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, 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.

Dingell, Waxman take on Halliburton.

US tank deliberately targeted journalists?

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!