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, March 01, 2003

Is the US in violation of UN Resolution 1441?
The Security Council ... Requests all Member States to give full support to UNMOVIC and the IAEA in the discharge of their mandates, including by providing any information related to prohibited programmes or other aspects of their mandates, including on Iraqi attempts since 1998 to acquire prohibited items, and by recommending sites to be inspected, persons to be interviewed, conditions of such interviews, and data to be collected, the results of which shall be reported to the Council by UNMOVIC and the IAEA; -- from UN Security Council Resolution 1441.

According to CBS:

So frustrated have the inspectors become that one source has referred to the U.S. intelligence they've been getting as "garbage after garbage after garbage."

So is our government failing to give full support to UNMOVIC and the IAEA, thereby violating resolution 1441?

I report, you decide.

We said they would comply on this, so it doesn't count:
Iraq began destroying its Al Samoud 2 missiles Saturday as ordered by the United Nations and agreed with weapons inspectors on a timetable to dismantle the entire missile program, U.N. and Iraqi officials said.

But the United States dismissed the step as insufficient and deceptive. "Resolution 1441 called for complete, total and immediate disarmament. It did not call for pieces of disarmament," Merci Viana, a Bush spokeswoman, said. "The president has always predicted that Iraq would destroy its Al Samoud missiles as part of its game of deception."
-- from the Washington Post.

Besides the ridiculous petulance and obtuseness of Bush's position, this is another example of the "big lie," a la Goebbels. The text of resolution 1441 says a lot about the inspection process: providing free access to all sites, free movement throughout the country. It says that "UNMOVIC and the IAEA shall have the right at their sole discretion verifiably to remove, destroy, or render harmless all prohibited weapons, subsystems, components, records, materials, and other related items, and the right to impound or close any facilities or equipment for the production thereof." In other words, it is the inspectors' responsibility to destroy the weapons; it is Iraq's responsibility (under 1441) to assist the inspectors. Nowhere in the resolution does it state that "complete, total and immediate disarmament" is solely Iraq's responsibility, especially the immediate part. The resolution clearly expects the inspectors to lead the disarmament process; Iraq was to assist by producing the documentation and by giving access to the inspectors. Perhaps some quibbles about the quality of the document or the degree of assistance given to the inspectors are justified, but the claim that 1441 calls for complete, total and immediate disarmament is just one big fat lie.

Iraq did claim that it had no weapons of mass destruction, so perhaps they bear some responsibility if some are indeed found (the al Samoud 2 missiles possibly violate a provision of an earlier resolution, but they are not WMD's under the generally accepted (though stupid) definition: chemical, biological, or nuclear). And 1441 seems to operate on the premise that Iraq does possess WMD's and is required to assist the inspectors in locating and destroying them. Everything I've read indicates that this has been happening.

And, of course, the very idea that the threat from Iraq is actually increasing while inspectors roam their country, sanctions remain in place, and US spy planes fly regularly over their territory is such nonsense that it is really beneath contempt. To go to war because things aren't improving fast enough according to the jerk who decided to make an issue of it in the first place is absurd in the extreme.

And one more thing! Merci is a French word!

Oh joy, it's snowing again. :-(

Turkish Parliament votes against U.S. Troops using Turkish bases!

Well, sort of, but at least that's the effect until Tuesday. The vote was 264 yes, 250 no, 19 abstain. The Turkish constitution requires a majority of those present to vote "yes" for a bill to pass, so the abstentions essentially counted as "no" votes. More from the Guardian and CNN.

Oops, guys you left one out: Pentagon Releases a List of War Crimes
The draft instructions, which would apply to non-Americans, list as crimes the willful killing of protected persons; attacking civilians, civilian objects or protected property; pillaging; taking hostages; and employing poison or similar weapons.

Other crimes on the list include the use of protected persons or property as shields; mutilation or maiming; the use of treachery or perfidy; the improper use of the flag of truce or protective emblems; the degrading treatment of a dead body; and rape.

Also on the proposed list are hijacking or hazarding a vessel or aircraft; terrorism; aiding the enemy; spying; perjury or false testimony; and obstruction of justice related to military commissions.

Membership in Al Qaeda is not considered a crime, but the list includes "related offenses," like conspiracy and aiding or abetting, attempting, soliciting or ordering any of the 24 crimes mentioned.

So where's "attacking a country that has never attacked you nor poses any threat to you?" Oh, well, there's still enough on that list to have George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, Tony Blair and Ariel Sharon locked up. Attacking civilians? Guilty. Taking hostages? Guilty. Aiding the enemy? Guilty. Perjury, false testimony, obstruction of justice? Guilty, guilty, guilty.

Friday, February 28, 2003

The Rummy Speaks:
The number of U.S. troops that would be required to administer Iraq after a U.S.-led military campaign is "not knowable" because of the large number of variables in how a conflict might unfold, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld said Thursday.

He also said it "makes no sense to try" to come up with cost estimates for a war in Iraq because the variables "create a range that simply isn't useful."

Well, I'm here to tell you that I'm sick and tired of Mr. Donald Rumsfeld's games. He's had twelve long months to come up with an estimate, but I see no evidence that he's estimating. He's had chance after chance after chance, and if Congress won't step up to its responsibility to get him to estimate, I intend to lead a coalition of the billing to make him estimate. He's had his chance. It's a matter of weeks, not months.

(note--this post is basically a follow-up to the previous one below)

Silence of the Lambs (Congress, that is)
Naive optimist that I am, I was hoping that Congress would use Wednesday's virtual march as a basis to start speaking out in large numbers against Bush's relentless drive for war. Instead, the silence that Senator Byrd decried over two weeks ago continues, leaving the few brave souls like Byrd, Kennedy, Kucinich, Conyers, and Republican Ron Paul to twist in the wind. Every time I have called Senator Stabenow's office in the past few weeks, I have been told that she opposes the war. I called today and asked why I haven't seen any headlines in the papers about Stabenow's opposition to the war. The staffer reiterated that Stabenow is opposed and is doing everything she can to stop it. The staffer said "I'm not the press--I don't decide what the headlines are." I pressed, asking if Stabenow had held a press conference stating her opposition, and maybe the press was refusing to cover it? She replied something like "There are lots of things going on here right now; I'm not sure what has or hasn't happened."

Well, I just went to Stabenow's official web site and her list of press releases; there is not a word about opposing war. She issues press releases just about every day, sometimes more than one, but not a single one about opposing war in Iraq. Even her response to the State of the Union address carefully avoids the topic. This is doing everything she can? Do we have to leak her position to the press ourselves?

If you live in Michigan, please call Stabenow's office and ask why, if she is actually opposed to the war, she doesn't issue a press release to that effect? If the papers don't carry it, we have their phone numbers. But as far as I can tell, they're not carrying it because she's not saying it. If you live in another state, please check the web sites of your senators and representatives to see if they've taken any official stand on the war. If they haven't, call and encourage them to do so--anti-war, of course. If they have and the papers aren't covering it, call the papers and tell them to get on the ball!

All congressional offices can be reached through the Capitol switchboard: 800-839-5276.

Where is the friggin' Congress? We've had our marches, real and virtual. Every day Bush shows that he wants to bomb Iraq more than anyone in the history of the world has ever wanted anything. The mere fact that Saddam Hussein is disarming is not enough to convince Bush that Saddam Hussein is disarming, if it means he can't have his war. But still, I don't see 40, or 50, or 90 senators holding a press conference on the Capitol steps saying that they are going to repeal the war authorization and that they will impeach Bush if he continues. The silence that Senator Byrd decried over two weeks ago remains. I want headlines in the Detroit Free Press: "Levin, Stabenow, Dingell Call for Stop to War, Threaten Impeachment." Stabenow's staffers have been telling me for weeks when I call that "The Senator agrees with you." Well how, exactly? Bush threatens to make the UN irrelevant. He apparently doesn't have to do this with Congress--they're doing it themselves.

Encore! Viva Ted Rall!
Short of opening a shooting range next door to a daycare center, buying an SUV is perhaps the single most antisocial act an ordinary American can commit. -- from a recent column .

Viva Ted Rall!
The fact is, France is a good friend and ally trying to make us see reason, and it doesn't deserve to be treated this shabbily. The United States, as led by Bush and his goons, is like a belligerent, out-of-control drunk trying to pick a fight and demanding the car keys at the same time. The French want to drive us home before we cause any more trouble, so we lash out at them, calling them rude names and impugning their loyalty. Sure, we'll be ashamed of our behavior in the morning, after the madness wears off. But will we have any friends left?

Nicholas Kristof on North Korea:
So if the military option is too scary to contemplate, and if allowing North Korea to proliferate is absolutely unacceptable, what's left? Precisely the option that every country in the region is pressing on us: negotiating with North Korea.

Ironically, the gravity of the situation isn't yet fully understood in either South Korea or Japan, partly because they do not think this administration would be crazy enough to consider a military strike against North Korea. They're wrong.

Bush's Poll Numbers Drop
Asked their choice for president, 47 percent of the registered voters polled said they would support Bush in 2004 -- compared with 51 percent in December. About 39 percent said they would support the Democratic candidate, compared with 37 percent in December. -- from CNN. And while destroying the Samoud missiles apparently doesn't matter to Bush or Blair, it is significant to lots of Americans: And support for an invasion drops significantly if Saddam destroys missiles cited by U.N. weapons inspectors, falling from 71 percent to 33 percent. Well, Iraq has agreed to destroy the missiles, starting as soon as tomorrow.

Why are the freepers so concerned about the little French poodle when there's a giant bear in the room?
"Russia does not support any resolution which could directly or indirectly open the way to an armed resolution of the Iraq problem," Mr. Ivanov told a news conference. -- from a NY Times article which focuses on Iraq's offer to destroy, "in principle," the supposedly forbidden missiles. The response from Big Brother was predictable: "The rockets are just the tip of the iceberg," President Bush reiterated today in an appearance with the Afghan president, Hamid Karzai. "The only question at hand is total, complete disarmament, which he is refusing to do," the president said, referring to Mr. Hussein. Notice how W doesn't even mention weapons of mass destruction anymore? Of course, the missiles would not actually fall under that classification unless they had chemical, biological, or nuclear warheads, which they do not. But it sounds now as though Bush is demanding that every tank, helicopter, jeep and rifle in Iraq be destroyed. Probably so we can take over the oil fields by just driving onto them, and save our cruise missiles for Iran, North Korea, or Syria.

I think that many countries are now realizing how dangerous it is to oppose the will of Bush, and how it will be even more dangerous not to. The Bushies are a cancer on the earth. If we don't accomplish a little surgery now (impeachment), other nations and/or terrorists will start applying chemotherapy or radiation treatments to try to get rid of it. (Should I run another online poll as to whether that was the best or worst analogy you've ever seen?)

Thursday, February 27, 2003

"You see it all the time, especially now....The good will of the American people is being manipulated. It gives me the chills...I'm so going to go to jail this year!" -- Rene Zellweger, quoted by Howard Zinn in a good column about war and resistance.

US Diplomat Resigns, Protesting "Fervent Pursuit of War." Surely there are more in the diplomatic corps, and in the military, who are shocked and disgusted by Bush's clear preference for war.

FoxNews' Bill O'Reilly from last night's show:
Once the war against Saddam Hussein begins, we expect every American to support our military, and if you can't do that, just shut up. Americans, and indeed our foreign allies who actively work against our military once the war is underway, will be considered enemies of the state by me. Just fair warning to you, Barbra Streisand and others who see the world as you do. I don't want to demonize anyone, but anyone who hurts this country in a time like this, well. Let's just say you will be spotlighted. Talking points invites all points of view and believes vigorous debate strengthens the country, but once decisions have been made and lives are on the line, patriotism must be factored in. -- from Media Whore's Online via This Modern World.

MWO, and I, ask you to contact O'Reilly's sponsors and tell them that opposing a stupid war is patriotic, that bringing troops home instead of sending them to possible death or dismemberment is supporting them. Here is the sponsor list:

Protest in Egypt

A demonstrator stands on a wall waving the Iraqi flag as hundreds of others in the background join in during a demonstration held at Cairo Stadium. Some 140,000 Egyptians rallied to show support for Iraq and condemn US and Israeli policy in the Middle East, police said. The demonstrators packed the sports stadium with a total capacity of 100,000 while 40,000 more unable to get in. -- NY Times.

So, fellow Ann Arborites, does that give you any ideas? We've got one of the largest stadiums in the world right here. How about "Fill the Big House for Peace?" It would be hard for anyone to deny that we had over 100,000 people there if we filled a 110,000 seat stadium!

Bush's speech last night ties the whole imperialist conspiracy theory thing together. I could spend the rest of the afternoon trying to explain this, but Liberal Oasis has already done so. Thanks again to Cyndy at MouseMusings for the link. She's got some good links and comments on the speech on her site as well.

Bad move, Governor. Gov. Jennifer Granholm has called for routine monitoring of gasoline prices for "price gouging" in response to heightened international tension. A bill has been introduced in the state legislature to outlaw "gouging" in times of emergency, although the bill doesn't define the term.

Now, I hate to see people profit from war, but as far as I'm concerned, I'm all in favor of high gas prices. If they don't get to $10 a gallon on their own, we tax gasoline until it gets there. There are few other simple steps that could be taken that would contribute to solving so many problems. Less traffic. Fewer traffic fatalities. Less pollution. Less sprawl. Less road rage. Better mass transit, making it easier for the poor to find and get to work. And, of course, reducing the demand for more oil wars.

Even ignoring all of that, raising gas prices in times of uncertainty makes good sense from a security standpoint. If war in Iraq causes an oil embargo or terror attacks on refineries, storage tanks, or pipelines, artificially low prices will quickly result in huge shortages. Not only will soccer mom Betty be unable to drive the SUV to Krogers for some semi-toxic meat and genetically-modified potatoes, but policewoman Sue, fireman Fred and paramedic Elaine won't be able to get gas for their cars, trucks and ambulances so they can respond to all of the other terror attacks the war is likely to cause. Of course, they'll already be worn out from all of the overtime they have to work because so many of their colleagues have been called up by the military, so maybe they shouldn't be driving anyway. I'm no longer a big fan of free-market pricing, but not allowing gasoline prices to factor in (discount, in Wall Street terms) the uncertainty caused by world events is foolish in many ways. The American landscape, and the society as a whole, is badly misshapen largely due to artificially low prices of two liquids: oil and water. For governments to continue to protect these distortions only postpones the inevitable and will make it much worse when it finally arrives.

From Bill DeOre. What strikes me about this cartoon is that Jordan, Lebanon, ISRAEL, and of course the Palestinian state, all seem to have disappeared, apparently gobbled up by Saudi Arabia and Syria! Probably a (very) careless oversight, but what if he meant it that way? What is he trying to say here?

From Tony Auth.

Hope? I just received through the AAACP listserv a report from Stratfor saying that Saddam Hussein has made an offer through the Russians that might enable Bush to "save face" without invading Iraq. Armed UN peacekeeping troops would join the inspectors in Iraq to enforce whatever disarmament actually remains to be done, and US oil companies would be allowed to return to Iraq. I think Stratfor is fairly reputable, but I don't know for sure. Read the report and decide for yourself. It certainly wouldn't solve all of our problems. I want no war and for Bush to lose face--even lose head, if I weren't opposed to capitol punishment. I remember reading about the "mad dog" technique that Kissinger tried to use with the North Vietnamese: convince them that Nixon was so crazy, he'd do anything, including nuking Hanoi. The way out described here would certainly give credence to the "mad dog" technique: Bush is either crazy or doing an excellent job of pretending to be.

The ACLU has a good collection of cartoons related to Bushian restrictions of civil liberties.

Good Ted Rall cartoon today! (Does anybody know how "fair use" copyright law applies to comic strips? If I display one or two strips a week on average from Ted Rall, Boondocks, or others on my very non-profit blog, giving them proper credit and links, am I violating copyright law, or is it similar to copying a paragraph or two out of a column? Should I just write and ask for permission?)

From Naomi Klein in the Toronto Globe and Mail (thanks to Allan in Ottawa for the link):
At the Pentagon, they call it the Voilà Moment.

That's when Iraqi soldiers and civilians, with bombs raining down on Baghdad, suddenly scratch their heads and say to themselves: "These bombs aren't really meant to kill me and my family, they are meant to free us from an evil dictator!" At that point, they thank Uncle Sam, lower their weapons, abandon their posts, and rise up against Saddam Hussein. Voilà!

Or at least that's how it is supposed to work, according to the experts in "psychological operations" who are already waging a fierce information war in Iraq. The Voilà Moment made its first foray into the language of war last Monday, when a New York Times reporter quoted an unnamed senior U.S. military official using the term.
Of course, there should be more marches, but it should also be clear by now that there is no protest too big for our politicians to ignore. They know that public opinion in most of the world is against the war.

What our politicians are carefully assessing before the bombs start falling, is whether the antiwar sentiment is "hard" or "soft." The question is not "do people care about war?" but how much do they care? Is it a mild consumer preference against war, one that will evaporate by the next election? Or is it something deeper and more lasting -- a, shall we say, Voilà kind of care?

On one end of the caring spectrum, Levi's Europe has decided to cash in on the antiwar fad by releasing a limited-edition teddy bear with a peace symbol attached to its ear. You can clutch and hug it while watching the scary terror alerts on CNN.

Or you could turn off CNN, refuse to be a soft and cuddly peacenik, get out there and stop the war.
-- Read the rest.

Keep the virtual march going! Use the "Contact Congress" form in the right frame (-->) to send faxes or e-mails to your representatives. They've got a wide array of letters to choose from, or you can write your own from scratch.

Hurray for Toni Smith! She plays for the Manhattanville College basketball team, and has been protesting W's Iraq policies by turning her back on the flag during the national anthem. You can read about it here, where there's also a link to video from the local TV news. Apparently, women's basketball is getting a lot more attention at Manhattanville College than it ever did before.

Have you ever tried to link lion bowel movements to the worldwide peace movement from a liberal perspective? (I'll bet you didn't expect to read THAT today!) Well, Politics in the Zeros does it quite nicely.

Hypocrisy as an art form:
We will provide security against those who try to spread chaos or settle scores or threaten the territorial integrity of Iraq. -- George W. Bush, February 26, 2003. He says this as he is preparing to launch a pre-emptive strike against the territorial integrity of Iraq, spreading chaos throughout the country and the world, all to settle an old score on behalf of his miserable excuse of a father. The whole Orwellian speech is here.

Wednesday, February 26, 2003

Headlines in the news:

Blair suffers huge revolt on Iraq (CNN)

Labour MPs revolt over Iraq (Guardian (UK))

Iraq Debate in Britain's Parliament Reveals Rift in Labor (NY Times)

House of Commons Backs Blair on Iraq (Washington Post)

House of Commons Backs Blair on Iraq (FoxNews)

Blair Wins Parliamentary Vote on Iraq (LA Times)

All of these headlines, of course, refer to the same vote in London. Unfortunately, the latter headlines appear to be more accurate, although the large number of MP's from Blair's own labor party who voted against his position is seen as very significant. It's strange, too, since in recent weeks I have noticed that the Post seems to be rather anti-Bush, with the NY Times being quite pro-Bush. I noticed the same sort of discrepancy yesterday walking by some newspaper vending machines: One paper had a headline saying that the AIDS vaccine works; the next paper's headline said it doesn't. People who just get their news from headlines, radio and TV aren't really getting any information at all. That's what blogs are for!

Finally, a decent anti-war message from the Sierra Club!
Why is the Sierra Club involved?

As President Bush increased his pro-war rhetoric last fall, Sierra Club leaders from around the country urged the Board of Directors to take a stand for peace. Since war has dire environmental and social impacts, the Sierra Club urged the U.S. to let the United Nations inspectors do their job, so the parties can resolve the Iraq issue peacefully.

In addition, the Board called on the U.S. to reduce our dependency on oil. By doing so, we can increase our national security and reduce the threat of war, as well as clean up our air and curb global warming.

Our country has the know-how to cut our dependence on oil by increasing fuel efficiency, employing modern technology, and developing clean, renewable sources of power. It's time to get serious about our nation's energy future.
-- from the Sierra Club web site.

Virtual March gets NY Times Coverage!

Ari is definitely losing it. In yesterday's press briefing (video/transcript), he appeared nervous and defensive throughout (sort of like someone under orders to lie, I'd say), and then got laughed out of the room for this knee-slapper: You're saying that the leaders of other nations are buyable. And that is not an acceptable proposition. Thanks to Cyndy at Mousemusings for the link.

My 17-year-old niece in California meets the forces of darkness:
So, I was filling up my gas tank - mourning the fact that I don't have an electric or hybrid vehicle - and this old guy pulls up. He gets out and is staring at me. I smile, thinking he must be overpowered by my youthful beauty. But then he says to me really angrily, "What, you just gonna sit there and let them come get us?!" I assume he was referring to the anti-war fliers my car windows are covered in. But still, it really freaked me out - I thought he was going to kill me or something he looked so angry.

But at the same time I wanted to ask the guy, "Who exactly are "they"? I mean, "they" could be Saddam (which in that case would mean that he needs to practice his conjugation), Bin Laden (which is stupid as we are invading Iraq) or maybe some other terrorist faction (the last parentheses covered that). Well, I didn't say anything because I didn't - obviously - want to get in a fight with an angry, overweight white man and so I finished and drove off as he stared malevolently at me.
-- from Beth Goodsell's Rant Page.

I was chatting online with Beth last night and she told me the story. I was trying to figure out what the guy could possibly be imagining when he says "they" will come get us. Perhaps the Iraqi navy, all ten or so rubber boats, each carrying five rifle-toting Iraqi soldiers, sails out of the Shaat-al-Arab past the thousands of US troops in Kuwait, past five carrier battle groups in the Persian Gulf and surrounding waters, around the Arabian peninsula, through the Suez Canal, across the Mediterranean teeming with US and British warships, past Gibraltar into the wintry Atlantic, 3000+ miles to the Panama Canal, up the coast of Mexico, past another carrier group or two in San Diego, into the Golden Gate, down the bay, all fresh and ready to storm the beaches of East Palo Alto. I'll tell you, I couldn't sleep just worrying about it.

Check this out today: I know it's a small percentage of the population, but this is cool!

Ten Years Ago Today:

I believe this was the first of several terror attacks which resulted from the 1991 Gulf War. Certainly the attacks linked to Osama bin Laden and al Qaeda resulted from that war: the attacks on US embassies in Africa, the attack on the Cole in Yemen, and of course 9/11. The TWA 800 crash off of Long Island in July, 1996 has never been properly explained: over 100 eyewitnesses saw what appeared to be a missile heading upwards shortly before the plane exploded (see this website for all of the facts, innuendo and conspiracy theories about TWA 800). Timothy McVeigh went to the Gulf War as one of the best soldiers in the army, but returned home disillusioned and bitter after participating in the "turkey shoot," and four years later he and another Gulf War vet blew up the federal building in Oklahoma City, killing 158. DC sniper suspect John Muhammad is also a Gulf War vet. (Please note: I'm not trying to imply that Gulf War vets are dangerous in general, but that the war may well have been a contributing factor to the actions of McVeigh, Nichols and Muhammad.)

So, ten years of terror attacks from a war, which while not in any way justified, at least had better excuses and international support than the one W is proposing. If we don't stop this, life may well be nearly unbearable for the next 10 to 100 years, all thanks to a couple of genocidal idiots named George Bush.

Tuesday, February 25, 2003

Bush: Reviving the Cold War -- from Common Dreams. While right-wingers focus their mindless spite on France, two nuclear-equipped giants, Russia and China, are beginning to realize the true threat that W and his genociders pose to the whole world.

The Bush-Hussein Debate

Fascism the natural state? from Norman Mailer:

The dire prospect that opens, therefore, is that America is going to become a mega-banana republic where the army will have more and more importance in Americans' lives. It will be an ever greater and greater overlay on the American system. And before it is all over, democracy, noble and delicate as it is, may give way. My long experience with human nature - I'm 80 years old now - suggests that it is possible that fascism, not democracy, is the natural state.

Indeed, democracy is the special condition - a condition we will be called upon to defend in the coming years. That will be enormously difficult because the combination of the corporation, the military and the complete investiture of the flag with mass spectator sports has set up a pre-fascistic atmosphere in America already.

Republican Jitters?
Even some members of Bush's own party are expressing concern about the need for more allied support. "Today, America stands nearly alone in proclaiming the urgency of the use of force to disarm Saddam Hussein," Sen. Charles Hagel (R-Neb.) said in a speech Thursday at Kansas State University. "America must balance its determination with patience and not be seen as in a rush to war." -- from the LA Times via Common Dreams.

From Doonesbury, of course.

The Bushies are treating the UN just like they treat Afghanistan, Iraq, or the whole world, for that matter: We're willing to destroy it to save it. Here's an excerpt from a Washington Post article:

In meetings yesterday with senior officials in Moscow, Undersecretary of State John R. Bolton told the Russian government that "we're going ahead," whether the council agrees or not, a senior administration official said. "The council's unity is at stake here."

A senior diplomat from another council member said his government had heard a similar message and was told not to anguish over whether to vote for war.

"You are not going to decide whether there is war in Iraq or not," the diplomat said U.S. officials told him. "That decision is ours, and we have already made it. It is already final. The only question now is whether the council will go along with it or not."

This is America? Not in my name, it isn't.

Blix Says Iraq Signals New Cooperation -- Washington Post.

From Tom Tomorrow:
Unscientific poll watch, AOL edition
Haven't seen this one myself, but a reader on AOL reports that a poll question greeted him when he signed on this morning: "Is it unpatriotic to protest the war?"
On the bright side, the answer so far was overwhelmingly "no." But still. How about rephrasing it: "Is it unpatriotic to suppress dissent?" You don't see that question in online polls very often, do you?

Well, Tom, here it is!

Is it unpatriotic to suppress dissent?

View the results
Hosted by WebEnalysis

War hits the schools:
Plymouth-Canton (MI) school officials plan to pull the plug on television news reports if the United States goes to war against Iraq. Meanwhile, a high school student in Dearborn was asked to change his shirt or go home after wearing a T-shirt with W's picture between the words "International Terrorist." He chose to go home.

Join the Virtual March on Washington tomorrow! Click here to sign up for times to make your phone calls to Congress and the president. In addition, please go here to send faxes. What the heck--while you're at it, go here to send an e-mail.

Send e-mail to the UN Security Council! This web site makes it easy.

Unfortunately, the editorial board at the NY Times doesn't read the columns in their own paper.

First, Nicholas Kristof, in probably his best column in over a year, compares today's Bush-made Iraq crisis to a similar situation in 1956. Then, Israel, France and Britain wanted to invade Egypt to protect the Suez Canal from Egypt's leader, Gamel Abdel Nasser. U.S. President Dwight Eisenhower, no chickenhawk he, stepped in, much as Chirac and Putin are trying to do now, to prevent an unjust and unnecessary war. Kristof writes:

European leaders were determined not to appease this "Hitler on the Nile." France, Israel and Britain conspired to invade Egypt and oust Nasser. "It was too risky to allow this adventurer, this miniature Hitler, to develop," Prime Minister Guy Mollet of France later told Nasser's biographer Jean Lacouture.

Ike was outraged and did to the Europeans what they are trying to do to us now: He forced the invaders to retreat and solve the crisis peacefully. "The United States is committed to a peaceful solution," he declared.

Thank God for Ike. If the hawks had been running the show then, we might still have troops in Egypt.

Next, Paul Krugman points out how the failure to keep promises, along with plenty of outright lying, has cost the Bush administration the trust of most of the world:

Consider the astonishing fact that Vicente Fox, president of Mexico, appears unwilling to cast his U.N. Security Council vote in America's favor. Given Mexico's close economic ties to the United States, and Mr. Fox's onetime personal relationship with Mr. Bush, Mexico should have been more or less automatically in America's column. But the Mexican president feels betrayed. He took the politically risky step of aligning himself closely with Mr. Bush — a boost to Republican efforts to woo Hispanic voters — in return for promised reforms that would legalize the status of undocumented immigrants. The administration never acted on those reforms, and Mr. Fox is in no mood to do Mr. Bush any more favors.

Mr. Fox is not alone. In fact, I can't think of anyone other than the hard right and corporate lobbyists who has done a deal with Mr. Bush and not come away feeling betrayed. New York's elected representatives stood side by side with him a few days after Sept. 11 in return for a promise of generous aid. A few months later, as they started to question the administration's commitment, the budget director, Mitch Daniels, accused them of "money-grubbing games." Firefighters and policemen applauded Mr. Bush's promise, more than a year ago, of $3.5 billion for "first responders"; so far, not a penny has been delivered.
Then there's the honesty thing.

Mr. Bush's mendacity on economic matters was obvious even during the 2000 election. But lately it has reached almost pathological levels. Last week Mr. Bush — who has been having a hard time getting reputable economists to endorse his economic plan — claimed an endorsement from the latest Blue Chip survey of business economists. "I don't know what he was citing," declared the puzzled author of that report, which said no such thing.

But, to put a damper on the whole thing, the Times main editorial ignores all of the belligerency and lies that Kristof and Krugman point out and supports the US-British resolution which is practically a declaration of war (funny, I thought Congress was supposed to declare war for the US, not Tony Blair). The editorial could have been written by Ari Fleischer or Karl Rove, and probably was.

Monday, February 24, 2003

Excerpts from Secretary of State John Quincy Adams speech to the House of Representatives, July 4, 1821. I stole this straight from Politics in the Zeros:

Would it be that what he said then was still true today.

"She has, in the lapse of nearly half a century, without a single exception, respected the independence of other nations while asserting and maintaining her own. She has abstained from interference in the concerns of others, even when conflict has been for principles to which she clings, as to the last vital drop that visits the heart. Wherever the standard of freedom and Independence has been or shall be unfurled, there will her heart, her benedictions and her prayers be. But she goes not abroad, in search of monsters to destroy. She is the well-wisher to the freedom and independence of all. She is the champion and vindicator only of her own. She will commend the general cause by the countenance of her voice, and the benignant sympathy of her example. She well knows that by once enlisting under other banners than her own, were they even the banners of foreign independence, she would involve herself beyond the power of extrication, in all the wars of interest and intrigue, of individual avarice, envy, and ambition, which assume the colors and usurp the standard of freedom. The fundamental maxims of her policy would insensibly change from liberty to force.... She might become the dictatress of the world. She would be no longer the ruler of her own spirit.... "

Fortress America: A scary article from the NY Times Sunday magazine. It describes many of the obtrusive security measures we may have to put up with if our belligerent foreign policy continues. As far as I'm concerned, it is well worth risking an Oklahoma City or 9/11 every five years to preserve our civil liberties. (Remember that more people die in car accidents in America every month than died on 9/11/01.) If we stop trying to control the world by destroying it, that is probably the upper limit of the terrorist threat. If we continue with the Bush wars, much worse can be expected. Would you be happier living in Tel Aviv instead of Stockholm? Not me.

Israel Wants Iraq War

This is probably no surprise to those familiar with the architects of this nonsense, but here it is spelled out:
Other nations may cavil, but Israel is so certain of the rightness of a war on Iraq that it is already thinking past that conflict to urge a continued, assertive American role in the Middle East.

Shaul Mofaz, Israel's defense minister, told members of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations last week that after Iraq, the United States should generate "political, economic, diplomatic pressure" on Iran.

"We have great interest in shaping the Middle East the day after" a war, he said.
-- NY Times.

Interestingly, one of Israel's reasons for supporting war directly contradicts the main reasons for it:
Israel believes that Mr. Hussein seeks devastating weapons but has far less capacity for mayhem now than he did during the first Persian Gulf war, when he fired 39 Scud missiles at Israel.

Great Moment in TV Journalism

From here via Atrios. Ari Fleischer would probably refuse to concede that the experts are right on this one.

Keep the pressure on!

Evidence indicates that the war on Iraq has already begun--without UN approval, without congressional authorization. Congress must know that we want this stopped! Please use the "Contact Congress" form on the right to send faxes and e-mails to your congressional representatives. Call them through the Capitol switchboard: 800-839-5276. Tell them to support our troops by bringing them home now!

Sunday, February 23, 2003

Brief reminder: All sorts of crap is going on in Colombia, Palestine, Africa, and pretty much everywhere else in the world. States are running out of money, western states are running out of water, homeless people are freezing to death in this country, and our president thinks that spending billions to bribe other countries to support his insane war which will cost hundreds of billions more is the best way to spend your tax dollars. "Compassionate Conservatism" is neither.

Newsweek's Howard Fineman has a nice report on "Dovish Democrats." Warmongers Lieberman, Edwards and Gephardt heard scattered boos and little applause when they repeated their support for war at a Democratic national meeting in Washington last weekend. Meanwhile, anti-war candidate Howard Dean received the best applause of the event. As I've said, Kucinich is my favorite, but there are now FOUR anti-war Democratic candidates running--hopefully they'll drown out the pitiful voices of the Republicrats Lieberman, Edwards, Gephardt and Kerry.

It certainly would be wonderful to have a real choice for president, with finally a candidate having a substantially different viewpoint from what we've had the last 20 years. And I think an anti-war, anti-NAFTA candidate would bring out the millions of previous non-voters who are suffering the worst under Bushonomics, defeating W in a landslide that even the Supreme Court would be afraid to overturn.

Has the war already begun? Attacks on Iraqi air defenses and other military installations have been happening regularly over the past week or two, according to the British Independent. No authorization from the UN, no approval from Congress--just bomb.

Connecting the Dots, or Speculations on Speculations

I reported on Friday about the possibility that the Bushies are seeking an "exit strategy" from their insane "either war or war" Iraq policy. W's demented statements yesterday might actually be evidence that there is some truth in the "exit strategy" talk: W has had his heart set on another war for so long, and now even some of his advisors and supporters may be suggesting that he can't have it, so he is pushing into uncharted territories of incoherence as his dream fades.

The scary thing is what the exit strategy might be. It seems likely that it might be similar to the one used for Afghanistan--mass distraction. Osama was quickly replaced by Saddam; Iraq may be quickly replaced by Iran, North Korea, the Philippines, or, who knows, Osama? Today's NY Times has a big article on Iranian nuclear developments. The obvious comparison between North Korea's well-developed nuclear program and Iraq's non-existent one has drawn much attention, even from many who oppose war in Iraq, so it wouldn't take too much preparation for the Bushies to quickly make Kim public enemy number one (meanwhile, almost no attention goes to the nuclear weapons already in the possession of extremely dangerous men like Mushareff and Sharon, or Bush and Blair for that matter). And, for no apparent reason, troops are once again being sent to the Philippines. Finally, we had the orange alert, the Osama tape, and now the warning (below) about individual extremists, hinting that al Qaeda may be returning to center stage as our boogeyman.

So "Mr. Saddam Hussein" could drop out of the Bush dyslexicon as quickly as "Osama bin Laden" did, to be replaced by one or more of these candidates. Even if the war is prevented, we will have to keep working to push the public debate back to where it should be. People who two years ago would never have considered war against North Korea as a sensible option have been practically advocating it because it makes relatively good sense compared to attacking Iraq. We need debates about whether we should approve the Kyoto global warming accords as is or push for stronger ones. We need debates about disarming this country. We need debates about whether Kucinich, Dean, Sharpton, or Moseley Braun should be our next president, having rejected all of the other warmongering candidates. We need debates about whether suburban sprawl should be merely halted immediately, or maybe we should institute active sprawl-removal programs. When our debates focus on attacking country A instead of country B, or deciding between living with existing repression or extending it further, then, well, you guessed it, those darn terrorists have won.

Well, duh...
The possibility of war with Iraq could unleash acts of anti-American violence in the United States or overseas by individual extremists who do not belong to Al Qaeda or other Middle Eastern terrorist groups but sympathize with their grievances, intelligence and law enforcement officials say. -- NY Times.

The ridiculous notion behind the "war on terrorism" is that there is a finite number of terrorists (thousands, maybe tens of thousands) out there, and once they've all been killed or captured, it's done--no more "terrorism." This ignores at least two points that should be obvious to reasonably intelligent people, provided their minds haven't been incapacitated by a state run media.

The first point is that "terrorist" is an arbitrary and self-serving definition; countries like the US and Britain honor their soldiers who sacrifice their lives defending their people, while they label Palestinians who sacrifice their lives defending their people as terrorists worthy of scorn or worse. The US backing of the Nicaraugan Contras and the Mujahadeen of Afghanistan (proto-al Qaeda) in the 1980's shows that there is no consistency in applying the "terrorist" definition. If attacking civilians and governments to create fear and cause political change within a country is terrorism, then these two groups were every bit as much terrorist as any group on the State Department's list.

The second point is that "terrorists" are made, not born. People become "terrorists" when their brothers are killed, or their villages destroyed, or they are trapped in completely humiliating circumstances and there are no peaceful political means available to bring about change. They become "terrorists" when it appears that life offers no hope of becoming bearable without violence. There is little that would be more likely to spread "terrorism" further throughout the world than declaring and executing a worldwide "war on terrorism," with the possible exception of launching a pre-emptive strike on a largely defenseless Muslim nation.

Perhaps the scariest thought is that it seems almost certain that there are many in the Bush administration who know all this (probably not W, but probably Cheney, Powell, Wolfowitz), and are proceeding anyway because "terrorism" is a useful tool in their goal of world domination. As this country so shamefully demonstrated after 9/11, all it takes is a little fear to get people to support the supression of their own liberties and the indiscriminate bombing of other people. As long as a bus blows up or a skyscraper comes down occasionally, the neocons controlling our government believe that they will be able to continue their wars of repression and conquest. This may be the most important reason for opposing war in Iraq with all of our energy right now. Without the war, there will be less terrorism, and less excuse for the continuation of the neocon agenda. Saving the million or so lives likely to be lost in an Iraq war is extremely important, but many times that number are at stake if the agenda is allowed to proceed.