Bob's Links and Rants

Welcome to my rants page! You can contact me by e-mail: Blog roll. Site feed.

Saturday, November 30, 2002

Parallel Legal System: The Bushies are apparently formalizing the "enemy combatants" system for disappearing people they don't like. Once again, Ted Olson is at the center of it, arguing that if the president says so that certain people, even American citizens, have no rights at all. Decades, even centuries of laws, protections and procedures have been overturned in less than two years thanks to our un-elected president and his useful sidekick Osama bin Laden.
They've gone too far this time! If there's anything that's more of a sign of the decay of our culture than the latest "fad" toys like "Tickle Me Elmo" it's the "Chicken Dance," the basically obscene flapping and wiggling spasm which seems to be a favorite of thinness-challenged women at sporting events. Now Fisher-Price says: "Let's do both!"

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

Ted Rall on Poindexter's Total Information Awareness.
Millions expressed their support for sweatshop labor, low-wage jobs and environmental destruction today by shopping early and often.

I think that picture can be engraved on America's tombstone.

Just Say NO! to GMO's: CNN reports that "GM mutants as toxic as parent plants," to quote the cool headline (I like it when mainstream media uses "GM", "mutants" and "toxic" in the same headline!). The report says that a study at the University of North Carolina shows that the offspring of genetically-modified canola cross-pollinated with natural (non-GM) canola inherit the insecticide characteristics of the GM plants. The study supports claims by Canadians and others that GMO's spread their bizarre traits throughout nature, creating "superweeds" which are unnaturally toxic to insects. This can very quickly lead to huge imbalances in the ecology, not just by killing certain insects, but also by allowing plants that they eat to grow out of control, and by depriving birds, frogs and other animals that eat the insects of food. The sneaky, cynical, and absolutely immoral methods used by Monsanto and their Republican lackeys to push GMO's on the world as quickly as possible are already having disastrous consequences, and it will get much worse unless it is stopped very soon.

Thursday, November 28, 2002

Bushies turn Karzai's security over to flesh-peddling, drug-running, missionary-killing, peasant-poisoning campaign contributors. Dyncorp, a private military organization, is now guarding Afghan president Hamid Karzai. Dyncorp was implicated in a prostitution ring in Bosnia, narcotics trafficking in Columbia, shooting down a plane carrying a Baptist missionary and her daughter in Peru, and spraying peasants in Ecuador with toxic chemicals. See Body and Soul for details.

Wednesday, November 27, 2002

The bill requires the federal government to pay 90 percent of the cost of an attack by foreign terrorists after losses are greater than $10 billion, up to a total of $100 billion. The government will pay a smaller amount for losses less than $10 billion. -- from the NY Times. So the government is going to war with Iraq, at the cost of $100 to $200 billion, which will greatly increase the likelihood of terror attacks, for which the government may pay another $100 billion. Meanwhile, the Bushies are requiring that schools deemed "failing" offer transfers to "better" schools, even if those schools are already full. According to the article, 8600 schools were identified as failing last summer. Let's do the math: Say $200 billion for a combination of Gulf War II and the resultant terror attacks divided by 8600 failing schools--that's over $23 million per school. Assuming say 500 students per school, that's $46,500 per student, or about the cost of one teacher for a year. Or one teacher for a class of twelve for an entire twelve-year education. Of course, with that much education, a lot of Americans might know where Iraq is and wonder why Bush is so worried about it.

A new Pentagon strategy aimed at luring terrorists into committing acts of terrorism has been recommended to Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld by the Defense Science Board (DSB). The "DSB Summer Study on Special Operations and Joint Forces in Support of Countering Terrorism" claims that since the global war on terrorism "requires new strategies, postures and organization," it was advocating the creation of a super-Intelligence Support Activity, called the "Proactive, Preemptive Operations Group (P2OG)."
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..."
Right-wing media gets Gored. Tom Tomorrow says he's beginning to like the new Al Gore, and I'm beginning to agree with him. Gore appears willing to call an elephant an elephant, even though that elephant may have the ability to totally crush his chances for 2004:

"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."

I have jokingly said that Bush would probably appoint Ken Lay to succeed Harvey Pitt at the SEC. But now he's put Henry Kissinger in charge of the 9/11 investigation. Has the moron no shame?

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.

First they came for the Muslims, and I didn't speak
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

GEORGE Bush's top security adviser last night admitted the US would attack Iraq even if UN inspectors fail to find weapons. Dr Richard Perle stunned MPs by insisting a "clean bill of health" from UN chief weapons inspector Hans Blix would not halt America's war machine. Evidence from ONE witness on Saddam Hussein's weapons programme will be enough to trigger a fresh military onslaught, he told an all- party meeting on global security. -- from the Mirror in England.

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.

It takes one to pardon one!

A female turkey pardons President Bush for being such a moron.

from Don Wright in Florida.
I don't trust this at all. The Bushies are pushing this huge smallpox vaccination plan, even though the only known smallpox viruses in the world are at the CDC in Atlanta and under the control of Bush's buddy Putin in Russia. Just as with anthrax, the most likely source of a smallpox attack on the US is from within the US. The vaccinations can be used to protect their friends while the disease weeds out the opposition, or they could end up being simply lethal injections. Even if the Bushies' intentions are strictly honorable, a massive vaccination program like this would be an ideal method for a terror attack. Keep that needle away from me!


By Senator John Ashcroft

No foolin'. In '97, Ashcrotch was in favor of freedom of speech on the Internet. Thanks to Tom Tomorrow for the link.

Monday, November 25, 2002

The new Miranda warning:
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.

Listening to what Osama said: This article says that it is just as important to hear the message in OBL's statements as it is to know if it is really him. He is threatening to retaliate for our future actions, starting with war in Iraq. Continued aggression on our part assures continued aggression on his. A cautious, restrained approach may not guarantee our safety from future attacks, but the wreckless approach being pursued now certainly guarantees that we won't be safe any time soon, if ever.
As a matter of both foreign and environmental policy, it makes a lot more sense to lay rail, promote renewable energy and get serious about conserving oil. We subsidize the hell out of the oil bidness with innumerable tax breaks, loopholes and support programs. For heaven's sake, why not support renewable energy, instead? Why should we ask our military to die for cheap oil when the rest of us aren't even being asked to get better mileage? -- from Molly Ivins.
President Bush's spokesman (sorry Ari) praised Saudi Arabia on Monday as a "good partner in the war on terrorism.'' -- from AP. Ari is probably right on this one. Without the Saudis, the war on terrorism would have been neither possible nor necessary.
Media consolidation, restricted access: AOL Time-Warner is considering restricting access to the online version of Time magazine to AOL customers only. The Internet has been the one bright spot for information as control of radio, TV and print media have been consolidating into fewer and fewer hands. That these same corporations are now controlling many of the delivery and content providers of the Internet means that the wide-open choices currently available on the Internet are going to be restricted more and more. Instead of practically unlimited access, we will have a few channels to choose from, just like cable TV. Somehow I don't think any of the big ISP's (AOL, Comcast/AT&T, Time-Warner Cable) will be featuring the "Bob's Links and Rants" channel. Of course, I won't have much to say then because I won't have access to the World Socialist Web Site, Common Dreams, other blogs, and many of my other sources.
Chess Champions on peace:
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

Not waiting for their Washington bureaucracy to be completed, the Gestapo is already taking names. W claims (falsely) that the terrorists "hate us for our freedoms." Is this why he is so intent on taking those freedoms away? As this goes on, it will be harder and more dangerous to take a stand against this repression. We need to mobilize as many as we can to speak out as soon as possible, or we'll end up just like the Soviet Union. Speak now or forever live in fear.

Where is this?

  1. Nigeria
  2. Bethlehem
  3. Haifa
  4. 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

These then are the self-appointed liberators of Iraq—advocates of imperialist aggression and germ warfare, former war criminals and corrupt union bureaucrats. Nothing could provide a clearer indication of the criminal character of the war of aggression that Washington is preparing. -- from the WSWS.

The Bush health care plan: Ted Rall again!
Hey guys! While you've been swatting at flies in Afghanistan, the Philippines and elsewhere, the 800-pound gorilla has been tossing turds at you the whole time! The joint congressional committee investigating 9/11 says that the FBI and CIA did not aggressively pursue leads that might have linked the terrorists to Saudi Arabia, according to an article in today's NY Times. The article seems to indicate that the lack of pursuit of leads leading to Saudi Arabia occurred both before 9/11 and since. Just further evidence that the "war on terrorism" is just a cover for carrying out oil grabs and imperial conquests. But the gorilla shouldn't be too complacent. Once Iraq is under US control, the Bushies will have much less need for Saudi oil or support. They will then begin their demonizing of Saudi Arabia, and they won't have to lie nearly as much, especially about terrorist connections.

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

I must confess, I just don't get this one. A paper in Nigeria said that that if the Prophet Mohammed were alive, he would consider marrying one of the Miss World contestants. And over 100 people are dead because of this. I mean, isn't this sort of along the lines of "What would Jesus drive?" I don't know that much about Islam, but the paper's suggestion might be a little silly or every so vaguely blasphemous, but to kill people over it? I mean, take a chill pill! And if anyone is offended by what I'm saying, remember that I confessed up front that I don't get it. And please don't kill anyone over it!
Hu's on first? Hilarious!
Canada's prime minister has refused to accept the resignation of his communications director for calling Bush "a moron." While the story is headline news in Canada, I find nothing at all about it on the CNN, NY Times, or Washington Post websites. Hit a little too close to home, I guess. Can't let that particular idea become a part of the public debate. (Tonight on the O'Reilly factor: Is the President a Moron? We'll look in depth and have a lively discussion on the topic, and will be taking your calls.) By comparison, the comment from a German cabinet member a few months about Bush using methods that Hitler used got a lot of play. To a reasonable person, of which there seem to be precious few these days, the Canadian remark is more of an insult than the German one. Any national leader, no matter how good or absolutely stupefyingly atrocious, will by necessity end up using some of Hitler's methods: delegating authority, giving speeches, etc. There is no reason, however, why a national leader has to be a moron. We're just lucky, I guess.

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.

"There is nothing new here," said Eric Ruff, a spokesman for Interior Secretary Gale A. Norton, "and what is new is better." -- from the NY Times in an article about Bushie approval for drilling two new gas wells in Padre Island National Seashore. A line worthy of W himself.

Thursday, November 21, 2002

O Canada!! A top Canadian official called W a "moron" at the NATO summit. Politics in the Zeros has more.
A medical examiner in Minnesota has determined that the pilots in the crash of Sen. Paul Wellstone's plane were killed by the impact, according to AP. Actually, from reading the article it appears that he arrived at this conclusion by ruling out just two other possibilities: they were killed by the fire (no soot in windpipes) or they were shot (no bullet holes). While I am somewhat encouraged that he at least considered the possibility of foul play, I don't see that he ruled out my
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 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.
Welcome to the American Gestapo. Article from Common Dreams.
Sources told CNN it's still unclear whether the incident was an individual act or linked to terrorism. -- Two US soldiers were shot by a cop in Kuwait. I've read several definitions of "terrorism," but apparently neither CNN or their "sources" are familiar with them. Generally, the definition says that terrorism is an act of violence against civilians for political purposes and/or to foment fear in the general population. So there is no way that this was terrorism, even if the "cop" was Osama bin Laden himself. The attack was on soldiers, and while it almost certainly had a political motive it is unlikely to cause fear among the general population. And, it has absolutely nothing to do with whether it was an individual act or not. I may be being a bit too picky on semantics, but this is one of those Orwellian methods being used so commonly these days. By never being clear about what is meant by "terrorism" the powers that be are able to manipulate it endlessly for their own purposes, which they have, big time.
Most 18-24 year-old Americans can't locate Afghanistan, Iraq or Israel on a map. 30% can't find the Pacific Ocean. Read the dismal stats and take the quiz yourself at the National Geographic web site. Of course, most 18-24 year-olds didn't vote in the election, either. Which is worse, ignorance or apathy? Let's do both, dude!
From CNN: Sharp and "shrill" commentary from some talk show hosts has led to increased threats against public officials, Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle said Wednesday, counting himself among those who have received such threats.
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.

"You saw it on the news, now see how it really was." -- An ad for a new ABC TV movie about the coal miners in Pennsylvania who were rescued a few months ago. P.L.A. (another blog) points out that this quote shows exactly what ABC thinks of its own news department.
Bob Herbert's latest column describes the massive fiscal crisis facing state governments throughout the country. Neither state Republicans nor the Bush administration seem willing to address this issue. What does it really mean? Further loss of local control. The Bushies will be treating bankrupt states the same way the World Bank treats Argentina--restructuring. In order to get any federal money, states will be forced to lay off workers, lower wages, sell public utilities and other functions to transnational corporations. "We've got all these wars to fight: we can't afford to bail out both Michigan AND Ohio. Which one is willing to give in to our requests more completely? Which one has arrested the most terrorists this month? Which one has repealed the most environmental and labor laws? Which one has the Republican governor?" (uh-oh)

from Bruce Plante.

from Steve Benson.

Wednesday, November 20, 2002

Bumper stickers for SUV's. I sent the guy running the website an e-mail a challenge to sticker one of these.
It's deja vu all over again. In November 1990, President Bush went to Prague to make his case for going to war against Iraq. In November 2002, President Bush went to Prague to make his case for going to war against Iraq. The excuses are just as bad, the rhetoric even more muddled, the real reasons still the same: oil and world domination. At least this time it's not quite as much our fault: we actually elected the first President Bush.

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.

Announcing the Who's More Paranoid Than Me? Contest: Manufacturers are planning to put tiny radio-frequency ID tags (RFID) on every item they produce. These 96-bit tags are "somewhere between the size of a grain of sand and a speck of dust" and may cost less than 1 cent to produce. Like UPC's on steroids, these will differentiate between each different item on the shelf, not just every type of item. Everything you buy will be linked to you, assuming you use a credit card, a supermarket "bonus" card, or happen to be wearing or carrying anything that has already been linked to you. Anytime you walk near a scanner your identity and everything you are wearing or carrying will be identified. And scanners will be all over: stores, airports, highways, stadiums. I'm guessing that the only manufactured products that they're not planning on identifying are guns and bullets.

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 Probably every response will be posted, and the winner will have the joy of knowing that he or she didn't come in second.
VietNam was the last time Americans were allowed to see what REALLY happens in a war. And because of the draft it happened to THEM. If you think about it, this means that no one under about 45 really understands that war is anything other than a TV show. It's like the meat in supermarkets - it comes in a nice clean package.

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.
Two unusual but cool hobbies meet by the bay in California:

Kite aerial photography meets shopping cart sculpture. See for more.

A Byrd in the Senate is worth more than two Bushes in the White House.
Before the Gestapo (aka Homeland Security) bill passed, this was the message:
"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.
Gestapo Bill Passes. Thanks to courageous Michigan senator Carl Levin for being one of only nine to vote against it. Only nine! The Senate doesn't like us, folks. The House hates us. The President ignores us. They all love that campaign cash that poured in from the corporations, and that's who they represent now.

Tuesday, November 19, 2002

So many places not to shop, so few things to buy: Office Max is notifying authorities of suspicious copying jobs. Maybe we should organize a "Make Office Max Look Stupid(er)" campaign. We make up a flier that looks subversive but has fine print in it to make it actually some super-patriotic nonsense. We get people dressed as Arabs to go to every Office Max in the country and ask to make 25 copies of the flier, and see how many times the cops get called.

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 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.

Natives who beat drums to drive off evil spirits are objects of scorn to smart Americans who blow horns to break up traffic jams -- Mary Ellen Kelly. Like the Jefferson quote below, this one comes from Sam Smith's quote page. Beware: once you go there, it's hard to get out.
The country is headed toward a single and splendid government of an aristocracy founded on banking institutions and monied incorporations and if this tendency continues it will be the end of freedom and democracy, the few will be ruling and riding over the plundered plowman and the beggar . . . I hope we shall take warning from the example of England and crush in its birth the aristocracy of our moneyed corporations which dare already to challenge our government to trial and bid defiance to the laws of our country. I sincerely believe that banking establishments are more dangerous than standing armies. -- Thomas Jefferson.

Pork Barrel Security: The Senate defeated an amendment to the "Homeland Security" bill which would have removed the pork-barrel crap thrown into it by House Republicans last week, such as the provisions allowing the new Gestapo to buy from US companies which have moved their headquarters offshore to avoid taxes, and the one exempting Eli Lilly from being sued for causing autism in children. So if, as expected, the Gestapo bill passes the Senate tonight, it won't be simply terrible. It will be really, really, really terrible. Might want to call those senators one more time to tell them that you don't want John Ashcroft peeking in your windows. And that when corporations poison children, they should be made to pay.

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.
First moderately positive thing I've read in a while, from the Salt Lake Tribune.

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.
Homer, how could you? Homer J. Simpson has been spotted shilling for serial animal murderer and artery clogger, Burger King. C'mon, Homer, don't have a cow, man! We are expecting a statement from daughter Lisa at any moment.

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?
The spoils of war: Paul Krugman's latest.

from Boondocks.

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.

It's our only planet, and every mile we drive contributes to its destruction. An oil tanker carrying 800,000 gallons of oil just broke in two off the coast of Spain, threatening a major ecological disaster. Every trip to the gas pump gives more money to Exxon-Mobil or one of the other evildoers, who then use it to make campaign contributions to Bush or one of the other evildoers, who then continue to start wars around the world to keep the gas flowing at the pump. Remember: Friends Don't Let Friends Drive. (A bumperless sticker)
Another victory for Ashcroft, another loss for us: Court Overturns Limits on Wiretaps to Combat Terror. It's already bad; it's getting worse; there's no end in sight. Worst attorney general ever.

Monday, November 18, 2002

True Cost Groceries: from the fine folks at Adbusters.

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!
Michigan Coach Has Safety Concerns: I guess U of M's football coach Lloyd Carr agrees with me about the caliber of football fans these days.

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?
More from Woodward/60 Minutes:
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!!!
Winner of the creepy logo contest:

John Poindexter and the Information Awareness Office. (Read William Safire's column from last week for info on the IAO.)
Here's a quote I found on Sam Smith's wonderful quote page:
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...
Tom Tomorrow cites several articles about the "success" of W's first war, Afghanistan. (Massive sarcasticons here. Is there an e-mail shorthand for sarcasm, along the lines of :-), :-(, or LOL? If not, could someone make one up for me? I would use it a lot.)
"Liberal" Nancy Pelosi voted for the Homeland Security Department bill. The WSWS summarizes the numerous dangers to civil rights included in this fascist nonsense. And the Democratic "leadership" is quietly selling our country. I saw Pelosi talking with Tim Russert on Meet the Press yesterday (transcript). Here are some choice quotes from Pelosi:
  • 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.
Most of the rest is such doubletalk that I can't find quotes that say anything at all. Pelosi is our hope for getting our country back? I'm afraid not.
States and cities are going broke, kids are hungry, water shortages appearing everywhere, and our government's number one priority is to destroy further a poor country on the other side of the planet. Massive mobilizations of equipment and personnel, ill-advised bribes and promises to foreign governments (including Axis of Evil charter member Iran). Expenses in the billions. Plus the billions more for "homeland security" that this cowboy foreign "policy" requires. Struggling to find a conclusion, I'll make it multiple choice:
  1. How many domestic problems could be fixed completely with this level of effort and expense?
  2. 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.
  3. This money could fund hundreds of sewage and water treatment plants around the world, saving millions from dysentery, cholera and other nasty diseases.
  4. Worst president ever.
(Hint: there are no wrong answers.)

Sunday, November 17, 2002

Mandatory Loyalty Oath in Pennsylvania schools? CNN reports that the state senate passed a bill that all students in public and private school must either recite the "Pledge of Allegiance" or sing the National Anthem every school day. I'd have to choose the National Anthem, because it really doesn't say anything--just one big question: Hey Jose, is that flag still there, man? Plus those "rockets red glare" and "bombs bursting in air" are a much more accurate description of our country these days than is "liberty and justice for all."
The only thing warnings this vague are good for is providing political cover in case of disaster. They offer no specific information about the location, timing or method of attack, and are all but useless to the average citizen, or even to local law enforcement officers. If there is another terror strike, however, we can be sure that the White House, Federal Bureau of Investigation and Central Intelligence Agency will be quick to remind everyone that they saw it coming this time and did their best to prevent it. -- from a NY Times Editorial.

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.

from Slowpoke, a great weekly strip from Jen Sorensen.
Get your repression all lined up early: US Agencies are tracking Iraqis here in the US in case they decide to try to terrorize our country when we start (continue) terrorizing theirs.

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.
The worst and the best: Ann Arbor and the University of Michigan are a study in contrasts (much like this blog is a study in cliches). The city is mostly liberal, with a city council willing to pass living wage ordinances and political statements like opposition to war with Iraq (I hope). The University has world-famous experts on every conceivable subject, is a hotbed of research, and is a place where lectures and discussions on the latest topics take place daily.

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

A government lawyer argued that bird lovers benefit when the military kills birds because "bird watchers get more enjoyment spotting a rare bird than they do spotting a common one." -- from the LA Times via Politics in the Zeros. Your government: making nature rare so you'll appreciate it more. It's more than bad enough when the government isn't zealous in pursuing the protection of the environment and human rights. It is downright criminal when they are zealously pursuing the destruction of the environment and human rights. Maybe we can pass an initiative to have all lawyers who have been appointed by the Bushies be declared enemy combatants.
The United States currently faces as grave a threat to its founding principles of democracy, equality and justice as it has seen in more than two centuries. Al Qaeda isn't the danger, though the seeds for future terrorism are being planted today by American foreign policy. The peril derives from a remarkable coalescing of a shortsighted, ill-tempered president advised by authoritarian ideologues, a frightened, passive populace, a lazy, compliant media and the abdication of meaningful political opposition in order to temper those leaders' most extreme impulses. That lethal combination has led to a vicious right-wing power grab, curtailed civil liberties and led to the U.S. being viewed by other nations as an out-of-control rogue state which needs to be appeased because of its arsenal rather than respected for its good sense.

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
WTO and CIA are the real terrorists of the world today! -- Chant from WTO protesters in Sydney, Australia, reported in the NY Times.
Gore already was making political news. On Wednesday night, he told a New York audience he has "reluctantly come to the conclusion" that the only solution to the "impending crisis" in health care is a "single-payer national health insurance plan" for all Americans. -- from the Washington Post. Interesting development--maybe Gore is becoming a Democrat (reluctantly).

Thursday, November 14, 2002

And if, one caller queried, no weapons of mass destruction were found by U.N. weapons inspectors inside Iraq?

"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").

My niece has her own blog now! Check it out!
I'm reposting my "Night Before Baghdad" poem with a minor modification due to the honorable anti-war votes of Senators Boxer and Levin. Unfortunately, there were plenty of others to take their place. I gave the "honor" to Senators Feinstein and Schumer as their votes were probably most at odds with the desires of their constituents (Feinstein admitted as much):

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."

Paying only the interest on the loan is not enough to avoid Argentina entering into default -- a move that relegates it to a club of debt deadbeats that includes Iraq and Zimbabwe. -- from the NY Times, showing extreme callousness to one of the largest victims of globalization to date. Argentina has repeatedly swallowed the painful medicine prescribed by the World Bank, the IMF, and the US government (pretending for the moment that there is some difference between the three), only to find itself in its worst economic crisis yet. And the supposedly liberal "newspaper of record" chides it for being a "debt deadbeat," and not on the editorial page, either. And I wonder why Iraq might have defaulted. Could it be that the world's most powerful country has bombed, blockaded and threatened it for twelve years running?

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.

Daschle Questions Progress in War on Terrorism: A little late, Tom. The election was last week.
Thirteen members of the Security Council were opposed to this resolution or deeply skeptical, but Washington used intense pressure and eventually bent them to its will. The U.S. used hardball diplomacy of the type deployed to gain the first Gulf War resolution in 1990. The Secretary of State at that time, James Baker, later described in his autobiography how he lined up votes for resolution 678: 'I met personally with all my Security Council counterparts in an intricate process of cajoling, extracting, threatening, and occasionally buying votes. Such are the politics of diplomacy." -- a quote within a quote within a quote: James Paul, executive director of the Global Policy Forum quoted in the Institute for Public Accuracy's critique of the latest UN resolution. Thus we have threatened and bought the votes of the Security Council to enforce the resolutions that we threatened and bought the votes for twelve years ago.
Meanwhile, back in Kabul: Afghan police shoot student protesters.
More bad news from the NY Times article on the Homeland Security bill:
  • 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.
Can't pull the wool over Kofi's eyes: Annan said the United States is "seen to have a lower threshold" for determining what constitutes a material breach, something that he warned could be interpreted as "a flimsy or hasty attempt to go to war." Concern that the United States would be quick to attack was among the reasons it took so long to get a resolution approved by the council, he said. -- from CNN.

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

Lest we have any hope that Saddam's acceptance of the UN resolution means there won't be a war: U.S. Scoffs at Iraq Claim of No Weapons of Mass Destruction. I'm starting to wonder if the "inspectors" might actually smuggle WMD's into Iraq, just like a redneck cop "finding" a bag of pot in a hippie's car. "Well, lookie here! Does that look like a chem-ee-cal weapon to you, Fred?" "It shore 'nough does, Elroy. I think we done caught us a cheater, un huh. Ol George 'll sho be innersted in seeing this, yessiree."
F.C.C. Approves Merger of Comcast and AT&T -- just in case anyone still doubts for whom the government works. This is seriously bad stuff. More of our money goes to a tiny number of extremely rich people who will continue to limit our access to information. That Colin Powell's son Michael is the FCC Chairman is beyond scary. It's only a matter of time before our Internet access is limited to approved sites: maybe just a few dozen channels owned by three or four corporations, just like cable TV. Read my blog while you still can! I have begun planning my "message in a bottle" blog for the future.

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.
Iraq accepts UN resolution. Sorry, George. Maybe you can enjoy that PlayStation 2 those guys bought for you in the meantime. I'm sure Dick and the gang will come up with some excuse for you to pulverize Iraq soon.
Automakers ecstatic over Republican Congress. No need to worry about fuel economy or pollution now. Just get rich while destroying the planet.
Bad news overload:
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."

Gestapo go-ahead: Congressional "leaders" have worked out a deal so that the establishment of a Department of Homeland Security ("Ministry of Love" or "Miniluv" in Newspeak) can proceed, possibly as soon as Friday. Always a tower of principled strength, "Senator Tom Daschle, the majority leader, said he disagreed with the plan but would not block its passage. His staff released a schedule showing how the bill could be approved as soon as Friday." Way to stand up for our freedoms, Tom.

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

Viagra lockdown: I work in a building on the edge of the University of Michigan's North Campus in Ann Arbor. Most of the buildings in the immediate neighborhood are a part of Pfizer's world headquarters and research facilities. As you are probably aware, Pfizer is one of the world's largest drug companies, and its most famous product is Viagra. (They are in the process of merging with Pharmacia, makers of Rogaine, so they will soon have the aging men market cornered.) Anyhow, there has been a big increase in security at Pfizer's buildings recently, especially the big one across the street. Two or three months ago armed guards showed up at every driveway, and now they have put big steel sliding gates across at least one driveway. I wonder what's up over there. Doesn't exactly give me that warm, fuzzy feeling; it's more that cold, clammy one. The place already looks like the compound of a Bond villain.

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.
Vigilante Vegetarian: He's famous for his subway connection, but he's no Jared. "I think a quarter of the world's problems would be solved if most people would become vegetarians," he says. Still, he's not the ideal veggie spokesperson, since he's Bernard Goetz, the infamous subway vigilante.
Bechtel (boo!!!) vs Bolivia (yay!!!). Bechtel is suing Bolivia for $25 million it claims it lost in its effort to privatize the water system of Cochabamba, Bolivia's third largest city. The case goes before a secret World Bank court, somewhere, sometime. Top secret, you know. Can't let anyone know who is responsible for stealing their water and selling it to the highest bidder. Globalization along the lines of NAFTA, the World Bank, the WTO, and the proposed FTAA is a crime of immense proportions against humanity.
A year later, still no explanation, except "it wasn't terrorism." American Airlines Flight 587 crashed one year ago today shortly after taking off from JFK Airport in New York. Although several witnesses saw what looked like explosions or fires on the wings, the official line so far is: The crash was caused by large movements in the rudder. Probably the pilot's fault. We'll let you know. Sometime. Maybe. For sure we'll let you know before we tell you why Wellstone's plane crashed. Don't hold your breath. I'll repeat my suggestion that I made months ago: The timing and conclusions of the crash investigation have much more to do with politics and propaganda than they do with the evidence. A second terror attack in New York two months after 9/11 might have made the Bushies appear more incompetent than resolute. By failing to issue a report on this crash, they can use it to support their next war. Well, what do you know? Turns out it was a missile after all. Launched by terrorists from (take your pick) Iraq/Iran/North Korea/Cuba/Colombia/Saudi Arabia/Syria/China. This shall not stand. Huff. Puff.
Oh joy. It is now apparently up to Saddam Hussein whether World War III starts this week. Of course, even Saddam's most abject capitulation to Bush's demands is unlikely to prevent Bush from finding some excuse for war. And while capitulation at this point would probably save the lives of many Iraqis, it is probably at least as dangerous to Saddam personally as letting the war happen. Once the well-armed "inspectors" authorized by the UN resolution go into Iraq, chances are good that they will be searching for Saddam at least as much as they are for weapons. If they find him, he will be either arrested or, more likely, assassinated. I may be wrong about that, but I'm pretty sure that is how Saddam sees it. If so, will he put the well-being of the Iraqi people ahead of his own? As I said yesterday, there doesn't seem to be much of a chance for anything good to come out of this.
From the WSWS: The commentators fail to ask the obvious question: who and what has made it possible for a president who lost the popular vote and was undemocratically installed in office, and who is widely derided as ignorant and inarticulate, to exercise such supposed power?

Monday, November 11, 2002

Not that there was much hope for peace left, but it looks like the last faint glimmer is fast disappearing: Iraqi parliament condemns U.N. resolution on weapons inspectors. Anything left to hope for? How about minimal casualties on both sides, combined with a major disruption in oil supplies leading to price increases and shortages, causing major political damage to the Bushies? About the best I can come up with at this point. There really seems to be no desirable outcome possible now.
The Senate is planning to quickly pass the establishment of a Department of Homeland Security. Unfortunately, we probably don't have much chance of stopping this domestic gestapo now that the Republitrons are in charge, but we should still put up a fight. Write, call, or e-mail your senators today and let them know that you don't want America to be a police state.
Bush served as a Texas Air National Guard pilot during the Vietnam War. -- The NY Times ends its article with this single sentence, with no explanation that Bush never went to Vietnam, and that he was AWOL from the Air National Guard for a year. The Times' quote implies that W actually fought in Vietnam. My sister got married in 1967, and I brought snacks to guests at the reception. So I guess I can say that I served during the Vietnam War, too. Oh liberal media, wherefore art thou?
Bush said a new regime "would bring deliverance" for Iraq's citizens. "We have no territorial ambitions. We don't seek an empire. Our nation is committed to freedom, for ourselves and for others. We and our allies have fought evil regimes and left in place self-governing and prosperous nations," he said.

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.

A thrilling first-person action game. Become a member of the world's premier land force; trained and equipped to achieve decisive victory—anywhere. Earn the right to call yourself a Soldier, letting the enemies of freedom know that America's Army has arrived...

That's right, you can download a free first-person shoot-em-up game, "America's Army," from the US Army website.

Whitewater in Arkansas again! Subsidized rice farmers in Arkansas want the Federal government to pay for diverting water from the White River to irrigate their crops, since they have almost completely drained the large aquifer under their farms. Arkansas gets about 50 inches of rain per year, enough for decent crop yields without irrigation. Sustainability without further attacks on the environment is the only reasonable option, one unlikely to get consideration from our current "government."

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.
Somehow this one slipped under my radar until now, but...


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.
Ain't no stoppin' us now:
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

From the prologue to The Post-Corporate World by David Korten:

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.

Oh Boy More Fear And Gluttony / Darkness falls across the land, flowers wilt, the GOP takes full, and frightening, control -- from Mark Morford, SF Gate.

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.
Pentagon Plans a Computer System That Would Peek at Personal Data of Americans: Headed up by convicted Iran-Contra conspirator Admiral John Poindexter, "The Pentagon is constructing a computer system that could create a vast electronic dragnet, searching for personal information as part of the hunt for terrorists around the globe — including the United States." Well, I'll make it easy for you, Poindexter. I'm a member of the Sierra Club, Amnesty International, the ACLU, Human Rights Watch and the League of American Bicyclists. I voted for McCain and Nader in 2000, I supported numerous Democrats in the 2002 elections, and not only do I believe that George W. Bush is our worst president ever, I write about it incessantly on the web. These activities are not illegal, Poindexter, unlike your Iran-Contra shenanigans. But right now I'm a lot more afraid of dying in prison, uncharged and unrepresented, than I am of being killed by any terrorist (except maybe Bush).

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

Mr. Hussein has proven to be a vicious adversary, and senior administration officials have mounted a campaign to warn Iraq's military commanders that they will be charged with war crimes if they unleash weapons of mass destruction. This week, Mr. Bush hinted at another concern, that the Iraqi government would purposefully sacrifice its population to stain an American military victory with civilian blood. -- from an abominable NY Times article worthy of the worst of Nazi or Soviet propaganda. The US is planning an unprovoked act of agression against Iraq, and is preparing to blame Iraqis if US forces kill Iraqi civilians, which they undoubtedly will. And the Times just spouts this nonsense as if it were logical and obvious. Hussein a vicious adversary? The "Mother of all battles" in 1991 caused approximately the same number of US casualties as the Somalia campaign against a few disorganized warlords. And several of the casualties were friendly fire. Iraq was formidable and vicious against Iran, but they had the help of US arms and intelligence back then. Our planes have been bombing Iraq regularly for years now, and I don't think any have been shot down. The US is planning on stomping on a country that was crushed in 1991 and has had no opportunity to recover since. This sounds like the Michigan football coach saying "We're not looking past Rice, they've got some great athletes over there" before Michigan fries Rice 56-3. Except we're adding that "If they do try to beat us, not only will we crush them on the field, but we're going to rape their cheerleaders and shoot their coaches after the game."

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."

Hundreds of Thousands in Italy Protest War

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.
Getting to the heart of the matter: President Bush is a liar. -- from Eric Alterman. Alterman wonders why the press is so reluctant to point out the lies of presidents, and especially why lies leading us into war are seen as less important than lies about sex.

Birds of a feather:

Reporter: Mr. Bush, did you know about 9/11 before it happened?
W: Iraq!!
Reporter: What about all those innocent civilians killed in Afghanistan?
W: Iraq!!
Reporter: Tell us about your Harken stock sale.
W: Bbbbbbbbbb...
Reporter: Who did the vice president talk to to come up with that insane energy policy, anyway?
W: Iraq!!!!
Reporter: And whatever happened to Osama bin Laden?
W: Iraq. (waddle, waddle)
UN resolution on Iraq: a cynical cover for US aggression -- from the WSWS. Executive summary: The terrorists have won. Osama bin Laden and George WW III Bush have gotten pretty much everything they could have hoped for from the UN. Life is going to seriously suck for the foreseeable future, and not just in Iraq.
Ain't no stopping a bad idea: SUV's. Reality TV shows. Those silly "Whatever on Board" diamond-shaped signs back in the '80's. Car flags. Suburbs. Republicanism. The chicken dance. This country is an ideal medium for growing bad ideas, like old bread is for mold. While good ideas like universal health care and public funding of campaigns go nowhere, an incredibly stupid idea like going to war with Iraq just won't die. Killing Iraqi people to save them, using weapons of mass destruction to eliminate them, and burning huge amounts of fossil fuels to steal even more. It's criminal, it's insane, it's exceedingly dangerous to everyone. Its main proponent is an inarticulate ne'er-do-well who bought and cheated his way into the world's most powerful job. He has made his case using obvious lies and ridiculously inflammatory logic. In a sane world, this idea would have died stillborn, sort of like Hillary's 1993 health care plan. Unfortunately, this world is far from sane, the bad idea has grown from a single virus to a life-threatening disease, and the mayhem is about to begin. May God, Allah, Mother Nature, and the Great Pumpkin help us all.

Friday, November 08, 2002

Politics in the Zeros has started a voting reform page, leading off with an article on "Instant Runoff Voting" (IRV). I'm frequently amazed at how many Americans seem to accept that choosing between the lesser of two evils on the first Tuesday of November is a good enough approximation to democracy. There are many ways, both simple and complex, to improve the system so that it more accurately reflects the "will of the people." IRV is one way. Proportional representation is probably a better way, since it leaves a lot fewer people unrepresented. A combination of the two could easily be worked out. Polizeros promises an article on proportional representation soon.
British court objects to Gitmo detentions: Of course, the picture below is a fitting illustration for this story as well.
What this blog is like:

Thanks to the Politics in the Zeros blog for that pic!
United Nations, United States, United Airlines, United Fruit, what's the dif? The latest Bushisms:
"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.
U of M punishes itself for basketball scandal, including the "Fab Five" era:
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...

The UN Security Council just passed the Iraq resolution. Bush probably gave Massachusetts to France, Alaska to Russia and Hawaii to China to buy their approval. This would totally bum me out, except that I'm already there.
With the Hummer "People told me, `I can protect my family. If someone bumps into me, they're dead.' People love this feeling." One female H2 buyer told him: "I have three kids in the car with me and no one is going to look at me as a soccer mom." -- from the NY Times. If there is a more perfect symbol for everything that is wrong with America than the Hummer, it is George W. Bush. Or vice versa. I guess the perfect symbol of the moral bankruptcy of America would be George W. Bush driving a Hummer.

I've added a link to PR Watch in the frame on the right (-->). They do a good job of spotting propaganda put out by governments and corporations. Of course that's pretty much like spotting water from a sinking boat, but most people in this country seem to be blissfully unaware of it (hence the election results). If you know someone who seems ready to have his or her eyes opened a little to the lies being told, but not quite ready to have them pried wide open by blogs like this one, point them to PR Watch.
Distrust of government was an atmospheric factor, as was cynicism about politics. Events to follow will reinforce both attitudes. This reflects the GOP's asymmetric advantages. They gain power by disparaging government; once in government they make sure it's inefficient and ineffective. They believe (and want everybody to believe) politics is merely a commodity market for preferential treatments, and a corrupt market at that. No qualms and no ideals to interfere with message development ... "All's fair in the war of words". Dem's tend to see governance as productive, and communication as information-sharing. Cynicism is a one-sided advantage.
-- from the Cogent Provocateur blog.
In the opening moments of the news conference, Mr. Bush cast the confrontation as one that pitted "the civilized world" against a murderous tyrant. -- from the NY Times. It looks like the civilized world doesn't have much of a chance against Bush, at least in the short run.

Thursday, November 07, 2002

Build up the Gestapo and expand the War on Everything: Now that the checks have bounced and the balances have all tipped over, W is ready to speed up his agenda of repression, greed, and war. I've been reading the post mortems on the Democrats' sorry excuse for a campaign, trying to figure out what to do next. Can the Democratic party be saved? Is it worth saving? If they are committed to choosing among Republicrats like Daschle, Edwards, Hillary Clinton, Lieberman, Kerry or Gore for their 2004 presidential candidate, I'm inclined to jump straight to the Greens and make an all out push for progressive Democrats like Kucinich, Feingold and Barbara Lee to jump ship as well. Let the Republicrats either join their buddies in the Republican party or just simply disappear from public life. None of them offers any hope of addressing the major disasters facing the world. If we have to be stuck with a two-party system, let's make the Republicrats be one and the Greens be the other. And then let's help the Greens sweep the Republicrats out of office in 2004 and forever more.
Can't Gitmo Satisfaction. Just because the "detainees" at Guantanamo Bay have been there for eleven months now rather than one or two doesn't make their imprisonment any less illegal or immoral. It makes it that much more so. I'm ashamed that my country is continuing to do this.
Bowling for Columbine: I saw Michael Moore's latest movie last night. It is scary, thought-provoking, and funny. The theater was sold out, but, unlike Sunday, we got there while tickets were still available. I had seen clips from the movie on the Donahue show earlier, so there weren't many surprises. The main question the movie leaves you with is: Why are Americans so much more likely to shoot each other than citizens of almost any other country on earth? Moore debunks many of the common explanations offered by Charlton Heston and others in the movie: we have a history of war (but Germany and Japan have far fewer gun murders); we watch too much violent TV and play violent video games (the Japanese have us at least tied on this one); our population is ethnically diverse, we have a lot of poverty, and there are lots of guns around (all three apply at least equally to Canada, where gun violence is very rare). The comparisons with Canada are especially interesting, since they seem so much like us in many ways, but they live with less fear and more compassion. In any case, the movie is wonderful and I highly recommend it. If you're in the Ann Arbor area, tonight is the last night "Bowling for Columbine" is playing at the Michigan Theater. Check here for showings in your area.

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.
The Democrats did not provide a single reason for the oppressed layers of the population to rally to their support.
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

A defiant Senator Tom Daschle, the Democratic leader, said: "We're not going to go away. We may not be in the majority, but we're going to fight just as hard for the things we believe in now as we have before." -- from the NY Times. Oh great. A lame, wet-noodle effort to fight back by continuing to appease Bush. That's how you lost the "majority" part of your title, Mr. Daschle.
Dirty tricks at the polls: this blog has a long list of election day shenanigans.


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.
Once again:


Tuesday, November 05, 2002

Taking it to the streets! 4:20 am, election day, 2002. The dark steets of South Bend, Indiana. Agent Bob and his team of guerilla Democrats are sneaking onto doorsteps and putting Jill Long Thompson door hangers on unsuspecting door handles. The goal: Maybe three of the two-hundred or so hangers will remind someone to vote, giving Jill a two-vote victory, thereby giving the Democrats a one-vote majority in the House, hopefully returning the country to some semblance of sanity. The hope is slim: lots of people won't see the hangers until tomorrow; many will have been turned off by the attack ads and decided not to vote; some may even be upset that Agent Bob and the Guerillas were lurking on their porches at 4:20 am and decide to vote for the Republican out of spite. Even if Jill gets elected, chances are slim that all of the other close House races will go Democratic, and even if they do, many Democrats, Jill included, have staked out positions close to 20 in the left-right scheme (see next post below). But Agent Bob knows that if Jill wins by a small number of votes and the Dems take the House by one vote, he will be one agent who is very happy that he went to South Bend and got up at 3:30 on a cold November morning.

And to borrow a schtick from Dave Barry: "Agent Bob and the Guerilla Democrats" would be a great name for a rock band.

Metaphor Alert!

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

Control of House Expected to Stay in Hands of G.O.P. Can't let this happen! I'm heading back to South Bend to volunteer for Jill Long Thompson in her close congressional race, so no more blogging 'til probably tomorrow night, which will hopefully be a victory blog. If we fail then the idiots win! (see picture below)

Sunday, November 03, 2002

David Horsey, Seattle Post-Intelligencer.

from Steve Benson.
Battle cry: This battle will determine whether our families pay $1.60 for a gallon of gas--or $2.20! --from Ted Rall's latest cartoon. For it's one, two, three, what are we fighting for? I don't know and don't give a damn, we're gonna beat Saddam. For it's five, six, seven, open up the tailgates--whoopee! We all gotta drive. At what price?

Saturday, November 02, 2002

"One way to make sure our judges get approved on a timely basis is to change the leadership in the United States Senate," Bush said at a rally yesterday morning. -- from the Washington Post
. 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.
Among unanswered questions are why the plane made a slow turn to the south, away from the airport, and why it descended at a steeper-than-normal angle, before crashing into the woods. Witnesses have said the plane seemed to be flying low and sounded like it might be in trouble. Investigators have said the plane's last known airspeed was 85 knots, close to stall speed. from AP via NY Times. I'd say that these facts are completely consistent with my poison gas theory or something else that incapacitated the pilots quickly. I'll have to reinstall Flight Simulator on my computer and try preparing for a landing--flaps and gear down, trying to line up on the runway, and then just stop controlling the plane and see what happens. I think that a slow continuation of an already-started turn, followed by a stall leading to a steep dive to a crash, is a realistic possibility. The scenario of the Wellstone crash seems inconsistent with a major mechanical failure. If there was engine trouble, the pilots would have radioed in a mayday and asked for help in locating a road or field to land on if they couldn't make it to the airport. If they lost directional control of the plane, as the wide turn might suggest, they would have responded by adding throttle to gain altitude and buy time, and they would have radioed in the situation. The airliner that crashed in Iowa in 1989 lost most directional control (ailerons and rudder), but used different throttle settings on the left and right engines to steer the plane, with some success, towards an airport. It certainly seems to me that Wellstone's plane simply lost its sense of direction--that is, the pilots were incapacitated somehow. And it is hard to imagine that happening to both pilots at the same time unless foul play was involved. An alternative to the poison gas would be a suicide terrorist among the staff or the pilots.

Friday, November 01, 2002

Given the close connections between Bush and members of his administration with Enron and other corporations involved in multi-billion dollar looting and swindling, it is perhaps not surprising to find “Enron methods” being transferred from the sphere of business to politics. Enron and the other corporate looters developed a method of accounting known as “backing in”. Instead of objective facts being brought together and reported in the balance sheet, the accountants started from the figures they wanted on the balance sheet and then worked back to make the accounting “facts” fit that outcome. The same method—outright lying—is being used on a daily basis to prepare for war against Iraq. -- from The WSWS.