Bob's Links and Rants

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Friday, January 31, 2003

Despite marshaling powerful armed forces in the Persian Gulf region and a virtual declaration of war in the State of the Union message, our government has not made a case for a pre-emptive military strike against Iraq...Even if [Secretary of State Powell's] effort is successful and lies and trickery by Saddam Hussein are exposed, this will not indicate any real or proximate threat by Iraq to the United States or to our allies. -- Former President and Nobel Peace Prize Winner Jimmy Carter .

Jimmy Carter. Nelson Mandela. Norman Schwarzkopf. Pat Buchanan. The Pope. The United Methodist Church. France. Germany. Russia. China. Jesse Jackson. Brent Scowcroft. Families of 9/11 victims (granted, not all). Veterans (ditto). Republicans (granted, not most). Ann Arbor. Detroit. San Francisco. Chicago. Kalamazoo. Madison. Berkeley. Some 40 other US cities. Antarcticans. Jesus Christ. You. Me.

If anyone finds a web site that provides a comprehensive list of prominent war opponents, including their degree of opposition (i.e. only with UN approval, only with a coalition, only with conclusive evidence of something, only if hell freezes over, etc.), please send me the link. Don't send me the whole article--I don't have that much room in my e-mail directory.
We've taught them well, it appears:
No one has taken responsibility for the attack, but [deputy police chief Ustad Nazir] Jan blamed Taliban and al-Qaida fugitives. "One hundred percent we are sure it was Taliban and al-Qaida,'' Jan said. "We will get the proof.'' -- from an AP article.

Yes, deputy police chief Jan has learned well from the U.S. military and the CIA: If anything bad happens, Taliban and al-Qaida did it. If you kill somebody, anybody, they were Taliban or al-Qaida. Cuts down on the collateral damage. If everyone is an enemy soldier, you don't have to worry about killing civilians.

Absolutely barbaric.
PayPal for Peace! I've added a donation button for the Ann Arbor Area Committee for Peace to my frame on the right. If you've already signed up for PayPal, it is now very easy to make a donation with a credit card. If you haven't, clicking on the button will get you started, and you'll be able to use it to make donations and purchases on other web sites as well.
Former CIA analyst Stephen C. Pelletiere writes in today's NY Times about the frequent assertion that Saddam Hussein "gassed his own people." He says (emphasis added):

But the truth is, all we know for certain is that Kurds were bombarded with poison gas that day at Halabja. We cannot say with any certainty that Iraqi chemical weapons killed the Kurds. This is not the only distortion in the Halabja story.

I am in a position to know because, as the Central Intelligence Agency's senior political analyst on Iraq during the Iran-Iraq war, and as a professor at the Army War College from 1988 to 2000, I was privy to much of the classified material that flowed through Washington having to do with the Persian Gulf. In addition, I headed a 1991 Army investigation into how the Iraqis would fight a war against the United States; the classified version of the report went into great detail on the Halabja affair.

This much about the gassing at Halabja we undoubtedly know: it came about in the course of a battle between Iraqis and Iranians. Iraq used chemical weapons to try to kill Iranians who had seized the town, which is in northern Iraq not far from the Iranian border. The Kurdish civilians who died had the misfortune to be caught up in that exchange. But they were not Iraq's main target.

And the story gets murkier: immediately after the battle the United States Defense Intelligence Agency investigated and produced a classified report, which it circulated within the intelligence community on a need-to-know basis. That study asserted that it was Iranian gas that killed the Kurds, not Iraqi gas.

Pelletiere concludes:

Perhaps the strongest argument left for taking us to war quickly is that Saddam Hussein has committed human rights atrocities against his people. And the most dramatic case are the accusations about Halabja.

Before we go to war over Halabja, the administration owes the American people the full facts. And if it has other examples of Saddam Hussein gassing Kurds, it must show that they were not pro-Iranian Kurdish guerrillas who died fighting alongside Iranian Revolutionary Guards. Until Washington gives us proof of Saddam Hussein's supposed atrocities, why are we picking on Iraq on human rights grounds, particularly when there are so many other repressive regimes Washington supports?

From Tom Tomorrow's blog: (This gets a little confusing as to who is talking, so I've added parenthetical notes to explain)
(Tom Tomorrow says:)A reader draws my attention to this report, titled Rebuilding America's Defenses (.pdf format), from a thinktank called the Project for a New American Century. I haven't looked through the whole thing yet, but here are a couple of sobering excerpts:
(The report says:)
"ESTABLISH FOUR CORE MISSIONS for U.S. military forces:
--defend the American homeland;
--fight and decisively win multiple, simultaneous major theater wars;
--perform the "constabulary" duties associated with shaping the security
environment in critical regions;
--transform U.S. forces to exploit the "revolution in military affairs"
* * *
... the process of transformation, even if it brings revolutionary change, is likely to be a long one, absent some catastrophic and catalyzing event – like a new Pearl Harbor.

* * *
Indeed, the United States has for decades sought to play a more permanent role in Gulf regional security. While the unresolved conflict with Iraq provides the immediate justification, the need for a substantial American force presence in the Gulf transcends the issue of the regime of Saddam Hussein."
(End of excepts from the report. Tom Tomorrow says:)
Emphasis added.

Did I mention that this was written in September of 2000? Or that signatories to the original PNAC Statement of Principles included Elliott Abrams, Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, Jeb Bush and Paul Wolfowitz?

(Bob says:) People accuse us of being looney conspiracy theorists and being too harsh in our judgment when we say that the Bush administration is bent on imperialism and world domination. It's all there in black and white, in their own words. This isn't about democracy or freedom; it is about ruling the world and killing as many people as it takes, probably millions more, to accomplish that goal. All the nonsense about weapons of mass destruction and al Qaeda ties is just a front for this plan. And the "Pearl Harbor" comment should certainly be considered by the commission investigating 9/11 as evidence that many of the people currently in our government thought, a year ahead of 9/11, that such an event could be useful to their agenda. You don't have to be that much of a conspiracy theorist to connect those dots!

U.S. efforts against terrorism could affect the "survival of civilization itself." -- Dick Cheney, according to CNN.

There's no doubt about it, Useless Dick. U.S. efforts against terrorism are the greatest threat to the survival of civilization in over 50 years. I'm sure that's what you meant. Cheney continues: "We will not permit a brutal dictator with ties to terrorists and a record of reckless aggression to dominate the Middle East and to threaten the United States of America." Pretty bold stuff to say about President Bush, ol' Veep from the Deep you. Are you talking about a coup? No offense, but I hope you're not leading it, Dick.

Thursday, January 30, 2003

PLEASE DONATE to the Ann Arbor Area Committee for Peace!
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Chickenhawks! Huh. What are they good for? Absolutely nothing! Excellent online animation.
Black Hawk Down. Your government has spent billions of dollars to send our youth to die on training missions in Afghanistan and Kuwait. What a waste.

Nelson Mandela Condemns Bush

"It is a tragedy what is happening, what Bush is doing in Iraq,'' Mandela told an audience in Johannesburg. "What I am condemning is that one power, with a president who has no foresight, who cannot think properly, is now wanting to plunge the world into a holocaust,'' he added, to loud applause. -- Full article.

Rarely seen photos from the Gulf War can be seen here. A sample:

Interview with Religious Leader

by Bob Goodsell

I have obtained a copy of an interview done this week with a famous religious leader by a daring reporter. I obtained it through an elaborate delivery scheme intended to protect the identity of both the reporter and the religious leader: I myself do not know who they are. Here is the interview.

Q. You insist on anonymity for this interview. Many people around the world would be delighted to hear from you. Why won't you identify yourself?

A. Those who truly know me will recognize me.

Q. George W. Bush is the president of the United States of America, the most powerful nation on earth. He gave what is known as the State of the Union Address on Tuesday, as I'm sure you are aware. In the speech, Mr. Bush outlined an economic plan which provides little help for the poor people in his country. Any comments?

A. Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.1

Q. His plan also provides tremendous benefits for the rich. What are your thoughts on that?

A. It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God.2

Q. So you are saying that while his plan condemns the many to starvation, it condemns the few to damnation?

A. It is you who say so.

Q. Mr. Bush started a "war on terrorism" following the attacks on his country of September 11, 2001. Do you think this was a wise course to follow?

A. I say unto him, That ye resist not evil: but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also.3

Q. How would you respond to the idea that it is foolishness not to respond to such a brutal attack? Shouldn't a country be strong and forceful in response?

A. Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth.4

Q. Wow. That's really radical thinking. You could never get elected to Congress in America.

A. Thank you.

Q. In his speech, Mr. Bush said, and I quote, "All told, more than 3,000 suspected terrorists have been arrested in many countries. And many others have met a different fate. Let's put it this way: They are no longer a problem to the United States and our friends and allies....One by one the terrorists are learning the meaning of American justice." I don't think that I'm stretching the point to say the Mr. Bush is saying that these people who "met a different fate" were killed. None of those killed was tried or convicted by a court of law, yet they were killed by the U.S. military or the CIA on Mr. Bush's orders. Any comments?

A. Judge not, and ye shall not be judged.5

Q. Mr. Bush insists that the leader of Iraq is a dangerous man with dangerous weapons. How would you respond to Mr. Bush?

A. Thou hypocrite, first cast out the beam out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother's eye.6

Q. Still, Mr. Bush seems intent on attacking Iraq. Any further arguments you could make to him?

A. He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone.7

Q. Stone? Excuse me, hold on a minute...Let's missiles, cluster bombs, fuel-air explosives, chemical weapons, nuclear weapons...sorry, stones appear to be about the only weapons that are not in the U.S. arsenal.

A. Okay: He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a cruise missile. Whatever.

Q. It is reported that Mr. Bush is a follower of yours and prays to you daily. Is this true?

A. He talks to me, but he never listens.

Q. Many people around the world, including some in the United States, have begun to protest the clear intention of Mr. Bush to wage war against Iraq. Do you have anything to say to them?

A. Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God.8

Footnotes: 1: Matthew 5:19; 2: Mark 10:25; 3: Matthew 5:39; 4: Matthew 5:5; 5: Luke 6:37; 6: Matthew 7:5; 7: John 8:7; 8: Matthew 5:9.

But enough about my dad and me...

Throughout the 20th century, small groups of men seized control of great nations, built armies and arsenals, and set out to dominate the weak and intimidate the world. In each case, their ambitions of cruelty and murder had no limit. -- from the State of the Union Address.

Are the Bushies totally unaware how aptly this rhetoric applies to themselves? Or do they do it secure in the knowledge that most Americans are too ignorant to catch it, while they know that it infuriates the rest of us, something they love to do? Whichever it is, it is very frightening. While George W. Bush may not be the most evil man in history (although he is close), he is without a doubt the most dangerous, given that he has the largest military in history at his disposal, and is unchecked by a figurehead Congress, a corporate media, or a mostly ignorant public.
Bushian Logic on the Neighborhood Level -- from Terry Jones.
I'm really excited by George Bush's latest reason for bombing Iraq: he's running out of patience. And so am I!

For some time now I've been really pissed off with Mr Johnson, who lives a couple of doors down the street. Well, him and Mr Patel, who runs the health food shop. They both give me queer looks, and I'm sure Mr Johnson is planning something nasty for me, but so far I haven't been able to discover what. I've been round to his place a few times to see what he's up to, but he's got everything well hidden. That's how devious he is.

As for Mr Patel, don't ask me how I know, I just know - from very good sources - that he is, in reality, a Mass Murderer. I have leafleted the street telling them that if we don't act first, he'll pick us off one by one.

Some of my neighbours say, if I've got proof, why don't I go to the police? But that's simply ridiculous. The police will say that they need evidence of a crime with which to charge my neighbours.

Another article from Terry Jones along similar lines from last year.

Wednesday, January 29, 2003

Labor Against War

Off of our listserv, from the Los Angeles County Federation of Labor. Sorry, I couldn't find a story in a newspaper web site: wonder why. But this is so right on that I'm happy to post it even if it's a hoax:

Resolution Opposing the Bush Administration's War On Iraq

WHEREAS, union members and leaders have the responsibility to inform all working people about the issues that affect our lives, jobs, and families, and to be heard in the national debate on these issues; and

WHEREAS, the billions of dollars spent to stage and execute this war are being taken away from our schools, hospitals, housing, and Social Security and services for the poor in the midst of the greatest economic crisis in recent memory, even as the Bush Administration simultaneously plans even more giveaways and welfare for their rich supporters; and

WHEREAS, the Bush Administration has spearheaded a renewed assault on organized labor which includes use of Taft-Hartley against dockworkers, excluding over 50,000 federal airport screeners' right to organize, privatizing nearly 200,000 federal jobs covered by the American Federation of Government Employees(AFGE) and removing collective bargaining rights from these employees; and

WHEREAS, the war is a pretext for attacks on labor, civil, immigrant and human rights; and

WHEREAS, the Bush Administration's drive for war serves as a cover and distraction for the sinking economy, ongoing corporate corruption and layoffs; and

WHEREAS, the Bush Administration and Congress' US Patriot Act serves to undermine labor's right to organize and fight anti-immigrant attacks by expanding the government's ability to detain non-citizens, to conduct telephone and internet surveillance, and to carry out secret searches;

THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED, that the Los Angeles County Federation of Labor, AFL-CIO stands firmly against the Bush Admininstration's drive to war and
calls for a re-ordering of our national priorities which must include allocation of resources to provide jobs, education, health care, a clean environment, and social justice; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that the Los Angeles County Federation of Labor, AFL-CIO will work so that organized labor, the national AFL-CIO, and the many allies of working men and women take a stand against the US Patriot Act and Homeland Security Act; and

BE IT FINALLY RESOLVED, that the Los Angeles County Federation of Labor, AFL-CIO joins other labor organizations, and community allies to actively promote and participate in activities opposing the Bush Administration's drive to war.

Year after year, Saddam Hussein has gone to elaborate lengths, spent enormous sums, taken great risks to build and keep weapons of mass destruction. But why?

The only possible explanation, the only possible use he could have for those weapons, is to dominate, intimidate or attack.

With nuclear arms or a full arsenal of chemical and biological weapons, Saddam Hussein could resume his ambitions of conquest in the Middle East and create deadly havoc in that region.
-- from the State of the Union Address.

Replace "Saddam Hussein" and "he" with "the United States" and the statement becomes truer. Certainly Saddam may have sought weapons to dominate, intimidate or attack, but that is not the "only possible explanation." For over twelve years Iraq has been under brutal military and economic attack from the world's only superpower. Since Saddam's has few ways of delivering such weapons at any significant distance, using them for the defense of his country from that superpower is certainly a possible explanation, and a pretty likely one, if not the only one. And except for the Iran-Iraq war, in which the US supplied arms to both sides, almost all of the "deadly havoc in the region" has been at the hands of the US or its client state, Israel. As Ramsey Clark points out, more people were killed in the US invasion of Panama in 1989 than were killed in Iraq's invasion of Kuwait eight months later. But well over 100,000 Iraqi soldiers and civilians were killed in the Gulf War, and many more than that died from the destruction of infrastructure it caused and the draconian sanctions which were applied.
Kennedy seeks a new Iraq resolution requiring Bush to get new congressional approval before attacking Iraq:
"Much has changed in the many months since Congress has debated war with Iraq," the Massachusetts Democrat said in a statement released after President Bush's State of the Union address, in which Bush tried to rally the American people to the need to disarm Iraq. "U.N. inspectors are on the ground and making progress, and their work should continue," Kennedy said. "Osama bin Laden and the Korean nuclear crisis continue to pose far greater threats [than Iraq]."

Unfortunately, Republicans believe we live in a dictatorship:

Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist said on CNN's "Larry King Live" that Bush made a "very powerful" case against Iraq in his speech and that another vote would be "absolutely unnecessary. At the end of the day, the president will decide what's in the best interest of the safety of the American people and lead a coalition to disarm Saddam Hussein," the Tennessee Republican said.

What a jerk! What is Congress for if it leaves the most important decisions up to a dim-witted loser (add your own adjectives here) clown like George Worthless Bush? At the end of the day, apparently nothing at all.

Worst President Ever, according to veteran White House reporter Helen Thomas.
Don't you hate getting spam from McAfee advertising SpamKiller? I wonder if there's something I can get to stop that.
I love Boondocks!
Oil is a Curse: According to this fine article from Fortune magazine, of all places, having lots of oil has been a bad thing for most countries, especially the average citizens. The article focuses on how an influx of oil money into an economy discourages broader development of agricultural, manufacturing and service industries. It discusses how the discovery of oil in Venezuela has turned it from one of the wealthiest and most stable countries in Latin America into an economic and political disaster. Unfortunately, the article studiously avoids the brutal attention a country gets from Bushes and other thieves that also results from having oil.

Tuesday, January 28, 2003

Tell Congress not to eliminate taxes on stock dividends. TrueMajority makes it easy.
Time to Hit the Streets: Bush Isn't Backing Down, and Congress is Standing for It
I've never been so ashamed to be an American. I'll admit that I was impressed that Bush could talk so calmly with his trousers ablaze. And to see Joe Lieberman and Hillary Clinton stand and cheer every lie made me ill. I was glad to see that many Democrats remained seated for some of the most outrageous statements. I saw Ted Kennedy sit without clapping while many around him stood.

Did you notice EPA Director Christie Whitman chuckling when Bush talked about the environment? She seemed to nudge the guy next to her to get him to clap: "Come on, pretend like you believe it!" And Nancy Pelosi shook her head in disbelief at some of the economic BS Bush was spouting.

Finally, after the hours coaching W on every nuance in his speech, making him appear almost not stupid to the uninitiated, why don't they tell the man with the finger on the button that the word is pronounced "NEW-CLEAR," not "NEW-CUE-LAR!"

US Guilty of "Shocking Double Standards" -- from Bush's favorite arms inspector, Richard Butler
"The spectacle of the United States, armed with its weapons of mass destruction, acting without Security Council authority to invade a country in the heartland of Arabia and, if necessary, use its weapons of mass destruction to win that battle, is something that will so deeply violate any notion of fairness in this world that I strongly suspect it could set loose forces that we would deeply live to regret," [former U.N. arms inspector Richard] Butler said. -- from Reuters

This should be headline news on every paper. The Bushies and right-wing media have mercilessly attacked another former inspector, Scott Ritter, for his repeated statements that Iraq poses little threat because most of its weapons stockpiles were destroyed by 1998 and they have little chance to redevelop them since. But they have loudly repeated warnings from Butler, who has stated that he believes Iraq still has WMD's. Here is an example from Condoleeza Rice's op-ed piece in the NY Times last week:
Last week's finding by inspectors of 12 chemical warheads not included in Iraq's declaration was particularly troubling. In the past, Iraq has filled this type of warhead with sarin — a deadly nerve agent used by Japanese terrorists in 1995 to kill 12 Tokyo subway passengers and sicken thousands of others. Richard Butler, the former chief United Nations arms inspector, estimates that if a larger type of warhead that Iraq has made and used in the past were filled with VX (an even deadlier nerve agent) and launched at a major city, it could kill up to one million people. Iraq has also failed to provide United Nations inspectors with documentation of its claim to have destroyed its VX stockpiles.

So Condi says, using Butler to support her argument, that if Iraq used larger shells than were found and filled them with a gas they don't seem to have and put them on rockets they haven't got, they could kill a million people. Butler basically replies that the US is perfectly capable of killing many times that number with existing weapons that could be targeted to any city in the world, and for it to engage in a devastating attack with either "conventional" or "mass destruction" weapons against a much weaker country, to enforce UN resolutions but without UN approval, is the height of hypocrisy. It is truly scary how easily our government was taken over by these maniacs and that no one seems to think that there is much of a chance of stopping them.

In Michigan, more people are driving farther to work than ever before. And hundreds of Americans and hundreds of thousands of Iraqis are about to die so that this nonsense can continue. I think I'm turning into a nut--as I walk from the bus stop to work in the morning, I find myself mouthing "Stop Driving!" at all of the vehicles going by. As Douglas Kelbaugh, Dean of the School of Architecture here at the University of Michigan, said: "All of the traffic is evidence of a massive failure in planning. Nobody is where they want to be, so they're out driving to someplace else." (I'm paraphrasing, since he said it about a year ago in a colloquium and I'm quoting from memory.)
I've been considering designing some non-bumper stickers:
  • Stop Driving!
  • Friends Don't Let Friends Drive
  • Stay Alive: Don't Drive
  • You're Suvocating Me!

Or maybe rewriting some songs:
  • Well she got onto the BART and rode on out to the tofu stand now (oh you shouldn't drive, no you shouldn't drive),
    not driving for some burgers at McDonalds like she told her old man now (you shouldn't drive, no you shouldn't drive),
    then she rode into the city and she didn't have to park a car now (you shouldn't drive, no you shouldn't drive),
    and she'll have fun fun fun 'til her Daddy takes her BART pass away...
  • Bye, bye Miss American Pie, rode my ten-speed to the levy but the levy was dry...
  • It goes from Chicago to LA, over 2000 miles on the way, get your kicks on bus 66
  • Oh, I remember when rock was young, me and Suzie had so much fun, holdin' hands and skimmin' stones, had an old Schwinn tandem and a fez of my own...
Chemical Warfare: This is old news, but it needs to be repeated while W is beating the war drums about weapons of mass destruction: The "war on drugs" is a war of terror using chemical weapons. As the article states, the spraying of defoliants on Colombia began during the Clinton administration and continued under W. (I wonder if Roundup Ultra works on shrubs?) I'm not defending Clinton, any more than I'm defending drug dealers or Saddam Hussein. Unfortunately, there are very few world leaders from the present or recent past whose actions are defensible. Bush is just being illegal and immoral at a faster rate than has been attempted since the time of Hitler, Stalin, and Mao. And he's better armed than any of them.
Bush to focus on peace and prosperity in his State of the Union speech, according to the Washington Post. He is the world's greatest threat to both, so why not?
I'm not ashamed to link to this; soldiers may soon have anti-guilt pills so they won't lose sleep over killing enemy soldiers, defenseless civilians, and me.
Kurt Vonnegut on the PP's running this country:
Q: Based on what you’ve read and seen in the media, what is not being said in the mainstream press about President Bush’s policies and the impending war in Iraq?

Vonnegut: That they are nonsense.

Q: My feeling from talking to readers and friends is that many people are beginning to despair. Do you think that we’ve lost reason to hope?

Vonnegut: I myself feel that our country, for whose Constitution I fought in a just war, might as well have been invaded by Martians and body snatchers. Sometimes I wish it had been. What has happened, though, is that it has been taken over by means of the sleaziest, low-comedy, Keystone Cops-style coup d’etat imaginable. And those now in charge of the federal government are upper-crust C-students who know no history or geography, plus not-so-closeted white supremacists, aka “Christians,” and plus, most frighteningly, psychopathic personalities, or “PPs.”

Read the whole interview here.
We can be sure that some pundits will acclaim the speech as bold and brilliant; they would do that if he read from "The Very Hungry Caterpillar." -- Paul Krugman.

Monday, January 27, 2003

Priorities: Spend money to start fires in Iraq, or put out fires at home? While I was passing out leaflets this weekend, I had a guy ask me if I was concerned about the welfare of Iraqi civilians, and of course I said I was. He asked what I thought about Saddam Hussein's priorities when he builds expensive palaces instead of feeding his people; I responded by asking him about our priorities, paying $200 billion to bomb Iraq's people instead of feeding ours. Made him think a little, I think. Well, Britain is facing a similar discussion about priorities, accusing firefighters of depleting military funding at a critical time, because military firefighters will have to put out fires during the planned 48-hour strike by the nation's civilian firefighters:

Britain's firefighters announced Monday they would go ahead with a 48-hour nationwide strike over pay. The walkout by the country's 55,000 firefighters, scheduled to begin at 9 a.m. on Tuesday, means almost 20,000 soldiers and their aging ``Green Goddess'' engines will again be left to provide emergency cover.

Firefighters have staged three strikes in recent months and the dispute over pay has become increasingly bitter, with the government accusing workers of draining military resources at a critical time. The last walkout, for 24 hours last Wednesday, came just days after the government announced 35,000 troops were being sent to the Persian Gulf to prepare for a possible war with Iraq.
-- from AP.

And here in the US, much of the increase in federal funding for local police and fire departments promised after 9/11 has failed to materialize as more federal revenue goes to the military and to reward the rich for being rich. (Sorry, I don't have time to find a link for that right now, but I've seen several articles about how the administration has failed to deliver on those promises after using exploiting the FDNY and NYPD for political gain.)
Confessions of a Sane Mind: Actor and Director George Clooney compares the Bush administration to HBO's Sopranos. Now I haven't watched the Sopranos, but it sounds like a good insult, and the article makes it clear that it is. Richard Gere and Rene Zellwiger are also quoted in the article accusing radio host Charlie Rose of buddying up to Henry Kissinger and censoring criticism of the real Dr. Death.
There will be time to sleep, eat and work after we've stopped this war! This week, every possible minute needs to be devoted to peace: Help organize a rally or march (e-mail me,, if you want to help with the February 8 rally in Ann Arbor); call Congress (800-839-5276); write letters to the editor; call radio talk shows; or stand on your porch and scream "No War!" for ten minutes.
Big Anti-War Protest in Pittsburgh yesterday. I recall meeting one of the organizers for that rally at the march in Washington on January 18. Go Pittsburgh!

Sunday, January 26, 2003

My apologies: This is truly scary:

-- from a NY Times magazine article comparing Reagan and W. (Note: the morphing animation only plays three times. If you dare see it again, hit the refresh button on your browser.)
Rush Limbaugh called anti-war demonstrators "un-American." This web site gives the details and tells you how to contact Rush's sponsors and ask them to pull their ads or face a boycott. Amtrak and Radio Shack have already pulled their ads thanks to this campaign. Ann Arbor residents should be especially upset with Pfizer's sponsorship.

Powell: U.S. prepared to act alone

"We will not shrink from war if that is the only way to rid Iraq of its wepaons of mass destruction. We continue to reserve our sovereign right to take military action against Iraq alone or in a coalition of the willing," Powell added. -- from CNN.

There you have it. The supposedly dovish Powell claims a "sovereign right" to unilateral war crimes. I'm opposed to the death penalty, but I hope these guys (including Condi) hang for this someday.

Pre-meditated war crime

From a CBS report:
They're calling it "A-Day," A as in airstrikes so devastating they would leave Saddam's soldiers unable or unwilling to fight.

If the Pentagon sticks to its current war plan, one day in March the Air Force and Navy will launch between 300 and 400 cruise missiles at targets in Iraq. As CBS News Correspondent David Martin reports, this is more than number that were launched during the entire 40 days of the first Gulf War.

On the second day, the plan calls for launching another 300 to 400 cruise missiles.

"There will not be a safe place in Baghdad," said one Pentagon official who has been briefed on the plan.

"The sheer size of this has never been seen before, never been contemplated before," the official said.

The battle plan is based on a concept developed at the National Defense University. It's called "Shock and Awe" and it focuses on the psychological destruction of the enemy's will to fight rather than the physical destruction of his military forces.

"We want them to quit. We want them not to fight," says Harlan Ullman, one of the authors of the Shock and Awe concept which relies on large numbers of precision guided weapons.

"So that you have this simultaneous effect, rather like the nuclear weapons at Hiroshima, not taking days or weeks but in minutes," says Ullman.

Nazi and Japanese military leaders were hanged for war crimes of a much smaller scale than this. NOT IN OUR NAME!!!!

Saturday, January 25, 2003

Dingell's Position: I just received a letter from Congressman John Dingell in response to one or more of my many calls to his office. I think it's pretty good, so I'm sharing it here:

Dear Mr. Goodsell:

Thank you for writing to express your concern about a possible attack against Iraq. I appreciate hearing from you and share your reservations.

On September 5, 2002, I wrote to President Bush and outlined the reasons I do not believe an attack on Iraq would be wise at this time. I have enclosed a copy of that letter for your review. In short, I do not believe the case for war has been made, nor do I believe the Administration has obtained the domestic and international support necessary to prosecute a successful war. The U.S. military has not received adequate access to the military bases it needs to carry out a large scale, sustained attack. Furthermore, the President has not informed Congress or the American people of the anticipated costs of opting for military action -- economically, diplomatically, or militarily. Finally, there is no plan in place for what would emerge in a post-war Iraq. It was for these reasons that I voted against H.J. Res. 114, a bill to authorize the use of U.S. Armed Forces against Iraq, on October 10, 2002.

Most of the world agrees that Saddam Hussein is an evil man who poses a serious threat to the Middle East, the international community, and his own people. That being said, there is great concern around the globe over the possibility of the U.S. launching a sustained military operation against Iraq. I share these reservations. To date, I have not seen or heard any intelligence reports that reveal that Iraq was in any way responsible for the September 11 terrorist strikes. With our troops already engaged in Afghanistan, now is certainly not the time for the U.S. to act in a unilateral fashion.

Again, I appreciate hearing from you. Please do not hesitate to contact me in the future should I be of assistance.

With every good wish,
Sincerely yours,
John D. Dingell
Member of Congress

The September 5 letter to which Dingell refers can be found here.

Collateral Brain Damage:
GOPTeamLeader gives you the power to quickly voice your opinions and influence your Representatives. Once you become a Leader, you can use to:
  • Learn about and help fellow Republicans running for office in your state, as well as on a federal level;
  • Track and research federal issues and bills of interest to you;
  • Write your local and federal representatives, while accessing official RNC talking points from;
  • Collect GOPoints by completing Action Items and redeem them for collateral of your choice, ranging from coolers to mouse pads.
  • Encourage participation in the political process by building your own Team of activists who you can share information with.
-- From the truly frightening GOP Team Leader web site. Help Bush destroy the world! Get a mouse pad!

Tom Tomorrow has been tracking identical letters to the editor supporting W's ridiculous economic plan which have shown up at papers all over the country. GOP Team Leader is the culprit. If Orwell had known about the Internet, he would have seen this coming.
Alternatives to War: As you know from reading the blog, I am dead set against war in Iraq. But it is certainly difficult to argue that Saddam Hussein is not a tyrant who would be extremely dangerous if he did in fact have nuclear weapons. This is in part because it is most likely true, and in part because Americans have been brainwashed for 12 1/2 years to believe it. We could counter that countries like Pakistan, North Korea and Israel already have nuclear weapons and have leaders who probably shouldn't be trusted with them (the US too, but that argument doesn't win with lots of Americans), but then our case is easily turned into just supporting going to war with these other countries first. Which, speaking for myself, is not what I want. So, while I don't buy the whole argument that Saddam is any big threat to us, I would like a good proposal to give to people who support going to war that doesn't say that Saddam is okay, and that also doesn't say we should fight these other countries first.

In my mail, I found a letter from "," a group from Massachusetts which formed a write-in campaign to oppose John Kerry for Senate after Kerry voted for the Iraq war resolution in October. Unfortunately, I can't get to their web site, so I'm going to just type in their listed alternatives to war. These are ideas that I think form a more logical and consistent middle ground between hawks and doves than "win without war" which basically says there are ways to make our oil grab without killing so many people, and "let the inspections work," which provides little leeway if the inspections work and do find the "smoking gun."

So, here are's "Alternatives to War:"
  • Carry out inspections, backed up, if necessary, by armed guards or a policy of destroying any sites not open to inspection (after warning and evacuation).
  • Enforce an arms embargo that is narrowly focused and universally observed.
  • Establish a procedure for future inspections.
  • End the current economic sanctions, replacing them with an option to freeze the foreign assets and travel of Saddam Hussein, his family, and other top individuals in his administration.
  • Re-open talks on a nuclear-weapon freeze zone in the Middle East.
  • As a first step to such a zone, insist on "transparency" on nuclear capabilities in the region, including an Israeli overview of its nuclear weapon program and Iranian accounting of potential nuclear weapon and energy applications of its nuclear power program.

There's more good stuff in the letter: I think that it shows that there is a lot of unexplored middle ground between "letting Saddam become a nuclear tyrant over the region" and "bombing Iraq even further back into the stone age." Hopefully my problem getting to is only temporary, or maybe I just didn't send them a donation in time, which would be a shame.

Friday, January 24, 2003

Disinformation and Propaganda about Disinformation and Propaganda: Apparatus of Lies, a self-referential document available at The massive bombing of Iraq in the Gulf War was almost completely unnecessary for the stated purpose of removing Iraqi troops from Kuwait. This document blames the huge civilian casualties completely on Iraq because civilian and military facilities were sometimes combined or adjacent to each other. That the US bombed them anyway is not seen as criminal in the minds of the war criminals in the White House. The fact is that Iraq was basically defenseless from the start of the Gulf War, including the military, and that the massive bombing campaign was akin to burning down a neighborhood because some kid threw a snowball at your SUV. Read Ramsey Clark's The Fire This Time for the real story of the Gulf War. Killing defenseless soldiers who are not threatening you in any practical sense is a war crime, and the US was certainly guilty of it in the Gulf War and in Afghanistan. The idea that the typical 17-year-old starving Taliban "soldier," probably drafted at gunpoint, was responsible for 9/11 and deserved to be killed without any remorse is incredibly barbaric, but seems to have been accepted without a second thought by most Americans, and without a first thought by the criminals in the White House. And of course don't forget that the operative definition for "al Qaeda or Taliban" in Afghanistan was people we killed, just like it was the operative definition for "Viet Cong" in Vietnam.
Finally! Some evidence as to where the weapons are hidden! (Warning: huge download)
It may be working! According to the NY Times, "The Bush administration is weighing the option of extending U.N. weapons inspections in Iraq in an effort to placate European allies and Russia. A decision will be based on whether the inspections are productive, a senior U.S. official said Friday."

Let's keep the pressure on! Can't stop the power of the people!

Heil Bush!

Gestapo Kommandant Ridge salutes der Führer.

Even Bush's real constituency is getting nervous: The Dow is down 228 today and about 500 points since a week ago Tuesday.
The wolf in wolf's clothing howls again:
Mr. Wolfowitz, long one of the administration's most vocal advocates for military action against Iraq, made an almost identical warning in his speech, declaring: "The decision on whether Iraq's weapons of mass terror will be dismantled voluntarily, or whether it will have to be done by force, is not up to us or to the U.N. The decision rests entirely with Saddam Hussein. So far, he has not made the fundamental decision to disarm, and unless he does, the threat posed by his weapons programs will remain with us, and indeed, will grow."

Referring to the inspections now under way, Mr. Wolfowitz used a business metaphor to make his case. "When an auditor discovers discrepancies in the books, it is not the auditor's obligation to prove where the embezzler has stashed his money," he said. "It is up to the person or institution being audited to explain the discrepancy."
-- from the NY Times.

Bad choice for an analogy, Wolfie, you genocidal maniac. First, no Bushie in his right mind (are there any?) would bring up the topic of audits to remind us all of the Harken, Halliburton, Enron and so many other scandals which really haven't been resolved at all, not to mention the economic plan which involves starting multiple 12-figure wars around the world while cutting taxes. Furthermore, if having weapons of mass destruction is equivalent to embezzlement, then Iraq is the corner bicycle shop finding a $20 bill on the floor that a customer dropped and not reporting it to the IRS, while the US is, well, Enron. Finally, while it is not the responsibility of the auditor to find the money, neither is it the responsibility of some bully from 6000 miles away to come in and kill the embezzler and hundreds of thousands of others and claim the black gold under the land as his own.

If you just can't get enough of the debate about ANSWER, MaxSpeak has plenty of articles about it with lots of comments on each one.
The Bush Nuclear Proliferation Policy
North Korea's nuclear weapons program is almost certainly a response to continued US threats and attacks on Iraq, in contrast to continued US support for the more dangerous nuclear-equipped Pakistan. Now, this dangerous addition to the nuclear club may spawn yet another--the only country ever to be the victim of nuclear bombs, Japan. According to this article, Japan has sufficient plutonium from its many nuclear reactors to create hundreds of bombs, and it has the technology and know-how to do so quickly. The article quotes Washington Post columnist Charles Krauthammer suggesting that the Bush administration would favorably consider giving Japan some nukes immediately to counter the North Korean threat and to scare the bejeezus out of China.

Whoopie! We're all gonna die!
Senate Votes to Block TIA Funding!
The United States Senate, in a rare show of courage in these “if it’s anti-terrorist it must be all right” times, cut off funding Thursday for the Pentagon’s super snoop computer project.

Take that, Poindexter, you war criminal you!

Good Anti-War Op-Ed from a Red (Bush) State
When you see the nation about to make a big mistake, it seems incumbent upon patriots to at least point it out.
The impending war against Iraq is such a mistake. No matter the outcome, it will make the U.S. less secure, increase the likelihood that Saddam Hussein will use his dreaded weapons, reduce Middle Eastern stability, turn many of our allies against us, and increase the likelihood of terrorism within the U.S.
-- from the Casper, Wyoming Star-Tribune via Capitol Hill Blue.

Bob to New York Times: Stop Blaming the Whole Country!

Two headlines from today's "newspaper of record:"
It's not USa, it's bUSh! Not in our friggin' name!

Thursday, January 23, 2003

Getting Closer...
Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., charged Thursday that the Bush administration is on a "rush to war" in Iraq that will endanger U.S. alliances and fan anti-Americanism "around the world." -- from the Washington Post. Of course, Kerry goes on to water down most of his message:
Saddam could be confronted more effectively, Kerry said, if the White House would "do the hard work" of explaining the threat and of building a coalition to invade Iraq, if that proves necessary. Kerry was one of the many scumbag Democrats who voted for the war resolution last October (including all of the prospective presidential candidates who are in Congress: Lieberman, Gephardt, Edwards, Kerry, Hillary Clinton). For him to only notice now that Bush is on a rush to war shows both that the anti-war movement is having an effect, and that Kerry is a gutless Clintonesque weathervane, pointing whichever way the polls are blowing. But then, so is most of Congress, so we need to keep blowing the polls towards peace until even Bush feels a breeze. And Bush is a reminder that there are far worse things to be than gutless Clintonesque weathervanes. Brainless Bushian cowboys, for one.
The lies get more desperate: Senior al Qaeda official may have been in Iraq -- from CNN.
Lest we forget, 19 dangerous al Qaeda operatives were in the US for an extended length of time prior to 9/11, and the CIA knew about at least two of them. And the article says that this al Qaeda official was also in Iran, Syria and Lebanon after leaving Afghanistan, but Bush is only interested in bombing Iraq--for now.
What Europe is seeing:
Europeans tend to regard free national health services, unemployment benefits, social housing and so on as pretty good models of human progress. We think it's important — civilized, in fact — to help people who fall through society's cracks. This isn't just altruism, but an understanding that having too many losers in society hurts everyone. It's better for everybody to have a stake in society than to have a resentful underclass bent on wrecking things. To many Americans, this sounds like socialism, big government, the nanny state. But so what? The result is: Europe has less gun crime and homicide, less poverty and arguably a higher quality of life than the U.S., which makes a lot of us wonder why America doesn't want some of what we've got. -- Musician Brian Eno, quoted in Time Europe . There's also another online poll to vote in on that page.

It remains unlikely that President Bush will back off now. But if he does, it would truly be a triumph for democracy in the very best sense of the word - and it would make all those street demonstrations worthwhile. -- conclusion to a great Guardian article.
Once again I say: Kucinich for President! Here are some excerpts from a speech he gave on Martin Luther King Day:
When war is already in the hearts of those who lead this nation, because our leaders aspire to dominate oil markets, or expand arms trade or desire world empire, or to distract from failures domestically, what are the American people to do? Do we just sit and watch while the United States moves next to declare war against North Korea, or Iran?
In the spirit of Dr. King, we must reject this White House war mentality and the unfortunate energy policy which spawns it, or we are facing endless war over diminishing resources. The Administration has made its intentions for war known. Now the American people must make our intentions known for peace.

We must reject war with Iraq. We must not let it happen.
If the goal of our leaders continues to be regime change, then let regime change begin at home. We must be prepared to continue to provide lawful, nonviolent, civil resistance in this nation. We must be prepared to exercise our constitutionally protected rights to assemble, to free speech, to free press, to challenge the government in the streets, on campuses, in town halls, in labor halls, in churches, wherever people gather, wherever people meet, in a manner consistent with the finest democratic traditions.

Finally, a good pro-Chavez article in a mainstream US paper. Bush doesn't like Venezuela's president, probably because he was democratically elected, and has been trying to get him ousted for a year now with lots of assistance from the corporate media. And, in case you didn't know, yes, Venezuela has oil. Lots of it.
Say NO to GMO's! Flash animation asking Kraft to stop using genetically-engineered ingredients in their "food."
Mike Thompson of the Detroit Free Press is one of the best political cartoonists around:

A Recurring Debate: Associating with Radicals

I've had at least two discussions in the last week with people who think that International ANSWER is much too radical an organization to be spearheading the anti-war movement, and that many of the speakers at Saturday's rally, like Al Sharpton, were going to hurt the movement by espousing causes that most of mainstream anti-war America oppose. While I'm sure that some people stay away for these reasons, I believe that the impact of the radicals on the a-w movement is at worst neutral and probably beneficial. I'll present first a practical argument and then a philosophical one.

The Practical Argument: First and foremost, without the radicals of ANSWER there would have been no rally or march. The Democratic party didn't organize one. Neither did the ACLU, the Green party, the NAACP, the Sierra Club, TrueMajority, MoveOn, the Quakers, the Catholics, or any other large national group which opposes (or should oppose) war with Iraq. I don't mean to put down any of these groups (I belong to four of the ones I mentioned), and they have organized effective mail campaigns and local events. But ANSWER, which most people had never heard of before October, had the vision and the energy to organize the huge rallies and marches in DC and San Francisco in October and January. They took on and accomplished the huge tasks of hiring and filling buses, getting permits, publicity, and all of the many other things necessary to make the events large and effective.

And I argue that only a radical organization could have done it. There are pro-Bush hawks in many of the mainstream groups who would vigorously oppose the groups even supporting, much less organizing, a major anti-war rally. The Sierra Club faced major dissension before finally supporting the wimpiest of the anti-war movements (Win Without War). The ACLU's mission is supported by prominent hawks like Bob Barr, Dick Armey and William Safire. And the last thing the Catholic church wants right now is one more divisive issue. So only a group sufficiently radical that it has no pro-war or pro-Bush faction will be able to focus its energy on organizing a big march rather than infighting.

In addition, although one of the people I discussed this with immediately disagreed with it (and he may be right), I think that each of the "radical" speakers represented some group which contributed hundreds of marchers to the rally. That is, without all of the yellers, you have a smaller and therefore less effective rally.

My final practical argument is that the possible negative impact of the speakers was minimal. Most repeated the anti-war message frequently and added in their own agendas. So everyone there could at least find something to cheer, since the whole crowd was anti-war. And even if there were radicals on the stage, the crowd was amazingly mainstream, maybe too much so. It was mostly white, all ages, very little spiked hair, body piercings, tattoos, etc. As a middle-aged white male I felt more out of place at the last Michigan football game I went to than I did in the rally. And while I was able to hear the speakers well, I'm sure that many others could not, and they probably didn't care. The important thing was to be there and to march through the streets. And the marching was a blast. While I'm sure that everyone would have preferred to hear speakers that mirror their own sentiments exactly, most people there would probably put up with having Fidel Castro or Rush Limbaugh speak if they had to to take part in the march. The worst negative effect was probably with the televised coverage on C-Span, where you could see and hear the speakers perfectly but not be a part of the crowd or participate in the march. And of course, right-wing journalists and radio personalities have probably jumped all over some of the more radical statements. But they would have found something to complain about anyway.

The Philosophical Argument: I've read some of Noam Chomsky's work and watched his video "Manufacturing Consent." He points out how the supposedly “liberal” media sets the left limit to debate: anybody more liberal than Sam Donaldson or George Stephanopoulos is a whacko radical and can be safely ignored. So while it may be barely safe for newscasters or politicians to call for “slowing the rush to war,” it is still treacherous to question larger parts of the US policy. “Win Without War” is a good example. That message basically says that through continued bullying of the United Nations, continued harsh sanctions which kill thousands in Iraq, and continued military buildup to threaten Saddam, maybe it will be possible to just steal Iraq and its oil without conquering it militarily. That is as far left as the Sierra Club, among many others, is willing to go.

The reason for this is that the mainstream debate has been continually pushed to the right in the past 25 years. Ralph Nader points out in his book “Crashing the Party” that many of Al Gore’s positions in 2000 were more right-wing than Richard Nixon’s were in 1972. This has been accomplished in large part because the right has not suppressed its radical whackos: Jerry Falwell, Rush Limbaugh, Pat Robertson, etc. These people introduce blatantly absurd ideas into the national debate and continue to repeat them until people either believe them or at least accept them as starting points. (“I don’t believe Hillary is a feminazi antichrist, but I sure wouldn’t trust her with my children.”)

Now I’m not calling for a progressive Rush, someone who combines half-truths about Republicans with nasty lies and repeats them ad nauseum. But free speech is, or should be, a key element of the progressive agenda. I am unfamiliar with some of the causes that were represented by the speakers in Washington and might well disagree with some of them if I knew all of the facts. But I do know that these people have very little opportunity to be heard before large live and TV audiences. And just knowing that there are people out there who are way more liberal than Sam Donaldson or George Stephanopoulos frees people to investigate the middle ground between those two and the radicals (what used to be known as the Democratic Party). If we don’t have “radicals” continually pushing the limits on the left and dragging others behind them, we will end up with the dreadful possibility of Bush against Lieberman in 2004, which is really no choice at all.

Wednesday, January 22, 2003

Sean Gonsalves recommends a new book opposing estate tax repeal written in part by Bill Gates, Sr., father of the Microsoft mogul. While Gates Jr. certainly hasn't demonstrated much in the way of scruples while squashing competition as he acquired his enormous wealth, both he and his father seem to realize that it wasn't done in a vacuum and that the Gates family is not entitled to keep it all forever. A democratic society can only survive if large accumulations of wealth are periodically trimmed and tossed back into the blender. I'll have to read that book, after I read the twenty other books I have to read!
W's biggest lie yet:
An Iraqi regime faced with its own demise may attempt cruel and desperate measures. If Saddam Hussein orders such measures, his generals would be well advised to refuse those orders. If they do not refuse, they must understand that all war criminals will be pursued and punished. -- from AP

War criminals George H. W. Bush and Dick Cheney (among others) were neither pursued nor punished for their brutal attacks on civilians in the Gulf War or in Panama; Bill Clinton was neither pursued nor punished for attacks on civilians in Afghanistan, the Sudan, and Yugoslavia; and George W. Bush, Donald Rumsfeld and Tommy Franks have not been pursued or punished for attacks on civilians in the Afghan war. There is no reasonable expectation that US war criminals will be punished after the next Gulf War either. The Orwellian nature of these statements from Bush, warning Iraqi soldiers against committing war crimes while defending their country against what may be the biggest war crime in half a century, is, well, Orwellian.
Here's a fairly thorough accounting of the number of people involved in the anti-war protests around the world last weekend, including one from waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay down south:

Scientists at McMurdo Station in Antarctica
An apology wasn't enough from Trent Lott; why should it be enough for Rummy? Rumsfeld apologized to veterans for saying that draftees were basically worthless to the military.
IndyMedia has lots of photos of the Washington march. My favorite, because it starts to show the size of the crowd, is this one:
. (Click on pic for larger version.)
Not going anywhere for a while? Tell congress and W what you think! Here are four incredibly easy ways:

And, of course, you can call your congressional reps at the Capitol switchboard, 800-839-5276, or W's comment line at 202-456-1111.
The president's comment line, 202-456-1111, seems to be busy! I've tried three times in the last five minutes and gotten a busy signal each time. Let's keep it going!

Aerial photo of Saturday's rally in San Francisco.
I sure would like to see a similar (actually better) photo of the rally or the march in Washington. The Politics in the Zeros blog has a good rant about King George the Mad.
The world is lining up against Bush and Blair: Germany has joined France in saying that they won't support a new UN resolution authorizing force against Iraq. Russia and China are also urging restraint.

Tuesday, January 21, 2003

Ted Kennedy Attacks Bush Policies:
Mr. Kennedy was especially scornful of the administration's handling of foreign policy, charging it with adopting "a new unilateralism," especially in its approach toward Iraq. "Surely, we can have effective relationships with other nations without adopting a chip-on-the-shoulder foreign policy — a my-way-or-the-highway policy that makes all our goals in the world more difficult to achieve," the senator said in a speech at the National Press Club.

When I called Bush a petulant twit last week, I was apparently being generous. Read this nonsense from today, from the NY Times:

"This business about more time, how much time do we need to see clearly that he's not disarming?'' Bush told reporters after meeting with economists to tout his $670 billion tax-cutting plan. He was responding to suggestions from allies, including France and Germany, that they would wage a major diplomatic fight to prevent the Security Council from passing a war resolution against Iraq. Bush said he will lead a "coalition of the willing'' to disarm Iraq, if necessary, as aides said he is willing to do so without the United Nations.

"Time is running out,'' Bush said. He said Saddam possesses weapons of mass destruction and is a "serious threat'' to the United States and its allies, many of whom want U.N. inspectors to have more time to do their work. "It appears to be a rerun of a bad movie. He is delaying. He is deceiving. He is asking for time. He's playing hide and seek with inspectors. One thing for sure is, he's not disarming,'' Bush said. "So the United States of America, in the name of peace, will insist that he does disarm and we will keep pressure'' on Iraq. In a flash of impatience, Bush said of reluctant allies, ``Surely our friends have learned lessons from the past. This looks like a rerun of a bad movie and I'm not interested in watching,'' he said.

He's right about one thing: it is a rerun of a bad movie called the Gulf War.

PS: If I read the phrase "coalition of the willing" once more, I'll probably puke.

Krugman's Latest points out the deceptions and lies in Bush's economic plan. Excerpt:
A liberal and a conservative were sitting in a bar. Then Bill Gates walked in. "Hey, we're rich!" shouted the conservative. "The average person in this bar is now worth more than a billion!" "That's silly," replied the liberal. "Bill Gates raises the average, but that doesn't make you or me any richer." "Hah!" said the conservative, "I see you're still practicing the discredited politics of class warfare."

Am I caricaturing the debate? Alas, not at all. Whenever anyone points out the systematic tilt of the Bush administration toward the rich, the administration and its defenders immediately raise the cry of "class warfare." Yet when you look at the arguments the administration actually makes on behalf of its policy, they are as silly as that of the conservative in the bar. The difference is that the administration knows exactly what it's doing.

France takes a stand against rush to war. Meanwhile, Iraq is cooperating. Expect Bush to accuse Iraq of being behind the attack on two Americans in Kuwait as a new excuse for war. Meanwhile, 37,000 more troops are headed to the Gulf.

Presenting the First Semi-Whenever Bobber Awards for Transportation Companies Carrying Peace Activists

Envelope please...The winner of the first semi-whenever Bobber Award goes to Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART). According to my niece Beth, the lines of peace activists buying tickets to go to the San Francisco peace march on January 18 were so long that BART officials opened the gates and let everyone ride free. Cowabunga, BART!

Honorable mention goes to Yankee Trails, TNT Tours, Tally-Ho Tours, and all of the many other bus companies from all over the eastern US who had their buses waiting for marchers in Washington when the march was done. Which leads us to:

The Boober Award goes to Turner Tours of Southfield, Michigan, on whose bus I was unlucky enough to ride. The buses were late getting to Ann Arbor and took the wrong way out of town. The buses had several mechanical problems which caused many delays, including no heat on one bus and inadequate air pressure for the brakes on my bus. They also insisted on stopping at the same rest stops as every other bus in North America, including the atrocious Breezewood, Pennsylvania facility (which gets an honorable mention Boober). And none of the Turner buses were to be found where they were supposed to be at the end of the march, showing up only a couple of very cold hours later.

Monday, January 20, 2003

Veterans March Against War

Stephen Boyce of the Ann Arbor Area Committee for Peace sent this fine report on veterans who marched in Washington on Saturday:
The Veterans Contingent in Washington, DC was outstanding. I would say that well over 300 veterans and family members marched together with banners that said "Veterans Against Iraq War", "Chickenhawk$ Want War - We Don't", "Veterans For Peace", "Vietnam Veterans Against the War", and numerous VFP chapter banners. Members of Military Families Speak Out joined us carrying pictures of their sons and daughters in harms' way right now.

We also had big posters of Bush, Cheney, Liebermann, Lott, Wolfowitz identifying them as Chicken-Hawks and various signs expressing veterans opposition to war (including 50 "VFP (logo)-No Iraq War" signs courtesy of NYC Veterans Peace Coalition)

When we marched we did the cadence sent out previously and made some new ones up along the way. For a while after "Am I Right or Wrong" we changed "You're Right" to "Right On". One chant we did I really liked was "Hey Bush, Get Out The Way -This Is What Democracy Looks Like". We even got some "Fired Up...." and "The People United...." in there.

After we marched for about 10 blocks (out of 15), we pulled off in a park and lined the sidewalk displaying all our banners and did cadence as the rest of the crowd marched past for over an hour. We had the crowd rockin', old folks, students, labor contingents, church groups, all joined us in sounding off in cadence against the war.

This was a good move because a large number of veterans came over when they saw us and expressed the desire to get involved in the resurgent veterans antiwar movement. Thousands video taped and took pictures of us and numerous young people came over to shake our hands and thank us for being there.

This time there were a significant number of women vets marching with us and several others including a VN nurse (68-69) with her old boonie hat, medals and VVAW button joined us. Also a decent number of Black and Latino vets marched and others from the DC community came by to check us out.

The bad news was that due to the numbers and poor logistics the Vets did not take their place in the leading contingents of the march as planned nor did they get to speak. Nevertheless, I am proud to see that my brothers and sisters were there and will "continue to march" in the demonstrations ahead.

Vote No War!

Ramsey Clark called for people at the rally in Washington to cast their votes against war by going to I just did; it's your turn!

Don't Stand For It!

President Bush is giving his State of the Union Address next week. He is expected to try and make the case for attacking Iraq. We know that he doesn't speak for most of us, and many of our congressional representatives voted against the war resolution last October and have expressed concerns about going to war. However, it is common practice in presidential addresses for all of Congress, even the "opposition" party, to stand and applaud frequently. We should not allow this to happen. Call your congressional representatives today and tell them that you do not want them to stand for aggression, that you do not want them to stand for pre-emptive attacks, that you do not want them to stand for killing innocent civilians. Ask them to remain seated and silent when Bush makes his call to war. Tell them: "Don't Stand For It!"

All senators and representatives can be reached toll-free through the capitol switchboard: 1-800-839-5276. If you would prefer to write, fax or e-mail, you can find the contact information at and
The Grinch Revisited
The Whos down in Whoville liked this country a lot,
But the Grinch in the White House most certainly did not.
He didn't arrive there by the will of the Whos,
But stole the election that he really did lose.
(the rest of it is here!)
Good Guardian article on the protest marches and Bush's sinking approval ratings. I'm never quite sure what to think of Jesse Jackson, so I present this quote from the article without further comment:

The main speakers in Washington were Ron Kovic, the anti-war activist who was author of Born on the Fourth of July, Jessica Lange, the actor, and the Rev Jesse Jackson, the bandwagon-jumper.

The tide of change approaches.

-- my fortune cookie from lunch today.
Excellent slide show from Yahoo! with pictures of protest rallies around the world, including many from Washington and a few from Ann Arbor, as well as Ireland, England, France, Germany, Morocco, Egypt, Jordan, Syria, Bahrain, Pakistan, the Phillipines, Japan, Australia...

A sample:
This web site has lots of good pictures of the Washington rally and march. Still not the definitive high-res overview of the crowd I'm hoping to find, but still very nice. The following two pics give some evidence of the size of the crowd:

Excellent article about the Washington rally from the Kalamazoo Gazette. Thanks to Susan McGee for the link.

Sunday, January 19, 2003

Report from the Streets

(8:30 AM) I got back home from the anti-war march in DC less than four hours ago, after having gotten essentially zero sleep since I woke at 6:30 Friday morning (so about 50 hours sleepless). I slept this morning for around three hours until hunger and sunshine dragged me back out of bed. I've got a whole lot to write about the huge Washington protest, but not quite the energy to do it all right now. So I'll start with the article from today's Ann Arbor News which quotes me (they called me on my cell phone during the march) and will continue adding to this post throughout the day as my head clears.

Reporting the news while making it:
Kathleen Peabody and I were two of the approximately 200 Ann Arbor residents who marched in DC yesterday. In this article the Ann Arbor News quotes both of us based on cell-phone interviews they did with us while we were marching.

From niece Beth in California:
The best part was emerging from the relatively quiet BART station into a crowd of tens of thousands of people who are all cheering at the top of their lungs. It is so amazing to look up at the banners, the tall buildings surrounding you and hear people crying out for peace together. I can't describe how wonderful it is to actually feel a sense of community and similar interests with those around you.

From ANSWER: 500,000 Anti-War Protesters Demonstrate in Washington
200,00 March in San Francisco
Hundreds of Thousands More Demonstrate Around the World
To Oppose U.S. War With Iraq

Half a million people marched through the streets of Washington Saturday and 200,000 demonstrated in San Francisco in the largest U.S. demonstrations yet against war with Iraq.

Media downplaying protest
This video clip from NBC says that "more than 10,000 braved Washington's coldest day in..." to protest. I've been to Michigan football games with 110,000 in attendance, and the rally in DC was much larger than that. They even low-balled the ridiculous 30,000 estimate given by DC police. Nowhere in their report do they show a picture of the mall filled with people, nor one of M street by the Navy Yard filled endlessly for miles for over three hours by marchers. I haven't seen a single high-angle photo of the mall during the rally on any major news site which shows how far back the crowd went. NBC's absurd coverage included a segment claiming Americans are not getting involved, and of course a stupid "equal-time" segment for the few hundred counter-protesters who were basically invisible against the hundreds of thousands of anti-war protesters. We have to remember that General Electric owns NBC and stands to profit greatly from all of these Bush wars, and that Disney (ABC), AOL-Time-Warner (CNN), Viacom (CBS) and most other major media outlets are giant corporations who benefit from war. I was there: the rally in Washington was huge, certainly equivalent to multiple UM football games, and the major media is intentionally lying about it.

Anyone reading this who has or finds a good picture of the Mall filled with people or along Pennsylvania Avenue or M Street during the march please send me a link! Or if you find articles from reporters who actually did their job and have count estimates based on evidence (counting how many people went by a certain spot, analysis of aerial photos, etc.) I'd love to see those too. I wish I had done some simple experiments during the march yesterday: just counting how many people went by a certain point on M Street in a minute, for example, and multiplying by the 200+ minutes that the march continued. Here's a very rough guess: I was nowhere near the front of the march when I left the Mall area around 1:45, and I arrived at the end of the March at New Jersey and M at about 3:30. I then got some food, ate it, and in the process of looking for my bus I wandered around and returned to New Jersey and M after 5 pm, and marchers were still pouring in as heavily as they had been at 3:30. So that's why I'm guessing over 200 minutes--The front of the march probably arrived well before me around 2:30, and the end probably didn't arrive until after 5:30. As a very rough estimate, I would say that marchers were averaging about 3 miles per hour, were the equivalent of 25 people across spaced at about 5 feet front to back (if we had been arranged marching-band style). So my estimate is:

3 mi/hr * 5280 ft/mi = 15840 ft/hr
15840 ft/hr * 1hr/60 min=264 ft/min
264 ft/min divided by 5 ft front-back spacing = about 52 rows of people per minute
52 rows * 25 people = 1300 people per minute
1300 people per minute * 200 minutes = 260,000 people

I am guessing on the speed and the density of people, which is why I wish I had tried to accurately estimate the people/minute rate. My 1300 may be high, but it is certainly closer than the 150 people per minute that would yield the 30,000 total the police estimated, or the absurd 50 people per minute that NBC's count would indicate. If anyone has video of a portion of the march which would allow a decent estimate of the people/minute rate, please try to examine a few representative minutes of it and send me the number you get. (Can anyone tell that I was trained as an engineer?)

Pictures from Ann Arbor's rally Saturday

Friday, January 17, 2003

Getting Psyched and Nervous: In five hours I'll be on the bus to DC. It's going to be cold there, and lots of people, and two very long bus rides, and I still don't know what to take. But whatever. It's got to be done! Our insane president is going to start bombing Iraq again, costing billions, leading to death and destruction which will last for years and will have serious implications here in the USA. At the very least we have to get enough people questioning the war so that there will be none of the jingoistic nonsense this time. We've got to make sure that Bush's popularity goes DOWN if he proceeds with war. I'm not sure if that possibility is enough to stop him, but we sure can't allow him to ride a patriotic wave on to more and more wars. George W. Bush is the biggest threat to the safety and security of America and the whole world. We should do our best to stop him; if we can't, we still have to slow him down.

This is probably my last post until Sunday: Please join in any peace rally you can find!
Here's something you can do right now!

Call your representative in the US House (800-839-5276, ask for rep by name) and urge him or her to
  1. co-sponsor H.Con.Res.2 which calls for the repeal of the war
    authorization act against Iraq, and
  2. sign the Brown-Kind Dear Colleague letter to the president asking him to commit to continued diplomacy when he makes his State of the Union address.

BACKGROUND: The introduction of H. Con. Res. 2 and the Brown-Kind letter reflect continued and growing congressional opposition to the Bush Administration's war plans in Iraq. Even members who voted for authorizing U.S. military action against Iraq are expressing deep concern about the Administration's impatience and lack of commitment to pursuing a diplomatic solution to the conflict. The U.S. public and the international community are expressing persistent opposition to war on Iraq, and weapons inspections
are proceeding without serious obstruction. Yet, the Administration continues to deploy tens of thousands more troops to the Persian Gulf, is intensifying attacks in the so-called no-fly zones, and claims the right to wage unilateral war whenever it deems necessary.

Pres. Bush is expected to use the State of the Union speech on Jan. 28 to announce the next phase of U.S. policy toward Iraq. The weeks leading up to the speech are a critical time for raising visible U.S. public opposition to war and pressing our members of Congress to take leadership roles in moving the country away from war. On Jan. 27 (one day before the State of the Union), the UN Monitoring, Verification, and Inspections Commission (UNMOVIC) and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) will make their first official report to the UN Security Council (UNSC) on the progress of inspections. Inspectors have said there is "no smoking gun" and that they will need more cooperation, information, and time to complete their work. U.S. allies in the European Union and the Middle East are still working diligently to open space for a peaceful settlement of the crisis. Saddam Hussein will have no reason to be cooperative if he thinks war is inevitable.

Congratulations to Beth!

My niece Beth in California was just accepted into Lewis & Clark College in Portland, OR, and they're giving her a scholarship as well. Beth, her sister Ali, and father Jim (my brother) will all be at the big anti-war rally tomorrow in San Francisco while I'm at the one in Washington.

Chicago becomes largest US city to pass anti-war resolution!

"Everybody's against war," Mayor Richard Daley said after the resolution passed. "No one is for war."

The vote was 46-1! Okay New York, LA--what are you waiting for? (more)

--from Slowpoke.

Thursday, January 16, 2003

We must understand, my friends, we must understand that there is a problem for us out there. We must understand the cynicism that exists in the black community, the kind of cynicism that is created when, for example, some in our party miss no opportunity to roundly and loudly condemn affirmative action that helped a few thousand black kids get an education, but you hardly hear a whimper when it's affirmative action for lobbyists who load our federal tax code with preferences for special interests. It doesn't work. It doesn't work. You can't make that case. -- Colin Powell, nominating speech for George W. Bush, 2000 Republican National Convention.

Tomorrow my administration will file a brief with the court arguing that the University of Michigan's admissions policies, which award students a significant number of extra points based solely on their race, and establishes numerical targets for incoming minority students, are unconstitutional. -- George W. Bush, yesterday. Media Whores Online has a lot more about W slapping his Colin around. (Sorry, I didn't see any direct link to the article; you'll have to scroll down to find it.)

I just posted an archive of all of my 2002 rants. It's over 1 MB! I was a busy little blogger last year!
Transcript of the press conference yesterday held by Veterans for Common Sense and Military Families Speak Out. This press conference was covered by C-Span, but apparently received little attention from mainstream media. An excerpt:

Veterans for Common Sense and Military Families Speak Out ask President George W. Bush to reassure them and an increasingly alarmed American public that his administration is not hell-bent on war, that he is not hell-bent on a military conflict that does not have the support of our allies or the United Nations.

Hans Blix, the chief United Nations weapons inspector, says there's no smoking gun. Experts agree Iraq isn't a clear and present danger. As one United Nations' inspector recently said, quote, "If we were to publish a report now, we would have zilch to put in it." Hardly, it sounds, that there are grounds for war. Respected conservative military analyst, Anthony Cordesman says, It's just not true that war is inevitable. It's never been true throughout political and military history."

Despite the lack of a threat, U.S. preparations for a second major war against Iraq continue. Those of us gathered here today strongly believe the president has failed to justify a U.S. invasion and occupation of Iraq. Veterans for Common Sense and Military Families Speak Out believe war against Iraq is neither necessary nor inevitable. Veterans and Military Families encourage the president to win without war by adhering to the U.N. process.

This is our message today: We are nonpartisan, we are Republicans, Democrats and Independents. We are strongly patriotic. And we are not hawks, nor are we doves, we believe in protecting democracy and American values.

Veterans for Common Sense and Military Families Speak Out, join forces to ask the president to slow the reckless rush to war.
Building confidence, Bush style:
We've got a lot of problems. But I'm going to tell you something about this country. In my mind, there is no doubt that we won't solve these problems, because this is the greatest nation, full of the finest people, on the face of the Earth. -- George W. Bush. (Scroll almost to the bottom for that quote: the whole transcript will make you squirm.)
Chillin' for Peace
Updated weather forecast for Washington on Saturday: Partly cloudy, high 28, low 15. Dress warmly for the big rally! Meanwhile, my brother and niece will be in San Francisco--partly cloudy, high 61, low 46.
Dang! These White House press briefings are a blogger's goldmine! The following exchange is from Wednesday's briefing:
Q You said the President is against racial preferences because they're divisive. Is he against other preferences that colleges and universities routinely grant that people see as unfair? Like the one he got?

MR. FLEISCHER: I understand -- I understand all the interest and the specific questions dealing with the review of the University of Michigan case --

Q That is not what I'm asking.

MR. FLEISCHER: -- and the implications that come from whatever decision is made. I'm not going to go beyond --

Q I'm asking a question about fairness.

MR. FLEISCHER: -- I'm not going to go beyond where I've gone, because --

Q All right. Let me --

MR. FLEISCHER: -- be able to base it on reason and judge for yourself once you see what the President has concluded and why he's concluded it. And he'll share his thoughts.

Q But the general question about his feeling about fairness in America. When he was 18, he got into Yale University, which had and still has a policy of granting very special preferences to children of graduates, like him. Is that preference okay, to give him a leg up, but other preferences are not?

MR. FLEISCHER: I think you're going to have a good understanding of how the President approaches the issue of opportunity and diversity when the President shares his thoughts publicly -- which is going to be, as I indicated, in some short period of time.

More on the Bushies' reaction to Rangel's call for reinstating the draft. On December 31 I suggested that the administration would likely reply by saying "our all-volunteer military does a wonderful job and is quite capable of dealing with all of the challenges facing it."

And that is pretty much what they said:
The country doesn't need a draft because the all-volunteer force works -- in fact, the United States has the most effective military in the world precisely because it is all-volunteer, Joint Chiefs Chairman Air Force Gen. Richard B. Myers said.
"(The all-volunteer force is) efficient; it's effective; it's given the United States of America, the citizens of this great country, a military that is second to none," Myers said.
"The people who are in the armed services today … are there because they want to be there and are ready and willing and, without any question, capable of doing whatever the president may ask," Rumsfeld added.

But then they got carried away, as frequently happens, by augmenting a compliment for one group with an insult to another. Here's a more full version of the Rumsfeld quote referred to by Russell Mokhiber below, with (added bonus) another dig at Vietnam vets by Myers:
Rumsfeld said that under the draft people were "sucked into the intake, trained for a period of months, and then went out, adding no value, no advantage, really, to the United States armed services over any sustained period of time."

Myers called the volunteer force "extremely well-trained and well-led troops. Any comparisons between today's force and the Vietnam force would be dramatic. There is no comparison."

Draftees of "no value" to armed services -- Donald Rumsfeld
White House Press Briefing with Ari Fleischer
Wednesday, January 15, 2003 - 1:15 PM
by Russell Mokhiber

Mokhiber: Ari, last week, Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld said that soldiers drafted to service in the military "added no value, no advantage, really to the United States armed services."

The Vietnam Veterans of America Foundation has called this an "egregious slur" and a "grave insult to the memory, sacrifice, and valor of those who lost their lives in Vietnam."

One Vietnam Vet, Thomas Bohan of Rochester, New York, said this: "As a draftee who spent a year of his life in Vietnam, I would like to suggest that perhaps my inferior service to our country wouldn't have been necessary if those proud, flag-waving patriots like George W. Bush, Dick Cheney and the rest of the cowards had come forward to enlist. I would like to see Secretary Rumsfeld repeat his speech in front of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial on Memorial Day." Does the President agree with Secretary Rumsfeld that soldiers drafted to service "added no value to the United States armed services"?

Ari Fleischer: Russell, Russell, Russell. I'm honored that you chose, in the face of the Rumsfeld briefing at the same time as mine, to come here. But I'm sure that if you took the entire text of what Secretary Rumsfeld said to Secretary Rumsfeld and asked him -- I'm sure if you looked at the entire context of what Secretary Rumsfeld said, you would have thought twice about taking any one statement. I think if you looked at everything Secretary Rumsfeld said, you would get a very, very different picture.

Mokhiber: I have a second question.

Ari Fleischer: No. (Ari moves on.)

I assert that the only people left in the world that the Bushies haven't offended are those who aren't paying attention.

Required Reading:The Fire This Time: U.S. War Crimes in the Gulf. Former US Attorney General Ramsey Clark describes the history of the US using Saddam Hussein as an excuse for increasing US presence and control in the Middle East, a process which obviously continues to this day. He shows how at the end of the bloody Iran-Iraq war (for which we armed both sides), the US immediately abandoned support for Iraq and Saddam and did everything possible to further impoverish the war-torn country. He shows how the Kuwaiti royal family was encouraged to provoke Saddam through land and oil grabs until Iraq, with apparent US acquiescence, invaded Kuwait. Within weeks, Saddam was "worse than Hitler" and the Bush I administration ignored all efforts to negotiate a solution. I haven't finished the book yet, but I think it is a real eye-opener for anyone who thinks that there was any real justification for Gulf War I.


As anti-war sentiment builds in the US, so does the hysterical rhetoric coming from the Bush administration:

The Bush administration resisted calls by other nations today that it secure the explicit blessing of the United Nations Security Council before going to war with Iraq. The White House further suggested that it could decide in favor of military action even if weapons inspectors do not turn up concrete new evidence against Saddam Hussein. -- from the NY Times. No support, no evidence: none of this seems to matter. More:

Mr. Blair said, "Of course we all want a second U.N. resolution. I believe we will get one." But he added, "Where there is an unreasonable veto put down, we will not rule out action." Five nations, the US, Britain, France, Russia and China, are permanent members of the UN Security Council and each can individually veto any Security Council action. Blair is claiming the right of the US and Britain to veto the veto, which would effectively destroy what is left of the UN, not to mention Iraq and quite possibly much of the world.

I was going to carry a simple "NO WAR" sign in the big march in Washington on Saturday, but I think I may change it to "IMPEACH BUSH." Ignoring a veto from France, Russia and/or China would not only be incredibly foolish, brutal and dangerous, it would also clearly violate the Constitution by intentionally violating an international treaty to which the US is not only a signatory but a founding member, namely the UN charter. And unlike the war crimes committed in the Gulf War, the Kosovo conflict and the Afghan War, this one will be completely obvious and fairly simple to explain to the American people. I feel that Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, Powell, Ashcroft, Rice and others in the administration have already committed impeachable offenses, but this one would be blatant enough for all to see.

Call to action: Call your congressional representatives now. You can reach them toll-free through the Capitol switchboard at 800-839-5276; just ask for Senator so-and-so or Congressman/woman so-and-so and they'll transfer you. You can also call the White House comment line at (202) 456-1111. Also, get to DC or San Francisco for the huge anti-war rallies this Saturday, or join in a local one. Here's the information about the rally planned in Ann Arbor:

For those of us who are not planning to go to Washington, D.C. on January
18th for the national demonstration against the war in Iraq, there will be a
local rally and march in Ann Arbor.

This action is sponsored by People¹s Progressive Network of Washtenaw County
and is endorsed by Ann Arbor Area Committee for Peace, Coalition Against the
War, Solidarity, Street Wall Journal, WILPF, Wooden Spoon Co-op (more to

1. Rally at the Federal Building at noon on Saturday the 18th.
Protest the current bombing and imminent U.S. war against Iraq, as well as
the ongoing U.S. occupation of Afghanistan, U.S. support for the military
actions in Palestine, and U.S. threats against North Korea.

2. There will be speeches by members of the various groups who endorse the
rally, as well as spirited chants and noise-making. There will probably be a
picket line in front of the main entrance to the Federal Building. Bring
3. There may be a feeder march from the Diag to the Federal Building at noon
prior to the rally and there may be a march through downtown areas after the
4. There will be planning/sign-making meetings Wed. & Thurs. nights (1/15 &
1/16) at 7 pm at Wooden Spoon Bookstore, 200 N. Fourth Ave.
For more information contact Phil Carroll at

Wednesday, January 15, 2003

This article shows that Bush is using war with Iraq to increase support for Israel. Hundreds of American soldiers are now in Israel for joint manuevers with anti-missile defenses, ostensibly to help protect Israel from Scud attacks by Iraq. These joint maneuvers can't possibly be seen by the Palestinians and the rest of the Muslim world as anything but a slap in the face and a deliberate show of taking sides in the Israel/Palestine conflict.

And, of course, if some US soldiers get killed by a suicide bomber, there will be demands for even more direct support for Israel. On the other hand, an IDF bomb or shell killing American troops would be seen as an unfortunate accident.

This is why I think it doesn't matter much at this point whether peace advocates think that stopping support for Israel is more important than stopping war in Iraq or vice versa--a topic which has been hotly debated by a few members of the Ann Arbor Area Committee for Peace in recent weeks. War in Iraq will make things even worse for Palestinians. If Israel does become involved, either due to an attack by Iraq or on its own, I have no doubt that W will greatly increase our already huge support, since Israel would then be "our valiant ally in the war against weapons of mass destruction," ignoring as always that there are many more WMD's in Israel than there could possibly be in Iraq at this point.

SUV's Unsafe

-- NHTSA Director Runge, from CNN.
"We got mad at Trent Lott, didn't we?" It appears like this will be the all-purpose defense of the Bushies against charges of racism, whether in regard to nominating judges like Pickering or opposing the University of Michigan's affirmative action admissions policies.
Supremes uphold copyright extension. In 1998 Congress extended copyright protection to 70 years from the death of the author/creator, or 95 years for copyrights held by corporations. Today, the Supreme Court upheld this absurdly long period, keeping what should be national treasures like the Wizard of Oz and Casablanca available only to those who can afford them. Not that it does Judy Garland or Humphrey Bogart any good. Once again, as with W's elimination of the "death tax," the government has stated clearly that the rich should keep on getting richer, that the public interest has no place in 21st-century America.

This post not copyrighted.

The United States of America Has Gone Mad

by John le Carré (my brother's favorite author)

America has entered one of its periods of historical madness, but this is the worst I can remember: worse than McCarthyism, worse than the Bay of Pigs and in the long term potentially more disastrous than the Vietnam War.

The reaction to 9/11 is beyond anything Osama bin Laden could have hoped for in his nastiest dreams. As in McCarthy times, the freedoms that have made America the envy of the world are being systematically eroded. The combination of compliant US media and vested corporate interests is once more ensuring that a debate that should be ringing out in every town square is confined to the loftier columns of the East Coast press.

Let me say to those who profit from the strip malls and McMansions, if you reap the benefits, you must now take responsibility for the costs.-- New Jersey Governor James E. McGreevey, quoted in the NY Times. Good for him! I absolutely detest sprawl. I recently watched a video called "The Sprawling of America." It was made here in Ann Arbor by the Great Lakes Television Consortium. It spends a lot of time showing how a few federal programs, especially VHA and FHA loans and the Interstate Highway program, were in large part responsible for the depopulation and impoverishment of Detroit. The current system of overlapping and competing governments--cities, counties, townships, and even state or national governments--makes for lots of win-lose situations: Birmingham grows at Detroit or Southfield's expense, Detroit casinos take revenues away from Windsor's, and so on. The film also shows how this has been brought under control with great success in several places: Portland, OR, Maryland, and the Grand Rapids area in West Michigan. McGreevey is now carrying the torch that Maryland's outgoing governor Parris Glendening, who was quoted at length in the film, has carried for years. Hopefully Michigan's Jennifer Granholm will follow through on campaign promises to curb sprawl here in Michigan. Portland is apparently the best US example of regional planning halting the destructive competition that fuels sprawl in most parts of the country. Read the book Suburban Nation: The Rise of Sprawl and the Decline of the American Dream for detailed information on the enormous costs of sprawl and some exciting alternatives.
Golden Falling Arches: The Onion attributes the recent slide in McDonald's stock price to a growing interest in food.
At least their Supreme Court supports recounts, rather than stopping them: South Korea's Supreme Court has ordered a massive recount of the votes in their recent presidential election. Just what is needed; more instability on the Korean peninsula. Maybe they'll declare Gore the winner this time.
Philanthropist gives $8 million to the ACLU:
Peter Lewis, an auto insurance mogul from Cleveland and long-time ACLU member, made the gift saying "I just think that what they work on is very important". According to the article,

Since the Sept. 11 attacks, the A.C.L.U. has seen record growth in membership, Mr. Romero said. In 2000, it attracted 59,607 new members, but in 2001, almost 75,000 people joined. Last year, its ranks swelled by 90,000, bringing membership to 330,000.

Take that, Ashcrotch!

Republican Senators angry with Bush and Rumsfeld:
Republican senators gathering last Wednesday for their session-opening ''retreat'' should have been happy, blessed with a regained majority and a popular president. They were not. Instead, they complained bitterly of arrogance by the Bush administration, especially the Pentagon, in treatment of Congress along the road to war.

Two years of growing discontent boiled over during the closed-door meeting at the Library of Congress. White House chief of staff Andrew Card was there to hear grievances from President Bush's Senate base that it is ignored and insulted by the administration, particularly by Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, in preparing for war against Iraq. Recital of complaints began with Sen. John Warner, a pillar of the Senate GOP establishment.

Tuesday, January 14, 2003

In an earlier post Russell Mokhiber referred to an ad that was in yesterday's Wall Street Journal which was paid for by a bunch of Republicans who are really mad at Bush about war in Iraq. I couldn't find it online anywhere, so I made a copy of it at the library and typed it in! (I know, I'm a geek.) You can read it here. These folks are some upset!
Bush continues to be a petulant twit: "I'm sick and tired of games and deception, that's my view of timetables," Bush said.
"That's the question: Is Saddam Hussein disarming? ... So far I haven't seen any evidence that he is disarming. Time is running out on Saddam Hussein; He must disarm."

Just an annoying child who insists on having his way now. Don't you wish we had a real president?
W's job-approval rating lowest since 9/11: from a CNN poll.
Prevaricator-in-Chief at work: An excerpt from yesterday's White House press briefing, from Common Dreams.

Mokhiber: Ari, two questions.

A group of Republican businessmen took out a full page ad in today's Wall Street Journal. They charge that President Bush had betrayed them by first promising a more humble nation in our dealings with the world, and then turning around and preparing for pre-emptive wars. They say in the ad to President Bush: "You cannot keep proclaiming peace while preparing for war. You are waltzing blindfolded into what may well be a catastrophe. Show the humility and compassion that led us to elect you."

Mokhiber: In what sense does this doctrine of pre-emptive war reflect a more humble nation?

Ari Fleischer: In precisely the same way that President Kennedy meant it -- when President Kennedy made preparations for a possible American response to the Cuban Missile Crisis. Pre-emption is actually a time-honored part of America's pool of diplomatic and foreign policy devices that are useful to defuse crises to prevent war from ever taking place. The President approaches it in the same manner. September 11 certainly has brought home to the American people -- if we had known that an attack was going to take place against the United States on September 11, and we could have taken military action to pre-empt, and President Bush had that type of actionable information, I think it is fair to say the American people would have said -- pre-empt this attack. So, I think it is part of America's time-honored tradition for keeping the peace.

I think the whole Bush clan had logicotomies and consciencectomies before taking office. Ari is the world champion master of doublethink.

Pope speaks out against war:
"No to war!" the pope said during his annual address to scores of diplomatic emissaries to the Vatican, an exhortation that referred in part to Iraq, a country he mentioned twice.

"War is not always inevitable," he said. "It is always a defeat for humanity."

Wondering aloud what to say "of the threat of a war which could strike the people of Iraq," he added: "War cannot be decided upon, even when it is a matter of ensuring the common good, except as the very last option, and in accordance with very strict conditions, without ignoring the consequences for the civilian population both during and after the military operations."

This war is about U.S. political, military and economic power, about seizing control of oilfields and about strengthening the United States as the enforcer of an inhumane global status quo. That is why we are opposed to war against Iraq, whether waged unilaterally by Washington or by the UN Security Council, unaccountable to the UN General Assembly and bullied and bribed into endorsing the war. -- from the Campaign for Peace and Democracy, a new organization which includes many of the best-known peace and justice advocates, including Noam Chomsky, Daniel Ellsberg, Howard Zinn, and two fantastic authors that I've had the privilege of hearing in person recently: Michael Albert (Looking Forward) and Barbara Ehrenreich (Nickel and Dimed). Go to the CPD web site, add your name to the list of signers, and make a donation to help them run the statement in major newspapers.

from Steve Benson in Arizona. Not the funniest or starkest anti-SUV cartoon around, but I absolutely admire Benson's guts for running it in a sprawled-out, wild west, Republican-dominated state like Arizona. I'll bet the phone is ringing off the hook already at the Arizona Republic with people demanding that Benson be fired (at least). Maybe it would be a good idea if we all sent him some supportive e-mail.

from Mike Thompson of the Detroit Free Press.

from Steve Sack of the Minneapolis Star.

(As you have probably already surmised, I am NOT a Lieberman fan.)

Monday, January 13, 2003

Results from Donahue Poll
Forecast for Washington: Snow Friday, partly cloudy Saturday, with a high of 33, low of 17. Several hundred thousand people should warm things up a bit! Be there if you can, or in San Francisco! Go to the ANSWER web page for information on buses from your area.
Kudos to the Michigan lottery. I've always detested state lotteries, and still pretty much do. And one of the main things that I've always hated is that they use one pitch to sell it to the legislature (money for schools, usually), but as soon as it is passed they sell it to the gullible public as a get-rich-quick scheme. Every ad that I had ever seen for lotteries in several states had always been to hype the prizes, and to encourage buying tickets with change. The odds, which by gambling standards are terrible (state lotteries usually pay back about 50%, while casinos and horse or dog tracks typically pay back over 90%), are mentioned in the tiniest of print, and the supposed benefits for schools are rarely mentioned at all. I remember one ad I saw in Illinois where a bunch of construction workers were eating lunch and discussing their investments. One guy says "my stocks have been going up." The next one says "bonds are more secure." Then the third one says "I just invested a dollar, and I could get $6 million back. Any of your investments that good?" It was the worst sort of deception, being undertaken by the state government. I've always thought that lotteries should be forced to advertise themselves as charities, like church raffles.

And finally, after 30 years or so of state lotteries, Michigan is finally running ads that do that. I couldn't find the exact ad copy from their web site, but the gist of their new ad campaign is "The Michigan Lottery. Play for fun. Play for our schools. Play for our future." Not even a suggestion of get-rich-quick. I still won't be buying lottery tickets, and I don't recommend that you do, but I'm for once not embarrassed by ads for my state's lottery.
Three cheers for Dan Rather and the CBS Evening News! Dan is in Baghdad this week, and I thought that the coverage tonight was quite thoughtful and in general seemed to speak against war. They showed a US army wife holding her five-month old child tearfully saying "I wish he wasn't going. He's going to miss so much of his child growing up." I'm paraphrasing, but that was the gist of it. And there was no added "but it's necessary for the good of the country" or some such. CBS reported extensively on the opposition to war in Turkey, quoting one opposition party member saying that 95 to 97 percent of the population opposed war. And they added at one point with a tone of regret that there are now 130,000 US troops south of Iraq, and "it's hard to imagine President Bush bringing them back without a war."

I know Dan Rather admitted last year that he was ashamed by his own and CBS's unquestioning support of the Afghan war, and it looks like he's trying his best to make up for it.

Tune in to CBS Evening News this week and tell me what you think.
Another unscientific poll to vote in: MSNBC's Donahue Show is going to ask the question "Are you in favor of the U.S. going to war with Iraq?" The poll should be available tonight during the show (8-9 EST) at (It's not up yet at 4:42 PM EST)

I remember how discouraged I was at all of the unscientific polls showing Bush's popularity a year ago, and I know how encouraged I am by the results of the poll mentioned below and the Time magazine poll farther below. This is just another chance to encourage those who are with us, discourage those against us, and maybe sway those who are undecided.
Pride goeth...
Gen. Tommy Franks, commander of the U.S. Central Command, says that no matter where a problem emerges in the world, if the U.S. military is called on to handle it, "we win," even as it fights a global war on terrorism. In a rare interview at his headquarters outside Tampa, Fla., Franks said: "It doesn't make any difference. You allude to Iraq. It could be North Korea. It can be any number of places. It doesn't make any difference. If we do it at this point in American history, we win." -- from the Detroit Free Press.

Readers are invited to make their own comments on that one.

Poll shows 59 percent of Americans say they are opposed to unilateral U.S. military action against Iraq

Most Americans do not want to rush into war. Sixty-eight percent of respondents said the United States should continue to work toward achieving its goals in Iraq without war. Only 27 percent favored quick military action.

Two-thirds of the respondents said they thought they had a good grasp of the issues surrounding the Iraqi crisis, but closer questioning showed gaps in that knowledge. For instance, half of those surveyed said at least one of the Sept. 11 hijackers were Iraqi citizens. In fact, none was.

The informed public is considerably less hawkish about war with Iraq than the public as a whole. Those who show themselves to be most knowledgeable about the situation are significantly less likely to support military action.

We're making a difference. Let's keep it up! Call! Write! Protest! Win peace!
Five snowmobilers, three pedestrians struck by cars, and three car drivers die in weekend accidents in Michigan. Just another reminder that while the government continues to whip up fear of terrorists and axes of evil, mundane auto crashes kill more Americans every month than died from the terror attacks of 9/11.
We need to ask the questions: Why does America have hundreds of billions to ruin the health and take the lives of innocent people in Iraq but no money to provide health care for all Americans?

Why would America spend hundreds of billions to retire Saddam Hussein, but no money to protect the retirement security of its own people?

Why does America have money to blow up bridges over the Euphrates River in Iraq, but no money to build up bridges over the Cuyahoga River in Cleveland?
-- Congressman Dennis Kucinich

Strong start, stronger finish:

I think you can still vote here.

Big rally in LA on Saturday:

As usual, see Politics in the Zeros for details on LA events.
SAY NO TO JOE! Lieberman is so awful that he might cause me to take another look at Bush. Well, maybe not that. More like this: If it comes down to Bush versus Lieberman, I'm leaving.

from Boondocks.

from Ted Rall.
Tom Tomorrow's satire about the hysteria that has been created about Iraq being a threat. (As Michael Albert said, this issue is an IQ test. If you believe Iraq is a threat to the US, you don't have an IQ.)
Impeach the Bush gang! A law professor at the University of Illinois (one of my alma maters), Francis A. Boyle, has drafted articles of impeachment and is willing to offer his services to any member of Congress who will introduce them. He states, rather convincingly, that the Bush doctrine of pre-emptive strikes is the same sort of aggression that the US condemned with death penalties in the Nuremburg trials of Nazi leaders after WWII. You can read all about it here, and you can contact your congressperson encouraging him or her to sponsor articles of impeachment. I'm guessing that the best hope for introducing them would come from Barbara Lee, Charles Rangel, Dennis Kucinich or John Conyers, but I think it would be worthwhile to get everyone in congress thinking about it.
Always more violence in Palestine.

The events came a day after the Palestinian leader, Yasir Arafat, asked Palestinians to refrain from attacking Israeli civilians. In a speech today, Ariel Sharon, the Israeli prime minister, denounced Mr. Arafat's appeal, accusing him of trying to swing the election to his more dovish opponent, Amram Mitzna, the Labor Party candidate. On Israel radio, the country's defense minister, Shaul Mofaz, promised "vast operations" against Palestinian militants in the occupied territories. Last spring, Arafat was denounced for not condemning suicide bombings strongly enough. Now he is denounced for condemning suicide attacks. There is certainly plenty of blame to go around on all sides, but the Israelis hold almost all the power in this situation, and they use it not to calm the situation but to further provoke it. The upcoming Israeli election and the possible war in Iraq seem to be escalating an already catastophic situation. My feeling is that Americans should be aware of the situation and of US involvement in it, but that right now the best help that we can provide for the Palestinian and Israeli civilians who are dying is to prevent the war in Iraq. It has been suggested that Sharon would use an Iraq war as a cover for the complete expulsion, ethnic cleansing if you will, of the Palestinians from the West Bank and Gaza. Furthermore, if Israel becomes involved in the war on Iraq, either on its own initiative or in response to an attack from Iraq, Bush will claim that Israel is an important ally in our war and use that as justification for sending even more arms and money to Israel. Either way, the Palestinians lose. So go to DC or San Francisco this weekend and let the Bushies know that we don't want war.

Sunday, January 12, 2003

More on the Anti-War Conference at the U of M:
Congratulations to the Anti-War Action and the Muslim Students' Association, student activist groups at the University of Michigan, for putting on a fabulous conference! I haven't heard final numbers, but I believe that around 1000 people attended at least some of the sessions. I don't think anyone was disappointed. I got to hear a talk from the author of perhaps the best book on the "war on terrorism" (Rahul Mahajan: The New Crusade: America's War on Terrorism). I also heard from an author I've read many times on Common Dreams, Robert Jensen, and an author I plan to read a lot of soon, Michael Albert. And, as I said before, the opening speech by Mahdi Bray of Washington was immensely inspiring.

I heard Michael Albert speak in two different sessions: on Saturday he spoke fairly briefly on the subject of "War and Corporate Globalization" while today he discussed his theory/proposal called "participatory economics." In the Saturday session, he thoroughly debunked all of the reasons given by the Bushies for going to war with Iraq: weapons of mass destruction, threat to our security, support for terrorism. About Iraq being a threat to US security, he said "This is basically an IQ test. If you believe it, you don't have an IQ." Albert is the founder/publisher of Z Magazine, and you can read much of his work at the Z web site, and you can learn specifically about "participatory economics" at

Jensen talked about "The Problem of Patriotism," where he pointed out the flaws in the whole concept of patriotism. It was somewhat dry and strained at times, and although I guess I agree with him on a lot of it, I'm not sure that it is useful or necessary to totally reject the concept of patriotism. I think that it is so ingrained in many people that attacking it is a sure way to get them not to listen to you. Jensen argued against the approach of co-opting patriotism that many progressives take, saying that opposing illegal wars and defending civil rights is being truly patriotic. Perhaps I haven't fully grasped his logic, but I think that this co-opting of patriotism is a winning strategy. I think there are a lot of people out there with flags on their cars that could be swayed by an argument that says "do you want that flag to stand for pre-emptive strikes and imprisonment without trials? Isn't that what this country opposed when it fought the Nazis and faced off with the Soviets? The flag should stand for liberty and justice, not war and oppression." Still, Jensen was a good speaker and made several good points.

Another speaker I heard was Stephen Zunes from San Francisco, who presented a history of US intervention in the Middle East and how almost every intervention has had its negative consequences. Zunes is affiliated with Foreign Policy In Focus, a progressive "think tank without walls."

If you get a chance to hear any of these speakers, especially Bray or Albert, I highly recommend it!
Britain prepares for war:
Tony Blair last night made clear that war with Iraq remained virtually inevitable as President George W. Bush continued his inexorable steps towards military conflict with Saddam Hussein. As the aircraft carrier Ark Royal left Portsmouth yesterday, Number 10 officials told The Observer that military action is still 'more likely than not' and that Britain would back America, which is still set on war with Iraq. -- from the Guardian. We've got to get millions into the streets of Washington, San Francisco, and every city and town in America next weekend to protest this. George W. Bush is completely out of control, and we need regime change in America now.

Illinois joins the civilized world: Outgoing governor George Ryan commuted the death sentences of the remaining 167 people on Illinois' death row to life or less, one day after fully pardoning four others.

"The facts that I have seen in reviewing each and every one of these cases raised questions not only about the innocence of people on death row, but about the fairness of the death penalty system as a whole," Governor Ryan said this afternoon. "Our capital system is haunted by the demon of error: error in determining guilt and error in determining who among the guilty deserves to die."

Hopefully this leads to the clearing of death rows everywhere. (It will probably be necessary to clear the governor's mansion in Florida before anything happens there.) Then we can move on to fixing the many other injustices in our penal system.

Saturday, January 11, 2003

Anti-war conference at UM is excellent! I was there at the law quad today from 9:30 until 6, hearing several great speakers. Madhi Bray, currently the Executive Director of the Freedom Foundation, gave an inspired opening speech which reminded many of Dr. Martin Luther King. Michael Albert and Rahul Mahajan were also excellent. More later.

Friday, January 10, 2003

USA! USA! USA! We're number one! Time magazine has an online poll asking the question "Which country poses the greatest danger to world peace in 2003?" And currently the winner is, with a clear majority, the United States of America with 51.4%. Iraq is a distant second at 32.1%, and North Korea trails in third with 16.5%. As of now (8:40 PM EST Friday) the polls are still open, so go to Time's web site and vote!
If you're in the Ann Arbor area, go to the People's Food Coop on Fourth Avenue and buy a few "No War" yard signs ($3.55 each).
In the sixth coalition strike day in southern Iraq since the beginning of the new year, six U.S. and British warplanes dropped bombs Friday on several Iraqi communications sites south of Baghdad in what the Pentagon said were defensive strikes. -- from CNN.
Defensive strikes? Communications sites 6000 miles from the US? We passed absurd back around the time of the 2000 election, were well into bizarre during the Afghan war, but now we've moved completely beyond the scope of the thesaurus. Future generations will call something this ultra-bizarre "bushian," but I hope for their sakes that they won't have anything around then to which to apply it.
I went to the INS office in Detroit this afternoon to protest the government's requirement for male immigrants from selected countries to register their whereabouts, and just to be a witness. There were maybe about 40 of us outside with signs, songs and chants (many were there much longer than I was). INS officials were being very supportive--their PR guy came out and talked with us several times, and even took pictures of the group with the cameras people brought. As far as we could tell, most immigrants who went in were coming out. Apparently they had a huge turnout yesterday, and the INS staff worked until 11 trying to complete the processing without holding anyone overnight. I was told by someone in the group that the INS didn't succeed in finishing the processing last night, but they let the immigrants still there go, asking them to come back next week (I guess they met the deadline by showing up).

I'm not an authoritative source, but it appears that the protests in LA in December may have had a good effect and caused the INS to approach this nasty issue in a more thoughtful and humane way. I also got the impression that the INS has lots of employees who do have the best interests of the immigrant population at heart and are trying their best to reconcile that with the nasty orders they have been given.
We have met the enemy, and it is the Detroit News. Detroit's answer to the New York Post and Fox News, the paper ran an editorial Wednesday attacking Arianna Huffington's wonderful new anti-SUV ads. Fortunately, Brian Dickerson, a columnist for the more liberal Detroit Free Press, defends Huffington against the ravings of the News.

Actually, I don't buy it anymore. Powell may be the most dangerous of the Bushies. He has actual credentials (unlike most of the Bushies who have resumes with lines like "nearly bankrupted company after I got the job through political connections), and he speaks in complete sentences in a competent manner, making what he says sound reasonable. None of the others in the Bush gang can pull that off. And I've been waiting two years for Powell to go off, screaming "this is all nonsense, all lies!" Either he is the toadying house slave Harry Belafonte said he is, or else the Republicans have some remote-controlled electrode attached to his privates that they activate any time he deviates even slightly from the party line. He's a lost cause either way, and very dangerous, because there are a lot of people out there who figure that what Bush is doing couldn't be that bad because Powell is going along with it.
Another Day, Another Citizen Denied His Rights

In a new court filing, the government disclosed that Mr. Padilla has been under interrogation by military personnel for several months. The government said letting a lawyer into the process "would threaten permanently to undermine the military's efforts to develop a relationship of trust and dependency that is essential to effective interrogation." That could "set back his interrogations by months, if not derail the process permanently."

In the brief, released late last night, the government also said that interrogations of detained enemy combatants have produced vital intelligence and "helped to thwart an estimated 100 or more attacks against the United States and its interests since Sept. 11, 2001."

"A relationship of trust and dependency that is essential to effective interrogation?" I don't think Hitler or Stalin could have said it better. And what are they most likely to come up with once they've got Padilla reduced to a pathetic mushroom by months of "effective interrogation?" Probably the names of a few other people, who would then be extended the same rights now guaranteed to all Americans: none at all.

As for the "100 or more attacks," I flat out do not believe them. The Bush administration will say or do anything to pursue its goals, regardless of the Constitution, regardless of the truth.
A little hope, maybe? There appears to be strong sentiment in the British government for at least delaying war in Iraq until the fall, giving the inspectors more time to inspect. Unfortunately, the Bushies don't seem to care what anyone thinks.
Outside of W himself, this couldn't happen to a better guy. Israeli PM Ariel Sharon apparently illegally got a campaign loan from a South African to repay a loan he illegally got from an American. And when he started talking about it on Israeli TV, he was cut off because he was violating a prohibition against "spreading election propaganda" within a month of the election. It would be so cool if somebody cut off Bush during his state of the union rant later this month. Maybe all the networks can run reality shows instead.
Just in case there was any doubt that the Bushies intend to go to war no matter what, read this:
DONALD RUMSFELD, the US Defence Secretary, has suggested that Washington may present little or no evidence of Iraq’s quest for banned weapons even if President Bush decides to go to war.
Mr Rumsfeld said that disclosing such details to the world or even to the United Nations Security Council could jeopardise any military mission by revealing to Baghdad what the United States knows.
When weighing the demands of global opinion for proof of President Saddam Hussein’s danger against the need to shroud an effective military campaign in secrecy, Mr Rumsfeld said the safer option would be for the US to tilt towards secrecy.
-- from the London Times.

Thursday, January 09, 2003

Busy weekend on the peace & justice front:
I'm going to the INS office in Detroit tomorrow either to try to help immigrants required to register, to protest the policy, or maybe both. And then on Saturday and Sunday there's a big anti-war conference at the University of Michigan with some fairly famous speakers. I'll be attending most of the sessions and helping at the Ann Arbor Area Committee for Peace table.

And then there's next weekend! I'll be getting on a bus Friday (1/17) at 9 pm, riding all night to DC, protesting all day, and then riding back on Saturday night, arriving back in Ann Arbor about 6 am Sunday morning. It looks like this rally in Washington and the simultaneous one in San Francisco are going to be huge. And there will be other rallies around the country for those who can't make it to the big ones. The time is now. If we don't stop the war now, lots of people will die, and the Bush warmongering machine will roll on.

Great new anti-SUV ads!

Thanks to columnist Arianna Huffington for the concept and getting this going! You can view the ads and donate $ needed to get them on the air here. Here are the scripts:
Ad 1:
"I helped hijack an airplane. I helped blow up a nightclub. So what if it gets 11 miles to the gallon. I gave money to a terrorist training camp in a foreign country. It makes me feel safe. I helped our enemies develop weapons of mass destruction. What if I need to go off-road? Everyone has one. I helped teach kids around the world to hate America. I like to sit up high. I sent our soldiers off to war. Everyone has one. My life, my SUV. I don't even know how many miles it gets to the gallon."


Ad 2:
"This is George. This is the gas that George bought for his SUV. This is the oil company executive that sold the gas that George bought for his SUV. These are the countries where the executive bought the oil, that made the gas that George bought for his SUV. And these are the terrorists who get money from those countries every time George fills up his SUV."


I just finished reading the book Ecotopia, by Ernest Callenbach. Written in the 1970's, it describes the nation of Ecotopia, composed of Washington, Oregon, and northern California, twenty years after its secession from the United States in 1980. Ecotopia, as the name implies, has devoted itself to sustainable stable-state systems. Private cars have been eliminated, sustainable energy sources are used exclusively, and all sorts of novel living and social arrangements are to be found. The economy is sort of a combination of socialism, with a guaranteed subsistence income for all, and Adam Smith-style capitalism: lots of small producers in free and fluid competition. Lots of very interesting and appealing ideas, most from what would be considered left-wing thinking, but some more traditionally right-wing ideas are here too, like a school voucher system. The book is presented as a series of articles written by a visiting New York reporter, interspersed with his diary entries during his visit.

I previously read Callenbach's Ecotopia Emerging which describes the political, social and scientific developments which led to Ecotopia's secession. It is written in a more standard novel format, following the actions of a few key characters as the Pacific Northwest moves toward secession.

I wouldn't rate either book as a great novel, but they are excellent Utopian books with lots of intriguing ideas. Easy and entertaining to read.
The centerpiece of the economic plan proposed by Mr. Bush on Tuesday is the elimination of taxes on stock dividends, an unconscionable giveaway to the rich at a time when so many working Americans are struggling merely to survive. The plan contained no job creation program, no investment in the nation's critical infrastructure needs, and no assistance for the many states sinking in the quicksand of mammoth budget deficits.

Ms. Escobar has taken the president's policies somewhat personally. "I'm a Republican and I'm not ashamed to say it," she said. "But I'm very upset that they have done nothing for us."

I asked if she had voted for Mr. Bush. "I sure did," she said, then added, "I feel very betrayed."
-- conclusion to Bob Herbert's column in today's NY Times.

Blix says that no "smoking guns" have been found in Iraq.
The chief inspector has said that he thinks that Iraq's document was "incomplete," but that they have found no evidence of WMD's in Iraq. But our bizarre government continues to play games:

Secretary of State Colin Powell told The Washington Post for Thursday's editions that in the past few days, the United States has begun giving inspectors ``significant intelligence'' that has enabled them to become ``more aggressive and to be more comprehensive in the work they're doing.'' But Washington is holding back some information to see if inspectors ``are able to handle it and exploit it. ... It is not a matter of opening up every door we have,'' Powell said.

I think that the Republicans are using basically the same methods with Iraq that they used to impeach Bill Clinton. With Clinton, they somehow managed to link Paula Jones' lawsuit with Ken Starr's Whitewater investigation, forcing Clinton to testify about his Lewinsky affair, which was not illegal and had little to do with the Paula Jones' case (being consensual and all) and nothing at all to do with Whitewater. By asking him enough questions under oath, they were able to trap him in a lie. The Republicans probably knew the truth all along. With Iraq, the Bushies have forced to submit a "complete" accounting of anything and everything that might possibly be used in the development of three completely different types of weapons. No other country in the world has been forced to do this, and few countries could do it without omitting something or making some false statements, whether intentionally or not. Certainly a similar document prepared by the US would be millions of pages in length and couldn't possibly be either complete or completely accurate. Furthermore, it must be recalled that Iraq has been under duress the entire time: if at any point they actually admitted to having weapons programs (which I will certainly admit they might), the war would have started shortly thereafter. I don't think that Saddam Hussein is the only person in the world who might lie to avoid immediate destruction. But the Bushies are holding an ace-in-the-hole, supposed evidence of something to do with WMD's which Iraq still has. Still caring slightly about appearances, they would prefer that the inspectors stumble across a "smoking gun," but they are ready to pull out the ace at the last minute to preserve their war, which is what they've wanted all along.

Wednesday, January 08, 2003

Bill of Rights (revised):
1. You can have all the guns you want.

(see for explanation.)
W''s proposed dividend tax elimination hurts states twice:
The states fear they will lose in two ways. Because state income tax laws are tied to the federal law, the states will also stop taxing dividends. In addition, the removal of taxes on dividends makes stocks a more attractive investment vehicle than the traditionally tax-free municipal bonds. Over all, the officials said the potential losses far exceed the $10 billion in state aid included in Mr. Bush's 10-year plan, much of which is earmarked to help the unemployed. -- from the NY Times.

My suggestion to the states: Immediately implement your own dividend taxes, independent of federal taxes. Tax dividends from foreign or off-shore based corporations at 80%, and US-based corporations at 60%. The 60% could be reduced by the amount of income taxes collected by the state from employees of those corporations. For example, K-Mart is a Michigan-based company, with several hundred probably decently-paid employees at their headquarters in Troy, and a few thousand low-wage employees at numerous stores and warehouses around the state. Michigan K-Mart stockholders would pay 60% taxes on their dividends. Then, after April 15, the state would total the amount of state income taxes collected from K-Mart employees and refund all or some portion of it to the stockholders, thereby reducing or even eliminating the 60% tax. This would be a huge incentive for Michigan investors to invest only in companies which not only employ lots of people in Michigan, but also pay them well. It would also say to Ford and GM that if they want to move any more of their operations out of Michigan, they will have to answer to a large base of Michigan investors who will have their taxes go up (including the corporate executives who own lots of stock).
Bush has renominated Charles Pickering of Mississippi to the federal appeals court in New Orleans. Pickering has some segregationist baggage, like Trent Lott, which caused his nomination to be rejected by the then Democratic-controlled judiciary committee last year. But, as Paul Krugman concluded yesterday, this administration sees every problem not as something to be solved, but as an opportunity to advance their agenda:
Officials said Tuesday that the White House had wavered on whether to renominate the judge. One important reason Mr. Bush decided to go ahead, they said, was a belief that he had accumulated substantial political capital on race by severely criticizing Mr. Lott's comments on the Thurmond candidacy. "By taking on a member of his own party over race," one official said, "he gained significant moral standing that can be used to argue that Judge Pickering is a good man whose record should not be distorted."

At least now we know what the Lott thing was all about. In addition to having an ugly cracker known for burning crosses replaced by a handsome doctor known for saving lives, Bush claims the added benefit of being free to nominate racists because he has shown that he was, once, tough on a racist ( though not tough enough to ask him to leave the Senate completely, which might have put the Democrats back in control).
Molly Ivins on W's economic plan: good reading. Molly seems too smart to be a Texan!
Peaceful Tomorrows in Iraq: Relatives of 9/11 victims are meeting with relatives of Gulf War victims in Iraq this week. The Peaceful Tomorrows group opposes using the deaths of their innocent relatives as a reason for killing other innocents.
Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva was inaugurated as President of Brazil; the United States snubbed the celebration of Brazil's first leftist, working-class president by sending the U.S. trade representative, Robert Zoellick, whom Lula dismissed as "the subsecretary of a subsecretary of a subsecretary," after Zoellick warned that Brazil would be exporting its products to Antarctica if it didn't support President Bush's economic policies. Shortly after its first cabinet meeting, the new Brazilian government announced that it will postpone a planned $760 million purchase of military jets and said that the money could be better spent fighting hunger. "If at the end of my term of office," Lula said in a speech, "every Brazilian has the opportunity to eat breakfast, lunch, and dinner, then I will have completed my mission in life." -- from Harper's Weekly.

I'm not sure what we can do, but we need to somehow support Lula, Chavez and other world leaders who are willing to take a stand against Bush's policies and the oppression of globalization. I'm going to search around a bit to find out exactly what Zoellick said. I'm sick of the "either with us or against us" approach that the Bushies take on every issue, with neither negotiation nor agreeing to disagree as options.
There are so many things wrong about Bush's economic plan, but here's one area where he's clearly being deceptive, not just callously ignoring the poor to benefit the rich. In his speech yesterday he said (I added the emphasis):

We are increasingly a nation of owners who invest for retirement and the other financial challenges of life. One-half of American households own stock, either directly or through pension funds. And we have an obligation to make sure, now more than ever, that American investors are treated fairly. We can begin by treating investors fairly and equally in our tax laws. As it is now, many investments are taxed not once, but twice. First the IRS taxes a company on its profit, then it taxes the investors who receive the profits as dividends. The result of this double taxation is that for all the profit a company earns, shareholders who receive dividends keep as little as 40 cents on the dollar.

Double taxation is bad for our economy. Double taxation is wrong. Double taxation falls especially hard on retired people. About half of all dividend income goes to America's seniors, and they often rely on those checks for a steady source of income in their retirement. It's fair to tax a company's profits. It's not fair to double tax by taxing the shareholder on the same profits.

So today, for the good of our senior citizens, and to support capital formation across the land, I'm asking the United States Congress to abolish the double taxation of dividends.

But the fact is that dividends earned in 401(k)'s will still be taxed when they are withdrawn (usually in retirement), just as they are now:
Today, a senior administration official confirmed that the government would not change the rules and that stock dividends earned in 401(k) plans would indeed be taxed as ordinary income when it is withdrawn. "They didn't get taxed when it was going in," said the official when asked about the issue today. "It all works out in the end," she said. "Trust me." -- from today's Times.

So W mentions investing for retirement as a reason for eliminating dividend taxes, but the truth is that the proposal doesn't benefit 401(k) or other tax-deferred retirement investments like IRA's at all--they will still be "double taxed". The only benefits go to those who have stocks providing current income, who are almost entirely in the top few percent of the population in terms of wealth. And "trust me?" Are you kidding? When the "senior administration official" said "they didn't get taxed when it was going in," she is talking about employee or employer contributions to 401(k)'s, which are not dividends. The fact is that the corporations in which the 401(k) money is invested will pay taxes (at least as much as any corporations do, but that was yesterday's rant) before issuing dividends to the employee's 401(k) account. When the employee withdraws the funds, including those dividends, at retirement, they will be taxed again as ordinary income. It all works out in the end: the rich get richer, everyone else starves.

Tuesday, January 07, 2003

My niece Beth and her friends in California are raising money to go to Chiapas, Mexico in April to learn about the Zapatista movement and try to be of assistance. (I may end up going with them!) She has asked me for some fundraising ideas. I've given her a couple of ideas, but here's another: Dear readers, please send her some money!

Beth Goodsell
152 Tennyson Ave.
Palo Alto, CA 94301-3738

You can read more about the Chiapas trip here.
Call those Congresspeople! You can call the Capitol switchboard at (800) 839-5276 toll free and just ask to be switched to your representative or senator. I just called all three and expressed opposition to war in Iraq and to Bush's proposed elimination of dividend taxes. But there are many choices available! Pick from among the following, or make up your own! (Be sure to include the no war thing, though.)
  • No war in Iraq.
  • No elimination of dividend taxes.
  • Stop supporting Israeli occupation of Palestine.
  • Stop interfering in Venezuela.
  • Stop interfering in Columbia.
  • Repeal the USA Patriot Act.
  • Repeal the awful pork added onto the Homeland Security bill, especially the protection of Eli Lilly from lawsuits.
  • Stop the assault on the environment and make regulators like EPA Director Whitman do their jobs.
  • Provide public funding for election campaigns.
  • Enforce anti-trust law, especially with regard to the media.
  • Raise CAFE mileage standards or raise the federal gasoline tax substantially.
  • Insist that the government honor freedom of information requests as the law requires.
  • Stop the unnecessary harrassment of Arab-Americans and other immigrants.
From yesterday's White House press briefing, taken straight from the White House web site:
(The questioner is Helen Thomas of Hearst News. She deserves a Pulitzer!)

MR. FLEISCHER: Good afternoon and happy New Year to everybody. The President began his day with an intelligence briefing, followed by an FBI briefing. Then he had a series of policy briefings. And this afternoon, the President will look forward to a Cabinet meeting where the President will discuss with members of his Cabinet his agenda for the year. The President is going to focus on economic growth, making America a more compassionate country, and providing for the security of our nation abroad and on the homefront.

And with that, I'm more than happy to take your questions. Helen.

Q At the earlier briefing, Ari, you said that the President deplored the taking of innocent lives. Does that apply to all innocent lives in the world? And I have a follow-up.

MR. FLEISCHER: I refer specifically to a horrible terrorist attack on Tel Aviv that killed scores and wounded hundreds. And the President, as he said in his statement yesterday, deplores in the strongest terms the taking of those lives and the wounding of those people, innocents in Israel.

Q My follow-up is, why does he want to drop bombs on innocent Iraqis?

MR. FLEISCHER: Helen, the question is how to protect Americans, and our allies and friends --

Q They're not attacking you.

MR. FLEISCHER: -- from a country --

Q Have they laid the glove on you or on the United States, the Iraqis, in 11 years?

MR. FLEISCHER: I guess you have forgotten about the Americans who were killed in the first Gulf War as a result of Saddam Hussein's aggression then.

Q Is this revenge, 11 years of revenge?

MR. FLEISCHER: Helen, I think you know very well that the President's position is that he wants to avert war, and that the President has asked the United Nations to go into Iraq to help with the purpose of averting war.

Q Would the President attack innocent Iraqi lives?

MR. FLEISCHER: The President wants to make certain that he can defend our country, defend our interests, defend the region, and make certain that American lives are not lost.

Q And he thinks they are a threat to us?

MR. FLEISCHER: There is no question that the President thinks that Iraq is a threat to the United States.

Q The Iraqi people?

MR. FLEISCHER: The Iraqi people are represented by their government. If there was regime change, the Iraqi --

Q So they will be vulnerable?

MR. FLEISCHER: Actually, the President has made it very clear that he has not dispute with the people of Iraq. That's why the American policy remains a policy of regime change. There is no question the people of Iraq --

Q That's a decision for them to make, isn't it? It's their country.

MR. FLEISCHER: Helen, if you think that the people of Iraq are in a position to dictate who their dictator is, I don't think that has been what history has shown.

Q I think many countries don't have -- people don't have the decision -- including us.

A random thought from a teatotaler: I donated some money to the Fraternal Order of Police to send some kid to a circus or something. In return, they sent me a bumper sticker which said
"Stay Alive
Drink and Drive."
I took a white address label sticker and put it over "Drink and" so that it now reads "Stay Alive Don't Drive." I put it on my bulletin board, since if I put it on my bumper, hardly anyone would see it (my car stays in the garage about six days a week). But now I'm thinking, doesn't that make sense? I know the statistics that drinking is involved in half of all traffic fatalities, but that means, for starters, that the other half happen without drunk drivers. Furthermore, just making all of the drivers be sober wouldn't guarantee that none of those "alcohol-related" accidents would occur. I'm guessing the overall lives saved would be substantial, but nowhere near the total number of "alcohol-related" fatalities. So keeping drunks off the road would only reduce traffic fatalities by somewhat less than 50%. Now, getting drivers off the road would save all 41,000 lives a year! Not to mention the reduction in pollution, the increase in open space due to sprawl reduction, better physical fitness, no more oil wars...

So while in no way demeaning the fine work of Mother's Against Drunk Driving (MADD) and other such groups, I think maybe we should start an anti-driving group. And of course we'll need a cool acronym! Here are some ideas, and suggestions are welcome!
  • Bob's Against Driving (BAD)
  • Nature Saved-Yes!-No Cars (NSYNC)
  • Guys Opposing Driving (GOD)
Iraq War Could Put 10 Million In Need of Aid, U.N. Reports. The result of the first Gulf War and the years of sanctions has been to make Iraq's population almost totally dependent on the government for food. The war and its aftermath will make bringing relief to starving Iraqis nearly impossible, and their plight will be made worse by the spread of disease caused by the further destruction of electrical, water and sewer infrastructure.
Isn't there a law against this? Espionage, or treason maybe? Cuban-American disc jockeys at a Miami radio station used tapes of Fidel Castro to call Venezuela's president Hugo Chavez, who apparently believed that he was actually talking to Castro. After a brief conversation, one of the DJ's cut in with this charming message for Chavez:

"Get out of Venezuela, (expletive) terrorist! ... Animal, assassin, (expletive)!''

Apparently the DJ's got lots of congratulatory phone calls from Miami's Cuban community, who have way to much influence in American politics. Without the Cuban-American vote, there's no Bush in the White House and no Bush in the governor's mansion in Tallahassee. Not to mention all of the links to the Contras, the possible connection to the Kennedy assassination, etc. While most Latinos in this country are treated like third-class citizens (or non-citizens) by the Republicans, some of these right-wing Castro-haters in Miami are getting away with murder--literally.
North Korea is like no other country in the world today. It was eerie to interview groups of North Koreans and then hear them praise Kim Jong Il in unison, like synchronized robots, a feat of hagiography unmatched except in Washington when White House aides give interviews. -- from Nicholas Kristoff's latest NY Times op-ed, which is really scary reading.
The conclusion of Paul Krugman's latest column about W's proposal to eliminate dividend taxes:
No doubt the final version of the "stimulus" plan will contain a few genuine recession-fighting measures — a child credit here, an unemployment benefit there, a few crumbs for the states — for which the administration will expect immense gratitude. But the man in charge — that is, Karl Rove — is clearly betting that the economy will recover on its own, and intends to use the pretense of stimulus mainly as an opportunity to get more tax cuts for the rich.

Ideology aside, will these guys ever decide that their job includes solving problems, not just using them?

Good question, Paul. I'm pretty sure the answer is "no."

Trying to protect the world? Stay home, you terrorist! A Green Party member was prevented from flying to Prague by the FBI.

Monday, January 06, 2003


TO: George, Dick, Donald, Ari
RE: Put up or shut up!

Guys: you are making us look ridiculous. You keep saying, as Ari said today, that "Iraq has still not shown signs that it will disarm itself of weapons of mass destruction." Well, Iraq has said on many occasions that it has no weapons of mass destruction. That is their response. If it is true, there is no possible way for them to show signs of disarming themselves of WMD. You claim to have evidence that they do have WMD. Call Mr. Blix, tell him where they are, get him to fly in unannounced with CNN to document it, and show the world that you are telling the truth and Saddam is lying. And do it now. If you don't, I and the rest of the world will see that you are the ones who are lying, and any war against Iraq will be seen as the act of naked agression that it is. You have accused Saddam of playing games for years. Well, this is a very silly game with very dangerous consequences that you are playing, and you need to put up or shut up right now or all those flag-waving Americans who have supported your wars up until now will start to see you for the frauds that you are.
Revving up the old cycle of violence: Suicide bombings in Tel Aviv, arrests, rocket attacks and other military action by the Israelis.

Official GOTP Message

Get out the protest, that is! A huge anti-war march is planned for Washington and San Francisco on Saturday, January 18. Find out how to get to these rallies here. I plan on getting on a bus leaving Ann Arbor on Friday night. If you can't make it to the big DC or SF rallies, local marches are planned in many communities, including Ann Arbor (check here for Ann Arbor details, although they aren't posted yet).

And if you can't wait to get involved, there's stuff going on this weekend! On Friday, you can help immigrants required to register with the INS by going with them to the INS office and notifying families and lawyers if they don't come out. In Ann Arbor, contact Cynthia Powers if you are interested in helping. Also, in Ann Arbor this weekend there's going to be a big anti-war conference:

Speakers will include well-known authors Robert Jensen, Rahul Mahajan and Susan Wright. (The other speakers are probably well-known as well, but I haven't heard of them!)

If you're in California, there's going to be a big peace rally in LA on Saturday, January 11. Politics in the Zeros has the details. Get warmed up for the January 18 rally in San Francisco with a trip to tinseltown!

"You know, Mr. Hussein, I think that you can be of great use to our fascist agenda."
"As can you to mine, Mr. Rumsfeld."
(pic from Tom Tomorrow, who claims he got it from Bartcop, but I can't find it there.)

Class Warfare

According to the NY Times, President Bush is going to propose the complete elimination of taxes on corporate dividends in his economic plan. Pardon my fisking of certain points in the article:

Supporters of the idea say it will correct a major distortion in the tax system, which is that dividends are taxed twice — once at the corporate level as profits and a second time as dividend income to shareholders.
I used to buy this argument, and I guess it would still have some validity if either corporations or shareholders were actually paying substantial taxes. But most of the biggest corporations and wealthiest shareholders have found numerous ways to avoid paying most taxes. Also, the argument might also be applied to the wages of corporate employees--why should they be taxed when the corporate profits they produce have already been taxed?

But even before Mr. Bush describes his proposal in a speech in Chicago on Tuesday, Democrats stepped up their accusations today that his plan would benefit the very wealthiest and ignore the needs of middle-income families. "When they direct their tax programs to benefit the very, very, very few and eliminate the majority from any benefit of these tax cuts, it is class war," said Senator Harry Reid of Nevada, the Senate's assistant Democratic leader, on the NBC News program "Meet the Press."
I think W may have made a big mistake when he mentioned "class warfare" in his talk with the press on Friday. Because that is exactly what is going on, and the more it is discussed, the more obvious it will become. The Bushies are "reverse Robinhoods" of the sort described in Ayn Rand's Atlas Shrugged; they steal from the poor and give to the rich. I had seen the "class warfare" topic discussed in progressive articles, but W has now introduced it into evidence in the court of public opinion, and Democrats like Reid should pound him on cross-examination.

Eliminating dividend taxes, administration officials contend, would greatly increase the value of corporate profits and should lead to an increase in stock market valuations.
Wonderful: the rich not only will get richer by not having their dividends taxed, they'll also get richer because their stocks go up.

I still have a lot to learn about economics (doesn't everybody?), so bear with me if I'm naive on certain issues, and feel free to correct me if I get something wrong in what follows. Like I said, I used to believe the "double-taxation" argument, and I still believe there is some merit in it. The merit lies in the fact that our tax code is ridiculously complex, siphoning money out in many different places while providing many protected channels for those who know how to use it (or, more accurately, can afford accountants and lawyers who know how to abuse it). I guess at heart I'm a "single taxer," with wealth being the single thing to tax (not income, sales, profits, dividends, etc.). But the facts are that it takes money to make money (did you ever rent an apartment or get a loan from a poor person?), and that money is power (how many welfare mothers do you see at Republican fundraisers? or Democratic fundraisers, even?), so the only way to maintain some semblance of democracy in a capitalist-free market economy is through very progressive taxation. And income taxes are the major source of federal revenues, while dividends and capital gains are the major sources of income for the very rich, so reducing or eliminating taxes on dividends or capital gains while retaining the rest of our screwed-up tax code will be extremely regressive, and therefore undemocratic. It is giving more power to the already too powerful. This is class warfare declared by a no-class president.

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.