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Thursday, November 22, 2007

Majority of Iraq Foreign Fighters Not From Iran

So...we better go and bomb Iran then. I mean, they need to get their shit together to live up to the lies the Bush administration is dishing out in order to justify another illegal invasion.

According to this Reuters article, which was based on this New York Times article, which details documents found at a September insurgent hideout raid that listed the names and origins of 700 foreign fighters:

Of 700 foreign militants who entered Iraq since August 2006:

  • 305, or 41 percent, were from Saudi Arabia
  • 137, or 18 percent, were Libyan
  • Yemenis were the third largest group
  • Syrians made up 8 percent
Iran wasn't even mentioned in the Reuters article. I couldn't find any mention of how many Iranians were on the list in the NY Times article.

So, the Iraqi insurgency is made up of men from countries that are, um, our allies.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Just Call Me Pollyanna

As I sit here and read the news, and get disgusted about 99% of it, I think about Ebenezer Scrooge in The Christmas Carol. Boiled down, the story is about a nasty, grasping man, who is transformed when he is forced to "see" a few things, like what people have said or are saying about him, including his former business partners and his current relatives. He also gets to look directly into the lives of those who are less fortunate, specifically his long-suffering, but loyal employee and his unfortunate son, Tiny Tim.

Scrooge is easily a stereotype of today's right-wing nutter, government entity or corporate behemoth. The spirit of Ebenezer Scrooge is in the hearts of the owners of a US contracting company in Iraq who got caught duping poor laborers in 3rd-world countries and actually enslaving them and bringing them to work in Iraq to help build our engorged US Embassy. It's in the hearts of Wal-Mart owners and management as they pretend to "green" the company while in fact their carbon footprint has grown since 2006. Wal-Mart's Scrooge also actively blocks the unionizing efforts of its employees and purposely has more part-time jobs than full-time, so they can avoid giving benefits like health care coverage to the part-timers. Wal-Mart's Scrooge crushes the independent mom-and-pop retailers, the foundation of America's "land of opportunity" image. Those whose businesses have closed can rest assured that they and their children can get a job right away as a part-time cashier or stock person, with no benefits. Yay! Ebenezer exists in the hearts of Republican presidential candidates who purposely refuse to take part in Hispanic, Black or LGBT debates or political conferences, giving a clear message to those Americans that their votes are meaningless. Well, as a matter of fact, those Americans just don't exist.

It's just greed and coldheartedness with a new name and address.

Unlike the story, today's Ebenezers don't really care what people are saying about them. So, Marley in Chains would be wasting precious Christmas Eve time by dragging them to listen in on Progressive blogs or, well, a majority of American voters. If they ain't listening now, they ain't gonna listen ever.

I think the evolution of Scrooge can only occur if someone Scrooge knows personally is abused or suffers in some way. The vast majority of the current Bush administration, Congress and the Senate has never been in a war. None (or very few) of their kids are in the war either. So, when American soldiers die, it's just a statistic to them. Ebenezers laugh or sneer at the homeless, at sub-prime mortgage holders, at the unemployed, at the mentally ill. They also ignore wounded veterans. They think depression is a weakness, that Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome is a made-up illness. "Get a job! Get over it! Survival of the Fittest!" Oh, and my favorite, "Find Jesus!"

I know people who, out of anger and frustration and not knowing any better, have said, "I think we should just drop a bomb on the entire Middle East and kill all those fucking rag heads." That's because the image of the Middle East that is painted on American TV shows a lot of sub-machine-gun-toting, dress-wearing, turbaned, angry men. Al Jazeera is blocked from American TV sets (you know, America, the land of open press and all), so Americans can't see that there are women walking around in designer clothes, there are art galleries and fine restaurants and BMWs. I was talking to my brother the other day and mentioned that there is a large population of Christians in the Middle East, in Iraq specifically. "There are?" he said. He was shocked.

In their fanatical pursuit of their own Jihad, America's fundamentalist Christians have been blinded into killing and displacing Iraqis as if they are on some sacred mission, as if those they kill or those whose lives they ruin forever, are just animals, and not worthy of a single thought. Onward, you fucking Christian soldiers.

I want so much for every Scrooge in the world, to be dragged by the ghost of Marley, through the past, present and future of each human being that they have ignored, laughed at or derided. I want them to be transformed by the experience. I want them to deeply know what that guy named Jesus supposedly said, according to some other guy named Mathew (keeping in mind that these were just guys, and guys have been known to be unreliable.): As you did it to one of the least of these, my brethren, you did it to me.

Maybe then the world would change. Maybe then the energy and focus would shift towards activities of peace and preservation, kindness and cooperation, versus war, and destruction, coldheartedness and dominance.

Just call me Pollyanna.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Fundamentalist Nutcases Take Over The US Military

I used to work at the Marine Corps Air Station in Yuma, Arizona. I was a staff artist for an audio-visual training program to train pilots how to fly the F-4 Phantom Jet. Yes, that's me in the picture and no, I don't look that good anymore.

I remember all of those military guys. And I liked them very much. From the pilots all the way up to the top brass. I didn't just work with them, I hung out with them on the base. I've always liked straight shooters and people who don't have time for bullshit. I was raised in the construction industry, and that was another place full of straight shooters. Until you got to the architects...then you ran into the bullshit. In America, I always figured that the politicians were like the architects in the construction industry, and the military were like the construction workers.

Does that make sense?

Anyway, this little fantasy, this little naive generalization that I have carried around with me for umpteen years, this hopeful trust in the common sense of the military guys and gals, has finally crumbled. It started long before Petreus. I kept hanging on, waiting for the voice of reason to rise up against the Commander In Chief, but Bush would fire the guys who disagreed with him. He calls that "listening to the commanders on the ground." Some of the fired generals have begun to speak out against the administration. That has been encouraging too. But my fantasy died a sad and final death when I read this TruthDig article.

It's written by David Antoon, a retired Air Force Colonel and Vietnam Vet. His son wanted to follow in his father's footsteps, which made Dad proud. His son was invited to attend the Air Force Academy. So David and his son went to the orientation and were changed forever from the experience. They discovered that the US military is being run by religious fundamentalists. That's all we need. Give a religious fanatic a gun and well, you have, um, Al Queda. Mr. Antoon's son, with much regret, decided not to attend the Air Force Academy.

I live in France now. A while back, I was talking to my Dad on the phone and I told him that it was Sunday, so everything was closed. He asked me why. I said, "Probably because France was originally a Catholic country." Politically, I guess you could say it's a socialist country. But it's culture and history is steeped in Catholicism. My Dad, one of those Latin Mass goers (that's a nice way of putting it), guffawed. It was hard for him to understand that those bloody socialists could be practicing Catholics too.

But France is secular, politically. They have managed to keep religion OUT of politics. And no lightening has struck, that I know of. I can see the dome of Sacre Coeur out of my window and it has yet to burst into flames. This church, at the top of the hill at Montmartre, is too busy frowning down upon the Moulin Rouge and all the flesh spots in Pigalle, nestled at the base of the hill. The two opposites have managed to live together in harmony all these many years.

I seriously doubt that part of France's military training regime includes hand-holding prayer circles and Monday night bible study groups. You can push the ejection button if I'm wrong.

Saturday, November 3, 2007

Naming Those Dirty Little (and big) Wars

You know, if it wasn't so damn funny, it would be depressing as hell. George Bush casually on purpose invoking the specter of World War What-The-Fuck-Ever. Cheney doing a follow-up. Then Podhoretz publishing (and making money from - for shame) a book called World War IV. And this wasn't done in unison? buhahaha! Meanwhile, some buhwheat named Max Boot writes the goofiest shit about Podhoretz' book and the correct naming scheme for all the wars. In the process, he chases his tail 'round many a corner.

When the absurdity of it all becomes just too much, one gets comic relief from the old standby of computer and Star Trek nerds. It's reminiscent of my days at Sandbox.com (was that during the first or second ickthinian war of the worlds between fantasy football or hockey? I can't remember.), watching the IRC explode with nerdificatious commentary and laughing until my face hurt.

Just read this post over at CrookedTimber, but please, please, please read every single one of the comments. It will restore your faith in our future as a human race. If, and only if, we can get these guys out from behind their custom-built Linux machines and out into the glaring light where they can fix shit. They'll stay up for three nights in a row, drink copious amounts of Doctor Pepper from liter bottles and consume boxcar loads of pepperoni pizzas in the process, but they'll save the world. Swear to God they will.