Saturday, November 30, 2002
That's right--it's "Chicken Dance Elmo." And people were lined up outside Walmarts and Targets yesterday morning at 5 am hoping to get one (or more). Might as well just hand the keys to the White House over to al Qaeda; this culture is done.
Friday, November 29, 2002
I think that picture can be engraved on America's tombstone.
Thursday, November 28, 2002
Wednesday, November 27, 2002
The organization "would launch secret operations aimed at 'stimulating reactions' among terrorists and states possessing weapons of mass destruction -- that is, for instance, prodding terrorist cells into action and exposing themselves to 'quick-response' attacks by U.S. forces."
In Pamela Hess' piece called "Panel wants $7bn elite counter-terror unit" -- written before the official release of the DSB report -- she claims the report also advocated "tagging key terrorist figures with special chemicals so they can be tracked by laser anywhere on Earth; creating a special SWAT team to surreptitiously find and destroy chemical, biological and nuclear weapons all over the world; and creating a 'red team' of particularly diabolical thinkers to plot imaginary terror attacks on the United States so the government can plan to thwart them."
The team would be made up of 100 counter-terror specialists in information operations, psychological operations, computer network attack, covert activities, signal intelligence, human intelligence, special operations forces and deception operations and have at least $100 million at their disposal. -- from Working for Change.
How sick is that? How can we find "terrorists" if they never blow anything up? We'd better provoke them! And that "red team" is going to feel pretty let down if they spend $100 million coming up with exotic terror plots and never get to use them. Maybe they use them on other countries to "provoke" terrorists out of hiding. Maybe they sell the plans to the highest bidder, or have a mole amongst them to sneak the plans to Osama. Or maybe they decide that there would be great political benefit, not to mention excitement, in executing some of their scenarios in this country themselves.
Bush in the bush: "He, he! He'll never find me here!"
Cop in the foreground: "25107, 25108, 25109...I don't want to find him! Why should I stop counting? 25110, 25111..."
"The media is kind of weird these days on politics, and there are some major institutional voices that are, truthfully speaking, part and parcel of the Republican Party," said Mr. Gore in an interview with The Observer. "Fox News Network, The Washington Times, Rush Limbaugh—there’s a bunch of them, and some of them are financed by wealthy ultra-conservative billionaires who make political deals with Republican administrations and the rest of the media …. Most of the media [has] been slow to recognize the pervasive impact of this fifth column in their ranks—that is, day after day, injecting the daily Republican talking points into the definition of what’s objective as stated by the news media as a whole."
It gets worse:
Bush did not set as a primary goal for Kissinger to uncover mistakes or lapses of the government that could have prevented the Sept. 11 attacks. Instead, he said the panel should try to help the administration learn the tactics and motives of the enemy.
This is NOT what the families of 9/11 victims and many others have been calling for. They want to know why our government missed or ignored clues leading up to 9/11. I want to know if any of the failure to stop the attack was intentional. To have Henry Frigging Kissinger study the tactics and motives of the enemy does not begin to answer these questions; it just provides more excuses for continued military aggression around the world.
A glimmer of hope:
[Fleischer] said Bush does not envision testifying before the panel.
But Sen. Joe Lieberman, D-Conn., a leading advocate of the commission, said it is likely Bush will be asked to address the panel.
``I would be surprised if this commission, in pursuit of the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth, so help them God, did not want to speak with this president and high officials of this administration and previous presidents and high officials in previous administrations,'' Lieberman said.
Getting Bush to testify under oath would be a major accomplishment. He's so used to lying by now that he would perjure himself in half a minute. Unfortunately, I don't trust Lieberman (or any other prominent Democrat) to seriously push for Bush to testify.
up because I wasn't a Muslim.
Then they came to detain immigrants indefinitely
solely upon the certification of the Attorney General,
and I didn't speak up because I wasn't an immigrant.
Then they came to eavesdrop on suspects consulting
with their attorneys, and I didn't speak up because I
wasn't a suspect.
Then they came to prosecute non-citizens before
secret military commissions, and I didn't speak up
because I wasn't a non-citizen.
Then they came to enter homes and offices for
unannounced "sneak and peek" searches, and I didn't
speak up because I had nothing to hide.
Then they came to reinstate Cointelpro and resume
the infiltration and surveillance of domestic
religious and political groups, and I didn't speak up
because I had stopped participating in any groups.
Then they came for anyone who objected to
government policy because it aided the terrorists and
gave ammunition to America's enemies, and I didn't
speak up because...... I didn't speak up.
Then they came for me....... and by that time no
one was left to speak up.
- Stephen Rohde, a constitutional lawyer and
President of the ACLU of Southern California, who is
indebted to the inspiration of Rev. Martin Niemoller
Tuesday, November 26, 2002
Richard Perle may the nastiest of the nasties plotting Bush's eternal war strategy. A former British cabinet minister expresses surprise at Perle's statement. I've been convinced that this was the case for some time now. My only surprise is how openly Perle states it.
Monday, November 25, 2002
You have the right to confess. You have no right to an attorney. Anything you say or don't say or that we just made up may be used against you in a court of law, a military tribunal, or never.
Ted Olson and the rest of the Constitution Demolition Crew are supporting Oxnard California police who assert that the Miranda ruling does not include a "constitutional right to be free of coercive interrogation," but only a right not to have forced confessions used at trial. In other words, your government thinks it's okay for cops to basically torture you for information so long as they don't use what you say against you.
Police can hold people in custody and force them to talk, so long as their incriminating statements are not used to prosecute them, U.S. Solicitor Gen. Theodore B. Olson and Michael Chertoff, the chief of the Justice Department's criminal division, say in their brief to the court. It "will chill legitimate law enforcement efforts to obtain potentially life-saving information during emergencies," including terrorism alerts, if police and FBI agents can be sued for coercive questioning, they add.
Beatings and torture are never legitimate law enforcement efforts, and Olson and Chertoff should be thrown out of their offices so fast that we'll hear the sonic boom here in Michigan. In the case coming before the Supreme Court next week, an Oxnard cop repeatedly tried to get a statement out of a man who had been shot five times and was being treated in the hospital. Recall that Ted Olson was the same lawyer who argued before the same Supreme Court two years ago in a successful attempt to stop vote recounts in Florida and give the White House to George W. Bush. And that same Supreme Court is still headed by William Rehnquist who in 1990 argued that the right against self-incrimination in the 5th Amendment was a "trial right." Police cannot violate this right when they force someone to talk, since "a constitutional violation occurs only at trial."
I don't have the whole text of Rehnquist's 1990 opinion, but it sounds like he was saying that it's okay for the cops to beat a confession out of you, as long as it's before the trial. Now maybe he's still saying that the confession can't be used in court against you, but even so it's too late for you. With your confession in hand they will almost certainly be able to scare you into a plea bargain before you ever get to trial. They could also use your coerced confession to find other witnesses willing to incriminate you, whether you are in fact guilty of something or not. I think the basic gist of most of this is that if you get arrested for whatever reason, your life is almost certainly ruined. You are presumed guilty, and the cops are free to use whatever means they want to get you to say whatever they want. And if none of that works the president can just call you an "enemy combatant."
Probably time to quote from the Declaration of Independence again:
We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal: that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights; that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness; that to secure these rights, governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed; that whenever any form of government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the right of the people to alter or to abolish it, and to institute a new government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their safety and happiness. Prudence, indeed will dictate that governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shown, that mankind are more disposed to suffer while evils are sufferable than to right themselves by abolishing to forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same object, evinces a design to reduce them under absolute despotism, It is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such government, and to provide new guards for their future security.
Hey, you Homeland Security drones, I didn't say that, Thomas Jefferson did! But I certainly agree with him.
But offense comes first. Baghdad remains the next stop but not the last. We must also have plans for Tehran and Damascus, not to mention Riyadh. The tactics will vary, but the goal--total defeat of terrorism--is clear. Once American ground troops are in Iraq, the message must go out to all terrorist sponsors that this game is up. -- Garry Kasparov
I applaud the act. F**k the U.S. I want to see the U.S. wiped out. -- Bobby Fischer on the 9/11 attacks.
Hmm...seems like such a quiet, cerebral game. Bobby Fischer's story is especially pathetic. He has been living in various places overseas since playing in a rematch with Boris Spassky in 1992 against the express wishes and laws of the Bush I administration. As for Kasparov, I'm not sure why former Soviet chess masters are advising the US government on foreign policy, but it's still a semi-free country, I guess (Kasparov lives in the US now).
Sunday, November 24, 2002
Where is this?
- Columbus, Ohio
The correct answer is Columbus, Ohio, where Ohio State fans showed true class in celebrating another squeak-by win by burning cars and rioting in the streets. And don't think I'm just picking on Buckeye fans because I'm from Ann Arbor. I chewed out Michigan fans last week. It's just a brutal, overhyped game, folks!
Saturday, November 23, 2002
By the way, there is a word to describe the "support" that the security council and NATO have given to Bush recently. The word is "appeasement." That NATO's capitulation took place in Prague is ironic, although I guess Munich would have been more so.
Friday, November 22, 2002
According to the CBC, White House spokesman Ari Fleischer, who is accompanying Bush in Prague, dismissed the comment as coming from "somebody who obviously doesn't speak for the Canadian government." Right, Ari. The Prime Minister's communications director doesn't speak for the Canadian government. Of course, Ari is someone who obviously doesn't speak for the American people.
Thursday, November 21, 2002
poison gas theory or something else that quickly incapacitated the pilots. Neither does it rule out some sort of sabotage which caused the plane to lose its radio and control systems at the same time. The fire would likely destroy all evidence of poison and make finding evidence of sabotage very difficult. Maybe I'm going overboard with the conspiracy stuff, but from what I've read about TWA 800 and American flight 587 the results of investigations into mysterious, high-profile air crashes are affected much more by politics than by evidence (see twa800.com for MUCH more on this). And one of the best senators has been replaced by Dick Cheney's hand-picked minion, giving control of the Senate to the Republitrons, and even the temp appointed by Jesse Ventura not only voted for the Homeland Security bill, he also voted to keep the pork in it. I don't think anyone can doubt what Wellstone would have thought of that.
One further note: the article states that "NTSB spokesman Paul Schlamm said the medical examiner's report does not affect the board's investigation." Huh? You're investigating a crash and you don't care how the pilots died? That only makes sense if you already know what your conclusions are going to be. I remember when AA 587 crashed in New York (11/12/01). Around noon, three or so hours after the crash, Ari Fleischer answered a reporter's question by saying he didn't know if it was a terrorist attack or not; too early to tell. (A rare seemingly reasonable answer from Ari.) About an hour later, Secretary of State Colin Powell made a statement saying it wasn't terrorism. And that has been the official line ever since, no matter what the evidence shows or witnesses say.
Senate Minority Leader Trent Lott, asked about Daschle's comments, said he didn't know of any threats. "I've found people to be pretty upbeat and very generous and kind, even when they don't agree with everything I say," Lott, R-Mississippi, said.
Well, that's an easy one to explain. You see, the people who disagree with Lott are a whole lott nicer than those who agree with him. And how could Rush find anything to complain about with Daschle? He's voted with Bush on just about every important issue. But I forget: being unreasonable and irrational is a key ingedient to Rush's success--and Bush's.
Wednesday, November 20, 2002
Trying to spread the fear, Bush said: "For terrorists and terrorist states, every free nation is a potential target, including the free nations of Europe." Terror bombings have been an occasional, but in reality very rare, element of life in many countries. Only in countries which actively pursue military means to "wipe out" terrorism does it rise to be a weekly or daily fact of life (Israel and Palestine, Britain and Northern Ireland). Everything that Bush has done since September 11 has put us at greater risk of terrorist attacks, and I think he knows it. He does not want to end terrorism; he is pursuing the global capitalist agenda, and he doesn't care who gets hurt in the process.
So anyway, the contest is for readers to come up with the scariest scenarios for how these things might be used. E-mail your suggestions to me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Probably every response will be posted, and the winner will have the joy of knowing that he or she didn't come in second.
THIS is why the public thirsts for war. Much of the public sees this as a TV show. Clean. Sanitary. No REAL death. No REAL gore. It's just another TV show. Like the meat in the supermarket. -- from the No War Blog.
At age 44 3/4, I'm pretty close to understanding, maybe. But I think he's mostly right. I remember during Gulf War I. I was a teacher in a high school back then, and my students and I all arrived bleary-eyed after long nights watching Wolf, Peter and Bernie explain the war to us on CNN. And you watched half-hoping that something exciting would happen, only half-knowing that it meant real people being killed and wounded. Actually, though, Vietnam was just a TV show to most Americans, too. The show may have been more graphic and closer to the truth than we've had since, but it was still a show. I'd say that unless you were in the military, you'd probably have to be over 150 years old as an American to really understand war. The Civil War was the only large-scale war fought where most of the action occurred in America. Few Americans have experienced anything like what Afghans, Iranians, Iraqis, Chechens, Somalis, Rwandans, Congolese and Timorese, to name a few, have experienced in the past 25 years. Huddling in the basement as shells explode around your house and wounded soldiers pound on the door begging for aid, but you're not sure whose soldiers they are and what they might do to you if you let them in. Trying to stay in others' footprints because you're less likely to step on a mine. Having all of your means for getting food, water and information disrupted. Having your pulse jump to 200 every time you hear the sound of an airplane. Stuff like that.
Kite aerial photography meets shopping cart sculpture. See http://arch.ced.berkeley.edu/kap/gallery/gal168.html for more.
"The terrorists are not going to wait for a process that goes on days, weeks or months," said Senator Trent Lott of Mississippi, the Republican leader. "We need to get this done, and we need to do it now." -- from the NY Times yesterday.
Now that the bill has passed, they're willing to admit the obvious truth:
Bush administration officials acknowledged today that the Department of Homeland Security would need years to organize itself fully and that the logistics involved in merging 22 agencies and nearly 170,000 government workers into a giant new bureaucracy could threaten to divert the department from its central mission of safeguarding the American public from terrorist attacks. -- from today's NY Times.
Of course, they are still ignoring that this is an enormous and expensive effort directed against a problem, terrorism, which has killed maybe 3500 Americans in the last ten years. September 11 was spectacular and horrible, but terrorism ranks way, way down on the list of causes of death in this country. Less expensive efforts could probably save many more lives which are being lost to gun violence, AIDS, and poor nutrition. Or to turn the whole thing around, one simple step could increase revenues and decrease expenditures while saving many lives, with hardly any increase in bureaucracy. A $5 per gallon tax on gasoline would reduce fatalities from accidents, pollution, and global warming by causing people to drive less. It would save billions of dollars that wouldn't need to be spent on wars to maintain the flow of oil. And without the wars, the threat of terrorism would be reduced as well. Unfortunately, simple, effective, and decent proposals are not in vogue these days, probably because there is nothing in a gas tax for ExxonMobil or General Motors.
Tuesday, November 19, 2002
You won't believe this:
Unfortunately, Dave Barry was not making this up:
Cobra, the new generation commercial based security and reconnaissance vehicle is in production and available from Ibis Tek. Configured to the customer’s requirements, the Sport Utility Vehicle is outfitted with a Thales AFV Systems’ Stabilized Weapon and Reconnaissance Mount - SWARM.
The SWARM stores in the vehicle until required giving the vehicle a nondescript and nonthreatening appearance during normal operation of the vehicle. At the push of a button at the control station located at the passengers seat the remote weapons station is deployed and ready to fire in 10 seconds.
The Cobra and its sister vehicles Viper and Python are designed for multiple functions including VIP escort, reconnaissance, security patrol, Homeland Defense, and special (clandestine) missions. (see http://www.ibistek.com/pdf/cobra/cobraflyer.pdf for all the details.)
This bundle of joy is brought to you by the Ibis Tek Corporation of Butler, Pennsylvania, home state of Homeland Security Director Tom Ridge. It features a retractable roof-mounted machine gun controlled by a panel on the SUV's dashboard. So be careful which soccer mom you cut off when dropping your kids off at school.
And, from the same article:
"The terrorists are not going to wait for a process that goes on days, weeks or months," said Senator Trent Lott of Mississippi, the Republican leader. "We need to get this done, and we need to do it now." Right, Trent. Don't want to keep those terrorists waiting.
Prediction: There is a 50-50 chance that McCain and Chaffee will switch parties and a similar chance that McCain will become the Democratic standard bearer in 2004. The odds of a Landrieu victory in Louisiana are much higher.
Read the whole article for a quick pick-me-up, and maybe we should be sending money to Louisiana? Thanks to Tom Tomorrow for the link. I'm not a huge McCain fan since he's been way too much of a hawk, but he seems to be a real, thinking person, unlike anyone in the current administration.
More from the land of the Whopper: At the bottom of Burger King's BK VEGGIE™ Burger web page is this lovely disclaimer: "Burger King Corporation makes no claim that the BK VEGGIE™ Burger or any other of its products meets the requirements of a vegan or vegetarian diet." So what exactly is in a BK VEGGIE™ Burger, anyway?
Official story: Osama Lives
White House spokesman Scott McClellan confirmed these conclusions and said the audiotape "is a reminder that we are at war on terrorism."
"It's a reminder that we need to continue doing everything we can to go after these terrorist networks and their leaders wherever they are. And we will," he said. -- from CNN.
Bob's expert analysis: Polling and focus groups have shown that the majority of Americans are immune to the argument that Osama's continued existence and freedom demonstrates that W's "war on terror" is a failure. Instead, Karl Rove and the brownshirts in the White House find that having Osama out there is useful for continuing their own reign of terror. Just as with the tax cuts, the argument is "Since it isn't working, we need to do even more of it." It wouldn't surprise me if the CIA made the tape (and then fired the guy doing the Osama impression for being gay) and had it delivered to al Jazeera. If Saddam does prove to be a pushover, the Bushies will need Osama as a backup until they can get the hate machine geared up for Iran or North Korea.
This may be a sign of overconfidence. If things do start to turn against the Bush war machine, we can use their own quotes against them in arguing that the Afghanistan war was a failure. And it was. One brutal regime has been replaced by several at war with each other, the heroin is flowing again, and many thousands of people have died. But according to the maniacs who started the madness, they failed to accomplish their main objective. Whether Osama is still alive or not is still a tossup, but the Bushies have decided that he is more useful "alive" at the moment.
Monday, November 18, 2002
Speaking of Adbusters, join millions of people escaping the consumer culture by celebrating Adbusters' eleventh Buy Nothing Day on the Friday after Thanksgiving (11/29). Don't you dare chase all those ads from the Thursday paper to those 7 am sales to buy worthless crap for family and friends, proceeds going to the further destruction of our home planet. Stay home, visit friends, sing, dance, play, but DO NOT SHOP!! Contemplate interesting and creative ways to celebrate the holidays without driving all over to buy silly gifts. Read a book, or write one. DO NOT SHOP!! Read everything on the Adbusters web page for further inspiration. Count your blessings. But NO SHOPPING!! And don't get all preachy, either.
PS: Here's a quick guide to making the most of Buy Nothing Day. Sleep in until 8. Start by not shopping at Wal-Mart. Probably the best place to start your non-shopping. Then don't buy anything at the GAP, and proceed to not buying any diamonds (people WILL kill for those rocks) or Nike shoes. Follow this up by not buying any of the holiday crap lining the aisles at K-Mart, Office Depot, or Best Buy. When you're done, roll over and sleep another hour until 9. Then do whatever you want. Just DON'T SHOP!
If we can't protect the students, the players, the coaches, then we shouldn't be playing. It's just a matter of time before we have somebody seriously injured. Um, Lloyd, what about the referees?
And at one time, the CIA offered a Taliban commander $50,000 to defect and he asked for time to think it over. And then they dropped a bomb on him in his area. — And then they went back and said, the offer now which used to be $50,000 is now $40,000. — And he said "I accept."
Your government: mob tactics gone global.
Politics in the Zeros draws several scary conclusions from the 60 Minutes interview.
Quote of the Day, from W himself:
President Bush: "I do not need to explain why I say things. — That's the interesting thing about being the President. — Maybe somebody needs to explain to me why they say something, but I don't feel like I owe anybody an explanation." (from Bob Woodward via 60 Minutes).
That, in itself, explains a lot. Bush thinks he doesn't have a boss, so he doesn't have to explain anything. Well, Shrub, we're your boss, the American people, and we want to know why you're doing all this crap. And STOP IT!!!
John Poindexter and the Information Awareness Office. (Read William Safire's column from last week for info on the IAO.)
I don't know whether to kill myself or go bowling -- Thomas Sharpe
After seeing Michael Moore's latest movie, I'm imagining that there was an answer to that quote:
Let's do both! -- Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold (Columbine killers who went bowling at 6 am the day of their rampage).
Sorry, that was sick and tasteless, but when I saw that Sharpe quote...
- Suffice to say, we stand should-to-shoulder with the president in the fight against terrorism.
- My concern was what going into Iraq, what the impact of that would be on the war on terrorism, which is a clear and present danger.
- I don’t question a decision of the president of the United States on his timing or the priority he gives a threat.
- MR. RUSSERT: But if the president decides to go unilaterally or with the British and the Turks without U.N. approval, you would support the president? REP. PELOSI: Yes, I would support the president.
- I’m very excited to follow in the footsteps of Dick Gephardt, who has been a tremendous leader for our party, and I know his contribution to our country has much more to come yet.
- How many domestic problems could be fixed completely with this level of effort and expense?
- We could buy all of the world's HIV patients all of the medicine they need for a fraction of this money, even at the drug companies' inflated prices.
- This money could fund hundreds of sewage and water treatment plants around the world, saving millions from dysentery, cholera and other nasty diseases.
- Worst president ever.
Sunday, November 17, 2002
I think the Times is partly right on this one: CYA is a major part of the warnings. But I think that the main reason for them is to maintain or increase the fear, the terror if you will, in the country. By keeping us afraid, they keep us docile, and keep many of us voting Republican, and many more of us from voting at all. The Times ends the editorial with this: The danger of the present system, apart from the sowing of generic fear, is that people will stop paying attention. That's exactly what the terrorists want. I say that the purpose of the present system is the sowing of generic fear, and is a form of terrorism as bad as any other.
Senator Bob Graham, the Florida Democrat who is departing as chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, said in an interview this week that American intelligence agencies, in particular the F.B.I., had failed to consider the full range of threats that might stem from a war with Iraq.
Mr. Graham said that beyond threats from Al Qaeda, American intelligence agencies had not adequately assessed threats posed by other Middle Eastern terror groups that are likely to be inflamed by a war with Iraq, among them Hezbollah, Hamas and Islamic Jihad.
"I think we make a mistake when we assume that the threat is only Al Qaeda," Mr. Graham said. "There are a lot of terror groups out there, some of them with a large presence in the United States, who shouldn't be dismissed because in the past they have not attacked in the United States."
Wouldn't it be a easier, and a lot nicer, just to call off the war? Or is the plan just to continue with serial wars around the world, provoking the occasional terror attack, giving the Bushies the green light to lock up or deport more and more of the nonwhite population in America? It's hard to tell the difference between a North Korean and a South Korean, and a lot of white Americans can't distinguish between Koreans, Japanese, Chinese, and Vietnamese. It sounds more and more like we are fighting wars to provoke terror rather than to suppress it.
And then there are those seven Saturdays every fall when UM has a home football game. Giant SUV's, most with two car flags (most have two UM flags; some have one UM and one US), invade the city hours before the game. They park and set up "tailgate" parties where they consume mass quantities of dead animals and alcohol. I had the dubious privilege yesterday of joining that mob at the game when I was given a ticket by someone at work. It's a spectacle, for sure, 110 thousand people sitting on cold bleachers to watch the game, the bands, and the banner-towing planes advertising "adult entertainment." It's also a cure for any sneaking suspicions you may have about there being hope for humanity. Aside from preppy and obnoxious, there are very few attitudes prevalent among the 110 thousand. There were several drunks in the seats around me, one of whom said something about every 20 seconds, all of which were variations on the theme of "Wisconsin sucks." Michigan won (yay) and I didn't see any players carted off never to walk again, so I guess it was a success. But it is scary that the most popular non-TV entertainment in Ann Arbor is one in which people spend $40 and up to go be total jerks for four hours.
On the other hand, the best entertainment in town started several hours later. This was the Amazin' Blue a capella singing group. While the football players use their considerable talents in smashing each other, the students in Amazin' Blue use their abilities to brighten the world with music. And while I'm pretty sure that I wasn't the only one who was somewhat miserable at the football game, and certainly not the only one who was glad when it ended, there is no doubt that no one at the Amazin' Blue concert was at all unhappy until it ended. So I experienced the worst and best of Ann Arbor in a ten-hour period. And I'm almost thawed out.
Friday, November 15, 2002
We survived the Civil War, so we can probably endure two more years of George W. Bush's assaults on the our way of life. But who knows how much damage a "Republican" victory in 2004 would do to core American values--make no mistake, this obscene junta isn't the patriotic, sane Republican Party of Eisenhower, Reagan or the first President Bush.
Whether a liberal or a centrist strategy is chosen isn't as important as it would be if the opponent were less dangerous. What matters is getting George W. Bush the hell out of Al Gore's house.
-- from Ted Rall
Thursday, November 14, 2002
"What it would prove would be that the inspection process had been successfully defeated by the Iraqis," [Rumsfeld] said. "There's no question but that the Iraqi regime is clever, they've spent a lot of time hiding things, dispersing things, tunneling underground."
from CNN. There you have it. If the inspectors find weapons, we're going to war. If they don't find weapons, we're going to war. Rummy promises that it won't be World War III.
"I can't tell you if the use of force in Iraq today will last five days, five weeks or five months, but it won't last any longer than that," he said in an hourlong interview for Infinity Broadcasting.
I don't know about that. Sounds like trying to do a controlled burn at a fireworks factory. Rummy also threw in a whopper, which CNN was good enough to point out:
"The president has not suggested that that is going to be needed," Rumsfeld said, although President Bush has said many times that military force will be used to make Iraq comply.
While CNN on TV is almost unwatchable these days, I'm starting to like their web site. They have a lot of stories I don't find on the NY Times, and they seem to be willing to point out when the Bushies are stretching the truth. Meanwhile, the Times is throwing in gratuitous insults at Argentina and deceptive praise of Bush ("served in the Texas Air National Guard during the Vietnam War").
The Night Before Baghdad, by Bob Goodsell
'Twas the night before Baghdad, and through the White House
Not a Bushie was thinking, not even his spouse
The war maps were hung by the table with care
In hopes that Dick Cheney soon would be there.
The prez he was nestled all snug in his bed
While visions of 2004 danced in his head
With Condi on keyboard and Colin on bass
Rummy on vocals sang "Bush won't lose face!"
When out in the Rose Garden came such a noise
It had to be Rummy's destructive war toys
But what to our wondering noses we smelled
But a six-foot-six driver on one giant camel.
"Tell me," said Condi, "is that a llama?"
"No, token black woman! That is Osama!"
He hopped off his camel and gathered his rifle
Clearly this was someone with whom we won't trifle.
He walked to the door and went in front of us
He asked to be taken to the Oval Office
The Senate had some of its members in there
And when he arrived he gave them a scare.
"Out Daschle! Out Feinstein! Out Smiling Joe Lieberman!
Out Lott! Out Hatch! Out Schumer! Out Clinton!
You're self-serving pawns of the corporate swine
Selling your souls to the Bush-Cheney line.
"I wanted a war 'twixt Islam and West
You've given me everything! Thanks, you're the best!
Thanks Condi, thanks Rummy, and thanks Colin, too!
And when he wakes up, please thank W!"
He went to the warroom and smiled at the plans
"The hated Saddam is soon a dead man!
The world in turmoil will be fertile ground
For radical Islam to be spread around!"
And flipping a finger toward one and all
He laughed so hard that it shook down the wall
It made so much noise that the prez left his sack
And came down to ask "Is it time to attack?"
And back to the garden Osama did go
No chicken hawk stopped him as he walked out the do'
Not Rummy, not Condi, not one of the staff
Stopped Osama bin Laden or his terrible laugh.
Then George Bush the Senior entered the room
By reading his lips we all sensed the gloom
"You've tried your best, George, I'll give you that, son
But make no mistake: the terrorists have won."
As was the case I discussed on Monday about Bush's "serving during the Vietnam war", the nasty little sentence I quoted above ended the Times' article. Were these sentences perhaps tacked on by editors? Who suffers if Argentina pays off the debt? Millions of Argentines. Who suffers if they don't? Huge transnational banks. Whose side is the Times on? Reread the quote above.
- The bill, approved 299 to 121, would reverse an earlier measure and allow American companies that have moved offshore in order to evade taxes to contract with the Homeland Security Department. It would also extend protection against liability suits for airline screening companies and many other businesses that contract with the department, and adds a similar provision protecting the makers of smallpox vaccines. Great. After the government gives me a near-lethal injection, I won't be able to sue the drug company that made it.
- Republican House members elected Representative Tom DeLay of Texas, formerly the majority whip, to the new post of majority leader in the next session. The Exterminator, the most evil man in Congress, gets promoted.
- Senate Democrats also held their leadership elections today, unanimously choosing Senator Tom Daschle of South Dakota as chairman of the caucus. Thanks for helping W get us into this mess, Tom. Here's two more years to see how much more of the world you can flush down the toilet.
- Senators also voted 58 to 36 not to block their annual pay raise, which would increase their salaries by 3.1 percent to $154,700 to $150,000 next year. They'll probably pay for it with new tax cuts for the rich.
- In one last-minute addition, Representative Dick Armey, Republican of Texas, inserted a provision that was apparently intended to protect Eli Lilly, the pharmaceutical giant, from lawsuits over thimerosal, a mercury-based vaccine preservative that some parents contend has caused autism in their children. An Armey of one. Government should be protecting people from the giant corporations, not the other way around.
Yup. All of that crap in one article.
To me, the scariest part of Clinton's Lewinsky affair was the lengths to which he appeared willing to go to deny it. He was the perfect target for blackmail: the most powerful man in the world with a secret he doesn't want to get out. Who knows what deals he may have made during the year he tried to cover it up. Our current situation is even scarier: W appears willing to do just about anything to get his war with Iraq. We may not know for 25 years, if we ever do, what he gave away to get the votes of Russia, China, France, Mexico, and Syria(!!) for the latest Iraq resolution. We do know that he has basically sold out the hopes of rebels in Chechnya and in China's western provinces for support from the US. W's fanatical devotion would be scary even if it were for an honorable cause; one should never want anything this badly. That it is for a criminal and incomprehensible cause such as war with Iraq just boggles the mind.
Why are these men smiling?
They have just sold us down the river by helping "President" Bush create a Department of Homeland Security, our very own Gestapo. The bill has already passed the House, and is expected to pass the Senate by tomorrow. Here are some of the lowlights, from CNN:
- Creates a Cabinet-level department out of all or parts of 22 agencies -- including Customs, INS and the Transportation Security Administration -- with about 170,000 workers and a $37 billion budget.
- Grants the president flexibility to hire and fire workers, but gives unions a chance to challenge new rules.
- Approves a plan to allow pilots to carry guns in cockpits.
- Drops a provision to create an independent commission to investigate intelligence surrounding the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks.
And read what William Safire has to say about the worst part of the bill:
Every purchase you make with a credit card, every magazine subscription you buy and medical prescription you fill, every Web site you visit and e-mail you send or receive, every academic grade you receive, every bank deposit you make, every trip you book and every event you attend — all these transactions and communications will go into what the Defense Department describes as "a virtual, centralized grand database."
To this computerized dossier on your private life from commercial sources, add every piece of information that government has about you — passport application, driver's license and bridge toll records, judicial and divorce records, complaints from nosy neighbors to the F.B.I., your lifetime paper trail plus the latest hidden camera surveillance — and you have the supersnoop's dream: a "Total Information Awareness" about every U.S. citizen.
And this from Richard Nixon's old speechwriter. Imagine what Paul Wellstone would say. Basically, the bill says that we'll never really know what went wrong that allowed 9/11 to happen, since that would make most of the other fascist provisions of the bill unnecessary. Perhaps an independent investigation would have discovered that the Bush administration knew what was coming and ignored it since it would give them the green light they needed to grab Afghanistan, Iraq, and who knows where else. The recommendation might have been that impeachment was the only step needed to improve our security. To amend an old saying: Truth is the first casualty of Bush. And the next time you fly across the country, the government may be reviewing your travel plans and everything else you've ever done and decide to arrest you at the arrival gate. That is if your pilot hasn't shot you first.
Wednesday, November 13, 2002
As I said yesterday about the proposed CNN-ABC News merger, there is already way too much media consolidation. The only debate that should be going on now is how quickly and into how many thousands of pieces these monsters should be broken up.
- A bomb threat in Washington.
- Israelis are rocking the Casbah in Nablus.
- Pakistanis have apparently continued providing North Korea with nuclear technology since 9/11.
- Border Patrol starts random traffic stops in Michigan;
- Huge herbicide spraying in Colombia has killed a lot of coca plants--and lots of food crops, too. Not to mention the environmental and health disaster caused by carpet-spraying large areas of the earth's surface with poison. And...
- Osama's back!
Don't worry about OBL, though. Our military leaders are hot on his trail:
Speaking today in West Palm Beach, Fla., Gen. Tommy R. Franks, chief of the U.S. Central Command, said he did not know where bin Laden was, but was sure the al Qaeda leader was "having a bad year." Even his 5-year-old granddaughter asks him about bin Laden's whereabouts, Franks said. "I tell her, I don't know," he said. "But if he's alive, we'll certainly get him." Of course, it will have to wait until we're done killing 5-year-old granddaughters in Iraq in the name of peace. The world is "having a bad year."
The agreement gives the Bush administration a free hand to jettison Civil Service rules in promoting and firing workers in the new agency and allows the president to exempt unionized workers from collective-bargaining agreements in the name of national security.
Wonderful. Not only are unions flushed further down the toilet, it looks as though the Bushies will have full power to hire and fire agency employees. So some border cop or Coast Guard officer who takes the Constitution a little too seriously can be out of work on a moment's notice, and good luck finding another decent job in this economy. Doubleplusungood! (Reminder: Orwell's "1984" is pretty much required reading for understanding this blog. It is also required reading for understanding what the Bushies are doing. You can probably still buy a copy at a used book store that won't show up on an FBI computer somewhere.)
Tuesday, November 12, 2002
Also, if you saw any of Liddy Dole's victory speech in North Carolina, you'll realize why Bob Dole needs Pfizer's most famous product, and lots of it. Just think--in one house, a senator-elect and a senator-erect.
Monday, November 11, 2002
Oh yeah? Where? Is he going back to World War II with Germany and Japan? Have any of our many military interventions since resulted in "self-governing and prosperous nations?" In many of them, we fought WITH evil regimes (Vietnam, El Salvador, Afghanistan). The truth is, Bush probably doesn't know the history, and he doesn't care. Worst president ever.
That's right, you can download a free first-person shoot-em-up game, "America's Army," from the US Army website.
As I've ranted about before, water is the BIG ISSUE for the 21st century. Corporations are already grabbing up as much as they can, while more and more fresh water is polluted by chemicals and animal feed lots or depleted by irrigation and global warming. While we can live without oil, and in many ways life would be more pleasant, we can't live without water, and there are shortages occurring throughout the world, including within the US. A responsible government, something we haven't had for a long time, would put an immediate stop to frivolous and wasteful uses of water: golf courses, suburban lawns, feed lots, and many others.
The "Politics in the Zeros" weblog has an ongoing page of water-related stories and links.
Still more media consolidation? CNN and ABC?The implications are staggering. This Week with Wolf and Cokie? Puff the Media Dragon, sung by Peter, Paula and Barbara? Christiane Amanpour and Mickey Mouse live on location at George H.W. Bush Air Force Base in suburban Baghdad? And there are already ties between Disney (ABC) and GE (NBC) through MSN (Microsoft). The Soviet Union had Tass and Pravda; soon we will have only CNN-ABC-MSNBC and CBS-Fox to choose from, each trying to outdo the other in crime and war coverage.
Media consolidation is one of the main problems in the country and world today, but instead of taking steps to reverse it, it is being allowed, even encouraged, to continue.
By February or March, the U.S. media will likely be flooded with dire warnings about the threat to the world from Iran. Israel's American lobby will turn its guns from Iraq to Iran. "Links" will surely be "discovered" between Iran and al-Qaida. The cookie-cutter pattern that worked for whipping up war psychosis against Iraq should work just as well against Iran, Syria or Saudi Arabia - and win the next national election. -- Eric Margolis from Toronto says that Iran is the real target of the Iraq war for both the US and Israel. The case against Iran should be easier to make than that against Iraq, since there will actually be some truth to the "supports terrorism" charges and since Iran's weapons of mass destruction program is further along than Iraq's, not having been hampered by 11 years of inspections, sanctions and bombing. While targeting Iran doesn't make sense to me, having it as the main target provides a better explanation for the first two W wars, especially Afghanistan. Of course, 9/11 provided the excuse for Afghanistan, although 9/11 could have been used with at least as much justification as a reason to attack Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Germany, or Florida. These would have been politically more difficult, since of these only Florida has leadership as evil as the Taliban, but lots of Americans have parents and grandparents living there, so bombing Tampa instead of Kandahar would have been a tough sell. The fact that Afghanistan had no military with a chance of competing with the Pentagon also contributed to the decision. But seen in the light of creating an Iran on Afghan-Iraqi bread sandwich, the choices of Afghanistan and Iraq as the first two W wars makes more sense. Sure don't make it right, though.
Sunday, November 10, 2002
In the Post-Corporate World I refine the analysis to argue that the problem is not the market as such but more specifically capitalism, which is to a healthy market economy what cancer is to a healthy body. Cancer occurs when genetic damage causes a cell to forget that it is part of a larger body, the healthy function of which is essential to its own survival. The cell begins to seek its own growth without regard to the consequences for the whole, and ultimately destroys the body that feeds it. As I learned more about the course of cancer's development within the body, I came to realize that the reference to capitalism as a cancer is less a metaphor than a clinical diagnosis of a pathology to which market economies are prone in the absence of adequate citizen and governmental oversight. Our hope for the future is to restore the health of our democracies and market economies by purging them of the pathology.
When dealing with a cancer of the body, containment is rarely an adequate strategy. To become healthy, one needs a curative regime designed to remove or kill the defective cells. Some combination of surgical removal with measures to weaken the cancer cells and strengthen the body's natural defenses is likely to be appropriate. There is a strong parallel to the task now before us. Curing the capitalist cancer to restore democracy, the market, and our human rights and freedoms will require virtually eliminating the institution of the limited-liability for-profit public corporation as we know it to create a post-corporate world through actions such as the following:
- End the legal fiction that corporations are entitled to the rights of persons and exclude corporations from political participation;
- Implement serious political campaign reform to reduce the influence of money on politics;
- Eliminate corporate welfare by eliminating direct subsidies and recovering other externalized costs through fees and taxes;
- Implement mechanisms to regulate international corporations and finance; and
- Use fiscal and regulatory policy to make financial speculation unprofitable and to give an economic advantage to human-scale, stakeholder-owned enterprises.
I have no illusions that removal of the capitalist cancer will be easily accomplished. Rarely is cancer in any of its manifestations easily cured.
On the other hand, I see no realistic prospect for the amicable coexistence of life and capitalism. They represent ways of being and valuing as antithetical to one another as the coexistence of cancer cells and healthy cells. Any seeming accomodation between them is inherently unstable and most likely to be resolved in favor of the cancer. On a small and crowded planet with a finite life-support system, our choice as a species is basically between life after capitalism and severe global-scale social and environmental collapse.
As noted crusty and ruthless and largely unpleasant former Clinton adviser James Carville observed just after the election, "The American people just don't have a clue as to what's coming."
If you are female, gay, bisexual, atheist, black, immigrant, poor, progressive, intellectual, open minded, open hearted, if you hold alternative views, dress funny, dance, enjoy sex, read seditious literature, believe in peace and funky spirituality and don't particularly care for a sneering angry self-righteous well-armed anti-everything deity, you are about to find out. The hard way. And so is everyone else.
If that's not depressing enough, you can read the whole article.
How is it that Jeb Bush and Florida won't let convicts who have served their time (five years for a few ounces of marijuana, for instance) even vote, while his brother George allows convicts like Poindexter, Elliot Abrams (director of the National Security Council’s office for democracy, human rights and international operations), and John Negroponte (ambassador to the UN) to have high positions in government? Poindexter, by the way, didn't go to prison because he testified against the other two, who didn't go to prison because Poppy Bush pardoned them.
BTW, read what a Canadian Member of Parliament had to say about W's appointment of Abrams last year.
Saturday, November 09, 2002
At the very least, the Times could insert a sentence like this: "War appears imminent now that Mr. Bush's campaign of lies, distortions and intimidation has given him approval from the US Congress and the UN Security Council to proceed with this criminal endeavor."
Estimates ranged from 450,000 to 1 million. I think it's about time for marches this big here. Take to the streets. Repeat as needed.
Birds of a feather:
Reporter: Mr. Bush, did you know about 9/11 before it happened?
Reporter: What about all those innocent civilians killed in Afghanistan?
Reporter: Tell us about your Harken stock sale.
Reporter: Who did the vice president talk to to come up with that insane energy policy, anyway?
Reporter: And whatever happened to Osama bin Laden?
W: Iraq. (waddle, waddle)
Friday, November 08, 2002
"I need to be able to move the right people to the right place at the right time to protect you, and I'm not going to accept a lousy bill out of the United Nations Senate."—South Bend, Ind., Oct. 31, 2002
(I was in South Bend the very next day, and I didn't say anything nearly that stupid, but Bush's candidate won anyway. This world sucks.)
"John Thune has got a common-sense vision for good forest policy. I look forward to working with him in the United Nations Senate to preserve these national heritages."
"Any time we've got any kind of inkling that somebody is thinking about doing something to an American and something to our homeland, you've just got to know we're moving on it, to protect the United Nations Constitution, and at the same time, we're protecting you."—Aberdeen, S.D., same day (Thanks to George Dupper.)
You've just got to know that the Democrats had to be awfully resourceful to avoid coming up with campaign rhetoric that could beat this nonsense.
The group, and Webber specifically, was involved in one of the most memorable plays in N.C.A.A. basketball history — and one of the most painful for Michigan fans. In the 1993 championship game against North Carolina, Michigan was trailing by 2 points with 11 seconds left when Webber called a timeout, but the Wolverines had none to take. That resulted in a technical foul and an automatic change of possession. The Tar Heels won by 77-71.
So, if you look real hard, you can find a silver lining in this cloud. Since Webber shouldn't have been there, the game never happened, so he couldn't call a timeout he didn't have because there are no technical fouls in non-games. Michigan fans can stop pulling their hair out over that one now.
Still looking for a silver lining in Republican control of Congress. Nothin' yet...
-- from the Cogent Provocateur blog.
Thursday, November 07, 2002
One other note of interest (at least to me). I had pointed out before that there were connections between Gulf War I and pretty much every terrorist attack against the US since then--the first WTC attack, Oklahoma City, the African embassy bombings, the Cole, and 9/11 of course. I also noted that John Allen Muhammed, one of the sniper suspects, was a Gulf War I vet. In "Bowling for Columbine" they mentioned that the father of Eric Harris, one of the Columbine shooters, was a bomber pilot in Gulf War I. Violence begets violence, and the cities of this country are going to be more like Jerusalem than Toronto after Gulf War II starts in earnest. And I'm not sure that terrorism (as the Bushies like to call the small-scale warfare of our enemies who don't have countries) is our main concern. Our naked imperialistic grab for the world's resources will not go on for long without waking the Russian bear and the Chinese dragon, and 9/11 will be recalled, by those of us who survive, as a quaint little incident by comparison. Of course, I hope I'm wrong.
This is the real source of the Republican victory, not mass support for Bush and his right-wing program. The picture presented by the media of a people enthralled by their war-time leader is absurd. Working people in America have not suddenly and unaccountably decided that they passionately desire war, tax cuts for the wealthy, handouts to corporate interests, and the destruction of jobs and public social services. -- from the World Socialist Web Site: US midterm election: the meaning of the Democratic debacle.
Wednesday, November 06, 2002
Except for here in Michigan, yesterday was pretty much a total disaster. The idiots have won. Even Harvey Pitt's resignation can't brighten the day, since with the Republitrons controlling the Senate there will be no stopping W from appointing someone even worse. Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you the new head of the SEC, Ken Lay! Coleman's win in Minnesota proves that crime does pay. And Democrats selling out on the Iraq war resolution wasn't a great election strategy, its total immorality aside. Of those who voted for war, Senators Carnahan and Cleland are out, while the re-elections of Johnson and Landrieu are still in doubt. While Senators Baucus, Biden, Harkin, Kerry and Rockefeller were re-elected after voting for war, Senators Durbin, Levin and Reed were re-elected after voting against it. The only senator who voted against war who won't be returning is Paul Wellstone, and they had to kill him to accomplish that. Vote for war: between 2 and 4 out of 9 Democratic incumbents rejected by voters. Vote against war: 3 of 3 Democratic incumbents returned to Senate by voters. Mr. Daschle's "leadership" has led him out of the Senate majority leader position.
Tuesday, November 05, 2002
And to borrow a schtick from Dave Barry: "Agent Bob and the Guerilla Democrats" would be a great name for a rock band.
Remember "pick a number," a method for picking who bats first or some other either/or decision? To pick a winner between two people, a third person says "I'm thinking of a number between 1 and 100." He then asks one of the two to take a guess and then the other, with the closest guess winning. At some point in your childhood you perhaps were impressed when the guessing went like this. A: 19. B: 20. B has realized that by picking 20 that he now has an 80% chance of winning, since any number between 20 and 100 will be closer to 20 than 19. I wish I could say that I figured this out myself and used it before seeing anyone else do it, but at least I recognized it when it happened. It seemed pretty brilliant at the time, but I realize now that its success depended on certain assumptions. The first assumption is that all numbers between 1 and 100 are equally likely. If the person picking the number was a three year old who could only count to 30 (he's heard rumors of 100, but doesn't know anything about it), 18 is probably a better guess for B than 20. The second assumption is that there are only two contestants. If a third person C is involved, 60 is probably a better guess than 20.
So, if haven't already seen where this metaphor is leading, allow me to (metaphorically) beat you over the head with it. The person picking the number represents the range of political positions in the American public--1 is far right, 100 is far left. A is the Republicans, B is the Democrats, and C is the Greens or other third parties. Both A and B have realized that their chances are improved by not allowing C to pick a number, so they do everything they can (which is a lot) to prevent that from happening. B, the Democrats, think they are pretty smart, picking 20 to the Republicans 19, figuring everyone to the left of 20 will vote Democratic. The problem is that by debating between 19 and 20 and excluding anyone who would pick higher numbers, the voting public has become like the kid who can only count to 30. Many are deceived that the Democrats are actually liberal, while others are up in the 70's and 80's, from which no real difference between A and B is discernable, so they don't vote at all. The Democrats, considering themselves brilliant by picking 20, have actually put themselves at a disadvantage by helping the Republicans reduce it to a game of 1 to 30. And any Democrat who starts to figure this out gets killed in a plane crash.
Monday, November 04, 2002
Sunday, November 03, 2002
Saturday, November 02, 2002
. So if you want judges who will rule in favor of polluters and corporate crooks while declaring the rest of us enemy combatants without rights, stay home on Tuesday and let W get his way. But if you want to see at least a glimmer of hope for the future, do everything you can in the next three days to make Tuesday's vote a clear referendum against Bush and his evil ways. Find a close race near you and volunteer (I went to South Bend, Indiana yesterday to work for Democrat Jill Long Thompson), or make some phone calls to get out the vote in Oregon. Show Bush that the majority of us are voting against him--again.