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.
Saturday, November 30, 2002
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.
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!
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?
- 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!