The Story Of How We Begin To Remember

Tristero at Hullabaloo published a blog post the other day that made me frown.

Al-Qaeda As Catch-All Term

by tristero

Glenn Greenwald rightly takes Kenneth Pollack to task for this idiocy from the NY Times:

Some other analysts do not object to Mr. McCain’s portraying the insurgency (or multiple insurgencies) in Iraq as that of Al Qaeda. They say he is using a “perfectly reasonable catchall phrase” that, although it may be out of place in an academic setting, is acceptable on the campaign trail, [emphasis: Greenwald’s] a place that “does not lend itself to long-winded explanations of what we really are facing,” said Kenneth M. Pollack, research director at the Saban Center for Middle East Policy at the Brookings Institution.

What Glenn doesn’t realize is something that Pollack surely knows, which is that Philip Bobbitt is trying to make the catch-all “al Qaeda” academically acceptable as well. From a review of Bobbitt’s latest:

Bobbitt’s central premise is that today’s Islamic terrorist network, which he calls Al Qaeda for short…

I frowned because a few weeks ago in conversation I heard two adults discussing how sane and level-headed John McCain was and I said, “No, no. He’s batshit crazy, which will be unmistakable at some point soon.” MaCain had already begun conflating Sunni and Shi’ite, Madhi Army and al-Qaeda, which is inexcusable but sounded like a mistake the first time, the second time, even the third. Twice, Joe Lieberman whispered in McCain’s ear and McCain corrected himself. The sixth and seventh time the candidate misspoke, it was apparent to keen observers a pattern had developed. Hopefully, I thought, a good night’s sleep and a little gingko biloba might fix up the old coot. He’s disqualified himself from serious consideration for the office in question by virtue of being unable to state who’s the actual enemy we’re pretending to fight, but maybe he’ll be okay at dinner parties. Except, that’s not what’s happening here.

This morning, Pete turned on CNN while we did that daily How Many Fingers Am I Holding Up? ritual. While I was in the “Three – no, two!” phase, our blond newscaster talked and talked and talked. Each story seemed unbelievable to her. The sound of her voice reminded me of Drew Barrymore’s Jillian on Family Guy, which is already annoying before coffee. Then our story turned to Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr – that’s who we were looking at – but the broadcaster talked about “al-Qaeda in Iraq.” I sat up straight and growled. She went on to say al-Sadr had indeed warned the Iraqi government to cut out what it’s doing. I have no opinion about who is good or bad in this situation, and I won’t be drawn into discussion of it.

No.

What pissed me off beyond the ability to speak was the presumption that I, CNN viewer coming to on Sunday morning, don’t know that al-Sadr is Shi’ite, allied with Iran and al-Qaeda is profoundly, deeply Sunni, allied with Saudi Arabia, and these two groups are not fucking conspiring. They hate each other so much, so thoroughly and for so many hundreds of years they haven’t joined up to destroy the occupation.

Sure, it’s all about me, and by me, I mean news-watching registered voters. Here is a related CNN story that is more clear about who’s who, but not by much.

CNN has some explaining to do. Care to ask them to try?

Update: Crooks and Liars takes up Intellectual laziness and the ‘al Qaeda’ shorthand as our chief diplomat calls al-Sadr “coward.”

I Was Not Ready For the Wnter

Today marks the fourth anniversary of Poor Impulse Control as a blog Paulie Gonzalez set up in self-defense. Well, sort of.

Paulie: It’s called blogging and you should do it.
Tata: I don’t know. It’s a new medium. I can’t write anymore.
Paulie: You’re going to write again because when you don’t you go crazy.
Tata: It’s that bad, huh?
Paulie: I priced a woodchipper.

Domestic violence is no joke but the mental picture of smiling Paulie returning rented equipment dripping with blood and a hearty, “I had to compost a wildebeest” is hilarious. I gave in and agreed to blog, but I had no idea what I was doing.

Ever get so sick of yourself you think ‘If I don’t start doing something new and different there’s going to be an Unfortunate Incident at the Kentucky Fried Chicken, with film at 11’? Yeah, me too. If we pass one another on the way to making this terrible mess, let’s double-park on Easton Avenue, exit our vehicles and incite onlookers to riot. But with music, so technically it’s dancing.

Fortunately, the Kentucky Fried Chicken burned down and took two businesses with it, then I moved back across the river to the town that hugs Route 27 like a swollen prostate. Decorative pear trees line the main drag and today I’m soaking up sunshine at the family business as the pear trees snow white petals on traffic. It looks like a sunny blizzard out there. That guy driving the Lexis convertible looked a little perturbed.

I still don’t know what I’m doing but check out the archives. I sure have done a lot of whatever it is.

You Can Only Train Elephants

Meet Zaidie.

Wendy, whom I’ve never met and no, we have NOT practiced this trick in front of a mirror ten thousand times, sent along this picture of her new puppy. If you’ve missed reading the comments here for a few months, Wendy worked up the nerve to acquire a pup. Zaidie is an impetuous fellow with a great deal of energy, which is a great combination in all one’s closest wild animal friends outdoors. Indoors? Hide your shoes. And the couch. Everything’s so delicious! How can he be blamed for the deliciousness of EVERYTHING?

I love stories about people acquiring animal companions. The shelters are full of people disguised as dogs, cats, ducks, reptiles – you name it – waiting for people to love. Our homes are happier and we’re happier when we find the right companions. Look at that face! That little guy is so cute I made the “nom nom nom” noise. I’m deeply ashamed!

But really. That is one adorable puppy. Congratulations, Wendy!

Like A Record, Baby

Let’s talk about focus. Here are 41 seconds of the tightest focus you may ever see.

On Monday, I got into it with the emotionally charged commenters at Shakespeare’s Sister, which has happened before. This morning, I found I’d written about it several years ago.

Siobhan: You’re talking about Shakespeare’s Sister?
Tata: Yeah, how’d you know?
Siobhan: That’s the expression your face gets everytime.
Tata: What? I have a look just for a person I’ve never met?
Siobhan: At least she makes you think!

Life is short, unless you’re in prison. A gal’s got to pick her battles and fewer of them as age creeps up and metabolism slows. For instance: that I get to work in the morning is a daily miracle; there’s no way I’d have the time or energy to pick a fight with a bigtime blogger and pin him to the mat. So I’m watching the fracas with the expression on my face that says, “Look at that girl go! She’s gonna run out of stomach lining before she runs out of opponents.”

Except in this case, I’d said to Melissa, “Let’s make some noise,” and the ensuing ruckus turned out to be just another pointless argument with misogynist trolls. It was disappointing, but I remember a time when I thought it was simply peachy to vent my frustrations in bar fights. Nothing changes when energy is dispersed this way. I don’t have the strength anymore to argue, let alone to no result, and Shakespeare’s Sister is not my blog. In my vast middle age, I prefer direct action to simmering in my emotions: I gather information, then write letters or phone. Here, Digby lays out the facts.

As you well informed blog readers all know by now, last week ABC broke an interesting little story. It was about how Condi Rice, Dick Cheney, Alberto Gonzales, Colin Powell, George Tenent, John Ashcroft and other Bush “Principals” all gathered in regular meetings in the White House to discuss and approve of the various torture methods being used against prisoners held by the United States in the War On Terror. ABC interviewed the president a couple of days later and asked him if he was aware of these meetings and he said he was not only aware of them, but that he’d approved of them. Moreover, he specifically said he had no regrets about what was done to Khalid Sheik Mohammed, who we know was tortured with simulated drowning — also known as “waterboarding” — which is considered by the entire civilized world to be torture.

As I said, we know all this. The blogs have been writing about it non-stop since last week, stunned and appalled at the picture of these high level public officials sitting around watching power point presentations about the efficacy of sexual humiliation and CIA operatives “acting out” various torture techniques for their approval. (According to ABC’s source, they went farther than the Yoo memos and mandated that certain techniques could be used in tandem to make the “enhanced interrogations” even more painful.) At the CIA’s request, they explicitly signed off unanimously on each instance of torture — torture which included many of the techniques described here by former POWs of North Vietnam. POW’s like John McCain.

Please read the rest. It’s concise and effective, leading to a plan at Firedoglake.

Bush Approves of Torture. We Don’t.

In a stunning admission on April 10, George Bush admitted that he approved of torturing detainees in U.S. custody.

Write to the editors of local and national newspapers to help get the word out that while Bush approves of the U.S. torture, we – the American people – do not.

Individual effort. Focus. A tidal wave of voices. I like it. I’m going to write, and I hope you will too, wherever you are. And for the time being, I’ll avoid comments threads steered to time-wasting nowhere by the whims of trolls.

Yesterday, Today And Tomorrow

Friday.

Everything happened at once on Sunday and Monday. I couldn’t go to Virginia last weekend and the guilt was tremendous. Daria, Darla and Dara packed the up the house, though the packing never seemed to end, and on Sunday night, Daria had to leave to get her children to school Monday morning. Darla’s ex-husband drove down from Canada with a truck they packed all night. At about dinnertime yesterday, they closed up the house and Darla went home to Canada. Today, Dara went back to high school. We have said goodbye to Dad’s house, and to our life with Dad. For us, it is over. For Darla, a new life begins.

Yesterday.

Miss Sasha, Mister Sasha and baby Panky – now nearly four months old – are leaving their house in California right now. Miss Sasha reports the house is clean, the boxes are stacked in another truck they’ll drive to San Francisco today. They have a plan, places where they have to report to the Air Force, and sights to see on their journey to North Dakota. They leave behind a forwarding address for packages that did not arrive in time, which turns out to be important. The birthday presents I mailed a week ago did not arrive. Let’s hope weary travelers are greeted at their new home by felicitous gifts.

Today.

I am washing and drying crisp pinstriped sheets and luxurious bath towels at home this afternoon. Yesterday I had some dental work done, so this morning, I called work and said my head wanted to stay flat for the foreseeable future. When you sit up and your skull says, “No, no, you had it right the first time,” you go back to bed too, right? Even Blogger refused to publish until now in the face of all this. The windows are open wide and a breeze perfumes the apartment. Sunlight dances along the surface of the gold organza curtains. This day was always coming. I can only let it pass through me on its way to Long Ago.

You Should’ve Left the Light On

ABC News:

President Bush says he knew his top national security advisers discussed and approved specific details about how high-value al Qaeda suspects would be interrogated by the Central Intelligence Agency, according to an exclusive interview with ABC News Friday.

“Well, we started to connect the dots in order to protect the American people.” Bush told ABC News White House correspondent Martha Raddatz. “And yes, I’m aware our national security team met on this issue. And I approved.”

Game over. That’s an admission to a war crime. In any civilized nation, the people would have taken to the streets and demanded the head of that lawless bastard on a pike, but no. We’ve got dentist appointments and Monday morning commutes. Via Hullabaloo, where the analytical mind goes to scream into its pillow:

“When word of torture and mistreatment began to slip out to the American press in the summer of 1969, our public-relations-minded captors began to treat us better. I’m certain we would have been a lot worse off if there had not been the Geneva Conventions around.”
– John McCain

The current administration has disposed of habeas corpus. McCain now says torture is hunky-dory. We are in grave danger.