Bob's Links and Rants -- Fair and Balanced

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

Saturday, 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).

From Drew Sheneman.

Uggabugga has an extensive roundup of editorials about the looting of the museum in Baghdad.

Looting: As American as apple pie!

The "heroic" rescue of Private Jessica.

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 supposed 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!

Protesters in Baghdad asks US troops to leave.

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.

From Mike Thompson.

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 Mike Thompson.

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.