Bob's Links and Rants

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Thursday, October 31, 2002

Ted Rall weighs in on the possible assassination of Wellstone.
Ever wanted to be a telemarketer, but just never felt the time was right? Well, there are some good democrats out in Oregon who might not actually fill out and return their ballots, which might allow Senator Smith to remain Senator Smith, which might make Trent Lott the Senate Majority Leader, which would certainly make this an even scarier and more unpleasant world in which to live. Frankly, I hate cold-calling people, but I made a bunch of calls to Oregon this afternoon on behalf of Democrat Bill Bradbury. You can too! Go to and sign up to help with the get-out-the-vote calls (actually, in Oregon they are send-in-the-vote calls). If you've got extra minutes on your cell phone like me, it may not cost you any extra, and it might keep some Antonin Scalia clone off the Supreme Court. It might keep us out of war with Trinidad AND Tobago (I know, we have no good reasons for going to war with either Trinidad OR Tobago, but that's not stopping us in Iraq, is it?). So why just let Oregonians hand out candy tonight? Give 'em a call, tell 'em to vote for Bradbury! (The website has complete scripts for you and gives you twenty names and numbers to call at a time.)

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

Ron Eibensteiner, the state Republican chairman, accused his opponents of exploiting a tragedy for political gain, and called on local television stations, which broadcast the service live, to provide his party equal free air time. -- from the NY Times. I swear, Republicans know no shame. They've been exploiting three tragedies for political gain throughout the campaign. One past tragedy: the September 11 attacks. One future tragedy: war on Iraq. And one ongoing tragedy: the Bush presidency. W gives free rides in Air Force One to Republican candidates and forces the war resolution vote before election day, and Republicans complain that Democrats use a memorial service for political gain. They just lost one of their best senators in a plane crash. I'm pretty sure that Wellstone would have liked that his death served as a rallying cry rather than an occasion for wailing and gnashing of teeth. I hope that Democrats keep control of the Senate and gain control of the House; that they remember what they are supposed to stand for (what Wellstone stood for) and start to act like a real opposition party; and that they get those impeachment proceedings started right after they have repealed USA Patriot and the war resolution. I hope Jeb and Katherine lose in Florida. Amen.
Military Training and Violence "The result is we have become a nation full of people who are going to make others feel their pain. Whenever you feed death and violence and destruction to your children, you reap what you sow in about 15 years," he added. -- retired Lt. Col. Dave Grossman, a former Army Airborne Ranger infantry officer and West Point Academy psychology and military science professor, quoted in the article linked to above.
Politics is not a picture on a wall or a television sitcom you can decide you don't much care for. Is the person who prescribes your eyeglasses qualified to do so? How deep will you be buried when you die? What textbooks are your children learning from at school? What will happen if you become seriously ill? Is the meat you're eating tainted? Will you be able to afford to go to college or to send your kids? Would you like a vacation? Expect to retire before you die? Can you find a job? Drive a car? Afford insurance? Is your credit card company or your banker or your broker ripping you off? It's all politics, Bubba. You don't get to opt out for lack of interest. -- from Molly Ivins.

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.

What we don't know will hurt us: And, frankly, there is a piece of information which is still classified which I consider to be the most important information that's come to the attention of the joint committee. We hope that it will be declassified. I think it is an important part of our judgments as to where our greatest threats are and what steps we need to do to protect the American people here at home. -- Chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, Bob Graham (D-FL), quoted from Face the Nation.
The Halloween Truth Man: Excellent Boondocks comic!
Name that war: Norman Solomon writes about the pretentious names given to recent military adventures: "Just Cause" in Panama (just 'cause we can); "Desert Storm", aka Gulf War I; and "Enduring Freedom" in Afghanistan, where they have been enduring freedom for over a year now. So while we try to stop Gulf War II, you can bet that W's PR folks (aka the administration) are hard at work coming up with a name for it. Here are some suggestions for them:
  • Operation Oily Residue
  • Operation Infinite Deception
  • Operation Arrogant Imperialism
  • Operation Oedipal Redemption
  • Operation Tolerating Liberty

Any suggestions from the audience?
U.S. Would Seek to Try Hussein for War Crimes ( It takes a war criminal to know a war criminal, I guess. The article doesn't mention prosecuting the many Americans who aided and abetted the various crimes mentioned, including Ronald Reagan, George Bush I, Donald Rumsfeld and Colin Powell. It also fails to mention prosecution for the greatest war crime of all: unprovoked pre-emptive strike on a sovereign nation.

And That's the Way It Is:
“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

Just in case it comes up, I don't want Dick Cheney to come to my funeral, either.
One fact is not in dispute: the Russian government used poison gas against its own citizens. This, of course, is one of the main accusations levelled by the US and other governments against the Iraqi regime of Saddam Hussein to justify Washington’s plans for an invasion and occupation of the Persian Gulf nation. Not surprisingly, this bitter and tragic irony has been passed over in silence by the Bush administration and virtually every media outlet. from the WSWS.

Kachoong! Kachoong! Kachoong! Kachoong! 24 starts tonight! It's probably more a part of the problem than part of the solution, and some of the money goes to Rupert Murdoch and the other criminals at Fox, but "24" is a way cool show. And seeing somebody else be the president sure feels good. I'll have to watch "The West Wing" sometime.
Once again, a picture says a thousand words:

From the Daily KOS blog.
It's all about the price of oil -- a song from Billy Bragg.
Only 8,000 U.S. soldiers are currently stationed in Afghanistan--less than three percent of the 300,000 the Army says that it needs to properly "Marshall Plan" the country--and most of those are traipsing through the mountains near Khost in search of Al Qaedans who fled for Pakistan in 2001. Actual "peacekeeping" is limited to Kabul; the vast majority of Afghans live under the same feudal warlords whose brutality led to the rise of the Taliban in the mid `90s. Rape, robbery and violent clashes are routine.

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.

Bush signs voting bill. Wish it were retroactive.
Do I have all the answers to the world's problems? No, I do not. And neither do you. But I know when I'm being treated like a mushroom--i.e., kept in the dark and fed a steady diet of bu**sh**--and it's utterly clear that that's what's happening now. We must set the bar a hell of a lot higher before we instigate a bloodbath whose outcome is extraordinarily uncertain--and right now, that bar seems to be about two inches off the ground. -- from Tom Tomorrow's blog (Asterisks added by me both to try to keep this a family show and because it clearly demonstrates that you can't spell "bu**sh**" without "bush.")
The World Socialist Web Site raises questions about the Wellstone crash. In the context of the Carnahan crash two years ago and the anthrax letters to Senators Daschle and Leahy last year, the idea that the crash was murder/assassination doesn't seem far-fetched. And none of the initial reports provide any information to rule it out. The apparent lack of any distress call or mayday seems most suspicious to me. Obviously I don't have enough facts to prove anything, but it seems as though something that incapacitated the pilots would be consistent with the facts available. Perhaps a capsule of poison gas released as the plane descended through a certain altitude, or set off by remote control, caused the pilots to lose consciousness as they were preparing to land. The plane then continued in a turn they had begun and eventually crashed pointing away from the airport. A bomb or missile is also a possibility, although either would be much more obvious to observers on the ground and would leave more evidence in the wreckage. A gas would either be destroyed by fire or dispersed by the wind long before investigators could detect any traces of it. Of course, investigators can conclude whatever they want to conclude, regardless of evidence, as they showed in the TWA 800 investigation.
At the Pentagon today, the department's spokeswoman, Victoria Clarke, declined to identify the detainees by name or nationality, even after Afghanistan and Pakistan said they were receiving repatriated prisoners. "We've said all along, we have no desire to hold large numbers of these people for a long period of time," Ms. Clarke said.

"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

What a Difference Four Years Makes: Why U.N. inspectors left Iraq--then and now -- FAIR looks at quotes from many major news sources about the withdrawal of weapons inspectors from Iraq in 1998. In '98, all of the sources said that the inspectors withdrew or were ordered out by the UN. In 2002, the same sources all claim that the inspectors were "kicked out" by Saddam Hussein. Thanks to Tom Tomorrow for the link.
President Vladimir V. Putin said today that Russia was prepared to strike at international terrorist groups and the countries that harbor them, explicitly echoing the arguments that President Bush made after the terror attacks on Sept. 11, 2001, to declare a war on terrorism...

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

What a disaster. Russia used gas to knock out the Chechen rebels holding hostages in a Moscow theater, but killed at least 115 of the hostages with the gas, and most of the rest (646) are in the hospital, many in critical condition. It looks like Putin screwed up big time on this one.
The press doesn't count, starting with the Quote of the Day:
"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.
Scumbag change?
[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.
Right on top of things: I don't know who writes the headlines for AP articles on the NY Times website, whether the headlines come with the articles from AP or the Times add them. Whoever it is should at least read the first two paragraphs before writing the headline. Here are the first two paragraphs from the latest article about the Wellstone crash:

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

Fighting over the sniper suspects: Maryland, Virginia, Alabama and the Feds all want a crack at Muhammad and Malvo. Some seem to be arguing that they should be charged in a jurisdiction most likely to give them the death penalty, probably Virginia or Alabama. Just the option of the death penalty in any jurisdiction skews the proceedings, making it more likely that the suspects will cop a plea to save their lives (like John Walker Lindh). While the circumstances of their arrest certainly make them look guilty, we should remember that this is still America, sort of, and they should be presumed innocent until proven guilty. The presence of the death penalty increases the chances that they will scared guilty to save their lives rather than proven guilty. The death penalty also guarantees a harsher jury to try the case, if it gets that far, since jurors opposed to the death penalty are not allowed on juries in capital cases. And if somehow these guys have been framed, the injustice of their incarceration would be made irreversible by executing them. Of course, with their pictures plastered all over the papers and CNN, the chances of their getting a fair trial anywhere on the planet are basically zero at this point.

Friday, October 25, 2002

Jeb endorses his opponent--well, sort of. I guess it's fair game since Jeb has been running negative ads against McBride, but it is unlikely to increase civility in politics. Pols will be careful about saying anything nice about anyone if they fear that it will be used against them. I hate to see any candidate's generosity, honesty or candor used against him or her--even Jeb's.
To paraphrase my favorite Harry Truman quote: The only new things in the world are the Bush lies that haven't been uncovered yet. Many, including me, noted that it supposedly took the Bushies twelve days to reveal what they knew about North Korea's nuke program and speculated that it was delayed because of the Iraq war resolution. Well, it turns out that they have known about NK's nuke program and Pakistan's involvement for much longer.

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.
Anti-war vote hasn't hurt Wellstone. This Reuters report says that the Senator's chances for re-election may have improved since he voted against Bush's Iraq war resolution. I'm going to Minnesota next week to volunteer for his campaign, just to make sure. I chewed out another online organization yesterday. A couple of weeks ago I discovered that the supposedly anti-war Council for a Livable World was still collecting donations for several candidates who voted for the Iraq war resolution. And now there's MoveOn. had conducted a major campaign to call and write members of Congress prior to the war resolution votes on October 10, but now that the votes have been cast, MoveOn is still raising funds for several who voted for war, including Senators Harkin, Carnahan and Johnson. I don't see how we can expect these Republicrats to oppose Bush on other wars, or environmental issues, or Supreme Court nominees, if they fail to vote against an unnecessary, unjustified, and just plain evil war. MoveOn brags about Wellstone's vote, but doesn't mention the votes of Harkin, Carnahan and Johnson. You'd think there would be somebody out there you can trust!
Krugman! Krugman! Krugman! How can you tell when George W. Bush is lying? His smirk is moving.

Thursday, October 24, 2002

[What would I] do in Bush's shoes? Easy: I'd honour Kyoto. Join the world court. I'd stop subsidising earth rapers like Monsanto, Dupont and Exxon. I'd shut down the nuclear power plants. So I already have $200bn saved from corporate welfare. I'd save another $100bn by stopping the war on non-corporate drugs. And I'd cut the defence budget in half so they'd have to get by on a measly $200bn a year. I've already saved half a trillion bucks by saying no to polluters and warmongers.

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.

The other Gulf War syndrome? Chief Moose may be trying to pull a rabbit out of a hat (again?), but it looks as though the sniper(s) may have been caught. John Allen Muhammad and his stepson were arrested early this morning at a Maryland rest stop. So, with all appropriate caveats that this may be another wild moose chase, let me point out that CNN says that Muhammad is a veteran of our last Bush war against Iraq. So was Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh, who had been a top-notch soldier and patriot before participating in the brutal slaughter of the Gulf War. Osama bin Laden (you remember, that guy who actually did attack us) started his anti-American jihad because of the stationing of hundreds of thousands of US troops in Saudi Arabia (largely on false pretenses--the supposed huge number of Iraqi troops on the Saudi border were a complete fiction) and their failure to depart after the war was over (then Defense Secretary Dick Cheney had promised the Saudis that US troops would not be there a minute longer than necessary). As noted left-wing pacifist Pat Buchanan pointed out, the price of empire is terrorism. The last Bush war against Iraq was at least partially responsible for every large-scale terrorist attack on the US since then, and possibly the sniper attacks as well. How much more can we expect from another one with even less justification and almost no support from the Islamic world?

Wednesday, October 23, 2002

Our choice for president in 2000, Bush or Gore, was terrible (I voted for Nader). Our choice for vice-president was even worse: evil incarnate Dick Cheney versus weasel incarnate Joe Lieberman.
Just because we did it once doesn't mean we'll do it again:

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.

Where have all the dollars gone? Gone to bombing everywhere. When will we ever learn?

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?

Coyote Ugly.
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?)

More sniper speculation, since you're probably not getting enough from TV:
  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
Where's the beef? All gone by recall time. Check out Stephanie McMillan's Minimum Security cartoon on meat recalls.

Tuesday, October 22, 2002

General Anthony Zinni places Iraq way down on the priority list:
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.
Monopolizing the food supply--and proud of it! I've seen several ads on TV lately for Conagra Foods bragging about how many different food brands they own. Hunts, Healthy Choice, Orville Redenbacher, etc., etc., etc. I checked their website to see which brands are owned by Conagra. Want to buy some popcorn? Maybe you prefer Act II or Jiffy Pop to Conagra's Orville Redenbacher. That's fine with Conagra--they own all three brands! A little margerine for your popcorn? Choose between Blue Bonnet, Parkay and Move Over Butter--they're all Conagra. Hot dogs? Armour, Ekrich and Hebrew National are all Conagra. Check some of the other major food companies: Kraft (Philip Morris), Coca Cola...the variety of colorful packages in the supermarket aisles hides the fact that you really have very few competing products from which to choose. This means higher prices and less real choice for you. It also means that these huge conglomerates are able to put the squeeze on farmers, forcing the few remaining independents into the jaws of the likes of Cargill, ADM and Monsanto. The number of people who have any say in what these corporations do is tiny, but they are basically establishing a monopoly on food production. And if somebody controls your food supply, he controls you.

And Conagra and the others are not only evil enough to pursue this goal, they are brazen enough to brag about it on TV.

Sniper Hyper
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?
Tabloid headline spotted: Iraqi Submarine in Lake Michigan, Awaits Orders. I think it was the "Weekly World News" that featured that one. I guess security must be pretty lax on the St. Lawrence Seaway and the Welland Canal if an Iraqi sub was given a lift at the many locks between the Atlantic and Lake Michigan. Is the "Weekly World News" the place Ari Fleischer used to work? For a sample of WWN journalism, check out "India and Pakistan Shouldn't Nuke Each Other." Opinions expressed are absolutely NOT those of this blog, although I do agree that they shouldn't nuke each other.
Bombs away--again. While the UN debates war on Iraq, the war on Iraq continues.
According to Arianna Huffington, Scott Burns, co-creator of the "Got Milk?" campaign, has prepared two ad scripts that parody the "I fund terrorism" anti-drug ads: The first one feels like an old Slim Fast commercial. Instead of "I lost 50 pounds in two weeks" the ad cuts to different people in their SUVs: "I gassed 40,000 Kurds," "I helped hijack an airplane," "I helped blow up a nightclub," and then in unison: "We did it all by driving to work in our SUVs."

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.

Little known fact: The letters in "Ari Fleischer" can be rearranged to spell "Fear rich lies" and "I relish farce." Fleischer denies it.
Bush lies--Washington Post. It's good to see him finally get the national recognition that he deserves.

Monday, October 21, 2002

Goodbye, Goofy. My sweet and beautiful calico cat, who has been with me for over 16 years, died today.

Goofy: 1986-2002.
Dennis Kucinich! I went down to campus this afternoon to hear Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-Ohio) talk about peace and global justice. He spoke for about 30 minutes without any script or notes, and then answered questions eloquently for another 45 minutes. (Try that, W, I dare ya!) Someone asked him whether he would leave the Democratic party, given the wholesale sellout of leaders like Daschle, Gephardt and Lieberman. He responded that Gephardt "led" by ignoring the members of the House Democrats, 2/3 who voted against the war resolution. He said for now he says he is a Democrat, but sees his role as a missionary. Anyhow, if you get a chance to hear Kucinich speak sometime, don't pass it up. Hopefully, I shook the hand of our next president today.
A nation returning to its senses:
No Methodists to His Madness: George W. Bush and Dick Cheney are supposedly United Methodists, as, technically, so am I (haven't gone to church in several years). And what does the UM Church think of war with Iraq? "Without any justification according to the teachings of Christ," according to Jim Winkler, head of social policy for United Methodists. See this Guardian article for details.
Universal Health Care--one state at a time. There's a proposal on the ballot in Oregon for a Canadian-style single-payer system.

A Common Misconception:

(From the Doonesbury website)

Sunday, October 20, 2002

Poison Ivy League: The WSWS has an interesting article about the ties between Harken Energy (W's old company), Enron, and Harvard University. "Two current members of the Bush administration—chief economic adviser Lawrence Lindsey and US trade representative Robert Zoellick—are also involved in the Enron-Harvard nexus." W himself got an MBA from Harvard, putting to rest any possible claims of academic standards there. The article suggests that Harvard was the mystery purchaser of W's Harken stock, allowing him to get the millions to purchase his share of the Texas Rangers. And I did a quick search of Carlyle, too. Twenty of Carlyle's 71 partners and directors have Harvard degrees.
The Carlyle Director of the Day for today is Kesuke Shizunaga of Japan. I don't have any serious dirt on Mr. Shizunaga, but I highlight him today to show the international flavor of the Carlyle Group. While so many members of the Reagan, Bush I and Clinton administrations were supposedly working to keep or make America competitive in international markets, they were quietly preparing themselves a place on the Carlyle board where they could collude with Mr. Shizunaga and others from around the world the strip the earth and the vast majority of its population of their wealth for the benefit of themselves and the other members of the ruling class. Isn't this vaguely, or not so vaguely, treasonous?

Kensuke Shizunaga
Managing Director
Japanese Buyouts
Tokyo, Japan

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

Back for its second consecutive day, our popular new feature: The Carlyle Director of the Day! Yesterday, we featured Clintonista Willam Kennard, who as chairman of the FCC allowed and encouraged the continuing monopolization of broadcast, cable and internet media. Today's Director of the Day is a true power broker whose connections with big oil and energy companies, including Enron, are truly impressive. Ladies and gentlemen, let me present a man who needs no introduction, but probably an alibi and several dozen good lawyers--David Leuschen! (resume is from the Carlyle Group's website.)

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

I'm going on vacation from Monday October 28 through Tuesday November 5 (election day). My original plan was to go to Minnesota to help the Wellstone for Senate campaign, but I've e-mailed and called them (left a message) and they haven't gotten back to me. Either they don't need my help, or else they need help so desperately that they don't have time to answer e-mails and phone calls. While I really want Wellstone to win, I'm a bit concerned about taking a bus or train to St. Paul and showing up at campaign headquarters only to be told that they've got more volunteers than they know what to do with. A more appealing alternative, temperature-wise, would be to go to Florida to help McBride beat Jeb, with maybe a side trip to Arkansas or North Carolina to work a day or two for the Democratic candidates there. I've been getting e-mails from the MoveOn PAC about volunteering for various campaigns, although some of them are for candidates who voted for the war resolution, like Tom Harkin in Iowa. I'm thinking of getting a Greyhound Discover pass so I can do some sightseeing and reading along the way (maybe some ranting, too!).

So, in another desperate attempt to elicit feedback from my audience, I ask you for your advice: Where do you think I should go?

Lock him up, if you can find him! Repeatedly ignoring court orders, the Veep from the Deep won't let us know with whom he met to come up with the assault on planet Earth known as the Bush Energy Policy. Since he won't tell us, let's assume that it was Ken Lay, Saddam Hussein and Osama bin Laden. Congress should then burn any remaining copies of the policy document to heat the capitol this winter, and throw a lock on the undisclosed location, not letting Cheney out until he's voted out of office in 2004.
After my off-hand reference to the Carlyle Group (below), I decided to check out their web site again. Many of the names of Carlyle partners and directors are very familiar: James Baker, John Major, Arthur Levitt, Frank Carlucci. Other names didn't jump out at me (I've only been a voracious news reader for the past year or so), so I decided to check out the bios of some of them. So, starting today and going until at least today, I present a new feature: The Carlyle Director of the Day! Today's director is William E. Kennard:

William E. Kennard
Managing Director
US Buyouts – Global Telecommunications and Media Group
Washington, DC

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.

Florida touchscreen voting system demonstrated:
In case you're not scared enough already. I'll confess that I've read most of Tom Clancy's Jack Ryan thrillers, from Hunt for Red October through The Bear and the Dragon. I won't claim that they are great literature, and they are too jingoistic for my current tastes, but the themes of several of them are enough to scare the bejeebers (sp?) out of anyone. (If you are planning on reading one of his novels soon and don't want me to ruin the ending for you, close your eyes and scroll down a bit.)

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.

Ever want to check out one of those exotic locales described in the New York Times travel section? That's where I'll be this weekend!

Thursday, October 17, 2002

In what I guess is good news, there are hints that our "government" may be willing to accept a UN Security Council resolution which calls only for the return of inspectors to Iraq (to which Iraq has already agreed) without including the consequences provision that the Bushies have been insisting on for the last month or so. This could mean that the French, Russians and Chinese have actually gotten Bush to agree to what he has said he wanted (Iraqi disarmament) instead of what we all know he really wants (kaboom!). The bad news is that this may be because of what has happened and/or been revealed to us in the last week: the bombing in Indonesia, the disclosure of the North Korean nuclear program, and now the claim that Pakistan supplied NK with nuclear technology. And these things mean that the Bushies may want to start at least three other wars before Iraq. They have been making threatening noises about Indonesia's failure to root out terrorism, recalling Bush's threat from last year: "If you don't do it, we will." And after all they have been saying about Saddam's alleged weapons program, you have to expect a bellicose reaction to the NK situation and the Pakistani assistance. So Iraq may be W's fifth war instead of his second.
Quote of the day: He would probably be a better Democrat than I am. -- Democratic Sen. John Breaux (La.), quoted in Roll Call. Breaux was talking about Senator Lincoln Chafee, the only Republican in the Senate to vote against the Iraq war resolution. No doubt Breaux is right--he voted for the resolution. Chafee hints that there is a slight possibility that he will leave the Republican party if it slides farther to the right (unfortunately, I think this is still possible), joining Sen. Jeffords of Vermont in the Republicans Anonymous Caucus and twelve-step program. (Step 1: Recognize that there is a higher power than Dick Cheney.)
Tiny shred of common sense invading the insanity at the White House?
An Address at the University of Michigan by
Anti-War Leader of the Progressive Caucus
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)

Looking for a growth industry to invest in? Look here.
At least somebody is happy with Bush:

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."

Warning or Threat? In Washington, President Bush warned European and Arab nations that are resisting a confrontation with President Saddam Hussein that "those who choose to live in denial may eventually be forced to live in fear." (from the NY Times.) W continues: "If Iraq gains even greater destructive power, nations in the Middle East would face blackmail, intimidation or attack," he said in the East Room, flanked by Vice President Dick Cheney, Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld and Secretary of State Colin L. Powell. They are already facing blackmail and intimidation from the Bush administration. And Bush should go talk to some of his neighbors in the DC area about living in fear.

Saddam in a Landslide! Florida Ballots Not Yet Counted. (from The Washington Post) Saddam demonstrates that his election-rigging capabilities are superior to W's.
Smart Growth America has published a report on sprawl in America. I've just started looking at it...maybe some comments to follow.
If you've been watching closely, you'll notice that I added a link to Politics in the Zeros recently in my blog link section (over there -->). Highly recommended if you live in California and/or are interested in water issues, or are just looking for a(nother) good blog to read.
North Korea. I'll start out by saying that I have no real idea what is going on here. To summarize what's in the newspaper articles: The US has suspected the North Koreans of developing nukes for years. Then, about two weeks ago, the US presented NK with evidence showing that they do have a nuke program. NK initially denied it, but then admitted to having the program the next day. Then last night the Bushies decide to tell us about it. Here are my speculations:

  • 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

The war resolution that Bush just signed requires him to report to Congress within 48 hours of any military action. Now what good does that do? If I'm in Congress, the last thing I'm going to want to do after two long days of avoiding protesters and ducking phone calls from constituents irate about our illegal war is to go into the house chambers to listen to W repeat the same old lies about Iraq and add some new ones about how well the war is going. And then to have to kill what little is left of my soul by caving in to peer pressure to stand and applaud the moron thirty times! What sadist/masochist added that provision to the resolution?
Results of Informal White Van Survey: While riding the bus and walking today, I was on the lookout for white vans of the type being talked about in the DC-area sniper case.

Official results:

  • There are a lot of white vans, and quite a few with ladder racks.
  • There are also lots of white Mitsubishi-style small commercial trucks like the composite photo shown in the press last week.
  • Margin of error: +/- quite a few.

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

REMINDER: A fool and his money are soon elected. (From the Ironic Times)
"Our economy has been hit from all directions including 9-11, scandals on Wall Street, job losses on Main Street and the threat of future conflict in Iraq,'' Gephardt said in the latest of what is likely to be a steady stream of economic proposals from possible Democratic candidates for president. "Yet the administration proceeds along serenely as if everything is fine -- playing politics with the economy and denying the disastrous consequences of their actions,'' the Missouri Democrat said.

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.

The Empire Strikes Out: Good op-ed piece from Utah, of all places.
A day late and a dollar short, but this cartoon deserves posting:


See the Lying Media Bastards blog for a good Columbus Day rant.

Is this CNN? As you can probably tell from the links, I read more articles from the New York Times than from any other source. But I occasionally check out, and frequently find interesting and important stories that the Times seems to have missed entirely. An example is this article on Illinois' review of death penalty cases. Too bad the CNN that's on TV is usually just the martial fodder you would expect to see on Winston Smith's telescreen. (That's yet another 1984 reference; if you haven't read it, read it! It's a fairly short book, and so applicable to what's going on today.)
An innovative response to the obesity problem: Fried Twinkies. I kid you not.
W is "sick to his stomach" about the sniper attacks, but not sick enough to do anything about it. With "gun fingerprinting," it seems almost sure that the sniper would have been tracked down by now. Trust Bush to be on the wrong side of everything.
Why Bush used Taft-Hartley to keep the ports open: so kids would find these toys under the tree on Christmas. Peace on Earth, goodwill toward men? Not hardly.
I serve as the Senior Senator from California, representing 35 million people. That is a formidable task. People have weighed in by the tens of thousands. If I were just to cast a representative vote based on those who have voiced their opinions with my office - and with no other factors - I would have to vote against this resolution. -- Senator Diane Feinstein, attempting to defend her indefensible support of the Iraq war resolution.

NAFTAcide: Eleven bodies found in a train car in Iowa. The car crossed the border from Mexico in June, sat in Oklahoma for four months, and was just opened for cleaning in Iowa when the bodies were found. I shudder just thinking about it. I mean, we're all going to die and would like to postpone it as long as possible. But when my time comes, I certainly hope it's a plane crash or sniper's bullet instead of being trapped in a boiling train car with the bodies of friends and family members decaying around me. That Mexicans are willing to risk their lives this way just for the hope of getting some miserable low-wage job in the fields or the slaughterhouses speaks volumes about the benefits of "free trade" for Mexico. And still, many Americans feel more contempt than compassion for "illegal" immigrants, and press for the government to make the barriers ever higher. Free trade, free movement of capital, captive labor.
``We need to think about Saddam Hussein using al-Qaida to do his dirty work, to not leave fingerprints behind,'' Bush said Monday at a rally for Michigan's GOP candidates. ``This is a man who we know has had connections with al-Qaida. This is a man who, in my judgment, would like to use al-Qaida as a forward army,'' Bush said later at a Dearborn, Mich. fund-raiser." from the NY Times.

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

Things aren't necessarily as they appear: Check this out!

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 think the free world must realize that no one is safe -- that if you embrace freedom, you're not free from terrorism.
  • Those of us who love freedom must work together to do everything we can to disrupt, deny and bring to justice these people who have no soul.
President George W. Bush and Indonesia's defense minister blamed al Qaeda and its extremist allies on Monday for the massive bomb attack that killed more than 180 people at a nightclub on the resort island of Bali. In Washington, President Bush said, "I think we have to assume it's al Qaeda. They are trying to intimidate us, and we won't be intimidated." Bush offered U.S. help in finding the perpetrators. -- from the Washington Post.

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!"

Junior Bush league: ''Why do young people read newspapers? Two words: not Britney Spears.'' -- from an eighth-grader's critique of a Dave Barry column.
Anti-war movement gets a little press, although it seems to imply that it's a California thing. Well, both of Michigan's senators voted against the war resolution, something California can't claim.
Kuwait said 15 men have confessed to helping plan the Oct. 8 shooting. -- from the NY Times.

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.

Here's a copy of an e-mail I just sent to Senators Lieberman, Daschle, Kerry, Clinton and Edwards, and Representative Gephardt:

Senator/Congressman ___:
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.

The turkey's out of the bag: Since May, actually, and the listeria that goes with it. Good luck to all you meat eaters out there: you're going to need it. That turkey sub you have for lunch today may be recalled in January: Maybe your heirs can win a suit against the meat packer.
If there are two involved, I would have to lean towards a conspiracy. -- A quote from the brilliant Jim Kallstrom, who headed the FBI's investigation of the TWA 800 explosion off Long Island in 1996. Unfortunately, in that investigation he repeatedly denied that 1+1=2 and concluded that the fuel tank blew up on its own, no matter how many (100-200) eyewitnesses saw a missile heading towards the plane. Quoted in a NY Post Op-Ed piece (of #$%@) about the shootings in the DC area.

Sunday, October 13, 2002

Excerpts from the NY Times article on the bombings in Indonesia:

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.

I went to hear Rita Lasar of Peaceful Tomorrows speak last night. Her brother died in the WTC on 9/11/01 as he stayed with a paraplegic friend waiting for help to arrive. Rita was aghast when President Bush started using her brother's heroism as a reason for bombing Afghanistan, and more recently Iraq. She and several other relatives of 9/11 victims traveled to Afghanistan last winter and met with relatives of victims of the US bombing campaign. She and the other members of Peaceful Tomorrows have been lobbying Congress and the President to pursue peace as the surest way to avoid more 9/11's. They get positive responses from audiences around the country, but are mostly ignored by the major media. The Ann Arbor News, however, did cover Lasar's talk at Pioneer High School (my alma mater).
I have updated my books page, adding a few new books that I have read recently and one old book, 1984, which is required reading for anyone trying to understand the Bushies or my complaints about them.
The Bush administration's frustration with the Indonesian government's reluctance to recognize the extent of terrorism in the country boiled over with last night's carnage.
"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

A few headlines from the Washington Post:

Massive Crash on Wisconsin Interstate:
Fiery Accident Kills at Least Seven.

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.

Woman, 2 Children Die In Md. Minivan Crash: 4 Youngsters Hurt as Vehicle Slams Into Trees

8th Killing Linked to Sniper

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

Wherever, in this modern age, one has to choose between war and no war, such is the fearfulness of modern armaments that one should give every conceivable preference to the possibilities and arguments for peace before resorting to the sword. -- George Kennan, quoted in the New Yorker.
And then there's the little matter of the bill: By Wide Margin, House Passes 2 Military Spending Measures. $355.4 billion. $1270 for each of 280 million Americans. $355.4 billion. $355.4 billion. By a vote of 409 to 14. God bless America.
Withdrawing my endorsement: A couple of weeks ago I recommended the Council for a Livable World's website as a good place to go to make donations to anti-war candidates for Congress. Well, I checked today and many of the candidates for whom they are soliciting contributions voted for the war resolution last night, including Senators Baucus, Biden, Cleland, Harkin, Johnson and Kerry. I think Harkin is the only one of those that I actually gave money to, but I am mad at the Council for recommending candidates who would even consider voting for the resolution. I sent them an e-mail asking them to remove the names of anyone who voted for it immediately. Take that, you weasels!
The Joint Resolution to Authorize the use of United States Armed Forces Against Iraq, passed by the House and Senate yesterday and early this morning, mentions September 11 three times, even though no links between Iraq and 9/11 have been made. As far as I can tell, in mathematical terms, the intersection of the stated reasons for war with Iraq and the real reasons is the empty set, which is congruous with the contents of George W. Bush's smirky little head. Most wars are criminal, and this one will be no exception. My hopes for living in a more peaceful and just world are giving way to the meager anticipation that someday soon I may still be alive and able to poke my head above the rubble and say "I told you so." Ain't worth it!

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!

Congratulations to Jimmy Carter on winning the Nobel Peace Prize. A lot of people thought he deserved it back in 1979 when he got Menachim Begin and Anwar Sadat to sign a Mideast peace treaty at Camp David. If you are wondering if maybe Carter won the prize in order to contrast his peaceful efforts with the current president's warmongering, wonder no further:
``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.

from Rob Rogers of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.
It could probably be shown by facts and figures that there is no distinctly native American criminal class except Congress. -- Mark Twain. The crooks on the hill have done it--the Senate last night joining the House in voting "to give the dumbest, most conscience-free president in our history the authority to start a war whenever he feels like it." (to quote myself) And where were our supposed challengers to the throne in 2004? Senators Daschle, Edwards, Kerry, Lieberman and Clinton all voted for it. See the Senate roll call and the House roll call for a complete list of the criminals. At least I can be proud of my representatives: Senators Levin and Stabenow both voted against the resolution, as did current representative Lynn Rivers and future representative John Dingell.
So here's my theory: Michael Oxley, Harvey Pitt and George W. Bush are all Communist moles who have worked their way into the center of the capitalist system in order to destroy it. -- Well, okay, there's more to Paul Krugman's op-ed than just that sentence. Doesn't come out looking any better for the three stooges, however.
Name? United States of America.

Address? Planet Earth.

Occupation? Yes.

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

This AP report describes a tour of an alleged nuclear development site in Iraq given to western reporters. What strikes me most is that the AP reporter repeatedly makes the claim that the Iraqis could be lying the whole time, since the reporters know nothing about nuclear technology and wouldn't recognize it if they saw it. Maybe I'm expecting too much, but aren't reporters supposed to know something? But the AP guy remarks: Without the expertise to know what to ask about or where to look, the crowd [of reporters] looked more like a kindergarten class touring a soft drinking bottling plant. I'm really reassured about our "free press" when I read that.
The House of Reprehensibles has done it: voted to give the dumbest, most conscience-free president in our history the authority to start a war whenever he feels like it.
``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.

Thousands Flee Ivory Coast City (AP) Thousands of people, many carrying cooking pots and bundles of clothes, fled this rebel-held city during a lull in fighting Thursday to escape food shortages and roaming gangs that burned people alive.

Dang! The whole world seems to suck lately. Sorry. It's starting to get to me, I'm afraid.

Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle put aside his misgivings Thursday and announced he will support President Bush's request for authority to use force against Iraq. ``I believe it is important for America to speak with one voice,'' Daschle declared. -- from
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.

An absolutely amazing Op-Ed piece from William Safire today. The gist of it, that lie detectors are worse than useless, I agree with wholeheartedly. He reports the results of a National Research Council study which concludes that "national security is too important to be left to such a blunt instrument," and noted pointedly that "no spy has ever been caught [by] using the polygraph." So far, so good. Lie detectors have been used by law enforcement to extract confessions or force plea bargains from people accused of crimes who are not aware of the fallacies of the detectors. They have also been used, as Safire points out, by professional liars to validate their lies. But here is the amazing part of his article:

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.

$%&&^%&#%^@*&^%& Sellouts! 2 Critics of Bush Iraq Policy Say They'll Back Resolution. A totally insane issue is on the table, for some bizarre reason, and Senators Kerry and Hagel decide to abandon their principles for an infinitesimal reduction in the insanity. The issue that should be debated is: Should George W. Bush be impeached today, or yesterday?
Singer Harry Belafonte has criticized Secretary of State Colin Powell for his toeing the Bush line:

"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

I have a suggestion. Let's adjourn for one hour and go down to the Vietnam Memorial before we commit ourselves and our children to an undnown world in which any president can decide to go to war as long as he or she determines it is in the national interest at that moment. Let's look at names one more time before we wipe away the efforts of sixty years to weave the years together through the UN and international law and institutions. After two world wars in 25 years, world leaders have remained committed to doing their best to prevent such an event, ever again. By and large, they have succeeded. Let us not, in pursuit of oil or power or the blandishments of empire, be the ones to lead the world to failure. -- Rep. James McDermott (D-WA)
Arrest them all and let Ashcroft sort them out. That seems to have been the approach taken by DC and National Park Service police when they arrested hundreds during anti-World Bank protests in Washington last weekend, according to this article. has a line-by-line critique of W's war speech from Monday. The Guardian has another.
Gassed his own people, you say? That's old hat--we did that years ago! The article makes it sound as if this is new information. But I've read at least a couple of books that have described some of these tests, including Whiteout, which describes a lot of dirty deeds done by the CIA over the years, and The Cobra Event, a novel by Richard Preston. Calling this new information reminds me of Rummy's denial that he had ever heard that Iraq got much of its starter germs for bio-weapons from the US. (I think this may have been in one of Preston's books as well.)

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

The three-judge panel of the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ...[wrote] that the types of deportation hearings being closed were ``extremely narrow'' and that the attorney general is in a better position than immigration judges to determine their importance to national security. If a terrorist cell learned one of its members had been detained, the judges reasoned, it might flee, destroy evidence, kill witnesses, modify its methods of entering the country or even accelerate plans for an attack.``Even minor pieces of evidence that might appear innocuous to us would provide valuable clues to a person within the terrorist network,'' Chief Judge Edward R. Becker wrote. -- from AP via NY Times

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.
Keep those calls coming! I just called my congresspeople again, and the people answering the phones confirmed that Senator Stabenow and Rep. Rivers will vote against the war resolution. I also called Rep. John Dingell's office: he's not my congressman yet, but he will be in January. Maybe I'll call the other 531 congresspeople as well--who knows, maybe I'll move. ("Hello? Senator Lott? I'm considering a move to Mississippi, bringing untold wealth and prosperity with me, but I want to make sure that my elected representatives are not supporting the warmonger Bush. You're not going to vote for his war resolution, are you? I would be terribly disappointed.")

Monday, October 07, 2002

My TV survived, but just barely. I watched part of W's speech from Cincinnati. Herr Goebels would be impressed.
As our outrage lessens and is diverted, they remain locked up without rights. The Washington Post reminds us of the plights of Yaser Hamdi and Jose Padilla, US citizens held on a Rumsfeldian creation ("enemy combatant") without much hope for anything.
My apologies for trying to be even-handed. NJ Republican senatorial candidate Douglas Forrester took the place of a scandal-plagued candidate (NY Times--see bottom of article) in the primary election after the supposed 51-day deadline, violating the same rule that Forrester was claiming should keep Dem. Frank Lautenberg from replacing Torricelli on the ballot. Apparently even the Supreme Court couldn't stomach this hypocrisy and is going to allow Lautenberg on the ballot. Do you think that maybe none of these hacks belongs on the ballot? Maybe the Republican and Democratic parties in New Jersey should be put on probation, not allowed to run any candidates for five years until they have shown that they can behave and nominate responsibly.
Afghan war a failure. Probably not news to regular readers, it is probably also well known to congresspeople who nevertheless praise the "president" for his handling of it. Rahul Mahajan summarizes the facts about phase one of the "War on Terrorism."
Participating in a BlogBurst! The author of Alas, A Blog has organized a "blogburst" of open letters to congress and newspapers opposing war. Here's mine, which I e-mailed a few minutes ago:

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!


Bob Goodsell

Think maybe someone left out a word?:

``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.

Daschle said he expects both chambers to pass a resolution supporting the president in the next week to 10 days. "I'm not sure that we've found exactly the right language yet," he said on NBC's "Meet the Press." "We're going to make the best effort we can to improve upon it and then pass it overwhelmingly." Daschle suggested that he sees war against Hussein as likely. "I would hope that we could use force if necessary in ways that could contain the breadth and the scope of war," he said. "But certainly, if force is necessary, and if we anticipate his reluctance to comply, I don't know that we have any other choice." -- This is the opposition party? No other choice than to attack a small country thousands of miles away that has no capability or intent to do us any harm?

Bush will include a message to Iraqi officials that they might be charged as war criminals if they follow Hussein's orders, the official said. -- from the Washington Post. Hello kettle? This is pot. You're black! Bush is planning a pre-emptive strike against a sovereign nation, and he suggests that those in Iraq who defend their country are war criminals. "Welcome to the Bush universe, gentlemen! You have only two choices: traitor or war criminal." Does he intend to try them in the International Criminal Court? Now, W hasn't actually said this, yet, but if he does he will have outdone himself once again in hypocrisy.
Let's hope that Bush's speech tonight has the same effect on war prospects that his economic speeches have on the stock market. My guess is that it will be bumbling and stupid, repeating the same half-truths and outright lies of the past few months, but it will be reported as "brilliant statesmanship, making a strong case blah, blah, blah..."

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

I've added a links frame to the right of the blog:


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

Wild Speculation. Serious journalists are not supposed to engage in it, but I'm not a serious journalist! My speculation du jour is that the sniper shootings in Montgomery County, Maryland and the parachute-cord cuttings at Camp Lejeune in North Carolina are the work of soldiers or marines recently returned from Afghanistan, just as at least three of the wife killings at Fort Bragg were earlier this summer. I believe that the disillusionment and frustration on the part of servicemen that was so widespread among Vietnam vets, which also affected Timothy McVeigh after the Gulf War and the soldiers in Somalia described in "Black Hawk Down" (book and movie), is bound to be epidemic among soldiers returning from Afghanistan, Iraq, and other targets of the "War on Terrorism." I recall back in February or March when Rumsfeld was visiting US troops in Uzbekistan, and one of them asked "How long will we be here, sir?" Rummy answered flippantly: "As long as it takes." He didn't say for what, and these poor GI's are stuck in Uzbekistan indefinitely, which as far as I can tell is pretty much Antarctica without the nightlife. So, just as with McVeigh and Nichols, we will once again be treated to the return of a bunch of angry, disillusioned people who are highly trained in the use of weapons. I'm speculating a military killer in Maryland in large part because of the accuracy: Five bullets, five fatalities. I certainly don't mean to imply that most returning soldiers are or will be dangerous or should be treated with fear or any disrespect. Just that there are always some people on the edge, and giving them advanced weapons training and sending them on a disillusioning mission is a good way to push them over.

Thursday, October 03, 2002

According to the Center for Public Integrity in Washington, the company contributed $1.5 million to presidential and Congressional campaigns between 1995 and 2000. Occidental also spent nearly $8.7 million lobbying American officials on Latin America policy, largely regarding Colombia, from 1996 to 2000, according to disclosure forms filed with Congress. Other oil and energy companies also spent handsomely to influence Colombia policy, with Exxon Mobil Corporation, BP Amoco, the Unocal Corporation, Texaco and Phillips Petroleum spending about $13 million among them on Colombia in the same period. -- from the NY Times. So what does Occidental get for the $10.2 million investment (bribe) in American politicians?

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.
You say you want a revolution, well, you know--you've got one! Ted Rall points out how the Bushies' peripatetic changing of the subject of discussion and object of hatred is an example of "permanent revolution," a concept introduced by Trotsky in 1915 and a favorite of Stalin, Mao, and yes, der Fuhrer himself. Thanks to Lester Yesterday for sending me that link.
Leaflets dropped on Iraq. That's right--we've already started the war on Iraq, and we're dropping leaflets warning Iraqi soldiers not to defend their country. Is it just me, or is this more than a little arrogant?

(Rhetorical question. Correct answer: "This is more than a little arrogant." So is this parenthetical paragraph.)

Saudi popup ads! That's right, I've started seeing popup ads for the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. All that oil money buys a lot of good old American PR (aka BS).
Torricelli: New Jersey has two "Democratic" Senators, both of whom make Richard Nixon look like a socialist pinko by comparison. According to this WSWS article, Torricelli has been a tool for right-wing groups including the anti-Castro Cubans in Miami and foreign interests from Taiwan and Korea. The Korea gig is what has him in hot water, leading to his withdrawal from his race for re-election. Both parties immediately took their predictable positions on replacing Torricelli's name on the ballot: Republicans saying that it's too late, Dems saying that it's unfair to voters to deny them a choice. Jersey Democrats are trying to put former senator Frank Lautenberg on the ballot in Torricelli's place and have won approval to do so from the New Jersey Supreme Court. The Republicans, usually champions of states' rights, are of course appealing to the US Supreme Court.

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.

"A president against a president and vice president against a vice president and a duel takes place, if they are serious, and in this way we are saving the American and the Iraqi people," Ramadan told the Associated Press Television Network. That's right: One of Iraq's vice presidents is suggesting a duel between W and Saddam, and another between Cheney and himself. Although the article hints that the suggestion was tongue in cheek, I see real possibilities here. Here are the ground rules:
  • 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.
Yup, we could solve a lot of the world's problems!
As far as the political situation in the US is concerned, we are facing a dangerous and extremely unfortunate administration. The way I see it, the presidential election was stolen by George W. Bush and ever since we have all been suffering the consequences. I think that the most recent thing with Iraq is absolute insanity, and I cannot believe that there is not opposition to it on a more global scale and that there is not more opposition in the country on the part of the sane people, including politicians, but also students and artists.
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.
"We will not leave the future of peace and the security of America in the hands of this cruel and dangerous man," Mr. Bush said in announcing the deal in the White House Rose Garden. (real quote from NY Times.)

"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 can't get the specific links to work, but the Cogent Provacateur (another blogger) has two fine, detailed articles relating to the Iraq Attaq. The first, dated September 18, lists all of the reasons given for invading Iraq and debunks most of them. It then investigates what are probably the real reasons. The other article, dated September 26 (currently the most recent) compares the Iraq "debate" to the similar "debate" 40-some years ago about Vietnam.
From a BBC reporter in Afghanistan describing an encounter with American troops:

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.

The 2000 Democratic presidential nominee said Bush doesn't have to change his basic philosophy but does need to make economic adjustments to match current conditions. ``I am not asking the president to abandon his ideology,'' Gore said in a speech at the Brookings Institution. ``I am suggesting that he should try to reconcile his ideology with the realities now being faced by the American people.'' -- from AP via NY Times.

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.

Check out Ted Rall's War Cry, which describes Iranian President Mohammad Khatami making a speech to the UN to support action against the US. An excerpt: "Bush has invaded Afghanistan and is now threatening Iraq. We cannot stand by and do nothing while danger gathers. We can't wait for this tyrant to strike first. We have an obligation to act pre-emptively to protect the world from this evildoer," Khatami said.

Yahoo! News - White House: assassination of Saddam would be cheaper than war: Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld has suggested at least three times in the last 1 1/2 weeks that Saddam might be allowed to go into exile with his family.

Maybe Rummy can work out a deal with Sharon: Saddam Hussein for Yasser Arafat. And two suicide bombers to be named later.

Doonesbury answers the question: "Does the Attorney General have any shame at all?"

Tuesday, October 01, 2002

U.N., Iraq Agree on Inspection Terms The chief U.N. weapons inspector for Iraq said on Tuesday that tentative agreement has been reached with Baghdad on the return of his team to check for the presence of illegal, nuclear, chemical or biological weapons.
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.

In case you were wondering where W stands on the labor-management issue: President Bush urged West Coast longshoremen Tuesday to ``get back to work,'' saying the labor dispute that has shut down ports from San Diego to San Francisco threatens the nation's economy. Given that there's a lockout in effect, not a strike, that could be difficult. About halfway through his babblings W remembered what the facts are: ``Any strike's a tough situation but this one happens to come at -- or, a lockout is a tough situation or no work is a tough situation -- this is coming at a bad time,'' Bush said. (Source: AP via NY Times)
"Officials said the attack was not related to terrorism, and said Tuesday morning they did not know the motive" for the attack on a Greyhound bus in California which killed two and injured dozens. Now, according to the Bushies recently-released "National Security Strategy," terrorism is defined as "premeditated, politically motivated violence perpetrated against innocents." The guy cut the driver's throat, knowing this would cause the bus to crash. Certainly premeditated violence against innocents--if his motive was political, it was terrorism. But "officials" say they don't know the motive, but it isn't terrorism. What they probably mean is that the guy is Latino and not Arab.
Fleischer said that since September 16, when Iraq indicated in a letter to the U.N. it would allow the return of weapons inspectors "without conditions," Iraq has tried to shoot down coalition aircraft 67 times, with 14 instances this past weekend.

"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!

Don't miss Mike Thompson's cartoon for today.
Huey from Boondocks is having trouble composing a "nice" letter to President Bush about Iraq. Check out these cartoons:
I regret to inform you that the "W holds the book upside down" picture is a fake. So is the president in the picture.
The only thing new in the world is the history you don't know. -- Harry S. Truman

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!)