Roman Silver and Stolen Culture

I’ve been catching up on the BBC Time Team episodes and came across this one about a hoard of Roman silver that was stolen from Hungary and sold to an English aristocrat.  The silver is in a vault owned by an art dealer and may never see the light of day again.  The man who discovered the treasure in Hungary was murdered.  So far, no one has been prosecuted for the stolen antiquities.

And that reminded me of the robbery of the Baghdad museum in the first stages of the Iraq War in 2003.  It’s been 10 years since Donald Rumsfield had the nerve to tell us that all vases look alike.  This Time Team episode has video of the theft in Baghdad as it happened.  Whoever did it knew exactly what they were looking for.  They probably had a shopping list.  The video shows one of the curators in tears, grieving over the loss of the Iraq’s priceless treasures.  Here’s the whole video.  It’s 49 minutes but worth the time.  It’s a story of theft, murder and privilege.  I have to say that the American legal system doesn’t come off too well here.

I can remember conversations I had with die-hard Christians over the looting of the Baghdad museum.  They didn’t think it was such a big deal because we were liberating the Iraqi people. {{rolling eyes}}  I found that attitude shocking and it permanently ruined my estimation of the person’s intelligence. It’s hard to take anyone seriously who could write off the theft of 10s of thousands of years of human history as no big deal because, you know, WMDs and stuff. All I could think of were thousands of cuneiform tablets that were smashed during the theft.  Those tablets could have contained histories of biblical figures or at least the literature and mythology of the eastern spur of the fertile crescent.  Maybe there was a “Abraham and Sarai: the early years” just waiting to be translated or a more explicit reference from Babylonian legal code to Deuteronomy and Leviticus.  Weren’t they at least concerned with the accuracy of the bible?  I guess not.  A clay tablet is just like any other clay tablet apparently.

I wonder how many people in Davos own a piece of Iraq?  How many Americans own a piece?  Has anyone ever been prosecuted for the Rape of Baghdad?

We should be ashamed that it ever happened.

Tuesday: Hack this

Would you sell an American citizenship to this man?

The phone hacking scandal in Britain is getting pretty hairy.  It turns out that investigators for Scotland Yard who were looking into reports of phone hacking by Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp outlets were in turn phone hacked (NYTimes, limited free articles):

The disclosure, based on interviews with current and former officials, raises the question of whether senior investigators feared that if they aggressively investigated, The News of the World would punish them with splashy articles about their private lives. Some of their secrets, tabloid-ready, eventually emerged in other news outlets.

Those damaging allegations, about two of the senior officers’ private lives, involved charges that one had padded his expense reports and was involved in extramarital affairs and that the other used frequent flier miles accrued on the job for personal vacations.

“If it is true that police officers knew their phones had been hacked, it is a serious matter that requires immediate investigation,” said John Whittingdale, the chairman of the Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee, which investigated phone hacking. “It would be shocking.”

The lead police investigator on the phone-hacking case, Andy Hayman, left the Metropolitan Police in December 2007 after questions were raised in the news media about business expenses he had filed and the nature of his relationship with a woman who worked for theIndependent Police Complaints Commission.

At the time, Channel 4 News reported details of 400 text messages and phone calls that Mr. Hayman had sent to her.

400 text messages.  Holy Hemiola.  Someone must have been bored out of their gourd sifting through all that minutiae:

Him: Where R U?

Her: At Macy’s

Him: I can’t find the remote

Her: It’s on top of the bookcase

Him: My wife is out for the afternoon.  Where should I meet you?

Her: Ahem, I’ve decided NOT to go out this afternoon.  How about we meet in the kitchen -over my knife?

Remember when we thought that someone had the goods on the Democrats in the past 11 years?  Maybe we weren’t just imagining it.

Meanwhile, Murdoch’s deal to buy up the controlling shares in BSkyB has been put on hold for a few months and his shareholders are shocked, SHOCKED that such shenanigans could be happening right underneath Rupert’s nose.  They’re filing a lawsuit to get to the bottom of it:

Among the lawsuit’s complaints: the company’s purchase of Elisabeth Murodoch’s Shine Group has harmed the shareholder value; the board as it is comprised has numerous conflicts of interest; and the phone-hacking scandal has hurt the company’s reputation and investor value.

{{snort!}}

You’ve GOT to be kidding.  When Fox was bailing out Bill O’Reilly because he was phone sexing one of his producers and Glenn Beck became a raving lunatic, the shareholders were pretty OK with the company’s reputation.  Fox News has made a name for itself as being fast and loose with the truth (perfectly legal, so saith the courts) and fellating Bush administration officials on a regular basis.  So, why the big deal NO

There’s more stunning hypocrisy:

The egregious conduct triggering this stunning turn of events was not limited to reporters.  Former News Of The World employees involved in the phone hacking have indicated that at least two editors-in-chief of the paper were aware of and condoned the hacking in order to obtain news stories that would  drive readership.

Rebekah Brooks (“Brooks”), a very close friend of Murdoch and his family who has repeatedly been promoted by Murdoch (most recently to the position of Chief Executive Officer of News International), and Andy Coulson (“Coulson”), a Murdoch political ally and a close friend of Brooks who became an aide to British Prime Minister David Cameron, both were editor-in chief of the paper while the illegal hacking was on-going and have been linked to explicit knowledge of the practice.  Coulson, in fact, has been arrested on suspicion of phone hacking and making payments to police and faces criminal indictment for his conduct.

These revelations should not have taken years to uncover and stop. These revelations show a culture run amuck within News Corp and a Board that provides no effective review or oversight.

Oh, I don’t know, Fox has been extremely effective in undermining the social safety net and standard of living of hundreds of millions of people in North America, Britain and Iraq.  Chaos and lack of oversight appear to be key factors in the success of News Corps winning management style.  Let’s not forget it owns the Wall Street Journal and it’s compassionately conservative editorial page.

And what kind of culture has been damaged?  The kind that stops at nothing to ram ultra conservative ideology and farfetched conspiracy theories down the throats of unsuspecting senior citizens and treats the working class like a bunch of parasites?  Or is it the culture that hour after hour, day after day, terrifies its viewers with stories of abductions and child abuse and murders of innocent young white girls to the point where every adult, male or female, is a potential pedophile?  Or is News Corps culture the kind that stampedes the governments of two nations into a stupid and costly war in Iraq?  Where were the shareholders back then?  Having their pedicures in the back of the limo on the tedious drive to Hamptons?

Rupert Murdoch sounds like an authoritarian sociopath to me and from what I can tell, he’s been one for a long time.  I’m guessing that the shareholders *liked* the ruthless bastard just as he was as long as the stock prices of insurance companies, the security industry, armaments dealers and mercenary merchants were increasing. It’s only now that Britain is turning on him that the shareholders find his company distasteful and his culture uncouth.  What I want to know is who these snobs are that brought us to the brink of global economic catastrophe over the financial system deregulation and the ongoing debt ceiling debacle and now think they can slither away unscathed.  Names, I want names.

I predict this scandal is going to spread and have already cornered the market in popcorn.  Where, Oh, Where, will the Republicans go for sympathetic, soft ball interviews?  Ok, I mean *other* than the rest of the American news media?  And can we get a list of the politicians that have shown up on Fox the most?  Or is this just a ruse by the shareholders to ditch Murdoch, make it look like the cesspool is being cleaned up and then party on under new management?

Butter, please.  Lots of it.

The Democrats are going to run on “results” in November??

Bart Stupak, poster boy for the "party of results"

I know, I know.  It took me awhile to stop giggling too.  They can’t possibly be serious.  But that’s what PoliticalTicker is claiming.   Swallow your coffee before you read it:

Washington (CNN) – When voters head to the polls in November, the Democratic National Committee would like them to remember Democrats with one word: results.

On Wednesday at the Democratic National Committee headquarters in Washington, chairman Tim Kaine revealed his party’s new message and strategy months ahead of the midterm elections. Kaine talked about the efforts with CNN Chief National Correspondent John King in an interview that aired on John King, USA.

Kaine told King that Democrats hope to convince voters they are the party of results. Part of their new strategy will involve pushing that message, helping local candidates, and convincing many of the new voters – that voted for President Barack Obama in the last election – to support Democrats in the midterms.

The DNC chairman said that while the economy still needs improvements, it’s moved from recession to recovery.

Kaine said, “I think the improvement will be noticed by our voters and we’ll be able to make the case to them, do you want to keep climbing or do you want to hand the keys back to the guys who put us into the ditch?”

Yeah, I’m sure that’s what they will be thinking as they head out the door today with their complimentary cardboard box for their stuff and their three month severance packages.

Actually, that’s not what I’ve been witnessing here in the heart of middle class suburbia.  What is happening is that the Republicans in NJ are stirring up an anti-tax rebellion and directing it against hapless teachers.  Why should THEY be getting decent bennies and a steady paycheck when the people footing the bill with their ridiculous property taxes are seeing their industries disappearing and their own lives on the brink of disaster?

Tim Kaine and the Democrats are utterly clueless.  They have no idea what is really going on out here.  Results?  What results?

Was the stimulus package big enough to stave off these drastic cuts in our school districts?

Did Democrats end the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan?

Did the Democrats fight hard for the entrepreneurs and small businesses to get the capital they need to start new ventures so people would have jobs?

Did the Democrats soak the rich bankers within an inch of their lives so that they would learn a valuable lesson and the financial catastrophe they brought upon us wouldn’t happen again?

Did Democrats put together an adequate bailout and mortgage restructuring package for strapped homeowners so they wouldn’t throw in the towel and walk away from their obligations?  Did they make it easier for mortgage owners to keep money flowing to the banks to keep them solvent?

Did the Democrats impose some emergency regulations so that bankers would stop gambling away our futures?

Have the Democrat done ANYTHING so far to make sure that no one touches Social Security and that we get our Trust Fund money back from the thieves who took it?

Did the Democrats give us actual health care reform that’s truly universal, affordable, with competition?

Did the Democrats protect womens’ rights and autonomy of her own body?

Did the Democrats fix gender paycheck inequalities for real or did they simply pass a law with no teeth?

Did the Democrats try to protect American workers’ jobs?

I haven’t seen any results.  I’ve seen them turn their backs on their own voters in 2008 in order to elect their lightbringer, an easy win for them.  All they had to do was change the roolz in the middle of the game and cudgel frantic American voters with false accusations of racism to guilt them into voting for one of the most unprepared but nakedly ambitious presidents since George W. Bush.  But it wasn’t enough to make him president.  No, the world had to give him a Nobel prize as well.  What’s next?  A MacArthur genius grant for curing cancer?  Where does he find the time??  The awards must be piling up on his little display etegere, like a bunch of 3rd place martial arts trophies.  Everyone who participates gets a prize for trying.

And the whining.  I can’t stand it.  We are now supposed to believe that a minority party, the Republicans, are responsible for all that has gone wrong.  They stand in the way.  They say no to everything.  Even when Democrats had a filibuster proof majority in the Senate, the Republicans were responsible.  How can that be??  I am trying hard to wrap my head around this concept.  Here’s what I’ve got: 1.) Democrats had a filibuster proof majority in the senate.  2.)Republicans got what they wanted anyway.  3.) Soooo, maybe the problem is actually *in* the Democratic party.   Three names come to mind immediately: Joe Lieberman, Ben Nelson and Bart Stupak.  You can throw Blanche Lincoln and Mary Landrieu in there as well but at least they can be leaned on.  Who leaned on Nelson, Lieberman and Stupak?  Those three swaggered all over Congress and Stupak in particular got whatever the hell he wanted.  It was Bart Stupak vs the majority of voters in the USA and Bart won.  BART won.  The Democrats allowed Bart and Obama to screw millions of women out of their personal autonomy and Democrats have the nerve to blame Republicans?

I don’t think Democrats understand the impact of their cowardice.  Women are not a special interest.  Workers have to work to pay taxes.  The financial investment industry is out of control and wrecking havoc around the world.  Our current wars are pointless wastes of lives and money.  Sick children should never have to pass through a gauntlet to get affordable health care.  And we need teachers, even the mean ones who can’t be bothered to address the needs of the gifted.  If they do a good job with the other 98% of the students in their classes, we will have gotten more than our money’s worth.

You want to know what I want to see in the results category?  I want to see real passion on the Floor.  I want to see yelling and screaming.  I want to see the progressives and liberals eat some red meat and throw a fit until the Bart Stupaks in their own party back down.  I want to see eggs thrown and smoke bombs and bloody noses.  I want to see incivility.  I want to see so much fighting in Congress by Democratic representatives on behalf of Americans not in the bonus class that the editorial page of the New York Times faints before it can reach the smelling salts.  I don’t want two Republican parties.  I want to see Democrats actually ACT like Democrats. 

Shove your “party of results” meme until you have some results.  I own my vote.  I don’t give it away for social promotion purposes.  You can’t scare me with the Republican boogie man anymore.  I voted for downticket Dems in 2008 but they haven’t pulled their weight.  If Republicans win this fall, Democrats have themselves to blame and no one else.  It was their responsibility to get things done and they blew it.  They coasted.   This fall, I’m not voting for either party.  I’m voting for a party to be designated later.

And stop calling me for money.

Obama Keeps A Promise

article-1035293-01f0dd9700000578-382_468x286The news media is all a-twitter about President Black Obama’s decision to deploy additional troops to Afghanistan, like this is something newAll accounts suggest the decision is in response to a standing request by General David McKiernan, but, it seems more likely to be a campaign promise fulfilled.  In his own words, here’s what he said in the New York Times in July:

As president, I would pursue a new strategy, and begin by providing at least two additional combat brigades to support our effort in Afghanistan. We need more troops, more helicopters, better intelligence-gathering and more nonmilitary assistance to accomplish the mission there. I would not hold our military, our resources and our foreign policy hostage to a misguided desire to maintain permanent bases in Iraq.

In January of 2008, the video below was posted on You Tube, and, though he has been accused of blowing off Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearings on the subject, going after Al Qaeda and the Taliban in Afghanistan is probably the one thing Barack Obama has been consistent about since Day One.

X-posted at Cinie’s World

An Unholy Alliance

Tom Watson writes a deliciously snarky piece about the meeting of the minds of Bill Kristol and DailyKos. {{shudder}}

I hate to see it come to this but I think he is on to something. That is not to say that everyone at DailyKos is being assimilated. There are still quite a few loyal Kossacks and lurkers who are valiantly holding out for the rest of the site to return to sanity.

Actually, Tom brings up a point I have been wondering about for some time now: What is it about Clinton that drives otherwise perfectly rational people absolutely crazy? (Kristol is excluded from this because he started out nuts) Why is it SO important to crush The House of Clinton?

In some respects, the last few months of anti-Clinton frenzy is reminiscent of the lead up to the Iraq War. Those who are virulently anti-Hillary act as though they’ve seen some secret intelligence document that spells out how dangerous and Un-American she is. But all I ever see are doctored satellite photographs of some trailers used for agricultural research.

PLEASE Mr. Kristol,. Frank Rich, Peggy Noonan, tell us what you know. If there is a deep dark awful secret about Hillary, like there’s medical proof that she’s really a paranoid evangelical with the IQ of a table lamp who has megalomania and messianic delusions of grandeur, it is your sacred duty for the sake of our great nation to tell us without delay so we don’t elect someone who’s going to lead us into a pointless, endless, expensive, destructive war or violate our civil liberties or torture people or ruin the economy or a city. I mean surely, SURELY these brave pundits would have told us if we were ever in danger of electing someone that nuts, a person capable of destroying the middle class. Surely they will warn us that we are making a big mistake by nominating a neophyte whom they will take great joy in levelling with the brutality of their poison pens.

I’m sure that Kos has his reasons for loathing Clinton. It probably has nothing to do with the fact that he doesn’t like her campaign people because, hey, who doesn’t loathe campaign people? David Axelrod makes my skin crawl and Joe Trippi makes me want to take a bath. If it were just a matter of Clinton people not trying out new campaign techniques, I’m sure Kos would have been happy to make suggestions to Hillary. No, it’s got to be something even worse than the House of Bush that has him thinking like Kristol that the worst thing in the world would be Hillary 44.

If only they would tell us I could stop being so skeptical. Maybe there’s something wrong with me. I just couldn’t swallow the Iraq War stories and I just can’t swallow this one either. Oh, woe is me, cursed to be always out of step with my peers.

And always right in retrospect.

Report on Bush Iraq Lies Needs One More Data Set

bush alienI’m glad to see that Public Integrity has performed this retrospective analysis of the Bush Administration misinformation campaign to get us in over our heads in Iraq. Many of us in the left blogosphere couldn’t get the message out when it was happening that it *was* mostly lies. But some of us, myself included, knew that it was a lie because the frequency in the number of times that Iraq was mentioned in the media increased significantly between the Clinton administration and the Bush administration and this increase in frequency occured BEFORE 9/11. That was my first clue that the whole thing was bogus. It seemed to come from nowhere. My suspicions were raised and I was skeptical of everything that came after. Even before 9/11, I was wondering “Why now on Iraq?”

So, I would like to propose that Public Integrity also survey the number of instances where Iraq was mentioned as a threat, between 1996 after the reelection of President Clinton and September 2001. I’ll betcha dollars to donuts that the Iraq War was already being pushed on us before the 2000 election and the curve should get exponential from January to August 2001. I don’t have access to lexus-nexus so I hope someone does this on our behalf. Then we’ll know that we have to be extra vigilant and examine the trend lines in the future.

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