Thursday, October 31, 2002
Football Team Added to List of Terrorist Groups
Secretary of State Colin Powell announced today that the Oakland Raiders have been placed on the State Department's list of organizations with ties to terrorists. Raiders' General Manager Al Davis and quarterback Rich Gannon have been arrested, and are believed to be on their way to Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.
NFL Commissioner Paul Tagliabue said that at first he was shocked to hear that one of his teams was a front for terrorism, but when he heard that it was the Raiders he said "Well, yes, I guess I can see that." In a video released on al Jazeera TV in the Middle East, former Raider Jack Tatum was seen talking about the many terrorist activities of the Raiders. "People assumed I was called 'Assassin' because I hit receivers real hard," said Tatum. "And compare pictures of Sirhan Sirhan and John Hinckley with old Raider team photos--I think you'll discover something very interesting."
Tagliabue said that the remaining Raiders would be allowed to continue playing through the remainder of the season, but that any team losing to them or referee favoring the Raiders with a call would also be added to the State Department's list. Sources wouldn't confirm that one of the Raiders' acts of terror was picking the candidates in California's gubernatorial election.
Wednesday, October 30, 2002
I, for one, am trying to make up for lost time. To be sure, I have voted in most elections since 1976, frequently for the wrong candidate, as I found out later. But this year I've hit the streets, made the calls, written the checks, and blogged away. My newfound activism can be traced most directly to one politician whose speeches and policies have inspired me like no other. I wish I could say that it was Paul Wellstone or Dennis Kucinich, but in fact it was none other than George W. Bush. Fear and loathing are powerful motivators.
I had vague feelings listening to Reagan and Clinton that they were lying, but I didn't really believe that they were rotten to the core. The elder Bush was certainly disturbing, but he at least seemed to possess some intelligence. Currently I think that he is and was pure evil, but I recall that I didn't think that back when he was president. But this Bush so clearly has no morality or compassion and lies constantly in pursuit of bizarre and dangerous policies, and every time he opens his mouth you realize what a moron he is. His speeches after 9/11 convinced me that there is something very wrong with the world today, and George W. Bush represents the core of it. Since then I have read books, magazines and thousands of web pages to find out more about what's wrong and what I might do about it. This blog is my attempt to share what I've learned and what I believe. There is no more important cause in the world today than stopping the Bush-Cheney war on everything.
- Operation Oily Residue
- Operation Infinite Deception
- Operation Arrogant Imperialism
- Operation Oedipal Redemption
- Operation Tolerating Liberty
Any suggestions from the audience?
“The threat from the White House is to go in anyway,” Cronkite said. “Our only ally would probably be Great Britain. That is not good enough. I see the possibility if we do that of really setting forth World War III.”
“They applauded as Hitler closed down the independent newspaper and television stations and only gave them his propaganda,” Cronkite said. “When they did not rise up and say, ‘Give us a free press,’ they became just as guilty.”
Tuesday, October 29, 2002
We did Afghanistan on the cheap, and it shows. The place is such a mess that the main objective of the American invasion--building a trans-Afghan pipeline to carry landlocked Caspian oil and gas to the Indian Ocean--will likely never be realized.
We won the war but we lost the peace. Will we do the same thing in Iraq?
Count on it. -- from Ted Rall.
"If we can go through all those factors, determine someone doesn't have intelligence value, is not a real threat to the United States or our friends or allies, and we think there will be a proper handling on the other end, then we'd like to get rid of some of these people. So we're working a lot of those issues with countries, but it takes time." -- from the NY Times. No hearings, no trials, no contacts with families. Just grab 'em in Afghanistan, whisk them half a world away for ten months, then get rid of them. Lack of liberty and injustice for all.
Monday, October 28, 2002
Russian officials have said, so far without providing evidence, that the theater takeover was organized and planned with the help of Islamic extremist groups abroad.
Mr. Putin ordered Russia's military to draft new doctrine that would adapt its forces and tactics to counter the threat from terrorism both internally and externally, presaging sweeping changes for a military that has been slow to change. -- from the NY Times.
Wonderful. Another nuclear-armed cowboy declaring war on anyone he decides is a terrorist, and on any country he decides is harboring them. What if Putin determines what is probably the case, that is that the Chechen rebels are supported by Saudis and Pakistanis? Will the Russians be bombing Islamabad and Riyahd? Perhaps this is the start of Putin's ploy to counteract Bush's oil grab in Iraq (see William Safire's optimistic and scary predictions for the Iraq war if the Russians vote against it in the Security Council for a scenario where Russia, China and France are left out in the cold). Control of Saudi Arabia would certainly keep Russia in the superpower sweepstakes. And Bush's Afghanistan and Iraq rhetoric has given Putin all of the justification that he needs. Bush has already agreed with Putin to call the Chechen rebels "terrorists." He has argued that countries not only have the right to attack terrorists and those who harbor them, but that countries must do so or face consequences from the US.
Putin will probably have a much easier time coming up with actual evidence of Saudi involvement in Chechnya than Bush has had coming up with evidence of either weapons or terrorism in Iraq. He says, "Look Georgie Porgie (remember, W calls him Pootie-Poot), these guys are terrorists, you said so yourself. Here's the evidence of support from the Saudis. You said we had to go after terrorists and those who harbor them. I'm with you, Georgie Porgie, not against you. Therefore, I have no choice but to invade Saudi Arabia. I know you understand." In the less likely scenario, Bush agrees, saying "you're right, Pootie-Poot, go ahead," at which point both the US and Russia are hit with terror campaigns unlike anything anyone has seen so far, and China attacks Taiwan and other neighbors (Malaysia, Indonesia, Phillipines, South Korea, Japan) so as not to be left out of the superpower game, and World War III begins in earnest. In the more likely scenario, Bush decides Pootie-Poot isn't his friend after all, makes up some lies to counter Russia's evidence, sends more troops to defend Saudi Arabia, and World War III begins in earnest. The rhetoric and actions of the Bush administration have made the world a more dangerous place than ever, and I fear we are nearing the precipice.
It is politically very dangerous to appear to be defending terrorists, but we have to put a stop to the idea that terrorism is worse than other forms of military action. Osama bin Laden, the Palestinians, and the Chechens would all prefer, I'm sure, to begin with stealth bomber attacks on radar installations followed up by F-16's and B-52's, than to have to blow themselves up in order to inflict damage. But they don't have these weapons, and they have been backed into a corner by those who do. They have been given the choice (or at least they perceive it this way) of either just dying or dying for their cause. So-called terrorist attacks are the only types of attacks they can launch. I don't think they are right to do so, but they are no more wrong than we are to bomb Iraq. Killing people with explosives is bad, no matter how they are delivered.
Sunday, October 27, 2002
"Here I'm not being spit on, people aren't throwing tomatoes at me and Joan Baez isn't singing," said protest veteran Dot Magargal, 77, from Media, Pa. -- from the Washington Post article about yesterday's peace rally in DC. The post article is quite exuberant about the DC rally, estimating the turnout at 100,000 and saying that it was probably the largest anti-war rally in Washington since the Vietnam era. The Post appears to have gotten its numbers from rally organizers, who might tend to be optimistic. Meanwhile, the NY Times downplays the turnout, saying it was "thousands" and "fewer than hoped for" by organizers. CNN says there were "tens of thousands" without citing a source.
Meanwhile, I was in downtown Ann Arbor yesterday participating in our own march and rally. The Ann Arbor News covered the rally. Their article states: "Ann Arbor police estimated about 2,500 people attended the demonstration, but others said the crowd seem not quite so large. One participant put the number at 700 or 800." The reporter doesn't comment further on the size of the crowd.
How hard can it be to get a good estimate of crowd size? In Ann Arbor it would have been simple. The march started in a well-defined space and proceeded linearly to another well-defined space. A single photo from above (the top floor of the grad library, for example) would have included most of the crowd. From such a photo you could easily get an almost exact count within half an hour (less than that with copies and more people to count), or a good estimate in five minutes. Alternatively, counting people as they pass by a certain point on the march for a minute and multiplying by the number of minutes for the entire crowd to pass would also give a good estimate. In DC it would have been harder, especially the last method, but the resources on hand would have been greater. A few photos taken nearly simultaneously from the top of the Washington monument or somebody's news helicopter could have been used to get a decent estimate. We should see discrpancies between say 89 thousand, 97 thousand and 103 thousand, not huge disparities between thousands, tens of thousands, and 100 thousand.
[Ahmed] Chalabi, the London-based leader of the Iraqi National Congress (INC), is front man for the latest incarnation of a long-time neoconservative strategy to redraw the map of the oil-rich Middle East, put American troops -- and American oil companies -- in full control of the Persian Gulf's reserves and use the Gulf as a fulcrum for enhancing America's global strategic hegemony. -- from The American Prospect. Chalabi has been indicted for bank fraud in Jordan, among other things, but he appears to be the leading candidate to be Iraq's own Karzai. He's already making deals for Iraq's oil.
Federal investigators today sorted through the wreckage of a plane crash that killed Senator Paul Wellstone and seven others, but efforts to determine the cause of the crash could be hampered by the absence of a cockpit voice recorder.
Carol Carmody, the acting chairwoman of the National Transportation Safety Board, said in a news conference here that the twin-engine Beechcraft King Air A100 was not required to have a voice recorder under F.A.A. regulations, and was not equipped with one.
And the headline? Cockpit Voice Recorder Is Focus of Search for Cause of Crash. Fortunately, the rest of the article does not substantiate the headline's claim that investigators are combing the woods of Minnesota for a recorder they know doesn't exist. It does say that the investigation may take many months, for reasons I can't begin to understand. Unless, of course, investigators are under orders to make sure that the investigation takes many months, just like it did for TWA 800 and like it has for AA 587.
Saturday, October 26, 2002
Friday, October 25, 2002
Paul Wellstone, 1944-2002
Unfortunately, my paragraph below was the last one about Wellstone's chances. Senator Wellstone died in a plane crash this morning. Am I sad? Very. Am I suspicious? Absolutely. This stuff is supposed to happen in Colombia and Pakistan, not the US. Let's have the Canadian authorities investigate this one--I don't want anyone who works for George W. Bush involved.
Thursday, October 24, 2002
Then I'd give $300bn back to the taxpayers. I'd take the rest and pay the people teaching our children what they deserve. I'd put $100bn into alternative fuels and renewable energy. I'd revive the Chemurgy movement, which made the farmer the root of the economy, and make paper and fuel from wheat straw, rice straw and hemp. Not only would I attend, I'd sponsor the next Earth Summit. And, of course, I'd give myself a fat raise. -- Woody Harrelson, quoted in the Guardian. He's no idiot, even though he used to play one on TV.
Wednesday, October 23, 2002
Officials on Wednesday also urged any witnesses to come forward without fear of potential problems with their immigration status, despite authorities detaining two men on Monday in a white van and turning them over to federal authorities for deportation proceedings.
"We just have concerns that some people in the immigrant community didn't come forward,'' Montgomery County Police Chief Charles Moose said Wednesday. He said witnesses' immigrant status is not the concern of the sniper task force. -- from AP via NY Times . They managed to get out of the train car alive, evade the vigilantes in Arizona, and now they're going to be dumb enough to take the word of Chief Moose that he won't use the sniper hunt to round up any more "illegal" immigrants? Chief Moose must think they're complete idiots. And I'm not making fun of his name. Neither is Natasha.
Bush noted the many tasks being placed on the military's shoulders: ``bring justice to agents of terror ... liberate a captive people on the other side of the Earth ... prepare for conflict in Iraq if necessary ... serve in many places far from home and at great risk.''
Are "liberate a captive people" and "conflict in Iraq" two separate things in W's tiny little mind? If so, what captive people is he talking about? Is he already planning the next war while the current one in Iraq is still in the occasional bombing phase?
Hey Mexicans! We stole Arizona and California from you fair and square back in the 1840's. Just because our multi-national corporations have forced you off your land and NAFTA hasn't provided enough slave-wage jobs for all of you is no excuse for you to try to sneak back onto your land. We've got vigilantes out there in the desert to make sure you don't get far.
What exactly does it say on the Statue of Liberty? Does America stand for anything anymore? (Anything good, that is?)
- The attacks are completely calculated, and there is very little element of thrill-seeking to the killings. They are designed to create maximum terror for the public, not to satisfy the killer's bloodlust. If this were someone who decided to play a video game for real, he would have fretted for days or weeks before shooting his first victim, and then probably retreated in fear for a week or two before the desire to regain the thrill took hold. I would expect this type of killer to increase the rate of killing until he got careless trying to shoot too many people in one day, which would lead to his arrest or death. But this guy (sorry for the sexist assumption) did his big killing spree at the beginning to get attention, not thrills, and has spaced out the killings ever since to extend the terror and minimize his chances of being caught.
- The sniper is a terrorist. I don't know if he's domestic or foreign, part of some group like a right-wing militia or al Qaeda or acting on his own, or if he has any coherent political agenda. But I'm sure that his main goal is to spread terror throughout the population, which I think is the best definition of a terrorist. He had nothing against any of his victims--his real targets are the millions in the area who are scared to go outside or buy gas.
- The cops have become much too predictable with their dragnets following the shootings. The sniper could easily use this against them. Cars backed up for miles on freeways are sitting ducks. Imagine, for example, the sniper driving away from his latest shooting, parked in the middle lane of the highway with thousands of others. He pretends to have car trouble, out of gas maybe, grabs a gas can from the trunk, and starts walking for the nearest exit. Five minutes later he blows up his car by remote control, starting a fire in the middle of the traffic jam. Okay, I've scared myself now.
Tuesday, October 22, 2002
The question becomes how to sort out your priorities and deal with them in a smart way that you get things done that need to be done first before you move on to things that are second and third. If I were to give you my priority of things that can change for the better in this region, it is first and foremost the Middle East peace process and getting it back on track. Second, it is ensuring that Iran's reformation or moderation continues on track and trying to help and support the people who are trying to make that change in the best way we can. That's going to take a lot of intelligence and careful work.
The third is to make sure those countries to which we have now committed ourselves to change, like Afghanistan and those in Central Asia, we invest what we need to in the way of resources there to make that change happen. Fourth is to patch up these relationships that have become strained, and fifth is to reconnect to the people. We are talking past each other. The dialogue is heated. We have based this in things that are tough to compromise on, like religion and politics, and we need to reconnect in a different way. I would take those priorities before this one.
My personal view, and this is just personal, is that I think this isn't No. 1. It's maybe six or seven, and the affordability line may be drawn around five.
-- from Salon.
And Conagra and the others are not only evil enough to pursue this goal, they are brazen enough to brag about it on TV.
British news website Ananova reports that a top marksman from the French army deserted while vacationing in the US. There is speculation that he is of Yugoslav origin.
Thanks to the Politics in the Zeros blog for that link. Polizeros also questions why the wounded sniper victim from Saturday (outside the Ponderosa near Richmond) has not been identified, while every other victim, including the FBI anti-terror agent, has been publicly identified. The Ponderosa shooting is the one that began the cryptic phone-tag.
That's my snipe hype du jour. I stand by my previous assertion that the sniper threat is minor compared to the daily carnage from ordinary shootings and car wrecks, but it's hard not to get caught in all the speculation, y'know?
The second, which opens on a man at a gas station, features a cute kid's voice-over throughout: "This is George." Then we see a close up of a gas pump. "This is the gas George buys for his car." Next we see a guy in a suit. "This is the oil company executive who makes money on the gas George buys." Close up on Al-Qaeda training film footage: "This is the terrorist organization supported by money from the country where the oil company does business. " It's followed by footage of 9/11: "We all know what this is." And it closes on a wide shot of bumper to bumper traffic: "The biggest weapon of mass destruction is parked in your driveway."
I think that raising the federal gasoline tax is the most straightforward way to break our addiction. This letter to the NY Times from a fellow Michigander offers an interesting approach:
To the editor:
Thomas L. Friedman ("Drilling for Freedom," column, Oct. 20) convincingly explains that Middle East tyrannies will end when their oil revenues decline. The United States can help this happen by consuming less fuel.
The only way the United States can reduce fuel use is to increase the fuel tax. Adding a nickel per gallon every month until the United States buys its last barrel of imported oil would cause no more than minor disruption of the economy. Yet fuel use would decline almost immediately.
Our political process refuses to discuss a tax increase, the only measure that can work. We are like a 300-pound patient asking a doctor how to lose weight but insisting that the answer must not mention eating or exercise.
Bloomfield Hills, Mich., Oct. 20, 2002
Leonard must be really popular with his neighbors, since Bloomfield Hills is home to many very wealthy auto execs.
Monday, October 21, 2002
Sunday, October 20, 2002
Mr. Shizunaga is a Managing Director of The Carlyle Group, where he focuses primarily on Japanese investment opportunities. He is based in Tokyo.
Prior to joining Carlyle in June 2001, he was a General Partner responsible for buyout investments at Schroder Ventures K.K. There, he played a key role in closing management-led buyout transactions and executed a trade sale to exit one of the buyout investments. Mr. Shizunaga has nearly 20 years of experience in a broad range of corporate finance and M&A transactions, advising primarily large Japanese and non-Japanese industrial companies and financial institutions. At Lehman Brothers, where Mr. Shizunaga spent more than 11 years, he was a Managing Director and head of Investment Banking in Tokyo.
Mr. Shizunaga has a B.A. in political science from Waseda University and an M.B.A. from Columbia Business School.
Saturday, October 19, 2002
David M. Leuschen
Managing Director – Riverstone Holdings
New York, New York
Mr. Leuschen is a founder and Managing Director of Riverstone Holdings. He has extensive M&A, financing and investing experience in the energy and power sector.
Prior to founding Riverstone, Mr. Leuschen was a Partner and Managing Director at Goldman Sachs and founder and head of the Goldman Sachs Global Energy & Power Group. Mr. Leuschen joined Goldman Sachs in 1977, became head of the Global Energy & Power Group in 1985, became a Partner of the firm in 1986 and remained with the firm until leaving to found Riverstone.
Mr. Leuschen was responsible for building the Goldman Sachs energy and power investment banking practice into one of the leading franchises in the global energy and power industry. Mr. Leuschen served as Chairman of the Goldman Sachs Energy Investment Committee, where he was responsible for screening potential private equity capital commitments by Goldman Sachs in the energy and power industry. Further, Mr. Leuschen was responsible for establishing and managing the firm’s relationships with senior executives from leading companies in all segments of the energy and power industry including Amerada Hess, Anadarko, Apache, BP Amoco, Chevron, Cross Timers, ENI, Enron Oil and Gas, Kinder Morgan, Koch Industries, Kuwait Petroleum, Lasmo, Mobil, Phillips, PDVSA, Union Pacific Resources, Santa Fe International, Transocean Sedco Forex, Unocal, and many others.
Mr. Leuschen received his A.B. degree from Dartmouth and his M.B.A. from Dartmouth’s Amos Tuck School of Business.
The Carlyle Group: the ruling elite's answer to democracy!
Friday, October 18, 2002
So, in another desperate attempt to elicit feedback from my audience, I ask you for your advice: Where do you think I should go?
William E. Kennard
US Buyouts – Global Telecommunications and Media Group
William E. Kennard joined The Carlyle Group in May 2001 as a Managing Director in the Global Telecommunications and Media Group. He is based in Washington, DC.
Before joining The Carlyle Group, Mr. Kennard served as Chairman of the U.S. Federal Communications Commission from November 1997 to January 2001. During his tenure, he implemented the Telecommunications Act of 1996, designing policies that created an explosion of new wireless phones, brought the Internet to a majority of American households, and resulted in billions of dollars of investment in new broadband technologies. He also shaped the outcome of the most significant communications mergers in history, such as AOL-Time Warner, Worldcom-MCI, CBS-Viacom, Verizon-GTE and SBC-Ameritech.
Mr. Kennard served as the FCC’s general counsel from December 1993 to November 1997. Before serving in government, Mr. Kennard was a partner and member of the board of directors of the law firm of Verner, Liipfert, Bernhard, McPherson and Hand.
Mr. Kennard graduated Phi Beta Kappa from Stanford University and received his law degree from Yale Law School.
Media consolidation is one of the major obstacles to real democracy in this country today, and not only does Carlyle mention Kennard's involvement in making it a reality, they brag about it. When you realize the connections that Carlyle's other directors have (most major governments, oil, weapons, finance, and communications), you get the idea that if they are not currently the real world government, they intend to be. And while their web site doesn't have a "future directors" page, you can bet it would include George W. Bush, Colin Powell, Condi Rice, John Ashcroft, Paul Wolfowitz, Richard Perle, and, if they last that long, Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld. And you can bet that the current directors who previously "served" in the Reagan, Bush I or Clinton regimes were well aware of their opportunities to become fabulously rich directors of the Carlyle Group if they, like Mr. Kennard, steer policy in the direction Carlyle prefers. The piddling six-figure incomes we taxpayers pay them while in government pale by comparison. And don't forget that George Bush Senior and Osama bin Laden's father are (or at least were) major investors in Carlyle.
On September 11, one of the first things I recalled was the ending of Clancy's Debt of Honor where a Japanese 747 pilot crashed his plane into the US Capitol during a presidential address to congress. After that, it boggled my mind when Condi Rice claimed that no one could have imagined that the terrorists would crash planes into buildings. Then when the anthrax scare came along, I remembered Clancy's Executive Orders, in which either Iran or Iraq (I don't recall which right now) used terrorists to disperse weaponized Ebola virus at car and boat shows around the US.
And now, as there is talk of widespread smallpox vaccinations (against a disease for which there have been no reported cases in 25 years), I recall the plot of Rainbow Six. In that book, a group of superevil dudes, including some high-placed US government officials, plan the ultimate bio-terror attack. Recognizing the fundamental limitations of bio-weapons (if they are too lethal, victims die before having much chance to spread the disease; if they are not lethal enough, well, then they're not lethal enough), these guys plot a two-stage attack. Introducing the weaponized virus in a way to ensure an initial rapid disbursement (at the closing ceremonies of the Olympics), they are prepared to provide large doses of the vaccine throughout the world to deal with the resulting panic. But they have made the vaccine itself lethal, so many millions more are killed by the vaccine than would have died directly from the virus. (In the book, they intend to wipe out most of the planet's population.) And while a world-wide conspiracy of that order is probably far-fetched (with the possible exception of the Carlyle Group), a bio-terrorist would probably be able to do much more damage by infiltrating a rushed, wholesale vaccination program than through most other possible methods of biological attack. I doubt if there is any more effective method of applying a bio-weapon than direct injection. And don't forget, our president killed hundreds by lethal injection while he was governor of Texas. So I guess I'm saying that I won't be anywhere near the front of the line for smallpox vaccination.
Thursday, October 17, 2002
An Address at the University of Michigan by
Congressman DENNIS KUCINICH (D-OH)
Anti-War Leader of the Progressive Caucus
MONDAY OCTOBER 21st, 12:30 PM
Anderson Room D, Michigan Union (first floor)
US Representative Dennis J. Kucinich, a Democrat of Ohio, is a dynamic,
visionary leader of the Progressive Caucus of the congressional Democrats.
He leads opposition to war in Iraq and promotes an alternative vision to
increase our national security and well-being. He prioritizes public
service, peace, human rights, workers' rights, and the environment. His
advocacy of a Department of Peace seeks not only to make nonviolence an
organizing principle in our society, but also to make war archaic.
Sponsored by U of M College Democrats, Ann Arbor Area Committee for Peace,
Meggido Peace Project, and Correlates of War research project in the U of M
Political Science Department.
Please distribute widely!
(from the Peace Events mailing list)
Mr. Sharon heartily praised Mr. Bush. "We never had such relations with any president of United States as we have with you," Mr. Sharon said as he and Mr. Bush met reporters briefly in the Oval Office. "And we never had such a cooperation in everything as we have with the current administration."
- The twelve day delay was due to the Iraq war resolution. The Bushies didn't want Congress to consider that we might be picking the wrong fight.
- The North Koreans, already a charter member of the axis of evil, saw that lack of evidence didn't stop Congress from approving the war resolution. Once the Iraq war is over, a lack of evidence clearly wouldn't be enough to stop Bush from repeating the process against NK.
- In light of the last point, NK may well be bluffing. Noting that Bush has focused on Saddam and Iraq, rather than the much more dangerous (and much more involved with terrorism) Musharraf and Pakistan, may well have convinced them that having nukes is an effective deterrent to the might of the American empire. So whether they've actually got nukes or not, they've decided that they're better off if we think they do.
- This could all just be dog-wagging from the Bushies, pushing the envelope farther out there. Make war with Iraq seem more mainstream as war with North Korea is debated.
As I said, this is all speculation on my part. Please send me your ideas and comments on what is going on here.
Wednesday, October 16, 2002
So while the cops say they have more eyewitnesses to Monday's shooting in Falls Church, I'd have to say that seeing a white van in the area is not much to hang your hat on. In a place with lots of traffic like the DC area, there's almost always a white van in the area. And as Lester Yesterday pointed out to me, the sniper could just wait until a white van drove into view before shooting.
The American ambassador, Ralph C. Boyce, delivered the latest warning to President Megawati Sukarnoputri and her top advisers just a day before the bombing and gave her a deadline of Oct. 24 to act, the officials said. -- from one NY Times article today.
But U.S. Ambassador Ralph C. Boyce said a Wednesday report in The New York Times that he warned Megawati of an imminent attack the day before the bombing was ``imprecise, to say the least.'' He did not elaborate. -- from the other NY Times article on the Bali bombing.
So the Times has two articles on today's website about the Bali bombing, one of which sort of contradicts the other. And just like Boyce, the Times does not elaborate. But even if the Times report was completely imprecise, to say the most, the statements from Bush, Fleischer and Powell all make it clear that the administration blames Megawati and her government for not acting on information that they had in advance of the bombing. Sounds vaguely familiar to me, somehow.
Maybe one of the scariest things about the Bushies (there are so many scary things it's hard to choose) is how oblivious they seem to how much their criticism of others applies so directly to themselves. It may be that they just don't realize it, since their knowledge of history is limited and they are blinded by their own self-righteousness from seeing the planks in their own eyes. ("How can you say to your brother, 'Brother, let me take the speck out of your eye,' when you yourself fail to see the plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother's eye." -- Jesus Christ, someone Bush supposedly listens to, quoted in Luke 6:42.) Or it may be that they are fully aware of it, and just don't care. My guess is that it's both. For Bush and Ashcroft it's the first: they just don't see it. For Cheney, Rumsfeld, Rice, Rove and most of the rest of them the second explanation applies: They just don't care. It's like the old joke: "Which is worse, ignorance or apathy? I don't know and I don't care." Whaddya know, we've got a government loaded with both.
Tuesday, October 15, 2002
Well, y'know, DICK, that if you didn't vote for every insane war and police-state bill the "president" asks for, we'd have a little money left over. You have zero credibility with me, Mr. Wannabe Speaker.
W continues to push the envelope. Lies build upon lies. I think the plan is to get the lies so far out there that his critics (like me) will be tricked into actually accepting his previous lies, at least rhetorically, to counter his newer, more outrageous ones. He is looking for "criticism" of his policies that sounds like this: "Well, we know Saddam is pure evil, that he has zillions of weapons of mass destruction, that his nuke will be ready by Thursday and in Manhattan by Saturday, that he is the greatest threat to world peace ever, but we really aren't sure that he was directly responsible for the bombs in Bali." Sorry, W. No dice from me. I think that the only time W has told the truth since he was appointed president is when he has misspoken (about half of the Bushisms). The New York Times, that supposed bastion of liberalism, comments on W's baseless claim of a Saddam-al-Qaida link with just one sentence: "Bush has not provided concrete evidence of a link between al-Qaida and Saddam." They then continue to print his lies.
Monday, October 14, 2002
Bush Admits "War on Terror" is a Complete and Utter Failure
Well, that would be my headline for this AP story. A couple of choice Bushisms from the article:
I wonder if George knows what happens when you assume. Of course, he's already there. He's ready to spread some more death and destruction around before anyone knows what really happened in Bali. To paraphrase the comic store guy from the Simpsons: "Worst president ever!"
Fifteen? Fifteen men to "plan" two guys with rifles in a jeep? They probably also confessed to the World Trade Center attacks, shooting Lincoln, and betraying Christ. Those Kuwait interogators are good.
You are frequently mentioned as a candidate for the presidency in 2004. I just want you to know that your vote giving our current President the authority to start a pre-emptive war has convinced me that you are not fit to be president, and I will never vote for you. Last week's vote was probably the most important vote of your Senate career, and you could not have gotten it more wrong. The blood of thousands from the upcoming war will be on your hands.
We've got two years. We've either got to take the Democratic Party away from the Republicrats listed above or get a viable third party going. I haven't researched it thoroughly, but it seems as though Senators Feingold and Wellstone and Representatives Lee and Kucinich could form a core on which to build. We'll be fighting the Republicrat control of government and media, but the declining economy and rising body counts may contribute to a Peace party, or at least a peace takeover of the Democratic party.
Sunday, October 13, 2002
In Washington, President Bush condemned the attack as ``a cowardly act designed to create terror and chaos'' and offered U.S. help in finding the perpetrators. ``The world must confront this global menace, terrorism,'' he said.
U.S. Ambassador Ralph Boyce told The Associated Press that it was not possible yet to pin the Bali attack on al-Qaida, but noted that increasing evidence in recent weeks has confirmed al-Qaida's presence in Indonesia and reaching out to local extremists...``In recent weeks, we have been able to put an end to a year of speculation as to whether al-Qaida might be in Indonesia, or relocating to Indonesia, or using Indonesia as a base of operations, after the fall of Afghanistan,'' Boyce said.
Bush said the United States has offered Indonesia assistance ``to help bring these murderers to justice,'' and a senior White House official said U.S. investigators already were at the scene.
I guess I should give our government officials the benefit of the doubt. The Times article may not have reported everything that Bush and Ambassador Boyce had to say. But it is striking that nowhere in the article is there any hint of an expression of sympathy for the victims or a mention of offers of humanitarian aid. It is all "we told you so, we know who did it even before the investigation has begun, and if you don't get them, we will." I certainly hope our government didn't have anything to do with the bombing (including foreknowledge without warning the Indonesians), but this immediate harsh response certainly makes me wonder. It is similar to the Bushies immediate glee when the short-lived coup happened in Venezuela in April.
"We hope this sends a message to the Indonesians that terrorism is not just an American problem, but an Indonesian one as well," a senior administration official said. -- from the NY Times. Is that the type of message that Bush received from Ariel Sharon and Tony Blair after 9/11? Instead of sympathy, shock or outrage, our government is saying "See? We warned you. Now you've got it too." Sounds more like the messages Osama sent us in his video tapes. Makes you wonder who is really behind the Indonesia bombing. (Can you spell "CIA?") The point being, apparently, that the brutal regime in Indonesia, responsible for the deaths of hundreds of thousands of Timorese (using American weapons), has not been brutal enough for the likings of the Bush administration. If they are not careful, the Bushies are thinking, real democracy might break out and prove a hindrance to "free trade."
Saturday, October 12, 2002
Massive Crash on Wisconsin Interstate:
More than two dozen vehicles crashed on a foggy highway Friday, killing at least seven people in a pile of charred and twisted metal. At least 34 others were injured, several critically.
Fiery Accident Kills at Least Seven.
Woman, 2 Children Die In Md. Minivan Crash: 4 Youngsters Hurt as Vehicle Slams Into Trees
I'll bet you can guess which was the main headline, and which were small items at the bottom of the web page. I'll also bet that the sniper victims and/or their families get monetary donations orders of magnitude greater than what the car-wreck victims (or families) receive. On average, over 112 Americans are killed in auto accidents daily. The daily toll from more ordinary gun violence also greatly exceeds that of the sniper: About 82 fatalities per day, including homicides, suicides and accidents. The spectacular violence gets all of the attention, while the much more dangerous mundane violence goes unnoticed.
I'm a little at a loss for a conclusion here: some brilliant insight into the human condition, or at least an intriguing way to blame it all on Bush. Any suggestions?
Friday, October 11, 2002
I called the offices of Senators Levin and Stabenow and Representative Rivers this morning to thank them for voting against the resolution. I am extremely disappointed in Senator Harkin of Iowa, who voted for the resolution. I gave some money to his re-election campaign through the Council for a Livable World website, and he votes for war! Scum!
``It should be interpreted as a criticism of the line that the current administration has taken,'' Gunnar Berge, chairman of the Nobel committee, said. ``It's a kick in the leg to all that follow the same line as the United States.''
Carter's selection is somewhat tainted, however, since Hamid Karzai, Rudy Giuliani, George W. Bush and Tony Blair were also nominated for the award. So he really had no competition. But the peace prize hasn't meant anything, anyway, since Henry Kissinger won one. I don't remember if it was for losing the Vietnam war after extending it for several years or for bringing peace to the middle east. So don't smile too much, Jimmy--it's just peanuts.
Address? Planet Earth.
That's right, the empire already has an occupation plan for Iraq. The plan includes war crime trials, although apparently they are intended for Iraqi generals, not the pre-emptive war criminals.
Thursday, October 10, 2002
``It is only when the Iraqi dictator is certain of our willingness to wage war if necessary that peace becomes possible," said Rep. Tom Lantos, D-Calif.
War is Peace. Freedom is Slavery. Ignorance is Strength. 2002 is 1984. Let's all gather by the telescreen for the two-minute hate.
Dang! The whole world seems to suck lately. Sorry. It's starting to get to me, I'm afraid.
AP via NY Times. Reminds me of Marge Simpson trying to teach Bart a lesson:
Marge: Now Bart, if Milhouse was going to jump off a cliff, would you...
Bart: Milhouse is jumping off a cliff? I'm there, man!
Why is it important for America to speak with one voice, especially a voice which is so blatantly, immorally, pathetically, criminally WRONG! Is it to convince the rest of the world that everyone here hates them, not just the poisonous little man in charge? Here's one American voice saying NO to war! NO NO NO NO NO! You don't speak for me, Mr. Daschle.
Because professional spies are trained to defeat the device; because pathological liars do not cause its needles to spike; and because our counterspies relax when a potential suspect "passes" — the system breeds the opposite of security.
Here's how I learned about that. In 1981 there was a brouhaha about the Reagan campaign having pilfered a briefing book used by Jimmy Carter to prepare for a debate. James Baker, to deflect suspicion from himself, hinted that it must have been the doing of the campaign chairman, Bill Casey.
Casey, just appointed C.I.A. chief, told me he was going to challenge Baker to a polygraph test to show who was lying. Figuring my old pal Casey was the culprit, I wondered why he would take the gamble. He reminded me he was an old O.S.S. spymaster, and that by using dodges like a sphincter-muscle trick and a Valium pill, he could defeat any polygraph operator. Baker wisely did not take Casey up on the challenge.
A more serious example of the foolishness of dependence on the machine: A national security adviser was suspected of leaking a secret to The New York Times. Though not our source, he flunked the exam, and was about to be fired and disgraced. He put President Reagan on the phone to The Times's publisher, who — on a one-time basis — confirmed that the adviser had not been our source. That was one fewer career lost to the predatory polygraph.
So Safire admits that his "old pal" Casey was a liar and had stolen Carter's briefing book, something which helped Reagan "win" a debate with Carter and contributing to his election victory (although not as much, probably, as Casey's (and possibly George Bush the First's) efforts to have Iran hold the hostages until after the election, known as the "October Surprise"). Safire then reveals how the NY Times sort of revealed a source, in the negative, to save the job of one of Reagan's national security advisers. Amazingly, Safire considers this to be a more serious case than his old pal's successful efforts to steal the presidency.
"There's an old saying," Belafonte said. "In the days of slavery, there were those slaves who lived on the plantation and [there] were those slaves that lived in the house. You got the privilege of living in the house if you served the master ... exactly the way the master intended to have you serve him. Colin Powell's committed to come into the house of the master. When Colin Powell dares to suggest something other than what the master wants to hear, he will be turned back out to pasture."
Earlier in the day, a senior State Department official had a piece of advice for Belafonte, similar to a suggestion made to Powell after he sang in a musical skit with fellow foreign ministers during the annual meeting of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations in Brunei this past July.
"As people said when the secretary sang at ASEAN [that] he should keep his day job, you could say the same about singers who get into politics," the official said.
The "official" is dead wrong, and demonstrates one of the things that is fundamentally wrong with the Bushies: politics is everyone's business. Singers should get into politics, as should everyone. I won't pretend to tell Jamaican-Americans like Belafonte and Powell what characterizations of each other are politically correct. But Powell was highly respected for his moderate, even dovish views two years ago, and he was paraded by Bush as his Secretary of State nominee well before the Florida election controversy had ended. While probably no one directly involved in that would admit to having changed his or her mind because of Powell's premature nomination, it certainly took some of the wind out of the sails of those fighting for Gore, and particularly for the millions of Americans who weren't pulling strongly for either candidate. They probably thought that even though Bush was clearly clueless on foreign policy, he was going to select a knowledgeable, intelligent and cautious man to make the decisions. I'll admit my concerns about W as president were reduced from shear terror to mild panic when Powell was announced as Secretary of State. If, for example, W had announced in the middle of the Florida muddle that John Ashcroft was going to be attorney general, there might well have been enough outrage to force accurate recounts, no matter how long it took. But W brought out Powell, the steadying influence to calm our fears (Ashcroft wasn't nominated until January, well after the Supreme Court had given Bush the presidency). So to see Powell supporting every bellicose, insane policy of Bush-Cheney-Rumsfeld-Wolfowitz-Perle is very disillusioning and disheartening. Characterizing him as a house slave may have unfortunate racial overtones, but none of the alternatives seem particularly flattering, either: a dog who is loyal even though kicked repeatedly, a sycophant, a Waylan Smithers. And I think Belafonte's analogy fits, racial overtones or no. It could well have been applied to Al Gore selling out his supposed environmentalist credentials to support NAFTA and other Clinton-sponsored free-trade crap. So I guess my advice to Mr. Powell is this: don't tell Belafonte, or anyone, to stay out of politics. And if you don't want to be characterized as a house slave, stop acting like one.
Wednesday, October 09, 2002
Some quotes and rants about the dock lockouts and Bush's using Taft-Hartley to end it:
Business groups blitzed the White House late last week with dire scenarios about the consequences for jobs and profits if port closure went past 10 days. "This is about more than labor unions and port operators," said Tracy Mullin, president and chief executive officer of the National Retail Federation, which represents about 1.4 million retail stores. "This is about whether American children will find presents under the tree on Christmas morning." -- from the Washington Post.
Heaven forbid that kids find fewer crappy commercial toys made in sweatshops in China and Vietnam, and sold at huge markups by Toys-R-Us and Wal-Mart by minimum-wage clerks, causing Mommy and Daddy to work extra hours at their low-wage jobs (their high-wage jobs having gone to China and Vietnam to support "free trade") to pay the Visa bill, under the tree. They might have to settle for something of quality made by Americans paid decent wages, or maybe something used purchased at a thrift store which would not require using any new resources, would benefit the poor, and would cost Mommy and Daddy much less than the new crap at Wal-Mart. Mullin's argument clearly demonstrates the total insanity at the root of the American economy: Must waste, must exploit, must shop, must consume.
Ford imports 360 different parts through West Coast ports, while Dell Computer said it had only 10 days' worth of some computer parts left. One California military contractor said a custom piece of Japanese tooling that it needed to build tactical Tomahawk missiles was trapped on a ship off the California coast. -- from the New York Times.
Why is it that an interruption in importing car parts is seen as a threat to closing US manufacturing plants rather than an opportunity to re-open US part plants? Not that I am going to shed a tear if the Expedition plant is idled for a few decades. And Tomahawk missles? I think we are getting close to the heart of the reason for Bush's intervention. No missiles, no war. No war, a return to sanity. Return to sanity, no Bush. Further confirmation:
Mr. Bush said he was worried about the movement of military supplies. The Pentagon often uses commercial shipping lines to send supplies and equipment overseas, and those lines would undoubtedly fill that role from the busy West Coast ports if fighting erupted in Iraq or elsewhere in the Middle East. -- also from the NY Times.
I'm not sure which side is more to blame in the dock dispute. From the stories, the dockworkers seem to be fairly well-paid, but management is certainly trying to change that. As a labor issue, helping agricultural workers, fast food workers and retail employees to unionize tugs at my heartstrings more than the dock dispute. But the union movement undoubtedly improved wages, hours and conditions for almost all American workers, even those who were never in a union. "Free trade" has exercised an outright assault on unions in the past twenty years, and Bush has now taken out the government's bluntest hammer (Taft-Hartley) to try to pound one of the few remaining strong unions into submission. Plus, while I struggle to maintain some objectivity, I find that I can't help feeling that whatever Bush is for, I'm against. Of course, you'd never guess that by reading the rest of my rants! :-)
Tuesday, October 08, 2002
Paranoia, hysteria, and lies! The only reason for secrecy is that the government has something to hide, which is probably that they have no case. These mostly imaginary "terrorist cells" will figure out soon enough that Mohammed has been detained when he doesn't come to the meetings or answer the phone calls. The argument is completely absurd since the government has shown no haste whatsoever to have hearings at all; by the time some of these guys get hearings, secret or not, most of their supposed "cells" will probably have died of old age. And don't judges have some duty to consider the fact that the Attorney General is a fascist before giving him more authority? This ruling by the 3rd Court of Appeals is at odds with that of the 6th Court of Appeals, which ruled that hearings for Ann Arbor's Rabih Haddad had to be open. I would sure feel better about the eventual outcome of all of this if Clarence Thomas were back at his old job telling dirty jokes.
Monday, October 07, 2002
Dear Senators Stabenow and Levin:
I am writing once again to ask you to please vote against the President's war resolution. There is no need for war against Iraq, and no excuse for an illegal pre-emptive strike. There may be some danger in not attacking Iraq, but it is much less than the multitude of dangers which we will face if we do attack Iraq. I cannot believe that our elected Senators will allow this un-elected President to lead us into World War III. Please vote no!
``The (Pacific Maritime Association) presented a comprehensive proposal to the longshore union, which would have made their members the highest blue-collar workers in America,'' said Steve Sugerman, a spokesman for the PMA, which represents the manufacturers. -- from the NY Times.
So this is what happens when you elect a moron to be your president...and then allow the Supreme Court to appoint an even bigger moron instead!
Sunday, October 06, 2002
If the top date of this blog is older than Donald Rumsfeld, try one of the blogs listed. Most of them have links to even more blogs, so you should never have to go without recent blog material!
Friday, October 04, 2002
Thursday, October 03, 2002
The $94 million counterinsurgency program is also an important element in the offensive by Colombia's new government against two rebel groups and a paramilitary force that dominate much of the country.
So Occidental gets a 900% return on its investment, not counting the lives of the soldiers who will be killed defending their pipeline, or the thousands of Colombians who will continue to die to keep American SUV's running.
(Rhetorical question. Correct answer: "This is more than a little arrogant." So is this parenthetical paragraph.)
Unfortunately, I'll have to agree with the Republicans on this one. The Democrats made the mistake of re-nominating their own crooked Republicrat instead of coming up with a viable candidate, but waited until it looked like he was going to lose to change horses. William Safire makes the case pretty clearly in the NY Times today. I dread the prospect of a Republican-controlled Senate, but when you realize that the "Democrats" include Torricelli, Lieberman and other warmongering corporate drones, the sad news is that we already have a Republican-controlled Senate. By the way, Jersey's other "Democratic" senator is former Goldman-Sachs executive Jon Corzine, who may have his own scandal to deal with soon.
While I don't think that the Democrats should be allowed to change the name on the ballot, I think that this case highlights the bankruptcy of the two-party system. There was no real choice between Torricelli and Forrester, except maybe that Forrester is honest enough to admit that he's a Republican. With a dynamic multi-party (or no-party) system, the withdrawal of a single candidate would not remove all semblance of choice from an election.
- First, since Iraq has two vice presidents, get Rumsfeld to duel the other one.
- Find out if Iraq has an attorney general.
- All duels to be held in an enclosed space without ventilation.
- Chemical weapons allowed.
There has to be a movement to really oppose what Bush is proposing, because it is unconstitutional, immoral and basically illegal. I find it particularly reprehensible the way he acts like he was in a western, intimidating the rest of the world. What can I say? I hate Bush; I despise him and his entire administration, everything he represents and everything he has tried to do, not only internationally, which is horrific, but domestically as well.
In my country the atmosphere is poisoned. Unbreathable for those of us who are not on the right. So thank you for inviting me to this festival and allowing me to leave there for a few days. -- actress Jessica Lange, quoted on WSWS . Meanwhile, as described in the same article Tom Cruise and Stephen Spielberg were in Italy recently supporting W's Iraq war. Spielberg is probably paying W back for pushing Star Wars so hard.
"Therefore, I am today firing Donald Rumsfeld as Secretary of Defense. I'd fire Cheney, too, if I could find him." (Dream quote from a better universe.)
Wednesday, October 02, 2002
I was hailed by two young soldiers lounging in one of those huge American Humvee jeeps. Clearly these two were not part of the guided tour. "Excuse me sir," they asked. "But do we really have to say this baloney?" The actual word they used was a little more colourful. "What baloney?" I asked. They handed me a small laminated card. On it were instructions on how to deal with journalists. Every soldier had been given one.
These were not just general ground rules. It actually listed suggested answers:
"How do you feel about what you're doing in Afghanistan"?
Answer: "We're united in our purpose and committed to achieving our goals."
"How long do you think that will take?"
Answer: "We will stay here as long as it takes to get the job done - sir!"
Thanks to PR Watch for pointing out that one. Check out PR Watch for a reality check on much of the "baloney" that you hear from our "leaders" and from the media. We are being lied to deliberately, repeatedly, and systematically.
How depressing. If Gore agrees with Bush's basic philosophy then we had no chance at all in 2000, no matter whom the Supreme Court elected. The two-party system was bad enough--this one-party crap has got to go.
Maybe Rummy can work out a deal with Sharon: Saddam Hussein for Yasser Arafat. And two suicide bombers to be named later.
Tuesday, October 01, 2002
The Iraqi representatives have said ``that they accept all the rights of inspections that are laid down'' in previous resolutions authorizing U.N. inspections, said the chief inspector, Hans Blix.
It has been about half an hour since AP filed this report. Where's Ari to denounce it? Did he have something disagreeable for lunch? Rummy will be out shortly to tell us that Judas was Saddam's ancestor and that links between the Iraqis and Darth Vader are "bulletproof." Condi will then state that there is "indisputable evidence," which she won't provide, that Iraq was behind Europe's victory in the Winona Ryder Cup. W will be along later to unintentionally contradict all of them.
"Their actions are in defiance of international law, international rule, military attacks on coalition aircraft who are flying to patrol the no-fly zones that Saddam Hussein agreed to in 1991," said Fleischer.
U.S. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld was even more blunt. "They have lied over and over and over again."
"With each missile launched at our air crews, Iraq expresses its contempt for the U.N. resolutions, a fact that must be kept in mind as their latest inspection offers are evaluated," he said. from CNN.
You hate to be in the position of actually defending Iraq, but the Bushies are making it impossible not to. I'm sure that's part of their plan so that they can make people committed to the truth, like Representatives McDermott and Bonior, look like traitors. But this latest batch of nonsense from Fleischer and Rumsfeld is so completely false that you just have to say "They have lied over and over and over again." To set the record straight, the "no-fly" zones are not in the UN resolutions, Saddam has not agreed to them, and those air crews that the Iraqis have been shooting at have been bombing Iraq regularly for years. Without approval from the UN or Congress the Bushies are already at war with Iraq, and they are trying to convince the world that Iraqis attempting to shoot down planes bombing their country is a reason to proceed with all-out war. I guess the Bushies got tired of playing their "Two-part Invention" (weapons of mass destruction in counterpoint with links to terrorism) and are adding a third part (shooting at our bombers). Stay tuned: I see a full-blown fugue in the making!
I've been reading Howard Zinn's wonderful book, A People's History of the United States. Anyone who has a shadow of a doubt about the real reason for Bush's warlust should read Zinn's chapters on the Mexican War, the Spanish-American War, and World War I. Using cheap jingoism to rally the masses, the government has always used a combination of patriotism and repression to drag the country into wars which were undertaken for the basest of motives to benefit the richest of men on the flimsiest of excuses. War is a tool which has always been used by those in power to repress and control the public, and it is truly scary how large a proportion of the American public doesn't know that particular bit of history. The story of the Espionage Act of 1917 is eerily similar to the USA Patriot Act of 2001. The Espionage Act declared speech which might hinder the war effort or the draft as illegal, and thousands of socialists and pacifists were locked up for years. Worse yet, according to Zinn the Espionage Act is still the law of the land!
Even with all the nonsense going on now, it is still hard to doubt that the US is one of the best countries on Earth. But it is so far inferior to what we think it is, or what we are told it is supposed to be, or what it could be. We can't just settle for saying "We are freer, richer and more democratic than Iraq or Syria or Russia or Bangladesh or Argentina; therefore we are completely wonderful and can do whatever we want." Let's reject leaders who want to revel in arrogance and stupidity and use the outrageous power they have stolen to control us and subjugate the world's billions. (Sorry--Zinn quotes speeches from Eugene Debs and other great socialist orators of the past and he's got me fired up!)