Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Yachts and Chiottes

Soon after the election of Sarkozy here in France I was walking home and scrawled across a wall in huge letters was the following peu de poésie:

Il qui commence sa limite sur un yacht,
Finit sa limite dans les chiottes.

I regret to say that I didn't take a picture of it because I continued walking while trying to absorb all the words and translate them in my head. So the above may not be exactly what I saw but is an approximation.

Since then, I've asked some people what "chiotte" meant and got varying responses that didn't add up. Today, I entered "chiotte definition" into Google and found out what it meant. I also uncovered a delightful coincidence (more about that later).

So the little poem means:

He who begins his term on a yacht,
Ends his term in the crapper.

Or john or toilet or bog - take yer pick. What this is referring to is that the day after the election, and before he started his term as president, Sarkozy took a "much needed" vacation on a friend's yacht. This was controversial for many reasons, as I stated in a previous post.

The interesting thing is that I tried to point out the graffiti to my boyfriend the very next day and it was gone! Completely painted over. It is the first thing I have noticed that is related to the French government that happened quickly. :-)

Now for the coincidence. The first definition of chiotte that I found was in a post on the Pension Milou blog. Pension Milou "is a 5-star 'pension familiale' for dogs on the Côte d'Azur. The dogs who come to stay, live in the house with me - no kennels or cages. Here you'll read stories of their lives and mine on the French Riviera." niiice. Spend some time on that blog - the doggy pics are righteous.

The Pension Milou post referred to another source for the definition of chiotte, which was the French Word-A-Day blog. And lo and behold, the owner of the blog is an American from Phoenix, Arizona who came to France and married and settled here. You must read her post about the word chiotte.

Another funny coincidence is at the bottom of the same post where she mentions other places where the term chiotte is used:

"The Beat Hotel: Ginsberg, Burroughs & Corso in Paris, 1957-1963 by Barry Miles. "Each landing had a Turkish chiotte: a traditional hole-in-the-floor toilet with a raised footprint-shaped platform on either side upon which to position your feet while you squatted. Torn sheets of newspaper hung on a nail in lieu of toilet tissue." Order the book, here."

And to think, I just posted a story this very morning on my GloboGeek blog called Living in Fear of the Electric Toilet. It mentions just such a bog that I encountered in a Turkish hospital!

Sunday, May 27, 2007

Fun Tagline

The Chocoreve music blog has the following tag line:

Doris: You have no values. Your whole life: it's nihilism, it's cynicism, it's sarcasm, and orgasm.
Harry: You know, in France, I could run on that slogan and win.

I will contact the Socialist party here in Paris Harry, and let them know about this strategy of yours.

Doug Feith’s Arabic problem

A post on Think Progress this morning made me realize once again that the Bushies are actually doing a good job at playing dumb. They are not actually dumb. I thought they were because they "couldn't find" enough qualified Arab speakers to help with the occupation in Iraq or with intelligence gathering. But the truth is, they don't want qualified Arab speakers because then too many people would get what the Neocons are perpetrating over there, and that would be much too dangerous. The less everyone knows, and the fewer Arab-lovers there are, the better.

Here's the post:

Doug Feith’s Arabic problem.

At a recent forum, career U.S. intelligence officer Patrick Lang recounted a job interview he had with neocon war architect Douglas Feith. Lang, who had previously run the Pentagon’s world-wide spying operations, “was put forward as somebody who would be good at running the Pentagon’s office of special operations and low-intensity warfare, i.e., counterinsurgency.” So he was interviewed by Feith:

“He was sitting there munching a sandwich while he was talking to me,” Lang recalled, “which I thought was remarkable in itself, but he also had these briefing papers — they always had briefing papers, you know — about me.

“He’s looking at this stuff, and he says, ‘I’ve heard of you. I heard of you.’

“He says, ‘Is it really true that you really know the Arabs this well, and that you speak Arabic this well? Is that really true? Is that really true?’

“And I said, ‘Yeah, that’s really true.’

“That’s too bad,” Feith said.

The audience howled.

“That was the end of the interview,” Lang said. “I’m not quite sure what he meant, but you can work it out.”

Feith, of course, like the administration’s other Israel-connected hawks, didn’t want “Arabists” like Lang muddying the road to Baghdad, from where — according to the Bush administration theory — overthrowing Saddam Hussein would ignite mass demands for Western-style, pro-U.S. democracies across the entire Middle East.

Saturday, May 26, 2007

Stop the Clash of Civilizations

If we see our enemy, it becomes harder to hate them.

US Sends Arms to Lebanese Troops

So were those arms paid for from the...

$100 Billion that the Democrats gave to Bush this week? or from the...

pallet loads of 8.8 Billion in cash that the Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA) "lost" in Iraq or from the...

20 billion dollars in oil revenues and other Iraqi funds intended to rebuild the country [that] have disappeared from banks administered by the CPA or from the...

8.2 billion dollars worth of contracts awarded to Halliburton from the defense department to provide support services such as meals, shelter, laundry and Internet connections for U.S. soldiers in Iraq?

Or where? Or was all that part of one big loss? I'm so the Neocons want us to be. I mean, what's a little money here and there? It's just not important. And what difference does it make anyway? That's what David Oliver, the first head of finance for the Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA) in Baghdada in 2003, told the BBC.

ANYway...what are we doing funding a Lebanese war? Doesn't Bush have to ask for that money first? Ugh. Probably not.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

I Am So Angry

I have not been able to blog lately because I have experienced lots of phone and Internet challenges in this move to the new apartment. But when I finally was able to read my news Feedreader early this morning to see that the Democrats in the House have basically just bent over and handed Bush the KY jelly, I just got so furious. I was at a friend's house and on my walk back home, burdened with my computer and rolling shopping cart, I HAULED ASS up the hill of Montmartre, completely fueled by anger. This is a freakin' miracle for me who can't go up a flight of stairs without gasping for breath. If any of you have been to Montmartre in Paris, you know what the hike is like. But anger is a powerful surge (hate that fucking word, hate it)

I remember when I woke up to the news that the Democrats had won the majority in the House and Senate but as my friends celebrated, my boyfriend and I looked at each other and said, "Well, I guess it's good news but will they ever have the balls to change anything?" And low and behold, we were right, I am sad to say, they don't have any balls.

I'm not the only one pissed off:

Courtesy of a article:

“An abandonment of our troops and a silence of the will of the American people,” said Win Without War Director Tom Andrews.

“It is remarkable that they can’t stand up to President Bush,” said Susan Shaer, director of Women’s Action for New Directions.

Someone else who's spittin' mad - Keith Olberman's commentary, The Entire Government Has Failed Us on Iraq. This is really worth watching.

If you can't watch the video, here is the text:

The Entire Government Has Failed Us on Iraq

This is, in fact, a comment about… betrayal.

Few men or women elected in our history—whether executive or legislative, state or national—have been sent into office with a mandate more obvious, nor instructions more clear:

Get us out of Iraq.

Yet after six months of preparation and execution—half a year gathering the strands of public support; translating into action, the collective will of the nearly 70 percent of Americans who reject this War of Lies, the Democrats have managed only this:

  • The Democratic leadership has surrendered to a president—if not the worst president, then easily the most selfish, in our history—who happily blackmails his own people, and uses his own military personnel as hostages to his asinine demand, that the Democrats “give the troops their money”;
  • The Democratic leadership has agreed to finance the deaths of Americans in a war that has only reduced the security of Americans;
  • The Democratic leadership has given Mr. Bush all that he wanted, with the only caveat being, not merely meaningless symbolism about benchmarks for the Iraqi government, but optional meaningless symbolism about benchmarks for the Iraqi government.
  • The Democratic leadership has, in sum, claimed a compromise with the Administration, in which the only things truly compromised, are the trust of the voters, the ethics of the Democrats, and the lives of our brave, and doomed, friends, and family, in Iraq.

You, the men and women elected with the simplest of directions—Stop The War—have traded your strength, your bargaining position, and the uniform support of those who elected you… for a handful of magic beans.
You may trot out every political cliché from the soft-soap, inside-the-beltway dictionary of boilerplate sound bites, about how this is the “beginning of the end” of Mr. Bush’s “carte blanche” in Iraq, about how this is a “first step.”
Well, Senator Reid, the only end at its beginning... is our collective hope that you and your colleagues would do what is right, what is essential, what you were each elected and re-elected to do.
Because this “first step”… is a step right off a cliff.

And this President!
How shameful it would be to watch an adult... hold his breath, and threaten to continue to do so, until he turned blue.
But how horrifying it is… to watch a President hold his breath and threaten to continue to do so, until innocent and patriotic Americans in harm’s way, are bled white.
You lead this country, sir?
You claim to defend it?
And yet when faced with the prospect of someone calling you on your stubbornness—your stubbornness which has cost 3,431 Americans their lives and thousands more their limbs—you, Mr. Bush, imply that if the Democrats don’t give you the money and give it to you entirely on your terms, the troops in Iraq will be stranded, or forced to serve longer, or have to throw bullets at the enemy with their bare hands.
How transcendentally, how historically, pathetic.
Any other president from any other moment in the panorama of our history would have, at the outset of this tawdry game of political chicken, declared that no matter what the other political side did, he would insure personally—first, last and always—that the troops would not suffer.
A President, Mr. Bush, uses the carte blanche he has already, not to manipulate an overlap of arriving and departing Brigades into a ‘second surge,’ but to say in unequivocal terms that if it takes every last dime of the monies already allocated, if it takes reneging on government contracts with Halliburton, he will make sure the troops are safe—even if the only safety to be found, is in getting them the hell out of there.
Well, any true President would have done that, Sir.
You instead, used our troops as political pawns, then blamed the Democrats when you did so.

Not that these Democrats, who had this country’s support and sympathy up until 48 hours ago, have not since earned all the blame they can carry home.

“We seem to be very near the bleak choice between war and shame,” Winston Churchill wrote to Lord Moyne in the days after the British signed the Munich accords with Germany in 1938. “My feeling is that we shall choose shame, and then have war thrown in, a little later…”

That’s what this is for the Democrats, isn’t it?

Their “Neville Chamberlain moment” before the Second World War.
All that’s missing is the landing at the airport, with the blinkered leader waving a piece of paper which he naively thought would guarantee “peace in our time,” but which his opponent would ignore with deceit.
The Democrats have merely streamlined the process.
Their piece of paper already says Mr. Bush can ignore it, with impugnity.

And where are the Democratic presidential hopefuls this evening?
See they not, that to which the Senate and House leadership has blinded itself?

Judging these candidates based on how they voted on the original Iraq authorization, or waiting for apologies for those votes, is ancient history now.

The Democratic nomination is likely to be decided... tomorrow.
The talk of practical politics, the buying into of the President’s dishonest construction “fund-the-troops-or-they-will-be-in-jeopardy,” the promise of tougher action in September, is falling not on deaf ears, but rather falling on Americans who already told you what to do, and now perceive your ears as closed to practical politics.
Those who seek the Democratic nomination need to—for their own political futures and, with a thousand times more solemnity and importance, for the individual futures of our troops—denounce this betrayal, vote against it, and, if need be, unseat Majority Leader Reid and Speaker Pelosi if they continue down this path of guilty, fatal acquiescence to the tragically misguided will of a monomaniacal president.

For, ultimately, at this hour, the entire government has failed us.

  • Mr. Reid, Mr. Hoyer, and the other Democrats... have failed us.
    They negotiated away that which they did not own, but had only been entrusted by us to protect: our collective will as the citizens of this country, that this brazen War of Lies be ended as rapidly and safely as possible.
  • Mr. Bush and his government... have failed us.
    They have behaved venomously and without dignity—of course.
    That is all at which Mr. Bush is gifted.
    We are the ones providing any element of surprise or shock here.

With the exception of Senator Dodd and Senator Edwards, the Democratic presidential candidates have (so far at least) failed us.

They must now speak, and make plain how they view what has been given away to Mr. Bush, and what is yet to be given away tomorrow, and in the thousand tomorrows to come.

Because for the next fourteen months, the Democratic nominating process—indeed the whole of our political discourse until further notice—has, with the stroke of a cursed pen, become about one thing, and one thing alone.
The electorate figured this out, six months ago.
The President and the Republicans have not—doubtless will not.
The Democrats will figure it out, during the Memorial Day recess, when they go home and many of those who elected them will politely suggest they stay there—and permanently.
Because, on the subject of Iraq...
The people have been ahead of the media....
Ahead of the government...
Ahead of the politicians...
For the last year, or two years, or maybe three.

Our politics... is now about the answer to one briefly-worded question.
Mr. Bush has failed.
Mr. Warner has failed.
Mr. Reid has failed.
Who among us will stop this war—this War of Lies?
To he or she, fall the figurative keys to the nation.
To all the others—presidents and majority leaders and candidates and rank-and-file Congressmen and Senators of either party—there is only blame… for this shameful, and bi-partisan, betrayal.

Friday, May 18, 2007

Wolfie Finally Resigns

"After a protracted battle" Wolfie finally resigns. Well, I should think so, especially after his inappropriate behavior. This does not look like someone who makes sound decisions, who can successfully guide the World (piggy) Bank:

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Hip Hip Hurra?

According to a New York Times article today, the US has provided financial backing to a TV station to compete with Al Jazeera and called it, fer fuck's sake, Al Hurra.

And when you pay, you gets to say, what gets aired. Well, kinda.

Both Democrats and Republicans in Congress are up in arms because Al Hurra had the Huevos to broadcast the views of leaders of the militant Islamist groups like Hamas and Hezbollah. The executives at Al's Hurra (and pancake house) said that even though none of the people managing the station speak Arabic (hahaha!), they had asked the staff about what was going to be broadcast beforehand (Are they kidding?).

Al Hurra 'xecutives then promised Congress that this mistake will never happen again because they've hired a new vice president for news, Larry Register, doesn't speak Arabic. (BUHAHAHA!)

OK, now that we've had our laugh, it's time to cry.

But one of the executives, Joaquin F. Blaya, sounded a tiny little voice of reason during a previous interview:

"But Mr. Blaya also contended in an interview on Wednesday that Al Hurra would lose all credibility if it did not give air time to people who disagree with American policy. He said that complaints about air time for Mr. Haniya were unjustified because he legitimately holds the post of Palestinian prime minister.

Mr. Blaya also said it was ironic that the government was seeking to promote American values like democracy and a free press while at the same time trying to censure what is shown in the station.

'That’s the difference between a free media and propaganda,' he said."

Well said brother. But buena suerte.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Meanwhile in France...

(UPDATED with more accurate figures and links 5/17/07)

As we gather our belongings in preparation for our move into our new apartment, things have quieted down since Sunday's election where some 600 people were arrested and 730 vehicles torched during the first night of violence on Sunday in which 78 police officers were injured.

Here in the 18th authorities anticipated trouble but as far as we could see, there was none. Instead, protests and violence in Paris occurred mostly in central Paris and was perpetrated primarily by white college-aged males. Interesting.

The night of the election was odd in a few ways:

  1. Sarkozy's public celebration took place at Place de la Concorde, at one end of the Champs Elysees. From aerial and other TV views of the event, very, very few people attended.
  2. One of the most important people to miss the Sarkozy victory celebration was...ummm... Sarkozy himself. Instead, he went to one of the expensive tourist trap restaurants on the Champs Elysees for dinner.
  3. Why is it that the right has no taste in music? Bart and I were trying to remember Nixon's celebration and it probably featured Up With People or The Christy Minstrels or some other such rabble rousers. (OK, so I did some research here and there were 5 separate inaugural balls for Nixon that highlighted such notables as the Serendipity Singers, Lionel Hampton and Guy Lombardo. The Highty-Tighties played in Nixon's inaugural parade and the topper event on Sunday featured Billy Graham and the Mormon Tabernacle Choir. woohoo!) Sarkozy's celebration had some weird group of people, all dressed in white, singing strange bad music. Johnny Halliday made an appearance but he's like 500 years old. According to a Guardian article, "Even Sarkozy, the bete noire of the banlieues, managed to find a rapper, Doc Gynéco, happy to share a podium with him and sexagenarian crooner Johnny Halliday." But ol' rapper Doc Gyneco, who even wrote a book earlier this year entitled "Great Minds Think Alive: Sarkozy and Me", was arrested for drunk driving in January and has not been seen in Sarkozy's circle of celebrity friends since.
Meanwhile, Sarkozy took a "much-needed" short vacation in Malta on a yacht owned by his billionaire pal Vincent Bollore, who Sarkozy insisted had no ties to French government contracts. But according to online French government records, Bollore's group has won state contracts worth up to 40 million euros in the past two years. All while Sarkozy was finance minister.

Handy huh? Sounds like Cheney and the rest of the Bushites.

Anyway - We'll be at an apartment with dial-up until we can get high-speed installed so we shall see whether I can post using dial-up. :-)

And Now a Word from Yet Another General

From a Truthdig post:

In Vote Vets’ latest ad to feature a general speaking out against the war, retired Maj. Gen. Paul Eaton refutes one of the administration’s favorite talking points: “President Bush says he listens to his military commanders. Well, Mr. President, I was one of those commanders and you weren’t listening when we warned you of the dangers we’d face invading Iraq.”

Sunday, May 13, 2007

A Word From Our General

As the days creak by and more soldiers and civilians (all human beings) die in Iraq and the Democrats in Congress don't have the balls to just cut all funding for the war, I often wonder what would happen if every soldier went AWOL. If they all just said screw this, laid down their guns and walked away or refused to go back out there. It would take years to prosecute them all. Plus, the Bushies need soldiers too badly now...which puts the troops in a better bargaining position. Just a thought.

Meanwhile, the guys that are actually getting out, are now speaking out. Check out this NY Times article, Army Career Behind Him, General Speaks Out on Iraq.

An excerpt:

“Mr. President, you did not listen,” General Batiste says..."You continue to pursue a failed strategy that is breaking our great Army and Marine Corps. I left the Army in protest in order to speak out. Mr. President, you have placed our nation in peril. Our only hope is that Congress will act now to protect our fighting men and women.”

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Iraq for Sale - Banned Excerpts

Our tax dollars at work - makes you glad you work so hard:

Restore Habeas Corpus

Take Action to Restore Habeas Corpus, Protect People from Abuse and Arbitrary Detention

Take Action On This Issue

The rights to challenge one's detention is a critical protection against human rights abuses enshrined in US and international law. The "Military Commissions Act of 2006" stripped certain detainees in U.S. custody of such fundamental rights. In the absence of this basic protection against enforced disappearance, unfair trials, arbitrary detention and torture, such violations can and have occurred. Urge Congress to take a significant first step in restoring US leadership on human rights by supporting the “Habeas Corpus Restoration Act of 2007,” to return habeas rights to people in U.S. custody. Learn more »

Sunday, May 6, 2007

Sarko Won

85.3% of the people voted. Wow. That's Democracy in action.

Sarkozy 53.3%
Royal 43.7%

This is an estimate but people are not waiting for the final count. This declaration by the way was made one second after 8PM. And the French vote manually, not electronically. What the hell is wrong with the United States voting process? sigh.

The celebration for Sarkozy was to take place at the Place de la Concorde. They just showed it on the news. It's pretty much empty. There was a large crowd outside of his campaign headquarters though.

Sego gave her speech with a big smile. She is elegant. I wish she had won frankly, no matter how vague her solutions were or weren't. Women really should run the world. History has proven that men just fuck it up. Go ahead, argue with me.

Ok we are of to go for a walk to see what's up in the hood.

While We Await the Results

So here's what's up in our hood in Paris one hour before the polls close...

We are staying in the 18th Arrondissement, which butts up against the base of the hill at Montmartre. Our street, which begins at the edge of the Peripherique (freeway that loops around the entire periphery of Paris), ends at a set or two (or nine) of steps that lead up to Montmartre and the church of Sacré Cœur. It's an area that is rich in ethnicity, with Arabs, Moroccans and Senegalese. It's where we prefer to live. It is also the area where all the record labels, large (like EMI) and small, are gathered.

One block makes a big difference in the noise factor. We live closer to the Peripherique than Montmartre and one of our friends lives on the same street but one block closer to the steps up to Montmartre. She has bistro noise below her but we have a pizza takeout joint that fronts as a hashish depot directly below us. (She's pretty jealous about that) Late at night, down on the corner, the local boys gather at the tables outside of the two restaurants and rabble rouse. After closing time, the boys don't go home. They stand in groups on each corner and shout and laugh with each other. Cars with booming music screech to a halt, more shouting and laughter ensues, hash probably changes hands, and then the boom and screech, with a bit of rubber left behind, takes off and fades into the distance.

When we first arrived, the weather was beautiful so we romantically left the windows open. Not any more!

We're on the 4th floor. Directly downstairs and across the street is a Sarkozy campaign office. Within a few days of our arrival, and before the first runoff election that narrowed down the 12 candidates to 2, all of the windows were smashed. We thought it was some important symbolic sign that the windows remained smashed. Our local friends laughed when we asked this. "No, no. Everything takes time in France. You have to get the insurance guy out for an estimate. You have to file mounds of paperwork. You have to wait for approval. Then you have to order the glass. Then wait for someone's schedule to open up so you can have it replaced." So we're a little spoiled in the US. Even in Cave Creek, Arizona I could have had it replaced within a couple of days, or that day if I wanted to pay a premium.

ANYwayyyyyy. (15 minutes til 8)

We watched the debate between Segoline Royal and Nicolas Sarkozy last week. Our neighborhood was silent. Not a peep. Everyone watched that debate. People predicted that Sarkozy would be a bully and control the debate. Au contraire! Segoline held her ground quite effectively. They both interrupted each other rudely on an equal footing so that part was a wash. But Sarko was no match for Sego in the eye-contact department. She sat up straight, zeroed in on him, and never strayed. He on the other hand looked away, looked down, looked at the debate hosts. I enjoyed that. Since I can't understand the language yet, I watched the body language. More on the debate later.

So Sego is a woman and a Socialist. Sarkozy is a man (reportedly) and right-wing. He admires Bush and Blair (deluded, I know). Sego is for social services and helping the poor. Sarko called the people who live in neighborhoods near ours, where the riots occurred last year, scum. Sego believes in the 35-hour work week (I had to laugh at that. I don't think I worked less than 60 hours a week in the last 10 years of my career.) Sarko is running on a "work harder" platform. I am simplifying this a bit too much because I'm running out of time. 5 more minutes til the polls close.

TV is on!

French Presidential Election Turnout

These people are serious. Out of 44.5 million registered voters:

  • 35% had voted by midday, the highest morning turnout for 33 years.
  • By 5PM, 75.11% had voted.

Polls close at 8PM, one hour from now. I'll keep you posted.

Saturday, May 5, 2007

Why I Like French Elections: Voting on Sunday

French people vote on Sunday.

If voting day changed from Tuesday to either Saturday or Sunday in the United States, then the following would be true:

  • No more getting up at o-dark-thirty to try and hit the poles before work
  • No more driving like a maniac to hit the poles after work and before they close
  • No need to take time off from work to vote in case you can't make the before or after work vote
  • More people in general would vote
  • More poor people (i.e. people who don't have the luxury of taking off from work) would vote
  • More single mothers (i.e. people who have to drop off and pick up their kids from daycare before and after work) would vote
Now I know the last two bullets mean that there might possibly be more Democrats voting but that would be a good thing as far as I can tell.

So let's change our day of voting!

Why I Like French Elections: Day of Reflection

Tomorrow France votes for its new president. Either Sarko or Sego (Nicolas Sarkozy or Segoline Royal).

From midnight last night until after the election closes tomorrow night, all opinion polls and campaigning are banned to ensure voters a quiet "day of reflection" before the ballot.

How civilized.

Wednesday, May 2, 2007

Mission Accomplished

On February 27th of this year I listened to an interview with the Pentagon whistle blower Lt. Col. Karen Kwiatkowski (ret.) at Truthdig. It was a real eye opener for me when she said,

"If you want to hit Syria, can you do it from Iraq? Of course you can. And now you can do it from bases that will support any type of airplane you want, any number of troops in barracks. I mean we can do things from Iraq. And this is what they wanted. So, yeah, we don’t like being lied to. But quite frankly, many people in the Congress, and certainly this administration, when they call Iraq a success, they mean it, and this is why. We’re in Iraq to stay." (emphasis mine)

Based on Kwiatkowski's comments it appears (surprise, surprise) that the whole "War on Terror" and "Promotion of Democracy" pablum fed to the American public is in fact not the ultimate neocon goal. Instead, it's just an elaborate cover. The Bush administration is building a permanent US presence in Iraq, so they can control the region (and that black stuff bubbling up out of the ground), and based on a recent report about the colossal size of the US Embassy in Baghdad (matching the colossal size of their collective balls), I understand why the administration sees success when, uh, nobody else does. It is obvious from the size of that Embassy as well as the permanency of the US military bases in Iraq ( articles: here and here, FCNL Quaker Lobby,, ) that America truly is in Iraq to stay.

I’m glad that’s all cleared up now, because I have been scratching my head for a while. I could not figure out what was going on in the snarling hydra head of the administration:

  1. Are they deluded?
  2. Are they greedy for oil?
  3. Are they grossly inept?
  4. (D – All of the Above?)
No, they know exactly what they’re doing and are very pleased with the mission they’ve accomplished so far. If the neocons can keep those pesky American voters and Democrats off their backs they are well on the way to get everything they want. I'd bet a few Euros that it may not really matter to the neocons who wins in 2008, they just have to keep really busy until then.

I listened to the Kwiatkowski Truthdig interview more than two months ago and wondered why I continued to hear all these different theories why Bush and Cheney are so stubbornly against withdrawal from Iraq. Like Bush was a goofy puppet with Cheney pulling the strings behind him (which is an easy one to believe). But none of the theories were as close to or as simple as Kwiatkowski's. Nor did the MSM really focus the spotlight on the very clearly stated goal of PNAC (Project for the New American Century - whose members are Rumsfeld, Cheney, GW Bush, Wolfowitz, Rove, Feith, etc.) as early as 1998 and 2000 to remove Saddam Hussein and control the region. They just needed a reason to attack Iraq and September 11th provided them with that reason.

(As an aside, I did a search on that 2000 PNAC document for the word "control" and there are 45 instances in a 90 page document.)

Finally Jon Stewart said what I'd been thinking in his recent interview with Bill Moyers, that he had finally figured out that the administration doesn’t mind if they look like “low-functioning pinheads” in the interim (he used Gonzales' recent memory-lapse testimony as an example), as long as they can maintain their agenda in the background.

It is worth reading the entire transcript of Kwiatkowski's Truthdig interview. It is also rich with an insider's viewpoint of how the administration's minions at the Office of Special Plans (Doug Feith and his gang: New Yorker 2003, Wikipedia, Mother Jones 2004, ) invaded the Pentagon and began to control everything:

JAMES HARRIS: Did they tell you to shut up?

KAREN KWIATKOWSKI: Absolutely! [Laughs] That’s a funny thing, and of course, here’s how it worked. Once the Office of Special Plans was set up formally, now they were informally set up prior to the fall of 2002, but formally they became an office with office space and that whole bit. And the first act to follow that setup of the Office of Special Plans, we had a staff meeting, and our boss, Bill Ludy, who was the boss of Special Plans technically, not in reality but on paper. And he announced to us that from now on, action officers, staff officers such as myself and all my peers, at least in that office, and I presume this went all the way through the rest of policy, but we were told that when we needed to fill in data, putting it in papers that we would send up, doing our job, as we did our daily job, we were no longer to look at CIA and DIA intelligence, we were simply to call the Office of Special Plans and they would send down to us talking points, which we would incorporate verbatim no deletions, no additions, no modifications into every paper that we did. And of course, that was very unusual and all the action officers are looking at each other like, well that’s interesting. We’re not to look at the intelligence any more, we’re simply to go to this group of political appointees and they will provide to us word for word what we should say about Iraq, about WMD and about terrorism. And this is exactly what our orders were. And there were people [Laughs] a couple of people, and I have to say, I was not one of these people who said, “you know, I’m not gonna do that, I’m not gonna do that because there’s something I don’t like about it, it’s incorrect in some way.” (emphasis mine)

You can read articles written by Karen Kwiatkowski on

And by the way, John Edwards has come out against permanent bases in Iraq. I am off to investigate where the other Democratic contenders stand on this issue.

About This Blog

I was raised in a family that was a bit...well...radical. To the far right I mean. I have often said that my parents were John Birchers, just to give people a reference point, but I am not sure my parents were card-carrying society members. My mother changed her Canadian citizenship in order to campaign and work for Barry Goldwater and she still has Christmas cards and an inaugural ball invitation from Nixon proudly displayed on her wall. My father believes that the recent majority of Democrats in the House and Senate signifies the end of the world. Personally I never believed that the Democrats would have the balls to be as focused and driven as they are proving to be. I am cautiously encouraged (Update: I am no longer cautious nor encouraged).

I was the youngest of six kids and I swear I must have been the product of a secret affair between my mother and some communist-artist-postman. All my brothers and sisters turned out to be right-leaning like our parents but for some reason I chose to tilt towards the left from early childhood. Maybe it was the time when, as a little girl, I was watching TV and it was announced that Martin Luther King had been assassinated. My mother happened to be standing behind me and said with a sneer, "Good riddance you communist bastard." I have never forgotten that. I understood the concept of disagreeing with someone but couldn't quite grasp the concept of celebrating their death. My mother called me Pollyanna because I just wanted everyone to get along. I still do.

Anyway, I grew up to be apolitical. In an atmosphere where challenging the status quo or asking provocative questions got me shouted down and ridiculed, I checked out. I voted once or twice years ago, but always Republican because that was all I knew. I also believed two things that are not true:

  1. I did not have the time to research all of the people and all of the issues in order to be an informed voter
  2. My vote didn't count
Meanwhile, George W. Bush and Iraq happened. At the same time, I had become fed up with Corporate America and its strangle hold on me and American life in general. In order to get elected, politicians were and still are in bed with corporations. "If you contribute to my campaign, I'll push legislation and other perks to help your business." Some think that this is the way of the world and that I am naive to think it should never happen. But I think new campaign finance and lobbying legislation could minimize this kind of corruption.

Meanwhile there's no escape from the barrage of media and commercials that push middle America ever closer to the cliff of over consumption and the quicksand of revolving credit card debt. After the tragedy of 911 what does Bush tell the country to do? Spend money. Go buy something. That will fix everything.

I recently quit my corporate job and went into business for myself. I also just turned 50. I started reading everything I could get my hands on, picking up books in airports by Molly Ivins (so sad that she's no longer around to kick butt and take names) and Jim Hightower. I was glued to FireDogLake's live blogging of the Libby trial and awed by the insight and intelligence of the people who commented during the process. I learned so much. Now I have a Feedreader and subscribe to RSS feeds from Truthdig, Huffington Post and many others. The truth is, you can get your arms around all this information and after a short period of time, things begin to fall into place.

You are never too old to get started or get involved. And my Democratic vote counted this past November.

So this blog is about my ongoing discovery, questions, research and opinions about politics. I hope to start a dialog with fellow travelers along this road and share information to help us all be better informed and take back our power as citizens. And if we differ in our views, at the end of the day, let's just all get along anyway, shall we?

Tuesday, May 1, 2007

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