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Tuesday, December 21, 2004

Police Action?

Peter Khalil, the the director of national security policy for the Coalition Provisional Authority in Iraq from August 2003 to May 2004, has an interesting piece in yesterday's New York Times (read it quick or you'll have to pay). In it, he argues that the Iraqi military being built will not be able to effectively quell the insurgency "even if their ranks increased to 500,000 through rushed training." On the other hand, he says a much smaller force,
a force of 25,000 or so highly trained Iraqi internal security troops, operating
at the pointy end of the spear, with the remaining bulk of Iraqi forces in a
supporting role, might be able to do the job. That's because counterinsurgency
is not about numbers; the quality of the security forces, not their quantity, is
the key. . . The answer lies with specially trained Iraqi internal security
forces, separate from the standard military, including mobile counterterrorism
units, light-infantry police battalions and SWAT teams. There are now only a
handful of battalions with such training. Yet, with the help of intelligence
coordination and American logistical support, they have been effective. They
performed well alongside coalition troops in Falluja and Samarra, and pulled off
a hostage rescue in Kirkuk in which the Americans provided only logistical
support.
Police battalions? SWAT teams? Could one of the Bushies be suggesting that the appropriate strategy for dealing with terrorism might be, um, law enforcement?

Ever since this whole debacle began in the aftermath of 9/11, we have been right and they have been wrong on issue after issue. Iraq had no WMDs and no connection to bin Laden or 9/11. We needed more troops and resources to capture bin Laden. The invasion of Iraq was a blunder that has yet to result in a joyous spontaneous outburst of democracy. And, yes, terrorism is best dealt with through a coordinated strategy of law enforcement and diplomacy, rather than with a strictly military solution. Taking terrorists seriously as an enemy military force gives them precisely the kind of legitimacy they crave, while large-scale military actions inevitably kill and maim more people than the terrorists could ever hope to and build support for their causes.

As these ideological knuckleheads learn slowly through trial and error what their opponents in the reality-based community have been trying to tell them for years, do we get any credit? Do the Bushies ever say to Joe Biden or General Eric Shinseki or Juan Cole, "oh, hey, you guys are right about that?" Hell no. In fact, during the campaign, they apparently convinced a majority of Americans that no one but the ideologues could be "trusted" with the Global War on Terror because nobody else was belligerant enough. "It's better to be strong and wrong" and all that crap.

So here's the next prediction for the Right to ignore: elections aren't the answer. Any new government in Iraq needs to be agreed upon by negotioation among the factions. Majority rule is not really the answer in such an ethnically divided society. When I suggest they are not ready for democracy, I am not being racist, I am saying that Iraq does not have traditions of minority rights. As long as minorities fear that the slim majority (religious Shiites)will try to use the government to impose their beliefs on the rest of the public through control of the state, they will resist. Only a state in which minority rights are protected from majority rule can hope to be stable.

Could it be that the neocons can't see this in part because of their alliance with a religious minority (Conservative Evangelical Christians, at about 28% of the American population) that wants to impose its beliefs on the rest of the public through control of the state?

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Tuesday, December 14, 2004

FCC Action Alert!!!
(Stolen From Atrios!!!)

1. Go to http://www.rushlimbaugh.com/home/menu/rush.guest.html and find your Limbaugh station.
2. Send an email to fccinfo@fcc.gov with your own version of the following:

On Monday, December 13 in the 2nd hour of his program (1pm EST) broadcast on [CALL SIGN HERE], Rush Limbaugh used the vulgar, sexual term "dick" when referring to a Miss Plastic Surgery pageant. Specifically, Limbaugh said:

"LIMBAUGH: Miss Plastic Surgery. (chuckle) And – I’d – I’d – I – I don’t – I
don’t know what the winner – I – and, oh, I didn’t print out both pages, so I
don’t know what the – I don’t know what the winner gets. Probably a certificate
to go to San Francisco to have an add-a-dick-to-me operation. "
According to the FCC:

Information regarding the details of what was actually said (or depicted) during the allegedly indecent, profane or obscene broadcast. There is flexibility on how a complainant may provide this information. The complainant may submit a significant excerpt of the program describing what was actually said (or depicted) or a full or partial recording (e.g., tape) or transcript of the material.

In whatever form the complainant decides to provide the information, it must be sufficiently detailed so the FCC can determine the words and language actually used during the broadcast and the context of those words or language. Subject matter alone is not a determining factor of whether material is obscene, profane, or indecent. For example, stating only that the broadcast station “discussed sex” or had a “disgusting discussion of sex” during a program is not sufficient. Moreover, the FCC must know the context when analyzing whether specific, isolated words are indecent or profane. The FCC does not require complainants to provide recordings or transcripts in support of their complaints. Consequently, failure to provide a recording or transcript of a broadcast, in and of itself, will not lead to automatic dismissal or denial of a complaint.

The date and time of the broadcast. Under federal law, if the FCC assesses a monetary forfeiture against a broadcast station for violation of a rule, it must specify the date the violation occurred. Accordingly, it is important that complainants provide the date the material in question was broadcast. A broadcaster’s right to air indecent or profane speech is protected between the hours of 10 p.m. and 6 a.m. Consequently, the FCC must know the time of day that the material was broadcast.

("Complaints" about naked "Housewives" on Monday Night Football - which is actually a great idea whose time is come - turned out to be a single form letter being forwarded again and again. "Birds do it, bees do it, why shouldn't we do it?" Hopefully this will result in a big fat fine for a big fat fuck - Elwood)

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Friday, December 10, 2004

He Always Wore Shorts



Dimebag Darrell 1966-2004

R.I.P.

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Friday, December 03, 2004

A New Blog

Why? Because I can.

Yesterday Microsoft unveiled a new service called MSN Spaces. I signed up for a free blog and it appears to allow you to post messages, create playlists to share musical tastes and host pictures, among other things. I thought for a long time about what kind of blog I might want to have; one that was distinctly different from this one. [Is "distinctly different" redundant?]

Should I start a "Lincoln Blog" about a "Blog Cabin"? "2 Bumps on a Blog"? Or something about SNL's classic fake commercial, "It's Blog! It's Blog"?

I have decided on something that makes the most sense... a cheese blog.

Introducing Care For a Cheese Blog? There's nothing there yet, but there soon will be. Maybe by the time anyone reads this.

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Thursday, December 02, 2004

WHAT???

Today's item is from a daily Center for American Progress e-mail I get. Today it talks about Rep. Waxman's report about abstinence-only education programs. Check out this one part:

ABSTINENCE-ONLY PROGRAMS DEMEAN WOMEN: Abstinence only programs frequently reinforce false and demeaning stereotypes about women. For example, one program instructs impressionable students that "women gauge their happiness and judge their success by their relationships. Men's happiness and success hinge on their accomplishments." Another program lists "financial support" as one of the "5 Major Needs of Women" and "domestic support" as one of the "5 Major Needs of Men." Another program tells the story of a princess who advises a knight to save her from a dragon using poison. The poison works, but the knight feels "ashamed" because he needed the help of the princess. He ends up marrying a village maiden only after making sure she knows nothing about poisons. The moral of the story: "occasional suggestions and assistance may be alright but too much of it will lessen a man's confidence or even turn him away from his princess."
What in the hell is going on? What alternate reality did I accidently fall into? Am I drunk?

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"It's not really a party until someone mentions Bretton-Woods"
-overheard recently at what was, in fact, a pretty good party

Speaking of real estate, sometimes it bugs me that Internet domain names just go to whoever buys them first, regardless of merit. Tony tells me that he lost respect for the anti-globalization movement when he tried to engage a demonstrator about Bretton Woods, and he didn't know what it was (to be fair, some of the organizers do). Something similar is going on at the enviably named Antiwar.com, where somebody acted quickly to buy the domain, only to turn it into a forum for bizarre, unsubstantiated conspiracy theories. I was disappointed to find this piece by Justin Raimondo soiling the good name of antiwar activism. Raimondo presents an explanation of the stolen election ruckus in Ukraine as a dispute between Ukraine's ruling oligarchs having nothing to with democracy, as part of an unfair conspiracy on the part of Western captialists against poor, poor Vladimir Putin.

There are several major problems with this line of thinking. The first and most obvious is that he's implicitly dismissing as irrelevant the fact that the election was blatantly stolen as ballots were thrown in the trash while Western observers were standing their watching. This rankles a bit, working in a neighborhood where old Ukranians are walking around with orange ribbons pinned to their lapels in support of the challenger Viktor Yushchenko, which leads me to my larger point - he doesn't know anything about Ukraine. This is the only possible explanation for someone believing that pipelines or shady deals with the IMF are more important in interpreting the Ukranian situation than the longstanding ethnic, political, and geographical issues dividing East from West.

In a nutshell - Ukraine, once part of the Polish Empire, fell difinitively under Russian rule with the partition of Poland in the late 1800. After WWI and the treaty of Brest-Litovsk, Western Ukraine became part of the reconstituted state of Poland, while the East remained part of the new Soviet Union. What happened next in the Russian part of Ukraine? Stalin killed everybody. After which, a lot of Russians moved into the fertile farmland and depopulated cities to solidify the Kremlin's control. Today, Eastern Ukranians of any ethnicity tend to speak Russian and look to Moscow for leadership.

After WWII, Poland's borders were shifted west to include much of what used to be eastern Germany and Prussia. At the same time, Western Ukraine was reincorporated into the Soviet Union. These Western Ukranians were spared the genocide of the 30s and their descendents still speak Ukranian and continue to keep alive their own culture. These people tend to look to Poland more than Russia for kinship - Nato or EU membership are simply tools to accomplish these social ends.

I am disturbed that I keep running into a Left that seems to be as irrational, faith-based and ignorant of history as the Right. Anther "antiwar" article I heard recently claimed the West should not intervene in Darfour because this would advance the cause of imperialism and somebody might make a profit on it. Look, I don't like Bush either, but just because he says he's for freedom and against genocide doesn't mean I have to come out for genocide against freedom. And I'm certainly not about to embrace the actions of Putin and his allies in Chechnya or the Ukraine just because he opposed Bush's boneheaded war. Wrong is wrong when anybody does it, not just when it's the United States.

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