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A Faerie's Farthing

Flitting through the internets looking for sparkly bits. All content mine and not to be reproduced without permission.

Location: All Material Copyrighted, United States

Saturday, November 26, 2005

Thanksgiving Leftovers Blog Round Up

Thanksgiving Leftovers Blog Round Up

Now that the turkey tetrazzini is all tucked away in the fridge, it's time to officially kick off the Christmakwansticekah Season. I could think of no one better to usher in the festivities than Jesus' very own General, Mr. J. C. Christian. His manly sermon offers good, christian advice for making sure the godless heathens don't co-opt the celebration the same way it was co-opted it from pagan cultures originally. He also provides us with a "holy card" to carry and share with likely sinners. Onward, Christian Soldiers!

In the beloved Science Friday tradition, our round up moves onward with talk of extraterrestrials. No; I haven't been scouring tabloids.net. Or at least, I imagine Jeff at Flypaper Theory wouldn't much appreciate the sentiment. Besides, he's just sharing news, even if he did file it under "Things That Make You Go Hmmmmm?" How are conspiracy theories about Roswell aliens passing as news, you ask?

Now, you might think these are the words of the local loony sitting at the end of the counter down at the pancake house, eh. Only you'd be wrong.

On September 25, 2005, in a startling speech at the University of Toronto, Paul Hellyer, Canada’s Defence Minister from 1963-67 under Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Prime Minister Lester Pearson, publicly stated: "UFOs, are as real as the airplanes that fly over your head."

Mr. Hellyer went on to say, "I'm so concerned about what the consequences might be of starting an intergalactic war, that I just think I had to say something."

..."The United States military are preparing weapons which could be used against the aliens, and they could get us into an intergalactic war without us ever having any warning. He stated, "The Bush administration has finally agreed to let the military build a forward base on the moon, which will put them in a better position to keep track of the goings and comings of the visitors from space, and to shoot at them, if they so decide."

...Paul Hellyer, who now seeks Canadian Parliament hearings on relations with ETs, on May 15, 2003, stated in Toronto’s Globe & Mail newspaper, “Canada should accept the long-standing invitation of U.S. Congressman Dennis Kucinich of Ohio to launch a conference to seek approval of an international treaty to ban weapons in space. That would be a positive Canadian contribution toward a more peaceful world.”

Those crazy Canucks! Wanting "peace on earth" to be more than just a holiday greeting! Where's their sense of adventure!? Even if they were eligible, they probably wouldn't want one of these exciting careers in Iraq.

With talk of possibly cutting our forces by 50,000 to 60,000 by the end of next year, it's interesting to note that Blackwater Security is in the mist of a massive recruiting campaign for what they call "a multi-phase, multi-year contract in Iraq."

In its October 2005 e-mail newsletter "Blackwater Tactical Weekly", Blackwater listed job opportunities in Iraq for a number of positions ranging from trainers and Coordination Officers who would "serve as the primary liaison between Iraqi officials, Coalition Forces, and US Government officials." to Project Managers with "15-20 years supervisory operational experience."

It's hard to tell exactly what they're on about, but the position listings make it sound an awful lot like Blackwater plans on training the Iraqi military at our behest.

Blackwater USA is seeking a highly qualified manager to oversee training being conducted in Iraq. This manager will be responsible for a wide spectrum of financial and logistic reporting as well ensure that the training is being conducted as required by the contract. This position will support a multi-phase, multi-year contract in Iraq.

...Program Manager - An experienced Program Manager to oversee a complex and intensive training contract in Iraq. The Program Manager will be responsible for a large cadre of instructors, Iraqi students, and base support operations.

Forget the UFOs; base operations support makes you go "hmmmm..." And I always thought jokes that "victory" and a "completed mission" meant "our permanent bases are done" were just snide commentary. Also residing in the "hmmm..." file would be anything involving School of the Americas darling, John Negroponte. It seems he brought his Honduras touch with him to Baghdad.

They really ought to send John Negroponte back to Iraq. It would be just like old home week.

...It's apparent -- both from this story and from reports by human rights groups (note the date on that one) -- that the U.S. and U.K. embassies have been aware for some time that Iraq's Ministry of the Interior has been turned into what the old National Guard used to be in El Salvador, or the Presidential Intelligence Unit in Guatemala, or the National Directorate of Investigation in Honduras, which is to say: death squad central.

And it's more than a bit noteworthy that something like this was predicted -- boasted about, really -- by anonymous Pentagon sources earlier this year.

"We're making great progress in Iraq," dear leader tells us. All I can say is he has a warped notion of "progress." But that's hardly news; the man's got a warped notion of everything, especially details of the factual record. Although it's probably more accurate to say that he simply doesn't care what the facts are; he much prefers his bubblevision and the way it contorts information, giving it that nice, soft edge and intriguing blur. Remember folks: It's not a lie if you really believe it! Or something.

Why can't Bush and Cheney engage in this debate honestly? I'm not referring to their continuing attacks on critics who have argued that the Bush administration deliberately misled the nation into war.

...Bush and Cheney keep insisting that this sort of criticism is out of bounds, without bothering to answer the well-founded charges. It's not surprising that they would fiercely attack such damaging criticism (which happens to reflect public opinion) with hot-blooded rhetoric not facts-based explanations. But they also seek to rig the debate over policy.

...Bush and Cheney are attempting characterize the debate over Iraq as one centered on a false choice: Turn the country over to Zarqawi--if he remains alive--or fight to keep Iraq from becoming the United States of Al Qaeda. If only it were that simple.

Take away the stop-Zarqawi-from-taking-over-Iraq rhetoric from Bush and Cheney, and what are they left with? Remaining in Iraq for years to promote democracy there and within the region? It's a noble-sounding cause, but one that becomes more difficult in an environment of intensifying sectarian tension. (Security in Baghdad's Green Zone these days, American reporters say, is worse than it was a year ago or two years ago.) Is it worth sending Americans to their death to protect and assist a government that is allied with Iran, that supports measures that undermine women's rights, that has been accused of corruption, that includes torturers?

...Jack Murtha has taken a hard look at the dilemma at hand. He has concluded the potential benefits of further U.S. military intervention in Iraq do not justify the costs (American lives, hundreds of billions of dollars and stretching thin his much-loved U.S. military). Right or wrong, Murtha is not making stuff up. The same cannot be said for the folks running the war.

Yes, well, not much can be said for them. But plenty is said of them, most of it being both unflattering and true. This crew has sought unprecedented powers for the executive branch, all in the name of strong national defense and fighting the eeeevil turrists. Sadly, they've been fairly successful in concentrating considerable power in the White House, especially in regards to War on Terror™ "detainees." This week it was announced that Jose Padilla, after being held for three years, will finally be getting the trial that used to be a hallmark of the American justice system.

Today the U.S. government formally indicted Jose Padilla, an American citizen arrested in the United States who had been held as an enemy combatant for three years outside the reach of the criminal justice system.

...Since 9/11 the Bush Administration has sharply criticized others for daring to suggest that citizens accused of terrorism should be dealt with through the criminal justice system. It has insisted that 9/11 changed everything and that terrorism must be dealt with through novel methods that dispense with the ordinary protections that the Constitution affords the accused.

...By indicting Padilla now, The Bush Administration moots Padilla's appeal to the Supreme Court. It also leaves standing the Fourth Circuit's decision in the Padilla case, which broadly upheld the President's power to detain U.S. citizens like Padilla as unlawful combatants.

...The Padilla case is a sobering lesson in how much leeway the President has to imprison and detain people for long periods of time in violation of the Constitution. The fact that the government's story about why Padilla was a threat has changed so frequently should give us pause the next time the government asserts that we should trust it when it rounds up U.S. citizens and claims the right to hold them indefinitely for our protection. Padilla may well be a very bad fellow, but we have a method of dealing with such bad fellows. It is called the rule of law, and we should not surrender it so readily merely because the President desires it.

This legal mumbo-mumbo could not be more important, especially in light of Congress' recent approval to suspend habeus corpus. If the court system is to be the last avenue of hope for such civil rights, Alito's nomination to the Supreme Court should give everyone cause to concern. He's hostile to the right to privacy, doesn't respect Congress as a co-equal branch of government, seems to think nothing of lying to the Senate and doesn't believe in the primacy of one person, one vote. Now we find out that he was a member of a less-than-tolerant organization at Princeton. Aravosis was in a mood:

Oh yes, and he was proud of it. You see, according to the club:

"People nowadays just don't seem to know their place," fretted a 1983 Prospect essay titled "In Defense of Elitism." "Everywhere one turns blacks and hispanics are demanding jobs simply because they're black and hispanic, the physically handicapped are trying to gain equal representation in professional sports, and homosexuals are demanding that government vouchsafe them the right to bear children."

Ah yes, all those uppity brown and yellow people, the gimps, the fags. And this man was proud of his association with a group that thought their ought to be strict limits on the number of women permitted to attend Princeton, since they were changing the student body "drastically" for the worse.

At least the Senate has until January to do their Alito homework. Reminders would be good, though.


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