Bob's Links and Rants -- Fair and Balanced

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

Saturday, 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.

Accuracy.org has a line-by-line critique of W's war speech from Monday. The Guardian has another.

And I thought our elections were crazy!

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!

Sincerely,

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:

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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!