Bob's Links and Rants -- Fair and Balanced

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

Saturday, January 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:

Bush is willing to ignore the UN in order to enforce UN resolutions that he forced on the UN. Just in case anybody has missed the irony.

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.

The Village Voice on the Washington March: Good article!

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