Iraqi government to address sectarian divisions and assume a larger role in securing the country, senior American officials said.

The timetable is not about U.S. troops leaving the country. Bush will never "change strategy", i.e. withdraw troops from Iraq. The timetable is for conditions the administration is setting for the survival of Maliki and his government.

[F]or the first time Iraq was likely to be asked to agree to a schedule of specific milestones, like disarming sectarian militias, and to a broad set of other political, economic and military benchmarks intended to stabilize the country.

(How many PSA's might the economic benchmarks include?)

The Maliki government would be invited to accept the U.S.-written to-do list. Though the article says a threat the U.S. administration may use to get this acceptance is the reduction of troops in Iraq, it does not source that assumption in any way. Why would the Iraqis NOT be happy to see the U.S. leave?

I guess Maliki knows very well what the real threat is. Either he proves to be a 100% puppet or he will not be puppet anymore at all. If there is any doubt on who will run the show, this should clear things up:

American officials are discussing if they should specify whether Iraqi officials deemed incompetent or corrupt should be replaced, one official said.

"We'll select your ministers, or ..."

The above plan is not included in the eight options the Guardian lists for Iraq, but it could accompany two of those: The "Iraqi strongman approach", i.e. replacing Maliki with a kind of puppet dictatorship, and the "one last push" escalation option John McCain prefers.

Juan Cole thinks the last option is the stupidest and worst possible alternative. That is one reason why I assume it will be selected - probably in a combination with the strongman option.

The whole Baker - Iraq study group will turn out what to be what it was supposed to be - a Nixonian "secret plan" election ploy.

Like usual, the neocons are open about this:

Richard Perle, a leading neoconservative, said the influence of the Baker group on the administration was overstated: “I don’t believe Bush will agree to the proposals they are rumoured to be mulling over. He has two years left as president and he is not going to hand in the towel and pass responsibility to a commission.”

So what is left without the Baker plans is only to try more of the same: another new government and another military push until - until what?

Posted by b on October 22, 2006 at 06:38 AM | Permalink | Comments (8)

October 21, 2006

WB: Prelude to an Indictment

Billmon:

At this point, I'd personally put Curt's chances of avoiding indictment at only 1 in 4, and maybe much lower.

Prelude to an Indictment

Posted by b on October 21, 2006 at 03:40 PM | Permalink | Comments (2)

WB: Good Night and Good Luck

Billmon:

Who would have thought that a hack ex-sportscaster cable news guy would turn out to be the Edward R. Murrow of our times?

Good Night and Good Luck

Posted by b on October 21, 2006 at 02:00 PM | Permalink | Comments (18)

 
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