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, March 14, 2003

Heading out to DC! Back Sunday. One parting shot: CNN has a big headline about the forged documents that Powell used to suggest that Iraq had bought uranium from Niger. This was pointed out by nuclear inspector ElBaradei a week ago today. Why is it just now making the headlines? More exit strategy?

Check out MoveOn's billboards and other ads!

Keep the pressure on! Today, Wolf wants to know "What's more patriotic for Americans: To support or to oppose a war with Iraq?" Go vote!

Newsweek's Howard Fineman is looking for the blame game to start in the White House. Will Colin Powell continue to be the blustery warmonger he has seemed to be for the past two months, or will he become the "peace bomb" in the White House by becoming the reluctant warrior most of us thought he was until recently? Cyndy at MouseMusings is holding out hope; I was quite negative about it yesterday, a bit more hopeful today after reading the Fineman column. Maybe, maybe, maybe all the bluster was just a final attempt to frighten Saddam into compliance. Maybe Powell agreed to go along with the bluster on condition that the war would actually be a last resort, not Bush's door number one as it has seemed for a year. I don't know--he has had so many chances.

For those of you who watch Fox's "24" show, Powell's resignation or similar protest now would be as surprising as it was when Nina was revealed as the mole inside CTU last season. For the first 22 hours of the show, she had had numerous opportunities to send the assassination target and dozens of other good guys to fiery deaths. Instead, she came through time after time with critical information or actions. Then, after the plot is almost completely foiled, she acts in a way that complicates things but has little impact on the final outcome. Why, if she was really working with the bad guys all along, would she wait until the plot is foiled to do anything? And why would Colin Powell let things get so out of hand and then decide now was the time to "go off"? I had more hope for some seemingly reasonable Republican senators like Lugar, McCain and Hillary Clinton ;-), but they have recently made public statements that destroy that hope.

Instead, it appears that they may just attempt to change the subject one more time. Hopefully, it will be to Israel/Palestine or the economy, not because I think the Bushies will do anything to improve either situation, but because it might mean they aren't starting any wars. More ominously, the focus could switch to North Korea, Iran, Columbia or Venezuela, with Kim or Chavez completing Bush's "trifecta of evil" (Osama, Sadaama,...). Of course, we're not out of the woods with Iraq, and there is definitely the possibility that some staged event will be used as an excuse for going ahead with the war.

Another Distraction, or real movement in the right direction? Bush announces new "road map" for resolving the Israel-Palestine issue. Obviously, I'm skeptical about anything Bush says, but that he is saying it now may be another good sign.

Michigan Attorney General compares Bush to Lincoln. When the going gets tough, lie louder. Send AG Mike Cox an e-mail letting him know what you think!

Thursday, March 13, 2003

ABC reports that U.S. officials fear that once President Bush signals the U.S. is headed to war, Saddam Hussein will strike pre-emptively. Therefore the U.S. military may try to pre-empt Saddam's pre-emption, leading Saddam to try to get the jump on them, thereby causing the war to start sometime last summer.

Actually, there is a real danger that the Bushies are actively seeking any excuse for starting the war, including instigating a faked or real attack on US troops in Kuwait. I think Bill Clinton was so afraid that revelations of his sexual affairs would become exposed that he was willing to do almost anything to prevent it. I think George W. Bush wants war in Iraq so much that he may be capable of resorting to almost anything to get it (he has already demonstrated this with all the bribes, threats and insults hurled at erstwhile allies). But maybe there is still the possibility that whoever it is that has convinced him to hold off this long has also convinced him that while starting the war through treachery might sell to the gullible US public, it wouldn't wash at all overseas.

Thanks to new reader Harriet for the ABC link!

CBS reports that senior U.S. officials contend that al Qaeda has effectively been defeated. Of course my cynical antennae are on orange alert, but I see this as good news either way. If it's actually true, then perhaps there won't be another 9/11, certainly a cause for rejoicing. (Hey, we've got a big rally already planned for Washington on Saturday.) If it's propaganda, as seems likely, it's still good news. Again, it may be part of Bush's "exit strategy;" how to back away from Iraq without losing face (although why he wouldn't want to lose THAT face is beyond me).

Other encouraging signs--CBS reports big sandstorms in Kuwait; probably totally predictable and no big obstacle to the military, but perhaps a convenient excuse. Furthermore, the stock market rallied big time today, meaning that Wall Street insiders with inside information think maybe the war won't happen after all.

Sorry, I haven't figured out yet how the absolutely bizarre Elizabeth Smart story fits in, except perhaps as one more weapon of mass distraction. Expect Gary Condit to be arrested any day now, and maybe the anthrax killer and Ken Lay as well.

We're Winning!

U.S. Raises Prospect of Abandoning Effort for U.N. Vote. Now, Bush could still go ahead with his war, but I think the fact that the Bushies have tried so hard to get the UN approval, at least in some form, means that there really is substantial concern within the administration about going alone, if not outright opposition. I hope I'm right...

FBI probes fake papers on Iraq

Just when my mind should be completely boggled out, I read this from the Washington Post:
The FBI is looking into the forgery of a key piece of evidence linking Iraq to a nuclear weapons program, including the possibility that a foreign government is using a deception campaign to foster support for military action against Iraq.

It's probably not news to any of you reading this blog that IAEA Director General Mohamed ElBaradei told the UN last week that documents claiming to show that Iraq bought uranium from Niger had been forged. (Of course, most Americans probably have no clue whatsoever.) Even though these documents had been presented by the U.S. as support for their claim that Iraq still has an active nuclear weapons program, ElBaradei's assessment was not challenged.

But now the FBI, still under the direction of Inquisitor General Ashcroft, seems to be interested in investigating the possibility that a foreign government is using a deception campaign to foster support for military action against Iraq. This, of course, begs two big questions:
  1. Which foreign government? Now I don't want to be accused of being anti-much-of-anything except war, so I'll just hint that it is likely a Middle Eastern nation that has been rumored to have an active nuclear program, the name of which begins with "I." Desperate as they are for evidence, it still seems unlikely that the administration would present evidence given to them by charter members of the "axis of evil," so, well, you do the math.
  2. Why doesn't the FBI focus, instead, on the certainty that a domestic government is using a deception campaign to foster support for military action against Iraq?

Being by now almost totally distrustful of the media, this article has me baffled. For weeks now, the media has been encouraging people to bash the French for trying to keep us out of war. This article suggests that some country is trying to trick us into war. It suggests that the FBI considers that to be a bad thing. I agree with that. So are the FBI (besides Coleen Rowley) and the Post actually working to clarify the situation to prevent a rush to war? I certainly hope so, but I'm so cynical at this point that I'm just wondering what ulterior motives the FBI and/or the Post have here. Any suggestions?

Friends Don't Let Friends Start Illegal, Immoral, and Dangerous Wars. France is our friend. Let them know by voting Wolf Blitzer's latest poll .

147 Anti-war resolutions, and counting...

Not In Our Name has prepared an excellent TV Ad: Check it out!

The Very Very Happy Blog has a somewhat unhappy post about trying to keep going against the incredible amount of malevolence and stupidity we are faced with daily. Check out the comments, too.

Another excellent speech by Senator Byrd! I think I'll send it to Senator Stabenow, tell her to use it if she can't come up with one of her own.

STOP! In the name of love! -- The Supremes. Well, in the name of justice, anyway. Good going, Supreme Court!

Bill Clinton says Bush should let Blix decide the timeline for compliance. Waffle man has supported Bush the whole way until now, but finally decides the nonsense has gone too far. Let's hope that the nonsense hasn't gone too far.

Also, I hope Bill is talking to the wife about this! So now we have three of our previous four presidents (Carter, Bush, Clinton) all advising caution, and I haven't heard anything positive about Bush coming out of Reagan, either. Gerald Ford will probably advise caution after he's finished golfing.

Wednesday, March 12, 2003

Neo-con job: Jochen Boelsche, writing in Der Spiegel and quoted by the Sydney Morning Herald, neatly summarizes how we got into this Perle jam. All the "weapons of mass destruction" stuff is just a pretext. Unfortunately, the American public has been prepared for this nonsense by 20 years of inadequate education and corporate-media brainwashing.

Candlelight Vigil this Sunday, 7 pm. Part of a global candlelight vigil for peace as called for by Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Reverend Robert Edgar, and other religious leaders around the world. National co-sponsors include, Win Without War, American Friends Service Committee, and others. According to the MoveOn website, so far 897 vigils have been scheduled in 48 countries. The number grows by the hour.

Ann Arbor's vigil will be on Main Street between Liberty and Washington, 7 pm. Bring candles and/or signs. Help spread the word by printing out and distributing some flyers.

Peace is good business in Ann Arbor Local businesses have been displaying anti-war signs in their windows, with some encouragement from the Ann Arbor Area Committee for Peace.

New York City Passes Anti-War Resolution!

I am probably forgetting a few remaining pockets of ignorance, but I think that leaves Crawford, Texas as the largest city in the US that hasn't passed a resolution.

A reminder: Boycott the War! This web site details a boycott against Kraft, Exxon-Mobil, Pepsico, UPS, and Wal-Mart. I suggest adding Benneton clothing, since they are planning on putting radio-frequency identification (RFID) tags into their clothing. These tags will end up being a serious threat to our privacy and freedom if we allow them to be widely used. See CASPIAN for more details.

If you are serious about withholding funds from the corporations that brought you the current administration, as well as saving the environment and reducing the exploitation of poor people around the world, there are many steps you can take.

  • Buy less.
  • Buy used.
  • Buy local.
  • Eat less, or no, meat.
  • Drive less.
  • Fly less.
  • Invest locally: bank with credit unions, invest in local businesses, join coops.
  • Fix stuff.
  • Share stuff.
  • Give away stuff you don't use.

For details on these and other suggestions, please check out the links on my Simplicity page. The economy is headed down the toilet now. These steps will not only allow you to ride it out with less real pain, but will help to rebuild the economy in a less destructive, more sustainable way.

CNN's Wolf Blitzer points out what the progressive press has been saying for a while--that Bush's bullying of Iraq is inciting the proliferation of nuclear weapons:
By the way, U.S. and other officials privately acknowledge that they can't really blame Iran for moving ahead with a nuclear weapons program. The Iranians see the political clout North Korea's nuclear program has brought. They also see the heightened respect India and Pakistan command from their neighbors and others around the world now that they have both tested nuclear weapons.

If you are an Iranian, in other words, you can't help but conclude that North Korea (which is believed to already have one or two nuclear bombs) is treated one way by the United States while Iraq, which doesn't have a bomb, is treated very differently.

Wolf also has his daily poll on that page, today asking "If the United Nations resolution is vetoed, should the United States go to war against Iraq?" You know what to do.

German Greenpeace activists rappel from Berlin's landmark Brandenburg Gate to unveil a banner March 10, 2003. The German government believes a majority on the U.N. Security Council back a joint call by France, Russia and Germany for weapons inspections in Iraq to continue, a foreign ministry spokesman said. (Alexandra Winkler/Reuters)

Some cool new (to me) blogs: No More Mister Nice Blog, The Pixelforge, See the Forest.

Vive la France!
As I pointed out earlier, a few of our most childish congresscritters insisted that the cafeterias in all House office buildings serve "freedom fries" instead of "french fries." Taking the easy opportunity to be the grownup in this situation, the French replied:

''We are at a very serious moment dealing with very serious issues and we are not focusing on the name you give to potatoes,'' said Nathalie Loisau, a [French] embassy spokeswoman. -- from the Boston Globe .

How about all of those startling revelations coming out of the special commission investigating the events of 9/11? Amazing, aren't they? Who would have believed it?

What, you say, you haven't heard anything out of the commission? Perhaps it is because many of its members, most of whom previously held trusted positions in the government, can't get security clearances to see the documents they need to carry out the investigation.


NY Times calls for Guantanamo Bay hostages to be granted the right to question their imprisonment. The Times is right; the time is now.

Bush and Fleischer blaming Rwanda genocide on UN inaction is like a red-light runner blaming the accident on the car, even though there was nothing wrong with the brakes. The Clinton administration opposed UN intervention, and was supported in this by Republicans in Congress. Furthermore, George W. Bush was asked specifically about Rwanda by ABC's Sam Donaldson during the 2000 campaign, and W's response was "We should not send our troops to stop ethnic cleansing and genocide outside our strategic interests. . . . I would not send the United States troops into Rwanda."

Read more about this in a fine Globe & Mail article. Thanks to Allan in Ottawa for the link!

Some Pal: PayPal impounds money of anti-war site! The web site What Really Happened had been accepting donations through PayPal. PayPal then closed their account and is holding their money for 180 days, without explanation. I have requested to withdraw the $36 I had in my PayPal account and will then close it, assuming they don't impound my money. I have removed my "Donate" button. Please stop using PayPal. Go here to find out what further action can be taken against PayPal and suggestions for alternatives.

Tuesday, March 11, 2003

McCain is Finished. A lot of people thought Senator John McCain was thoughtful and open-minded, especially for a Republican. They were wrong. In this column in the NY Times, McCain repeats many of the lies and distortions that have gotten us into this mess in the first place. While the whole column is terrible, this part is the worst:

Many also mistake where our government's primary allegiance lies, and should lie. The American people, not the United Nations, is the only body that President Bush has sworn to represent. Clearly, the administration cares more about the credibility of the Security Council than do other council members who demand the complete disarmament of the Iraqi regime yet shrink from the measures needed to enforce that demand.

First, the president is sworn to preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution. He is not, technically speaking, sworn to represent the American people (nitpicking, but McCain has clearly distorted this on purpose--the oath says :--"I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my Ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States."). The Constitution says that treaties, such as the UN Charter, are the "supreme law of the land." (Article VI) So breaking the principles of the UN Charter by attacking a country which has not attacked us is violating the Constitution, and hence Bush's oath of office, even if there are complaints with the actions of the UN.

And, of course, McCain's complaints about the UN are spurious. The "complete disarmament" concept is one of those big lies. The UN resolutions say that certain types of weapons are prohibited and calls for inspectors to identify these and direct their destruction, with Iraq's assistance. Nowhere in 1441 does it call for Iraq to bring everything to a parking lot and destroy them there, as Bush said in his press conference last week. McCain knows this--he is joining in the lie. The measures needed to enforce the demand have been and are taking place. No weapons that indisputably violate the UN resolutions have been found, and those that are disputably in violation are being destroyed. How France, Russia and other Security Council members can be portrayed as shrinking from the measures needed when those measures are actively underway is beyond my comprehension. To claim that you care about the credibility of the Security Council and then ignore its decision based on ridiculous arguments like these is total hypocrisy.

Wolf Blitzer asks: Does the United States need another United Nations Security Council resolution to justify an attack on Iraq? Currently Yes leads, 51% to 49%. Let's build a little margin there, shall we? Take it out of Supreme Court territory?

Vote here.

So who might profit from a Gulf War II? The Veep from the Deep, of course.

How Kofi Annan can Stop the War: From Common Dreams.
The U.S. is expected to tell the inspectors to leave Iraq before the war starts. Kofi Annan tells them not to leave, saying that the U.S. has no authority to order them out. Could it happen? Probably. Would it work? Who knows--Bush is crazy.

Has Bush seen this? I mean, this kid struggles for every breath, and he is using every breath to promote peace. Here's your exit strategy, George. No one could blame you for backing down after hearing Mattie's story and poems. Go listen to Mattie, George.

READ MY LIPS: Bush 41 sends Bush 43 a message about the importance of diplomacy and multilateralism.

I'm pretty sure that W is so sure that he's right that nobody, not even his own father, is going to change his warped little mind. The Pope couldn't do it; neither can the leaders of his own United Methodist Church. But, if there is some tiny shred of humanity in there somewhere, not the sympathy/empathy humanity but the ego's need for approval humanity, W has got to be feeling pretty miserable right now. Probably a furious miserable, not a humble repentant miserable, but still miserable. And while he won't change his mind, I think he is basically lazy at heart and may just take his ball and go home if the refs won't see it his way. He probably enjoys the trappings of the office too much to resign entirely, but maybe he'd just go through the motions until he gets officially dethroned next year.

Then again, he may throw a tantrum. Will our military follow his orders if he's clearly delusional?

Or am I just being naively optimistic that there is any sort of humanity in George W. Bush? Is it possible that he can ignore the advice and criticism from almost everyone except that of his sycophants? Is he telling himself right now "Well, Dad took his own advice, and he didn't get re-elected. So I'd better ignore Dad's advice." Sadly, it seems all too possible.

Terrorist State Bombed: The Air Force tested its massive weapon of mass destruction, known as MOAB (Massive Ordnace Air Burst or Mother of All Bombs) in Florida today. Even bigger than the horrific "daisy cutter," it destroys and kills everything within a huge area; it is similar in destructive force to a tactical nuclear weapon. Mousemusings has much more on MOAB here and here. And Polizeros highlights the bizarre, and almost certainly intentional, religious meaning of MOAB here.

BTW, I call Florida a "terrorist state" because of this article. Certainly highlights the hypocrisy of the "war on terrorism" when W's own brother is governor of the "Afghanistan of the South." And that's without even mentioning that the US military's CENTCOM, responsible for bombing convoys, weddings and Canadians in Afghanistan, as well as planning to drop MOABs on Iraqis who have never ever attacked us, is headquartered in Tampa.

E-mail problems. Both my "" and "" domain names use e-mail forwarding through the same company, and it hasn't been working for about a day now. If you need to e-mail me in the next day or two, please send it to

In case you've missed it, Republicans are morons.

Peace Activist Buys House Near W's Crawford Ranch. He intends to use it as a base for peace activism. Crawford's mayor apparently wants to meet some ACLU lawyers: "We're not going to let them turn the town into a three-ring circus," [Mayor Robert] Campbell told the [Dallas Morning News]. "If they want to protest, let them go to Washington."

Another US Diplomat Resigns!

-- from CNN.
John H. Brown, who joined the U.S. diplomatic corps in 1981 and served in London, Prague, Krakow, Kiev, Belgrade and Moscow, said in a letter to Secretary of State Colin Powell made available to the media: "I cannot in good conscience support President Bush's war plans against Iraq.

"Throughout the globe the United States is becoming associated with the unjustified use of force. The president's disregard for views in other nations, borne out by his neglect of public diplomacy, is giving birth to an anti-American century," the diplomat added.

With Apologies to Harry Chapin:
A child arrived just the other day,
He came to the world in the usual way.
But there were planes to buy, and bribes to pay.
He learned to fight while I was away.
And he was lying 'fore I knew it, and as he grew,
He'd say, "I'm gonna be like you, dad.
You know I'm gonna be like you."

And the nuke’s in the silo and the hanging chad,
Little W and Saddam in Baghdad.
"When you coming home, dad?" "I don't know when,
But we'll get together then.
You know we'll have a good time then."

Lil’ George turned ten just the other day.
He said, "Thanks for the bomb, dad, come on let's play.
Can you teach me to bomb?" I said, "Not today,
I got a lot to do." He said, "That's ok."
And he walked away, but his smile never dimmed,
Said, "I'm gonna be like him, yeah.
You know I'm gonna be like him."

And the nuke’s in the silo and the hanging chad,
Little W and Saddam in Baghdad.
"When you coming home, dad?" "I don't know when,
But we'll get together then.
You know we'll have a good time then."

Well, he came home from Yale just the other day,
Skull and bones pin and a beer in his face
"Son, I'm proud of you. Have you done your homework?"
He shook his head, and he said with a smirk,
"What I'd really like, dad, is to miss Vietnam.
Can you get me out? If not I’ll ask Mom.”

And the nuke’s in the silo and the hanging chad,
Little W and Saddam in Baghdad.
"When you coming home, son?" "I don't know when,
But we'll get together then, dad.
You know we'll have a good time then."

I've long since retired and my son's moved away.
I called him up just the other day.
I said, "I'd like to see you if you don't mind."
He said, "I'd love to, dad, if I could find the time.
You see, there’s bomb to drop, and some bribes too
But it's sure nice talking to you, dad.
It's been sure nice talking to you."

And as I hung up the phone, it occurred to me,
He'd grown up just like me.
Lil’ George was just like me.

And the nuke’s in the silo and the hanging chad,
Little W and Saddam in Baghdad.
"When you coming home, son?" "I don't know when,
But we'll get together then, dad.
You know we'll have a good time then."

From Nick Anderson of the Louisville Courier-Journal.

Dr. Robert Bowman, who recently brought us an inspired alternative State of the Union speech, delivered a great "peace is patriotic" speech on February 15. Here are some excerpts:
As a combat veteran, I will not stand idly by and watch our security destroyed by a president who went AWOL rather than fight in Vietnam. I say, "NO" to war against Iraq.
Peace is patriotic; a preemptive war is immoral, illegal, unconstitutional, and a war crime. I swore to uphold the Constitution of the United States against all enemies -- foreign and domestic. That includes a renegade president. If this war happens, I will call for the impeachment of George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, and the whole oil mafia. I say "NO" to war against Iraq.

We are the people. We are sovereign. The whole world is with us. And we say, "NO!" "NO" to war! "NO" to preemptive war. "NO" to wars of aggression. "NO" to war against Iraq. "NO!" "NO!" "NO!"

This war would be treason! PEACE is patriotic. God bless America! And God save us from George W. Bush! Thank you!

Federal prosecutors ignored whistleblower to stack the deck against John Walker Lindh. From Andrew Cohen, CBS News.

Monday, March 10, 2003

Wolf Blitzer wants to know: "Who has more credibility on the issue Iraq's weapons of mass destruction, George W. Bush or Hans Blix?"

Currently, it's Blix in a landslide, 67 to 33 percent, but the Supreme Court hasn't voted yet.

Secret Deal Brokered by the Pope? -- From the Sunday Herald Saddam exiled; UN, not US, takes over Iraq. Saddam and Bush both frustrated? Best of both worlds! Can we get Bush exiled too?

Seriously, this is a very interesting proposal if there's any truth behind it. It would force Bush and Blair into the veto position, clearly showing to the 1% of the world's population (mostly Americans) who don't already know it that neither elimination of weapons of mass destruction nor democracy have anything to do with B & B's real goals.

UN investigating US spying on Security Council Members -- from the Observer.

Pakistan likely to abstain in Security Council vote.
The prime minister of Pakistan said tonight that it would be "very difficult for Pakistan to support a war against Iraq," but he stopped short of declaring that his country would vote against the United States this week in the United Nations Security Council, where Pakistan is a revolving member. Other officials, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the government had decided to abstain on the crucial vote, which would be a setback for Washington as it seeks to assemble a majority in the Security Council to vote for a new measure that would condemn Iraq's record and justify military action.

So Bush and Powell's bribery and threats have so far gotten them only four of the nine votes they need, ignoring for the moment that both France and Russia have said they will veto. The US, UK, Spain and Bulgaria say they will vote for it, France, Russia, China, Syria and Germany will vote against it. Pakistan will likely abstain. That means the arm-twisters have to get all five of Mexico, Chile, Cameroon, Angola and Guinea. And Chile is reported to be extremely pissed about the spying and dirty tricks the US has used on its UN delegation. I'd guess, based on absolutely no diplomatic experience, that Chile will vote against and the other four will abstain.

So it may be the killer B's (Bush, Blair, Bulgaria) 4, Axis of Good 6, Axis of Abstention 5. Not to mention those two or three vetos. Of course, we should give Bush credit for a little more support on this--Israel, for example, and the leaders of Italy, Australia, Portugal and a few other countries who are steadfastly ignoring large anti-war majorities in their countries. And, I almost forgot, I'm sure Bush has the backing of Osama bin Laden and al Qaeda.

"Look, Mr. Cameroon president or whatever you are, I know I don't have much of a case, but have you ever seen a jet come in low and drop a bunch of bombs? Like this! It is SOOOO cool! But don't you Camerooners misunderestimate me--my storage tank of patience gets more few every day."

America usually faces disaster by overreacting. On the afternoon of September 11, George W. Bush pulled John Ashcroft aside and told him to do whatever it takes to “make sure something like this never happens again.”

Turning Ashcroft loose with such an order is like giving a drunk a credit card to a liquor store. He’s gonna have one hell of a good time but God knows how many people will get hurt and how many laws might be broken in the process.
-- From Capitol Hill Blue, of course.

I love the online news source Capitol Hill Blue! I sure hope they know what they're talking about!

This article suggests that Pope John Paul II is calling W a war criminal, then goes on with these choice tidbits:
“I want to think my President is right in this cause,” said a longtime Republican member of Congress on Saturday, “but I also have to listen to my conscience and the leader of my religious faith. The phone calls from my Republican district are running 4-1 against invading Iraq. I also have to listen to my constituents.”

Some Republican members are now telling House Speaker Dennis J. Hastert that they want a new Congressional resolution to authorize military action against Iraq but sources in Hastert’s office say the speaker is resisting because he feels such a resolution would fail.

“We don’t have the votes on either side of the aisle to back the President’s play on this,” says one Hastert aide. “A vote would undermine the President and destroy our credibility in the world’s eyes.”

BTW, Capitol Hill Blues two most recent articles suggest that war may be delayed until April 1 (nah, that's too easy a shot), and that the government had all the information it needed to prevent the 9/11 attacks. Why don't you join me in reading those articles?

Tom Tomorrow has a letter from the father of a Marine who has been sent to the Gulf. Lots of good points.

2:30 pm, TUESDAY MARCH 11

Northside Presbyterian/St. Aidan’s Episcopal Church, 1679 Broadway, Ann Arbor (2 blocks south of Plymouth)

Former Congressional Representative Lynn Rivers, Ann Arbor City Council member Kim Groome, and Senior Minister of the First Unitarian-Universalist Church Rev. Kenneth W. Phifer will express their opposition to the Bush Administration’s push for war in Iraq at this press conference.

Be there if you can!

From Mark Morford, SF Gate Columnist:
More than ever before in recent history, the otherwise worthy U.S. military is right now in service not of the people, not of the national security, but of the current government regime and its corporate interests. Has it always been this way? Of course. But this time, with our smirky Enron president and cash-hungry CEO administration, it's never been so flagrant, or insulting, or invidious.

Our soldiers are not protecting our freedoms. They are not preventing more terrorism. They are not guaranteeing continued free speech. Because the only true threat to such freedoms is coming from within.

It's been a while since I ranted about water, so I'm going to revive the subject briefly. I just finished a great book, Cadillac Desert, written in 1986 by Marc Reisner. It describes the incredible boondoggle behind the multitude of dams and canals that have made the desert bloom and allowed cities like Los Angeles and Phoenix to exist. I'll probably rant on it more later, but for now I'll settle for three paragraphs taken from page 450 of the book (hardcover edition, anyway). It addresses something I have thought about for a while: Is America's wealth really the product of our political and/or economic systems? For background: Glenn Saunders is (or was) a lawyer in Colorado who worked with the Bureau of Reclamation (one of two Federal agencies, along with the Army Corps of Engineers, responsible for most of the large 20th-century water projects) before resigning and being hired by a coalition opposing a dam called "Narrows" in eastern Colorado. Pete Lamm was governor of Colorado while the project was under consideration. Here's the selection from the book, with some emphasis added by me:

To Glenn Saunders, Narrows Dam was not so much a dam as a symbol of a senescent society clinging to archaic hopes. “What that dam represents,” he said, “is, first of all, the fact that there are very few really honest people in the world. Ninety-eight percent of humanity cannot admit when it’s made a mistake. This applies especially to politicians. A politician for some reason thinks it is political suicide to admit that he was wrong. Dick Lamm cannot bring himself to admit that he has been in error about Narrows. He has one of the finest minds in Colorado, his thinking on some subjects is some of the best thinking any politician in this age is capable of—but he cannot bring himself to say, ‘I was wrong on the Narrows Dam.’

“The Bureau is the same way,” Saunders went on. “It cannot admit when it has made a mistake. It has also run out of good projects. And on top of that it has all of these bizarre cash-register funds—the Missouri Basin Fund, which is behind the Narrows—that are supposed to make these projects self-financing. They do not, but no one understands that. The Bureau is like one of these crooks with money earning interest in twenty different banks—it has to spend the money on something. It is all borrowed money—it belongs to the people of the United States—but the people of the United States don’t know that. The whole thing is a machine, a perpetual-motion machine that keeps churning out dams, which the politicians and most westerners are reflexively in favor of, and the whole business is running the country into the ground.

“The people who support these boondoggle projects are always talking about the vision and principles that made this country great. ‘Our forefathers would have built these projects!’ they say. ‘They had vision!’ That’s pure nonsense. It wasn’t the vision and principles of our forefathers that made this country great. It was the huge unused bonanza they found here. One wave of immigrants after another could occupy new land, new land, new land. There was topsoil, water—there was gold, silver, and iron ore lying right on top of the earth. We picked our way through a ripe orchard and made it bare. The new generations are going to go down, down, down. With projects like the Narrows, we’re trying to pretend that things are as they always were. ‘Let’s just go out and find some money and build a dam and we’ll all be richer and better off.’ We’ve been so busy spending money and reaping the fruits that we’re blind to the fact that there are no more fruits. By trying to make things better, we’re making them worse and worse.”

You're playing with the big boys now, George:
Russia says clearly that it will veto any new UN resolution authorizing force.

Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov said Monday Russia would vote against the new draft U.N. resolution on Iraq, a move that would veto the U.S.-sponsored measure.

"Russia thinks that now there is no need for any new U.N. resolutions, and that is why Russia has openly declared that if the draft that has been submitted for consideration, and which contains unfulfillable ultimatum-type demands, will be put to vote, Russia will vote against this resolution," he said.
"Today when we have a real possibility to answer the outstanding questions and do so not within years, but within months. This way is real, reliable and it allows us to resolve the problem through political means and defuse the Iraqi crisis," he said.
Ivanov said last week's report by the weapons inspectors to the Council offered no grounds for launching a war against Iraq.

I'm still hopefully and fearfully curious as to what steps the Russians may take if Bush still insists, as seems likely, that he will go ahead with war. The goal of the neocon maniacs advising Bush seems to have been to grab largely defenseless countries and their resources one by one until the US had bases all over the world and controlled most of the world's oil. Bush's clumsy and rude "diplomacy" has now united most of the world against the US, threatening even the evil neocon agenda. The US might "win" World War III, but a very large percentage of us wouldn't survive it.

Ralph Nader suggested in the 2000 campaign that things would have to get much worse before they would start to get better. We haven't yet reached Nader's nadir in terms of death and destruction, but we are extremely close.

Those who don't know their Orwell and Twain are destined to live it:

Victory of the Loud Little Handful
Mark Twain, "The Mysterious Stranger" (1910)

The loud little handful - as usual - will shout for the war. The pulpit
will - warily and cautiously - object... at first. The great, big, dull
bulk of the nation will rub its sleepy eyes and try to make out why there
should be a war, and will say, earnestly and indignantly, "It is unjust and
dishonorable, and there is no necessity for it."

Then the handful will shout louder. A few fair men on the other side will
argue and reason against the war with speech and pen, and at first will
have a hearing and be applauded, but it will not last long; those others
will outshout them, and presently the antiwar audiences will thin out and
lose popularity.

Before long, you will see this curious thing: the speakers stoned from the
platform, and free speech strangled by hordes of furious men...

Next the statesmen will invent cheap lies, putting the blame upon the
nation that is attacked, and every man will be glad of those
conscience-soothing falsities, and will diligently study them, and refuse
to examine any refutations of them; and thus he will by and by convince
himself that the war is just, and will thank God for the better sleep he
enjoys after this process of grotesque self-deception.

Thanks to Cyndy at MouseMusings. It's a good thing we got that posted before Disney buys up the rights to Mark Twain and extends the copyright expiration date to 2000 years.

UK Cabinet Member Threatens to Resign
Clare Short, a member of Tony Blair's cabinet, has threatened to resign if the UK and US proceed with war on Iraq without UN approval.

Ms Short said: "If there is not UN authority for military action or if there is not UN authority for the reconstruction of the country, I will not uphold a breach of international law or this undermining of the UN and I will resign from the Government."
Ms Short said it was "time for cards on the table" and insisted she could not stay in government and "defend the indefensible".

Asked whether Mr Blair had acted recklessly, she said: "I'm afraid that I think the whole atmosphere of the current situation is deeply reckless: reckless for the world; reckless for the undermining of the UN in this disorderly world ... reckless with our Government; reckless with his own future, position and place in history. It's extraordinarily reckless, I'm very surprised by it."

She added: "Allowing the world to be so bitterly divided, the division in Europe, the sense of anger and injustice in the Middle East is very, very dangerous. We're undermining the UN, it's a recruiting sergeant for terrorism, there's a risk of a divided world, with a weakened UN."

From Mike Thompson.

The CIA is interrogating children. The seven- and nine-year-old sons of supposed al Qaida mastermind Khalid Shaik Mohammad were taken into custody in Pakistan back in September, and have since been flown to the US. They are being used both as sources of information and as hostages to get Khalid to talk. Read all about how your government is a kidnapper here. Note that while the rant comes from TalkLeft, the news story it is based on comes from the far-right-wing Washington Times.

Sunday, March 09, 2003

I've been trying to get a photo of our billboard on I-94 without success, so I'm going to just post the design. I've seen the actual billboard, and this is what it looks like:

It is located on the left side of I-94 as you drive west shortly after the M-14/I-94 merge (before Zeeb Road). A generous AAACP patron donated the money for the first month; if you'd like to help keep it up longer, please make a donation using the button on the right!

You go, Iowa!

Iowa Democrats give warmonger candidates a hard time. As I said earlier today, we need to make absolutely sure that none of the presidential candidates who voted for Bush's war resolution (Lieberman, Kerry, Edwards, Gephardt, and unannounced Hillary Clinton) has any chance of getting the nomination. As I said earlier, I don't think Bob Graham is an acceptable candidate, either. The good news is we have four announced anti-war candidates: Sharpton, Kucinich, Dean, and Moseley Braun.

Good anti-war poster featuring warnings from decorated military officers:

The New York Times finally has it right: NO TO WAR!

Even the detestable Joe Lieberman has finally found something wrong with Bush:
Lieberman told an audience in New Hampshire recently: "Let's be clear. When more people around the world see the current American president as a greater threat to peace than Saddam Hussein, then you know something is really wrong with his foreign policy." -- Washington Post.

Of course, just like Nancy Pelosi, it appears as though Smilin' Joe isn't willing to actually do anything about it, such as pushing to rescind October's war resolution. That in itself was an unconstitutional, criminal act, and any member of Congress who supported it is complicit in the impending horror. Their only way out is to call for immediate cancellation of the resolution.

Michigan Democrats are considering moving their presidential caucuses to the same date in January as New Hampshire's.

This could give us here in Michigan a much greater say in who the next president is: we need to make sure that one of the anti-war candidates gets enough momentum to win the nomination and the election. The Democratic National Committee apparently realizes this, and is therefore opposing it. I may have to leave the country if the 2004 election comes down to Bush versus one of the warmongers: Lieberman, Kerry, Edwards or Gephardt. I'm afraid Sen. Bob Graham belongs in that category as well. While he voted against the war resolution last October, he did so because "this resolution is too timid. It is too limited. It is too weak." (From his speech in the Senate.)

The good news is that there are four announced anti-war candidates: Dean, Kucinich, Moseley Braun and Sharpton. Perhaps we can turn the tables on the powers that be who excluded Ralph Nader from the 2000 debates: hold our own debates, with only peace candidates invited. If Michigan does jump to the front of the line, it might actually be possible to pull this off (that is, the candidates might actually come to the debate).

Atrios has posted an Art Buchwald column written in 1963. Buchwald pretends (I think) to have inside information from "Serge the Russian Spy" about the Soviets' best-ever plot to destroy America:
The only people willing to wreck the United States government, I discovered, were the extreme right-wing groups. They were being ignored, and yet they were the key to all internal subversion. I laid out a plan. I would have my agents organize a program working through the extreme right wing which would stand the United States on it's head.

First I would get the right wing to accuse President Eisenhower of being a Communist. Then I would get them to call their own high government officials traitors. Then I would see that the right wing attacked American United Nations representatives. I also would convince the right wing that Russia didn't have atomic weapons.

Then I would encourage rumors that everyone in the State Department was either a Communist or a homosexual. I gave order to wreak havoc in the armed services by turning military officers against civilians. I even proposed they impeach Chief Justice Warren of the Supreme Court. I laid out different attacks on anyone who advocated better education or health facilities in the United States. And the topper was that anyhone who disagreed with this would be accused of being a card-holding Communist.
-- Read the whole thing!

Terry Jones on Bush: Mr. Bush is right, Saddam Hussein is a nasty man and nobody I know has the least objection to Mr. Bush killing him. It's just the way he proposes doing it that worries me. Dropping 3000 bombs in 48 hours on Baghdad is going to kill a lot of other people who, as far as I am aware, are not nasty at all. -- from the Observer .

UN launches inquiry into US spying on UN Security Council members: from the Observer. In case you've missed it, our government is a bunch of crooks.