Saturday, July 29, 2006

Another Day in Bananastan


BAGHDAD, Iraq, July 29 — The State Department agency in charge of $1.4 billion in reconstruction money in Iraq used an accounting shell game to hide ballooning cost overruns on its projects there and knowingly withheld information on schedule delays from Congress, a federal audit released late Friday has found.


WASHINGTON, July 28 - U.S. citizens suspected of terror ties might be detained indefinitely and barred from access to civilian courts under legislation proposed by the Bush administration, say legal experts reviewing an early version of the bill.

Go back to your play-station, Bananastani. Sit. Diddle.




and their website
and more songs here

one album and gone

an unbelievably generous website from a great band





In random order: Yes, Yes, No, I don't get the fuss (not Thom Yorke)
Huh? Blah, No (though I like her other band), Huh? No, YES!

Friday, July 28, 2006

Image Warfare

night on the News Hour a panel session debated the media “prism” of reporting perspectives on the war in Lebanon. They made all the panel noises you would imagine, but someone then made the importantly obvious observation that what Arabs see on their television is a different war than the war we don’t see on American television. We are forbidden to see flag-draped coffins of dead soldiers, after all, and as far as the carnage American weaponry inflicts collaterally on the innocent, let’s just pretend we’re too good, morally as a nation, to bother witnessing our oops. As one panelist said, Arab television is full of images of disemboweled children and severed body parts and “pieces of flesh.” Another chimed in, “I agree. You can never overestimate the power of images.”

The Bush Administration doesn’t overestimate the power of images, which is why we don’t see the images the rest of the world sees every day. Maybe the administration believes the American public lacks the heartless fortitude to fight the war with the steely relentlessness that’s needed (should it be shown the physical reality of warfare). Maybe Americans don’t want to see images that would show Americans we’re not the blameless peaceful god-blessed humanitarians bringing democracy and Wal-Marts and apple pie to the world we claim we are. Americans can be spurred to war by stereotypes of the evil-other, but to maintain those stereotypes no humanizing images of the suffering inflicted on the evil-other can be permitted. The gutted corpse of the four year girl who may or may not have grown-up to hate America undermines the will of the sympathetically simpering, who can only enthusiastically support war if they are fully engaged with the propaganda while simultaneously remaining shielded from the carnage their engagement allows. Heaven protect our self-image, and protecting that self-image requires that all images that contradict that self-image be suppressed.

Meanwhile the Arab world sees daily not only images of crippled children and rubbled hospitals and grieving families, it sees the sanitized version of the world on American TV. The New York Time today reports that Hezbollah is winning the war of Arab hearts, and since that was their primary goal, they’re winning the war. The Arab world can turn on the television and see the devastation wrought by all sides – al-Q, Hezbollah, Israel, America – and, understanding the complexity and tortured history of the situation, that there are good and bad people on all sides, they then switch to American TV and see the candied-American version of the war, which bears no resemblance to the war they are living through, and consider.

And they can turn on the TV and see the United States President say:

"It's an interesting period because, instead of having foreign policies based upon trying to create a sense of stability, we have a foreign policy that addresses the root causes of violence and instability. For a while, American foreign policy was just, 'Let's hope everything is calm' -- kind of, managed calm. But beneath the surface brewed a lot of resentment and anger that was manifested on September the 11th. And so we've taken a foreign policy that says: On the one hand, we will protect ourselves from further attack in the short run by being aggressive in chasing down the killers and bringing them to justice.

"And make no mistake: They're still out there, and they would like to harm our respective peoples because of what we stand for. In the long term, to defeat this ideology -- and they're bound by an ideology -- you defeat it with a more hopeful ideology called freedom. And, look, I fully understand some people don't believe it's possible for freedom and democracy to overcome this ideology of hatred. I understand that. I just happen to believe it is possible. And I believe it will happen.

"And so what you're seeing is, you know, a clash of governing styles.

"For example, you know, the notion of democracy beginning to emerge scares the ideologues, the totalitarians, those who want to impose their vision. It just frightens them. And so they respond. They've always been violent.

They watch this fricking moron, and then they switch the channel and see children decapitated by US bombs. You can never overestimate the power of images. No wonder Hezbollah's winning the war for hearts. The only question is how much more anti-American hatred can we generate.
Hype Before Worthy

I've been waiting for the first real "is this DC United team one of the best in MLS history" stories, and here it is, posted yesterday at MLSnet.

Should United win the Supporters Shield, win the MLS Cup, and maybe throw in a US Cup too (though I'd argue the first two would suffice), no one could argue that this team would belong in the argument. Baring unfortunate injuries to more than one key player and/or an unforeseen dropoff in play, the Supporters Shield seems highly possible: if Dallas were to average two points a game in their remaining season they would finish with 62 points, meaning DCU would need 18 points out of 12 games, which seems very doable. As far as the MLS Cup, well, it's bogus, as DCU sorta proved in 2004 and LA Galaxy definitively proved last year. United will still probably enter the tournament (insert your own anti-playoff screed here) as favorite.

The discussion of this team and its place in MLS history however needs to start with an assessment of the league's overall strength this year as opposed to the overall strength of the league circa 1998 or 2000 or whenever. I don't know if this year's parity (outside of DCU, Dallas, Houston) is a result of a decent level of strength among the teams or a sign of mediocrity. It's hard to watch a Columbus - Kansas City game and argue it's the former. Ningland should be better (and I still think Ningland will be playing in RFK on November 4), Nyorkyersey should be better, Kansas City should be better, but the fact is they're not, and it all can't be ascribed to DCU's superiority. It is a sign of a good team to beat teams they should, but until and unless DCU stomp through the rest of the season, the postseason tournament, and then win at least the first two rounds in CONCACAF Champion's League next winter, can we all hold off on annointing them the best of anything yet?

Thursday, July 27, 2006

On Gutlessness

Here are three paragraphs from an A-3 article in today's Washington Post by Peter Baker. The first is paragraph 3, the second paragraph 6, the third is the third from the end:

In a second term marked by one setback after another, the White House was in the midst of a rebuilding effort aimed at a political comeback before November's critical midterm elections. Now the president faces the challenge of responding to events that seem to be spinning out of control again, all but sidelining his domestic agenda for the moment and complicating his effort to rally the world to stop nuclear programs in Iran and North Korea.

- - - -

Bush advisers who have been buffeted in the past year by a catastrophic hurricane, rising gasoline prices, a failed Social Security initiative, Republican revolts, criminal investigations and a relentless overseas war said they have grown accustomed to constant crisis. "This is a new normal for our administration in the last couple years," said one senior official. "You begin to expect the unexpected."

- - - -

The White House sees the risk but is banking, in part, on the Democrats' history of not capitalizing on such moments. Bush advisers point to 2004, when the situation in Iraq appeared particularly dire, and yet the president won reelection and Republicans retained both houses of Congress.

Rove's strategy is clear: Screw up the world as badly as humanly imaginable and wait for the Democrats to say nothing! Then accuse them of spinelessness, of having no ideas, no fortitude, no stomach for battle, of not being willing to defend their own ideals (such as they are) and therefore not being willing to defend America in a time of global crisis. Imagine how craven Democrats would be if Bushco only half screwed up the world.

Except for the inconvenience of screwing the world up as humanly imaginable, it's a perfectly reasonable, perfectly successful strategy. If the Democrats cannot make significant gains based solely on the Fvcktard-in-Chief's performance - if they won't muster the guts to say what needs to be said, regardless of the political fallout - then they neither deserve power nor escape culpability for the results of the Fvcktard-in-Chief's performance. They are cowards.


Tristero at Hullabaloo

at Prospect

Drum, whose post points to something I'm going to write about: when Hezbollah and Al-Q put aside their wetdreams of killing each other to compete against each other in killing us, that's some mighty wicked shit.

And especially Bowers at MyDD - the point being, move to anger, don't move to whatever position the tools tell you the twister arrow is pointing at.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006


An article on a new
Eno art project.

New York Times soccer columnist sings DCU's praises.

Santino Quaranta, we hardly knew you.

Michael Franti goes to Baghdad.

Billmon is always indispensible, just some times more than others. Like now.

The Editors have more cat videos. You won't forget Pinky.

I'm harangue-heavy. I'll spare me and you. Have this:

This is Just to Say

by William Carlos Williams

I have eaten
the plums
that were in
the icebox

and which
your were probably
for breakfast

Forgive me
they were delicious
so sweet
and so cold


The Minutemen

Beat Happening

Minor Threat*

Husker Du

*930 Club 6/23/83 - See if you can spot me and Elric 7. Were you at this one, Landru?

Tuesday, July 25, 2006


You know what? Enough calm shit. At least today.

Tuesday's Stuff

The Nation's Adam Shatz on Sheik Sayad Hassan Nasrallah:

By striking at Israel's Army during its most destructive campaign in Palestine since 2002's "Operation Defensive Shield," Nasrallah must have known that he would earn praise throughout the Muslim world for coming to the aid of Palestinians abandoned by the region's authoritarian governments, a number of which have pointedly chastised Nasrallah's "adventurism." And by bloodying Israel's nose, Hezbollah could once again bolster its aura in the wider Arab world as a redoubtable "resistance" force, a model it seeks to promote regionally, especially in Palestine, where Nasrallah is a folk hero, and in Iraq, where Muqtada al-Sadr, the leader of the radical Shiite Mahdi Army, has proclaimed himself a follower of Hezbollah and has threatened to renew attacks against US forces in solidarity with the Lebanese.

Stanley Hoffmann examines American foriegn policy in the latest New York Review of Books:
The most flagrant and widely deplored contradiction is between America's self-image as a force for democracy and human rights and a reality in which many rights at home are sharply limited, the death penalty continues along with the torture of "enemy combatants," while the US repudiates the international laws of war. Abroad, the US support of dictators and its failure to protect victims of genocide in Rwanda and Darfur have contributed greatly to anti-Americanism. Foreigners can observe for themselves, on the one hand, the weakness of public services throughout the US, the cult of low taxes, and the distrust of any redistributive role for government and, on the other hand, the formidable apparatus of American military and intelligence services throughout the world and in the US itself. The strength of America's destructive power and the lack of American interest in nation-building and development abroad have become all too evident.

Actually, the sentences I find truly illuminating are these:

The rapid collapse of the Soviet Union left the US as the only superpower, or so it seemed. George H.W. Bush talked about a new world order, in which the "real world" of American supremacy and the formal world of the UN Charter would somehow merge. But Bush Senior was soon gone, and Clinton had no large international vision. This may have been a blessing, and relations improved with allies, including France and Germany, which had occasionally been miffed by shrill official statements about the US as the "indispensable nation" endowed with greater foresight than others.

People such as Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld, who had long thought it time to proclaim US hegemony, were enraged by Clinton's failure to do so.
Sums it up.

And in the same issue, Peter Galbraith counts the ways Bushco botched Iraq:
Trainor and Gordon present a devastating picture of Rumsfeld as a bully. Convinced of his own brilliance, Rumsfeld freely substituted his often hastily formed opinions for the considered judgments of his military professionals. He placed in the most senior positions compliant yes-men, like Myers, and punished those who questioned his casually formed judgments. He enjoyed belittling his subordinates. The day before the September 11 attacks, Rumsfeld told a Pentagon meeting that the Defense Department bureaucracy "disrupts the defense of the United States and places the lives of men and women in uniform at risk." His aides followed the same approach: Steve Cambone, Rumsfeld's closest aide, "jested that Rumsfeld thought the Army's problems could be solved by lining up fifty of its generals in the Pentagon and gunning them down."
Sums it up.

Have a short story from the great Alice Munro.

Have some music from M. Ward.

Have some more from the Burnside Project.

Have one more from My Morning Jacket.
(Goodness gracious! I love this band.
Play it loud with someone you love,
even if it's only you.)

And finally:

Sunday, July 23, 2006


Alejandro Escovedo, who has been a favorite of mine for a long time, was profiled and interviewed this morning on NPR's Weekend Sunday Edition. I've written about him before, just a couple of months ago, so I'll just urge you to listen to the article, listen to the songs posted on the page, listen to the related articles at the bottom of the page, check out his website, his myspace page, and if you like what you hear, get the music.


Best point of the year.

What a difference how a 1-1 tie feels when you're the team catching up instead of the team getting caught. And Chicago wanted this one, to christen the stadium with a signature win, to stop United's unbeaten streak, to establish themselves as a serious team. Hah! I say.

I have an abundant heart. I am more than capable of joyously hating Chicago. MLS needs intense rivalries. With two more games between DCU and the lamely named Fire, after all the bad tackles and DCU denying - HAH! - Chicago a game they dearly wanted, maybe I'll get to hate another team this year like I hate Ningland already.

BTW, I have no idea how MLS is going to screw-up what they now have - a perfectly balanced schedule - when they bring in Toronto next year and whatever expansion teams in the future, but I really hope that if they go to multiple divisions they keep DCU, Ningland, NY, and Chicago together (and, I suppose Columbus, too). DCU, Ningland, NY are no-brainers, but I'm guessing they'll go geographic and spin Chicago away, which would be a shame.