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Autumn in Portland

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Light Rail Tracks

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Old Town

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Downtown

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Pioneer Square in the Rain

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Driving at Night

Photos by Michael J. Totten

The Memo

You’ve probably already seen this report by Stephen Hayes, who obtained a leaked memo, documenting Saddam Hussein’s supposed ties to Al Qaeda.

I am not qualified to go over this stuff. I don’t know how to tell the real intelligence from the bogus. But I will say this.

The idea that Saddam Hussein would never cooperate with Al Qaeda because the Baath Party is secular and Osama bin Laden is fundamentalist is wishful thinking in the face of conflicting evidence. Saddam Hussein has publicly boasted of his financial support for Hamas, which is every bit as fundamentalist as Al Qaeda. And the Baath Party in Syria has been propping up Hezbollah, the “Party of God,” for years.

No one should be surprised if this report turns out to be true or even partly true.

The Problem of Uzbekistan

Since 9/11, the US has been changing its attitude about third-world dictators. The “our bastards” realpolitik is slowly phasing out.

But what about Uzbekistan? The Bush Administration is rather, um, cozy with Islam Karimov’s repulsive regime.

It’s a tough question, a hard question. And Nathan Hamm, who lived and worked in Uzbekistan as a Peace Corps volunteer, has a pretty thoughtful answer.

Irony

Who said September 11 killed irony? Whoever it was, I agreed. And boy was I wrong.

Check it out. The Iraqi Communist Party supports the imperialist-capitalist-hegemonic war for oil. Oh, and they back Iraqi democracy, too. At least that’s what they say.

Someone tell Ted Rall…

And have a great weekend.

Bosnia Gets An Apology

Finally:

SARAJEVO (AFP) – The president of the rump Yugoslavia, now renamed Serbia and Montenegro, apologised for the “evil” his country had caused during Bosnia’s war of independence and asked for forgiveness.

“I want to use this opportunity to apologise for any evil or disaster that anyone from Serbia and Montenegro caused to anyone in Bosnia-Hercegovina,” President Svetozar Marovic said.

“There was injustice, evil, suffering and murder. There were things … one can’t imagine people doing,” Marovic said of the war.

This is a good time to thank President Clinton, too. He waited too long, but he did finally act to put a stop to it.

No thanks whatever to the UN. It refused to see, refused to act, and opposed what was finally done.

No thanks to the Republican Congress, either, especically Trent Lott, Don Nickles, and Tom DeLay. They blamed the atrocities on America, undermined the war effort, whined that we couldn’t win, and pressured Clinton to appease a fascist dictator. They should be ashamed of themselves, and they ought to apologize too. Now would be a good time since the Serbs have finally done it.

The Ultimate Wingnut

It seems that Ted Rall has become a fascist sympathizer. He wrote this appalling column on Veterans Day.

NEW YORK–Dear Recruit:

Thank you for joining the Iraqi resistance forces. You have been issued an AK-47 rifle, rocket-propelled grenade launcher and an address where you can pick up supplies of bombs and remote-controlled mines. Please let your cell leader know if you require additional materiel for use against the Americans.

He isn’t kidding.

Our leaders include generals of President Saddam Hussein’s secular government as well as fundamentalist Islamists. We are Sunni and Shia, Iraqi and foreign, Arab and Kurdish. Though we differ on what kind of future our country should have after liberation and many of us suffered under Saddam, we are fighting side by side because there is no dignity under the brutal and oppressive jackboot of the U.S. Coalition Provisional Authority or their Vichyite lapdogs on the Governing Council, headed by embezzler Ahmed Chalabi.

I love the use of the word “lapdogs.” He’s been keeping up on his World War II propaganda.

Now our only option is guerilla warfare: we must kill as many Americans as possible at a minimum risk to ourselves.

I don’t know what to say. This stuff just fisks itself.

Yesterday someone in the comments section said he is offended by the phrase “anti-Americanism.” He doesn’t believe the concept even exists. Let’s try not to be in too much denial here. Can any serious person say Ted Rall is pro-American? Or that he’s neutral?

Ted Rall isn’t some anarchist punk spraying digital graffiti on Indymedia. He’s a syndicated columnist.

His column is distributed by Universal Press Syndicate. I can hardly believe they distribute this crap. Are they looking for an excuse to can him? Giving him enough rope to hang himself?

Ted Rall has a right to free speech. Let him write his pro-terrorist screeds on his blog. There are plenty of good writers who deserve to by syndicated. Ted Rall is not one of them.

(Via Andrew Sullivan)

UPDATE: If anyone thinks Ted Rall is just getting inside the heads of the “resistance” and doesn’t mean anything special by it, here’s more.

UPDATE: It does helps to remember something Ted wrote just a little while back:

On July 5 a bomb killed seven recruits for a U.S.-trained Iraqi police force in Ramadi. U.S. occupation administrator Paul Bremer deplored the murder of “innocent Iraqis.” Cops who work for a foreign army of occupation are not innocent. They are collaborators. Traitors. They had it coming.

UPDATE: Patrick Lasswell wrote a letter to Universal Press Syndicate: Fire Ted Rall.

Dueling Cartoons

Tom Tomorrow is a talented cartoonist. Even when I think his work is hopelessly wrongheaded, as this cartoon making fun of warbloggers is, he can still make me laugh.

In this cartoon he goes on about “chickenhawks,” those who support the war but who aren’t in the military. In a sense he is telling people like me to shut up, which is annoying, but you can’t smash dissent (or in this case, assent) with a cartoon. He’s just making fun of us. Fine, Tom. Carry on.

He’s asking for it, even so, and this right-back-atcha cartoon by Mary at Exit Zero is priceless. (By the way, the person in the last panel is (ahem) Ted Rall.)

Purging the Dissidents

The left-on-left cat fight won’t be over any time soon.

T-bogg (a most impolite person) is still banishing moderate liberals as heretics, in this case Andrew Hagan. Today Andrew praises Hillary Clinton, but that’s not good enough for T-bogg. Oh no.

He thinks if someone isn’t 100 percent left-wing today then they have never been liberal. Like Stalin airbrushing Trotsky out of history, T-bogg says today’s dissident liberals were also right-wing in the past.

How’s the Inquisition going, dude? Workin’ for ya? Swelling the ranks of the left? Oh wait, that’s not the idea…

Meanwhile, Liberal Heretic™ Sean LaFreniere says NPR and the BBC are losing their faith in liberal democracy.

The Tip of the Liberal Spear

The US and British armed forces have achieved more objectively liberal results in the past six months than anyone else I have seen in my lifetime.

Here is Tony Blair on Iraq:

The press is free; over 170 newspapers in circulation; the ban on satellite TV lifted so that Iraqis can hear America abused by Al-Jazeera and others – for having liberated them. Access to the internet is no longer forbidden. Nearly all schools and universities are open, as are hospitals and they are receiving medicine and supplies not on the basis of membership of the Ba’ath Party but on need. The canals are being cleared. The power and water supplies re-built. These supposedly evil Americans have voted $19 billion of their own money in aid: the Madrid Conference under the excellent guidance of Prime Minister Aznar has raised another $13 billion. Not a penny piece of Iraq’s oil money has gone anywhere but into an account under the supervision of the IMF and UN.

Are we sure a British citizen can’t run for president here? Isn’t there a loophole somewhere?

Harsh Words

Iraqi blogger Alaa has some harsh words for the so-called “resistance.”

We declare before the whole world, your God is not our God, your religion is not our religion. You are the enemies of God, Humanity, Sanity & Decency. You are totally obsessed, unredeemable and hopeless. We have but to follow the decree of our Great Imam Ali ( PBU ) and you will be exterminated to the last man.

No Plan

One of the most common criticisms of the Iraq occupation is that Bush has no plan. Patrick Lasswell says that’s a good thing.

Liberal Versus Liberal

Andrew Hagan has a good solution to the battle between liberal hawks and the anti-warriors over who gets to call themselves “liberal.”

It’s a fine solution, and I’m surprised I haven’t seen this before.

Simply divide the liberals into camps. The right has already done this to itself.

There are paleoconservatives of the inflexible old-fashioned Pat Buchanan variety. And there are neoconservatives who are more moderate and who often have a left-wing pedigree. There are also just plain old conservative conservatives.

So why not carve up the left the same way? There are paleoliberals and there are neoliberals. The neolibs have already been identified; they’re the moderate (and often hated) brainy folks at The New Republic. But the paleolibs are thus far unnamed and unexamined. They aren’t radical leftists, but they are out of date and rather inflexible. Andrew Hagan, a moderate liberal himself, has their number.

UPDATE: Matt Welch in the comments asked a good question, and I see I forgot to include something obvious. There also are plain old liberal liberals, like Matthew Yglesias and Kevin Drum, who don’t need a paleo or neo attached. They aren’t reactionary, as the paleoliberals are, and I never get into arguments with either of them about who is a “real” liberal and who is a heretic.

Michael Moore’s Decline

From Michael Moore’s latest screed against Americans in Germany’s Die Zeit: (Via Jeff Jarvis.)

Should such an ignorant people lead the world? How did it come to this in the first place? 82 percent of us don’t even have a passport! Just a handful can speak a language other than English (and we don’t even speak that very well.) …

Ok, come on you Germans, you really know better!

Michael Moore fashions himself a defender of the common man and woman against the elites. So far, so good. But surely his snarling condescension toward “such an ignorant people” isn’t targetted at the elite.

He doesn’t understand the Internet. Articles in German magazines get translated these days, and they get linked on blogs. Consider yourself busted, Mikey, for trash-talking your people, not only your countrymen but also who is supposed to be your fan base.

He wants to know how “such an ignorant people” came to “lead the world” in the first place. Apparently he’s a part of the “ignorant” masses himself.

America leads the world because it is the only world power left standing at the end of the 20th Century. Germany (which supposedly “knows better” and is where his article is published) turned Europe into a smouldering crater. It’s hard to lead the world from beneath a pile of wreckage. Japan was a world power, too, but it went on one wicked rampage too many. Belgium and France had power, but their vicious imperialism in Asia and Africa led to a long-overdue ass-whooping. The last world power, the Soviet Union, imploded in a spasm of idiocy and evil of its own making.

America did none of that. We skipped the whole communist/fascist/imperialist thing. So here we are. The only world power, aside from Britain, that didn’t chew off its own leg.

Why do so many Americans have no passport? Because we don’t need one to travel anywhere on this continent. Mexico and Canada don’t ask for one. North America is huge and travelling farther away is expensive. Michael Moore is trash-talking the little guy (whom he supposedly champions) because the little guy doesn’t make enough money to travel to Paris and Rio every year.

And what’s this about us not being able to speak English well? Puh-leeze. He’s just insulting America in Germany because it pays well. He wouldn’t bad-mouth our English in Michigan where he grew up.

Last year I discovered that my wife didn’t know who Michael Moore was. So we rented his first movie Roger and Me and we both loved it. I still like that movie, but I feel bad now that I introduced my wife to an assclown. She can consider this post a product recall.

Conservatives never liked Michael Moore, but there really was a time when he was a reasonable guy, when he had a sense of humor, when he made decent movies. Not any more.

And it isn’t just disgruntled liberals who are sick of him. The leftists at Dissent don’t have much time for him either.

Meanwhile, go read Armed Liberal’s superb essay about patriotic liberalism. Michael Moore, you had better take notes.

A New Blog from Iraq

If you haven’t already, check out the new blog from Iraq by Alaa called The Mesopotamian. Here’s a sample of what you’ll find.

You have amongst you in the US alone an estimated more that one million Iraqis, not to mention the other Iraqis elsewhere in Europe etc., These are christians, Moslems and etc. from all groups of the Iraqi population. The vast majority of these are patriotic and for a new Iraq.

But you also have the Mob, just like the dancing peasants of Fallujah, these are ignorant people who know nothing and can’t see past their noses. We are disturbed by this level of ignorance which cannot distinguish friend from foe, and lumps everybody under generic classifications which bear no rhyme or logic behind them.

Please fight this ignorance, please be kind to our compatriots in your midst. Remember every body what President Bush has said : ” Our greatest allies are the Iraqi people “.

Many people ask whether we have heard the President’s speach. Yes we have. Immediately the Chorus of AlJazeera, Al Arabiya, etc. and amazingly, CNN, BBC etc, started their spoiling, doubt-semming, bitchy insinuations, interviewing, this character from egypt and that “analyst ” from Syria etc. ( seldom an Iraqi is asked, or if they find one, a well known former close associate of the Saddam regime or someone like that ). Pretending to be objective, pretending to be “balanced”, they try their best to kill the joy that the shining reassuring words bring to our frightened hearts.

Deluge the man with hits.

Disgruntled Democrat Watch

Nathan Hamm is finished with the Democratic Party.

I’m sick of my former party and not going back to it until it can start advocating policies and not pandering to hysteria, conspiracy, and hate.

On a side note, he lived in an authoritarian police state (Uzbekistan) and is rightly tired of fools who claim America has turned into one.

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