Saturday, January 21, 2006

Bone Me Up, Scotty!

Why does the White House Press Corps even bother?

Scott McClellan by virtue of his employment has to lie, dissemble, defer, deny, obfuscate and generally shovel bullshit every time he stands up in front of the Presidential Seal.
As the press never gets any serious information from Scotty, they should simply stop asking serious questions:

McClellan: "I know there's a lot of interest in the purported bin Laden audiotape that aired on al-Jazeera earlier today. The intelligence community is continuing to analyze the tape to determine its authenticity and if there is any actionable intelligence. If there is any actionable intelligence, we will act on it."

Q: The fact that it is on audiocassette rather than on videotape---what does that suggest to the intelligence community? Has Bin Laden given up on the VHS format? Why isn’t he burning CDs or ripping MP3’s? Surely the supply of audiocassettes is extremely limited these days. Couldn’t the CIA track audiocassette sales in the Pakistan area pretty easily? And does the inferior signal to noise ratio of ferromagnetic tape create problems in authenticating the recording. Was it a blank cassette or was it taped over "Queens Greatest Hits" or something similar?

McClellan: "We continue to act on all fronts to win the war on terrorism, and we will. The President is fully committed to doing everything within his power to prevent attacks and defeat the terrorists. We are taking the fight to the enemy; we are working to advance freedom and democracy, to defeat their evil ideology. We are winning. Clearly, al Qaeda and the terrorists are on the run."

Q: Are you suggesting he might have recorded over Bruce Springsteen’s ‘Born To Run’ or Wings’ ‘Band On The Run’? I'm just trying to read between the lines here.

McClellan: "They're under a lot of pressure."

Q: Billy Joel? The Queen and David Bowie collaboration?

McClellan: "I don't have anything for you on that"

Monday, January 16, 2006


I thought long and hard about this post. I WARN YOU, THE NEXT PICTURE MAY (AND SHOULD) TURN YOUR STOMACH

This is the official image of a Marine who died fighting in Iraq. I have blurred his face so that I could use his image to represent the 2200 or so thus far who have died in the invasion and occupation of Iraq. It is a classic portrait of a soldier, honored and remembered as disciplined and proud and noble, regardless of "race" or sex.

Over 2200 Americans have died thus far in the invasion and occupation of Iraq. The Iraqis have suffered well over ten times that amount as both soldiers and civilians and yet more will die on both sides and especially 'in between'--as the "collateral" damage that occurs when grand politics combine with simple bullets and cheap explosives

For an administration that refuses to allow the flag draped coffins of its "heroes" to be photographed upon their sad but noble homecoming from their service to the great causes the administration espoused, these men and women, these soldiers and their families are faceless.

For an administration that orders men and women to battle, yet rewards those who return from sacrifice to yet more sacrifice--loss of jobs, income, health and health insurance, child care and medical benefits, they are faceless.

Whilst demanding the support of all yet demanding the sacrifice of a few and with the collusion of the mainstream media too embedded in the production or seated too far away to understand the play and recognize the actors, these men and women are faceless.

This is a photograph of a Marine killed in Iraq late 2005, long after the WMD weren't found, long after Hussein was captured, long after Mission Accomplished, long after Rumsfeld said that democracy was "messy".

As I look at this Marine's picture many questions come to mind.

Who is this man? Why did he get his face blown apart? Did he die for his country? Did he die for me? Did he give up his life and his face so that I could be free? Did he die becuse my taxes sent him to a warin which he got his face blown away in a conflict I didn't support? Is it my fault he has no face? Is it his fault for joining the marines? Is it the fault of those who ordered him to war or are we all complicit?

Well one thing is for sure, I'll never know because although I found this image easily enough, I don't know who this soldier is, and I'll never know anything about him because his face and his brains and his thoughts and his life have been blasted to smithetreens because some tiny group of assholes decided it would be a good idea to invade Iraq and a larger bunch of assholes agreed.

Well now it's not just the namby pamby liberal elite who think the Iraq adventure was a bad idea, more and more of it's supporters are turning around. That's great, but too fucking late! Look at this guy! He's dead and he's got no face! Why? WHY?!

As an opponent of this war I owe this Marine and his buddies FUCK ALL! ! He didn't die for ME, he didn't die for my rights and freedoms, the Constitution or the Bill Of Rights, he didn't die for the good old US of A; he died for his buddies, his military and his Commander in Chief. And he got his face blown off in the process.

Excuse me, I'm assuming too much. I don't know this Marine. He may have served despite personal objections. Now he's dead and he doesn't even have a face. His family is entitled to remember him as he was when he was alive and full of promise. I'd prefer to remember him that way too. But though it's more productive to remember how people lived, one shouldn't forget how they died.

No matter the circumstance, no matter how great or mean the context, no one should be faceless.

Body Baggage

Search "body bags" on Google and you might come up with this.Note the tag line--"what will you put in yours?"It's clever, it's sexy and yet it makes me want to vomit.
Clearly I'm not the cynic I thought I was.

Does anyone remember the fuss over the number of body bags ordered for the 1991Gulf War? It was in all the papers.

Both pro- and anti-war citizens alike were alarmed at the number, even though the count represented just 3% of the total number of mobilized US personnel.
Whilst the vast majority of Americans supported kicking Iraq out of Kuwait, even the staunchest were troubled by the fact that the DoD had ordered 16,000 body bags for a force of over 500,000 deployed

But no matter; the Pentagon prepared once again for deaths in the thousands.

Employing the sometimes dubious but sometimes illuminating tool of comparison, the 2003 order of a mean of 9,000 body bags for a force of 140,000 suggests an anticipated "attrition" of not 3% (as in 1991) but 6% of total forces.

This doesn’t mean that the US soldiers in this instance were being regarded more as cannon fodder in 2003 than they were in 1991.
In 1991 over 500,000 US personnel were supported by an additional 160,000 Coalition (and significantly NATO) forces. They faced an Iraqi opposition nearly equal in number. However the Iraqis as a whole were decidedly less equal in training, equipment and logistical support and the wholesale desertion of the Iraqi airforce left the remainder in an untenable position.

In 2003 the forces were again almost equal in manpower but the Iraqis had even less equipment and support. In the Iraqi’s favor however was some knowledge of the forces they would face and particularly that they wouldn’t be fighting on some foreign battlefield but in their own country and for their own land.This is something that any general with a clue factors into his planning.
When attacking someone on their own turf it is important to give the defender a couple of extra aggression and determination points as a rule of thumb, hence the comparative doubling of body bags ordered relative to 1991.Nonetheless the expectation was clearly still in the thousands. What a relief when Baghdad was entered and so few US troops had been killed! Mission accomplished!

So far over 2,200 U.S military have been put into body bags, as have nearly six dozen journalists. Just recently Bush estimated 30,000 Iraqis dead. Bush has no credibility but if one adds "at least" to the claim it’s probably closer to the truth than anything he has ever uttered. I wonder has the excess U.S. inventory of body bags been provided to the Iraqis? Somehow I doubt it (and come to think of it I’m not sure the Iraqis would want to accept them, however practical they might be).

I watched my eldest brother being zipped up into a body bag and it was the first (but not the last) I’d ever seen.I was 15 and he was 24. He died at home from complications of a hole in the heart, not on a battlefield far away serving some great "cause". The last I saw of him was his pale serene face before it was replaced by a black impenetrable shroud sealed by metal teeth. One of the policemen present put a comforting hand on my shoulder as the medics loaded the suddenly anonymous black sack into the ambulance.

He was but one amongst tens of thousands who die every day as a part of the cycle of life over which we have little or no control.
But given the choice would we not all prefer to die individually in peace rather than collectively in the thousands or hundreds of thousands, by war?
And given the choice, wouldn’t we all prefer to die as we had lived, as recognizable individuals rather than as contents of an indistinguishable black bag?