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, January 04, 2003

Current TV Ad:

Nick and Norm
Nick: This whole drugs and terror thing, I mean, it's a very complicated issue.
Norm: Complicated issue?
Nick: Complicated; very complicated.
Norm: (smirk) No drug buyers, no drug money; no drug money, no drug dealers; no drug dealers, no drug murders, shootings, bribery, corruption.
Nick: (shaking head) Not that complicated.
Paid for by the Office of National Drug Control Policy:

Well, not if you're a humorless version of Dick Cheney like Norm, or a brainless pushover for a stupid argument like Nick (who looks a lot like Billy from Ali McBeal). Everytime I see this ridiculous ad sponsored by our ridiculous government, I want to scream. First off, a relatively minor point: drug murders, shootings, bribery and corruption are rarely if ever labeled terrorism, so Norm's supposed argument connecting drugs to terrorism fails on that count. Getting more serious, when you're talking bribery and corruption in connection with drugs, you're talking mainly the CIA and their supporters, especially those Reagan-era Iran-Contra operatives like Oliver North and current Bush administration officials John Negroponte, Elliot Abrams, and John Poindexter (read the book Whiteout: The CIA, Drugs and the Press for a lot more on this). Also, by refusing to negotiate with the Taliban for the extradition of Osama bin Laden, choosing instead to destroy them, the Bushies eliminated the only Afghan government which had effectively stifled heroin exports. And finally, the gist of Norm's brutal syllogism seems to be that all we need to do is to get rid of drug buyers to stop terrorism (not that drugs were in any way linked to 9/11--sort of like Iraq). So until our asinine president issues a death warrant for his own niece Noelle...well, I still won't listen to Nick and Norm.

WSWS covers Ann Arbor's rally for Rabih Haddad:

Unfortunately, I was confused on the time and didn't make it to the rally. Rabih Haddad has been in jail since being taken from his home in front of his wife and children on December 14, 2001. No charges have been brought against him.

Friday, January 03, 2003

I guess Dodge Durango's haven't been selling well: Daimler-Chrysler seems to have given up on the SUV. There's a new TV ad showing a nurse asking a brain surgeon whether she should buy an SUV or a Dodge Caravan. The doctor answers "Buy a Caravan. It carries more, gets better mileage, and is safer." Or something like that. The patient then speaks up: "I own an SUV!" The whole surgical team then laughs while the patient is put under. As one who believes that SUV stands for "Stupendously Useless Vehicle" I'm glad to see them ridiculed. D-C must have decided that they had little to lose in Durango sales while trying to take Expedition and Tahoe sales away from Ford and Chevy.

My suggestion for their next ad: The Pearly Gates: A guy is explaining to St. Peter how he got there--"I had just run over a Taurus with five people in it, only minor fender damage to my Suburban, when suddenly the Suburban rolled over, crushing my skull." St. Peter says "You're in the wrong place. SUV drivers who endanger everyone, including themselves, aren't allowed in here. It won't be bad for a while, though. There's a long line of others like you waiting to get in down there."

Boy in the Hood:

"President" Bush talking tough at Fort Hood in Texas.

"We know Saddam has weapons of mass destruction. We have the receipts." -- Mark Russell (from MaxSpeak's blog)

9/11 Victims' family members going to Iraq. I heard Rita Lazar of Peaceful Tomorrows speak here in Ann Arbor a couple of months ago. Their determination to break the cycle of violence is so refreshing compared to the Bushies' desire to spin it out of control. (Thanks to Politics in the Zeros for this link and the one below.)

QUESTION: If we do have to go to war...

BUSH: With which country?

QUESTION: With Iraq. And if our economy is stagnating, what makes you confident that we can afford...

BUSH: Well, first of all, you know, I'm hopeful we won't have to go to war. And let's leave it at that.

QUESTION: OK, if we do though...

BUSH: Until Saddam Hussein makes up his mind to disarm. See, it's his choice to make. So you need to ask him that question, not me.

QUESTION: But the White House is drawing up plans to pay for the war, if we come to that. So why...

BUSH: Well, let's leave it at if for a while then until that happens.

QUESTION: OK. So you don't want to talk about whether our economy can sustain...

BUSH: Well, I thought that was the question I answered yesterday. So, go back to that question.

Just a few of the cowpies that W was laying on the press yesterday. Here's the full transcript, if you dare.

In Finland, prisons are designed to correct criminal ways, not refine them. That the US has almost one percent of its population in prison is a scandal. That there are countries like Finland and others in Europe that have one-tenth the rate of imprisonment of the US, and most US politicians aren't the least bit interested in learning from them, is outrageous. It appears that only impending bankruptcy is likely to bring meaningful prison reform in this country. Read The Perpetual Prisoner Machine for more on the methods and motives of the US penal system. (Thanks to Sanjay for the link about Finnish prisons.)

Still can't Gitmo satisfaction: "Detainees" at the Gulag Guantanamo still have no rights, no charges, no hearings, no lawyers, no hope. (from the WSWS)

A group of US army officers in Afghanistan last year called for scores of detainees not to be sent to Guantanamo Bay. Senior US military commanders in Afghanistan, Kuwait and America, however, ignored their advice. The article also reported that Maj. Gen. Michael E. Dunleavy, operational commander at Guantanamo Bay until October, visited Afghanistan last year complaining that there were “too many ‘Mickey Mouse’ detainees” being sent to the naval base.

This is the type of crap this country is supposed to oppose, not do!

No one died flying on domestic commercial airliners in 2002, according to CNN. This also occurred in 1993 and 1998, although there were 525 deaths in 2001, including passengers on the four 9/11 planes and everyone on board American flight 587 two months later. Sorry to those looking for "all rants all the time:" this is good news, and I can't find any good anti-Bush slant in it. (In fact, the Bushies might be due for some mild praise here, but I ain't goin' there.) I just thought it was interesting, and it is one of those stories featured prominently on CNN's web site that you can miss completely reading the NY Times (like the explosions in Cheney's basement).

Four things the coming war against Iraq is not about:

  • It is not about terror.
  • It is not about weapons of mass destruction.
  • It is not about democracy.
  • It is not about preventing damage to the U.S. economy.

So what is it about? Hard to choose: oil, domination, revenge, punishing an insubordinate client? Whew. At least we know what it isn't.

-- From a column by Rick Salutin in Canada's Globe & Mail newspaper. Read the whole article for convincing reasons why the war is not about terror, WMD's, democracy, or the economy. Thanks to Allan in Canada for the link!

Paul Krugman explains clearly what others have been pointing out: that Bush's approach to Iraq, far from discouraging the other charter members of the "axis of evil," has actually encouraged them (and probably many other countries) to arm themselves as fast as possible. The militant rhetoric and military buildup around the world has made the world far less safe, whether it is terrorism or all-out war.

Pakistanis Demonstrate Against War in Iraq: Thousands took to the streets of Peshawar and other Pakistani cities.

Bush preemptively rebutted the Democratic accusations during a tour of his ranch this morning. "I understand the politics of economic stimulus -- that some would like to turn this into class warfare," he said. "That's not how I think. I think about the overall economy and how best to help those folks who are looking for work."-- from the Washington Post in an article about W's proposal for tax cuts on dividends, capital gains, and other benefits for the very rich. With Iraq, Bush has pursued an extremely aggressive policy likely to lead to war, all the while blaming Iraq for being the aggressor for trying to shoot down planes trying to bomb it. Back home, Bush and his Republicrat cronies have pursued full-out class warfare on behalf of the very rich against everyone else, and now they have the gall to accuse anyone who objects of engaging in class warfare. For ten years or more, Wall Street has rewarded companies which have downsized and moved operations to other countries, and Bush wants to reward the already over-privileged stockholders of these companies even further. His policies are designed to remove wealth from the poor people of this country and the world and concentrate it in the hands of the very few at the top. It is all out class warfare, and the Republicans are the ones who started it. And sniveling Democrats like Daschle and Lieberman who deny it are a major part of the problem.

Thursday, January 02, 2003

Species on the move due to global warming. Several species have gradually moved towards the poles in recent years, and global warming is the prime suspect.

Jennifer Granholm, Michigan's first woman governor:

The Republicans have dug her a $2 billion hole to dig out of, but she's smart and energetic and I wish her the best. Hopefully she will follow the path of New Jersey Gov. James E. McGreevey in taking on polluters and trying to stop sprawl, trying to undo the damages wrought by previous NJ governor and current EPA chief Christie Whitman. Maybe McGreevey can do the same thing as EPA head under President Dean, Feingold, Nader or Kucinich in two years (all other currently-mentioned possibilities for who might get elected in Nov. 2004 are too horrible to contemplate).

The Bushies have actually proposed cracking down on drug companies' bribes to doctors, and of course the druggies are fighting back. The Amygdala blog has fully fisked this one already.

Afghanistan is our responsibility now, and we are failing miserably. Bad as they were, the last two functioning governments in Afghanistan were sent packing: the Soviets by the mujahadeen with massive US support, and the Taliban directly by the US military. While Unocal representative Karzai has time to negotiate pipeline deals, little appears to be happening to make life any better for millions of destitute Afghan citizens.

Say what we might about the new Senate majority leader, I doubt that Tom Daschle or Trent Lott ever stopped to treat victims of a car crash. It is somewhat encouraging to have someone like Dr. Frist in a leadership role. Good job, Doctor.

Still, unwilling to pass up taking a shot at Republicans, I would like to know how Dr. Frist reconciles his hippocratic oath to "first do no harm" with his support of war in Iraq and the many other Republican policies which are doing lots of harm throughout the world.

Wednesday, January 01, 2003

Happy 2003!

Let's hope that it's better than 2002, although it has the potential to be far worse. I've compiled a collection of pictures from 2002.

Tuesday, December 31, 2002

George Orwell Bush says that an attack on the US by Iraq could cripple the economy. Are there still people out there who believe this clown? A country 6000 miles away, that the US beat decisively in a conflict twelve years ago destroying much of its military might, and which has been further crippled by years of sanctions, inspections and bombings, poses a threat to the country with the world's largest military by far, protected by two giant oceans? George W. Bush is the biggest threat to the US economy and world peace.

"Hey Rocky! Watch me pull a number out of my hat!"
"Oooh: $50 to $60 billion for a war in Iraq!"
"Gee, Mr. Daniels, Mr. Lindsey said it would cost a lot more!"
"That's why Mr. Lindsey doesn't hang his hat here anymore, Rocky."

Rangel calls for draft: Congressman Charles Rangel (D-NY) writes in the NY Times today that Congress should reinstate the military draft. He says that neither the administration nor Congress would be in such a rush to go to war if their own children were likely to be involved (he says that there are only a few officers and one enlisted soldier currently in the armed forces who are children of members of Congress). Rangel is a dove who voted against the Iraq war resolution in October, so this is clearly a ploy to get the public more involved in opposing the war. I hope that it at least makes George W. Bush think about the prospect of having his twin daughters go through bootcamp: he wouldn't get any sleep at all! ("But Daddy, that awful man made me do pushups! (Sob.) And not only do I have to wear these horrible boots, I have to shine them! Do something, Daddy!") Six months stationed in Saudi Arabia or Kuwait might open their eyes a bit, too.

However, it's a high-stakes game. I'm guessing that the Bushies will downplay it, saying that "our all-volunteer military does a wonderful job and is quite capable of dealing with all of the challenges facing it." They might embrace it, though, thanking (i.e. blaming) the Democrats for introducing the idea, seeing it as a way to accelerate their plans for global empire. This would then put other Democrats in the awkward position that Rangel is trying to put Bush and the other Republicans in: seeming to be protecting their own children from military service by opposing the draft.

At this point, things are getting bad so quickly that this is probably a useful strategy: Rangel's bill will be hard to ignore, and if things go well it will mobilize a large portion of the country that has been either silent or stupidly flag-waving to this point.

Monday, December 30, 2002

Doonesbury weighs in on civil rights.

Too little, too late? The Washington Post ran an article yesterday describing the major role that the US, under the Reagan and Bush Sr. administrations, played in the buildup of the Iraqi military and its development and use of chemical and biological weapons. It mentions Donald Rumsfeld's key meeting with Saddam Hussein in 1983, offering him US support even though it was known at the time that Iraq was using chemical weapons. It also mentions something rarely covered in the US media, that the Kurds gassed in northern Iraq in 1988 were probably collaborating with Iran. So while not justifying the gassing, it makes the "gassed his own people" claim dubious at best. The article describes how the US government allowed and even encouraged the sale of chemical, biological and "dual-use technology" (items that could be used in a nuclear program) by US firms. It even dares mention the infamous meeting of US ambassador at the the time April Glaspie with Saddam in July of 1990:

When the then-U.S. ambassador to Baghdad, April Glaspie, met with Hussein on July 25, 1990, a week before the Iraqi attack on Kuwait, she assured him that Bush "wanted better and deeper relations," according to an Iraqi transcript of the conversation. "President Bush is an intelligent man," the ambassador told Hussein, referring to the father of the current president. "He is not going to declare an economic war against Iraq."

Unfortunately, the article refrains from mentioning the so-called "green light" that Glaspie gave Saddam when she stated that the US had no opinion on the Iraq-Kuwait dispute. While Saddam did not tell her that he was planning on invading Kuwait a week later, he certainly must have been surprised at the vehement "worse than Hitler" response from someone who had "no opinion" and who "wanted better and deeper relations." Unless, of course, as many in the Middle East believe, Saddam has been a US agent all along, providing a ready excuse for the ever-increasing military presence in the region. Saddam has stayed alive and in power, either with US help or due to US reluctance (or whatever it was that stopped Desert Storm from storming Baghdad in 1991), while the Iraqi people pay again and again and again: war with Iran, Gulf War, sanctions, no-fly zone bombings, Desert Fox, and now, probably, Gulf War II.

I don't know what the truth is, but I am quite sure that what the Bushies are telling us is lies, just as it was in 1990. Saddam is not a threat to the US: he's a convenient ongoing excuse.

Sunday, December 29, 2002

Sending the troops in: While Iraq continues to jump through every hoop that Bush throws in its path, the buildup of forces continues. Even if, as I sincerely hope, they don't see combat, the expense of just sending them there is enormous. Meanwhile, back home, the states are facing massive budget deficits which will cause cutbacks in schools, hospitals, welfare, name it. George W. Bush should be impeached for flagrant dereliction of duty: worst president ever, leaving his wimpy daddy in the dust.

Bin Laden, Shmin Laden: This is what the Afghan war was all about: Pakistan, Afghanistan and Turkmenistan on Friday signed a framework agreement for a $ 3.2 billion gas pipeline project passing through the three countries. What an amazing coincidence that the Bonn conference of a year ago picked Hamid Karzai to be Afghanistan's president, and Karzai made this pipeline a priority, well ahead of establishing any sort of control over Afghanistan. Thanks again to Polizeros for the link.

If it ain't broke...Huey recycles last year's predictions for the new year in Boondocks.