Location: Minnesota, United States
Cost of the War in Iraq
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Wednesday, February 23, 2005

Happy Fun Facts with Seymour Hersh

I've been reading Hersh's book Chain of Command: The Road from 9/11 to Abu Ghraib
and feel the need to share the most Happy Fun Facts.

I think I'll just share the warm, happy feelings of safety and security the book incites in the order they arise as I traverse the landscape that is the Bush Administration's handling of a growing terrorist threat, 9/11, and the invasion of a sovereign country. Who am I to rearrange a five-time Polk winner's findings?

Happy Fun Fact 1:
[General Janis Karpinski, in charge of Abu Ghraib at the time of the widely publicized abuses]: I thought most of the civilians there were interpreters, but there were some civilians that I didn't know...I called them disappearing ghosts...They were nice--they'd always call out to me and say "Hey, remember me? How are you doing?" [Hersh]: She had no idea who was operating in her prison system. (p. 61)

thought they were interpreters? She gave them a cute nickname? They were nice to her, so she thought she'd just go about the business of running a military prison (whatever that entails, if not knowing who's in the building and what they're doing) and wave as people wandered about? If anyone I don't know shows up in my house without being invited, I'll just keep washing dishes and assume he's there to clean the ductwork. As long as he waves at me.

Happy Fun Fact 2:
To be fair to General Karpinski, no one in the U.S. government much cared who did what when it came to intelligence after the Cold War. Beaurocratic barriers limited the pool from which C.I.A. officers could recruit operatives. A retired officer who spoke with Hersh explained the problem with the government's insistence that no one with a criminal history of any kind function as an operative: Look, we recruited assholes. I handled bad guys. But we don't recruit people from the Little Sisters of the Poor--they don't know anything...What we've done to ourselves is criminal. There are a half-dozen good guys out there trying to keep it together. (p. 81)

One can certainly see the potential problems with employing, say, Saddam, to do America's dirty work. It wouldn't be a stroke of genius to offer him immunity from prosecution if he promised to join a Black Ops team and take out Taliban leadership. (Besides, he's more of an in-the-open atrocities kind of guy.) However, the retired agent makes an interesting point. It sounds to me like "Well? Who do you
think is going to do this stuff?!"

Oh, right: back to nobody caring who did what. Robert Baer, a field agent who worked in the Counter Terrorism Center, said that because of the dwindling human resources, it was impossible to do anything, so he just watched CNN. He said it made his workday easier. (p. 81)

Quintessential Kid Meal

I've made it for her before, but Eryn has always been ambivalent about her macaroni and cheese. Today was different:

She's my kid--I should have known boring food was not allowed. The secret ingredient:

And the award for most ridiculously spelled name goes to...

...LaFawnduh, the questionably female e-girlfriend of Kip, Napoleon's older brother in Napoleon Dynamite.

Scooter and I watched this last night, and enjoyed it...wincingly. He called it "a character study of dorks," which seems an appropriate classification. "Comedy" simply doesn't suffice. The movie is worth the time if you are looking for something painfully (recall "wincingly") funny that won't tax your brain. That is not to say it has the mindless quality of something like--oh, Shallow Hal, or Jason vs. Freddy, but it entertains without teaching anyone anything or altering anyone's perspective.

Wait. It did reaffirm my conviction that teenage formalwear in the 1980's was horrific. It also convinced Scooter he was absolutely correct in his belief that no one should ever wear Zubas.

Wednesday, February 16, 2005

A Chuck E. Cheesey Kind of Evening

As is bound to happen with most middle class parents of a small child, Scooter and I recently ended up at Chuck E. Cheese. There was much riding of Clifford the Big Red Dog, spider squashing, and drum banging, and the only evidence of who the culprit was is this wanted poster. The little girl was off so fast to squish more spiders (even with Grandpa John trying to hold her there longer) that the sketch artist couldn't draw all of her and had to settle for this partial portrait:

Tuesday, February 08, 2005

What's wrong with Social Security?

Nice piece by Molly Ivins on Social Security.

Monday, February 07, 2005

Does my foot look fat?

Pretty colors...Day 7 after the fall:

Saturday, February 05, 2005

"Jesus is a ball hog" **

** planetdan

This is so silly, I'm including a direct link to all the Jesus sports statues.

My favorite is Jesus consorting with the little girls in leotards:

Friday, February 04, 2005

She may need to grow into this one

Eryn saw this hanging up in Scooter's and my closet and had to wear it. Our conversation:

Me: Does it fit, Honey?
Eryn: Fits! Fits!..........No.

That didn't mean it was okay for me to take it off of her.

Thursday, February 03, 2005

It's Not Torture Unless He Says It's Torture

Oh goody.

This is my favorite part:

Pressed on the issue, Gonzales defended language in which he labeled as "quaint" some of the Geneva Conventions' human rights protections for prisoners of war and said they did not extend to al-Qaida and other suspected terrorists.