Bob's Links and Rants -- Fair and Balanced

Welcome to my rants page! You can contact me by e-mail: Be sure to check out my Post 9/11 website for links to lots of stuff I care about. I have put all of my 2002 rants into a single file.

Saturday, September 21, 2002

Another ping pong ball on another mousetrap: Israel Tells U.S. It Will Retaliate if It Comes Under Attack by Iraq. For those who never saw it in science class, there was a movie which explained nuclear reactions by showing a bunch of mousetraps set with pingpong balls on their springs. If there were enough traps close enough together (critical mass), then a single ball tossed in from outside would spring a trap, and its released ball would spring another, and soon all of the traps would be sprung (chain reaction).

The great conspiracy: I have recreated a Republican planning session from 1982 which may explain everything. Or not.

Friday, September 20, 2002

Time to act, dear readers! The Bushies are trying to rush Congress into war. We need to tell Congress that not only do we not want them rushed, we don't want war at all! Contact your Senators and Representative today: You can get their phone numbers and either e-mail addresses or online message forms from these websites: and I've already used some of my rarely used daytime minutes on my Sprint phone to call Levin, Stabenow and Rivers; now it's your turn! (By the way, I'm taking the day off from ranting at work to rant at home! Too many interruptions at work.)

Imperial recipe for disaster: The Bushies have released their National Security Strategy, which envisions a world of the US, by the US, and for the US. It solidifies the criminal pre-emptive strike policy, stating clearly that if the world doesn't act the way we think it should, we're going to kill some people to change that.

One interesting note is that the document actually has a definition of terrorism: "premeditated, politically motivated violence perpetrated against innocents." Seems like a reasonable definition, and I'm glad to see it defined in writing so we can use it against Bush, since it seems to apply to much of what the rest of the document says the US is going to do.
Another point the document makes is that the US seems intent on being the world's policeman, and is willing to out-arms-race any potential challenger. Here's a key section:

It is time to reaffirm the essential role of American military strength. We must build and maintain our defenses beyond challenge. Our military's highest priority is to defend the United States. To do so effectively, our military must:

  • assure our allies and friends;
  • dissuade future military competition;
  • deter threats against U.S. interests, allies, and friends; and
  • decisively defeat any adversary if deterrence fails.

From Steve Benson of the Arizona Republic.

Thursday, September 19, 2002

Saddam Hussein insisted that Baghdad does not possess chemical, biological or nuclear weapons. The White House called the statement disappointing. -- from BBC News.
That about says it all, don't you think? Apparently Bush is jogging on his treadmill waiting to hear Saddam say "I've got a bunch of nasty weapons, I'm making more as fast as possible, and I intend to start using them to attack American babies in incubators tomorrow morning." Or maybe W's just waiting for his publicity folks to finish that video (remember the Osama videos?). And now, the US is on record as being opposed to weapons inspections:
The American secretary of state, Colin Powell, has said the United States will find ways to stop weapons inspectors going back to Iraq unless there is a new United Nations Security Council resolution on the issue.

Apologies to readers whose financial welfare is riding on the stock market, but I myself am pulling for a further crash. Right now the Dow is teetering on the 8000 mark--if it makes it down to 7000 in the next few weeks it should start dominating the news again and maybe giving Congress the backbone to say "no time for war talk; let's fix this thing." If it makes it to 6000 by November there will be Democratic majorities in both houses of Congress (certainly not ideal, given the nature of Democrats these days, but certainly better than the alternative). Lower still and we might finally have serious talk about restructuring our economy away from growth, fossil fuels and mega-corporations. Maybe just dreaming, but it seems to me that a major economic crisis now might be the best hope for avoiding apocalypse later. It's how we got rid of the last Bush, it's probably the only way to get rid of this one.

What's in a name? The Republican candidate for governor in Illinois is Attorney General Jim Ryan, who hopes to replace retiring Republican George Ryan and his 69% disapproval rating. Apparently Jim Ryan doesn't have much going for him, and one of the things he has going against him is that many voters think he is actually George Ryan running for re-election. (from Roll Call.) Why didn't this work more effectively against George W. Bush? I mean, he lost the election by only a half-million votes when a man with almost the exact same name was one of our worst presidents ever only a few years ago!

Florida Seeks Federal Help in Its Voting -- NY Times. That's right, Jeb Bush has asked John Ashcroft to help Florida hold a fair election in November. Ah, this is too easy--make up your own rant for this one!

"There's no doubt in my mind that we should allow the world worst leaders to hold America hostage, to threaten our peace, to threaten our friends and allies with the world's worst weapons." -- George W. Bush, South Bend, Ind., Sept. 5, 2002 -- from The Complete Bushisms. I think W was talking about himself.

He strongly implied that the president had become all-consumed with events overseas. "As busy as we are, as important as the war on Iraq is," Mr. Daschle of South Dakota said, "I would hope that this administration could dedicate some of the time each week to economic security as well, to the declining numbers, to this atrocious record." -- from the NY Times.

I couldn't quickly find Daschle's voting record (it certainly wasn't on his own website), but I'm pretty sure he's voted for all of the increases in military spending and "homeland security" and for the huge and wasteful farm bill. Now he is talking about the $100 to $200 billion "war on Iraq" in the present tense! He provides as many facts proving Bush to be responsible for economic woes as Bush provides proving that Iraq has weapons of mass destruction (zero, that is). Of course he can't, because he has been a willing partner in much of what Bush has done. Senator Daschle, when you are a huge part of the problem it is pretty difficult to come off as part of the solution!

Planning ahead. Sooner or later, the American public may realize that we still have troops in Afghanistan, doing basically nothing except adding a lot of fear to weddings. Distracting our attention from this is one of the driving forces behind the push for war in Iraq. But sooner or later, we'll have troops disrupting Iraqi weddings for no good reason, and it will be necessary to come up with other weapons of mass distraction. W already laid some groundwork with his "axis of evil" nonsense in his state of the union address, and now the Bushies are getting started on Cuba. Of course, picking on Fidel is to be expected now, with Jeb running for re-election in a few weeks. Got to make sure all of those Cuban-Americans in Miami get out and vote Republican!

If you want to keep the peace, you've got to have the authorization to use force,'' Bush told reporters in the Oval Office. -- from the NY Times. Why is this man still allowed out in public?

The Bush speech at the UN was only multilateralist in an Orwellian sense. What he and the Right have been saying is, if the UN is to be relevant, it must do what we say. This is like asking someone politely for sex before raping her (or him). You can't honestly profess support for international law while also reserving the right to ignore it at will. Another source of U.S. pressure is the promise of oil concessions -- or the threat of being shut out of the game -- by a post-Saddam U.S. puppet Iraqi government. -- from MaxSpeak Weblog, yet another cool web log, pointed out by Tom Tomorrow.

Wednesday, September 18, 2002

Marketing the war. The Bushies are launching an advertising campaign against Saddam. Like we never hear anything bad about him now.

Maybe good news for Rabih Haddad!Federal Judge Nancy G. Edmunds said that the Ann Arbor Muslim cleric "should be freed in 10 days or have a new hearing open to the news media and the public with a different immigration judge." Regular rant readers will recognize that Haddad is the man who was arrested back on December 14 in his Ann Arbor home and has been held, without charges, ever since.

"I don't think anybody could have predicted that these people would take an airplane and slam it into the World Trade Center, take another one and slam it into the Pentagon, that they would try to use an airplane as a missile," [Condoleeza Rice] said.

--from a May 17 news article

Well, a congressional committee investigating the attacks says there were plenty of warnings. Seems like this should be the main topic of the week, don't you think?

Saddam Hussein is slimy and deceptive, but then he's had lessons from the masters. He was supposedly a US ally in the 1980's, when we were supplying him with weapons and intelligence in Iraq's war with Iran, even after we knew about his use of chemical weapons on "his own people" (actually Kurds suspected of collaborating with the Iranians--doesn't justify it, but we're not very nice to supposed collaborators either: ask John Walker Lindh). One way we supported our "ally" was by secretly selling arms to his enemy, Iran, to support our illegal operations in Central America. Many Reagan administration officials were involved with this, including Elliott Abrams, who is now the National Security Council’s senior director for democracy(!), human rights(!!) and international operations; John Negroponte, who is now our Ambassador to the United Nations; and of course then Vice President George H. W. Bush (who pardoned both Abrams and Negroponte after they were convicted of Iran-Contra crimes). Then there was the green light to invade Kuwait given to Saddam by then Ambassador April Glaspie, relaying instructions from Secretary of State James Baker. Not to be outdone by the Republicans, Bill Clinton got into the act by using the UN weapons inspectors as spies (see this article and this Tom Tomorrow cartoon). So to hear all of this ridiculous bluster from the Bushies in response to Iraq's invitation to allow inspectors to return sets a new record in hypocrisy for an administration that has already set the bar very very very very high.

Off the frigging deep end! See this AP article. I was going to pick a quote or two from this article, but every part of it is disgusting. Rumsfeld, Bush, Gephardt, Daschle: All lying scoundrels making the whole United States look like a Florida election.

Oh Johnny, we thought you were different!"The intent would be to give the president of the United States approval to do what's necessary," said Sen. John McCain, R-Arizona. Iraq's decision to allow the return of inspectors shouldn't change U.S. strategy, said McCain, who supports military action against Iraq. "In their letter, they said they have no weapons of mass destruction. Everybody knows that's not true. So that questions the credibility of the entire commitment," said McCain. - Bush, lawmakers discuss action against Iraq - September 18, 2002
What is the matter with Congress? Why are they letting Bush pull them around on a leash? Here's a quote for you:
"We must now take effective steps to disarm Saddam Hussein's regime," Gephardt said. "We must start by putting the burden of proof on his government to disclose its weapons stockpiles and development programs, not on U.N. inspectors to seek them out as Saddam Hussein continues to hide them." What does Gephardt expect? A live TV show where Saddam tours Iraq saying "here they aren't, and there they aren't?" Not allowing weapons inspectors to inspect was a main arguing point for war a week ago, but now apparently inspectors, and the whole UN, are irrelevant to Congress because the Bushies say so. Talk about your wheedling and crawfishing!

Tuesday, September 17, 2002

Meat Recalled Over E. Coli Concern A Pennsylvania beef-packing company owned by Smithfield Foods recalled 203,600 pounds of ground beef after some of its meat tested positive for E. coli bacteria.
Moyer Packing, based in Souderton, Pa., was told by the Department of Agriculture on Sept. 10 that a sample was contaminated. Late last week, Moyer determined that the beef was produced Aug. 31 and the company recalled beef made on that day.

I don't know about you, but back when I used to buy meat I tended to eat it within a week. Here it is 18 days after August 31 and the infected meat is being recalled. I'd say that the usefulness of DOA inspections is pretty much DOA.

Bush, addressing a Nashville, Tenn., fund raiser for Senate candidate Lamar Alexander, warned anew of "a barbaric regime teaming up with a terrorist network, providing weapons of mass destruction to hold the United States and our allies and our friends blackmail." -- from the NY Times
Amazing that someone so dim-witted can put so many lies, exaggerations and mixed metaphors ("hold...blackmail") into one so-called sentence. And tell me, George, what distinguishes our allies from our friends? And, just to make the whole thing completely infuriating, by babbling incoherently about Iraq W will be able to charge much of his Nashville trip to the government rather than the GOP.

Good article from Toronto.

Woohoo! A Perritt that says something original! Hank Perritt is a Democrat running for Congress in Illinois, and he says that Democrats should be speaking out against war.

The White House official said that if and when inspectors return, it will be at the demand of the United States and United Nations -- not at Iraq's invitation. -- from the Washington Post
You've got to be embarrassed! If that isn't the most childish, bullying...aaargh!

SUVocating: A review of "High and Mighty," an SUV-bashing book that I'm just going to have to read! Maybe even buy!

PS to last post: The Bushies didn't say those $300 and $500 checks were "nothing" when their tax giveaway passed!

President Bush returned today to collecting big checks for Republican candidates and warning Congress to hold the line on government spending, even as his chief economic policy adviser, Lawrence B. Lindsey, said the cost of a war with Iraq could be as high as $100 billion to $200 billion...As a one-time war cost over one year, the estimated expenditure, Mr. Lindsey said, was "nothing." -- from the NY Times

That's $350 to $700 for every man, woman and child in the US! If that's "nothing" then it is time for Mr. Bush to get a new economic policy adviser, and for Mr. Lindsey and the rest of us to get a new president.

President Bush on Tuesday decried the ``large and disturbing'' gaps in children's knowledge of history... -- from the NY Times
Is that the pot calling the kettle black, or what? Bush probably thinks World War I came after World War II. But this is scary, too. The Bushies' version of history is sure to be much farther from the truth than what children are (or aren't) learning now.

Once again, Krug's the Man! Paul Krugman exposes further misdeeds by Secretary of the Army Thomas White while he was an Enron crook. Perhaps the administration wouldn't behave so criminally if it wasn't so full of criminals.

Worst war money can buy. Read the WSWS article about how our government is bribing and threatening key UN members to get support for the Iraq attaq, even after Iraq's agreement to allow the return of weapons inspectors.

Whining for war. Apparently the Bushies are not excited about taking "yes" for an answer.

"This is a tactical step by Iraq in hopes of avoiding strong U.N. Security Council action," said Scott McClellan, the deputy White House spokesman. "As such, it is a tactic that will fail." He added: "It is time for the Security Council to act." A senior State Department official said Iraq's letter was "not a promise to disarm, not a promise to allow unfettered inspections, not a promise to disclose the state of its weapons program." --from the NY Times

The Bushies are obviously willing to work tirelessly to get war, no matter what. It is so completely outrageous and wrong that I am having trouble coming up with a nasty enough rant for them! While I have a multitude of complaints about the Reagan and Clinton presidencies, I think both of those presidents would have been wise enough at this point to declare victory and move on. But George W. Bush is intent on the seemingly impossible: making those two clowns, and even his own father, seem like good presidents by comparison.

Monday, September 16, 2002

So Iraq is going to allow UN weapons inspectors to return unconditionally! Will the Bushies take "yes" for an answer? Let's hope so. But be on the lookout for reports of a US plane being shot down, or maybe some kidnapping or murder of Americans in Iraq in the next week or two as a pretext for going ahead with the war. Do I trust our government? Not even a little.

How do we know Iraq has developed chemical and biological weapons? We've got copies of the receipts! Iraq got much of its supply from US and British suppliers during the Reagan and Bush I eras. The article also mentions salmonella and e. coli, but of course those are available at the meat counter of any American supermarket. Of course, most of this stuff was destroyed in the Gulf War or by the UN inspectors, but it certainly brings into question who should be punished for it. I'm saying that the poor, hungry, sick people of Iraq are not the best choice.

Arresting Developments: Probably a response to the Congressional critics of the Iraq attaq who think the "War on Terrorism" should have first priority, there have been a string of reports of arrests of people supposedly affiliated with al Qaeda. The FBI has arrested six Yemeni-Americans in western New York State. Singapore arrested 21 in August, but for some reason
announced it today. And Pakistan has arrested a supposedly top al Qaeda muckety-muck. Frankly, I believe very little of it. Arrests are being made for political purposes around the world, all in the name of the frigging "War on Terrorism." Has a better tool for the suppression of liberty and democracy ever been invented?

Only two prisoners who have been brought to Guantánamo have left. One is Mr. Hamdi, who was discovered to have been born in the United States; he is now in the Navy brig in Norfolk, Va. The other was an Afghan prisoner who received a diagnosis of schizophrenia and returned to Afghanistan, where he is reportedly in a state mental hospital. -- from the NY Times

There are 598 "detainees" at Guantanamo Bay. Many have been there since January. The military isn't even sure who they are, and hasn't given any of them a hearing or charged them with crimes. And the only way out, at least so far, is to go to a Navy brig or a mental hospital in Afghanistan. I was always appalled and saddened when reading Solzhenitsyn and other stories of people locked away for months or years with little or no hope of freedom. While some of these "detainees" may have been bad dudes intent on killing and destroying, many were likely just Taliban foot soldiers, an "honor" you could get just by being in the wrong place at the wrong time. Many Taliban soldiers were basically draftees, with death as their only alternative to enlistment. In any case, they were simply soldiers fighting in what was basically a civil war. Well, the civil war is over and these people are under the control of a country that supposedly believes in freedom. Let's let them go and go back to living up to our ideals.

School days...

I just updated my poem, "The Night Before Baghdad," below. Still a few awkward rhymes and rhythms, but I fixed a few and added two new stanzas at the end.

Sunday, September 15, 2002

Another 5-4 vote!

Still doing some test fixes because of Netscape problems...