Sunday, August 28, 2005

More journalists killed in Iraq than during 20 years of Vietnam War

If you see the movie CONTROL ROOM, it will be no mystery how more reporters have been killed in the the two plus years of Iraq than in twenty of Vietnam--it that film, An American A-10 targets Al Jazeera's headquarters, and kills the reporter on the roof, even though they had given their coordinates to us to prevent this since the same thing happened in Afghanistan.

Something similar happened to a PBS Frontline crew. They were filming a firefight, and when the American soldiers noticed them, they started firing on the film crew, clearly American and carrying bulky camera gear.

This is not an accident, but a matter of policy. The Bush people like controlling information, and an easy way to do that is to stop its collection in a lawless war zone, where you can blame it on a stray bullet or bomb.

The sad thing the numbers in this article show is that this is not a Baby Bush innovation. Similar numbers came out of our Yugoslavia campaign, and from a recent Algerian civil war that we were not involved in.

What our government has figured out is that if Americans can't see it, it doesn't exist. No American soldier has died or been disfigured, no Iraqi child killed or had his arms burned off and his whole family killed.

Knowledge is power, and we need that power to have a democracy. Whoever kills a reporter, kills a piece of democracy, regardless of what ideology the killer thinks he is attacking or defending.


Since U.S. forces and its allies launched their campaign in Iraq on March 20, 2003, 66 journalists and their assistants have been killed, RSF said.

The latest casualty was a Reuters Television soundman who was shot dead in Baghdad on Sunday while a cameraman with him was wounded and then detained by U.S. soldiers.

The death toll in Iraq compares with a total of 63 journalists in Vietnam, but which was over a period of 20 years from 1955 to 1975, the Paris-based organisation that campaigns to protect journalists said on its Web site.


More journalists killed in Iraq than Vietnam -RSF
28 Aug 2005 15:49:10 GMT
Source: Reuters

Monday, August 22, 2005

Using WHORES: an email exchange

I posted something on the discussion board referring to the Democratic Leadership Council (DLC) as "whores" for their relationship to big business. Someone read it and sent me this private email taking offense at my use of the word "whore." my response follows.
From: Eloriel
To: Yurbud (Professor Smartass)

I guess you haven't read DU rules lately (or ever?)? Some language -- including "whore" -- is no longer acceptable here:

While specific words are not automatically forbidden, members should avoid using racist, sexist, homophobic, or otherwise bigoted terminology. This includes gender-specific terms such as "bitch," "cunt," "whore," "slut," or "pussy," and terms with homophobic derivation, such as "cocksucker," which are often inflammatory and inappropriate. One common exception is the use of the phrase "media whore," which is permitted.

And why would you want to risk offending DU women with your sexist language in the first place?

I don't get it.

From: Yurbud (Professor Smartass)

I chose whore because it has more impact and takes up less space than prostitute.

It was also not meant in any way as an insult to women but to describe an economic relationship that we have no other equally insulting term for. If you have an equally effective way to make the same point with a different word, I'll consider using it.

It is more important to express things with the appropriate emotional force to get people's attention AND be accurate about what I'm describing than to avoid offending someone over a word that in this case probably has no connection to their life.

On the other hand, If you are a sex worker, I did not mean to insult you, anymore than I would mean to insult janitors if I said Bush isn't qualified to be one.

You would have a point if I used that particular word to refer to a woman simply for being a woman or in a way that I wouldn't refer to a man, like "that bitch" or "that whore." As far as I know, I have never posted anything like that about a woman here.

Like most people here, I have noticed that many female Senators and Congresspeople have acted with more courage and conviction than their more cowardly and compromised male colleagues. I would vote for Barbara Boxer for president without reservation, and I wrote Medea Benjamin to encourage her to run against Dianne Feinstein in the primary again because she would do a better job as senator than any other man or woman.

You probably know all this intuitively, just as you might use "bitch" to mean complain without thinking it's degrading to women.

Keep your eye on the ball here. We're talking about how to recover our democracy, and being insulted by this is on the level of which fork to use first at a formal dinner.

I recognize your user name, and I think we have often agreed on things.

But if you spend your time worrying about issues like this, you are likely to be frustrated and end up annoying people who would otherwise be your natural allies.

You might notice the exception at the bottom of the rule you cited.

In short, as a friend and ally, I ask you to grow the fuck up.

PS: I urge you to post this concern on a public board for discussion.

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

ATTACK heart of failed GOP economic faith

Deregulation, privatization, low taxes on the wealthy and corporations, anti-unions (both domestic and foreign)--which of these has been a success for average Americans?

Deregulation has led to Enron and related Wall Street scams. Unless you are in the top tier of investors, you can't know if the information you are getting on companies you are invested in or thinking of investing in is accurate.

When energy was deregulated, the prices shot through the roof and rolling blackouts resulted here in California, and the Northeast blacked out through corporate indifference to maintaining infrastructure when it wasn't required by law.

Letting corporations decide how to deal with environmental and labor concerns on their own has had equally disastrous results.

Privatization has been an even greater disaster. In principle (like communism) it should work beautifully: the profit motive should encourage efficiency and cost savings. In practice, there are two fatal flaws:

  1. The buyer and consumer of the services are not the same people. If the congressional committee or agency picks a low bidder who provides a crappy product or no product at all, they don't feel the effects, and the public doesn't even necessarily connect the dots back to that decision-maker.
  2. The contracting process is easily corrupted by campaign contributions and the revolving door. The first is self-evidently true. If someone makes a political donation, they will get special consideration. The second is a more insidious and deep-rooted. When you look at the history of businesses like Bechtel and Halliburton that have had their corporate officers like George Schultz, Cap Weinberger, and Dick Cheney go back and forth between Cabinet secretary positions and their corporate boardrooms, it's obvious they aren't taking a break to donate their services to our country--they are pursuing corporate profits by other means. Cheney's deferred compensation from Halliburton simply brings this out into the open.
Low taxes on the wealthy and corporations have been pursued since the Reagan era despite the vast majority of economists repudiating "trickle down" economics (a term right wing propagandists contort themselves to avoid while still defending the concept). What we have have lost in public services like education far outweighs the few low wage jobs that might be generated for extra caddies and cabana boys at country clubs.

Their anti-union policies have been the equivalent of an Iraqi IED, blowing countless Americans out of the middle class and into the Walmart class of working poor. Their trade policies not only undermine unionization here, but in the countries at the other end, freeing their governments to be even more brutal in stopping their workers from banding together to demand a living wage, and those are the people that we will call terrorists and spend hundreds of billions to kill when they get so desperate that they come here and blow themselves and a couple of Americans up too.

In the economic realm, doing what is morally right is also practical and in the security interests of the United States. We don't have many Europeans come over here and blow stuff up because they are relatively happy with their lives. Our own political system is more stable when we have a broad middle class, as is our economy when people make enough money to buy the products they make as even nazi-loving Henry Ford realized a hundred years ago.

The GOP economic platform benefits very, very few Americans, and you could almost list them by name and count them on your fingers and toes.

No one in Washington is saying this because this policy is bought and paid for with political donations and revolving door jobs for most Republicans and many Democrats.

For most of human history, there has been one economic model: those with the most money or brute force took from everyone else and reduced them to servitude and survival level poverty. For brief time in the United States and for a bit longer with more success in Europe, we tried another model, nurturing a broad middle class, giving all a chance at education, owning a home, and participating in the democratic process.

While there was a communist threat, the corporate world and the wealthy pretended to ally themselves with the middle and working class. But now that that dragon is slain, they have turned and pointed the long knives, still hot and dripping with blood, at our hearts.