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Friday, October 31, 2003
My picks for this week's New Weblog Showcase

(Other than Rick's, of course, which makes its debut in the Showcase this week!)

Bush & Baghdad Bob: Bosom Buddies?

"He's my man. He was great. ... He was a classic." -- George W. Bush, April 24, 2003, referring to Mohammed Saeed al-Sahaf

Remember Mohammed Saeed al-Sahaf, the Iraqi Minister of Information? His creative insults and triumphant (if somewhat misleading) proclamations of victory even as Baghdad fell have prompted numerous websites. Back in April, White House Press Secretary Ari Fleischer dismissed the Minister's statements as "more rhetoric by a regime losing its grip on power". Does that apply to the propaganda of any other oppressive regime we know?

Let's compare some of Baghdad Bob's statements during the U.S. invasion of Iraq with statements from the Bush administration during the occupation:

Iraqi Information Minister Bush Administration
On the desperation of the enemy
I can say, and I am responsible for what I am saying, that they have started to commit suicide under the walls of Baghdad. We will encourage them to commit more suicides quickly.

Their infidels are committing suicide by the hundreds on the gates of Baghdad. Be assured, Baghdad is safe, protected.

Yes, the American troops have advanced further. This will only make it easier for us to defeat them.

Please, please! The Americans are relying on what I called yesterday a desperate and stupid method.
There are terrorists in Iraq who are willing to kill anybody in order to stop our progress. The more successful we are on the ground, the more these killers will react. (George W. Bush, October 27, 2003)

Our military leaders have said that some of these attacks have become more sophisticated. But what you're really seeing is that the more progress we make, the more desperate these killers become. And that's what these people are -- these are cold-blooded killers that are enemies of freedom, they hate peace and freedom, and they're enemies of the Iraqi people. (Scott McClellan, October 27, 2003)
On tactics
Now even the American command is under siege. We are hitting it from the north, east, south and west. We chase them here and they chase us there. But at the end we are the people who are laying siege to them. And it is not them who are besieging us. This is a new kind of war, and we must adjust. It's a new kind of war, and America is following a new strategy. We're not waiting for further attacks. We're striking our enemies before they can strike us again. (George W. Bush, October 9, 2003)
On success
We are in control. They are in a state of hysteria. Losers, they think that by killing civilians and trying to distort the feelings of the people they will win. I think they will not win, those bastards. We're fighting on many fronts, and Iraq is now the central front. Saddam holdouts and foreign terrorists are trying desperately to undermine Iraq's progress and to throw that country into chaos. The terrorists in Iraq believe their attacks on innocent people will weaken our resolve. That's what they believe. They believe that America will run from a challenge. They're mistaken. Americans are not the running kind. (George W. Bush, October 9, 2003)
On war crimes
We will pursue them as war criminals . . .. After Iraq aborts the invasion that is being carried out by the American and British villains, the USA will no longer be a superpower. Its deterioration will be rapid . . .. You will reap nothing from this aggressive war, which you launched on Iraq, except for disgrace and defeat. Iraq will continue to exist. Its civilization is 10,000 years old. It will not be changed by villains like the US and British villains.

These are criminals. The whole word can hear the warning sirens. This criminal sitting in the White House is a pathetic criminal and his Defense Minister deserves to be beaten. These criminals lie to the world because they are criminals by nature and conditioning. They consider this a military site! Shame on you! You will forever be shamed! You have ruined the reputation of the American people in the most terrible way! Shame on you! And we will destroy you!
We now see our enemy clearly. The terrorists plot in secret. They target the innocent. They defile a great religion. They hate everything this nation stands for. These committed killers will not be stopped by negotiations; they won't respond to reason. The terrorists who threaten America cannot be appeased -- they must be found, they must be fought, and they must be defeated. (George W. Bush, October 9, 2003)

They hate freedom. They love terror. They love to try to create fear and chaos. And what we're determined in this administration is not to be intimidated by these killers. (George W. Bush, October 27, 2003)
The contrast could not be greater between the honorable conduct of our liberating force and the criminal acts of the enemy. (George W. Bush, March 29, 2003)
On propaganda
Just look carefully, I only want you to look carefully. Do not repeat the lies of liars. Do not become like them. Once again, I blame al-Jazeera before it ascertains what takes place. Please, make sure of what you say and do not play such a role. It's a lot better than you probably think. Just ask people who have been there. They're stunned when they come back -- when they go to Iraq and the stories they tell are much different from the perceptions that you're being told life is like. You see, we're providing this help not only because we've got good hearts, but because our vision is clear. (George W. Bush, October 9, 2003)
On the United Nations
The United Nations....[is] a place for prostitution under the feet of Americans. And so you'll see us over the next short period of time, working with friends and allies and the United Nations to bring that body along. And it's a moment of truth for the United Nations. The United Nations gets to decide, shortly, whether or not it is going to be relevant, in terms of keeping the peace, whether or not its words mean anything. (George W. Bush, February 10, 2003)
On trustworthy sources
[When asked where he got his information]
From authentic sources. Many authentic sources.
"There is already a mountain of evidence that Saddam Hussein is gathering weapons for the purpose of using them. And adding additional information is like adding a foot to Mount Everest." (Ari Fleischer, Sept. 6, 2002)

“The British government has learned that Saddam Hussein recently sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa. Our intelligence sources tell us that he has attempted to purchase high-strength aluminum tubes suitable for nuclear weapons production.” (George W. Bush, January 28, 2003)

We have sources that tell us that Saddam Hussein recently authorized Iraqi field commanders to use chemical weapons -- the very weapons the dictator tells us he does not have. (George W. Bush, February 8, 2003)

Intelligence gathered by this and other governments leaves no doubt that the Iraq regime continues to possess and conceal some of the most lethal weapons ever devised. (George W. Bush, March 18, 2003)

So, in this Battle Royale of willing suspension of disbelief, who will win the war of false words? Mohammed "Baghdad Bob" Saeed al-Sahaf? George "Don't Mess With My Daddy" Bush? My vote: Dubya.

Perhaps in spite of himself, Baghdad Bob actually got something right: "I can assure you that those villains will recognize, will discover in appropriate time in the future how stupid they are and how they are pretending things which have never taken place."

Thanks to my brother, for the idea and help with the table.

Don't phuck with Philly

Read the article here.


Luck is a story the winners tell the losers so they'll keep putting money in the pot

I should be asleep. Instead, I'm up playing in a poker tournament online. Finished 57th out of 271. That's like a C+. Lost three whole bucks.

Thursday, October 30, 2003
Get on the NRA's Blacklist

Click here to join the Blacklist (prompted by an actual 19-page-long blacklist created by the NRA -- click here to read more) and let the NRA know you support a ban on assault rifles and oppose helping gun makers and dealers avoid legal responsibility for putting guns in the hands of criminals. Extra points to anyone who can tell me where the ridiculous song they're playing at www.nrablacklist.com comes from.

Jenna put what in the baby's bottle?

Clareified poster J-Roam has an interesting solution to the child-care dilemma.

If Roger Ailes can't keep it from you, Bush's army of robots will

Read about how the White House continues its campaign of misinformation and obfuscation here.

Speaking of carefully orchestrated PR

Apparently "Fair and Balanced" means "Whatever Ailes and the Bush Administration Tell You". Read about The Memo here. Thanks to CURSOR for the link.

White House Planning Withdrawal Of Troops From Iraq?

That's the rumor. I wouldn't count on it, though. We still have 37,000 troops stationed in Korea. An Atrios post suggests how the appearance of withdrawal might be accomplished through carefully orchestrated PR. Carefully orchestrated PR? THIS administration? Naaah.

Now THAT's a loving father

The Daily News reports that the father of Kim Brathwaite's 9-year-old girl is being questioned in connection with the fire that led to the deaths of Brathwaite's two children. I also commend to you this editorial on the subject by Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist ER Shipp.

Somebody please tell me what we've bought for $87 billion

costofwar.com keeps a running tally of how much has been spent on the war in Iraq, and then translates that into services like pre-school, education, etc. You can even break it down to your own city's share. I've added a counter to this site so you can watch the money pile up. But where is it going? And how can we ever quantify the real cost?

Where were the parents at?

Fellow blogger Dawn puts the Kim Brathwaite case in a broader context on her terrific site, Clareified.

All's right with the world (almost)

On my way to work this morning, I passed a little kid in a stroller being pushed in the opposite direction. He was leaning forward, big grin on his face, waving at everyone he passed. Almost makes you forget the pervasive greed that is ruining that kid's future.

Wednesday, October 29, 2003
If you read only one brilliant satirical assault on President Bush this year . . .

. . . read LIES (and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them): A Fair and Balanced Look at the Right. Not only is it insightful, well-written and side-splittingly funny (while at the same time revealing a cancerous depravity at the heart of our nation's media), it was exhaustively researched by "TeamFranken" (one fourteenth of which is my college roommate).

The Revolution Will Be Televised

Click here to learn about "Bush in 30 Seconds", a contest sponsored by moveon.org where you have the chance to submit a 30-second TV ad that "tells the truth about George [W.] Bush". The winner(s) will air during the next State of the Union address.

When did you stop beating your wife, Mr. President?

Maybe if he read the papers instead of leading this country from inside the mental equivalent of a couch-cushion fort, Shrub wouldn't get so confused by "trick questions" like "can you promise a year from now that you will have reduced the number of troops in Iraq?"

Deadly Choice Reveals Twisted Priorities

On October 12, 2003, Kim Brathwaite was faced with a difficult choice: the baby-sitter had not shown up, and she had to go to work. Should she leave her two children (a 9-year-old girl and a 1-year-old boy) home alone, or should she stay home with them and risk losing her job? What would you do? Assuming there was no alternative (i.e., leave the kids with a responsible neighbor or family member, etc.), it seems to me that the logical choice had to be go to work. Leaving the children without supervision for a few hours is unlikely to result in disaster, while, for a single mother, losing her job at McDonalds just might.
Recently promoted to assistant manager at the McDonald's, Brathwaite was required to work a rotating mix of morning, midday and nighttime shifts that made reliable child care nearly impossible to keep on her modest wages. Nor could she leave early, since she was responsible for securing the day's receipts. When desperate calls to the missing sitter and a neighbor went unanswered, her lawyer said, she was afraid of losing the job that supported her children. (From an article by Nina Bernstein)
As it happens, Braithwaite's apartment burned down while she was at work, and both children were killed. Could this tragedy have been averted? Perhaps. If the babysitter had shown up, or Braithwaite stayed home, perhaps the children would have been saved. Or perhaps there would have been three deaths instead of two. There is no doubt in my mind that Braithwaite did what she though was best for her children. According to Nina Bernstein's article, "though prosecutors concede that Justina and her mother were talking by phone as late as 10 p.m., when the baby sitter had still not arrived, such conversations fall far short of the adult supervision needed in an emergency." It is not entirely clear whether Bernstein here is expressing her own view or that of prosecutors, but there seems to me to be a gaping hole in this reasoning: Braithwaite was unaware of any "emergency". Rather, she was forced by circumstance to choose the lesser of two evils and hope for the best.

To put it bluntly, Brathwaite got fucked by the fickle finger of fate. Richard Wexler, the director of the National Coalition for Child Protection Reform, put it more eloquently: "Although news stories repeatedly say there is 'no firm rule' concerning when a child can be left alone, actually there is one," Wexler said. "It's the rule of fate. If something goes wrong, then you are a bad parent and you will be charged. If nothing goes wrong, you won't." (as quoted in the Bernstein article). And, yes, I did say "prosecutors". Step aside, fate: the Brooklyn D.A.'s office wants its turn.

No, Brathwaite is not a suspect in the arson investigation -- Bernstein reports that the Brooklyn D.A. is seeking to put Brathwaite away for up to sixteen years for recklessly endangering her children. Now, I did a little checking, and as far as I can tell, child endangerment is a Class A Misdemeanor in New York State. N.Y. Penal Code s. 260.10. Class A misdemeanors are punishable by no more than one year. N.Y Penal Code s. 70.15. So I'm not sure where the 16 years comes from, but I'm guessing the prosecutors have been a bit creative in what is clearly a full court press against this vicious, dangerous woman. Is this really where our resources should be devoted?

Does anybody think this woman has not suffered enough? Does anyone think that she needs to be put away for 16 years for the protection of society? "Stop her, before she tries to feed her family again!" Absurd. Ridiculous. Shameful. Want to keep this sort of thing from happening? What if there had been someone or somewhere dependable that Kim Brathwaite could have taken her kids to? What if our fair City spent less of our tax dollars stomping on the shattered pieces of a young woman's life and more on making affordable, effective child care available to single mothers who must work 12 hours or more a day to support their families (don't even get me started on the economy, or how many babysitters $87 billion would pay for)?

Child Care, Inc. reports that, despite increased federal funding, New York City has cut funding for child care services. Does this make any sense? When did this City's priorities get so twisted? Tell Mayor Mike what you think.

Dictators and Sit-Com Characters

This is truly unheimliche, but totally fun! (link here)

Your cash is good at the bar.

Welcome to Rick's.

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