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July 30, 2004
I Just Don't Believe It

Are we really trying to hide in Iraq? And if we are, is it for the reasons given in the article?

Failure to stamp passports is common practice at may country's borders, so we shouldn't be floating the idea of a war against Iran based on the flimsy excuse offered by the practice. That's the argument, anyhow.

Bill O'Reilly tells lies to make the Bush Administration sound better? Never believe it.

So, there's no right to sexual privacy? Baaaad ruling. When you start subdividing the concept of privacy and saying some kinds are protected and some kinds aren't, you start down a slippery slope.

This isn't a question of criminality, so why the nitpicking? (Possibly because some people can not be convinced they're not entitled to dictate what other adults do in their bedrooms.)

I don't believe in prisons for non-violent 'crimes' like smoking pot. Any time you find yourself imprisoning an outrageous percentage of your population, you should start looking at the laws. (Reports vary, but if these figures and these and these are to be believed, we need to rethink our drug laws, because an awful lot of those over two million prisoners are in for minor drug "offenses."

I don't believe in "racial profiling" but as we all know, it's been officially approved for fighting terrorists, so the Census Bureau has ponied up data on Arab-Americans. And the article itself explains why "racial profiling" is a joke.

The categories were Egyptian, Iraqi, Jordanian, Lebanese, Moroccan, Palestinian, Syrian, "Arab/Arabic" and "Other Arab."

Looks like we're actually looking for, let's say, Saudi Arabians like the ones who hijacked planes on 9/11. We're not looking for people from Afghanistan. (Remember Afghanistan? Home of bin Laden and the group that we're told masterminded the 9/11 attacks?) We're not looking for Iranians, either, which is a surprise to me, considering our checkered history with that country. I guess those three countries constitute "other Arab" which I find offensive on a level I find hard to articulate.

From the looks of that list, we're scrutinizing people with dark skins who have not particularly been involved in the recent "war on terror." (And, for the record? Had there been any danger, no matter how remote, that I might not have voted for Kerry/Edwards in November, the danger would have disappeared the instant I heard Edwards' speech the other night and his reference to the "war on terrorism." I was almost moved enough to write a check.)

Would the USofA media "kill" a story that put Iraq's future in a bad light? Of course they would, but I'm not sure this is what's happening now. I think the domestic media is bored with overseas coverage where their star 'journalists' and commentators can't do breezy, on-the-spot commentary and are hoping to turn our attention to the Conventions. They know how to cover Conventions, they've been doing them for years. (It's arguable that someone decided coverage of the ongoing unrest in too much detail would be met with claims bias of being "anti-Bush' at best or more likely "anti-American" during this election season.)

Remember that story about USofA soldiers forcing a couple of Iraq men to jump from a bridge, resulting in the death of one of them? Well, the story isn't gone (even though it didn't make cut for the USofA major mainstream media. First, the military 'commanders have been granted immunity. It seems that the defense is relying upon another soldiers report that he saw two guys get out of the river, and a lack of DNA evidence to defend against the charge.

Let's add arresting people for stupid things to the list of things I disapprove of. Although, I must say that I'm impressed that the level of, you know, actual crime in D.C. is so low that they have the time to watch for chewing on the subway station platforms.

And, of all the things I missed of the Convention coverage, I regret missing Barack Obama's speech the most. Krugman is right, the media tends to ignore issues and focus on the trivial. I tried, I really tried to listen to some of the talking head commentary that surrounded the tiny bit of actual Convention coverage we were being given, but it was impossible. When you turn on the television to see supposed professionals discussing the hand gestures to be used in an upcoming speech, you know these are not people with anything to add to the debate. Apparently Kerry made a great speech last night. I'll know tonight, after I turn on the VCR, fast-forward through the underbrush and debris of media personalities trying to make themselves into stars, and listen to the speech.

Oil in the election gears.

I found this interesting.

In South Africa, we have a term, "Ubuntu," which refers to the spirit of the community. It is a shortened version of a Xhosa saying which means that I am a person through other people. It means that my humanity is tied to yours.

It goes on to say the USofA needs to get out and meet the rest of the world.

And then, 30 seconds ago, I find myself in a conversation with someone at my office who thinks you should just randomly kill drug users and criminals as a means of crime deterrence and now I have a massive headache so I'm going back to work.

Posted by AnneZook at 07:31 AM


The best thing we did this week was turn to C-SPAN for complete convention coverage with no talking heads or pundits. Yeah, there were long stretches where nothing was going on, but you got to hear every single speech without any insipid "analysis" interrupting or following it, and you could make up your own mind about what was being said.

Posted by: Elayne Riggs at July 30, 2004 10:47 AM

And I so totally wish I'd done that.

I also heard that PBS did some excellent coverage.

I could kick myself for reflexively turning to CNN.

Posted by: Anne at July 30, 2004 12:17 PM

"So, there's no right to sexual privacy? Baaaad ruling. When you start subdividing the concept of privacy and saying some kinds are protected and some kinds aren't, you start down a slippery slope."

True, but what's interesting to me is that the legislature passed this law and is unwilling to overturn it. Why does the majority feel as it does down in Alabama?

Posted by: Lawrence Krubner at July 30, 2004 02:06 PM

"This isn't a question of criminality, so why the nitpicking? (Possibly because some people can not be convinced they're not entitled to dictate what other adults do in their bedrooms.)"

I keep thinking the argument is something like "If people find out that sex is pleasurable, then they may go out and do more of it", but I find I can never say it with a straight face.

Posted by: Lawrence Krubner at July 30, 2004 02:09 PM

Lawrence -

Theory #1 - They saw the word "sex" and voted "yes."

Theory #2 - They saw the word "aids" and told themselves, "hey, I'm against that."

Theory #3 - They don't know how to use them things so they don't think no one else oughta be using 'em either.

Theory #4 - Most of them are not actually paying attention, so a handful of wingnuts voted the measure in.

Posted by: Anne at July 30, 2004 02:50 PM

Anne - I bet the people of Afghanistan and Iran would be miffed at being in "other Arab" since they don't consider themselves Arab...

Arabs: name given to the ancient and present-day inhabitants of the Arabian Peninsula and often applied to the peoples closely allied to them in ancestry, language, religion, and culture. Presently more than 200 million Arabs are living mainly in 21 countries; they constitute the overwhelming majority of the population in Saudi Arabia, Syria, Yemen, Jordan, Lebanon, Iraq, Egypt, and the nations of North Africa. The Arabic language is the main symbol of cultural unity among these people, but the religion of Islam provides another common bond for the majority of Arabs.

I know the commander of the unit you reference..he got an Article 15 for his action which is mainly the "cover-up"..the prosecution would not have been able to get them at a court-martial especially since the soldiers charged with the more serious crimes wouldn't have testified without jeopardizing their own status..So the prosecution did what a lot of prosecutors do - they got the guys to agree to lesser charges (they're done as far as a military career) and now they can get them to testify against the soldiers charged with the more serious crimes given the case is not "slam-dunk"

And METRO police do take METRO rules seriously..there was an earlier case about a young person eating french fries or something..but the case was really about the woman ignoring the warning she was given..I mean, how hard would it have been to take the 30 seconds to finish eating before passing through the gates, especially after someone has asked you to do so?

Posted by: Col Steve at July 30, 2004 03:02 PM

I like having people knowledgeable about the military stopping by, Col. Steve. :)

I started to try and research the fate of the commander(s) but I couldn't find anything in the few minutes I had to search. I hoped someone better informed would be willing to fill in the blanks, and I thank you.

(It's tough to resist the, "You know him? Did he freak out when the story broke?" kind of questions, but I'm attempting discretion.)

And the METRO French Fry case involved, IIRC, a 15 year-old girl.

Personally, while I understand and sympathize with the struggle to keep littering under control, I think a "no eating" rule would be tough. At least here in Colorado, half the commuters drink coffee or eat breakfast on the way to work.

Posted by: Anne at July 30, 2004 06:53 PM

Anne: Regarding the distinction between terror, terrorism and islamism, you might find Caleb Carr's op-ed interesting: http://hnn.us/roundup/entries/6530.html
He argues something that I argued a while back (http://hnn.us/articles/183.html), in the halcyon pre-9/11 days: a consistent definition of terror will include some historic actions of the US, but it will also allow/force us to refine our methods and improve our future.

Posted by: Jonathan Dresner at July 30, 2004 11:52 PM

I know I posted a response to this yesterday. I wonder where it went?

Anyhow, I suggested that before we can teach the bear to dance, we have to catch the bear.

I entirely approve of the idea of a consistent definition of terrorism but I doubt that anyone would be more adamantly against a definition that actually included all terrorist activities than the USofA.

I'll read these two posts before I say more. Thanks for the link.

Posted by: Anne at August 2, 2004 09:08 AM