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, December 14, 2002

Homework Assignment:

  1. Add your name to the letter from Representatives Kucinich, Conyers and others to President Bush asking him to quit interfering in Venezuela. You can go here to do this--scroll down to just below where the representatives signed and click on "add your own comments." (A search for "add your own comments" works as well.) If you don't know why this is needed, read the text of the letter and/or go to the Narco News web site.
  2. Send an e-mail to your senators and representative asking them to add their names to the Kucinich letter.
  3. Send letters or e-mail to German leaders letting them know that there are lots of us here in America opposed to war in Iraq. Apparently W has been suggesting that German opposition to war is somehow "anti-American." Here are the addresses:
    • President Gerhard Schroeder
      Willy Brandtstr. 1
      11012 Berlin

    • Foreign Minister Josef Fischer
      Werderscher Markt 1
      10117 Berlin

Two great comics from Kirk Waters of the Toledo Blade:

Bush girls gone wild! Only $19.95!

Friday, December 13, 2002

Kissinger Quits 9/11 Inquiry!

This is definitely good news. I mean it was possible (and may have happened) that O'Neill, Lindsey, and even Harvey Pitt could have been replaced by people even worse. In Kissinger's case, this isn't possible, at least since Nixon died.

By the way, W, we do have a Nobel-prize-winning former president who would be excellent for the job.

[Later addition:] No, George, I don't mean your Dad. There's isn't a Nobel Prize for Being a Wuss. I'm talking about Jimmy Carter. I realize you were drunk through most of his presidency, but if you have the slightest interest in appearing fair in appointing the chairman of this committee (no sign of that yet, unfortunately), Carter would be ideal.

Bush's new economic advisor attacked by the right for being too much of a fiscal conservative:
Stephen Moore, president of a conservative lobbying group, the Club for Growth wasn't happy about Stephen Friedman's appointment since he was

a board member and donor to the Concord Coalition, a bipartisan group that has long annoyed White House officials by warning relentlessly about the danger of federal deficits.

"How in the world can he sell a program that he has never shown any inclination of believing in?" Mr. Moore asked on Tuesday on the Web site of the National Review. "The Concord Coalition represents the Chicken Little deficit-reduction myopia that was once the rage in the Republican Party."

Amazing: A Republican being attacked by other Republicans for being too fiscally conservative. But Friedman has promised to be a good "don't tax, then spend" Bushie.

The gift for someone who has everything--except brains: a talking George W. Bush doll.

According to the article, The Richard Nixon Library & Birthplace ordered two cases but sold them out within days, said spokeswoman Arianna Barrios. Heaven forbid.

What is really behind this smallpox vaccination that the Bushies are pushing? Is there even a hint of a threat out there, or is it, as I suspect, something far more sinister? Smallpox was eradicated 25 years ago, and supposedly the only remaining viruses are at the CDC in Atlanta and in a secure lab in Russia. So is it the CDC or Bush's good buddy Pooty-poot who's going to attack us? Would there be any easier path to a highly targeted un-natural selection than a vaccination program? (Flag on lapel: gets green bottle. Peace button: gets red bottle.)

Bush was campaigning on welfare money. By "on," I don't mean he was advocating increasing it (yeah, right), or even decreasing it. He was spending it! Because he babbled a little bit about welfare reform while campaigning for candidates trying to eliminate it, Bush decided he could get welfare to help pay for his trip:

On stealing from the poor to give to the rich: In an act of reverse Robin Hood effrontery, the president helped defray some of the cost of his nonstop campaigning with an accounting trick that allowed him to dip into the coffers of the Office of Family Assistance by piggy-backing campaign appearances onto trips ostensibly made to talk about welfare reform. That's right, money meant to assist poor families was used to help elect politicians who believe that, even with all the problems facing this country, cutting taxes for the rich should be job one. -- from Arianna Huffington.

In the Should Be None of Our Business department: U.S. Urges Early Elections in Venezuela.

I've had a link to Cogent Provacateur in my list of blogs since I read some fine articles he wrote a few months ago. Then he disappeared from the blogiverse for a while, so I was thinking of replacing him on my list. Well, he's back! In this article he explains how John McCain is in an extremely powerful position at the moment, given Lott's troubles and the Landrieu victory in Louisiana. There's a chance that Republican senator Lincoln Chaffee might switch parties soon. The threat that McCain might go with Chaffee is what gives him the power. If both Chaffee and McCain switched, Democrats would be back in control of the Senate. Since the Democrats desire this and the Republicans fear it, both parties may be willing to do whatever McCain wants. Cogent Provacateur suggests that McCain may be able to pick senate leaders for BOTH parties. How about the seemingly reasonable Lugar or Shelby on the Republican side, and maybe Feingold for the Democrats? Anyhow, read CP's article; it's very interesting.

Racism: Alive and Well in America. Employers were found to be 50% more likely to call applicants with typical white names than those with typical black names, even when the resumes were equivalent. From the NY Times, via Alas, a blog, who got it from CalPundit. I'll leave finding out how CalPundit found out about it up to you.

No good coverup is complete without follow-through: According to the NY Times, the FAA is developing a system to avoid fuel tank explosions like the one that was blamed for the destruction of TWA 800 in 1996. The Times article mentions nothing of the hundred-plus eyewitnesses who saw a missile headed towards the 747 before the explosion or the massive secrecy surrounding the investigation. While there are certainly some conspiracy nuts out there, I've read enough about this one to believe that the plane was destroyed by a surface-to-air missile. See for a whole lot more.

Here's some of Ted Rall's latest op-ed:
As Americans begin their third year of Supreme Court-ordered political occupation, Bush has just signed an impressive new executive order. You may be surprised to learn that it grants him the right to order your execution. No judge, jury or lawyer. No chance to prove your innocence. One stroke of Bush's pen, and bang--you're dead.

Not even your American citizenship, according to Bush, will save your life if and when he decides to kill you. The only reason you're reading this right now--instead of meeting the Entity Formerly Known as God--is that neither Bush nor one of his "high-level officials" has yet signed a piece of paper declaring you an "enemy combatant." Once they do the paperwork, Administration officials assert, they have the right to murder you.

Bush's secret assassination directive surfaced on Dec. 3, when reporters asked about the Nov. 3 Central Intelligence Agency rub-out of alleged Al Qaeda operatives riding in a car in Yemen. Langley fired a Hellfire missile from a remote-controlled Predator drone into the vehicle, blowing up several men. The CIA later discovered that an American citizen, Kamal Derwish, had inadvertently been killed in the inferno.

"No constitutional questions are raised here," asserted National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice, stretching credulity more than usual. Officials claim that a loophole in Bush's order authorizing the CIA to "covertly attack Al Qaeda all over the world" validates Derwish's murder. Since this sneaky directive makes exception neither for Americans nor American soil, these guys say, you and I have no more rights than the now-deceased, not-presumed-innocent Kamal Derwish.

-- from Slowpoke.

-- from Mike Thompson.

-- from Boondocks.

This one was predicted: U.S. officials believe Iraq's declaration of its weapons of mass destruction program omits many details about its program and is "far, far, far short" from being a complete report, according to one senior U.S. official. -- from CNN. In a few weeks, Iraq was told to document everything going on in the country that might possibly relate to chemical, biological, or nuclear weapons. There was absolutely no possible way to do this, especially when you are being graded by someone who has already written an 'F' on your report card. Imagine how long it would take to prepare such a report in the US. Ashcroft would be blocking every Freedom of Information request, corporations would be screaming about confidentiality, and Cheney would be busy replacing every true statement with a lie. Even the never-ending "war on terror" would be done sooner. Even the investigation into the Wellstone crash. Florida might even have a fair election before that report ever saw the light of day.

Feeling a little frustrated, as I am, about how things are going? Print out the "Smiling White Faces" picture below and pin it to your dartboard. Very therapeutic.

Is it possible Bush is planning on taking on his entire "axis of evil" at once? CNN reports that "Iran has secretly been constructing large nuclear facilities -- sites that could possibly be used to make nuclear weapons." The US has also expressed concern over North Korea's restarting of a nuclear plant which has been closed for eight years. I've also been hearing rumors about possible military action against Iraq. Are we looking at another Bush trifecta?

Of course there's never enough parking! If you gave everyone free pizza, would there be enough pizza? -- One of the great quotes from the book Suburban Nation: The Rise of Sprawl and the Decline of the American Dream. Here's more:

To what extent is automobile use a "free good? According to Hart and Spivak, government subsidies for highways and parking alone amount to between 8 and 10 percent of our gross national product, the equivalent of a fuel tax of approximately $3.50 per gallon. If this tax were to account for "soft" costs such as pollution cleanup and emergency medical treatment, it would be as high as $9.00 per gallon. [Probably a lot more if wars for oil are included--Bob] The cost of these subsidies--approximately $5000 per car per year--is passed directly on to the American citizen in the form of increased prices for products or, more often, as income, property, and sales taxes. This means that the hidden costs of driving are paid by everyone: not just drivers, but also those too old or too poor to drive a car. And these people suffer doubly, as the very transit systems that they count on for mobility have gone out of business, unable to compete with the heavily subsidized highways.

Thursday, December 12, 2002

Smiling White Faces

Funny, George doesn't seem too upset with Trent in this picture, taken the day after Lott's infamous remarks. The Washington Post report was the first I could find about Lott's remarks, and the article came two days after the fact. Lott's remarks were made at the party for Thurmond at the Capitol on Thursday; the next day, the Post reported on the party. It quoted Lott as telling Thurmond that his 89-year-old mother "has a crush on Strom," but makes no mention of the offending remark. Not until the next day, after the party at the White House, did the Post report the remarks.

Blogger Overload: There is so much bad stuff going down today that there aren't enough hours in the day to rant about them. So I'll just present the headlines:

The World Socialist Web Site on the seizure of the Iraq UN documents:
Anyone who believes that Washington would not stoop to forgery to make its case for war is ignorant of American history. In the last Persian Gulf War, the administration of Bush senior launched its attack after having claimed that satellite photos had shown a quarter of a million Iraqi troops massing on the Saudi border. In fact, the photos had clearly shown that Iraqi forces were already withdrawing from Kuwait. The resolution approving the US buildup in the Vietnam War was passed after government officials falsely claimed US Navy ships were subjected to an unprovoked attack by Vietnamese gunboats in the Gulf of Tonkin.

{Update, 10:15 AM EST} More from WSWS:
Among the material that is to be edited out of the declarations turned over to the temporary members of the Security Council are lists of weapons manufacturers which supplied the regime in Baghdad and government officials who negotiated these arms deals. This information would make it plain that government officials and corporations in both the US and Britain aided and abetted Iraq’s development of chemical and biological weapons programs when it was at war with Iran in the early 1980s. It is feared that such revelations would undercut the attempt to whip up hysteria over the alleged existence of such programs today.

From a NY Times editorial calling for Trent Lott to be replaced as Senate majority leader:
No one has put more effort than George W. Bush into ending the image of the Republican Party as a whites-only haven.

The sad thing is, it's probably true. Between Saddam bashings, fundraisers, vacations and naps, George has probably put in a solid half-hour's effort into improving the racial image of the Republican Party during the last two years, at least ten minutes longer than any other Republican.

But I'll admit, I still haven't cracked on the Lott issue. I asked my niece if she thought that I was too lenient on Lott when I said we should let this drop after he apologized, and she said I was. I mean, I'd love to see Lott gone, and the stuff he said was awful, but I still hate to see politicians afraid to say anything controversial in public. I mean, if he had been more careful in choosing his words, we would never have had this insight into his racist character. If he loses his job, the other racists in Congress will be much more careful about what they say, and they will be harder to spot. We should be interested in protecting free speech, and that means we should argue with people who say things we don't like, not fire them. Besides, Trent's statement easily wiped out George's half-hour of effort at improving the party's racial image. And who would they replace him with? Mitch McConnell, maybe?

Wednesday, December 11, 2002

Anti-personnel land mines. Aargh!

The Pentagon is preparing to use anti-personnel land mines in a war with Iraq, despite U.S. policy that calls for the military to stop using the mines everywhere in the world except Korea by 2003.

To prepare for a possible war with Baghdad, the Pentagon has stockpiled land mines at U.S. bases in countries ringing Iraq, according to Pentagon records. The decision to make the mines available comes despite a recent report by the General Accounting Office, Congress' investigative arm, concluding that their use in the 1991 Gulf War impeded U.S. forces while doing nothing to impair Iraqi forces.
-- from USA Today.

Do you think maybe Bush's real goal is to be the worst war criminal of all time?

Feeling very, very frustrated and depressed right now. Our insane fuhrer is talking about using nukes and landmines against a country 6000 miles away which hasn't done us any harm and seems to be bending over backwards trying to avoid war. And polls still show the majority of Americans approve of this half-witted maniac. People who can't locate Iraq on a map but who are sure that Saddam is lying and that Iraq is a threat. People like Bush.
Sorry, frustration making me incoherent...random rants...neurons crossing...sparks to shut off the computer, go to bed, return to my ranting duties tomorrow.

Regarding the ship headed for Yemen that had Scud missiles on it: The Spanish Defense Ministry considers the vessel a "pirate ship" operating illegally.

Those Spaniards are quick learners! They use two warships to intercept an unarmed vessel on the high seas, take its cargo, and then accuse the victim of this piracy of being the pirate. Very Bushian, Spain!

I double-posted something and tried to remove it, but Blogger lets you change something but never delete it. Hmm...

Some cool links:
From my new e-mail friend in Canada:

From my niece in California: Men in Hats comic strip which rivals Red Meat for bizarreness. (Bizarresticity?) A sample:

George W. Bush as a boy, perhaps?

And another thing! (I remember thinking this last night, but somehow it escaped my Wolf Blitzer rant.) Wolf says "U.S. military forces have been called into liberate Afghanistan from its Taliban and al Qaeda rulers." This convenient rewriting of history is almost complete--as I recall, the stated goal of the nasty Afghanistan campaign was to kill or capture Osama bin Laden, break up his organization, and prevent Afghanistan from being a haven for terrorists. The barely concealed reason sold to the public was revenge. The highly concealed reason was to establish a military presence in the area as a key to gaining control of Caspian oil and gas resources. Since Osama got away, al Qaeda seems to be as active as ever, and the Caspian oil and gas are still a pipeline dream due to the resurgence of the warlords, the story has been conveniently changed. According to the Bushies, and aided by spineless "journalists" like Wolf, the further destruction of the poorest country on earth was to "liberate" it from the Taliban and al Qaeda. My reading on the situation in Afghanistan is this: for the average Afghan citizen, not much has changed in 25 years, except who is trying to kill you. First it was the Russians, then the mujahadeen, then the warlords, then the Taliban, then the Northern Alliance, then the Americans, and now it's the warlords again. Afghanistan has been "liberated" pretty much the same way the World Trade Center was--kill lots of people and send the rest running, with just a pile of rubble left behind.

Nuclear sabre rattling: The Bush administration is indicating that it may retaliate against any attack on US forces involving so-called weapons of mass destruction with nuclear attacks. This explains why they are so insistent on linking nuclear, chemical, and biological weapons together under the WMD label; they can claim that a nuke killing a million Iraqis is a proportionate response to a mustard-gas shell that kills 50 American soldiers. They hit us with WMD's, we hit them with WMD's. I'm all for the banning of all three kinds of weapons called weapons of mass destruction, but the label is pure nonsense. Many of our larger bombs, such as "daisy cutters" and J-DAM's, are capable of killing dozens or even hundreds of people at a time, so they certainly deserve the WMD label. Small chemical weapons like mustard gas artillery shells are almost certainly incapable of being so deadly unless used in large numbers, and when they are used on a wide scale their users run a significant risk of poisoning themselves. Most biological weapons would be largely useless on a battlefield: making your enemy sick a week from now doesn't do much to save your life right now. The weapons which are clearly in a league of their own are nuclear bombs: they destroy anything and everything within a huge radius of ground zero. Lumping chemical and biological weapons with nuclear weapons under the WMD label is highly deceptive and extremely dangerous, and this recent statement shows why.

Here goes another hour or two of your life spent chuckling: I'll try to get you a charge number for this.

Tuesday, December 10, 2002

Would a "Liberal Media" ask such a stupid question?
Wolf Blitzer on CNN starts his online commentary with this:

Over the past two decades, almost every time U.S. military forces have been called into action to risk their lives and limbs, it's been on behalf of Muslims, whether to assist the Afghan mujahadeen or freedom fighters during the Soviet invasion of the 1980s; to liberate Kuwait following the Iraqi invasion in 1990; to help Somali Muslims suffering at the hands of a warlord in Mogadishu; to help Muslims first in Bosnia and then in Kosovo who faced a Serb onslaught; or more recently, to liberate Afghanistan from its Taliban and al Qaeda rulers.

So why is the U.S. military despised by so many Muslims?

Well, for starters, it has a lot to do with the fact that Americans are so arrogant and naive as to ask such a ridiculous question. In the first Gulf War, Somalia and the recent war in Afghanistan, most of the people we killed were Muslims. The mujahadeen killed thousands, many of them Muslims, and helped to create the chaos in Afghanistan that made the Taliban possible. Many of these mujahadeen became the core of al Qaeda. I'll confess an unfortunate ignorance about the details of the Bosnia and Kosovo campaigns, but I think that it is safe to say that in none of these cases that Wolf mentions was the US fighting primarily "on behalf of Muslims." It was more protecting or grabbing for oil, maneuvering against the Soviets, or trying for whatever geopolitical benefits Clinton hoped to gain by intervening in Bosnia and Kosovo (again, I am fairly ignorant on that issue). To think that Muslims are going to thank us for stomping all over their holy lands in order to kill other Muslims is near Bushian arrogance.

Wolf goes on to say that the only possible reason he can find is our support for Israel in their subjugation of the Palestinians. He continues:

In the process, the United States gets virtually no credit for helping Muslims, and even when President Bush goes out of his way to express support for Muslims -- as he did the other day during a visit to a Washington mosque -- his actions are dismissed as window dressing.

Imagine that: George went all the way to Washington to visit a mosque, and those ingrate Muslims still aren't happy about our having tens of thousands of troops and hundreds of deadly aircraft stationed all over the middle east, ready to kill tens of thousands of Iraqis at a moment's notice. W's actions most certainly are (very cynical) window dressing, done knowing that media pawns like Wolf Blitzer will suggest that they are substantive policy which will address the legitimate grievances of a billion of the world's citizens.

It takes a while to run down the dirt on all of the sleazy Bush appointees, unless you have someone else do it for you! MaxSpeak lists the "qualifications and accomplishments" of John Snow, W's nominee to be the new Treasury Secretary. Here's just one of many items: Under an employment agreement signed last year, Snow may receive severance benefits worth millions of dollars if he left the company to "fulfill an appointment to public office." He's probably got a similar severance package for when he leaves Treasury, such as a place on the board of the Carlyle Group.

"Honey, I paid to have a woman's hands chopped off in Sierra Leone so you could put this diamond on your hand." "Oh, darling, how wonderful of you!" Diamonds are Forever, and so are the deaths they finance.

Surgeon General's Warning: The corn flakes you are eating may contain one or more of the following:

* AIDS vaccine gp120 -- a glycoprotein
* Blood-clotting agent -- Aprotinin
* Trypsin - Digestive enzyme that can be used in leather tanning or to produce insulin.
* Industrial adhesive Laccase -- an enzyme derived from a fungus

Biotech bonehead Prodigene Corporation has been testing genetically-modified (GM) corn which produces these products, and some of it has jumped the fence and gotten into commercial corn crops in Iowa and Nebraska. See Vegan Blog for details. Thanks to Polizeros for the link.

Trent Lott eats a little Jim Crow: In case you missed it (easy enough, given how the mainstream media ignored it), Lott made the following remark at Senator Strom Thurmond's 100th birthday party: "I want to say this about my state: When Strom Thurmond ran for president, we voted for him. We're proud of it. And if the rest of the country had followed our lead, we wouldn't have had all these problems over all these years." The thing is, when Thurmond ran for president in 1948, the only plank in his platform was "segregation forever, equality never." So Lott's statement seems to say that the country would have been a lot better off with a blatantly racist president who would never have allowed civil rights legislation or school desegregation to happen. Now I'm probably willing to cut Lott a tiny bit of slack on this one: when you're attending a birthday party for some old coot, no matter how nasty he was, you feel a little compelled to say something nice about him. So Trent didn't think too clearly about implications and tried to come up with something nice to say about Thurmond (we've got to realize that that's a pretty difficult task), so he blurted out the nonsense quoted above. Besides, Trent says mean-spirited things just about every day which have a greater impact on people than this. However, I am glad that others, like Al Gore and Jesse Jackson, have jumped all over Lott. Last night, Lott apologized:

"A poor choice of words conveyed to some the impression that I embraced the discarded policies of the past," Lott said in a statement. "Nothing could be further from the truth, and I apologize to anyone who was offended by my statement."

With that, I say, let it drop. There are lotts of good reasons to throw Lott out of the Senate, but I don't think that one retracted statement should be one of them. Public figures in the past twenty years or so have gotten into more trouble by saying one or two controversial sentences than they do by a lifetime of bribe-taking and shady dealing. Think of the German minister who compared Bush to Hitler, or Jimmy the Greek. While I agree that words do matter, by jumping on controversial statements we cause public figures either to talk in public without saying anything (Tom Daschle, for example), or not to talk in public at all (Dick Cheney). Better to question someone if he says something outrageous, and if he properly clarifies or apologizes, leave it at that.

Bush to pick William Donaldson to replace Pitt at SEC. Donaldson was one of the founding partners of Donaldson, Lufkin & Jenrette, a New York investment banking firm. The Times article doesn't give much background, except for this interesting tidbit: He served during 1975 as counsel to U.S. Vice President Nelson Rockefeller. Before that, he was U.S. undersecretary of state under Secretary Henry Kissinger from 1973 until 1975.

So I did a quick google search and came up with the following:

Donaldson Lufkin & Jenrette, now a part of Credit Suisse First Boston, handled
at least one Enron partnership, Whitewing Management LLP. Jeanmarie
McFadden, a spokeswoman for Credit Suisse, declined to comment. Officials at
Lehman Brothers, J.P. Morgan Chase and Salomon Smith Barney, Citigroup's
securities unit, Deutsche Bank and CIBC also declined to comment.
-- from

High-flying risk takers

DLJ probably won't be offended if you call it junky - the firm has profited enormously from underwriting junk bonds (high-yield debt) at a time when other banks thought the category was dead for good. In fact, when the fiefdom of junk bond czar Michael Milken and Drexel Burnham Lambert imploded in 1991, DLJ zoomed in and scooped up Drexel's best and brightest, unlike other firms, who shied away from scandal. Today, DLJ is the perennial leader in junk bond underwriting. In 1999, the firm was No. 1 among all underwriters of high-yield debt, lead-underwriting $17.5 billion in junk bonds. -- from excite.

Donaldson Lufkin & Jenrette is one company that turns the phrase “big business” into a totally inadequate understatement: they boast total capital of over $3.46 billion and total assets of over $55.56 billion. DLJ is involved in every facet of commercial finance endeavor ranging from investment banking to stock brokering to asset management to institutional equities to emerging markets to any other imaginable aspect of commercial financial operation. The many separate businesses that comprise DLJ fall into three groups: Financial Services, Capital Markets and Banking. -- from

Good pick, George. You're sure to restore confidence in the market by hiring Mr. Junk Bond (shaken and stirred).

Monday, December 09, 2002

Raising the bar on arrogance. Unbelievable!

Deputy Russian Ambassador Gennady Gatilov said the United States had taken the council's lone copy to Washington where it would make duplicates for distribution to the four other powerful council members. -- from the NY Times.

The US has the only copy of Iraq's report on weapons! Once again, the Bushies are just daring the rest of the world not to trust them. I sure don't. The US is supposed to make copies for the other four permanent members of the UN Security Council, while the other, non-permanent members get censored copies.

There are many amazing things about the Bush administration: its continual lack of concern for appearances may be the most amazing. They continually accuse others of actions that they themselves are clearly guilty of, they make statements that could easily be turned around against them, they are brash and arrogant, all apparently comfortable knowing that no major media outlet or world leader is going to point out the obvious. Taking the only copy of such an important document into private possession, even briefly, is so incredibly arrogant that it leaves me gasping. Even the slightest desire to appear honest and aboveboard would have led to the documents being immediately copied in the presence of representatives of all Security Council members, so that if any question arose over key passages that independent verification would be available. Also, I suspect that most Security Council members have better Arabic translators than the US does. Even if the Bushies are not blatantly criminal in altering the documents before copying them, this still leaves the possibility that they will select key passages from the documents to release to the press as reason to go to war before the other countries have an opportunity to review and possibly refute the US interpretation.

Update (about 9:40 PM EST; part above was posted about 4:30): the NY Times has clarified its article, sort of, so I'll try to clarify mine. Apparently, the inspectors still have the original document submitted by Iraq. The inspectors had originally intended to review the document for several days, possibly censoring certain sections of it, before releasing copies to Security Council countries. The Bushies, anxious to get their war on, didn't want to wait that long, so they pressured the inspectors into giving them a copy. As best as I can tell, the US is the only Security Council member that currently has a copy, but is supposed to make copies for the other four permanent Security Council members (Britain, France, Russia, China). The ten non-permanent SC members will only see edited versions at a later time.

It still seems, however, that the Bush administration will be reviewing the document in detail at the same time as the inspectors do, and before any other member of the security Council. While this probably removes any suspicion of actually altering the document, it still allows the administration to orchestrate the PR at a minimum. It also raises the possibility that they have been bluffing on having evidence, but can now use this document to "create evidence." For example, the Iraqis might state that at some location they have shells which formerly contained mustard gas, but from which the mustard gas and detonators have been removed. The administration can point the inspectors to that site, claiming that these shells are chemical weapons, since the gas and detonators could be replaced quickly. There might be traces of gas in the shells, and they could claim this as evidence as well. I don't know if this is actually the plan, but I'm certainly not the only one who is going to suspect it. The appearances are bad, and any "discoveries" of forbidden weapons will be tainted by suspicion, as opposed to if the inspectors had found the weapons without US orchestration.

So while I may have been overly alarmist, I think the basic premise is correct: the US is attempting to hijack the interpretation of the documents in order to go to war.

Judge rules that Cheney doesn't have to turn energy task force records over to GAO.
While I think that it is reprehensible and inexcusable for the Veep from the Deep to conduct important public business in secret, I also think that there is a proper response on the part of Congress: "We won't pass anything without knowing where it came from." And Cheney's energy plan speaks for itself: accelerated assault on the environment for the benefit of energy companies. So far, Congress hasn't passed much of it, and it should stay that way. Even more than most vice presidents, Cheney deserves to be ignored. And, as I've said before, if they won't tell you what you ask for, just assume the worst.

The Navy knows which side its bread is buttered on: Presenting the USS George H.W. Bush nuclear-powered aircraft carrier, which, along with the USS Ronald Reagan will soon be patrolling the waters of the world, changing regimes at will. Honoring the dishonorable: a longtime American tradition.

Merry-go-round: Turkish government officials have indicated that their support for a war on Iraq may depend on the US helping Turkey gain admission to the European Union. (I guess the Miss World crown wasn't enough.) They suggest that Bush make a few phone calls, twist a few arms. How's this for a scenario? W makes the calls, and France, Germany and other EU countries agree to support Turkey's entry into the EU--on condition that Bush drop his Iraq war plans. With any luck, this would cause Bush's head to explode.

The cost of a war in Iraq has been estimated at between $100 and $200 billion. How much is $100 billion?

  • Three times what the federal government spends on K-12 education.
  • Enough to provide health care to all uninsured children in the US for five years.

That's leaving a whole lot of children behind so we can go kill other children.

A few weeks ago, I quoted from an editorial that was in the Salt Lake Tribune (unfortunately, my link to the article doesn't work anymore). The author had an interesting prediction for what might happen if Mary Landrieu were re-elected to the Senate from Louisiana, which she was on Saturday.
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.
It will be very interesting if this is correct, since it would give the Senate back to the Democrats again.

Technical Difficulties: Check it out! (Make sure your speakers are turned down low.)

Steve Osborn, a member of our Ann Arbor Area Committee for Peace, posted the following reply to the "Technical Difficulties" animation:

"Technical difficulties" . . . I think there's some truth to that. Following closely the news, especially foreign news on public radio sources, I gain the impression that the Administration is HEARING the many criticisms, and for various reasons is now seeking (without saying so) to DELAY any war with Iraq, and to MINIMIZE any conflict that might take place. The UN, our Allies abroad, Arab nations, and certainly Iraq as well, are taking steps that amount to the same drive to delay and minimize any war. Surely the squabbles that will be developing over weapons inspections and questions about what they find will have that effect, too. To delay and minimize would be great opportunity for PEACE: just push those efforts farther, and it can amount to NO WAR at all. Only trouble is, it isn't really peace, either. But maybe it provides TIME during which real peace efforts can grow. Quote me, if it helps, from my recent letter-to-editor:

The US is certainly powerful enough to NOT LET SADDAM DRAG THE WORLD INTO WAR (as the President seems to imply when he says the choice is up to Saddam), regardless of the outcome of weapons inspections or arguments, or Saddam's games. Already the world's superpower, the US has the ability to get WHATEVER FUTURE WE MIGHT CHOOSE TO PREPARE FOR, with its power, great resources of diplomacy (if we'd use them) and reserves of good will still left for us in some parts of the world. So let's be preparing for peace to come, not war which no one wants and which even yet can be stopped, whatever Saddam's choice might be. Let's claim the choice for peace as OURS to make.

I think Steve may have a point: The Iraqis have said that they don't have WMD's, and the war hasn't started yet, so far as I've heard. Is it possible that W could be smart enough to declare victory at this point and bring the troops home? Use some of that old Dubyatalk, such as: "Since Mr. Saddam Hussein has decided to change his evil ways and disclose these disclosures, I think it is a sign that the regime change has changed. This was what we were goaling for all along." I doubt it, but if so, that's great.

Sunday, December 08, 2002

Adding on to secure, undisclosed location? Bunker-buster tests? Cheney's dinner didn't agree with him? Secret explosions occuring at the Veep from the Deep's mansion. The Post said neighbors have several theories about what the project might involve. One is that the government is building a security bunker for Cheney. Another is that it is digging tunnels to spy on nearby embassies. Still another is that a helicopter hangar is being built.

ACLU anti-Ashcroft TV ad! View it here, requires Real Player.

Less than two weeks after Thanksgiving, Miss Turkey becomes Miss World. Do you think is one of those "behind the scenes" things that the Bushies did to get Turkey's support for war on Iraq? I think it's possible, although she is very pretty.

I refuse to comment on whether the founders of any major religions would consider marrying her. I will say, however, that Jesus wouldn't drive at all--he'd take the bus!

Ten Reasons for Hope, from Bernard Weiner. Mostly based on the hope that more and more people will come to the realization that "this time Bush has gone too far."

'Compelling evidence' of global warming.

The water showdown begins, and it doesn't look like tax cuts are going to solve this problem. According to this article California's share of Colorado river water is going to be cut back significantly at the end of the year:

Assistant Interior Secretary Bennett Raley told the Imperial Irrigation District Thursday that his office is determined to reduce the state's overuse of Colorado River water quickly so other Western states can get their full entitlement. "I'm not here to tell you what to do," he said. "But doing nothing is not an option. The (Interior) secretary is going to enforce the law of the river."

Southern California must quickly decide how to allocate the water between the farmers of the Imperial valley and the industries and residents in the LA/San Diego area. I remember driving across the desert in California years ago where the highway parallels the aqueduct which carries water from the Colorado River to LA. There must be huge losses to evaporation in that high-temperature, low-humidity environment. I'm not familiar with the whole history there, but the politics behind such a massive subsidization of one area over another must have been, and continue to be, incredible. The sheer arrogance required to take on such a massive engineering project to benefit one location at the expense of another is staggering. I am reminded of the story of the Chicago River, which back around 1890 used to flow through Chicago and into Lake Michigan. Unfortunately, the river served as the main sewer for Chicago, which fouled up the Lake Michigan water that Chicagoans were drinking and trying to swim in. Rather than treat the sewage properly or come up with a reasonably environmentally sound plan, Chicago decided to reverse the flow of the river! With a lot of digging they were able to connect the Chicago River to the Des Plaines river a few miles inland. The Des Plaines flows to the Illinois river, and eventually to the Mississippi. So rather than have their sewage wash up on their own beaches, it now flowed the other way, down to Peoria (which had far fewer representatives in the Illinois legislature than did Chicago). To some extent I find large engineering projects to be fascinating, but many, maybe most, have been done strictly to benefit some powerful group of people at the expense of some other, less powerful group, not to mention the environment. Dams flood some areas to benefit others; freeways destroy cities to benefit suburbs; and aqueducts take water from where it was supposed to be to where those in power want it.

People have poured lots of money into developing both the cities of southern California and the agriculture of the Imperial valley. They're not likely to give up what they've built without a fight. This is going to be real ugly, and those of us in states that have adequate water have to be ready for states that don't trying to take it from us.

As usual, when it comes to water issues, Politics in the Zeroes is the place to go for more information.