Bob's Links and Rants -- Fair and Balanced

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

Saturday, 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.

Trouble for the arch villain?

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.

Top Ten Reasons Americans Support Invading Iraq.

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.

Ted Rall!

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.

More from Mike Thompson.

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.)

Good Mike Thompson cartoon!

It's the end of the world as we know it.

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.