May 30, 2008

“The American people should have been listening a little bit closer”

Posted in Government, Iraq, News, Politics at 12:59 pm by The Lizard Queen

Last night Keith Olbermann interviewed Scott McClellan, and they discussed McClellan’s new book and many of the topics contained therein. By and large there were few surprises, at least for anyone who’s been paying attention. Crooks and Liars has a video clip up, and they point out a couple of choice quotes from that particular segment. I wanted to point out a point in the interview that really agitated me, though. Here’s my transcription, with emphasis added:

Keith Olbermann: Relative to the media, and I’m asking this for every person who ever came up to me on the street and said, “I feel like I’m going out of my mind living through this, this cannot be the America that I grew up in” — Were the critics in the media and outside the media of the President largely right?

Scott McClellan: In terms of the Iraq war?

KO: Specifically that, and you can go out in any direction you want, but specifically in terms of Iraq.

SM: I think certainly in terms of Iraq there was a lot that they were right about, as I went back and reflected on this. It’s not that I’m necessarily aligned with them on some other views and things, but certainly on the buildup to the Iraqi war we should have been listening some more to what they were saying — the American people should have been listening a little bit closer to some of what was being said, but I like a lot of Americans was caught up in the moment of post-9/11 and wanting to put my faith and trust in the White House and the President that I was serving.

Excuse me, Mr. McClellan, but what about all those American people who were listening closely? What about those Americans who voiced concern during the buildup to the war, those who protested, who wrote to Congress and the President and anyone else with the potential to do something to prevent the war, who participated in prayer vigils and sit-ins and generally did whatever they could to make it clear that the President was not acting on our behalf? What about the 59,028,444 Americans who voted for John Kerry in 2004, many of whom were desperately trying to send the message that we did not approve of what our government was doing in Iraq?

Mr. McClellan, when you’re telling us that the leaders we ought to have been able to trust were lying to us, then I have absolutely no patience for statements that we ought to have been paying better attention. Fuck you, Mr. McClellan, for implying that actions that a lying, warmongering President takes can still somehow be laid at the feet of the people.

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May 26, 2008

Memorial Day links and thoughts

Posted in Government, History, Iraq at 4:55 pm by The Lizard Queen

Angry Black Bitch has a touching post up to mark the day: A Memorial Day memory…

Via Crooks and Liars comes this article about the prevalence of mental illness among veterans: On Memorial Day: Broken promises to our veterans

Also at Crooks and Liars is this week’s In Memoriam: “According to icasualties.org, the casualty count for Iraq is now 4,393. And per IBC, there were 158 Iraqi civilian casualties this week.”

Three of my four grandparents served in the military, and I’m grateful to them and to other veterans who have given their time, energy, and even lives to the service.  Even as I respect and appreciate their service, though, I can’t condone war.  My thoughts go to the words of President Eisenhower in 1953 (excerpted from a speech to the American Society of Newspaper Editors):

Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies, in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed.

This world in arms in [sic] not spending money alone.

It is spending the sweat of its laborers, the genius of its scientists, the hopes of its children.

The cost of one modern heavy bomber is this: a modern brick school in more than 30 cities.

It is two electric power plants, each serving a town of 60,000 population.

It is two fine, fully equipped hospitals.

It is some 50 miles of concrete highway.

We pay for a single fighter with a half million bushels of wheat.

We pay for a single destroyer with new homes that could have housed more than 8,000 people.

This, I repeat, is the best way of life to be found on the road the world has been taking.

This is not a way of life at all, in any true sense. Under the cloud of threatening war, it is humanity hanging from a cross of iron.

Given what I know about politics and the history of the Cold War, I’m not sure whether Eisenhower was truly in earnest or if the speech was mostly rhetoric (in spite of his assertion that he “care[s] nothing for mere rhetoric”) to get the Soviets, etc. to stand down.  Nevertheless, I believe that what he says is true.

October 16, 2007

Worth noting: Iraqi refugees

Posted in Iraq at 9:56 am by The Lizard Queen

Came across this article via Crooks and Liars and wanted to direct my readers toward it.  In the rush to remove Saddam Hussein from power, I wonder if the administration ever considered that there would be people who would flee the violence.  It wasn’t a bloodless coup, and they knew it wasn’t going to be, and yet… well, here:

The war has chased more than 4 million Iraqis from their homes, the United Nations has reported. The number is expected to reach 5.5 million by the end of this year.

The United States admitted 1,608 — instead of the promised 7,000 — in the past fiscal year and says it is preparing to increase the flow. It committed in April to take 25,000 Iraqi refugees altogether. . . .

But the Bush administration has fallen far short of its goal of accepting 7,000 this year. At a Geneva conference in April, the United States pledged to take in as many as 25,000. [Ellen Dumesnil director of refugee resettlement for Catholic Charities of Santa Clara] said the slowdown is a clause in the Patriot Act that bars immigration to anyone who has offered “material support” to the enemy.

That includes people who have paid ransom to insurgents who have kidnapped their loved ones, she said.

But a spokesman for the State Department said the only bureaucratic bottleneck was the lack of “infrastructure” in Jordan and Syria. With two refugee processing centers now in place, 1,000 refugees should now enter the United States each month, Kurtis Cooper said in a telephone interview earlier this month.

“We consider those issues to have been addressed,” he said.

“It’s mystifying,” said [Kathleen Newland, director of Migration Policy Institute, a nonprofit organization]. The long processing times occur “partly because they are Iraqis and the U.S. is conducting a war in Iraq,” she said. “But it’s also because … the government doesn’t want to concede the vast majority will not be able to go back.”

You can read the rest of the article, which includes individuals’ stories, here.

What gets to me more than the lack of sympathy from the government — that’s almost to be expected at this point — is the lack of sympathy evident in some of the comments on the article.  (I realize that, as a general rule, I just shouldn’t read comments threads, but I do anyway, I guess from that base rubbernecking impulse that most of us humans have.)  One person even went so far as to ask, “Another bunch of illegals??”  Is this just simple us-versus-them syndrome: the refugees are Other, and so it’s impossible for some people to sympathize?

I wish I had the answers.

September 12, 2007

What have we accomplished in six years?

Posted in Government, History, Iraq, Politics at 7:22 pm by The Lizard Queen

It was a beautiful Sunday in early October. A few friends and I had gone to a rock climbing gym in eastern Massachusetts (I was living in Connecticut at the time, but most of my friends were in Boston). The scene is crystalized in my head: I was midway up a wall, concentrating on choosing my next handhold. It was my first time climbing, and I was loving it, largely because of the way it forced me to focus. Worries and depression were supplanted by where to put my hands and feet.

I paused, though, to listen to the radio. President Bush was speaking, and while there had been a lot of posturing over the previous couple of weeks, I was still inclined to listen when he spoke. War — something I’d always considered to be relegated to the history books — seemed imminent. Indeed, until this past weekend, when I tried to find that particular speech, I thought Bush had declared war that day. I see now that he avoided using those particular words: Read the rest of this entry »

September 3, 2007

If she were Kevin Couric, she’d be a national hero

Posted in Feminism, Iraq, Media, News, Wingnuts at 1:54 pm by The Lizard Queen

Recently Katie Couric was criticized by wingnuts for heading to Iraq to do in-the-field coverage.  Won’t somebody think of the children?! they wailed.  I’m exaggerating, of course, but not by much (emphasis in the original):

In two separate segments yesterday, Fox News attacked CBS Evening News anchor Katie Couric for reporting from the ground in Iraq, calling it “a desperate move” and asking if it was a “ratings ploy or legitimate journalism.”

On Your World With Neil Cavuto, guest host Dagen McDowell featured Janice Crouse of Concerned Women for America, who characterized Couric’s trip as “a clear act of desperation” by a single mother whose “priorities [are] so determined by her ambition rather than her children’s welfare.” Crouse pointedly accused Couric of being a bad mother for going to cover Iraq:

I would say the same thing if this were a man journalist going out there, a male anchor, because when you look at the choice she’s making, she’s saying my ratings are more important than my children. That’s the bottom line.

Later in the afternoon, The Big Story With John Gibson hosted New York Post columnist Linda Stasi, who called Couric’s trip “a desperate move” to gain “some sort of credibility.” “You know and I know that she doesn’t have to be there for the report,” said Stasi.

First of all, technically speaking, yes, Katie Couric is a single mother.  However, generally that phrase is used as a pejorative for an uppity woman who chooses not to get married or chooses to get divorced.  I think they’re trying to do the same thing here — except that in this case in particular that phrase only serves to make the wingnuts look bad, because Katie Couric is a widow.  You’d think they’d be pointing to Couric as a model of wifelyhood: look at her, her husband died and she had the decency not to get remarried!  She’s wedded to his memory!  But evidently their frustration at a woman’s choice to remain without a man trumps their you’re-only-supposed-to-get-married-once rhetoric.  Plus she kept her last name when she married her late husband, so she is clearly an irredeemable feminazi. Read the rest of this entry »

August 20, 2007

Dick Cheney’s a prophet

Posted in Iraq at 2:54 pm by The Lizard Queen

I suspect that many, if not most, of my readers have seen the clip that’s been floating around the tubez of Dick Cheney explaining, in a 1994 interview, why coalition forces didn’t push on to Baghdad from Kuwait during the first Gulf War. Just in case you missed it, though, here’s the clip:

Choice quotes:

  • “. . . if we had gone to Baghdad we would have been all alone, there wouldn‘t have been anyone else with it, it would have been a U.S. occupation of Iraq. Once you got to Iraq and took it over, took down Saddam Hussein‘s government then what are you going to put in place?”
  • “It’s a quagmire . . .”
  • “. . . how many additional dead Americans was Saddam worth? Our judgment was not very many and I think we got it right.”

I find it unsettling how accurate that assessment was, down to the use of the word “quagmire.” Still, that interview happened nine years before the U.S. invasion of Iraq in 2003, so one might charitably argue that enough changed over the course of those nine years to convince Cheney that overthrowing Saddam Hussein had become worth it.

However, on Friday Countdown showed a clip of an MSNBC interview with Cheney in 2000, in which his stance on invading Iraq didn’t seem to have changed. I can’t post the video (don’t know how Crooks and Liars does it), but here’s what he said (from the show’s transcript):

CHENEY: Instead of being the leader of international coalition that came and reversed aggression and risk toward civil order, if you will in that part of the world, we shift and become the imperial power coming in from willy-nilly occupying national capitals, taking down governments we disagree with that we don’t like.

So, in short, Cheney knew exactly what we were getting into when we invaded Iraq. He could have predicted (and, essentially, did predict) how poorly it would go. I have a very hard time believing that he was so convinced by reports of WMDs and/or human rights violations that he thought the pros of invading outweighed the cons. So, why are we there, again? I mean, I realize that Cheney isn’t (technically) the final decision-maker in the executive branch, but… well, you know where I’m headed. I tend to want to give the right-wing warmongers the benefit of the doubt in the sense that they believe their own information and rhetoric. This makes it clear that, at least in the upper echelons, that isn’t the case.

June 1, 2007

June 1, 2007

Posted in Iraq at 4:00 pm by The Lizard Queen

Iraq PM: ‘Our forces will be ready by June ’07”:

MSNBC News Services
Updated: 6:23 p.m. MT Nov 30, 2006

AMMAN, Jordan – Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki said Thursday that his country’s forces would be able to assume security command by June 2007 — which could allow the United States to start withdrawing its troops.

“I cannot answer on behalf of the U.S. administration but I can tell you that from our side our forces will be ready by June 2007,” Maliki told ABC television after meeting President Bush on Thursday in Jordan.

Maliki was replying to a question about whether U.S. troops could start withdrawing at that time.

Well, here we are: we’ve reached June of 2007, and there’s been no indication that we’ll be withdrawing anytime soon. Where do we go from here?

[h/t to Crooks and Liars]

May 22, 2007

World’s largest embassy

Posted in Government, Iraq at 10:13 pm by The Lizard Queen

Came across the following story thanks to Crooks and LiarsNew U.S. Embassy in Iraq is world’s biggest (emphasis added):

The new U.S. Embassy in Baghdad will be the world’s largest and most expensive foreign mission, though it may not be large enough or secure enough to cope with the chaos in Iraq.

The Bush administration designed the 104-acre compound — set to open in September in what today is a war zone — to be an ultra-secure enclave. Yet it also hoped that downtown Baghdad would cease being a battleground when diplomats moved in. . . .

The $592 million embassy occupies a chunk of prime real estate two-thirds the size of Washington’s National Mall, with desk space for about 1,000 people behind high, blast-resistant walls. The compound is a symbol both of how much the United States has invested in Iraq and how the circumstances of its involvement are changing.

The embassy is one of the few major projects the administration has undertaken in Iraq that is on schedule and within budget. Still, not all has gone according to plan.

The 21-building complex on the Tigris River was envisioned three years ago partly as a headquarters for the democratic expansion in the Middle East that President Bush identified as the organizing principle for foreign policy in his second term.

How’s that working out for you, Mr. Bush?

May 2, 2007

Lest we forget…

Posted in Government, Iraq, Politics at 11:07 pm by The Lizard Queen

Yesterday marked the fourth anniversary of the day President George W. Bush announced “Mission Accomplished.” Here’s the speech he made from the deck of the USS Abraham Lincoln. Also, here’s a retrospective on Media Matters, and here’s the most recent Tom Tomorrow cartoon. There’s nothing I can say that hasn’t already be said, but my heart aches.

January 23, 2007

SOTU open thread

Posted in Education, Government, Iraq, Politics at 8:40 pm by The Lizard Queen

I listened to approximately six minutes of this evening’s State of the Union address. Bush managed to infuriate me twice in that time: first by talking about decreasing spending when even conservative estimates as to how much money is being spent on the war in Iraq are staggering, and then by discussing No Child Left Behind in unabashedly glowing terms when the act is flawed at best. I opted to turn the radio off before I burst any blood vessels.

Evil Bender (after glancing at this post over my shoulder): “SOTU makes me think of STFU.” Indeed–and, for me, in more than one way…

Your thoughts?

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