Bob's Links and Rants

Welcome to my rants page! You can contact me by e-mail: Blog roll. Site feed.

Wednesday, April 30, 2003

Three strikes for corporations--I like it! The LA Times reports that the state of California is likely to pass a "three strikes" bill against corporations. Any corporation convicted of three crimes--consumer fraud, environmental, labor, etc.--would not be allowed to continue to do business in California. (Link from Bob Harris subbing for Tom Tomorrow.)
Okay, I've read the whole Ashleigh Banfield piece, and it is wonderful. I'd say put her in charge of MSNBC right now, although she is already being verbally attacked by her bosses and others.
This TV show that we just gave you was extraordinarily entertaining, and I really hope that the legacy that it leaves behind is not one that shows war as glorious, because there's nothing more dangerous than a democracy that thinks this is a glorious thing to do.

War is ugly and it's dangerous, and in this world the way we are discussed on the Arab street, it feeds and fuels their hatred and their desire to kill themselves to take out Americans. It's a dangerous thing to propagate.
I'm hoping that I will have a future in news in cable, but not the way some cable news operators wrap themselves in the American flag and patriotism and go after a certain target demographic, which is very lucrative. You can already see the effects, you can already see the big hires on other networks, right wing hires to chase after this effect, and you can already see that flag waving in the corners of those cable news stations where they have exciting American music to go along with their war coverage.

Ashleigh Banfield on war coverage--appears to be excellent! (I don't have time to finish reading it now, so I'm posting it partially so I'll be able to find it when I get home.)
Public Service Reminder:
The airwaves do not belong to the broadcasters. They do not belong to the advertisers. The owners of the broadcast airwaves, by law, are the people of the United States. -- Nancy Snow.
Doesn't this take you back?
The White House made a number of recess appointments last week as Congress fled for spring break. One was April H. Foley, a "homemaker," according to campaign contribution disclosure documents, from South Salem, N.Y. She was named to the board of directors of the Export-Import Bank. The appointment is good until Congress adjourns next year.

So why a homemaker for this job? Well, "early in her career," the White House announcement says, she was director of business planning for corporate strategy with PepsiCo Inc. and director of strategy for Reader's Digest Association. More recently, she was president of the United Way of Northern Westchester County, N.Y. Not all of it, just the northern part.

Still not locked in on the merits? Did we mention she used to date George W. Bush when both were at Harvard Business School and has remained friends with him?
-- Washington Post

Of course, if it were four years ago and it was Bill Clinton's former girlfriend who got the cushy job, it would have been in the lead paragraph of the lead article on the front page of the Washington Post--not the last paragraph on page A21.
US Trade Rep. Zoellick pushes for more "free trade." This stuff is evil. Zoellick is evil. The WTO talks in Cancun in September may be my excuse to go back to Mexico. Probably a little warmer protesting than it was in Washington in January or Michigan in February! Just as important, though. The WTO is the front for the economic war being waged by the filthy rich on the dirt poor, and people are dying from it just as much as they are from the shooting wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. The two are actually closely tied together, and they both need to be stopped.
Gag me with a spoon!
"We ought to be beating our chests every day. We ought to look in a mirror and get proud and stick out our chests and suck in our bellies and say: 'Damn, we're Americans!'," Jay Garner told reporters, saying that Iraq's oil fields and other infrastructure survived the war almost intact. -- from Reuters .
You can offend some of the people (like me) all of the time, all of the people some of the time, but eventually, if you're George W. Bush, you may just succeed in offending all of the people all of the time. Andrew Sullivan has been one of the most insistent and (unfortunately) popular "warbloggers," that is bloggers who support W's endless war policies. Andrew, however, is gay, and he lives in Senator Santorum's state of Pennsylvania. So he was deeply offended by Santorum's recent gay-bashing, and especially by Bush's expression of support. You might find his agonizing over the issue very interesting, as well as his followup, in which he says:

I've learned a lot this past week - especially about elite conservative indifference to limited government, if it means offending the religious right. One factual note: I don't consider myself a Republican. Never have. Given what some of the party base represent, I'm relieved not to carry that burden. It may be necessary to support Republicans at times - in the war on terror, for example, we have precious little choice right now. But no-one should ignore the dark thread of big-government intolerance that exists in the G.O.P. It's still there; and it threatens you and me.

He also has an interesting rant about free speech and Bush's aversion to hearing it which is worth reading.

So with Gingrich attacking the Bushies for being too liberal, while Gerald Ford, Mary Cheney and Andrew Sullivan attack them for being too intolerant, the whole right-wing house of cards may yet blow over. Let's hope so.

(Chain of evidence: I found out about Sullivan's rants through the Hamster, which was a random link I clicked from MouseMusing's blogroll.)
So why did Congress authorize Bush to attack Iraq? Let's ask them. From the text of the Authorization for Use of Military Force Against Iraq Resolution of 2002, passed (unconstitutionally, IMHO) last October:

Whereas after the liberation of Kuwait in 1991, Iraq entered into a United Nations sponsored cease-fire agreement pursuant to which Iraq unequivocally agreed, among other things, to eliminate its nuclear, biological, and chemical weapons programs and the means to deliver and develop them, and to end its support for international terrorism;

Whereas the efforts of international weapons inspectors, United States intelligence agencies, and Iraqi defectors led to the discovery that Iraq had large stockpiles of chemical weapons and a large scale biological weapons program, and that Iraq had an advanced nuclear weapons development program that was much closer to producing a nuclear weapon than intelligence reporting had previously indicated;

Whereas Iraq , in direct and flagrant violation of the cease-fire, attempted to thwart the efforts of weapons inspectors to identify and destroy Iraq's weapons of mass destruction stockpiles and development capabilities, which finally resulted in the withdrawal of inspectors from Iraq on October 31, 1998;

Whereas in Public Law 105-235 (August 14, 1998), Congress concluded that Iraq's continuing weapons of mass destruction programs threatened vital United States interests and international peace and security, declared Iraq to be in `material and unacceptable breach of its international obligations' and urged the President `to take appropriate action, in accordance with the Constitution and relevant laws of the United States, to bring Iraq into compliance with its international obligations';

Whereas Iraq both poses a continuing threat to the national security of the United States and international peace and security in the Persian Gulf region and remains in material and unacceptable breach of its international obligations by, among other things, continuing to possess and develop a significant chemical and biological weapons capability, actively seeking a nuclear weapons capability, and supporting and harboring terrorist organizations;

The evidence of the "advanced nuclear weapons" program was shown to be false well before the war started. Neither UN inspectors for four months, nor US troops, in Iraq for over one month now, have found any evidence of chemical or biological weapons. Several Iraqi scientists, supposedly now free from fear of retribution from Saddam's regime, are now in US custody. Still nothing. Congress passed an unconstitutional bill based on lies fed it by the Bush administration, which then used it to violate international law and break treaties (like the UN Charter) which, according to the Constitution, are the highest law of the land. Some 123 US soldiers are dead, some 500 wounded, along with tens of thousands of Iraqi citizens and soldiers (and the killing continues). This is about as "high" as crime gets--IMPEACH BUSH NOW (and Cheney, Rumsfeld and Powell as well).
Putin Kicks Bush's Poodle.
From a press conference in Moscow given by Russian President Putin and British PM Tony Blair:
Mr Putin said Russia and its partners "believe until clarity is achieved over whether weapons of mass destruction exist in Iraq, sanctions should be kept in place". Almost mocking Mr Blair, he went on: "Where is Saddam? Where are those arsenals of weapons of mass destruction, if indeed they ever existed? Perhaps Saddam is still hiding somewhere in a bunker underground, sitting on cases of weapons of mass destruction and is preparing to blow the whole thing up and bring down the lives of thousands of Iraqi people."

He added that sanctions could not be lifted since they had been introduced because Iraq had weapons of mass destruction."It is only the security council that is in a position to lift those sanctions, after all they introduced them."

He also derided Mr Blair's talk of a new world order, saying: "If the decision-making process in such a framework is democratic then that is something we could agree with, but if decisions are being made by just one member of the international community and all the others are required to support them that is something we could not find acceptable."

Tuesday, April 29, 2003

Iraqi Scientist Says U.S. Unlikely to Find Biological Weapons. But of course, he's probably got a Marine Corps "minder," so we have to take what he says with a grain of salt.
Feeling safe yet? Fire shuts down nuclear plant.
U.S. Military Pulls Out of Saudi Arabia -- NY Times
Alternate headlines for this article:
  • Not a Minute Longer Than Necessary (based on what then Defense Secretary Dick Cheney told the Saudis in 1990 about how long US troops would be there)
  • Shorter Flying Times for US Bombers to Syria and Iran from Iraq than from old Saudi Bases
  • The Terrorists Have Won! (US bases in Saudi Arabia were Osama bin Laden's main complaint against the US)

Ad in an e-zine called Escape From America (link thanks to Gloria):
Skiptracing - Ahearn Industries is the world leader in skiptracing and international asset locating. If you are looking to to find some one who escaped, we can find them. If you are looking to escape, we can show you if you did it right. Our service is used by over 3000 investigators world wide. (212) 937-3565 or (416) 352-5503.

Now, if you were looking to escape, would you want help from a company that helps people find someone who has escaped? If so, you probably believe the war in Iraq was about weapons of mass destruction.
Sierra Club Election: I tried to exert some influence of the Sierra Club by sending an e-mail to all sixteen candidates for the board of directors last month. I was concerned by the Sierra Club's reluctance last fall to take an anti-war position. I got responses from 12 of the 16 candidates; all 12 said they supported an anti-war position. The Sierra Club has announced the election results. Four of the five winners were among the 12 who said they were anti-war; two of the five were among the five I voted for. Next fight: Let's get some instant runoff voting going in the Sierra Club! With all 16 candidates getting between 10,000 and 28,000 votes, it seems as though some preferential voting would be in order. How are Greens (and greens) going to succeed in getting IRV into our public elections when it isn't being used in supposedly green organizations? I guess it's time for me to write another e-mail!
Lisa English writes a great blog: RuminateThis. She's got plenty of suggestions today for links you should chase down, so I'll just summarize them for you:

Again, see RuminateThis for the details!

There is a school of thought that says that terrorists are insufficiently afraid of the United States, and that they will leave us alone only if we shock and awe them enough. But the terrorists are already terrified. There is no human being on earth who doubts our power. But the more aggressively we use our power to intimidate our foes, the more foes we create and the more we validate terrorism as the only effective weapon of the powerless against the powerful. -- John Brady Kiesling, a career diplomat who quit his job at the US Embassy in Athens because he could not defend the war in Iraq and a foreign policy that he sees as dangerous to America. Read the whole article; it's pretty good.

Hostage Crisis? What hostage crisis?
W apparently learned from his father's presidency that when you invade Iraq, you go all the way. Hopefully, history will show him that the true lesson was, if you want to get re-elected and your name is George Bush, you shouldn't invade Iraq at all.

W appears to have learned a lesson from Jimmy Carter's presidency, which is when Americans are taken hostage, you ignore it (if you want to get re-elected). Well, 21 American oil workers, along with 76 of other nationalities, are currently being held hostage in Nigeria, and have been for eleven days, according to FoxNews.
It's reader feedback time!

What do you like to see most on my blog?
Brief links to articles
Long rants
Bitter derivative poetry
On-topic stuff: Why war sucks, why Bush sucks, etc.
Off-topic stuff: Water, bikes, sports, silliness

View the results
Hosted by WebEnalysis

What do you like to see least on my blog?
Brief links to articles
Long rants
Bitter derivative poetry
On-topic stuff: Why war sucks, why Bush sucks, etc.
Off-topic stuff: Water, bikes, sports, silliness

View the results
Hosted by WebEnalysis
Fifteen dead, 75 wounded: US Troops fire on Iraqi protesters.
French? Italian? Raspberry Vinaigrette? Or perhaps you'd like the house dressing, a bold-yet-subtle perchlorate? Perchlorate, a chemical used in rocket fuel, has been found in substantial quantities on produce in Northern California supermarkets. The water used to irrigate most of the crops comes from the Colorado River, which according to the article is from five to eight parts per billion perchlorate. The source of the perchlorate is the numerous defense contractors and military bases along the Colorado, as well as other industries.

I'm buying Michigan lettuce from now on (Yes, there is Michigan lettuce, and it's very good! Not much available in the winter, however.).

Monday, April 28, 2003

Molly Ivins rants about Republitron plans to further trash labor rights, including the 40-hour week and paid overtime.

This fits right in with what Senator Stevens (R-AK) said back when the war started:
I would only add one comment, I keep hearing people talk about overtime and getting money to pay for people here who are working so long and working overtime in our cities and in various functions. Those men and women over there are not getting paid overtime. I think it's time we started thinking about volunteering in the United States right here at home – volunteers to help this country come through this period when our men and women are over there. They're volunteers. They're not getting any extra pay for what they're doing. I think we should recognize the concept that every one of us should volunteer more of our time to help our country in this period.

So rather than "support our troops" by paying them for overtime worked (and they'll need it, since veterans benefits are being cut), Stevens suggested that cops and firefighters "volunteer" to fight crime and fires after their 40-hour weeks are done. I'd suggest that Republitrons stop working overtime to screw everybody else--and not get paid until they do!
A blog called Shock and Awe has a great post about a Marine named Jesus Angel Gonzalez, who was born in Mexico but had lived in southern California since he was seven years old. He was not a US citizen. He opposed the war, but did not desert, unlike his commander-in-chief did during Vietnam. Jesus Angel Gonzalez was killed in Iraq. an excerpt:

How ironic, but not unexpected, that this brave young man without even the ability to vote in his adopted homeland showed more patriotism and loyalty to this country than the coward who is supposedly the leader of the free world.

When a man or woman joins the U.S. military, they are making a commitment to the people of this country -- they are willing to put their lives on the line, to kill and be killed, in order to keep us safe.

As American citizens, we have a sacred responsibility which must be our response to the commitment of our soldiers: We must ensure that they do not give their lives in vain.

The decision to engage in military activity, risking the lives of our troops, is one of the gravest choices a democracy can make. For this reason, the Founders granted that ability to Congress alone, as the representatives of the people.

With this war, we have failed our duties to our troops.
-- More.
I keep thinking I should update my list of activist web sites and my blogroll, but for now I'll take the easy way out: Mousemusings has an excellent blogroll, and LiberalOasis has an excellent list of links to many types of activist sites. Check them out!
Ari the Liar "answering" reporters questions aboard Air Force One this morning en route to W's meeting with Iraqis in Dearborn, MI:
Q Coverage on the meeting with the Iraqi exiles is closed. Will we get any readout, or why no coverage for us?

MR. FLEISCHER: It is closed. I should advise you that there are many reporters from Arab media outlets who are on this trip, who flew out on the press charter. There are some eight who don't typically travel with the White House press corps, who asked to go. They were accommodated. And we are going to accommodate a couple of them into the meeting. So they will be there for their own reporting purposes.

Q Are there going to be American reporters there?


Q Why not allow --

MR. FLEISCHER: Because we cannot open up the whole thing up.

Q Are they pooling for us?

MR. FLEISCHER: They're given an exclusive.

Q We have to object to that, we just have to object to that. You're going to allow Arab reporters in because you want to get that message out, but you're afraid of American reporters?

MR. FLEISCHER: The reason I put it on the record here and told you is so you could go to them and talk to them about it afterwards.

Q That's not good enough. That's not good enough.

Q We can't rely on people that we don't know or that are not part of the regular White House pool to report to the American media on something this sensitive.

General Franks said the most well-known Iraqi prisoner, Tariq Aziz, the former deputy prime minister, was answering interrogators' questions, but it was too soon to tell if he was being truthful or helpful. -- NY Times.

<Heavy Cynicism>I assume General "Ballpark" Franks would prefer Aziz being helpful to Aziz being truthful. I'm sure the interrogators will help him out with that.</Heavy Cynicism>

This is sad--and I hope it was just the recession:

Kirk Anderson of the St. Paul Pioneer Press has drawn some great political cartoons. Sadly, it appears he has lost his job.

Sunday, April 27, 2003

Dangerous viruses looted in Iraq:
As escaped laboratory animals roamed the compound, a new sign was posted in Arabic reading: "Stay away, extremely dangerous. Lab is polluted with viruses."

There have been no reports of illness yet and the greatest danger may be to the looter who took the viruses. In the wrong hands, however, the viruses could be considered a potent weapon.
-- ABC
Bush may not be on the ballot in several states! Alabama, West Virginia, California and the District of Columbia all have filing deadlines prior to the scheduled end of the Republitron convention (Sept. 2, 2004). The Republitrons moved their New York convention date so late so they could link it to the third anniversary of 9/11, the source of all their power. While this would likely only have an impact on the presidential race in West Virginia, with Alabama likely to change their filing date for Bush and likely to vote for him anyway, and California and DC likely to vote against him anyway, it might have a nice effect on congressional and other races by keeping Republitrons from voting a straight party ticket. Many might just go into the booth and write in Bush's name, ignoring the rest of the ballot. I suspect, however, that Bush may move the convention earlier and then officially change the date of 9/11 to 8/28 or something. (Heck, they changed Lincoln's birthday--they can change 9/11!)
Okay, what happened to DailyKos? One of the most popular blogs, DailyKos focuses on Democratic Party politics. Yesterday, I came across two or three posts on other blogs about the WMD issue which said DailyKos had a great article about it. I was unable to get to it at all yesterday, and I can't today. If anyone does get through ( please let me know! I think I'll go check Atrios--he probably knows what's happening!

Saturday, April 26, 2003

Sample leaflet from Infinite Jest:

They note that that leaflet was found in Jordan.

Another set of US Most Wanted playing cards from Uggabugga. Also, some "American Crusade 2001+" trading cards:

Cogent Provocateur has a long post where he refers to the whole WMD's in Iraq as a "snipe hunt." With plenty of detail, he shows how the whole WMD argument for the war is now officially defunct, even if a few things turn up here or there in the coming days (weeks? years? millenia?). If Iraq had the weapons and programs on the scale that it was claimed to have as an excuse for the war, those weapons and programs would have been discovered already. Excellent reading if you have the time.
Mary from Fort Worth reports that CNN had a short report yesterday that showed the Democratic candidates' faces on playing cards, a rather obvious attempt to connect viewers' minds with the "most wanted" Iraqis.
SARS: Is it really a serious threat to our health, or another weapon being prepared to separate us from our civil liberties? After reading this, I have to wonder. And, as Bob Harris, filling in for Tom Tomorrow, reports, SARS is already being blamed for the crashing economy. Harris points out that SARS is really scary: Heck, it's both severe and acute. If it somehow manages to become critical, and turns into an epidemic instead of a syndrome, it will then get a truly appropriate name: SCARE (Severe Critical Acute Respiratory Epidemic). The worldwide death toll from SARS currently stands at 274, mostly in China. This is about the number of people killed in car accidents in the US on a typical weekend.
Members of the commission "investigating" 9/11 are being denied access to crucial documents by the commission's leaders: Washington Post.
It's what they DO, not what they SAY. Good rant from Seeing the Forest about the Bush lies. Excerpt:
Under the Soviet system, people came to realize that they could not trust government sources of news. They learned to look for what was being done. Under Saddam Iraqis learned to trust what they saw instead of what they heard.

By now the pattern is clear. By now we should all be learning not to waste our time and energy refuting their arguments. That's just getting yourself bogged down in the fog and smoke. That's just looking "over there" when they point their finger and shout, "Look over there!" Their "facts" and arguments are just trees. See the forest. The forest is this: they lie. They just lie. They say whatever their polls and focus groups tell them to say. Learn to see only what they do.

This is what democracy looks like? US Forces Make Iraqis Strip and Walk Naked in Public. From the Memory Hole. Thanks to Mary in Fort Worth for the link!
Tell Wolf what you think: "Should the United States consider launching a pre-emptive strike against North Korea?"
Former POW chooses football over Bush. From Atrios.

From Slowpoke. I guess this finally answers the question: "Why did the chicken cross the road?" Answer: Because there was finally a break in the traffic.

Cars, cars go away
Park yourselves and rust away
You've killed millions, aim for more
Made our land one big eyesore
People drive to earn their pay
Which they spend on Chevrolet
Bush and pals grab foreign soil
So you'll have your lifeblood oil
Cars, cars go away
Leave the roads for kids to play!
It's outrage day! In addition to the NY Times editorial that I rant about below, Cyndy at MouseMusings rants about an ABC News report which quotes administration officials saying that the war in Iraq was more about a global show of US power. Let's impeach the shrub now, while there's still a world left in which to impeach him.
What? The NY Times lead editorial today has this amazing paragraph:
This page agreed with the president's conviction that there were world-threatening weapons in Iraq, if not the manner in which the United States went to war. We still tend to believe they are there. Iraq certainly had biological and chemical weapons, and a program to create nuclear ones, at one point. If everything were indeed destroyed, Saddam Hussein put his nation through years of crippling economic boycotts and brought on the ruin of his regime for no good reason. On the other hand, it no longer seems totally inconceivable that the government was so corrupt and out of touch with reality that it was not even capable of operating rationally when its survival was at stake.

(Usual caveat that I'm not defending Saddam, blah blah, but) Don't you think that if all of the so-called WMD's had been destroyed, and the regime was concerned with its survival, that it might have claimed that it had no WMD's anymore? Maybe it would have invited the US Congress to come inspect for themselves, bringing as many experts along with them as they wanted. Doesn't it seem likely that, even though previous inspection teams included spies who were more interested in Saddam's whereabouts than they were in WMD's, that Saddam would nevertheless permit UN inspectors to return to his country, with free access to any site they chose? And if the inspectors found things they thought were technically in violation, like El Samoud missiles, that Iraq might agree to destroy them, even if they did not agree that they were in violation?

Well, Iraq did all of those things. What seems totally inconceivable at this point is that there was anything at all that Saddam could have done, even including live self-immolation on CNN, that would have stopped the US-led invasion of Iraq. There were two brutal regimes involved here--Saddam's and Bush's. Of the two, Saddam's acted more rationally. As has been reported, Bush said back in March 2002 "F*** Saddam. We're taking him out." None of the "debates" in Congress or in the UN, nor anything that Saddam did or might have done, was apparently going to affect that in the slightest. And in the finest American tradition of blaming the victim, the Times says that Iraq's "government was so corrupt and out of touch with reality that it was not even capable of operating rationally when its survival was at stake." He "brought on the ruin of his regime for no good reason?" Because he said didn't have WMD's when maybe he really didn't? What has to be clear (and I'm sure it is) to leaders all over the world--from Assad in Syria to Kim in N. Korea to Castro in Cuba to Chirac in France--is that once Bush decides to target a country, there is nothing (like evidence or truth or actions to deal with his alleged reasons) that is going to stop him. Furthermore, it is clear that our embedded media will support him, no matter what.

Friday, April 25, 2003

Update: Cyndy at MouseMusings found that someone HAS already developed US most-wanted playing cards!
Mark that red state blue!
Unless Alabama's election law is changed, President Bush could be left off the state's presidential election ballot in 2004.

The problem is that the Republican National Convention is being held later than usual to avoid conflict with the Olympics and the GOP won't choose a candidate until Sept. 2 - two days after Alabama's Aug. 31 deadline to certify presidential candidates.

Republicans are asking the Democrat-controlled Legislature to change the law and extend the deadline until Sept. 5. That bill is on the work agenda in the House for Thursday, but some Republicans say they are concerned the bill has been placed behind several controversial issues and may not come up for consideration.

"I don't think the people know that if this doesn't pass, they won't get to vote for President Bush," said Rep. Mike Hubbard, R-Auburn. He said if the bill doesn't pass, Bush could be forced to run as a write-in in Alabama.
-- from the Northwest Alabama TimesDaily. Thanks to Lean Left for the link. (Actually, the main reason the Republitrons are having their convention so late is to capitalize on the third anniversary of 9/11. Hopefully by then people will start to realize that 9/11 happened on Bush's watch, that he may have been able to prevent it, that he has used it as an excuse for spending billions of dollars to kill thousands of people who had nothing to do with it, and that it was total nonsense to give him any additional mandate or authority based on that tragedy.)
The Right to Travel by Human Power
Cyclists and pedestrians have a legal right to access every destination reachable by public roads. This means that they deserve safe accommodation on every road and across every intersection. Non-motorized travel must not be prohibited except where controlled-access expressways provide service that is completely redundant to safe and efficient routes for non-motorized users. Accommodation of cyclists and pedestrians must be provided via safe, lawful and courteous behavior by other road users and by appropriate engineering of roadways.
-- Lead paragraph from an excellent article by Steven G. Goodridge.

I am constantly torn between a desire out there on my bike to claim my right to road space (while of course getting where I'm going in a cheap, efficient and healthful way) with a desire to avoid the hassle and take the bus and/or walk. For getting to work, riding the bike is certainly faster and more flexible, competing rather well with driving. But as far as my nerves go, walking to and from bus stops and riding the bus is much more relaxing than either cycling or driving. So many drivers seem completely unaware of the rights of cyclists and are totally unsympathetic to the arguments in that article. My job deals with research on cars and trucks (safety features, mostly), and I own a car and drive it occasionally, but I'm pretty much a car-hater. As I slowly progress toward grumpy-old-manhood I find myself more and more often muttering at the cars going by "Stop Driving!" So many people live and work in places that couldn't possibly survive without automobiles--and that's a crime.

More on WMD's from the Times (UK).
Stacking the deck:

Plenty of places on the web seem to be selling "Official Iraqi" card decks, mostly imitations of the ones issued to US troops for tracking down high-ranking Iraqis. (example) Has anyone come up with a "US Most Wanted" playing card set, or am I going to have to do it myself?

Thursday, April 24, 2003

Some choice excerpts from the Moron-in-Chief's speech in Ohio today:

We've been through some tough times here in America. We've had a recession. And then we had an enemy attack us -- then we attacked back. (Applause.) There's been the uncertainty, uncertainty of war hanging over our heads. Then we had some of our corporate citizens forget what it means to be a responsible citizen. And they didn't tell the truth to employees and shareholders. We had to deal with the corporate scandals that rocked the confidence of America.
I want to thank you for bringing your families. I thank you for showing your families what you have done to help make history, to help make the world more peaceful. You tell your children when they see the images of war on their TV sets that we take the action we take, and you build the products you build, because we believe in peace in America. We understand we have an obligation to keep our nation secure. You build the weapons you build here because we love freedom in this country. (Applause.)
In Iraq, we are defending this nation's security. After the attacks of September the 11th, 2001, we will not allow grave threats to go unopposed. (Applause.) We are now working to locate and destroy Iraq's weapons of mass destruction. (Applause.)

Iraqis with firsthand knowledge of these programs, including several top officials who have come forward recently -- some voluntarily -- (laughter) -- others not -- (laughter) -- are beginning to cooperate, are beginning to let us know what the facts were on the ground. And that's important because the regime of Saddam Hussein spent years hiding and disguising his weapons. He tried to fool the United Nations, and did for 12 years, by hiding these weapons. (Applause.) And so, it's going to take time to find them. But we know he had them. And whether he destroyed them, moved them, or hid them, we're going to find out the truth. And one thing is for certain: Saddam Hussein no longer threatens America with weapons of mass destruction. (Applause.)

I guess it's up to the bloggers--again! Many reporters attended Strom Thurmond's birthday party where Trent Lott made his infamous gaff, but it was ignored in almost all reports until bloggers made it an issue two days later. Well, I just checked out the Washington Post, NY Times, and CNN articles, and none of them even mention Bush's statement that Iraq's weapons of mass destruction may not exist. They do all indicate that he considers $350 billion to be "little bitty."
I posted my previous rant ("Bush admits..."; read it first if you haven't already) on our local e-mail list. I got a quick response from Eric, who pointed out: Bob ... actually in his state of the union address he said repeatedly things like "he has given no evidence of destroying them" rather than "he has not destroyed them." Wanting, at least usually, to be as accurate as possible, I did a little research and responded to Eric as follows:

You're basically correct about the state of the union address, although he did say that the line that he repeated many times later: "If Saddam Hussein does not fully disarm, we will lead a coalition to disarm him." While from a technically logical point of view this doesn't preclude attacking anyway, it clearly suggests that possession of weapons will be THE reason for attacking. But back in October, Bush gave a speech in Cincinnati where he said that Iraq posesses chemical and biological weapons:

Eleven years ago, as a condition for ending the Persian Gulf War, the Iraqi regime was required to destroy its weapons of mass destruction, to cease all development of such weapons, and to stop all support for terrorist groups. The Iraqi regime has violated all of those obligations. It possesses and produces chemical and biological weapons. It is seeking nuclear weapons.

And in his address the night the war began he said:
The people of the United States and our friends and allies will not live at the mercy of an outlaw regime that threatens the peace with weapons of mass murder.

I'm pretty sure there have been other quotes from Bush, Rumsfeld, Powell, Fleischer and others along the lines of "He's got them. We know he's got them." Hopefully there will be a few in the media ready to quote these if Bush tries to use his qualifiers from the state of the union address to cover his butt. And as far as the supposed lack of documentation regarding the destruction of weapons, I think there are several responses, both flippant and accurate:
"Absence of evidence isn't evidence of absence." (What Rummy said about WMD's)
The documents may well have been destroyed in any of the numerous bombings over the past 12 years, or in the recent looting of most government ministries in Baghdad.
If you were destroying something you weren't supposed to have, and had said you didn't have, would you document it?
Finally, I guess I'd say that W's speechwriters clearly made an attempt at a pre-emptive butt-covering. Any attempt to use it now should immediately be jumped on with these question: "Why? Were you not sure of your own information, or did you actually know that it was false? One-hundred twenty-three US soldiers are dead because you took us to war on pretexts that you knew were false?"

So, at least in my liberal, logical mind, we've got him, in his own words. Unfortunately, he's got the media and Tom DeLay and millions of warons, and he's the type of person who always believes he's right, no matter how irrefutable the proof to the contrary may be.

Bush admits there may not have been any WMD's!

So what was the war about, George? Are you going to say that inspections weren't going to work because, well, there was nothing to find?

"It's going to take time to find them," Bush said of Iraq's alleged chemical and biological weapons as well as a nuclear weapons program Washington insisted Saddam Hussein was pursuing.

"But we know he had them, and whether he destroyed them, moved them or hid them, we're going to find out the truth. And one thing is for certain, Saddam Hussein no longer threatens America with weapons of mass destruction."

It was the first time Bush has raised the possibility that the alleged weapons were destroyed before the war and might not be found.
-- from Reuters.

This should be THE biggest story of the year--Bush undercuts his own excuse for the war.

Thousands of Iraqis have been reduced to poverty, raped and murdered by rampaging goons as U.S. Marines stood around and watched. Wanna guess how long it will take them to "get over it"? We watched the plunder of museums in Mosul and Baghdad safe at home with our tisk-tisk dismay, but Iraqis will remain outraged by the wanton devastation we wrought through war, permitted through negligence and shrugged off through arrogance. ("We didn't allow it," Rumsfeld shrugged. "It happened.") Imagine foreign troops sitting idly, laughing as hooligans trashed the Smithsonian, stole the gold from Fort Knox and burned down the Department of the Interior.

That was us in Iraq.
-- Ted Rall

Très idiot
A Bush advisor said that Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry "looks French." Touché! Can we please give the country back to the grownups now?
"There is no supremacy of life or physical integrity over economic interests," according to a court order in Argentina. Apparently, factory owners had shut down factories. Workers reopened them and ran the factories themselves, doing better than under the previous management. The former owners decide they want to take the factories back, so they get the court order and heavily-armed cops to do it for them. (From the WSWS)
At this point, though, we can only hope it will all turn out for the best, and that a retired U.S. general will figure out how to use the country's natural resources to end poverty, build excellent schools and provide crime-free streets and an electoral system where positions of power don't go to the highest bidder. Then he can come back and apply this genius at home, where we've got plenty of unwelcome violence, poverty and on-the-take politicians.

However, in the unlikely case this fantasy comes true, albeit at an untold price in money, lives and human suffering, it should be remembered that this was not the justification for war given to the American people.

And, in a more sober mood, one must still ask the embarrassing yet essential question: Did our president knowingly deceive us in his rush to war?

If he did, and we are truly concerned about our own democracy, we would have to acknowledge that such an egregious abuse of power rises to the status of an impeachable offense.
-- Robert Scheer.

Let's you and him fight:
A senior White House official, asserted today that Mr. Gingrich's criticism "was seen at the White House as an attack on the president, not an attack on Powell." There was widespread anger at the White House, the official said, but he declined to characterize the reaction of Mr. Bush himself. -- NY Times. Maybe he'll declare Gingrich an "enemy combatant" and send him off to Guantanamo Bay. Certainly no 15-year-old or 85-year-old "Taliban" ever did as much damage to this country as Gingrich. Let's hope that this is the start of lots of infighting among the neo-conmen which ultimately leads to their demise.

Flag-o-Rama! Patriotic items for fanatical flagwavers.

(Hint: From what I can tell, the tire is satire, while the B-52 bombing Iraqi Freedom with America is an item actually for sale out there.)

Wednesday, April 23, 2003

Pretty good article on Dennis Kucinch in the NY Times today. That's Kucinich, Democratic Congressman from Ohio, running for president! Click on the banner at the top of the right frame to learn more about Kucinich and to contribute to or volunteer for his campaign.
Free Air Time Campaign: One of the things we need to support to get our country back.
How warped do I think this country is? I almost believed this:

(Thanks to Polizeros for the link.)

Powell says there will be consequences for France's opposition to the war on Iraq. I'd suggest a huge "Merci" along with a "Nous sommes désolés." (We're sorry.) The administration seems to think that it is time to end the sanctions against Iraq. The sanctions were supposedly in place because the people ruling Iraq had used (apparently true, even supposedly on "their own people") and were thought to still possess (apparently false) so-called weapons of mass destruction. The current de facto rulers of Iraq are from a country which not only undoubtedly possesses huge quantities of WMD's, but has expressed a willingness to use nuclear weapons, by far the worst of the WMD's, against countries that don't have them. That country is the only one ever to have used nuclear weapons against people. That country has used chemical weapons, even "against its own people" (ask the thousands of Vietnam vets sickened by Agent Orange), and continues to use chemical weapons in the "war on drugs" in Colombia and "dirty bombs" made of depleted uranium in Afghanistan and Iraq. As US military bases are established in Iraq, it seems quite possible that there will be far more WMD's in Iraq in six months than there are now. It seems that if sanctions really worked against the proliferation of WMD's, now would be the time to tighten them, not remove them. (I'm not advocating continuing sanctions, just saying that there may be more justification for them now than there was three months ago.)
Edward Said on the war:
Adding to the fraudulence of the weapons that weren't there, the Stalingrads that didn't occur, the formidable artillery defenses that never happened, I wouldn't be surprised if Saddam disappeared suddenly because a deal was made in Moscow to let him out with his family and money in return for the country. The war had gone badly for the US in the south, and Bush couldn't risk more of the same in Baghdad. US National Security adviser Condoleeza Rice appeared in Russia on April 7. Two days later, Baghdad fell on April 9. Draw your own conclusions, but isn't it possible that as a result of discussions with the Republican Guard mentioned by Rumsfeld, Saddam bought himself out in return for abandoning the whole thing to the Americans and their British allies, who could then proclaim a brilliant victory.

Americans have been cheated, Iraqis have suffered impossibly, and Bush looks like the moral equivalent of a cowboy sheriff who has just led his righteous posse to a victorious showdown against an evil enemy. On matters of the gravest importance to millions of people constitutional principles have been violated and the electorate lied to unconscionably. We are the ones who must have our democracy back. Enough of smoke and mirrors and smooth talking hustlers.

(Entire article)

Kucinich! Kucinich! Kucinich!
Good article on Dennis Kucinich from the Progressive. That's presidential candidate Dennis Kucinich, US Congressman from Cleveland, former mayor of Cleveland, head of the progressive caucus. Kucinich! Kucinich! Kucinich! (Repetitition worked for the bad guys--let's put it to work for a good guy!)
Proud: Why? A veteran who's a member of our local peace group posted this response to hate mail received by the Vietnam Veterans Against the War:
It really amazes me how tough guys like you can brag about what just happened in Iraq. The US military against Iraq is the equivalent of a High School Senior class beating up a Kindergarten Class. You might call that heroic but I call it cowardice. What we have done and allowed to be done to the people and country of Iraq makes me sick. Anybody that is proud of what we did there has no right to call themselves Christian or even Human. The amount of war crimes committed by the US military has not been seen on this earth since the glory days of the Third Reich. Sayings like "Live Free or Die" and "Give Me Liberty or Give Me Death" may be noble self mantras but to enforce or inflict them on unwilling people is a crime against Humanity of the highest order.

Bill Leary
Bao Loc, Vn.
Okay, so they did have WMD's:
While this reporter could not interview the scientist, she was permitted to see him from a distance at the sites where he said that material from the arms program was buried.

Clad in nondescript clothes and a baseball cap, he pointed to several spots in the sand where he said chemical precursors and other weapons material were buried. This reporter also accompanied MET Alpha on the search for him and was permitted to examine a letter written in Arabic that he slipped to American soldiers offering them information about the program and seeking their protection.
-- from Judith Miller's "Illicit Arms Kept Till Eve of War, an Iraqi Scientist Is Said to Assert" article in the NY Times on Monday. I basically rejected the article out of hand as nonsense based on the headline, but I didn't realize how ridiculous it was until I read this article from Counterpunch and went back to the Times online and read Miller's article in full. Watching a guy "in nondescript clothes and a baseball cap" point at the sand was her only contact with the so-called scientist.

More from Miller's article:
Under the terms of her accreditation to report on the activities of MET Alpha, this reporter was not permitted to interview the scientist or visit his home. Nor was she permitted to write about the discovery of the scientist for three days, and the copy was then submitted for a check by military officials.

Those officials asked that details of what chemicals were uncovered be deleted. They said they feared that such information could jeopardize the scientist's safety by identifying the part of the weapons program where he worked.

I'd say that Miller, and the Times in general, are so embedded at this point that they will be giving birth to numerous military-fathered offspring next January. That they would run the article at all based on such non-information is appalling. It must recall the "good old days" for Russian veterans of Tass and Pravda.

From Ted Rall.

Tuesday, April 22, 2003

I haven't read it yet, but this sounds like a book you and I might want to read: Safe Food: Bacteria, Biotechnology and Bioterrorism, by Marion Nestle. From the review:
"For reasons of history, inertia, turf disputes and just plain greed," she writes, "government oversight of food safety has long tended to provide far more protection to food producers than to the public."
Israel's WMD facilities, courtesy of MSNBC. A Common Dreams article explores what it might mean that MSNBC, the Microsoft-General Electric network, has the graphic on their web site at all: anti-semitism, intimidation, or (least likely) good journalism?
Stuff you should probably read, but about which I can't find a point to make:
Don't miss the newest Tom Tomorrow cartoon.
Kids being held at Gitmo: No charges, of course. Just bomb their Afghan home, drag them across the ocean, imprison them for over a year--leave no child behind.
Another Reason for the Looting:
If such weapons or the means of making them have been removed from the centralized control of former Iraqi officials, high-ranking U.S. officials acknowledged, then the war may prove to aggravate the proliferation threat that President Bush said he fought to forestall.

"It's a danger," Douglas J. Feith, the undersecretary of defense for policy, said in a telephone interview. There are signs, he said, "that some of the looting is actually strategic." Former Baath Party and Iraqi government officials appear to be "doing at least some of the looting" of government facilities, he said, "including those that might have records or materials" relating to weapons of mass destruction.
-- Washington Post. So the neocons, of whom Feith is one of the leading blights, appear willing to admit that the bungling (or worse) which allowed the looting to happen may have actually contributed to the proliferation of weapons, as long as it gives them cover for not actually finding any WMD's. Also, the article points out how the Pentagon is rapidly exhausting its list of suspected WMD sites, without finding anything. It implies that they will soon start a door-to-door witchhunt. I'd say maybe it's time to revise downward the supposed number of UN resolutions that Iraq was in violation of. The Bushies made a weak and highly-flawed case for the war to begin with--it only appears more weak and flawed as time goes on.
I ranted last year about how crazy it was for Alabama to outbid other states to get a Hyundai factory located in Montgomery at the cost of $133 million, or $66,500 per job (see, scroll down to April 29). But Alabamians are rank beginners compared to the Bushies! Paul Krugman points out that the Bushies are claiming that 1.4 million jobs will be created by their plan to cut $726 billion in taxes, which works out to over $500,000 per job. Krugman points out that it would be a lot cheaper for the government just to hire people directly. By my calculations, $726 billion could pay 5 million people $29000 a year for 5 years--more if it were earning interest! It would also go to people more likely to spend it (on something other than Lockheed Martin (destroy) and Bechtel (rebuild) stock), giving a further boost to the economy. Of course, all of this is sophistry--there is no $726 billion to be dolled out in either tax cuts or jobs programs. Instead, it is being looted from the states and from the future.

Monday, April 21, 2003

I'm number 1444! A perfect square! (38*38) Meanwhile, MouseMusings is 474. This, according to the Truth Laid Bear Blogosphere Ecosystem, which apparently ranks blogs by how many times they are link to by other blogs. Thanks to Atrios (number three and climbing with this link) for the link!
What the war was really about: Pentagon Expects Long-Term Access to Four Key Bases in Iraq. The article also repeats a lie which just won't die:

In a particularly important development, officials said the United States was likely to reduce American forces in Saudi Arabia, as well. The main reason for that presence, after all, was to protect the Saudi government from the threat Iraq has posed since its invasion of Kuwait in 1990.

The idea that Iraq was threatening Saudi Arabia in 1990 was based on fabricated satellite photos supposedly showing 250,000 Iraqi troops on the Saudi border, ready to invade. These were used to convince the Saudi government to allow the presence of US troops, over the strong objections of one Osama bin Laden, who offered to use the mujahadeen forces under his control to do the job instead. There is little doubt that Osama could have adequately prevented those 250,000 troops from invading, since THEY DIDN'T EXIST! Independent satellite photos showed that there was no Iraqi troop buildup on the Saudi border. (See Ramsey Clark's The Fire This Time and numerous other sources for details on this and other Bush the First deceptions which led to Gulf War I. I'm guessing Clark may be working on "The Fire This Other Time" about this Gulf War--he'll certainly have plenty of material.)

In truth, I think that the main reason for American forces being in Saudi Arabia was to regain a foothold in the region after the Shah of Iran fell in 1978. Through numerous lies, distortions, bluster and bombs the US imperialists now have bases in Qatar, Bahrain, Kuwait, Afghanistan, Uzbekistan, Saudi Arabia (still), and Iraq. And it's not really so Americans will have cheap oil, although that is part of it. It is to exert military domination over the Middle East, and economic domination over Europe, China, Russia, and the rest of the world.
Complying with the Patriot Act is illegal...If you're lucky enough to live in Arcata, California.
So where are they, Mr Blair?
Not one illegal warhead. Not one drum of chemicals. Not one incriminating document. Not one shred of evidence that Iraq has weapons of mass destruction in more than a month of war and occupation.
-- From the Independent.
States of Desperation:
In Texas, 275,000 fewer children will receive health care. The state already ranks first in the number of children without medical coverage. Ohio is planning to cut 50,000 people from health coverage, which would be the largest increase of uninsured Ohioans in history.

Colorado suspended property tax breaks for 120,000 elderly residents. The tax exemption had saved Carol DeBoer, who lives in suburban Denver, $486 a year. "I'm just living one day to the next right now," said Mrs. DeBoer, whose husband has Alzheimer's disease. "We worked hard; we paid our taxes. If there is enough money for wars, shouldn't there be enough to help seniors?"

President Bush, who was the governor of Texas, is aware of the problems states are facing, aides said. But he made clear when addressing governors in February that no significant help was on the way from the federal government. "It's because we went through a recession and we're at war," he told the National Governors Association.
-- from a lengthy NY Times article on the budget crises in the states.

Sunday, April 20, 2003

Sierra Club Election:
About a month ago, I sent an e-mail to all 16 candidates for the Sierra Club Board of Directors. I expressed my concern that none of them mentioned opposing war as a critical environmental position, and my disappointment at the Sierra Club's reluctance to take a strong anti-war stance last winter. The response was encouraging. Twelve of the sixteen candidates replied, and all said that they opposed war in Iraq. If you're a Sierra Club member who hasn't voted yet, you may want to review my list before voting. Here are the five that I voted for, based on the quality and/or timeliness of their replies: Betsy Gaines, Emma McCauley, Dick Schneider, Lisa Force, and Robbie Cox. The others who responded with anti-war answers were Don Young, Adam Werbach, Paul Watson, Doug LaFollette, Lisa Renstrom, Nancy Rauch, and Patrick Murphy. Deadline for voting is Wednesday at noon.

Saturday, April 19, 2003

Some Greens appear to be willing to compromise... After a lengthy discussion in the comments section of his Politics in the Zeros blog, Bob Morris, a Green Party official from LA, came up with this line:

Hold Your Nose and Vote Mediocre Semi-honest Invertebrate Democrat in 2004! (Go here and click on the comments link.)

I think he's referring to Kerry, but I'm not sure. I suggested on a discussion group that people support Kucinich, and got a quick "No" response from someone who told me to vote Green. I did vote for Nader in 2000, which didn't affect the outcome, since Gore won Michigan (and the entire election) anyway. But as good as our system is at coming up with bad candidates, I don't think it can manage to come up with another one as bad as George W. Bush (well, Lieberman is close). I say we support Kucinich or Dean as long as we can, hoping that they carry the debate back to the left where it belongs. If Kucinich or Dean gets the nomination, great: everyone in the country who doesn't belong to a country club should vote for him. If not, we can at least hope that the efforts of K & D have forced Kerry or Gephardt or Edwards to a more solidly Democratic position, and again, everyone should vote for him. I think ABB should be the key for 2004: Anybody but Bush! (But please, please, please not Lieberman!)

From Boondocks.

Friday, April 18, 2003

Online poll: CNN asks "Do weapons of mass destruction have to be found in Iraq to justify the war?" They left out the proper answer, that the war was not justified even if WMD's are found, but we certainly can't let "No" win--and it currently leads 53-47! Go here and scroll to the bottom on the right.
How well do you know Middle East geography? Try this cool map game.
The WSWS has a long article about "support our troops." Worth reading.
A fourteen-year-old from Grosse Pointe Park, Michigan, says there has been no victory: If you consider the colonization of an obviously defenseless nation "success," then we have undoubtedly succeeded. Still, it seems that any halfway-decent human being would have the sense to realize that what we have done in the past month and a half is anything but victorious...We continue to spread the hate. We continue to chisel away at our country's reputation. Are we victorious? I think not.
The Dimwit Pride of Bushwar Two:

‘Twas the 18th of April in 2003
Hardly a waron hides his glee
Bush the Dim has had a war
Just the second; many more?

One is for Syria, two for Iran
We’ll reuse the battle plan
Deceive and lie, shock and awe
CNN hides every flaw.

Thousands die, no one will care
Their brains are pudding, eyes blank stares
What makes warons be so dumb?
If you bomb it, they will come.

Car flags waving, jingo singing
Talk show propaganda ringing
Another pipsqueak foe defeated
Sick from uranium depleted.

Huge pork bucks for reconstruction
Still no weapons of destruction
Water systems all polluted
Priceless treasures freely looted.

Statue of big jerk comes down
Bigger jerk’s in DC town
Where the first jerk got his start
Don’t it all just warm your heart?
So what's going on this weekend?
A DATE WHICH MAY LIVE IN INFAMY: Will there be a DOMESTIC terrorist attack, or attacks this Saturday?
The date will be April 19, 2003. The 10th anniversary of the burning of the Branch Davidian compound in Waco.
April 19th is also the date of the Oklahoma City bombing, and the Elian Gonzalez raid.
And, for good measure, "patriot" militia nuts know that April 19th is also the date of the Battle of Lexington and Concord.
In other words...crank your Domestic Terrorist Alert systems up to Code Orange.
-- from Counterspin Central (Hesiod).
Uggabugga has an extensive roundup of editorials about the looting of the museum in Baghdad.
Looting: As American as apple pie!
Dick Cheney's obituary, including his time spent as Queen Mum. (Just click on the link!)
I recently read Kurt Vonnegut's "Slaughterhouse Five." It meanders through fact, fiction, time, space and fantasy, arriving eventually at the (factual) fire-bombing of Dresden, Germany in eary 1945. Vonnegut was a POW in Dresden at the time, and survived because his bomb shelter was better than most Dresdeners had that night. Approximately 200,000 people died in the bombing, making it worse than Hiroshima, Nagasaki, Coventry, Baghdad, or about 70 times worse than 9/11 in terms of fatalities. In the book, Vonnegut introduces a character, apparently fictitious, named Howard W. Campbell, Jr. Campbell was an American who had become a Nazi and gained a high post in the German Ministry of Propaganda.

Given that Campbell is a fictional character in a novel, and Vonnegut excels at presenting bizarre ideas without obvious value judgments, it is hard to say what Vonnegut thinks about Campbell's "writings" as he quotes them in the novel. Nevertheless, they provide very interesting food for thought as we peaceniks try to understand the apparent brainwashing of our fellow Americans. So I'm going to quote Vonnegut quoting his fictitious character Campbell, and ask for comments from the audience:
(from Slaughterhouse Five, Delacorte Press edition, 1969, page 111 on)

America is the wealthiest nation on Earth, but its people are mainly poor, and poor Americans are urged to hate themselves. To quote the American humorist Kin Hubbard, "It ain't no disgrace to be poor, but it might as well be." It is in fact a crime for an American to be poor, even though America is a nation of poor. Every other nation has folk traditions of men who were poor but extremely wise and virtuous, and therefore more estimable than anyone with power and gold. No such tales are told by the American poor. They mock themselves and glorify their betters. The meanest eating or drinking establishment, owned by a man who is himself poor, is very likely to have a sign on its wall asking this cruel question: "If you're so smart, why ain't you rich?" There will also be an American flag no larger than a child's hand--glued to a lollipop stick and flying from the cash register.

Americans, like human beings everywhere, believe many things that are obviously untrue. Their most destructive untruth is that it is very easy for any American to make money. They will not acknowledge how in fact hard money is to come by, and, therefore, those who have no money blame and blame and blame themselves. This inward blame has been a treasure for the rich and powerful, who have had to do less for their poor, publicly and privately, than any other ruling class since, say, Napoleonic times.

Many novelties have come from America. The most startling of these, a thing without precedent, is a mass of undignified poor. They do not love one another because they do not love themselves.

So, can we learn something from a fictitious American Nazi supposedly written 60 years ago, actually written 35 years ago by an American author? Is the continued belief that it is easy to get rich the reason why so many non-rich people support the wars and tax cuts clearly designed to make the rich richer? Do these people actually think they don't want to block tax cuts for the rich because, hey, I might be rich some day? Let me know what you think about it!
True tale from the street: Last evening, five of us from the Ann Arbor Area Committee for Peace went door-to-door on Pauline Ave. with petitions and yard signs, hoping to increase the already impressive display of "No War" and "Peace" signs in Ann Arbor. I was working with Cynthia, one of our hardest-working activists. At one house, she talked with a 90-year-old woman, who was obviously frail and having difficulty speaking. The woman said she was opposed to the wars and thought Bush was a terrible president, but was afraid to put a sign in her yard. The line that choked Cynthia up was when the woman said "I hope I live to see another president."

Amen to that.

Along the same lines, Mary from Fort Worth writes:
My aunt, who is 89 has seen a lot including isolationism, war hoo-ha, and the red scare. She says that the attitude of the general populace now is the worst she has ever seen.

Thursday, April 17, 2003

The Bush Doctrine must be stopped here.-- Howard Dean.
Some companies just know how to invest. Bechtel gave $277,050 in campaign contributions in the last election cycle. In return, it has been awarded a contract worth up to $680 million for rebuilding Iraq's infrastructure, something the government just paid $79 billion to destroy.
Excellent transcript of a Washington Post online discussion with Mel Goodman, senior fellow at the Center for International Policy and former CIA analyst. Excerpt:

It appears that it is time to make an initial and preliminary look at the US case for the invasion of Iraq and the evidence that supports the US case. The US went to war because of alleged links between Iraq and the 9/11 attacks (although there is no evidence to support US insinuations), alleged links between Iraq and Al Qaeda (again, no substantiation of such charges), and the US view that Saddam Hussein had maintained huge stocks of strategic weapons and had reconstituted his capability of nuclear weapons as well. It is obvious that the US has exaggerated Iraq's nuclear capabilities and it is apparent that the US has probably exaggerated the size of Iraq's chemical and biological weapons as well. It is particularly worrisome that the intelligence community, particularly the CIA has supported the administration's case on links between Iraq and Al Qaeda and the size of the chem/bio program WITHOUT authoritative evidence. This certainly suggests that there has been politicization of intelligence, which we also saw during the Vietnam War. In any event, US and UK forces occupy virtually all of the Iraqi territory that houses the so-called chem/bio network, but no evidence has been found thus far.
Syria calls for WMD-free Middle East, intends to introduce resolution in the Security Council. Bush may end up vetoing it, since Israel is known to have plenty of nukes, and probably chemical weapons as well.
Down the memory hole:
First came the looters, then came the arsonists. It was the final chapter in the sack of Baghdad. The National Library and Archives — a priceless treasure of Ottoman historical documents including the old royal archives of Iraq — were turned to ashes in 3,000 degrees of heat. Then the Islamic Library of Qur’ans at the Ministry of Religious Endowment was set ablaze. I saw the looters.
And the Americans did nothing.
-- from Robert Fisk.
Quote du Jour:
Let's see, the US currently has invaded and is occupying two countries (Afghanistan and Iraq) because they said they wanted to kill one person in each country. Neither of those people, bin Laden or Saddam, have been proven to be dead, yet the US continues to occupy both countries. Does this make any sense to you? I didn't think so. -- from Polizeros.


Kirk Anderson, St. Paul Pioneer Press.
Please, no more made-in-the-USA monsters! One of America's most decorated soldiers (according to the blurb at the bottom of the article), Col. David Hackworth, recounts how the US helped Saddam Hussein rise to power between 1959 and 1990, supposedly to counter Soviet and Iranian threats, and then spent the next thirteen years getting rid of him. Hackworth concludes:

Now billions and perhaps trillions of our dollars and our best and brightest will be rebuilding Iraq to create a stable government – a beacon of democratic light in a dismally troubled region. But that's only if we don't empower yet another world-class serial killer, and then in a decade or two have to spend still more precious American lives making another regime change in a country that's already paid too hard a price.

Anti-American protests in Iraq. One interesting thing, to me anyway, in that story: The marine colonel, "Zarcone," apparently wouldn't talk to the press or even give his first name (the reporter read his name tag), but Corporal John Hoellwarth had all sorts of information. I admittedly don't know that much about how the military works, but I certainly would have thought that press relations, especially dealing with ongoing operations, was strictly officers' business.
Looting of art museum may have been planned--before the war!

Wednesday, April 16, 2003

Is everyone buying into the media brainwashing, the manipulation? Even perfectly wonderful people are turning into the Nazi youth. My heart cries all day at the things to come that are usually caused by such willful arrogance, conceit and complacency. -- Mike Hersh. Thanks to Mary in Fort Worth for the link. And thanks to Mary and Carol for the feedback on my "maybe I'll move to Mexico" rant. It's the brainwashing more than anything that has me feeling that way.

I know that Vicente Fox is a Coca Cola man who would probably sell out his country in the time it took George W. Bush to review death penalty cases while he was governor of Texas (by all accounts, he never spent more than 15 minutes reviewing any of the 300 or so cases which came before him, and didn't overturn a single one). I know that the Mexican army has checkpoints all over Chiapas, and probably in other states as well, and frequently acts as a surrogate for US interests. I'm sure that the Mexican government has lots of corruption.

The difference, I think, is that most Mexicans seem to know this, and view their government with healthy skepticism and distrust. Americans, the majority apparently, seem to want to believe that this country is so good that they are willing to overlook any and all evidence to the contrary. They feel entitled to take natural resources and labor from all over the world, and to destroy any country which interferes with that. They see nothing wrong with driving hundreds of miles a week to work at meaningless jobs and to shop for meaningless, wasteful crap which will be tossed away soon. Their country illegally invaded another country, ignoring the wishes of the UN after the UN had spent years making sure the invaded country was defenseless, killed thousands, all on mostly false pretexts. Their response: Put a stupid car flag on the SUV and sing "God Bless America." Maybe my impression is wrong, but I don't think that Mexicans consider patriotism to be much of a virtue, and as far as I'm concerned that is a very good thing indeed.
Tim Robbins to the National Press Club:
Our ability to disagree, and our inherent right to question our leaders and criticize their actions define who we are. To allow those rights to be taken away out of fear, to punish people for their beliefs, to limit access in the news media to differing opinions is to acknowledge our democracy's defeat. These are challenging times. There is a wave of hate that seeks to divide us -- right and left, pro-war and anti-war. In the name of my 11-year-old nephew, and all the other unreported victims of this hostile and unproductive environment of fear, let us try to find our common ground as a nation. Let us celebrate this grand and glorious experiment that has survived for 227 years. To do so we must honor and fight vigilantly for the things that unite us -- like freedom, the First Amendment and, yes, baseball.
Well, you know, Saddam could have given this nothing to terrorists--clearly an unacceptable risk:
Chief Warrant Officer Richard L. Gonzales, the leader of the Defense Department weapons specialist team here, minimized the inspectors' problems and said he remained convinced that proof of unconventional Iraqi weapons would be found eventually. "We're not going to find just a smoking gun, but a smoking cannon," he said. "It's only a matter of time." -- NY Times.

We've got troops running all over the ruined country, we've got at least one of their chief scientists in custody, UN inspectors hunted for months, nothing was used against invading US or British forces. The whole pretext for the war appears to have been a lie. Why are so many Americans willing to just accept (or ignore) this?

Tuesday, April 15, 2003

Many Americans apparently like being lied to:
A Washington Post-ABC News poll found that 69 percent of Americans endorse the war even if no weapons of mass destruction are found. Lots of other depressing information in this article.

Twice in the last week I've had warons ask me what I was going to protest now that the war in Iraq is over (their judgment, not mine). I replied "I'll try to stop the next war. They're already talking about Syria and Iran." The warons replied "well, whatever it takes." To do what, you stupid warons? Make sure that every day of the year is associated with some terrible terrorist attack, not just September 11 and December 7? Destroy the only habitable planet that we know of within a decade or two?

Okay, that's it for the blog for tonight. If I'm moving to Mexico, I'd better study my Spanish.

In 1980, George Bush Sr. called it "voodoo economics," cutting taxes on the rich to reduce the deficit. In 2003, George W. Bush calls it a policy.
Quote du jour: My father crapped bigger ones than George Bush. -- Ron Reagan, Jr. (Salon article--requires viewing a brief ad to read the whole thing.)


Seriously Depressed: Sorry, I can't seem to get back into blogging. The war seems to me to have proved that most of the excuses for it were nonsense: Iraq clearly had no large stockpiles of chemical or biological weapons, and didn't pose a serious threat to any of its neighbors. One oppressive regime has replaced another. So the Tampa Bay Buccaneers have defeated Slauson Middle School by a score of tens of thousands to one hundred. Congatu-frigging-lations. International law and what little respect remained for the US in the world have been destroyed. We are hated and feared, and with very good reason.

Meanwhile, the same Republicrats who said we had to "support our troops" have been pulling the rug out from under them at home. Veterans benefits have been cut--some support. Two-hundred thousand troops will be returning home, many sick or wounded, to find that the government they thought they were fighting for doesn't care about them. If they leave the military, they will find it nearly impossible to find a job. Paul Krugman makes this obvious and depressing observation:

The overwhelming political lesson of the last year is that war works — that is, it's an excellent cover for the Republican Party's domestic political agenda. In fact, war works in two ways. The public rallies around the flag, which means the President and his party; and the public's attention is diverted from other issues.

As long as the nation is at war, then, it will be hard to get the public to notice what the flagwavers are doing behind our backs. And it just so happens that the "Bush doctrine," which calls for preventive war against countries that may someday pose a threat, offers the possibility of a series of wars against nasty regimes with weak armies.

Someday the public will figure all this out. But it may be a very long wait.

I must say I am not at all excited about living the rest of my life in this warped country. I am very tempted to move to Mexico or Costa Rica and hope that the Grim Reaper gets me before the Dim Freeper (W, that is, or his brother--US News is predicting the 2008 election will be Jeb Bush vs. Hillary Clinton--haven't we suffered enough already?). I guess my course of action for the next year and a half is to do everything I can to get Kucinich or Dean elected president. I don't think I want to stay through another four (or twelve) years of Bush rule.

Monday, April 14, 2003

From Molly Ivins:
We've got a crook, a Zionist and an old spy who thinks this is the beginning of WWIV set to run Iraq. How lucky can the Iraqis get? Is this what we thought we were fighting for?
Sen. Ted Stevens suggested last week that New York City's cops and firefighters should work overtime without pay as a wartime sacrifice. "I really feel strongly that we ought to find some way to convince the people that there ought to be some volunteerism at home. Those people overseas in the desert -- they're not getting overtime. ... I don't know why the people working for the cities and counties ought to be paid overtime when they're responding to matters of national security."

Stevens, R-Alaska, had just voted for tax cuts that will give those who make a million dollars a year $92,000 more to spend on polo ponies. Some must sacrifice more than others.
I think someone mentioned this possibility before the pre-emptive attack on Iraq:
Defence Minister George Fernandes reiterated Indian warnings that Pakistan was a prime case for pre-emptive strikes.
Fernandes said he endorsed Foreign Minister Yashwant Sinha's recent comments that India had "a much better case to go for pre-emptive action against Pakistan than the United States has in Iraq."
-- from truthout.
Bush says Syria has chemical weapons. Is anyone going to stop this cowboy lunatic?

From Boondocks.
My nephew's wife pointed this out to me yesterday: Before the war, most of the talk was about weapons of mass destruction. Once the war began, and Bush knew he had the unquestioning support of the warons, it became "Operation Iraqi Freedom." Of course, they have liberated several thousand Iraqis from this mortal coil, most of them army draftees and civilians.

Sunday, April 13, 2003

The rhetoric against Syria has already begun. Warmonger-in-chief Richard Perle is already suggesting that Syria is next on the list.

Perle said that if the Bush administration were to learn that Syria had taken possession of such Iraqi weapons, "I'm quite sure that we would have to respond to that."

"It would be an act of such foolishness on Syria's part," he continued, "that it would raise the question of whether Syria could be reasoned with. But I suppose our first approach would be to demand that the Syrians terminate that threat by turning over anything they have come to possess, and failing that I don't think anyone would rule out the use of any of our full range of capabilities."
Asked if this meant it would go after other countries after Iraq, he replied: "If next means who will next experience the 3d Army Division or the 82d Airborne, that's the wrong question. If the question is who poses a threat that the United States deal with, then that list is well known. It's Iran. It's North Korea. It's Syria. It's Libya, and I could go on."

That is, just as they did with Iraq, impossible demands to turn over things they don't possess will be made, with "shock and awe" on Damascus (and Teheran, Pyongyang, Tripoli) to follow. As I've said before, lunatics like Perle should be allowed to speak their minds; the real crime is that they have the ear of our dimwitted president.

$79 billion for war. Congratulations to Lockheed Martin, Halliburton, and the rest of the war criminals. Condolences to my fellow taxpayers. Loud boos for congress. Make Bush pay for it himself.

Friday, April 11, 2003

Homeland Security Department Gets Advice From KGB. I thought this looked familiar.

Two million people in prison in this country is just unacceptable

Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy spoke out in Congress today about the evil of mandatory sentences. Good for him! Read the book The Perpetual Prisoner Machine: How America Profits from Crime for much more on this issue. Here's some of what Kennedy said, from CNN:

"When the guilt determination phase and the sentencing is over," Kennedy said, "the legal system loses all interest in the prisoner. And this must change. Winston Churchill said a society is measured by how it treats the least deserving of its people. And two million people in prison in this country is just unacceptable."

Kennedy went on to explain the downside of mandatory minimum sentences in some circumstances, telling lawmakers, "You'll have a young man, and he shouldn't be doing this, but he's raising marijuana in the woods. That makes him a distributor. And he's got his dad's hunting rifle in the car, he forgot about it and he wants to do target practice, that makes him armed. He's looking at 15 years.

"An 18-year-old doesn't know how long 15 years is. And it's not so much the sentencing guidelines, it's the mandatory minimums. That's the problem," Kennedy said.

Kennedy said it is up to Congress and the judiciary to address the problem. Asked outside the hearing room whether he really believed Congress would re-examine mandatory minimums, Kennedy acknowledged the political difficulty for some congressmen in doing so, telling CNN, "It's the soft-on-crime issue."

Never too late to lie, if you're a Republican:
"The war started right here on Sept. 11, 2001," Gov. George Pataki said. Pataki was at a pro-war rally at Ground Zero in New York. Never mind that there is no link between Saddam or Iraq and 9/11, or that 9/11 was due in part to US actions in the first Gulf War. Never mind that we've probably killed many more innocent civilians in Iraq than were killed in New York on 9/11. With this kind of logic, the warons could use Pearl Harbor to justify an invasion of Portugal.
Spreading Chaos
The United States said the military does not intend to act as a police force. Just as was done in Afghanistan, a harsh government which maintained order has been replaced by anarchy. I guess looters have an affinity for other looters. I don't know for sure how bad things were for most Iraqis under Saddam, and I don't know for sure how bad they are now, but my guess is that it will be a very long time, if ever, before most Iraqis will be able to live and work without fear, disease and hunger. The Bushies have shown little interest in the welfare of people in the US, in Afghanistan, or anywhere else. It is hard to imagine that the invasion will improve anything for the general population of Iraq. Of course, that was never the goal.
Huge crowd of cheering Iraqis as statue came down? Maybe not.

Here's a clearer explanation.

While it's important to get that first win somewhere along the line, if we win tomorrow and then lose five or six or seven in a row, what's the difference? -- Detroit Tigers' manager Alan Trammell, after the Tigers lost their eighth straight game to start the season.

Thursday, April 10, 2003

Was knocking over a statue of Saddam worth this much money?
Boycott USA! This web page has some suggestions for withdrawing your financial support from the US war machine. Even without the wars, starving the trans-national corporations is critical to restoring justice and democracy in the world. Buy local, buy used, buy less. Go vegetarian, share, volunteer. Use public transportation, walk, bike. Put as much of your money as you can in tax-deferred investments--hopefully we'll have a better government soon (couldn't get much worse). The US economy is destroying the planet--let's destroy the US economy and rebuild it in a sustainable and just fashion.

[Update] I just got an e-mail with a link to this great boycott site. They suggest that Philip Morris and General Electric are the worst two, then they add Dell Computer, Chevron-Texaco, Exxon-Esso-Mobil, Coca Cola, McDonald's, Limited Brands, Pfizer, General Motors, MBNA, and UPS as the next ten. Their third group is All other U.S. and U.K tobacco companies, Bristol Myers Squibb, PepsiCo, Ford, Wal-Mart, Gap, Motorola, Time Warner/AOL, Disney, IBM, Shell, BP Amoco, Amway, FedEx, Anheuser Busch, Revlon.

Hall of Shame: Baseball's Hall of Fame has cancelled a celebration of the 15th anniversary of the movie "Bull Durham" because of the anti-war views of stars Tim Robbins and Susan Sarandon.
Hall president Dale Petroskey sent a letter to Robbins and Sarandon this week, telling them the festivities April 26-27 at Cooperstown, N.Y., had been called off. Petroskey, a former White House assistant press secretary under Ronald Reagan, said recent comments by the actors "ultimately could put our troops in even more danger."

I detest this idea that protests put the troops in danger: one of the goals of the protests was to keep the troops OUT of danger by keeping them home. One hundred or so US soldiers are dead, a few hundred more injured, and thousands more face the perils of Gulf War II Syndrome, not because of anti-war activity, but because it was ignored.

Fortunately, the Tigers are so pitiful that I won't have any trouble adding baseball to my boycott list.

Wednesday, April 09, 2003

Arundhati Roy on the war. Excerpt:
After using the "good offices" of UN diplomacy (economic sanctions and weapons inspections) to ensure that Iraq was brought to its knees, its people starved, half a million of its children killed, its infrastructure severely damaged, after making sure that most of its weapons have been destroyed, in an act of cowardice that must surely be unrivalled in history, the "Allies"/"Coalition of the Willing"(better known as the Coalition of the Bullied and Bought) - sent in an invading army!

Operation Iraqi Freedom? I don't think so. It's more like Operation Let's Run a Race, but First Let Me Break Your Knees.

Still killing civilians in Afghanistan.

Tuesday, April 08, 2003

George McGovern to George Bush:
I must tell you, Mr. President, you are the greatest threat to American troops. Only you can put our young people in harm's way in a needless war. Only you can weaken America's good name and influence in world affairs.
But in God's good time, perhaps this most ancient of civilizations can be redeemed. My prayer is that most of our soldiers and most of the long-suffering people of Iraq will survive this war after it has joined the historical march of folly that is man's inhumanity to man.

I know at least one of my readers is already there (since he sent me the link), but you all should know about Robert Fisk's reports out of Baghdad.
A vignette
Friday morning: Along with three high-school students from California and a Mexican pilot, I take off from a grass runway near the tiny village of Benito Juarez, deep in the jungle in Chiapas. Many children from the town are there to see us off--whether to see us or the airplanes I'm not sure. Their town consists of maybe 50 one-room houses without plumbing, electricity, or glass in the windows, along with a few barns and other structures. Chickens and turkeys wander about all over. On the outskirts of the town are fields of corn and pasture. A stream flows by at the bottom of the hill where the people wash the clothes and themselves. The people take care of each other and seem to have enough to survive and be happy.

Monday evening: Nearing the end of my journey, my 737 is approaching a landing at Kansas City. Grotesque McMansions on huge lots are sprawled mindlessly in cul-de-sacs across the fields, with fancy cars and SUV's parked in the driveways. People here probably drive 20 miles or so every day to go to work for some "important" business in Kansas City or a suburb, making sure the American economy keeps perking. Their goal, whether they know it or not, is to take what little the people of Benito Juarez and thousands of other communities around the world have so that the McMansion dwellers can have even more.

Global capitalism is theft, pure and simple. The people of Chiapas know exactly what is going on, and so do the people in charge of our government and corporations (who are the same people). Much of the American public remains willfully ignorant, but the fact is that Americans live in perhaps the wealthiest country on earth and, instead of willingly sharing with their fellow Earthlings seem to be messianically dedicated to stealing from them. I hope we can stop this; none of us can do it alone. On a personal level, I'd say that the best thing we can do is to simplify. Buy as little as possible; tell the corporations that you refuse to play their games that are displacing and eventually killing millions around the world.
Back in Business! I'm back home now after two long days of travel. I hope to return to serious blogging soon--so much to catch up on, and so many exciting experiences to share. Also, bills to pay, furnaces to fix (somebody let winter back in while I was away), driver's license to renew, and that work thing, too. Hopefully several posts later today. Hasta luego!

Friday, April 04, 2003

Okay, it's later! We learned a lot about the struggles of indigenous farmers against the ravages of NAFTA and globalization. We passed through a few army checkpoints on the way--a visible reminder that things are not well. My internet time is about to disappear--adios!
Hola! I just returned to San Cristobal, Chiapas, Mexico, from 3 days in the indigenous communities in the Lacandon jungle. It was an amazing trip, worthy of Indiana Jones. We traveled by van, boat, foot, and lots and lots of hiking. We spent two nights at a beautiful lake in the middle of the jungle. More later...