Moon of Alabama Brecht quote
December 29, 2006

Keep'em Coming

News & views ...

Posted by b on December 29, 2006 at 7:34 UTC | Permalink


Is GOP Rep. 'fueling' Oklahoma City bombing conspiracy theories?

lol, john doe may have been an iraqi!!

Posted by: annie | Dec 29 2006 7:49 utc | 1

@annie - no, I am sure was Iranian!

Pat Lang has a piece in The National Interest: A Concert of the Greater Middle East

The circumstances in the “Islamic Culture Continent”—extending from Morocco to Indonesia and from Central Asia to the Indian Ocean—do not differ so much from Europe’s predicament in the aftermath of the Napoleonic War. Decades of what Clausewitz thought to be “total war” had ruined the economies and “status quo ante” social systems of the many European states. To overcome the instability of the continent and the likelihood that this would lead to further disastrous warfare, the great powers of the time met at Vienna after 1815 to create a system of balanced agreements that would bring into equilibrium the interests of all possible adversaries in Europe. This system preserved European peace for many years, until it came to pieces in August 1914. The system has been known as the Concert of Europe. What is now needed is a Concert of the Greater Middle East.

Posted by: b | Dec 29 2006 8:05 utc | 2

Senator Joe Lieberman (I, Israel) has an OpEd in WaPo:
Why We Need More Troops in Iraq

While we are naturally focused on Iraq, a larger war is emerging. On one side are extremists and terrorists led and sponsored by Iran, on the other moderates and democrats supported by the United States.
This bloodshed, moreover, is not the inevitable product of ancient hatreds. It is the predictable consequence of a failure to ensure basic security and, equally important, of a conscious strategy by al-Qaeda and Iran, which have systematically aimed to undermine Iraq's fragile political center.
If Iraq descends into full-scale civil war, it will be a tremendous battlefield victory for al-Qaeda and Iran.
I saw firsthand evidence in Iraq of the development of a multiethnic, moderate coalition against the extremists of al-Qaeda and against the Mahdi Army, which is sponsored and armed by Iran and has inflamed the sectarian violence.
As the hostile regimes in Iran and Syria appreciate -- at times, it seems, more keenly than we do -- failure in Iraq would be a strategic and moral catastrophe for the United States and its allies.
Radical Islamist terrorist groups, both Sunni and Shiite, would reap victories simultaneously symbolic and tangible, as Iraq became a safe haven in which to train and strengthen their foot soldiers and Iran's terrorist agents.
One moderate Palestinian leader told me that a premature U.S. exit from Iraq would be a victory for Iran and the groups it is supporting in the region.

Posted by: b | Dec 29 2006 8:15 utc | 3

So they'll snuff him today or tomorrow:

Lawyer says Saddam handed over to Iraqis

Saddam Hussein has been handed over by U.S forces to Iraqi government custody, his lawyers said on Friday, in an apparent step toward his execution.

"I understand they have handed him over," said one defense lawyer who declined to give his name.

Another lawyer said that U.S. officials had asked him to pick up the personal effects of the former Iraqi president who has been sentenced to death.

"The American side called me and asked me to pick up the personal effects of the president and Barzan al-Tikriti," said Khalil al-Dulaimi, referring to Saddam's half brother, who has also been sentenced to death.

It's going to be quite a mess after that ...

Posted by: b | Dec 29 2006 8:34 utc | 4

Heard this on the radio this morning.

A large, 66 square kilometer chunk of ice which was been connected to Ellesmere Island broke off recently and floated a ways before running aground again.

A Canadian climatologist, Mornic(sp?)Vincent was quoted as saying that this happening to a landmark which has been there for thousands of years is a sign that we have reached a tipping point in climate change.

I'm glad there is no such thing as global warming or that I can at least pretend to doubt it because some other idjit does, because if there was I'd have to worry (ho-hum)

By the way, we have had the warmest Autumn season in Denmark since 1874, when they started keeping reliable records -- and now we are working on the warmest winter...

Posted by: Chuck Cliff | Dec 29 2006 8:48 utc | 5

Near the border with Canada, and my tulips are all trying to grow.

"Daddy, what did snow feel like?"

Posted by: citizen | Dec 29 2006 9:25 utc | 6

oh my

A giant ice shelf the size of 11-thousand football fields has snapped off the coast of Ellesmere Island in northern Canada.

Head of the new Global Ice Lab Luke Copland says scientists are surprised by how quickly it happened.

Copland says the massive ice island could prove dangerous in the spring for oil platforms that are scattered in its path.

Posted by: annie | Dec 29 2006 9:40 utc | 7

Dug this nugget out of site annie linked to --

Surprise, kids...if you want to push Congress to ok more troops, time to revvvv up the violence...hence

Saddam to Hang This Weekend: US

Posted by: jj | Dec 29 2006 10:22 utc | 8

My bad. Even nbc is reporting it.

Former Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein, sentenced to death for his role in 148 killings in 1982, will have his sentence carried out by Sunday, NBC News reported Thursday. According to a U.S. military officer who spoke on condition of anonymity, Saddam will be hanged before the start of the Eid religious holiday, which begins at sundown Saturday.

The hanging could take place as early as Friday, NBC’s Richard Engel

Posted by: jj | Dec 29 2006 10:28 utc | 9

Turning Saddam over to the “Iraqi government” to be executed is final proof of the moral hypocrisy of the U.S. government. Being 100% pro-life, I especially worry that international watchers may not be present to insure the former leader is not tortured before execution. I wish the mass media would compare the death/destruction in Iraq under Saddam and under U.S. occupation.

Posted by: Rick Happ | Dec 29 2006 10:54 utc | 10

Robert Scheer: Ike Was Right

The public, seeing through the tissue of Bush administration lies told to justify an invasion that never had anything to do with the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11 or weapons of mass destruction, now has begun a national questioning: Why are we still in Iraq? The answers posted most widely on the Internet by critics of the war suggest its continuation as a naked imperial grab for the world’s second-largest petroleum source, but that is wrong.

It’s not primarily about the oil; it’s much more about the military-industrial complex, the label employed by President Dwight D. Eisenhower 45 years ago when he warned of the dangers of “a permanent arms industry of vast proportions.”

Also see my last post in ot here, and as TTGVWYCI points out in the comment below my post there (#63 and 64) wheather these projects work as advertised or not the tax payer wind up paying for them.

They are paid in gold
Just to babble in the back room . . .
See the glory
Of the royal scam
. ~The Steely Dan*

*on an oft note: also through the means of modern technology, the thought occured to me while reading the above to hunt up Steely Dan's remastered album 'the royal scam'; to bad the title track is not on youtube as it is apt cynicism for such as the above read. And damn fine listening through headphones. Give your self a treat pull it out, dust it off and give it a spin. You'll be glad you did. It's glorious sounds through headphones and brings it all back. You know, back when listening to whole albums were where it was at, before singles and bad soundbite advertising... an experience as it were.

Posted by: Uncle $cam | Dec 29 2006 11:35 utc | 11

Posted by: cpg | Dec 29 2006 14:45 utc | 12

So when do the mass murderers running the US hang?

Starting an illegal war based on a pack of lies and murdering hundreds of thousands of Iragis should in a just world put Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, Rice, Powell, Feith, Wolfowitz et al in the gallows right along with Saddam.

Posted by: ran | Dec 29 2006 16:04 utc | 13

New post from Riverbend, End of Another Year...

Posted by: Alamet | Dec 29 2006 17:39 utc | 14

How about Sadr? He's certainly fomented enough rebellion and disorder.

how about hakim?

Posted by: | Dec 29 2006 17:52 utc | 15

damn, riverbend says it all doesn't she

Posted by: | Dec 29 2006 18:03 utc | 16

Senator Joe Lieberman (I, Israel)

Excruciatingly funny, best laugh I've had in a year. Thanks!

Posted by: Wolf DeVoon | Dec 29 2006 18:16 utc | 17

I hoped they would not (will not) hang Saddam. Even Human Rights Watch is against it, and that is saying a lot. It makes a travesty of justice everywhere. The court case was a farce, a total shambles. Victor’s petty justice, evil grins, tinny gavels, self-satisfaction, a disaster.

Posted by: Noirette | Dec 29 2006 18:36 utc | 18">angry arab

My sources tell me that Seymour Hirsh is preparing an article that deals with the investigation of the Hariri assassination. I am told that Mehlis will not be pleased; I am told that Walid Jumblat will not be pleased either.

15,16 .. me

Posted by: annie | Dec 29 2006 19:09 utc | 19


Posted by: annie | Dec 29 2006 19:10 utc | 20

as salam 3aleikom

Auld Lang Syne


Posted by: n/a | Dec 29 2006 19:19 utc | 21

Official: Saddam to be executed tonight

Al-Nueimi said U.S. authorities were maintaining physical custody of Saddam to prevent him from being humiliated before his execution. He said the Americans also want to prevent the mutilation of his corpse, as has happened to other deposed Iraqi leaders. The Americans want him to be hanged respectfully…

Posted by: Rick Happ | Dec 29 2006 23:02 utc | 22

A very recommendable piece by McClatch writer Hannah Allam:

Reporter returns to Baghdad to find it far different - and worse off

Even on the relatively "safe" side of the river, a dizzying assortment of armed men roamed freely. In the space of an hour, we encountered the Badr Organization militia, the Mahdi Army militia, the Kurdish peshmerga militia, the Iraqi police, interior ministry commandos, the Iraqi military, American troops, the Oil Protection Force, the motorcade of a Communist Party official and Central Bank guards escorting an armored van.

We drove through one of my favorite districts in hopes of visiting shopkeepers I knew. But they had fled, leaving behind padlocked doors and faded signs for shops whose names now seem ironic rather than catchy: "Nuts," "Ghost Music," "Once Upon a Time."

I asked my colleagues to arrange meetings with old Iraqi sources - politicians, professors, activists and clerics - only to be told they'd been assassinated, abducted or exiled.
On the drive back to our hotel from the Green Zone last week, I saw a group of adorable little girls in pinafores, knee socks and ponytails. They were walking home from a nearby elementary school, stepping over trash and yanking their skirts from barbed wire. I had my camera with me and asked the driver to stop so I could take a picture.

A year ago, I would have snapped away. This time, I hesitated.

Perhaps a guard somewhere would think I was a kidnapper and shoot at me. Perhaps a parent would come screaming and cause a ruckus over a suspicious foreigner in the neighborhood. But more than anything, I was stopped by the thought of the terrified looks on the girls' faces if a stranger holding a camera approached them.

In a country where there is so much fear, why add even a little bit more?

Posted by: b | Dec 29 2006 23:14 utc | 23

"The Americans want him to be hanged respectfully," al-Nueimi said.

these common murderers & thieves & all their puppets & valets are the ones who will pay the most terrible price

there is no qualitative difference between america under bush & the germans under national socialism

& there is complete similitude in the way both regimes treated the other, resistance & any hint of leadership in their enemies

john negroponte = reinhard heydrich

Posted by: remembereringgiap | Dec 29 2006 23:26 utc | 24

Quantitative difference RG.

Charging Saddam with 100 is like charging Himmler or Heydrich with 50,000.

Would have to ciper on Negroponte.


When does the Amazon Brigade drop on Hamburg with their nail polish and handcuffs?

GMT please. Less ciphering that way.

Posted by: Jethro | Dec 29 2006 23:57 utc | 25

Just posted this at TheLeftCoaster, and thought folks here would like a peek:

Tehran Web Cams

Looks pretty much like any other metropolis.

Posted by: Dr. Wellington Yueh | Dec 30 2006 0:36 utc | 26

Imminent Jethro. annie has packed her stethoscope and handcuffs, fauxreal a selection of scarves, and I have two new shades of nail polish.

Posted by: beq | Dec 30 2006 1:14 utc | 27

race for iraqi resources

That's why some fear Iraq is setting its course too hastily and in too much secrecy. Greg Muttitt of social and environmental NGO Platform London told SPIEGEL ONLINE: "I was recently at a meeting of Iraqi MPs (members of parliament) and asked them how many of them had seen the law. Out of twenty, only one MP had seen it."

Last week, the Iraqi Labor Union Leadership suggested the same. "The Iraqi people refuse to allow the future of their oil to be decided behind closed doors," their statement reads. "(T)he occupier seeks and wishes to secure themselves energy resources at a time when the Iraqi people are seeking to determine their own future while still under conditions of occupation."

Many worry instability would only get worse if the public feels cheated by the government and multinationals -- the Iraqi constitution says the oil belongs to the Iraqi people. The Labor Union Leadership warned: "We strongly reject the privatization of our oil wealth, as well as production sharing agreements, and there is no room for discussing the matter. This is the demand of the Iraqi street, and the privatization of oil is a red line that may not be crossed."

Critics say the US is leaning on the IMF and World Bank to push Iraq into signing oil contracts fast, so western firms can secure the oil before Chinese, Indian and Russian firms do. An IMF official told SPIEGEL ONLINE that "passage of a hydrocarbon law is not a condition for financial support from the IMF." Nevertheless, Iraqi authorities found it necessary to promise the IMF a draft petroleum law by the end of this year -- this in the same letter that says "we will take whatever steps are necessary to ensure that the program remains on track."

The IMF sets the conditions for Iraq's debt relief from the so-called Paris Club countries. Eighty percent of that debt has been wiped clean, and the final 20 percent depends on certain economic reforms. With the final reduction, Iraq's debt would come to 33 percent of its GDP -- but if the reforms are not made, debt would climb to 57 percent of GDP, according to an IMF report.

Criticisms have also been levelled against the World Bank, where former US deputy defense secretary Paul Wolfowitz is in charge. Wolfowitz has been accused of pushing a US agenda after opening a World Bank office in Baghdad.

Posted by: annie | Dec 30 2006 3:13 utc | 28

sadam executed

Posted by: annie | Dec 30 2006 3:43 utc | 29

saddam hussein was hanged in baghdad.

Posted by: fauxreal | Dec 30 2006 3:45 utc | 30

what a time to be hoppin' on a plane eh faux

Posted by: annie | Dec 30 2006 3:48 utc | 31

What bad luck for Saddam. Gerald Ford would have pardoned him.

Posted by: R.L. | Dec 30 2006 3:55 utc | 32

final message to the iraqi people

"The enemies of your country, the invaders and the Persians, have found your unity a barrier between you and those who are now ruling you. Therefore, they drove their hated wedge among you," he said in a handwritten letter released by his lawyer yesterday.

"O faithful people, I bid you farewell as my soul goes to God the compassionate," he wrote. "Long live Iraq. Long live Iraq. Long live Palestine. Long live jihad and the mujahideen. God is greatest."

"Here I offer myself in sacrifice. If God almighty wishes, it [my soul] will take me where he orders to be with the martyrs. If my soul goes down this path [of martyrdom] it will face God in serenity ...

"You have known your brother and leader as you have known your own family. He has not bowed down to the tyrants and remained a sword against them," Saddam wrote. "Oh great people, I call on you preserve the values that enabled you to be worthy of carrying out shouldering the faith and to be the light of civilisation. Your unity stands against falling into servitude."

He added: "Oh brave, pious Iraqis in the heroic resistance. Oh sons of the one nation, direct your enmity towards the invaders. Do not let them divide you ... Long live jihad [holy war] and the mujahideen against the invaders."

Posted by: annie | Dec 30 2006 3:55 utc | 33

So Saddam is dead now. Well that ought to be a lesson for dictators that cozy up to USA. Remains to see what they will learn from it.

Posted by: a swedish kind of death | Dec 30 2006 4:01 utc | 34

"saddam hussein was hanged in baghdad."

Posted by: fauxreal | Dec 29, 2006 10:45:12 PM | 30

Does this mean we are safe now and the troops can come home?

What a great opportunity to pull out of Iraq.

Mission accomplished.

Posted by: pb | Dec 30 2006 4:06 utc | 35

potential criminal cases against Iraqi government officials

According to the London pan-Arab newspaper Al-Hayat, a spokesman for Saleh al-Mutlak's National Dialogue Front (Sunni) said officials in the current and former Iraqi governments should be brought before international courts for prosecution for crimes against humanity worse than those of Saddam Hussein. The spokesman, Mohamed Dayani, said the parliamentary opposition alliance has presented more than 600 supporting documents as evidence to war-crimes courts, and has sent many files which confirm the commiting of these crimes by officials of the various governments under the occupation, including the "governing council", the "transitional" and the "interim" governments, up to and including the present government.

He said the targets include a group of important political and military persons involved in creation of death-squads, and genocide (ibada jamaiya: group extermination) against Iraqis, and the persons include Abdulaziz al-Hakim, head of SCIRI and leader of the UIA parliamentary group; Ibrahim Jaafari, the former Prime Minister; Abu Hassan al-Amari, head of the Badr Corps; Baqr Jabbar Solargh, Interior Minister under Jaafari and currently Finance Minister; Muwaffaq al-Rubaie current national security adviser; along with a group of senior Iraqi army officers.

Dayani added that there has been formed a judicial council made up of Arabs, Americans and Europeans, to study these documents and files that have been presented by the parliamentary opposition to the special court for war crimes.

Posted by: annie | Dec 30 2006 4:31 utc | 36

CNN will also reportedly be showing video of the execution.

un frigin believeable, from raw story. sorry too lazy to link

Posted by: annie | Dec 30 2006 4:47 utc | 37

Juan Cole at Salon on the execution.

I also turned on CNN, annie...we seem to be on the same frequency, kenneth...I'd also checked out Raw Story... anyway, an FBI spokesperson had a statement that CNN read that said, in paraphrase...

"The Homeland is not threatened"... or some such.

It makes my skin crawl to hear anyone call the U.S. "the homeland." To hear this in relation to an execution of, no doubt, an sob, but an sob who was on the US payroll for a long time...hello, Noreiga...and whose "Iraqi justice" was stage-managed by the U.S...

All things are subject to interpretation - whichever interpretation prevails at a given time is a function of power and not truth. ---Friedrich Nietzsche

Posted by: fauxreal | Dec 30 2006 5:07 utc | 38

..and CNN is getting phone calls from people asking to see the execution.

Posted by: fauxreal | Dec 30 2006 5:08 utc | 39

Josh Marshall says it for me:

This whole endeavor, from the very start, has been about taking tawdry, cheap acts and dressing them up in a papier-mache grandeur -- phony victory celebrations, ersatz democratization, reconstruction headed up by toadies, con artists and grifters. And this is no different. Hanging Saddam is easy. It's a job, for once, that these folks can actually see through to completion. So this execution, ironically and pathetically, becomes a stand-in for the failures, incompetence and general betrayal of country on every other front that President Bush has brought us.

Try to dress this up as an Iraqi trial and it doesn't come close to cutting it -- the Iraqis only take possession of him for the final act, sort of like the Church always left execution itself to the 'secular arm'. Try pretending it's a war crimes trial but it's just more of the pretend mumbojumbo that makes this out to be World War IX or whatever number it is they're up to now.

The Iraq War has been many things, but for its prime promoters and cheerleaders and now-dwindling body of defenders, the war and all its ideological and literary trappings have always been an exercise in moral-historical dress-up for a crew of folks whose times aren't grand enough to live up to their own self-regard and whose imaginations are great enough to make up the difference. This is just more play-acting.

Posted by: fauxreal | Dec 30 2006 5:14 utc | 40

Wikipedia Page for Saddam Hussein's Execution

Confirmation of Saddam's hanging went out about ____ minutes ago and this Wikipedia page is growing as the information is made public. Nice living case study on the growth of a Wikipedia page.

Looks like it made Al-Jazeera, too: Saddam hanged

Posted by: Uncle $cam | Dec 30 2006 5:15 utc | 41

It makes my skin crawl to hear anyone call the U.S. "the homeland."

you aren't alone

Never once was the term homeland ever used to describe the country of America until Mr. Bush began the department of homeland security after the 9/11 attacks. Taking a 20th century history class will teach us that the most notable countries in the last century that referred to their country in this way were Nazi Germany and Soviet Russia. Hitler used the term fatherland to drum up support, nationalistic support, for his growing war machine. He used the nationalism he created in the minds of the Germans to justify the sacrifice of their livelihood to build the war machine to get back their power from the oppressive restrictions the English and French had put on them at Versailles. This is the same feeling that has been virulently infecting the American psyche in the last hundred years. This is the same feeling that consoles a mother after her son is killed in an attempt to prosecute an aggressor's war 10,000 miles away. It's also known as Patriotism these days, but I say, "No more." No more nationalistic inanity, no more passing it off as patriotism. Patriotism is learning, and educating oneself to understand what their country really stands for.

Philip Martin has been a Marine for 2 years.

Posted by: annie | Dec 30 2006 5:18 utc | 42

I dont think I ever heard that phrase "homeland", used to describe the U.S.A. for my entire life (by anyone). Up until talk by the administration after 911. The first time I heard the phrase used, it was a good thing I had'nt just eaten, because I would have surely barfed on the spot. What these people get off on appropriating such an already discredited characterization to then identify the country to itself is beyond me. More than anything, what I really hate about it is the pretention that folklore and culture could be imposed from above, down upon the people.

If they were so intent on imposing a new name for the country, they could have at least chosen something more familiar to the people, like say, Disneyland.

Posted by: anna missed | Dec 30 2006 6:05 utc | 43

Bush signing statement claims he can search our mail without a warrant

Today President Bush signed the H.R. 6407, the "Postal Accountability and Enhancement Act. In doing so he added a few signing statements. One of them is particularly alarming, as it says that they can search our mail without a warrant.

Posted by: Uncle $cam | Dec 30 2006 6:30 utc | 44

43 and 42 and excuse if I missed a # on the Homeland concept and it's strangely quick introduction so shortly after 9/11.

I have a vague memory that there was a think-tank cum security outfit based in, uhm, Virginia that had done preliminary footwork on the idea. If nobody remembers, I'll have to see if I can track it down.

In any case, the point is, "Homeland" and "Homeland Security" did not just fall sweetly out of the sky like the Danish flag. HS was ready for implementation as soon as Terrible Tuesday occurred. A weak soul might suspect a, uhm. more direct than serendipdous connection, but we don't go there anymore with ideas like that.

Posted by: Chuck Cliff | Dec 30 2006 6:46 utc | 45

The term Homeland is indeed old. Here is a paper from 1998, by Iklé, in The Washington Quarterly: An argument for Homeland Defense. Very, shall we say, prescient.>link PDF>History of the term

Posted by: Noirette | Dec 30 2006 14:38 utc | 46

If anybody is interested I'm currently taking apart the whitewash spread over the murder of Lady Di.
It's work in progress, but there's some real meat already. Here

PS I don't comment here anymore, but I read EVERYTHING. Thank you for all you do, b.
And my salute to Billmon.
EASILY the best these last three-and-a-half years.

Posted by: John | Dec 30 2006 15:26 utc | 47

about oil...

From Market Watch, Dec. 19, 06:


Legal Contradictions

But currently, Iraq's constitution is almost completely at odds with the draft hydrocarbon law on one fundamental issue: who has the authority to award exploration and development contracts.

"No reliable, well-known oil company has the courage according to the constitution to come to Iraq for investment," Iraqi Vice President Tariq Al-Hashemi said last week during a presidential visit here.

"There are major loopholes in the constitution...and there is a clear-cut contradiction in the authorities between the regions and the central government," Hashemi said. The vice president said he urged President George W. Bush to support his drive for a new constitution.

Because of the contradiction, some say a new hydrocarbon law will be essentially futile unless the constitution is changed to support it.>market watch

Iraq’s revenues are - oil. Punkt schluss. Even Iraqi pistachios have gone from my local store, pardon the detail. There are no meters at the pumps. Oil theft is rampant. See here for overwiew:>legal-oil and here for the second transparency report of the Iraq Oil ministry from late 2005 or early 2006>pdf - long.

If the ‘oil’ issue is not sorted out rapidly, and by now one is tempted to say, in any way whatsoever, the Iraqis are really done for. But who is in a position to do anything? US bungling (are they to re-write the constitution once again?) and international competition (China, Russia, the seemingly absent EU) which prefers to see the US hang itself in Iraq (say) will see to it that this stalemate continues for decades, a long drawn out coda to the sanctions, interrupted by shock and awe. The jockeying behind the scenes between all the gangsters will continue and meanwhile, the interesting experiment of a ‘periphery’ thrown into violent chaos will continue.

Posted by: Noirette | Dec 30 2006 16:00 utc | 48

Raptor, Rapist, Rapture: The Dark Joys of Social Control in Thomas Pynchon's Vineland

"With his own private horrors further unfolded into an ideology of the mortal and uncontinued self, Brock came to visit, and strangely to comfort, in the half-lit hallways of the night, leaning in darkly in above her like any of the sleek raptors that decorate fascist architecture." Thomas Pynchon, Vineland.

Posted by: Uncle $cam | Dec 30 2006 20:35 utc | 49

uncle #49

thanks, esoteria can add up

Posted by: anna missed | Dec 30 2006 21:34 utc | 50

I consider the term "Homeland Security" to be an admission that renamning Department of Defense to Department of Colonial Affairs was a little too much. If you specifically has one departement for defending the homeland then the old department of defense is obviously defending something else.

Posted by: a swedish kind of death | Dec 31 2006 0:20 utc | 51

If anyone isn't watching any of State Funeral I recommend it, just to experience the juxtaposition of Saddam's hanging & Operation Wreck Iraq w/it.... It's in the Rotunda, w/military honor guards, I mean little tin soldiers...interesting bookends on a moment in history. One attendee grasped it completely - they collapsed as it was beginning - don't know who. Hopefully R'Giap will weigh in...

Posted by: jj | Dec 31 2006 1:22 utc | 52

uncle, thanks for notbored's take on pynchon

the dance of death/eros the poles unifying a dialectic of power. the spectacle of his execution is both thanotic and erotic, as any run through the knucklehead blogs today will prove. the execution is soooo hot. we're modern day boers, and no end to what feeds power:

What so far there have been only rumors of, is a room nine by seven feet and five inches, being with Dutch parsimony reduc'd to a quartersize replica of the cell at Fort William, Calcutta, in which i46 Europeans were oblig'd to spend the night of 20-21 June 1756. There persists along the Company nerve-lines a terrible simple nearness to the Night of the "Black Hole," some Zero-Point of history, reckoning whence, all the Marvels to follow,- Quebec, Dr. Halley's Comet, the Battle of Quiberon Bay, aye and the Transit of Venus, too,- would elapse as fugitive as Opium dreams, and mattering less.... To find the Black Hole in a menu of Erotic Scenarios surprizes no one at this particular end of the World,- Residents, visitors, even a few Seamen of elevated sensibility have return'd, whenever possible, to be urg'd along by graceful Lodge-Nymphs in indigo Dhotis and Turbans, dainty scimitars a-flash, commanding their naked "Captives" to squeeze together more and more tightly into the scale-model cell with as many Slaves,impersonating Europeans,- as will make up the complement, calculated at thirty-six, best able to afford visitors an authentick Sense of the Black Hole of Calcutta Experience.

"If one did not wish to suffer Horror directly," comments the Revd in his Day-Book, "one might either transcend it spiritually, or eroticize it carnally,- the sex Entrepreneurs reasoning that the combination of Equatorial heat, sweat, and the flesh of strangers in enforc'd intimacy might be Pleasurable,- that therefore might some dramatiz'd approach to death under such circumstances be pleasurable as well, with all squirming together in a serpent's Nest of Limbs and Apertures and penises, immobiliz'd in a bondage of similarly bound bodies, lubricated with a gleaming mixture of their own shard sweat, piss, and feces, nothing to breathe but one another's exhausted breaths, moving toward some single slow warm Explosion...."

"Behind our public reaction to the Event, the outrage and Piety, what else may abide,- what untouchable Residue? Small numbers of people go on telling much larger numbers what to do with their precious Lives,- among these Multitudes, all but a few go on allowing them to do so. The British in India encourage the teeming populations they rule to teem as much as they like, whilst taking their land for themselves, and then restricting the parts of it the People will be permitted to teem upon, "Yet hear the Cry, 0 Lord, when even a small Metaphor of this continental Coercion is practis'd in Reverse, as'twas in the old B.H. of C.

`Metaphor!' you cry,- `Sir, an hundred twenty lives were lost!'

"I reply, `British lives. What think you the overnight Harvest of Death is, in Calcutta alone, in Indian lives?- not only upon that one Night, but every Night, in Streets that few could even tell you how to get to,- Street upon desperate Street, till the smoke of the Pyres takes it all into the Invisible, yet, invisible, doth it go on. All of which greatly suiteth the Company, and to whatever Share it has negotiated, His Majesty's Government as well."'-pynchon, mason & dixon

Posted by: slothrop | Dec 31 2006 2:43 utc | 53

Nice to see slothrop, after all of 3 years, you are taking time to count the "niggers".


Posted by: Ms.M. | Dec 31 2006 2:49 utc | 54

sorry jj but this night i saw an important documentary on the range of psychiatric 'disorders' that are occurring all over iraq because of the occupation & the free trade in medication

they were speaking of the people suffering massive trauma - telling that normally pstd occurs after one traumatic event - but that man people in iraq suffer traumatic events weekly

describing the health system under saddam which was free & heavily regulated while now half the psychiatrists have left, there is no treatment for the people suffering from physical wounds let alone psychological ones & that powerful drugs normally available under prescription can be bought over the counter - how there is an enormous demand for anti trauma drugs (like anti parkinson disease medecines)

yet another horror story - told by a wonderful doctor who speaks with such clarity - dr amal al hadid - a physician trying to heal in a slaughterhouse

& to put up today with the sanctimonious sentences of this & that commentator on the murder of saddam hussein - tells me where mental illness is

Posted by: remembereringgiap | Dec 31 2006 2:51 utc | 55

i don't know what the the fuck you're talking about, ms m.

Posted by: slothrop | Dec 31 2006 2:53 utc | 56

i'll admit also, the use of that word, anywhere, is revolting to me.

but that's me.

Posted by: slothrop | Dec 31 2006 2:57 utc | 57>oud break

Posted by: slothrop | Dec 31 2006 3:31 utc | 58

i like the little ref there to rodrigo.

Posted by: slothrop | Dec 31 2006 3:36 utc | 59

@r'giap #55

Where did you see this documentary? I have a great personal interest in this subject and would like to view the video if possible.

Most people do not realize that when human beings undergo stress strong enough to cause PTSD, the brain undergoes actual physiological changes in its intracellular communication and chemical production. These changes, in turn, change the responsiveness of those individuals to psychiatric medications in particular ways, making them hypersensitive to certain chemicals. They also, over time, have very real effects on brain anatomy -- such that the hippocampus, for example, is smaller in patients with PTSD than it is in those without it.

Brief Exposure to Stress Alters Brain Function

Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) - a disabling condition that can develop following a person's experiencing automobile accidents, natural disasters or sexual abuse - is characterized by a spectrum of psychiatric problems that include recurrent nightmares, social withdrawal, irritability, memory impairment and depression. Because of the severity and long-drawn nature of this disorder, neurobiologists have long sought protracted changes in brain chemistry and function brought on by stress. In studies of stressed animals published last month in the prestigious journal Science, researchers at Ben-Gurion University and Hebrew University of Jerusalem have documented key electrophysiologic and genetic changes occurring in the hippocampal region of the brain. The investigators were particularly interested in the hippocampus because this structure is associated with learning, memory and various mental tasks - activities impaired by stress. Moreover, there have been reports that patients suffering from PTSD have smaller hippocampuses than normal individuals. The BGU team, headed by electrophysiologist Dr. Alon Friedman and graduate student Lev Pavlovsky of the Zlotowski Center for Neuroscience examined nerve signaling in hippocampus tissue slices of mice that were exposed to brief, 10- minute periods of stress, four days in a row. The researchers demonstrated that a drug that potentiates nerve tissue signaling produced a 12-times greater increase in the signal amplitude of tissues from stressed animals than those from unstressed controls. In a second finding, they showed that chemicals depressing nerve tissue signaling, such as atropine, were much more effective in curbing signal spikes of the hippocampus of stressed animals than of unstressed mice. These results agree with the known hypersensitivity of PTSD patients to stimulant drugs such as amphetamines and indicate a stress- triggered modification in the control over nerve-to-nerve communication in the brain. The Hebrew University team, led by Prof. Hermona Soreq, examined how stress effects the genetics of the production of acetylcholinesterase (AChE), one of the major enzymes regulating the strength of signaling through the synapses separating nerve cells. This enzyme operates in many parts of the brain including the hippocampus. Soreq's group found that following stress, animals start producing large quantities of a rare variant of AChE known as AChE-R, which supplants the normally structured AChE. This was shown via measurements of increased expression of AChE-R, whose genetic transcripts or m-RNAs concentrate abnormally in the axons and dendrites of nerve cells, the structures bounding the synapse through which communication takes place. "We are now closing in on the functional and biochemical changes associated with experimental PTSD," says Dr. Friedman. "While electrophysiological measurements in hippocampus slices of stressed animals displayed apparently normal synaptic responses to incoming electric stimuli, they showed extreme hypersensitivity to certain chemicals or drugs that are considered to be involved in modulating nervous tissue signaling. We think that this sensitivity could be associated with the overwhelming presence of AChE-R, whose regulatory powers are not as effective as those of the normal AChE." This improved understanding of the effects of stress could well indicate a need to review the dosage levels of psychoactive drugs sometimes prescribed for PTSD patients, as they might develop a hypersensitivity to their use. The findings also point to new ways to relieve this disorder, namely by seeking a drug that would neutralize the abnormal m-RNA that enables nerve cells to produce AChE- R.

I believe, but have yet to find time to track down concrete scientific evidence of this, that these changes transfer to genes, and are then capable of being passed down to the next generation(s). I do not think we have even the slightest inkling of what types of incredible damage we do when we place whole peoples in situations of extreme trauma such as those currently found in Iraq or Palestine, or, for that matter, those found during the holocaust. A study I saw some years ago found that something on the order of 70% of Palestinian children in the occupied West Bank suffered from PTSD -- and that was a few years back when things were relatively better. God knows what it is now.

What I mean to say is that these are crimes against humanity of the highest magnitude, and I do not think we yet understand or appreciate the harm that we do to our own species by inflicting them upon "others."

Posted by: Bea | Dec 31 2006 4:00 utc | 61


Didn't need to read that tonight.

But undoubtly true.

Posted by: Ms.M. | Dec 31 2006 4:14 utc | 62

"Can social scientists redefine the “war on terror”?"

George Packer writes in The New Yorker about a new breed of cultural anthropologists who bring their analysis to bear on the current climate of 'Islamic insurgency', arguing that it is not ideology but social networking factors which recruit. "All fifteen Saudi hijackers in the September 11th plot had trouble with their fathers..." The thesis is succinctly put this way: "There are elements in human psychological and social makeup that drive what's happening. The Islamic bit is secondary. This is human behavior in an Islamic setting. This is not 'Islamic behavior'."

I'm still processing this article, I have no comments at the moment however, I'm sure I will have much to say with regards to social/cultural anthro's study of 'terror' later, perhaps tommorow.

Posted by: Uncle $cam | Dec 31 2006 4:50 utc | 63

is there anybody dumber than george packer?

Posted by: slothrop | Dec 31 2006 4:54 utc | 64

from insurgent american

The chapter Insurgency-Counterinsurgency in The Insurgent's Handbook and the Introduction to the book Sex & War both by Stan Goff are now available. Enjoy!

the latter book, in case you weren't aware, was edited by a distinguished MoA alumna ;-)

Posted by: b real | Dec 31 2006 6:29 utc | 65

b real,
thanks for the heads up. I've been waiting for this one (Goff's).

good on De!

Posted by: citizen | Dec 31 2006 6:59 utc | 66

I mean Goff's Sex & War

The Acknowledgments page is worthwhile as well.

Posted by: citizen | Dec 31 2006 7:05 utc | 67

@Unca (#63)

During WWII and the Cold War, American anthropologists were urged to work directly for various offices of the US government and compile "national identity/ethnic profiles" of whichever group the US was at odds with. From the 1940's- 1970's, the position of the American Anthropological Association was that such work would have been of dubious value and only used in harmful ways against the study populations. I was proud of them for that stance. It is no longer the case.

Just as medical doctors have been exploiting their general knowledge and the specific medical histories of detainees to maximise torture, anthropologists under the present US administration have been volunteering in droves to have their research misused in the so-called "War on Terror". I no longer support the AAA.

Posted by: Monolycus | Dec 31 2006 7:15 utc | 68

What Bea's link may confirm, and its most profound ramifications. Where the cultural becomes the material in all its implications.
Gives the notion of genocide a whole new meaning.
Gives the notion of blowback a whole new meaning.

Posted by: anna missed | Dec 31 2006 9:26 utc | 69

Looks like John McCain is looking way too hard for his own,,176-2524262,00.html>Teddy Roosevelt moment. Warmongers remorse, bigtime.

Posted by: anna missed | Dec 31 2006 10:04 utc | 70

oh r giap the news about psych. patients is so dreadful - the worst off are those who are forgotten first, like autistic children, the mentally handicapped, psychotics, you know many have died. suicide. often. and the drugs don’t help much (imho) - in any case many are fake or watered down - street drugs. the dignity of the ordinary iraqis impresses, in a way afghanistan is worse off, with its longer war-past, heroin, etc...

Mono, The psychologists are the worst of the lot imho. Personally I have quit every single association as those who don’t espouse APA (American Psychological Association) shouldn’t keep silent, but do - each to his own professional colleagues and all that err the US in a particular situation!

an outraged psychoanalyst (overview, history, personal knowledge) on Zmag:>link

an article from counterpunch>link

Posted by: Noirette | Dec 31 2006 15:42 utc | 71

bea & noirette

working here in france with people who are so far down the line of inequalities - that psychiatric illness comes as yet one more burden for them to carry

so this documentary on al jazeera impressed me enormously

what we are seeing in europe after the 'liberalisation' of psychiatric hospitals is that the people with the most serious & long terms problems are living on the street or in the shelters

nearly a half of the people i work for & with in the shelters are people who would have historically at least had the care of medical situation

that no longer exists - not in any way

the people in the communities are ravaged by these illnesses that in part have been borne from a mass media that furrows fear like any other harvest

in france we have the highest use of anxiolitiques, sleeping pills & anti depressants & mostly in working class & poorer communities tho the great middle class also has a substantial use of these drugs

i am often working with people with trauma & what i saw in the documentary is how profound the exacerbation of these traumas exist in iraq & how desolate the situation

but there are always those brave souls who exist outside the webs of manipulation & are capable of offering a humanity that is not only a soulagement but are the only real link to a possible world

Posted by: r'giap | Dec 31 2006 19:04 utc | 73

Death Toll for US Soldiers in Iraq Reaches 3000

Not sure what exactly that means, except that perhaps more Joe Publics here will say, "Enough."

Posted by: Bea | Dec 31 2006 20:13 utc | 74

Noirette & Monolycus,

I hear your critiques of psychiatry, and I have been silently nodding all along. But there is also a bit of useful work being done, and although what the research seems to suggest is that there are better people to go to than psychiatrists, at least they're starting to offer research that shows you what might work instead of them. Check
this out.

Vaillant notes that the Comprehensive Textbook of Psychiatry, the clinical “bible” of psychiatry and clinical psychology, “has 500,000 lines of text. There are thousands of lines on anxiety and depression, and hundreds of lines on terror, shame, guilt, anger, and fear. But there are only five lines on hope, one line on joy, and not a single line on compassion, forgiveness, or love. Everything I’ve been taught encouraged me to focus on the painful emotions, ‘because people can’t do that themselves.’ My discipline taught me that positive thinking was simply denial, and that Pangloss and Pollyanna should be taken out and shot. But working with people’s strengths instead of their weaknesses made a difference. Psychoanalysis doesn’t get anybody sober. AA [Alcoholics Anonymous] gets people sober.”

Effective psychological interventions like AA are in acute demand nowadays. “There is an epidemic of depression in every industrialized nation in the world,” declared Seligman at the 2006 positive psychology summit. “It’s a paradox; the wealthier we get, the more depressed young people get.” Richard Kadison, chief of mental health at the Harvard University Health Services, writing in the New England Journal of Medicine in 2005, cited a national survey of 13,500 college students which found that 45 percent reported feeling depression deep enough to prevent them from functioning, and 94 percent felt overwhelmed by everything they had to do.

94% overwhelmed...

Mostly I find this report valuable because it reminds us to focus on teh positive, and not jsut what already exists, but positive images of what we are aiming for. That I can stand to be reminded of.

But also, this is political and historical. What I mean is, when the U.S. goes it'll be for the same reason as the Soviet Union or Ming China or any other overextended patently insincere powerhouse - because people just can't fool themselves into trying anymore for something they've come to despise. What replaces this system will have a lot to do with the kinds of positives we learn to summon into existence by our own focus and application.

What I'm most interested in is the positive. It's what r'giap is always reminding us, that we are the ones who have heart. And I point out this article because there are skillful ways of taking heart, and this is pointing the way there. Absolutely 98% of psychiatry may be harmful, but we can find and use the little that is being done well.

I wonder if there is a way of blogging both optimistically and critically. I think we have a model of it in r'giap and I know we treasure those moments for good reason.

Posted by: citizen | Dec 31 2006 20:37 utc | 75

@citizen (#75)

I was criticising American anthropologists; until Noirette informed me, I had no idea about how complicit the practitioners of the field of psychiatry were being. Anyway...

In the spirit of informed debate, let's present both sides of an issue to weigh the relative merits of each. Today's theme seems to be complicity in high crimes, so let's discuss former stuntpresident Gerald Ford's pardon of his predecessor. Representing the "anti-" side today is Slate'sTimothy Noah: Why Pardoning Nixon Was Wrong

Why was Ford wrong to pardon Nixon? Mainly because it set a bad precedent. Nixon had not yet been indicted, let alone convicted, of any crime. It's never a good idea to pardon somebody without at least finding out first what you're pardoning him for. How can you possibly weigh the quality of mercy against considerations of justice? Yet it would happen again in December 1992, when departing President George H.W. Bush pardoned Caspar Weinberger, former defense secretary, 12 days before Weinberger was set to go to trial for perjury. As I've noted before, this was almost certainly done to prevent evidence concerning Bush's own involvement in Iran-contra (when he was vice-president) from becoming public. The final report from Iran-contra special prosecutor Lawrence Walsh called it "the first time a President ever pardoned someone in whose trial he might have been called as a witness," but in fact it was the second. Ford's motive was less self-protective, but, as Slate's Christopher Hitchens notes here, it had the same effect of shutting down further investigation into illegal activities. Without the precedent of Ford's pre-emptive pardon, Bush père might have lacked the nerve to attempt one himself, and certainly would have created a much bigger ruckus if he went ahead and did it anyway.

If Ford hadn't issued the pardon, would Nixon have stood trial, or perhaps even been sent to jail? If so, his successors might have learned the valuable lesson that presidents are not above the law. But odds are that no prosecution would have taken place. In a Dec. 28 editorial, the Wall Street Journal stated that Watergate Special Prosecutor Leon Jaworski "seemed determined to pursue" a criminal trial. The precise opposite is true. By his own account, Jaworski was reluctant to pursue prosecutorial alternatives to impeachment. James Cannon's 1994 book Time and Chance: Gerald Ford's Appointment With History quotes Jaworski saying, "I knew in my own mind that if an indictment were returned and the court asked me if I believed Nixon could receive a prompt, fair trial as guaranteed by the Constitution, I would have replied in the negative." In a Dec. 29 op-ed in the Washington Post, Jaworski's former employee, Richard Ben-Veniste—yet another person who changed his mind and now thinks Ford was right to pardon Nixon—writes that Jaworski was "of the view that Nixon's precipitous fall from the highest office was punishment enough." Even if Jaworski had been talked into indicting Nixon, the prosecution's constitutionality—at best, uncertain—would have been a matter for the courts to decide, and the judiciary tends to err on the side of caution when considering separation of powers. That probably helps explain why President Bill Clinton was never indicted for perjury, even after congressional efforts to remove him from office failed.

So... reading a bit into Mr. Noah's analysis a bit, the 1974 attempt to avoid a potential "Constitutional crisis" might have led directly to the unitary executive that we see today. Interesting. Let's move on.

The "pro-" statement comes from former "Deputy Assistant to the President" (1974), "Assistant to the President" (1975- 1977), Vice-President of the United States (2000- present) and Chief Enabler of Satan Himself (emeritus, the post is shared with Henry Kissinger), Richard B. Cheney representing the War Criminals Covering Their Own Asses Party: Cheney Hails Ford's Pardon of Nixon.

Ford's decision to pardon Richard Nixon, so divisive at the time that it probably cost him the 1976 election, was dealt with squarely in his funeral services by his old chief of staff, Vice President Dick Cheney.

"It was this man, Gerald R. Ford, who led our republic safely though a crisis that could have turned to catastrophe," said Cheney, speaking in the Capitol Rotunda where Ford's body rested. "Gerald Ford was almost alone in understanding that there can be no healing without pardon."

I'm not sure how to properly summarize the view you've expressed here, Mr. Cheney. Your former boss was "almost alone" in his opinion while representing the will of a democratic republic... and it's laudable that he went against the majority's wishes anyway? Is that what you're saying? Or are you saying that without a back room pardon, we might have faced and resolved the potential Constitutional crisis to which Mr. Noah alluded, and that we'd have a precedent on the books that would not permit you to profiteer to the degree you most obviously have in the present? Is that the "healing" you are talking about? Or is this simply peremptory doubletalk that gives lip service to the will of the people while simultaneously thanking the powers-that-be for handing you a "get out of jail free" card you might need to cash in later yourself?

Truly, this has been a productive debate and I think it's been made abundantly clear that there are always at least two sides to every issue. Some might call those sides "right" and "wrong"... but, still, there you are.

Posted by: Monolycus | Jan 1 2007 8:48 utc | 76

Ding, ding, ding!! And the winner, in the first round, by knock-out is...Monolycus!

Goddamn, right out of the corner swinging, I mean right as the bell rings on 2007, Monolycus floors us with this most cognizant and learned analysis. Bravo champ! If this is the set precedent for the coming year, --and I believe it is--, then we are in for another dynamic year at the virtual transatlantic bar and grill or (vtbg), known as Moon of Alabama aka Bernhard's place!

Rawk da houz peeps!

Posted by: Uncle $cam | Jan 1 2007 10:54 utc | 77

here is a shout out to John Francis Lee.

I see in the news there has been trouble where you live. Please let us know ASAP that you are well

btw Happy New Year!

Posted by: dan of steele | Jan 1 2007 13:25 utc | 78

all societies from the remote isolated ethnic groups in the Amazon to the large industrialized nations of Europe, Asia & the Americas have to deal lwith the never-ending sttrugle to sustain & manage their "sense of well being".

and how they do it depends on how its defined as well as the interventions made available to aid stake-holders & actors.

in the West, we are conditioned via moral superiority to view "primitive" societies as curious, unfortunate relics of a distant past. Ottherwise, we would understand them and ourselves a lot better.

one bottom line is that a society with a formidable regime of "sense of self worth" that does not provide effective supporting interventions is asking for trouble.

in the West, some of the primary interventions include welfare, mental health, law enforcement, judicial/prisons ... And its interesting to note that these interventions play more of a peripheral role in the West than the interventions that exist in older societies. Western interventions tend to not have as much of the element of integration in which everyone is a stake-holder, regardless of their personal circumstances.

Posted by: jony_b_cool | Jan 1 2007 15:00 utc | 79

Re remembering Giap's 55, about trauma, PTSD and drug use in Iraq:

Mark from Ireland posted very recently that Stress of violence leads to more suicides (MfI's blog has moved btw, note their new address.)

Riverbend wrote about calmatives use way back in Oct 13, 2004

Kos diary about the Oprah show Riverbend was referring to.

Posted by: Alamet | Jan 1 2007 19:12 utc | 80

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