Commentary on news and culture from a left wing perspective.

Wednesday, September 29, 2004

Doesn't everyone in the world love American popular culture?

Euro Disney, owner of struggling theme parks near Paris that have never been able to bring in enough business to pay their debts, secured a new restructuring plan yesterday, once again managing to stave off bankruptcy.

The restructuring, if completed, would be the second for the park. The first came in 1994, two years after the Euro Disney park opened. It assumed revenues would grow sharply by now, but when attendance failed to take off, a new restructuring became necessary.

Perhaps there actually are a couple of people who prefer walks in a city park to hours standing on line to passively enjoy mechanized rides.

Doesn't everyone in the world love American popular culture?

Euro Disney, owner of struggling theme parks near Paris that have never been able to bring in enough business to pay their debts, secured a new restructuring plan yesterday, once again managing to stave off bankruptcy.

The restructuring, if completed, would be the second for the park. The first came in 1994, two years after the Euro Disney park opened. It assumed revenues would grow sharply by now, but when attendance failed to take off, a new restructuring became necessary.

Perhaps there actually are a couple of people who prefer walks in a city park to hours standing on line to passively enjoy mechanized rides.

Wednesday, September 22, 2004

Nicholas Kristof has a column today redolent of the incongruities of centrist thought. It is mostly a critique of the failure of Republicans to denounce the Swift Boat shenanigans. He goes on to say:

The only hope for stopping the mudslinging is if well-meaning people try to police their own side.

If they're intellectually consistent, Democrats will speak out not only against the Swift Boat Veterans but also against Mr. Kerry's demagoguery on trade, like his suggestion that outsourcing is the result of Mr. Bush's economic policies. Trade demagoguery may not be as felonious as an assault on a war hero's character, but it harms America by undermining support for free trade.

Now there are two interesting things here. First, he wants to depend on Republicans to police Republicans, despite all that's happened--From Florida to John McCain et al robotically repeating George Bush's insane claims about how Iraq is now free. It reminds me of how, during the Clinton impeachment (another Republican insanity), liberals like Kristof were saying it would be a bad idea to air Republicans dirty laundry, it would make us as bad as them. In fact, the impeachment drive ground to a halt when the reality of such hypocritical scumbags as Henry Hyde and Bob Livingston was brought to light. Secondly, even more striking is his comparison of Kerry's murmurings about trade policy to the Swift Boat campaign. Kristof's effort to delegitimize any position besides 'free trade' (putting aside that this never has been, nor will be, the policy of the US) is disgraceful. Its an effort to shortcircuit a debate that has little to do with calling the Swift Boat veterans on their bullshit. If Kerry wants to find Democratic dirty tricks to denounce, in the spirit of centrist equivalency, he should look at how they've attacked Ralph Nader's candidacy. No better than the Swift Boats. In fact worse.

Tuesday, September 21, 2004

Yusef Islam (aka Cat Stevens), possible terrorist?
A plane bound for Washington from London was diverted to Maine on Tuesday after passenger Yusuf Islam — formerly known as pop singer Cat Stevens — showed up on a U.S. watch list, federal officials said. Last year he released two songs, including a re-recording of his '70s hit "Peace Train," to express his opposition to the U.S.-led war in Iraq (news - web sites).

Islam recently condemned the school seizure by militants in Beslan, Russia, earlier this month that left more than 300 dead, nearly half of them children.

In a statement on his Web site, he wrote, "Crimes against innocent bystanders taken hostage in any circumstance have no foundation whatsoever in the life of Islam and the model example of Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him."

A lot of things Bush does have to be approached in a unique way, unlike how you would approach them if done by practically any other president. Like this speech at the United Nations. I can't imagine that anyone involved seriously believed that this nonsense about how the US invaded Iraq on the grounds of security council resolutions would actually convince the world's leaders. Despite the presence of world leaders, this speech is purely to demonstrate to people in the US that Bush has some vague interest in communicating with the international community. What will flash across tv screens is 'Bush speaks at UN about need for unity with US in Iraq.' Here is the actual responses of some world leaders:

Many world leaders hesitated to comment on Bush's speech. South African President Thabo Mbeki said, "I'm still reading it." Many European leaders skipped the meeting entirely, sending their foreign ministers instead.

Spanish Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero — who came to power by criticizing his predecessor's unpopular support for the Iraq war — said he agreed with Bush on defending liberty and democracy, but disagreed on other matters.

German Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer said, "I think it's very important what Kofi Annan said about the rule of law in the 21st century, so I don't want to go more into the details because this would be very unpolite."

Sunday, September 19, 2004

Some people don't know when to quit.
"We need to make a decision on when the cancer of Falluja is going to be cut out," the American commander said. "We would like to end December at local control across the country."
I hate cancer-politics metaphors. The Nazis were fond of them. The last time the US had a siege of Fallujah, they shot out ambulance windows--nevertheless, they backed off without victory. One only wonders what they will try this time.

Friday, September 17, 2004

This is the sort of thing many of us are thinking of when we say US power is declining:

The United States once again failed to persuade the International Atomic Energy Agency today that it should refer Iran's suspect nuclear program to the United Nations Security Council, accepting instead a repetition of calls for the country to stop uranium-enrichment activities and clear up remaining questions about its nuclear ambitions.
The US likes to invade countries, but it seems less and less able to get the arbriters of international legitimacy to do what it wants. A standoff with Iran--whether through Bush or Kerry--will further accelerate this tendency.

Wednesday, September 15, 2004

Florida is off to a great start with this year's election.

Circuit Judge P. Kevin Davey on Wednesday ordered that Nader's name be removed from the November ballot, finding that the Reform Party — which nominated Nader — isn't a legitimate party under state law. Davey also ordered that four counties that have already mailed absentee ballots listing Nader send out amended ballots without his name.

(Secretary of State Glenda) Hood, who was appointed by Gov. Jeb Bush, the president's brother, has said she is fighting Davey's orders "as an honest broker" to protect Florida's elections process by including Nader. She said elections supervisors are "under the gun" because they have to mail absentee ballots by Saturday and first need to get them printed.

A federal judge refused to intercede in the case Tuesday.

Monday, September 13, 2004

A couple of months ago, Daniel Okrent, the New York Times ombudsperson, made derisive comments about Robert Fisk's joke that the New York Times should be renamed 'officials say'. Yet here is the reality of the Times:

American warplanes made what the military called a precision strike on a meeting place of terrorists believed linked to Al Qaeda in the Sunni stronghold of Falluja today, killing an estimated 25 militants.

The military said in a statement that the attack was on a base intelligence officers had confirmed was used by rebels loyal to Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, a Jordanian militant believed by American officials to be Al Qaeda's most senior leader in Iraq. Americans have blamed Mr. Zarqawi for many of the suicide bombings in Baghdad and in other Iraqi cities.

News agency reports from Falluja that the air strikes killed at least 16 civilians, including women and children, and that an ambulance was hit by a shell, killing the driver and six other occupants, were denied by a coalition press officer, speaking by phone from Baghdad.

"The U.S. military is confirming that we did not hit an ambulance and we did not hit a marketplace," the press officer, Sharon Walker, said, referring to news agency accounts.

Three paragraphs up front with the US military version, vs. one about 'news agency reports'. Then, several paragraphs further down:

Despite the military's denial, witnesses said the bombing targeted the city's residential al-Shurta neighborhood, damaging buildings and raising clouds of black smoke, The Associated Press reported.

Dr. Adel Khamis of the Falluja General Hospital told the news agency that at least 16 people were killed and 12 others wounded. The ambulance was hit by a shell, killing the driver, a paramedic and five patients inside the vehicle, another hospital official, Hamid Salaman, told The A.P.

"The conditions here are miserable — an ambulance was bombed, three houses destroyed and men and women killed," the hospital's director, Rafayi Hayad al-Esawi, told Al-Jazeera television by telephone in a report posted on the satellite station's Web site. "The American Army has no morals."

But who are you going to trust, a doctor at a hospital, or a spokesperson for the US military?

Sunday, September 12, 2004

Another day in Baghdad:

A Bradley fighting vehicle rushing down Haifa Street to assist a U.S. patrol was disabled by a car bomb about 6:50 a.m., the U.S. military said. The four U.S. crewmen escaped with minor injuries but came under small arms and rocket-propelled grenade fire and called for air support, U.S. officials said.

Jubilant fighters and young boys swarmed around the burning vehicle, dancing, cheering and hurling firebombs. Several young men placed a black banner of al-Qaida-backed Tawhid and Jihad, led by terror mastermind Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, in the barrel of the Bradley's main gun.

Suddenly, a U.S. Kiowa helicopter fired on the Bradley, trying to destroy it to prevent insurgents from looting weapons and ammunition on board, the military said.

Witnesses said several people milling around the Bradley, including a correspondent for the Arabic language Al-Arabiya television station, were killed. An Iraqi cameraman working for the Reuters news agency was also injured.

Al-Arabiya broadcast videotape showing its employee, Mazen al-Tumeizi, preparing to make a report. Suddenly, an explosion occurred behind him. He doubled-over and began screaming "I'm dying, I'm dying" and colleagues tried to help him.

Health Ministry official Saad al-Amili said 13 people were killed and 55 wounded — all on Haifa street, though it was not clear how many were killed in the helicopter strike. Scattered shoes, pools of fresh blood and debris littered the street.

This article claims:

The U.S. military had no immediate comment.

I swear, a half hour ago there was a quote from a US army official that the US had fired to protect people around the vehicle.

Thursday, September 09, 2004

Two interesting international polls. First, Bush loses the election worldwide in a landslide. The only question is how he could be winning in Poland (okay, residual pro-Americanism from the cold war), the Phillipines (anti-Muslim sentiment?), and Nigeria (ditto?).

Second, a majority of Europeans say they do not want the US to lead the world.

Some 58 percent of Europeans said strong U.S. leadership in the world was undesirable, an increase of nine percentage points from a similar poll last year. Only in Britain and the Netherlands do a majority desire strong U.S. leadership.


While Americans are almost evenly divided along ideological lines, 80 percent of Europeans surveyed do not believe the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq last year was worth the loss of life and cost. Some 73 percent of Europeans believe the Iraq war increased the risk of terrorism, as do 49 percent of Americans.

And these are countries Kerry anticipates will be lining up to send troops for the reconquest of Iraq?

Tuesday, September 07, 2004

David Brooks: When they kill, it's a "cult of death". When we or our friends kill, it's "policy". It can never be said often enough that the numbers of Chechnyans, Palestinians, Iraqis, et al killed by the US and its allies dwarfs those killed by 'terrorists' in response.
The mayhem in Iraq is reaching such a pitch that the mainstream media is having trouble ignoring it anymore. Is this the start of the Iraqi intifada we've long been warned about? In any case, you have to wonder about a 'battle' that leaves 1 American and 40 Iraqis dead.

Wednesday, September 01, 2004

David Brooks:
Now fundamentalists, moderates, libertarians and old-fashioned Main Street types all express the same sort of concerns: about the need to win the war and anxiety that we're not fighting it properly; about the need to restore fiscal discipline and the anxiety about egregious Republican pork-barrel spending.

Arnold Schwarznegger:
To those critics who are so pessimistic about our economy, I say, Don't be economic girly men! The U.S. economy remains the envy of the world.
Overall, the protests in NYC have been a splendid mix of permitted marches and direct action. Amazing that people have come up with fresh enough ideas to sustain media coverage. Democracy now is definitely worth checking out for coverage of the police.

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