Friday, March 28, 2003
Jenny Holzer, eat your heart out
A news item from the eerie cyberpunk future that we now live in: during a protest in New York, the Fox network news ticker began airing insults at the antiwar activists. Sample: Who won your right to show up here today? Protesters or soldiers?
Thanks to atrios for the link. Next: Dick "I Am The Law!" Cheney launches Skynet; T-1000 integral in plan to liberate, bring humanitarian aid to Iraqis.
posted by kriston at 10:22 AM........
Thursday, March 27, 2003
You know - I had a long, rough day at work, and it really amounts to so little. It set me thinking... you know, making your way in the world today takes everything you've got. Taking a break from all your worries sure would help a lot. Wouldn't you like to get away?
A little Norm for all the other working stiffs out there. My personal favorite:
Woody: "How would a beer feel, Mr. Peterson?"
Norm: "Pretty nervous if I were in the room."
posted by kriston at 12:40 AM........
Tuesday, March 25, 2003
And the proconsul is...
It looks like the States'll be going reconstruction alone, what with France threatening a veto at the Security Council on UN peace-keeping in Iraq, and the US not inviting any of them along in the first place. A civilian mission will have better standing than a military one--Iraq not being Japan, GW not being MacArthur--but I've thought all along that an international peace-keeping/reconstruction force might ensure minimum terrorist reprisals. I don't know who Jay Gardner is. Bush has placed only one official in his administration that doesn't give me the creeps, so Gardner's going to have to prove it to me.
Right off the bat, though, the Pontius Pilate award goes to Barbara Bodine. She was the Ambassador to Yemen when the USS Cole was attacked, and she single-handedly terminated the efforts of the anti-terrorism investigation sent over. As I understand it, John O'Neill and an FBI team were sent over to investigate; he had a power squabble with Bodine, concerning the kinds of munitions she thought it appropriate for the FBI to carry; she pulled strings and sent him packing (via Janet Reno). Why Reno pulled him--I don't know, I don't think Clinton took terrorism so seriously, and it's hard to understand now how a president could have anything else on his plate. Anyway--O'Neill had a serious hard-on for Osama bin Laden even before the Cole attack. Had he been able to complete the investigation he was sent to do, he might've snubbed Osama; he died in the WTC attacks and never got his whale.
Michael Kirk - a film guy who did a TV movie about O'Neill, tried to interview Bodine about him: "...despite months of our best efforts, the ambassador would not grant us an interview. She did say that she could not believe that we would try to spend 90 minutes of television on John O'Neill."
Ho-ly shit. Veins cold as ice--not even respect for the dead. No words for this one...
That interview. Further sources (scroll down a bit).
posted by kriston at 5:30 PM........
A reason that the US cannot fight every fight it picks, and maybe not even every war it has lined up for itself, is "access denial." Employed by Turkey when it refused (in a hokey-pokey manner) to permit Allies access to its airspace, access denial is a symptom of sickly US diplomacy. Though it hasn't changed much for Gulf War II, accessibility would be a critical factor in any confrontation with N Korea. One might suggest healthy diplomacy as a solution to access denial, or at least that GW not write checks that his ass can't cash.
What really gets me is the way conservative think tanks are tackling the problem. The Heritage Foundation views it as a fundamental hurdle to American preemption and war, but avoids the root cause (the world hates us) and recommends a different approach (our army isn't agile enough). Now, it makes sense that any consideration would focus on the variables we can control: we can't control world opinion, but we can transform the contemporary Army much as we have transformed the contemporary Navy and Air Force. Just a few, quick relevant problems:
1 The call is for a drastic revision of the Army. Subtle improvements would produce an army marginally more capable of overcoming problems related with the kinds of wars we are fating. I doubt they intend Star Wars; I do believe they are talking about a lot of money,
2 money that we don't have, and won't have.
3 Unless the Army goes Star Wars, you really can't fight N Korea without tremendous local consent - and so diplomacy is still of central strategic importance.
It is repugnant to characterize another country's unwillingness to support our wars as "an objective of America's future adversaries," but this is the Heritage Foundation we're talking about. To summarize (and really use that Star Wars reference):
Dems: "Your overconfidence is your weakness."
Repubs: "Your faith in your friends is yours!"
posted by kriston at 1:41 PM........
Pasting an interview between Aaron Brown, CNN anchor, and Hafez al-Miraz, Washington Al-Jazeera correspondent. Link goes to the CNN transcript, which also features an interview with Sue's beau, Gen. Wesley Clark.
HAFEZ AL-MIRAZ, AL-JAZEERA CHIEF CORRESPONDENT: Good evening.
BROWN: Look, I'll play this as directly as I can. Explain to me the rationale that your network had for displaying what can only be described as the most gruesome of pictures across the Arab world?
AL-MIRAZ: Thank you for the opportunity. I would like just to explain, first of all, that Al-Jazeera, as you know, an independent news media. We're not taking sides in that conflict or in any other conflict. We are reporting the news. And we are putting out footage that we feel it is newsworthy sometimes for our own audience. This is an Arabic language news network. We don't broadcast in English or at least not yet.
The Al-Jazeera for the last three days have been putting out footages of bodies of Iraqi dead Iraqis. They were both armies or civilians. And today, the -- we found that there are footages, or we have a chance to put out footages, although it was shot by the Iraqi TV or part of it by Iraqi TV, of the other side of the war. Also the -- that the human suffering on the American level, on the American side.
Some of the footages for your case or my case may be -- would be controversial. Do you need to put that much of the footage or the close-up? And it is a debate, even in our news room for a while. People who feel that it is the reality of war. And you cannot have just war as video games and just the very sensitized image of the war. But the main point...
BROWN: Mr. Al-Miraz.
AL-MIRAZ: ...is the footage of people who are dead and bodies were put to Al-Jazeera for the last two days of Iraqis. Today it was put on for American victims. It is very -- it's a tragedy. It is very painful and emotional issue.
BROWN: All right, sir...
AL-MIRAZ: ...on both sides.
BROWN: ...respectfully, I understand that. And I, believe me, would be the first to argue and have many times in my professional life, that we are not in the business of sanitizing war or anything else. But is not -- is there not a line between sanitizing the news and simply putting something on TV because it is gruesome. You can show the horror or war without zooming in on the most gruesome -- I mean, I don't -- I'm reluctant to even describe...
BROWN: ...what that 6.5 minutes looked like, because honestly, sir, it is vile.
AL-MIRAZ: And that's what happened. Al-Jazeera, when we got the chance to edit these tapes, first it was rushed and put out as is or mostly as is. And I agree with you. Some of it is really terrible and horrible. Unfortunately, some European networks, including Sky News, that is also the owners of Sky News are the owners of other U.S. networks, put the pictures as is. And maybe they did not edit out, but Al-Jazeera did edit out after that the pictures. And we made sure that it doesn't show a description of faces or anything like that. That happened on -- later on.
Also, we honor the request by the Pentagon to give them some time, not to play the footage -- not to play the video for the POWs until they identify them and notify the families. That happens around 12:00 noon today. And the -- my headquarters did really respond to that request for humanitarian consideration. And we honor this as of 12:00 noon, until like 8:00 p.m. today, Al-Jazeera did not put any of these footages or the POWs, while other networks in Europe, including U.S. allies like Spain state TV, Portugal, Belgium, others. They did put it out.
BROWN: And sir, and they have to -- sir, they have...
AL-MIRAZ: If I can finish, Aaron, on that.
BROWN: I'm sorry, but they have to answer for themselves.
AL-MIRAZ: That's true.
BROWN: In this case, sir, you have to answer for Al-Jazeera.
AL-MIRAZ: And let me just finish that point, please.
AL-MIRAZ: To explain to you what happen. So 12:00 noon Al- Jazeera did abide by that until the people in the Pentagon notified the families. And unfortunately, half an hour after that, 12:30, I was watching CNN and I found one of your reporters in the Pentagon reading names of three POWs. And this is CNN in English for American families, while Al-Jazeera would not reach any American or English speaker audience in the U.S. And this is what we're talking about.
BROWN: Sir, are you saying that this happened on CNN...
AL-MIRAZ: Yes, sir.
BROWN: ...excuse me, let me finish the sentence. I wasn't quite done. On CNN International or CNN domestic.
AL-MIRAZ: CNN domestic, sir.
BROWN: Because as you know, excuse me, as you know, there's a very different audience and a very different issue there.
AL-MIRAZ: As -- we're talking about CNN domestic, CNN America. We're talking about 12:30. And the Pentagon did investigate that and talk to the reporter who did that. And to -- just to add to that also, look today at "The Washington Post" front page.
BROWN: OK, that...
AL-MIRAZ: "The Washington Post" front page has an Iraqi POW. I don't think that this is -- two wrongs don't make a right. I agree with you.
AL-MIRAZ: As we know in about...
BROWN: We're getting -- no, no, we're veering all over the place. But let me bring you back to one question. Let's not go to the POWs yet. We'll get to the POWs if you want. How many times before noon when you pulled this -- when you say you pulled this thing or edited this thing or whatever precisely happened, how many times were the six minutes, and you know this, sir, you know how gruesome that piece of tape is, how many times had that been aired? And for what purpose could it possibly have been to air it in that form?
AL-MIRAZ: Well, I haven't counted how many times. It might be twice or three times, but also we have to remember we are in testing times. And this is a war. And until you know there is a reaction like that, maybe people didn't feel it, but once they felt that there is a very negative reaction to some of these footages, they responded to that. And we should remember also, Aaron, that in 1993, when CNN was 13 years old, Al-Jazeera is now seven year old, CNN put the footages of the U.S. soldiers bodies dragged in Mogadishu, in Somalia city. And I don't think also would people judge on CNN for doing that. People hated -- those people who did that to the U.S. soldiers, but not CNN because it carried...
posted by kriston at 12:18 PM........
Play with my paper, you gotta meet my Beretta
After browsing these pages Paul Krugman has jumped on board with his own version of my March 23rd talking-point on pro-troop radio cartel Clear Channel. Hey, no shame, P, plenty of room on these coattails for everyone.
For more on CC, check Eric Boehlert's amazing Salon series. On a related tip Salon has an article today about general strangling and intimidation by Ashcroft and massive media conglomerates. For updates on award-winning economists feeling my style and feeling my flow, keep it here.
posted by kriston at 10:31 AM........
Gulf War II may further define the need for an international criminal court to American skeptics. While the US rightly complains about Iraqi treatment of POWs, there are lingering questions over the war in Afghanistan, which saw mass graves for the Taliban executed by the Northern Alliance, and allegations of American torture of Taliban and al Qaeda detainees.
The desperate need for an oversight body with global authority (and a moral compass) intensifies, and yet, considering recent diplomatic meltdowns, it is seems as likely as not that the US will never again consider the World Court. Not, at least, so long as the US retains hegemony over the world's economy and military, and has active troops committed to every corner of the planet.
posted by kriston at 9:59 AM........
posted by kriston at 8:58 AM........
Monday, March 24, 2003
Eduardo Najera deserves all the attention he's getting. In the Mavs' recent win over the Kings, he held C-Webb to a reasonable 24 points--and made him take 26 shots to get them. Interesting stats about Najera vs Van Exel and who's going to be on the floor with Nash, Nowitzki, Finley, and LaFrentz when it comes time for bidness during the post-season.
posted by kriston at 5:09 PM........
OK, in spite of myself, I think this 'diary' by Neal Pollack is good for a laugh. Plus one of the guys he mentions works in my office building, and he's a cool guy.
We got a new television in the breakroom that is supposed to be always tuned to the news, but this lady I work with, she's been in the breakroom for like 2 1/2 hours now watching soaps. Seriously, people are kind of freaked out by it. Not war, not work--by God, nothing's standing between Candiss and The Young and The Restless.
posted by kriston at 1:18 PM........
I just 'happened' upon this newsbit about poet Lawrence Ferlinghetti. (Eh? Happened, happening? ...bah.) I had no idea that he or any of the beat guys were still alive. I figured Kenneth Koch would be the last one standing, simply because, of the best minds of his generation, he seemed to go the least mad. At least, he was the most mild. Certainly the last mentioned. Heh.
Anyway--after reading Ferlinghetti's statement about the war, I couldn't help but think about the beat, how irrelevant his statement sounded, how much I adored those writers in high school, and how annoyed I get with college students who are trying to carry on with their work. Socialist student groups and the like. The only blatant anti-war demonstration I've seen that I've really approved of was the NO WAR sign hung at the Red House by their upstairs neighbors, and that's only because it irritated the denizens of the Red House.
I've had a couple of debates about the utility of protest in the here and now. I haven't successfully slogged through any of them, so I'll spare you that fun. But Ferlinghetti made me think about it; so did this one kid I heard on KVRX the other night, president of Students Dedicated to Contributing Nothing to the Discussion or something, a kid whom Kevin and I met in a hostile in DC. This kid was saying that Saddam Hussein has never done wrong, that Republicans are terrorists, other similar exhortations. Just writing about this kid has got me pissed off. Whatever that guy's protesting, I am for.
...So, in ending, aren't Neal Pollack and Dave Eggers complete tools? I'm going to go kick the fax machine.
posted by kriston at 11:58 AM........
I didn't and generally never watch the Oscars, the whole thing stinks aristocratic to me, and this blue-collar budding contemporary art critic doesn't approve. But I wish I could have interrupted being a snob to see Michael Moore receive his award.
This is probably the most thought I will ever put toward the Stars and their views on war, but I think that it's a good thing that one person in Hollywood is willing to go further on camera than the soundbyte anti-war protest of stars like Susan Sarandon. Unfortunately, I don't know what Moore said, because this article was the only relevant one I found from a quick Google search for 'Michael Moore Oscars.' Clearly.
posted by kriston at 7:20 AM........
Sunday, March 23, 2003
George Orwell's got it right, but if he really wanted to make his case he would've just sampled every Maureen Dowd column in a week. From now on I'm keeping an index of the ridiculous number of obfuscatory foreign phrases she uses to express her inanities.
16 March - revelatory soufflés
16 March - succès d'estime
12 March - President Persona Non Grata
Using French phrases is about as anti-troop as it gets. What the hell could a revelatory soufflé ever, ever refer to?
posted by kriston at 11:14 PM........
In Other Parts
By admitting military abuses and suggesting a constitution that would formally bind Chechnya to Russia, Putin is making major moves to put an end to the Chechen war/rebellion. The referendum is a strategic move on Putin's part that may end Chechen guerilla violence by giving ordinary Chechens a vote on their own independence. At halfway through the voting process (at the time of the article), 65% of Chechens had voted and more were expected to vote, so the referendum should be an accurate reflection of how the Chechens wish to move forward.
From my own experience abroad I can only add that the war has been a lot more brutal than American media coverage might suggest. I didn't realize how many Russian soldiers were affected by the war until I witnessed a series of military shore leaves in Moscow in July and August. More than a few of these soldiers were missing limbs and otherwise brutalized, and I can only imagine the scene in Grozny. How the hell you salve the ethnic hatred after such a war is beyond me, but if a referendum will help I'm putting on my rally cap.
posted by kriston at 10:54 PM........
I wasn't able to verify at CNN's website, but Susan told me that the channel reported shouting matches between "Pro-troop" and "Anti-war" demonstrators. As far as I can tell pro-troop is a relatively new pole in the for/against war discussion, logically following the deployment of US troops, for whom to feel Pro-.
Pro-troop is clearly a historical reaction to hateful civilian outcries against troops during Vietnam. Since then all sides of the debate have learned an appropriate degree of respect for people who choose the military profession--and no one who comments on the war may forget to prove how well he has learned that lesson. By my ken, pro-troop is equivalent to pro-puppies, pro-Grandma's cookin', and pro-Roger Staubauch. I have read or watched Tom Morello, Steve Nash, and a Dixie Chick all speak out against war, and each was later needled on the point of their patriotic support for our boys. Morello's pro-Che, pro-protest, pro-anti- following likely doesn't care that he expresses solidarity with the troops. Nash was stinged until he made the necessary admission; the Dixie Chicks were pulled from stations across the country at the mere suggestion that they might be anti-troop.
If pro-troop stems from Vietnam, then I see why our parents feel a need to submit themselves to this rhetorical trap. OK. But why do we? I think the pro-troop caveat undercuts a war opponent's message every time, because it is always signified by a verbal sputter, a change in tone, a retreat. There is always a deafening sucking-in of breath--a reversal--that accompanies the pre-emptive denial of being against the soldiers, pro-Saddam, Communist, and all the rest; and it's unnecessary. The US Military is not a Little League baseball team; they're going to do the job well for as long as it's assigned to them. I suggest we leave it to the Vietnam generation to backpedal all over each other in making certain they're not calling anyone a baby-killer--they're the ones who behaved so badly in the first place.
Besides, Clear Channel is loudly, obnoxiously, and unavoidably pro-troop, and if I'm anything at all, I'm anti-Clear Channel.
posted by kriston at 10:25 PM........