Ink & Paper

Thursday, August 25, 2005


The National Assembly on Thursday called off a meeting that was scheduled to decide on Iraq's draft constitution, and the speaker's office early Friday announced a one-day extension of the talks.

But no agreement had been reached so far with the Sunnis on the question of federalism, which would essentially set up powerful local regions instead of a strong central government.

The question facing Iraqi leaders and the Americans who are advising them is whether to move on without the Sunnis and vote to approve the charter, on which Kurds and Shiites have already agreed.

But the danger is that such a move could lead to a Sunni walkout, and a possible increase in the Sunni-led insurgency, so it appears that they have decided to take more time to try to get the Sunnis on board.

The fact is that the proposed Iraqi constitution is being slapped together in an extremely fast manner and the unfortunate result is that the fine details are not getting worked out, as they take time and patience to be done properly.

The Shites and the Kurds want a federalist-style government, effectively giving the Kurdish north and the Shite-dominated south a sense of autonomy. The Kurds are happy with this, as the north is rich with oil. The south of Iraq holds much of the country's infrastructure and access to the valuable Persian Gulf port. So why the hang up?

The Sunni population. A minority in the country, used to being the most powerful and untouchable under Hussein, are realizing that federalism leaves them with nothing. The current insurgency is largely led by Sunni-militia fighters attempting to regain the power they lost with the invasion. To cede the north and the south to the Kurds and Shites, respectively, leaves the Sunnis with nothing of value, along with the fact they would be between a rock and a hard place.

So big deal, right? A one day delay is nothing in the overall scheme of things. Wrong. The delay is indicative of the intra-religious tensions that are rippling through Iraq right now. Ever since it became apparent that the bush administration had no post-war management plan in place, academic and learned people have been predicting the strong possibility of a civil war in Iraq. Indeed, it may already be going on, albeit at a low, localized level.

bush wants a constitution in Iraq and he wants it now. His administration is dying for some kind of victory, something to hang their hat on when it comes to Iraq. Cindy Sheehan, the mother who has been camped outside Crawford, TX. is drawing attention not only to the plight of the troops and their families, but also to the fact that Iraq hasn't produced a lot of good news for the bush administration. A constitution, however slapdash, might help stem the bleeding.

The actual constitution, the paper, probably means nothing to the Iraq civilian population that is still living with 3-5 hours of electricity per day, sporadic water and sewage utilities, and the constant threat of a bombing or a random bullet. In fact, the constitution isn't going to rebuild the actual country. It may get the politicians excited, but it sure as hell isn't going to help the children of Iraq, who are now more malnourished then they were before the war. Not to mention more traumatized.

This constitiution means nothing, not when the country is slipping (running) into civil war. In January of 2005 the US was all agog about the Iraqi election, which much fanfare about how the elections would allow the US to start handing over power to the Iraqis and begin bringing US troops home. Violence would drop, etc etc.

Didn't happen. Got a hell of a lot more ugly, actually. So if that is any indication, and I think that it is, I wouldn't bet the farm on this constitution saving the day. In fact, if the federalism becomes entrenched, against the Sunni will, then look for a sharp increase in suicide bombings and the like, as the Sunni-dominated insurgency grow more desparate. And in this world that demands an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth, the retaliatory violence will only get more bloody and more barbaric.


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Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Oh. Oh, of course. How silly of us to react that way....

A US TV evangelist has said comments in which he appeared to call for the assassination of Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez were misinterpreted.

On Monday Pat Robertson said of Mr Chavez: "We have the ability to take him out, and I think the time has come that we exercise that ability."

But he argued that there were a number of possible meanings for the phrase "take him out", including kidnapping.

"I didn't say 'assassination', I said our special forces could take him out. Take him out could be a number of things including kidnapping," he said.

"There are a number of ways of taking out a dictator from power besides killing him. I was misinterpreted," he added.

I hate backpedaling pussy politician wannabes. I also hate athletes who claim they "have no idea how the drug got into their system." We are truly living in a world of bullshitters.

Mind you, he did say

U.S. right-wing religious broadcaster Pat Robertson apologized Wednesday for calling for the assassination of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez.

The apology -- from the Christian Broadcasting Network in Virgina Beach, Va, -- came only hours after Robertson denied saying Chavez should be killed.

It doesn't make it right, what he said in the first place, but it is a nice, petty victory to see someone on the right wing admit that they messed up. That is a rare thing in today's world. Mind you, if you visit
his website you find that he is still very apt to make accusations without providing any proof or support whatsoever. As is standard procedure with the far right nuts, he takes slight truths and many falsehoods, and mixes them together to create a "truth" that backs his opinions.

But I suppose we all have our personal truths. This blog does.

In 2002 there was an attempt to remove Chavez from power, albeit not via an assassination attempt. Information culled from the left-leaning
Independent Online.

The coup, the coup. Everybody here has their stories about the 2002 coup d'├ętat, and the strange 47-hour Presidency of Pedro Carmona Estanga, the head of Venezuela's equivalent of the Confederation of British Industry. (Pat Robertson's call caused a cascade of memories to burst across the streets of Caracas.) That April, Chavez was kidnapped and removed from power in a decapitation of democracy orchestrated by the media, a few generals and the wealthy. Carmona dissolved the Supreme Court, the Constitution and the elected National Assembly and assumed control of the country. This was immediately welcomed by the Bush administration.

Washington was eager to ensure the largest pot of oil outside the Middle East - providing 10 per cent of US domestic imports - was placed back under the control of US corporations, rather than a left-winger with his own ideas about oil revenue. It later emerged the US had been funding the coup leaders.

More than a million people took to the streets, surrounding the Miraflores Palace - the President's residence - and calling for Chavez to return. Los Esqualidos scurried away; Chavez returned to the Miraflores by helicopter, and Caracas erupted into what one young woman told me was "the biggest, maddest party Venezuela has ever seen". Yet, three years on, the country is still split. There is the rich 20 per cent, who for more than a century received all the oil profits - until Chavez came to power and began to distribute them more widely. They welcomed the coup and rejoiced at Robertson's comments. And, glaring at them across a chasm of incomprehension, there is the poor 80 per cent, who defended Chavez.

But you would not know - from what the opposition says in every Venezuelan newspaper, or from the propaganda of Pat Robertson - that Venezuelan elections are open and fair, that Chavez has been approved in polls or referenda no less than seven times, and there is more substantial free speech than in Britain. In Venezuela, people can (and, every night, do) call on television for the President to be killed. Indeed, Chavez has been so reluctant to commit a crackdown that the leaders of the coup are still free and unpunished. Venezuelans are still nervously waiting for them to return, in the form of another coup - or a CIA bullet.

In September of 1972, September 11 oddly enough, the US supported the violent overthrow and death of Salvadore Allende, Chile's elected left wing leader. He was replaced by Augusto Pinochet, who then ruled with a bloody iron fist for the next 20 or so years. During Pinochet's reign many leftish people, including professors, politically active private citizens, and musician
Victor Jara, were imprisoned, tortured, and eventually "disappeared." The US steadfastly supported Pinochet who, unlike Allende, allowed US corporations access to the Chilean natural resources and market and didn't toodle around with Castro, that ever-loving pebble in the US shoe.
So is Chavez a saint? No, and he is certainly playing his political hand in a manner that continues to garner him support in Venezuela. He is anti-US, to a degree, as he is aware of the messy business the US has delivered to South America over the past century. But he also knows that oil is a commodity, and if he creates commotion and percieved instability, the price of oil is going to go up, directly and positively affecting Venezuela's pocketbook.

Chavez is a little paranoid too, I think, but Robertson's original pro-assassination comments may actually help Chavez, as the eyes of the world are now focused on his political (and personal) safety. If anything does happen to Chavez, most likely those same eyes will turn to the US for an explanation. And the US doesn't have the credibility to say "who? me?" anymore.

Oh yea, one more thing. The Pentagon announced today that they were sending 1,500 hundred more troops to Iraq in preparation for Iraq's upcoming referendum. I always thought that victory in war, a "Mission Accomplished" sign on an aircraft carrier, meant that the troops would be reduced, not increased. Huh. Go figure.

A sovereign thought, delivered to your door at 6:27 PM ~~ 0 bonsai trees

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Tuesday, August 23, 2005

X actually went into the men's bathroom, in a dank bar, with his camera just to get this shot. He claims this was the only picture he took in there, but we all know better.
Sometimes the best thing is emotionally scarring your friend on his birthday, especially if it is in public. Here's cake in yer eye Gibson, happy birthday. Don't be mad, bloggies, I bought him a beer to make up for it. I'm not a total asshole, despite the fact that these pictures obviously prove otherwise.

PS- It is totally acceptable to touch another man's boob (or moob, if you will) so long as you have known him since grade 7 and currently share the same haircut.

A sovereign thought, delivered to your door at 9:36 PM ~~ 2 bonsai trees

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Monday, August 22, 2005

*Edited after initial posting*

"As people do better, they start voting like Republicans - unless they have too much education and vote Democratic, which proves there can be too much of a good thing"
~~ Karl Rove (George W. Bush's Senior Advisor and chief political strategist.)

I found this quote the other day in the Edmonton Journal's Sunday Reader and I think it speaks volumes about the state of ignorance that the bush administration relies upon to continue this bloody war in Iraq.

I also came across a comment by a high ranking Army official stating that the US government is now planning into 2007-2009 in terms of Iraq. As well, the possibility of troop reductions in Iraq was quietly pulled from the table.

Cindy Sheehan is still camped outside of bush's Texas ranch, waiting patiently for a mere one hour interview with the President. The Glorious Mr. T, back from an militia convention in Montana, sent me a link to a story about how the right wing is now attempting to smear Sheehan as a left wing radical nut. Yet, as poll numbers continue to tumble, Sheehan's quiet quest has become the epicentre of the scatttered anti-war movement in the US. If this is her 15 minutes of fame, she is using them for a good cause, as things seem to be coalescing around her.

But in order to keep the masses scared and governable, you have to keep digging the boogeymen out from the closet. Now the US is warning that terrorists may pose as vagrants or homeless people, in an attempt to launch London-style attacks on US mass transit systems. Which, in a country that has given us Bumfights, only will serve to add yet another notch in the creative legal defenses bedpost, as it will surely only be a matter of time until someone kills a homeless man and claims he was doing so only to "protect America."

* Speaking of protecting America, a catch phrase that is starting to remind of the fat short kid in gym class bitching about how he always gets hit in the nuts with the dodgeball, I was shocked to recieve this story from my main militia man, Mr. T:

Religious broadcaster Pat Robertson called on Monday for the assassination of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, calling him a "terrific danger" to the United States.

Robertson, founder of the Christian Coalition of America and a former presidential candidate, said on "The 700 Club" it was the United States' duty to stop Chavez from making Venezuela a "launching pad for communist infiltration and Muslim extremism."

Chavez has emerged as one of the most outspoken critics of President Bush, accusing the United States of conspiring to topple his government and possibly backing plots to assassinate him. U.S. officials have called the accusations ridiculous.

"You know, I don't know about this doctrine of assassination, but if he thinks we're trying to assassinate him, I think that we really ought to go ahead and do it," Robertson said. "It's a whole lot cheaper than starting a war ... and I don't think any oil shipments will stop."

Electronic pages and a message to a Robertson spokeswoman were not immediately returned Monday evening.

Venezuela is the fifth largest oil exporter and a major supplier of oil to the United States. The CIA estimates that U.S. markets absorb almost 59 percent of Venezuela's total exports.

Venezuela's government has demanded in the past that the United States crack down on Cuban and Venezuelan "terrorists" in Florida who they say are conspiring against Chavez.

Robertson accused the United States of failing to act when Chavez was briefly overthrown in 2002.

"We have the ability to take him out, and I think the time has come that we exercise that ability," Robertson said.

"We don't need another $200 billion war to get rid of one, you know, strong-arm dictator," he continued. "It's a whole lot easier to have some of the covert operatives do the job and then get it over with."

I really don't know how to respond to this. Its not like the US hasn't engaged in, or at least supported, the "removal" of leaders who didn't toe the US line. And Chavez has been pretty left wing lately, to a degree that certainly would have widely labeled him a communist in decades past. Now, of course, the new catch phrase is terrorist combined with communist, so the right will go ahead a slap that on him and spook the masses both young and old. And I like the part where Robertson says: "You know, I don't know about this doctrine of assassination..." and then goes on to offer his opinion on what should be done regarding assassination.

Jay: "Yeah, I don't know anything about fixing jet airplanes, but I think we ought to reinforce the wings with some zip-ties and Crazy Glue. I know my knowledge level on this topic is that of a gnat, but because this is America and we have freedom of speech, I'm allowed to offer my ill-advised, half-baked thoughts on anything I please. Yay America, pass the freedom fries." *

I'm going to walk the dog. Not because I feel like hobbling around on my shattered ankle, but because sometimes I need to have some simplicity and quiet time in a world that drowns me with headlines.

A sovereign thought, delivered to your door at 8:38 PM ~~ 1 bonsai trees

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Sunday, August 21, 2005

Why Terry David Mulligan pisses me off

Perhaps the best spoil of being a CKUA listener is the fact that the announcers are by and large more inclined to play music than to talk. On CKUA I get nothing but good music played continuously, with a small ad break at the bottom of the hour and announcers who only talk in order to identify what song I just heard and if there is relevant concert or CD release information.

On commercial "theme" radio stations, one will often be subjected to a DJ prattling on and on about some useless topic like Ashlee Simpson or some variation of toilet/bathroom humour that I last found funny in Grade 3. There is an insane (when compared with CKUA) number of advertisements, from car sales to beer promotions, that interrupt the music that is being played on commercial radio. And the music, well, I kinda got tired of The Guess Who about the same time I realized they last had a hit in 1978. But this isn't anything new, my hatred of commercial radio is well documented.

Anyway, long rambling story finally getting to its point, as I will now document why Terry David Mulligan pisses me off. For those of you that don't know who TDM is you can read his bio-info here. He is, in short, a relatively successful actor, having appeared in a variety of cinema and TV shows, usually in a supporting role. Nothing wrong with that, unless we get ranting about how Hollywood and TV are pretty much solely responsible for the dumbing down of western society. But we'll save that rant for another day.

TDM has a show on CKUA, called Mulligan's Stew. It airs Saturdays from 5-7pm and because TDM is a bit of an aging boomer who misses his glory days, features a lot of stuff like the Rolling Stones. Good music, yes, but nothing uber-progressive like I am used to hearing on CKUA. I find his music selection to be okay at best. Yesterday he played the live version of All Along the Watchtower by the Dave Matthews Band, a wicked tune that had me rocking. TDM then played BTO's Taking Care of Business, a song I can hear (and have heard more than enough) on commercial radio. If I wanted to pretend it was 1978, I would listen to K-Rock here in Edmonton and watch Fubar. So TDM's music selection is hit and miss for me, but because he is only on 2 hours a week, I usually don't get too chapped about it.

But he talks. And talks. And talks. And talks. And talks. All the time. He must absolutely love the sound of his own voice, as he seems to enjoy talking on and on in a winding, go nowhere, Grampa Simpson-manner. It pisses me off to no end. JUST PLAY SOME GODDAMN MUSIC! I didn't tune it to hear TDM prattle on and on about how he was hanging out with Steven Page from the Barenaked Ladies last weekend. Nor did I tune in to hear TDM yabber about how he thinks Page is great because when TDM was auditioning for a part in a small, made-for-TV series in Wichita, Kansas he realized that the Barenaked Ladies had also once stayed at the very same hotel blah blah blah on and on.

Furthermore, anyone who uses their entire name, including the middle one, is obviously either an egotistical fanatic or a potential Presidential assassin. If I came around and told you that expected to be called by my full name you would probably wonder about the size of my head (ego-wise, not physical "ha ha giant Archibald cranium" joke-wise. Jerks). If I ever see TDM in person, I will walk up to him and say: "How's it going T?" and then run away before he can start talking, as I am sure it would be a 3 hour conversation about his hair and how it reminds him of Wichita, Kansas.

Anyway, while I usually am an unabashed supporter of all things CKUA, I have come to the end of my rope when I have to listen to TDM talk and talk for 60% of his show. If, like yesterday, I am in the truck and have no alternative, I usually just turn the volume down when he starts yapping and then turn it back up in a minute or three, once the music has started up again. I am sure that TDM is a relatively nice guy, and he does have his heart in the right spot by supporting CKUA, but it pisses me off to no end to have to listen to empty talk on the one radio station that has managed to keep radio pure.

I think my rants are getting weaker. It must be the old age. Ah, the hell with it.

A sovereign thought, delivered to your door at 9:35 AM ~~ 5 bonsai trees

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