This Week in Review
WEDNESDAY, Apr. 25
May 03, 2007
Today the U.S. House of Representatives passed a war-funding bill that would require "redeployment" of American combat forces from Iraq beginning Oct. 1 and ending next March. Of course, President George W. Bush
has vowed to veto the bill, saying it amounts to undercutting our
troops and surrendering. "The President has lost touch with reality,"
Congressional Representative Mazie Hirono
(D, 2nd District) said in a press release sent out today. "Despite the
increasing violence reported by the military, more deadly bombings and
more Americans being killed, including nine brave soldiers in one
attack, he claims that his surge is
working." Of course Bush thinks his "strategy" is working—the military
is telling him that it's working. "The success of coalition operations
continues to disrupt al Qaeda's operations in Iraq," U.S. Army spokesman Lt. Col. Christopher Garver boasts in an Apr. 23 American Forces Press Service
release on recent operations in Iraq that killed 50 "terrorists" and
captured 110 "suspected terrorists." (Isn't it wonderful how we're
always so careful to kill just the confirmed terrorists and leave the
suspects unharmed so we can imprison and interrogate them?) "These
captures help restrict their freedom of movement and reduce the
organization's manpower pool, diminishing their ability to attack
innocent civilians as well as Iraqi and coalition forces," Garver
added. That Garver's—and Bush's—logic is completely off base was best
articulated four decades ago by Vietnam War reporter David Halberstam,
who died in a car crash this week at the age of 73. In 1965, Halberstam
reported on an argument between an "American senior officer" and war
reporter Neil Sheehan. The official said rising enemy casualty figures "proved" the U.S. was defeating the Viet Cong.
"Sheehan insisted, however—and most guerrilla war authorities support
him—that this was simply a sign that the war was being lost and that
the Government was losing control of the war and the population,"
Halberstam wrote in The Making of a Quagmire.
"In a successful insurgency, he [Sheehan] insisted, when you are doing
well the casualties do not rise; they drop, and the war simply goes
THURSDAY, Apr. 26
Here's something you don't read about every day: a federal conviction for the illegal buying and selling of sperm whale teeth. And it's a local guy, too. According to today's Honolulu Advertiser, former Whalers Village Museum Director Lewis Eisenberg has pled guilty to multiple counts of violating the Endangered Species Act, Mammal Protection Act and Lacey Act—mmm…
lacey—by helping sell half a million bucks worth of illegal sperm whale
teeth from a supplier in England to "U.S. merchants who specialize in scrimshaw." No word yet on a possible sentence, though precedent indicates it could involve some hard time. I mean, didn't they send Capone away for trafficking in illegal teeth? Oh wait, that was tax evasion.
FRIDAY, Apr. 27
What were we talking about?
SATURDAY, Apr. 28
Is it that people just aren't complaining enough? Are citizens happy
with the way big money contributions influence political campaigns? Or
are our elected officials merely addicted to campaign contributions
from companies and landowners who have business before state and local
governments? I ask these questions because of today's Honolulu Star-Bulletin story reporting that this legislative session a bill "to publicly fund political campaigns died for the eighth year in a row." Apparently there was some disagreement between the state House and Senate Judiciary Committees
over how much public funding of elections would cost the state, so the
bill has just gone away again. This is the irony that keeps this
wretched cycle moving—as long as we continue to elect people under the
big money system, they'll continue to pay just enough attention to
bills like this to tell voters they care, but not nearly enough to
actually throw private money out of elections.
SUNDAY, Apr. 29
Really sad war news in today's Honolulu Advertiser.
We hear often of the cost of the out of control war born by U.S.
soldiers and Iraqi civilians, but what of the effect on our brave,
valiant defense contractors—the
giant corporations that build all those million-dollar computerized,
GPS-guided bombs and missiles we keep shooting? Turns out losing a
war—and all its inherent Congressional scrutiny and budget cuts—means
bad things for the companies' "profit outlook." "The results are
becoming more mixed for contactors," defense analyst Philip Finnegan
told the Associated Press. "It's no longer the unmitigated positive
environment we saw in the past. It's still positive, but there are
clouds on the horizon." Isn't it fantastic how analysts can call the
first few years of the "War on Terror" an "unmitigated positive
environment?" Isn't the English language a beautiful thing?
MONDAY, Apr. 30
Still crying over those poor, wretched defense contractors, I decided to watch the harrowing 2006 documentary War Tapes. Told from the perspective of three New Hampshire National Guardsmen
deployed to Iraq in 2004, the film is uncompromising in its portrayal
of meaningless objectives, cheap life and just plain bloody mayhem—and
that was from a time when Iraq wasn't nearly so violent or nihilistic
as today. So it was with images of scared guardsmen shooting wildly at
insurgent snipers and wondering out loud what the hell they were doing
there in the first place that I opened today's Maui News and read the Associated Press story "Enlistment in Guard up." "The Hawaii Guard
attracted 388 newly enlisted soldiers during the year ending last
September," the AP reported. "That's better than the annual average of
300 to 350. Nationally, just more than 69,000 people joined the Army
Guard last fiscal year, up 40 percent from 49,000 in 2004. The question
is: Will it last?" That's the
question? How about: Why is enlistment growing at all? It's nice to
hear that Hawai`i Guardsmen won't be going to Iraq anytime soon, but
considering that country's rising casualty rates, civil war conditions
and Inspector General reports
about many American reconstruction "successes" that are actually just
glossed over construction disasters, it's somewhat hard to take such
TUESDAY, May 1
Of course, I blame the sperm whales for all this.
Anthony Pignataro believes heritage will be his legacy—nothing more and nothing less. MTW
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