Sunday, July 31, 2005

CIA Notes on Iraq

Hmm, a new item for the war to create a war on terror. From the NY Times:
The Central Intelligence Agency was told by an informant in the spring of 2001 that Iraq had abandoned a major element of its nuclear weapons program, but the agency did not share the information with other agencies or with senior policy makers, a former C.I.A. officer has charged.

In a lawsuit filed in federal court here in December, the former C.I.A. officer, whose name remains secret, said that the informant told him that Iraq's uranium enrichment program had ended years earlier and that centrifuge components from the scuttled program were available for examination and even purchase.

The officer, an employee at the agency for more than 20 years, including several years in a clandestine unit assigned to gather intelligence related to illicit weapons, was fired in 2004.

In his lawsuit, he says his dismissal was punishment for his reports questioning the agency's assumptions on a series of weapons-related matters. Among other things, he charged that he had been the target of retaliation for his refusal to go along with the agency's intelligence conclusions.

guantanamo detainee trials

As the Pentagon was making its final preparations to begin war crimes trials against four detainees at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, two senior prosecutors complained in confidential messages last year that the trial system had been secretly arranged to improve the chance of conviction and to deprive defendants of material that could prove their innocence.

The electronic messages, obtained by The New York Times, reveal a bitter dispute within the military legal community over the fairness of the system at a time when the Bush administration and the Pentagon were eager to have the military commissions, the first for the United States since the aftermath of World War II, be seen as just at home and abroad.

The prosecutors....


Photo: Jim Richter

China drafting a law for circular economy

This could be an interesting story to follow: China developing a "circular" sustainable approach to their economy. I don't have a full understanding of what is meant here, but it sounds like it might follow basic principles of ecological economics, such as those developed by the great Herman Daly (see, for just a few examples, here, here, here, here, and his farewell speech to the World Bank here).

Wilderness -- What Remains

US Military Recruiting Abroad

...From Pago Pago in American Samoa to Yap in Micronesia, 4,000 miles to the west, Army recruiters are scouring the Pacific, looking for high school graduates to enlist at a time when the Iraq war is turning off many candidates in the States.

The Army has found fertile ground in the poverty pockets of the Pacific. The per capita income is $8,000 in American Samoa, $12,500 in the Northern Marianas and $21,000 in Guam, all United States territories. In the Marshalls and Micronesia, former trust territories, per capita incomes are about $2,000.

The Army minimum signing bonus is $5,000. Starting pay for a private first class is $17,472. Education benefits can be as much as $70,000.

"You can't beat recruiting here in the Marianas, in Micronesia," said First Sgt. Olympio Magofna, who grew up on Saipan and oversees Pacific recruiting for the Army from his base in Guam. "In the states, they are really hurting," he said. "But over here, I can afford go play golf every other day."....

Arab Identity and Democracy

From Azmi Bishara, writing in Al Ahram Weekly:

...What makes it easy for outside powers to neutralise Arab identity is that each regime has its own direct and unmediated link with American hegemony. This phenomenon is reflected in the way in which every Arab nation gives priority to its bilateral relations with the US and European countries over its relations with other Arab nations. It is also reflected in their readiness to improve relations with Israel, whenever circumstances permit, by ironing out their differences with Israel as if these differences had somehow sprung from their Arab identity.

Arab identity, here, is neither a cause nor an effect. It is a phenomenon associated with ruling elites and their policies. But there is no reason why it should not be asserted, as long as people realise that it does not hold all the solutions. Nationalism, as an ideology, has always been the property of right-wing movements, which take nationalism as a guise for identity politics, often of a fascistic bent, the most extreme examples of which could be seen in many European countries in the 20th century. However, nationalism is the framework for an affiliation that transcends local organic affiliations, and in the context of democratic thought there is scope for asserting national identity, so long as such confirmation promotes the processes of modernisation and democratisation and helps resistance against Western domination. There is nothing wrong, then, if an advocate of democracy and social justice in the Arab world appeals to Arab identity, for this helps create a climate inimical to American hegemony, as well as a climate obstructive to the fundamentalist anti-American response which emanates from an antagonism to modernism itself....

Remembering Hiroshima

This is a horrible story of remembrance, but such stories are necessary to give us a constant reminder of what we're capable of doing. Such stories should transcend any debate over the strategic purposes and morality of the bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. But they should also serve to close the distance by which we often give up our sympathies and responsibilities -- in Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Nicaragua and El Salvador, Iraq and Darfur.... And by which we continue the cycle. This is why 9-11 and 7-7 hurt so much -- their proximity. But it's also why Fallujah is not a household name in the US -- its unseen distance.

See also the blog, Arms Control Wonk.

Saturday, July 30, 2005


From the Japan Times:

...The fact is that neo-libs and neo-cons in the U.S. are cut from the same starred and striped cloth. They are convinced that the American system of democratic practices is amenable to implementation everywhere. But the Rusks, the Rostows and the Rumsfelds alike fail to realize that, in the long run, you cannot treat other nations solely as strategic territories in your own country's Grand Design. When your promises are accompanied by the indiscriminate destruction of their way of life, people mistrust political rhetoric -- whether that of "pacification," the neo-lib 1960s term, or "the spread of liberty," the current neo-con one.

So next time you feel like railing against those neo-cons, who have cloaked aggression in the language of liberty, give a thought to the neo-libs, who did the same thing four decades ago.

It is neither conservatism nor liberalism that has dragged the people of the United States and its allies into wars of aggression on foreign soil. It is the misconceived notion of a mission: that what works for them must prevail everywhere -- regardless of history, culture or the values of faith.

Friday, July 29, 2005

have a melon 'n mango weekend

Photo: Jim Richter

a little laughter before the rapture

From the Onion:

War On String May Be Unwinnable, Says Cat General
War On String May Be Unwinnable, Says Cat General

more invasion?

From Juan Cole:

Turks threaten to Invade Iraq

Just a reminder how much of a tinderbox Iraq is, and how easily neighboring countries could be drawn into a war there:

The Kurdish Marxist party, the Kurdish Worker's Party (Kurdish acronym PKK) has been committing violence in eastern Turkey near the Iraqi border. The Kurdish guerrillas are suspected of then slipping across the Iraqi border to take refuge in Iraqi Kurdistan. The latest outrage was their kidnapping of a mayor, "Hasim Akyurek, mayor of Yayladere in the Bingol Province and a member of Turkey's ruling Justice and Development Party . . . "

Then Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayip Erdogan threatened to invade northern Iraq. He cited the US invasion of Afghanistan to support the legitimacy of such an action (in fact, Afghanistan had both NATO and United Nations Security Council support, which a Turkish invasion of Iraq does not, to say the least).

Then Iraqi Foreign minister Hoshyar Zebar, himself a Kurd, warned that any Turkish incursion into northern Iraq would be unacceptable.

ciao, bolton

Bolton forgot. Someone needs a spanking.

Today's Krugman: French Family Values

So much of the public dialogue, or rather public rant, in the US is so seriously distorted by ideology and quickie talking points that Americans have a difficult time not only deciding what is good for American society as a whole but also ever getting to the point where we have adequate tools for figuring out that question.

The French aren't historically unknown for buying into the intellectual deadend of ideology either. But they can often be better pragmatists than Americans are. The role of economy is as part of the contribution to a better life, not simply more accumulation or consumption as an end in itself. This is an idea that's been well-established since Aristotle.

But what is that better life? That's a question for genuine public debate, the one Americans don't have except around the perimeters of the broader public (academia, some thinktanks, some local groups). Part of the reason we don't have it is the sports-like approach to ideology. But part of it is also a lack of intellectual tools other than economic ones in public debate. When Britt Hume's first thought upon hearing of the London bombings is "time to buy," and other commentators and policy-makers consider first what effect given actions will have on the economy regardless of their otherwise goodness or evil, we've lost all moral sense on top of it. And therein lies the key. Those with moral and political imagination can carry on a rich and robust public debate about what's good for a society. Those who don't, can't.


...First things first: given all the bad-mouthing the French receive, you may be surprised that I describe their society as "productive." Yet according to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, productivity in France - G.D.P. per hour worked - is actually a bit higher than in the United States.

It's true that France's G.D.P. per person is well below that of the United States. But that's because French workers spend more time with their families.

O.K., I'm oversimplifying a bit. There are several reasons why the French put in fewer hours of work per capita than we do. One is that some of the French would like to work, but can't: France's unemployment rate, which tends to run about four percentage points higher than the U.S. rate, is a real problem. Another is that many French citizens retire early. But the main story is that full-time French workers work shorter weeks and take more vacations than full-time American workers.

The point is that to the extent that the French have less income than we do, it's mainly a matter of choice....

...American conservatives despise European welfare states like France. Yet many of them stress the importance of "family values." And whatever else you may say about French economic policies, they seem extremely supportive of the family as an institution. Senator Rick Santorum, are you reading this?

Thursday, July 28, 2005

bush, good-looking creative genius

From Powerline, the right-wing blog, via Daily Kos:

It must be very strange to be President Bush. A man of extraordinary vision and brilliance approaching to genius, he can't get anyone to notice. He is like a great painter or musician who is ahead of his time, and who unveils one masterpiece after another to a reception that, when not bored, is hostile.

UPDATE (29 July 11am):

Helmut couldn't sleep. Helmut just couldn't wrap his mind around this one.

What is the mental status of a person who could say such a thing about Bush? I can't imagine saying something this crazy about any politician, let alone Bush. "Unveils one masterpiece after another..."?! Maybe Ludwig Wittgenstein, but that's a maybe. So it would be easy to chalk this one up to more glossolalia from the right's upside-down land.

But then read it again and you see what's up. Bush is actually being pronounced a kind of Napoleonic failure, repackaged as a tragic hero. Here are all these projects of global domination, each one failed, one failure after another. If only the Iraqis would submit to occupation, Bush would be a genius. If only North Korea would whimper in fear, Bush would be a grand artist of geopolitics. If only schools wouldn't complain about having no money, No Child Left Behind wouldn't leave children behind. If only American citizens understood that Exxon is right and they are wrong, there would be no worries about climate change or huge monetary transfers from their pockets to Exxon and other watchers of the lambs. If only, if only.... But we cannot perceive the genius, the utter brilliance at work. Heathens cannot see the halo around Bush, the aura, the way the flowers bloom when he walks past. It is indeed our fault. Bush, tragic, brilliant genius, will leave a legacy of grand ideas that failed due to a world too simple and corrupt for his beauty. This is the new hagiography. At least they've figured out he's a failure.

UPDATE 2 (29 July 12:15pm):

I got it: Bush is the second coming of Jesus. He's being crucified.

another intellectual and moral fraud on the air

Via Attytood, Tucker Carlson on MSNBC (Maddow is from Air America):

If you live in Philadelphia, and you're the kind of person who knows about blogs, you also probably know by now all about the search for 24-year-old LaToyia Figueroa of West Philadelphia, who went missing 10 days ago and was ignored for 9 of those days by the same national media that's obsessed with missing white women, preferably blonde.

Yesterday, largely because of a campaign led by Philly blogger "Richard Cranium" of the popular website, that started to change. The story got picked up by the big 3 cable news networks, CNN, MSNBC, and Fox, it is the lead story on local news radio and upfront in the papers, and a reward fund for LaToyia's whereabouts is growing rapidly....

MSNBC's bow-tied, right wing pundit, Tucker Carlson of the widely unwatched "The Situation," and local boy turned stock tipster Jim Cramer, managed to "cover" the plight of the missing woman in the most disgusting manner possible -- and without even lowering themselves to mentioning after a fleeting mention of the name of the non-white woman....

CARLSON: People who don’t—people who don’t work in the press who look at this and immediately draw the conclusion that people who work in the press are racist ought to know there’s another dynamic involved here. And it is this. Things that are unusual or perceived to be unusual are the ones that are considered news.

It’s like planes that land safely aren’t news. When someone, not just a black person or a Hispanic person, but someone who lives in a tough neighborhood, is injured in a crime, the feeling, right or not—or wrong—and it’s probably wrong—is, this is a more common occurrence than if it were to happen in a suburban area.

MADDOW: But it’s the per—again, it’s the perception. We’ve got a woman who has been missing for nine days. She’s pregnant. She’s a young mother. It has all the components of the other stories that get covered. But because of the race, because she’s from West Philly, it’s not getting covered.


MADDOW: So, people are trying to drive...


MADDOW: ... the media...


CARLSON: But the truth is, we are covering it. It was on our air today. And it’s on our air...

MADDOW: Because of an enterprising blogger.

CARLSON: It’s...

CRAWFORD: Where would you rather vacation, Aruba or West Philly?

MADDOW: West Philly has...


CRAMER: Forty-second and Baltimore is nothing like Aruba.


meanwhile, in north korea news

Leon Sigal writes in the The Boston Globe that Bush policy towards North Korea has also failed. Is there anything these guys can do right besides read their Machiavelli and Strauss (not counting Bush on the latter)?

US hard-liners would rather pick a fight with China than negotiate with North Korea. They demand that Beijing pressure Pyongyang to capitulate to Washington's demands. Yet why would China ever cut off food and oil supplies and jeopardize the North Korean regime's survival? After all, China has been the chief beneficiary of the administration's refusal to deal.

In the 1990s Beijing watched warily on the sidelines as Pyongyang wooed Washington, Seoul, and Tokyo. It feared that Pyongyang was moving to legitimate the US military presence in Korea or, worse, become a US ally. That was all but inconceivable to Washington, which looked to Beijing for help with Pyongyang.

While Beijing's willingness to pressure Pyongyang became a litmus test for hard-liners spoiling for confrontation with China, the need for Beijing's help with Pyongyang was the main justification for officials favoring accommodation with China. Either way, the United States has put China back into the game with North Korea, as quarterback no less, in a position to enhance its influence in the region by playing well with others -- not to pressure Pyongyang, but to get Washington to deal.

Far from isolating North Korea, the United States is itself becoming odd man out in the region. If this misguided course had a name, it would be hawk disengagement.

permanent US bases in Iraq

next up "global tiff about sweet nothings"

gore in '08

What do you think of this? Matthew Yglesias writes at Tapped,

THE CASE FOR GORE. Marshall Wittmann floats the notion of an Al Gore presidential run in 2008. He's a bit of a skeptic, but I'm pretty enthusiastic. Gore offers, I think, just about what the Democrats need: an opposition to the Iraq War that's based neither on retrospective carping nor a general reluctance to use force, but rather a realistic assessment of the weakness of the case for war. He was a liberal hawk back in the 1980s before it was cool and, even better, made an effort during his congressional days to become a genuine expert on military issues and not just rack up a reflexively "tough" record. He backed the first Gulf War when most of his colleagues opposed it. During the Clinton administration he was, by all accounts, identified with the more aggressive side during the internal foreign-policy debates.

But as the country moved toward the invasion of Iraq he saw -- at the time -- what most liberal hawks now concede at least privately in retrospect: that there was no urgent security threat from Iraq and that the Bush administration wasn't up to the task of accomplishing the more airily idealistic things that one might cite in the war's favor.

Obviously, there's much time to go and many other factors in play, but I think this is both politically and substantively the right ground to stake out for 2008 and there aren't very many prominent politicians who hit the sweet spot back in 2002 and 2003.

Plus, he recently received a Webby award (and here) for lifetime achievement for his important contributions to the development of the internet. The right and its liberal media can't use the internet myth again.

The Webby Lifetime Achievement Award: Former Vice President Al Gore

Setting the record straight on one of recent history's most persistent political myths, The Webby Awards will present Former Vice President Al Gore with The Webby Lifetime Achievement Award in recognition of the pivotal role he has played in the development of the internet over the past three decades. Vint Cerf, widely credited as one of the "fathers of the internet," will present Vice President Gore with the award.
UPDATE (28 July, 3:15pm):

You know, come to think of it, that's more than W has done in his lifetime.


More on the replacement of "global war on terror" by other various names that might actually possess an element of achievability. (How about Global War on Suicide Bombers?). Since they got us into this mess through the inflamed rhetoric of GWOT, which also served as an otherwise unconnected propaganda slogan for invading and occupying Iraq, shouldn't we hold them to the global eradication of terror in the name of s'curity?

Juan Cole writes,

The Bush administration is giving up the phrase "global war on terror."
I take it this is because they have finally realized that if they are fighting a war on terror, the enemy is four guys in a gymn in Leeds. It isn't going to take very long for people to realize that a) you don't actually need to pay the Pentagon $400 billion a year if that is the problem and b) whoever is in charge of such a war isn't actually doing a very good job at stopping the bombs from going off....

...As for the jihadis, who do wish us harm, former CIA analyst Marc Sageman estimates the number of radical Muslims who can and would do significant harm to the US in the hundreds.

That's right. The old "war on terror" was a war of the world's sole superpower on a few hundred people....

start your thursday with starapple

Photo: Jim Richter

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

US in Plan to Bypass Kyoto

Give me break. This is insincere crap. I've mentioned before that the Kyoto Protocol has its problems. But a "secret agreement" for a global problem that gives American and Australian tech industries a special leg up is just a politico-industrial decision. Utter crap in dealing with climate change.

US in Plan to Bypass Kyoto Protocol

500 visitors

Phronesisaical has today hit the 500-visitor mark over its brief lifespan. Thanks to all of you who have spent time here and especially those of you who return. That's a very small number in the blogwagon world, but it's growing.

In the near future we'll have more comments and more discussion. What I will do here is maintain a blog that presents real news and dynamic ideas (and also moribund ideas, for kicks) and, of course, more pictures of tropical fruit. Yet, rather than simply reporting or rounding up news that can be gotten elsewhere, and rather than being yet another leftwing or rightwing political conduit, Phronesisaical looks to discuss what's right and good, what's problematic in theoretical and practical terms and where the two conflict and/or transform each other, what ought to be done, what are serious matters and what are not, why and how we do what we do politically at a domestic and international level, and hopefully separate some of the wheat from the chaff in terms of political rhetorical strategies, political-moral issues, real debate versus demagoguery, and normative claims. But rather than get preachy or simply pissy or overly bleeding-heart, which many blogs do, I think this can all be done with a sense of our own fallibility, a healthy dose of humor and absurdism, and at least an acknowledgement of our tendencies towards cynicism. Helmut is a pragmatist of the philosophical variety.

As for the fruit,... well, they're pretty and delicious, and hopefully provide a cool and calm stopping point on the internet.

About the unwieldy name "Phronesisaical" there's nothing terribly intelligent to be said. The philosopher Charles S. Peirce wrote about his invention of a philosophical term ("pragmaticism") that it was ugly enough to protect it from kidnappers. I'm not trying to defend a particular philosophical conception, however. The blog name is just plain ugly.

Phronesis, which is itself a lovely word, is a Greek term. The ancient Greeks, Plato and especially Aristotle (in the Nicomachean Ethics), used it to refer to "practical wisdom." This was the kind of wisdom not centered purely in technical knowledge or theory, nor wholly in the contingencies of practice and experience. Rather, phronesis reflects the integration of both theoretical knowledge and practical experience (as embodied, perhaps, in the "philosopher-king" who looks to both theoretical knowledge and earthly experience in order to rule). It is a deliberative understanding of concrete action not based purely in the rules and principles of theory, but neither in ungeneralized experience.

I chose this part of the name of the blog late one tired night by looking to the left at my bookshelves and my eyes falling on The Complete Works of Aristotle. Entirely random. But "phronesis" as a name for a blog is utterly pretentious, and I wouldn't want a philosopher-king as much as I don't want a boy-idiot-king. So, in a 3am fit of stupidity, I tacked on the misspelled suffix for "maniacal." Thus the ugly birth of "Phronesisaical." Not only is it safe from kidnappers, it's also safe from Google, or even pronunciation. But most ideas begin with a whimper rather than a bang, and there is an idea here that directs the nature of the blog. It's mostly left to be discovered.

As for "Helmut"... I'm blogging quasi-anonymously for now. I'm a professor of philosophy, public policy, and international affairs. The blog provides an opportunity for me and others of you to let off some steam while participating in a more public dialogue than we're used to in academia. All are welcome. But I also do not wish for this to be an academic blog or one that doesn't try to speak a common language. On one hand, I have no problem with being labelled academic "elite" by the right. It's good to be smart and to try to become smarter, and it's good to share real ideas and experiences and try to make them more intelligent. On the other hand, I can think of nothing less interesting than rehashing academic debates on the internet. So, a somewhat maniacal attempt at phronesis.

Call me "Timmeh!" if you like, but there you have it. Thanks again to all 500 of you.

today in torture

Here's the torture roundup for today. The overall message to be gleaned here is that they (Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, Gonzales, Frist, etc.) want to torture. Given that there is morally and politically no good reason -- so to speak -- for the policies of torture, and that the "few bad apples" defense has gone out the window, the question is just what benefits or strategy the administration wants to hold onto through the use of torture. Is it dog training? Friendliness with other torturing states such as Saudi Arabia and Uzbekistan? Pure sadism? Holy war? Supreme arrogance? A testing of the limits of hegemony? An attempt to create a climate of fear through which the administration could do whatever it wants? An attempt to totalize submission to the US? Revenge or retribution? Really, I'd like an answer that makes sense.

Abu Ghraib Tactics Came from Guantanamo

Frist Pulls Defense Bill to Avoid Votes on Treatment of Detainees

Witness: Dogs Bit Abu Ghraib Detainees

Legal Battle Erupts Over New Abu Ghraib Photos

Army Probes Guard Unit

GOP Senators Ready Detainee Amendments

Military Lawyers Fought Policy on Interrogations

Nigeria: Despite Reforms, Police Routinely Practice Torture

Vets, Conservative Lawmakers Call for Changes in Detainment Policy

Justice Nominee is Questioned on Torture Policy

Surely, Moves By Bush Administration Aren't Conservative

AI USA Launches Blog to Fight Torture

UPDATE (27 July, 11:00pm):

From the NY Times:
An article on Saturday about a federal judge's order regarding photographs and videotapes related to the Abu Ghraib prison scandal misstated a deadline and the response by Defense Department lawyers. The government was given until Friday to black out some identifying details in the material, not to release it. Defense Department lawyers met that deadline, but asked the court to block the public release of the materials. They did not refuse to cooperate with an order for the materials' release. (Go to Article)

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

it's legitimacy, stupid

As I've been saying, it's a question of legitimacy. I'm not a historian but rather a philosopher and international policy analyst and lover of tropical fruit. We'll soon do some theoretical explanation and analysis of the question of legitimacy here on Phronesisaical.

The very basis of legitimacy has shifted over the past few decades. The Bush Administration is still living in a world of realist notions of legitimacy where power is based in military and economic domination. While this is still certainly a significant part of international affairs, it is not the only element, certainly not of legitimacy. The state-centered realist or neo-realist view of the present US administration is intellectually and practically archaic. The rest of the world knows this whether they speak the language of international relations or not. This administration doesn't have a clue. They're not only emperors with no clothes, they're also theoreticians that are all hat.

For now, the esteemed historian William Polk gives some historical analysis. Read here (read the series) Polk on "What America Needs to Do to Achieve Its Foreign Policy Goals (Part 1)."

...Ideally, America would seek to recapture the universal respect, indeed the love and admiration, from which it derived its influence, its real power, for so long. To those who question whether respect, a belief in American legitimacy and benign leadership, constitutes real power, consider the contrast between a city where the government is respected as legitimate and one where it is not: Dallas can live in reasonable security with a small police force while Baghdad cannot be controlled by a whole army. Historical example after example provides ample proof that even overwhelming force does not produce the level of security that comes when societies believe they are being treated with an acceptable degree of fairness and attention to their well-being.

It is not only "ideally" that America must seek to recapture respect for its role in world affairs. It is essential. Without the sense that a state or a government is legitimate in the exercise of its power, it is seen as tyranny. That is the downward trend on which we are embarked. Every recent public opinion poll taken -- even among traditional friends and allies -- indicates that the reservoir of goodwill which for long gave America its unique strength is now well drained.6 Refilling that reservoir with what President Eisenhower, drawing on Thomas Jefferson, called "a decent respect to the opinions of mankind," will be a long-term process.

dialogue and violence

Jonathan Glover, a philosopher, discusses cross-cultural dialogue about beliefs and violence in The Guardian. I'll have more to say about this later. If you find Glover interesting, however, you might consider picking up his book Humanity: A Moral History of the Twentieth Century. A fine volume. religion and politics doubts about beliefs save lives.

o'reilly, stalinist

From News Hounds comes this interesting note about the new public denunciations on Fox. Welcome to Stalinist America.

O'Reilly Names Terrorist Helpers ( Traitors?)

Bill O'Reilly announced tonight that he will be exposing and naming all the people and organizations he considers to be helping the terrorists on his show each night. He then offered all the accused a chance to come on to defend themselves because he realizes that it's a serious charge. O'Reilly appeared to be sincere in his belief that he is entitled to make these accusations.

The first installment of BOR finger pointing included the ACLU for their belief that the Geneva Conventions should be respected. Also their concern about Abu Ghraib and request for the release of more incriminating pictures,makes them helpers of terrorism.

Then the first individual, Bob Herbert, recieved the O'Reilly branding. According to O'Reilly, Herbert's writing enables the terrorists but the real problem is his refusal to condemn the ACLU . O'Reilly gave Herbert a slight pass claiming that he is blinded by his hatred of President Bush.

That was not enough for Bill who brought on Stephen Hayes and Robert Pollack, Wall Street Journal, to point their fingers at people. Hayes chose Michael Moore, Al Jazeera, Cynthia McKinney, and Jim McDermott for his list of "terrorist helpers". Robert Pollack chose Dick Durbin, BBC,and the UN for his list. O'Reilly accepted these choices respectfully as if it was a perfectly sane thing to do.

Via Bagnews Notes.

try, try again

"War on Terror" (or WOT) doesn't work any more, evidently. Now we are going to have another slogan for whatever it is the administration is up to. The new slogan was unveiled as the GSAEFEC. This will ensure, says Karen Hughes, Islam and poverty expert, that we will soon have the deafening ring across the globe of single hands smacking the forehead in unison. THE GSAEFEC will require top graphic freedom designers to retool it in eye-catching modern packaging that suggests "I'm pro-freedom! Pro-civilization!", a video campaign, fruit advertising, and saucy accessories such as GSAEFEC beachbags and parasols.

Mr. Rumsfeld spoke in the new terms on Friday when he addressed an audience in Annapolis, Md., for the retirement ceremony of Adm. Vern Clark as chief of naval operations. Mr. Rumsfeld described America's efforts as it "wages the global struggle against the enemies of freedom, the enemies of civilization."

The shifting language is one of the most public changes in the administration's strategy to battle Al Qaeda and its affiliates, and it tracks closely with Mr. Bush's recent speeches emphasizing freedom, democracy and the worldwide clash of ideas.

"It is more than just a military war on terror," Steven J. Hadley, the national security adviser, said in a telephone interview. "It's broader than that. It's a global struggle against extremism. We need to dispute both the gloomy vision and offer a positive alternative."

The language shifts also come at a time when Mr. Bush, with a new appointment for one of his most trusted aides, Karen Hughes, is trying to bolster the State Department's efforts at public diplomacy.

pat roberts, hack

From Josh Marshall:

Late-Breaking Pat Roberts Egregious Hackery Update!

Sen. Pat Roberts (R) prevented the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence from making any inquiry into the origins of the Niger forgeries. His reason was that there was an on-going FBI investigation and he didn't want to interfere in any way with that investigation.

(See the footnote on page 57 of the SSCI report or this earlier post.)

As we've noted here repeatedly, at least as of late last year the FBI investigation was really a phantom investigation, with little actual work being done to solve the mystery -- something Sen. Roberts almost certainly knew.

So it would seem that any overlap between a criminal investigation and a congressional inquiry is a big no-no to Roberts.

And yet now we hear that he plans to investigate Patrick Fitzgerald's investigation itself.

What this man won't do when Karl Rove calls.

Monday, July 25, 2005

yet more sadness

The problem runs circles around itself. American troops are afraid. Iraqis are afraid. Iraqi citizens are killed by suicide bombers and by American troops. Hatred increases. Troops have more of which to be afraid. Iraqis have more of which to be afraid.... We'll repeat it forever: this war is a disaster.

Richard Paddock in the LA Times, Shots to the Heart of Iraq

Three men in an unmarked sedan pulled up near the headquarters of the national police major crimes unit. The two passengers, wearing traditional Arab dishdasha gowns, stepped from the car.

At the same moment, a U.S. military convoy emerged from an underpass. Apparently believing the men were staging an ambush, the Americans fired, killing one passenger and wounding the other. The sedan's driver was hit in the head by two bullet fragments.

The soldiers drove on without stopping.

This kind of shooting is far from rare in Baghdad, but the driver of the car was no ordinary casualty. He was Iraqi police Brig. Gen. Majeed Farraji, chief of the major crimes unit. His passengers were unarmed hitchhikers whom he was dropping off on his way to work.

"The reason they shot us is just because the Americans are reckless," the general said from his hospital bed hours after the July 6 shooting, his head wrapped in a white bandage. "Nobody punishes them or blames them."

Angered by the growing number of unarmed civilians killed by American troops in recent weeks, the Iraqi government criticized the shootings and called on U.S. troops to exercise greater care.

U.S. officials have repeatedly declined requests to disclose the number of civilians killed in such incidents. Police in Baghdad say they have received reports that U.S. forces killed 33 unarmed civilians and injured 45 in the capital between May 1 and July 12 - an average of nearly one fatality every two days. This does not include incidents that occurred elsewhere in the country or were not reported to the police.

The continued shooting of civilians is fueling a growing dislike of the United States and undermining efforts to convince the public that American soldiers are here to help. The victims have included doctors, journalists, a professor - the kind of people the U.S. is counting on to help build an open and democratic society.

"Of course the shootings will increase support for the opposition," said Farraji, 49, who was named a police general with U.S. approval. "The hatred of the Americans has increased. I myself hate them."

Among the biggest threats U.S. forces face are suicide attacks. Soldiers are exposed as they stand watch at checkpoints or ride on patrol in the turrets of their Humvees. The willingness of the assailants to die makes the attacks difficult to guard against. By their nature, the bombings erode the troops' trust of the public; every civilian becomes suspect.

U.S. military officials say the troops must protect themselves by shooting the driver of any suspicious vehicle before it reaches them....

Keep reading....

kaffir limes

It is incredibly hot and humid here in Washington, DC today. Like a bowl of curry. Like Bangkok. Kaffir limes help.

Photo: Jim Richter

terrorism bias, terrorism reality

US News and World Report:

National Security Watch: 60 Right-Wing Terror Plots Foiled

See also Orcinus, who writes,

It's important to understand that this terrorism was defeated precisely because we undertook a law-enforcement approach to defeat it. Much of the success was predicated on solid intelligence-gathering and threat assessment, as well as appropriate timing for law-enforcement action. In other cases -- especially those since 9/11 -- we simply got lucky.

fiery iraqi parliament grills government

"We have seen nothing from the donor countries. They just spend money on their staff and hotels."

scientists respond to barton

Via Real Climate:

Many readers will be aware that three scientists (two of which are contributors to this site, Michael Mann and Ray Bradley) have received letters from Representative Joe Barton (Texas), Chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee specifically requesting information about their work on the 'hockey stick' papers (Mann et al (1998) and Mann et al (1999)) as well as an enormous amount of irrelevant material not connected to these studies.

Many in the scientific community would welcome any genuine interest in climate change from the committee, but the tone and content of these letters have alarmed many scientists and their professional organisations. In the words of Alan Leshner, CEO of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the Barton letters "give the impression of a search for some basis on which to discredit these particular scientists and findings, rather than a search for understanding." Other organisations and individual scientists have also expressed strong concerns:

The individual responses have now been delivered (and you can read them here):

These responses emphasise two main points that we have explained in great detail in earlier postings on this site:

  1. There is no case for casting doubt on the scientific value and integrity of the studies by Mann et al. - they have been replicated by other scientists, the data and the computer code are available in the public domain (including the actual fortran program used to implement the MBH98 procedure), and many other studies with different data and methods have confirmed the prime conclusion: that it is likely that the late 20th Century is the warmest period of at least the past one thousand years.
  2. The above studies are just one small piece of evidence in a very solid scientific case that humans are now altering the climate - and with or without this piece of evidence, this case is firm (see our post "What if the Hockey Stick were wrong?" or the commentary on Prometheus).

The real question we are faced with is not whether humans are changing climate. The science on this is clear, and decades of research have culminated in a scientific consensus on this point. The real question now is what we need to do about it. A Congressional committee concerned with energy could be - and indeed should be - a key player in exploring policy options to deal with the global warming threat. We hope that after studying the responses by the scientists, they will make a start.

Sunday, July 24, 2005

pretty poodle

Blair Spent $3,130 on Makeup in Six Years

LONDON (AP) -- British Prime Minister Tony Blair has spent more than 1,800 pounds (US$3,130) of taxpayers' money on makeup and cosmetic artists over the past six years, according to the government.

In a written answer to Parliament, the government revealed Blair's Downing Street office had spent 1,050.22 pounds (US$1,826.66) on cosmetics for the prime minister's media appearances since 1999. In the past two years, a further 791.20 pounds (US$1,376.14) had been spent on makeup artists.

The details were released by government official Lord Bassam in a written response to a question tabled by Lord Hanningfield, a member of the main opposition Conservative Party.

more sadness

A SUICIDE bomber in a flatbed lorry laden with 500lb of explosives killed up to 40 people outside a Baghdad police station yesterday.

lost war

From Patrick Cockburn, one of the best (and not "embedded") journalists out there:

...For all the newspaper and television coverage of Iraq, the foreign media still fail to convey the lethal and anarchic quality of day-to-day living. The last time I drove into west Baghdad from the airport in early July we were suddenly stopped by the sound of volleys of shots. This turned out to be the police commandos, a 12,000-strong paramilitary force which is meant to be the cutting edge of the government offensive against the insurgents. On this occasion they had loaded coffins wrapped in Iraqi flags, containing the bodies of two of their officers murdered that morning, on to the backs of their pick-ups and were weaving through the traffic, firing over our heads. Drivers slammed on their brakes since people detained by the commandos, often for no known reason, are often found later in rubbish dumps, having been tortured and executed.

The government, whose members seldom emerge from the Green Zone, make bizarre efforts to pretend that there are signs of a return to normality. Last week a pro-government newspaper had an article on the reconstruction of Baghdad. Above the article was a picture of a crane at a building site. But there are no cranes at work in Baghdad so the paper had been compelled to use a photograph of a crane which has been rusting for more than two years, abandoned at the site of a giant mosque that Saddam Hussein was constructing when he was overthrown....

don't be brown in london

And what's being protected? Numbers?

houses divided on warming

As Dan says, "And it's nice to know that Joe 'would you a) rather spend money on the "Star Wars" missile defense system, or b) have your mother raped by communists' Barton is still fighting the good fight:"

Houses Divided on Warming

It's going to be hard enough to find common political ground on global warming without the likes of Representative Joe Barton harassing reputable scientists who helped alert the world to the problem in the first place.

Mr. Barton is chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee and thus has great influence over energy strategy, which badly needs updating to address issues like warming. According to the Center for Responsive Politics, Mr. Barton has also been a leading beneficiary of campaign funds from the oil, gas and utility industries, which have belittled the warming threat and resisted regulatory efforts to control the burning of fossil fuels. Mainstream scientists believe such fuels are responsible for the warming trend in the last century.

Mr. Barton, a Texas Republican, has zeroed in on three climatologists - Michael Mann, Raymond Bradley and Malcolm Hughes - who have presented influential data showing a sharp rise in global temperatures in recent decades.

Their conclusions have never been convincingly challenged, and indeed have received strong support from other researchers taking different analytical paths. Nevertheless, Mr. Barton has peppered the three scientists and the National Science Foundation, which underwrote some of their research, with endless demands for documentation, including, in the foundation's case, checks and bank statements. A Barton spokesman says such requests are a "common exercise" of committee responsibility.

But Sherwood Boehlert of New York - a fellow Republican who is chairman of the House Science Committee and an enlightened moderate on environmental issues - seemed much closer to the truth when he described Mr. Barton's inquisition as "an effort to intimidate scientists rather than learn from them, and to substitute Congressional political review for scientific peer review."

Mr. Barton's antics make one all the more grateful for the more responsible attitude displayed in the Senate, particularly by Pete Domenici, a conservative senator from New Mexico. A longtime global warming skeptic, Mr. Domenici has been open to new information, read the literature on the subject and accepted the need for mandatory controls on greenhouse gas emissions. On Thursday, Mr. Domenici took time out from the energy bill negotiations to hold the first in a series of hearings intended to lead to meaningful and politically acceptable emissions controls.

There are many good ideas out there, including some that may be too aggressive for Mr. Domenici's taste, including a very sound bill sponsored by John McCain and Joseph Lieberman. One hopes, however, that Mr. Domenici will be as hospitable to inclusive debate as Mr. Barton has been hostile.

more tour congrats

Congratulations now after the final stage on the Champs go to Thor Hushovd, now in the famous Norwegian camp. Thor wins the green points jersey for best sprinter, the only jersey that was left to decide today. Congrats also to Vino for the stage win on the Champs. And, of course, one more for Lance. He may not be the greatest ever -- Merckx probably still gets this honor -- but he has certainly been an amazingly dominant Tour rider.

Saturday, July 23, 2005

shoot first, ask questions later

Tactics of holding down the suspect and shooting him in the head courtesy of Israeli security.

Man Killed Unrelated to Probe

tour de france

And there we have it. The podium tomorrow in Paris will be Armstrong with the yellow jersey, Ivan Basso second and Jan Ullrich third. Rasmussen, who was in third before today's TT, had about the worst time trial I've ever seen. He crashed at least twice and stopped several times to replace his bike. Someone is fired over this performance, even if he would have had a tough time holding off Ullrich for third place without the mishaps. But the prize for Rasmussen is nevertheless the polka dot jersey for best climber. Popovych, another Discovery rider, won the white jersey for best young rider. T-Mobile, I believe, will have won the best team category.

The only thing left to be decided now is whether Thor Hushovd can hold onto the best sprinter's green jersey, keeping it from O'Grady and McEwen. The Champs Elysees will see some mad dashes for the sprint points tomorrow.

So, congratulations to Lance for his seventh and final yellow jersey. Like him or not, he is a hell of a bad-assed rider. Congratulations to Ullrich for making it back to the podium. Congratulations to Rasmussen for the polka dot jersey. Congratulations to guys like Leipheimer, Popovych, Hincapie, and Mancebo for nice performances. Stay tuned for next year when the race will open up again to all sorts of contenders for yellow.

tour de france -- time trial news

16:21 - Armstrong Ready To Race...

Lance Armstrong is about to start his bid for his first solo stage win in his final race. The American is going to be followed by John Kerry who is in France to attend the Tour de France.

different judicial approaches to terrorism

The IHT prints an editorial that moves in the right direction. Terrorism is a transboundary phenomenon. Individual nations' laws create real difficulties in prosecuting terrorists. But an individual nation that assumes its policies to be universally legitimate while betraying the principles and agreements upon which legitimacy would have content runs the very real risk of creating a further mess. In this particular case -- in the final paragraph -- the mess is done. There simply must be a different alternative to the American administration's policy in order to, 1) actually staunch the growth of terrorism, 2) remain within the bounds of those principles and practices that are worth defending from terrorism, 3) not create further conditions that motivate terrorism, and 4) enable others to participate in tackling terrorism. Transparency, cooperation, fair and just process, and better communication would all help here, in addition to simply showing respect for other states' positions, legal principles, and moral views. In some individual cases, mistakes will surely be made, as perhaps in the German case here. But the overall process must adhere to international norms. The American administration has been moving in the opposite direction. Its wars are lost, the US' friendships severely strained, its international standing as a worthy hegemon compromised, its domestic and international policies transformed for the worse. And, its success in fighting terrorism is highly questionable, especially since terrorist incidents have increased. All this in the name of what, now?

concealed chemicals found

sen. waxman's list of administration security breaches

Especially interesting for humor purposes is disclosing a CIA agent to Jeff Gannon / James Guckert, the fake White House reporter and professional gay escort who mysteriously received White House press passes with ease and lobbed up a batch of softballs.

a moment of silence for egypt too?

Nice headline

House to Back Bush on Moon, Mars Trips

Friday, July 22, 2005

and this....

And this, and this....

and one more:
The Bush administration in recent days has been lobbying to block legislation supported by Republican senators that would bar the U.S. military from engaging in "cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment" of detainees, from hiding prisoners from the Red Cross, and from using interrogation methods not authorized by a new Army field manual.
That is, it is wrong to obstruct the freedom to torture and degrade?

Bush blocks release of new Abu Ghraib photos

From Daily Kos.


Photo: Jim Richter

bolton + miller = jailhouse love, part 2

From Steve Clemons:

July 22, 2005
SCOOP: John Bolton Was Regular Source for Judith Miller WMD and National Security Reporting

TWN has just learned from a highly placed source -- and in the right place to know -- that John Bolton was a regular source for Judith Miller's New York Times WMD and national security reports.

The source did not have any knowledge on whether Bolton was one of Miller's sources on the Valerie Plame story she was preparing, but argues that he was a regular source otherwise.

It's all "thickening."

-- Steve Clemons

rolling stones and w

The Stones get in some swipes at W, Rice, and the gang on their forthcoming record.

Thursday, July 21, 2005

india smarter than us

At least our new nuclear buddy appears to be capable of recognizing the obvious. Of course, no one here in the US reported this yesterday. A little too embarrassing for the one guy in the world who thinks Iraq is a rave success.

blaming religion

From the Independent via Selves and Others:

What do Kenya, Tanzania, Bali, Saudi Arabia, Morocco and Turkey have in common? The answer is that they're all part of a litany of countries where bombings took place before Britain joined the US in invading Iraq, and are now being learnt, parrot-like, for every minister to recite when asked about Iraq's connection to the London bombings.

To which one can only put one's head in one's hands and weep. If this is really what Tony Blair and his government believe, then there is no hope of their ever understanding what happened.

We all know why they're doing it. It’s political convenience. It suits Blair to say that the bombs are all down to an "evil ideology", because that way you avoid totally any connection with British policy abroad or at home.

It's equally convenient for the middle-aged mullahs meeting the Prime Minister on Tuesday, since blaming all the violence on radical young clerics enables them to reassert their authority over their communities and to sweep the problems into a corner marked "brainwashing of the young from outside".

But you can't divorce religion from politics, belief from circumstance. Read the ancient historian Josephus on the Jewish revolts against Roman occupation. Look today at the manipulation of religion in the violence at Ayodhya in India or the Christian-Muslim clashes in Nigeria. Religion has always been as much the effect as the cause of fervent political feeling.

Nor do you need religion to persuade young people to sacrifice themselves for a cause, as the history of the Red Brigade and the Tamil Tigers would show. Blaming it all on mad mullahs makes it easier to "do something" in response - close down mosques, refuse entry to preachers, gather a chorus of rejection from community leaders - but it doesn't begin to get to the root of the problem....

keep reading...

danner vs. kinsley on downing street and iraq

Tom Dispatch prints an interesting exchange between Mark Danner and Michael Kinsley on the Downing Street Memo. I like them both quite a bit for different reasons or, rather, purposes. But Kinsley is wrong here.

more wackery

The pressing issue of "globotaxes" is the reason for lack of transparency and skirting of democratic procedure!

back-scratch fever

Crooks and Liars finds this:

Back Scratch Fever

Digby has this on Roberts: "In case anyone is wondering if Roberts really is a partisan hack or not, Jeffrey Toobin's book "Too Close To Call" sheds some light on that subject:

The president's first two nominations to the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia curcuit --- generally regarded as the stepping-stone to the Supreme Court --- went to Miguel Estrada and John G Roberts Jr., who had played important behind-the scenes roles in the Florida litigation."

By the way, it's a great book.

gop talking points on john roberts

Swing State Project gets the GOP talking points for John Roberts. Here's a sample below on environmental issues, although, of course, Roe v. Wade is the issue on which most other coverage will focus. Look for these responses on the talking heads shows.

Attack: Roberts is anti-environment.

Opponents will again state that Roberts' successful argument on behalf of the government in Lujan v. Defenders of Wildlife, 112 S. Ct. 2130 (1992), indicates a callous disregard for the environment. They will cite as support his recent decision, writing for a unanimous panel, which included Judges Henderson and, significantly, Tatel, in Sierra Club v. EPA, 353 F.3d 976 (D.C. Cir. 2004), holding that the EPA's actions in using particulate matter as a substitute for hazardous air pollutants in regulating emissions from copper smelters were reasonable, despite being arguably different than regulations applied to a different industry.

Response: Characterization of a ruling regarding the jurisdiction of Courts as anti-environment or pro-environment is irresponsible and misrepresents the issues before the Court. The government's position in Lujan demonstrated a healthy respect for the proper division of power between the Courts and Congress, and in adopting that position, the Court helped curtail judicial overreaching in cases better left to the political process. The standing doctrine advocated by the Government in Lujan has kept the Court out of numerous disputes where a party that has suffered no injury seeks to use the Courts to make a political point. Roberts' consistent refrain regarding Lujan has been that, far from being the wholesale revision to the law its opponents claim, it upheld precedential standing doctrines by requiring plaintiffs to demonstrate an injury-in-fact that was not apparent in the record before the Court.

Judge Roberts' decision for the Court in Sierra Club v. EPA is notable for a couple of reasons. First, it was joined by Judge David Tatel, a Clinton appointee and one of the more liberal jurists on the D.C. Circuit. Second, it merely deferred to the Executive Branches interpretation of federal law, indicating a proper respect for the limited role of the Courts in our government.

In any event, in private practice Roberts successfully represented environmentalists fighting development around Lake Tahoe in Tahoe-Sierra Preservation Council v. Tahoe Regional Planning Agency, in which the Court adopted Roberts' position against those of the developers and property owners, over the dissent of Rehnquist, Scalia, and Thomas. As in Lujan, Tahoe-Sierra demonstrates nothing more than Robert's excellent advocacy on behalf of his clients, and cannot be read to suggest he is either pro-environmentalist or anti-property rights.

iran - iraq axis

Juan Cole discusses the new relationship between Shiite Iraq and Iran in this interesting essay: The Iraq War is Over, and the Winner Is... Iran. This is in Salon (subscription or day pass).

Here's another place to read this article without going through Salon's ads: Truthout.

Wednesday, July 20, 2005


This is becoming increasingly serious.

niger food crisis

Amartya Sen showed that famine and food crises are not caused by a lack of food but by distributional problems. The present Niger food crisis is similar. And, as Jan Egeland at the UN notes,

...the $30m requested for both short - and long-term aid "was nothing".

"Europeans eat ice cream for $10bn a year and Americans spend $35bn on their pets each year."

UPDATE (22 July, 1:13pm):

Aid Agencies in Scramble to Help Famine-Hit Niger

the looting of iraq

Chalmers Johnson. Read the article. A tidbit:

...President Bush's supporters have talked endlessly about his global war on terrorism as a "clash of civilizations." But the civilization we are in the process of destroying in Iraq is part of our own heritage. It is also part of the world's patrimony. Before our invasion of Afghanistan, we condemned the Taliban for their dynamiting of the monumental third century A.D. Buddhist statues at Bamiyan in March, 2001. Those were two gigantic statues of remarkable historical value and the barbarism involved in their destruction blazed in headlines and horrified commentaries in our country. Today, our own government is guilty of far greater crimes when it comes to the destruction of a whole universe of antiquity, and few here, when they consider Iraqi attitudes toward the American occupation, even take that into consideration. But what we do not care to remember, others may recall all too well.

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

india to get us nuclear support

India is to receive US nuclear power support despite India's insistence on not allowing monitoring of its nuclear development. Now, what to say to Iran? North Korea? Or, for that matter, Pakistan and China?

Here's the rub. If you're going to play geopolitics, you have to be able to convince others that your game plan is worth following. Otherwise, no one plays the game and you end up playing with yourself. That's the nature of legitimacy, even for hegemons. The US, despite its self-image, does not have the capacity to play beyond the rules. This is one of the lessons of Iraq for the rest of the world -- the US is no longer a hegemon whose hegemony is based in international norms of legitimacy. So, if you're willing then to break agreements in order to gain some other advantage, it's good if you can break your agreements in such a way that others do not view the new arrangement as a threat. Failing this, the implied threat ought to gain some advantage for a nation playing the neo-realist game of self-advantage above all.

What else can be read into this maneuver? Yes, Bush has given up on nuclear non-proliferation as an international regime and substituted it with a relativistic policy of nuclear non-proliferation only among states the administration dislikes. The real level of threat of these states is notoriously unclear, but the rhetorical level of threat is heartily manipulated by the administration. But the principle of non-proliferation has been tossed on the trash-heap. Nothing against India. It is a powerful state that deserves a seat in the sphere of international affairs. But the basis of this move is a disaster, coming especially upon American denial of India's claim to a seat at the UN Security Council.

First, it tells Pakistan to screw itself. This will be the end of any hope for capturing Bin Laden.

Second, it tells China to screw itself. At a time when there's more saber (or warhead)-rattling over Taiwan, this is really poor timing.

Third, the US now more than ever perhaps needs to rebuild international faith in its ability to build a more peaceful world. This administration has done absolutely nothing in this regard. In fact, it does the opposite by further undermining the nuclear non-proliferation treaty.

But, fourth, even if looking at the "national interests" of the US, one wonders what is gained here. There are some obvious answers beyond the platitudes of "largest democracy" and so on. These answers might include simply developing ties with a burgeoning economy, a large and intelligent society, a geopolitically important state, etc. But, and this is speculation, could we also see this as a sign of a failed Middle East policy? That is, given the massive, failing attempt to gain a foothold in the Middle East and Central Asia, does India become the less aggressive geopolitical answer? And then, further, to what goal?

Mr Bush said he would "seek agreement from Congress to adjust US laws and policies" and work with "friends and allies to adjust international regimes" for cooperation and trade with India.

Many experts said such a move, which rewards the atomic arsenal India manufactured in secret, would undermine US efforts to prevent Iran and North Korea from doing the same.

It would also incense Pakistan, India's nuclear-capable neighbour.

There was also some scepticism that the Nuclear Suppliers Group, consisting of 40 countries that control exports of sensitive nuclear material and technology, would acquiesce to US requests for an exception to be made for Indian projects.

"Members like Brazil and South Africa, who gave up nuclear weapon technology under the international rules, will be angry that India has been rewarded after breaking the rules for so long," said Praful Bidwai, a New Delhi-based analyst who has written extensively on India's nuclear programme.

But it appears larger geopolitical considerations have prevailed in the White House....

...But the Indian security establishment is less enthusiastic about the deal. The Indian nuclear programme was designed to be self-sufficient. The problem is that it has run into an acute shortage of uranium, the fuel essential for nuclear reaction.

It is this, and the need for expertise in a hi-tech fast-breeder programme, that has led it to seek some accommodation with Washington.

"I am bothered by the fact we went and signed this at all. Really, if Delhi had stockpiled enough uranium when there were no bans on India making such purchases we would not be in Washington," said Bharat Karnad of the Centre for Policy Research in New Delhi.

"We have a weapons programme that really cannot be split into two and part overseen by the Americans. It is not in our national interest."
See also this Washington Post editorial.

UPDATE (20 July, 10:24):

See also this in the IHT.

And this discussion from Stephen Cohen at the Brookings Institution.

truth deficit

This is a bit of a "no shit" article for those who follow globalization issues and aren't entirely beholden to US-specific notions of truth and feasibility. But worth a read. It comes from the NY Times, the ostensive paper of note.

...American political debate is enveloped by the ideology of free trade, but "free trade" does not actually describe the global economic system. A more accurate description would be "managed trade" - a dense web of bargaining and deal-making among governments and multinational corporations, all with self-interested objectives that the marketplace doesn't determine or deliver. Every sovereign nation, the United States included, uses its vast arsenal of policies to pursue its national interest.

But on the crucial question of how policy makers define "national interest," Washington stands alone. Western Europe, whatever its problems, manages economic policy to maintain modest trade surpluses. Japan manages to insure far larger surpluses in recessions (its export income subsidizes inefficient domestic employers). China strives to acquire a larger, more advanced industrial base at the expense of worker incomes and bank profits. Germany and Japan, despite vast differences, both manage to keep advanced manufacturing sectors anchored at home and to defend domestic wage levels and social guarantees. When they do disperse production and jobs overseas, as they must, they do so strategically.

By contrast, Washington defines "national interest" primarily in terms of advancing the global reach of our multinational enterprises. Elites are persuaded by the reigning orthodoxy that subsidiary domestic interests will ultimately benefit too. The distinctive power of America's globalized companies is reflected in trade patterns. Nearly half of American exports and imports are not traded in open markets - the price auction idealized by neoclassical economics - but within the companies themselves, moving materials and components back and forth among their far-flung factories. A trade deficit does not show on the company's balance sheet, only on the nation's. In recent years, much of the trade deficit has reflected the value-added production and jobs that companies moved elsewhere....

with us or against us

keep an eye on chavez

Chavez is an interesting character. This article is titled "Chavez Stokes Confrontation Over US Role in Venezuela." But Chavez has good reason to be suspicious of the American administration, as we all do. It remains to be seen whether he's another demagogue or not, but many signs show him to be an interesting innovator for new forms of development in Latin America -- various combinations of socialism with capitalism. Keep watching. There may be a lot we can learn here.

more keyboard kommandos

the durian responds

Laser this, assholes.

Photo: Jim Richter

Monday, July 18, 2005

fruit alert

In fruit news, tattooed fruit is replacing stickered fruit. The new technology will solve several problems encountered by people in Texas.

Sticker-removal duty took Jean Lemeaux of Clarksville, Tex., half an hour one day last week.

"I was picking all the little stickers from the Piggly Wiggly off my plums and my avocado pears and my peaches," said Ms. Lemeaux, 76. "Then I had to make fruit salad out of the ones that got hurt when I took the stickers off, and then I had to wash the glue off the other ones before I put them in the fruit bowl."

"One time," she said, "I got up the next morning and looked in the mirror and there were two of them up in my hair."

We should be grateful for no longer living the sticker-up-in-my-hair terror Ms. Lemeaux's case tragically exemplifies. But are the tattoos, or "stickerless technology," the answer? Will they make us more secure from stickers? And might they help us remember the rest of our grocery list?

The stickerless technology has a broader purpose, too: it is part of the produce industry's latest effort to identify and track, whether for profit or for security, everything Americans eat. Since 9/11, the industry has been encouraged to develop "track and trace" technology to allow protection of the food supply at various stages of distribution. In addition, next year federal regulations will require all imported produce to be labeled with the country of origin....

No one knows exactly when every piece of fruit will be traceable, but the trend is clear: Wal-Mart is already requiring all pallets delivered to its headquarters in Bentonville, Ark., to be fitted with radio frequency identification tags, so that they can be tracked by a satellite....

"With the right scanning technology the produce could even be bar-coded with lots of information: where it comes from, who grew it, who picked it, even how many calories it has per serving," said Fred Durand III, president of Durand-Wayland. "You could have a green pepper that was completely covered with coding. Or you could sell advertising space."

One might cringe at the idea of a swoosh, McD logo, or Mr. Clean on the side of one's fruit. But growth in the fruit tattoo industry could provide jobs for graphic artists and boost the economy. The NY Times even suggests fine artists might -- however reluctantly -- join in the celebratory act:

Students of still-life painting might agree. "For literally hundreds of years, artists have immersed themselves in the color and curvature of the perfect peach or apple," said Joseph Rishel, a curator at the Philadelphia Museum of Art who specializes in Cézanne. "So a tattoo sounds like a desecration."

"But then again," Mr. Rishel said, "there are those who say that Cézanne himself used artificial fruit."

Mr. Durand then adds another nugget of clarity and distinctness to the issue:

Mother Nature isn't interested in making it easy for us to label her, I guess," Mr. Durand said. "If she was, all fruit would be red Delicious apples."

Helmut wonders whether the laser etchings might enable us to better understand whether he should place his fruit in a fruitbowl or a fishbowl.

christian terrorist rudolph sentenced [but not tortured]

Juan Cole calls a spade a spade.

Finally, a victory in the war on terror.

Oh, and check out Wikipedia on Rudolph's religious background, one shared by others on the right.

Christian Identity

Especially this passage:
A relatively new tenet gaining popularity among some Christian Identity believers justifies the use of violence if it is perpetrated in order to punish violators of God's law, as found in the Bible and interpreted by Christian Identity ministers and adherents. This includes killing interracial couples, abortionists, prostitutes and homosexuals, burning pornography stores, and robbing banks and perpetrating frauds to undermine the "usury system."; Christian Identity adherents engaging in such behavior are referred to as Phineas Priests or members of the Phineas Priesthood. This is an appealing concept to some Christian Identity's members who believe they are being persecuted by the Jewish-controlled U.S. government and society and/or are eagerly preparing for Armageddon.

nanny nanny boo boo

News You Can Ewes: By the way, does everyone here know that Jude Law banged his nanny? And had to apologize for the bangin' to his fiancee? And that her publicist had no comment? And that Jude Law felt very very sorry for the trouble he has caused his family for having banged the nanny?

Or if that doesn't float your nanny boat, how about the nanny du jour?

From Atrios, nanny expert (but, oh, there are endless others):

Slimed by the Times

I'll have more later on why yesterday's wanker was deserving of such a high honor 'cause I think a lot of people don't quite get it.

Until then, here's more commentary on the subject:

Helaine Olen

Helaine Olen

Helaine Olen

Helaine Olen

Helaine Olen

Helaine Olen

Helaine Olen

uranium from uranus

Josh Marshall sums up the Iraq-uranium link that so many Rove-Bush-Cheney-Scooter-Puppy-Eating Etc. Iraq War apologists are now returning to in the hope that our wee American memory-spans are already shot to hell by sharks, hurricanes, and runaway brides:

But why mess with preliminaries? The Iraq Survey Group more or less owned Iraq for more than a year, had access to all the evidence leading up the war, all the evidence in Iraq, all the scientists arrested by the US military, everything we've learned since the war. And, as Ivo Daalder pointed out a few days back, the ISG concluded that Saddam's regime had not sought uranium either at home or abroad since 1991, period.

What else is there to say?

Rove + Scooter = Jailhouse Love

Top Aides Reportedly Set Sights on Wilson, LA Times.

Nuke 'em

Next time some talking head suggests that anti-war comments bolster the insurgent or terrorist or whatever cause, recite Tancredo's utterly inane remarks below. Next time someone blows off Muslim concerns about proliferating holy war, read them this. And next time you have the tiny little passing thought that maybe the right has a point in all this mess, remember this:

Congressman Suggests Way to Retaliate for Nuclear Terror

"Well, what if you said something like -- if this happens in the United States, and we determine that it is the result of extremist, fundamentalist Muslims, you know, you could take out their holy sites," Tancredo answered.

"You're talking about bombing Mecca," Campbell said.

"Yeah," Tancredo responded.

The congressman later said he was "just throwing out some ideas" and that an "ultimate threat" might have to be met with an "ultimate response."

UPDATE (19 July 10:57pm):

Tancredo: No Apology