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Friday, November 12, 2004

Who We're Killing in Iraq

From Riverbend's valuable and compelling blog, Baghdad Burning:

"Being a 'civilian' is a relative thing in a country occupied by Americans. You're only a civilian if you're on their side. If you translate for them, or serve them food in the Green Zone, or wipe their floors - you're an innocent civilian. Everyone else is an insurgent, unless they can get a job as a 'civilian'."

If you want unfiltered news on what is happening in Iraq, I'd start with Baghdad Burning and Iraq Dispatches. Also, Juan Cole's Informed Comment is wonderful, as is Raul Mahajan's Empire Notes. All are important for understanding how our invasion, occupation and destruction of Iraq is at best lighting a fire and then trying to put it out by throwing gasoline on it.

Dine and Dash

While local government and political party officials today debated whether the presidential campaigns should have stuck Gainesville with the overtime bill for officers who worked campaign events, I was left wondering whether anyone cared about the bill President Bush is leaving unpaid to Gainesville and the nation.

Bush inherited a budget surplus that could have been used in part to pay down our debt more quickly, but instead he decided to cut taxes in a way that sent that surplus to the nation's wealthiest people and businesses. Now we have the largest annual budget deficits ever.

Who will pay this tab? Our kids.

Just Good Investigative Journalism

OK, so The Independent Florida Alligator didn't find those pesky missing WMDs or uncover the truth about President Bush's national guard service, but it did publish an article Friday listing the most common place on the UF campus for someone to be arrested for public urination.

Likely no Pulitzer prize will be handed down for this work, but it should win a prize for creativity in reporting. According to the story:

An exhaustive analysis of University Police records has identified Murphree Hall as the most-urinated-upon area of UF’s campus.

Since January 2003, UPD has arrested 117 people for peeing in public. Eighty-eight of these unlawful urinators were nabbed in the “Golden Triangle” between Murphree Hall, the Chemistry Laboratory and Library West.
Well, at least we know why it is called the Golden Triangle. Most interesting is the comments from the manager of The Swamp restaurant, which is across the street from this area. She blamed the anti-rave ordinance passed several years ago for throwing drinkers out on the street before they've had a chance to potty.

“A lot of bars kick everyone out at 1:45 a.m.,” the manager told the paper. “You’re not allowed to stay, and the people are not even allowed to use the bathroom.”

But at least they're not allowed to dance after 2 a.m. I feel so safe.

Thursday, November 11, 2004

Dude, Where's My Carnage?

I am not a "gamer" but I do like video games. I admit I have played games in which blowing things up is a main goal. But I also profess that I have never liked the games in which the things blown up are people and the result is bloody carnage.

My sensitivities to that have increased exponentially since Sept. 11, 2001 and the subsequent US-led massacres in Afghanistan and Iraq. Having seen the images of real carnage, I can't see myself having fun killing people in a video simulation.

According to The Gainesville Sun, this is not the case with many local young men who gathered at Rhino Video to view the release of Halo 2. In an article that ran Wednesday, the message from these young men was clear: we like to kill. Here is what they told The Sun:

"A big thing I can't wait for (with Halo 2) is the online capability. To kill people from halfway across the world, to kill your friend in Korea -- that's cool."

"There's a lot of opportunities for your friends to be retarded."

"I like the cool ways you get to kill people and stuff, it has a nice storyline, too."

Yeah, I can't wait for these dudes to grow up and become voters.

Wednesday, November 10, 2004

Praise the Lord and Pass the Ammunition

George Bush is just doing the Lord’s work.

Our re-assault on the Iraqi city of Fallujah began with the razing of a hospital, and the raiding of another by a small army of hostile, armed American and Iraqi forces who took over the building like bandits in a bank robbery.

Praise Jesus.

Apparently the doctors and nurses at the hospital that was left standing did two things deserving of such treatment – first, they provided medical care to the injured, even if they had been fighting against “coalition” forces; and second, they reported the casualty numbers to the press.

“It's a center of propaganda," a senior American officer said of the hospital, as reported by The New York Times on Sunday.

From a military strategy point of view, it is not a head scratcher. Occupy or destroy the city’s hospitals and then inflict many casualties. The injured opposition fighters are either captured or die avoiding medical care.

Effective, I’m sure, but also severely sick and twisted, even more so because the “insurgents” and “terrorists” are, from any credible account, almost entirely locals who we recently liberated but who want an end to our armed occupation of their nation. The media parrots the government propaganda by calling them “terrorists,” but you could as easily call them “Iraqi freedom fighters.”

And not only fighters need hospitals. Estimates of civilian casualties range from 15,000 to 100,000 since the start of the war. Many of the dead – and their faces can be found on the web easily – are children. How much more innocent can you get than that?

Go look at the pictures (more here) and see if it makes you feel the power of the Lord. If it does, then you made the correct decision in voting for Bush.

Unconvinced? In our pursuit of Iraqi freedom, American troops tortured, raped and murdered defenseless prisoners – Iraqis not convicted of anything and in many cases later released. Some of them were children. Maybe a visual tour down that memory lane will get the spirit moving through your soul.

Come on, everyone, grab your snake and shake it. Speak in tongues like our leader often does, apparently.

And don't forget, George Bush is just doing the Lord’s work.

Monday, November 08, 2004

Red Voters Will Be Red-Faced Over Electric Increase

Although the rural vote went largely for President Bush, many such voters in rural Alachua County will soon be seeing what they actually voted for. And they won't be happy.

The spate of hurricanes this year has obviously caused a significant amount of damage to the state's utility infrastructure. Since Hurricane Andrew, investor-owned utility companies have been required to maintain a reserve fund to pay for hurricane damage, and that fund is maintained by additional fees added to customers' bills each month.

As if often the case with private utility companies (see Enron, MCI Worldcom, etc.), the companies are more interested in profits and its investors than making sure its customers are care for. So big surprise when post-hurricane season, FP&L, Progress Energy and others are asking the state to allow them to increase electric rates to pay for the hurricane clean-up.

Yes, that's right, although their customers have faithfully been paying into this hurricane reserve fund for more than a decade, and despite the fact that these utility companies post annual profits totalling hundreds of millions of dollars, these companies want the customers to pay for the cleanup through higher bills.

President Bush and his puppet master, Vice President Dick Cheney, smile on such behavior, as they did with Enron and other utility companies as they bilked Californians during their energy crisis and as they did when they wrote the nation's energy policy in secret with a committee comprised of only utility company representatives. The concept of governments requiring private utility companies to prepare for disasters is not part of the Bush agenda.

Here in Gainesville, most of us will not see an increase related to the hurricane clean-up, because Gainesville Regional Utilities is a municipal power company that will receive money from FEMA's hurricane reserve fund to cover such costs.

Rural areas of the county, however, are less likely to be serviced by GRU, and in fact most of Florida is served by investor-owned companies and will certainly be paying more. Brother Jeb's appointments to the Public Service Commission, which regulates the industry and decides on all rate increase proposals, has already hinted that it expects the companies to do as much.

Ah well, at least gays won't be able to have legal weddings!