Bob's Links and Rants -- Fair and Balanced

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

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.

America is putting an Israeli in space. Meanwhile, Israel is putting assassins in America.


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.

Anti-war Activists in Baghdad

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.

Illinois Governor Ryan for the Nobel Peace Prize?

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.