Bob's Links and Rants

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Saturday, May 31, 2003

Support Our Troops--The Pentagon Doesn't
Many reservists have been issued Bank of America credit cards to cover their expenses, but the military doesn't reimburse them in time, so BOA has been hassling them and trashing their credit records. From the St. Petersburg Times via Daily Dystopian.

From Mike Smith.

From Nick Anderson.

It's got the Simpsons, it makes fun of Bush...does it get any better than this?

Osama attacked us to get us out of Saudi Arabia. And we attacked Iraq to get us out of Saudi Arabia, according to Paul Wolfowitz:

Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz is quoted as saying a “huge” reason for the war was to enable Washington to withdraw its troops from Saudi Arabia. “For bureaucratic reasons we settled on one issue, weapons of mass destruction, because it was the one reason everyone could agree on,” Wolfowitz was quoted as saying. “Almost unnoticed but huge” was the need to maintain U.S. forces in Saudi Arabia as long as Saddam was in power, he was quoted as saying. -- MSNBC.

Or, as MaxSpeak puts it: FOREIGN POLICY IS COMPLICATED. I should probably steer clear, since most of it is over my head. Stick to easy things, like particle physics. We now learn that after Al Queda attacked us for occupying Saudi Arabia, we invaded Iraq in order to withdraw from Saudi Arabia. And we invaded Iraq as part of our war on terrorism. So we wage war on Osama in order to accede to his principal demand. And people ask why I hate America. Because we are morons with JDAMs, that's why. I guess we'll have to let Josh Marshall sort this out.
BTW, here's a picture of one of Bush's WMD's:

My god, the non-existent Iraqi navy could have ferried those empty trailers across the Atlantic and parked them in Times Square!
President Bush, citing two trailers that U.S. intelligence agencies have said were probably used as mobile biological weapons labs, said U.S. forces in Iraq have "found the weapons of mass destruction" that were the United States' primary justification for going to war. -- Washington Post.

When Nixon and Clinton made stupid half-true statements which only highlighted their guilt, things got worse for them. Let's hope that happens with Bush. Of course, he's even madder at the French and Germans now that it looks like they were right--how dare they! How I miss the days when a US president could go to Poland and only embarrass himself by lusting after the Polish people! Bush's arrogance seems to know no bounds--the more wrong he is, the more obnoxious he gets. And no president has ever been THIS wrong before.

Friday, May 30, 2003

Breathe a sigh of relief! The terror alert level is back to yellow. The last time it was yellow, bombs killed dozens in Saudi Arabia and Morocco.
Buy your war planner now, get your post-war planner FREE! From Mark Fiore.
Genetically Modified Crops--A Dangerous Lie:
Using evidence from Asia, Africa and Latin America, the report concludes that rather than alleviating world hunger, GM is likely to lead to more hungry people, not fewer. -- The Independent.
Tell Wolf: Do you approve or disapprove of President Bush's handling of international affairs? Vote!
In their own words: What the Bushies were saying about WMD's, then and now.
You can't spell "bunker" without "bunk:"
Remember in high school how, to get an A in American history, you had to know that the Battle of Bunker Hill was fought on Breed's Hill, not Bunker Hill? Well, when the war on Iraq began with an attack on a bunker supposedly housing Saddam Hussein, not only wasn't Saddam there--there was no bunker either.

What's harder than finding non-existent weapons of mass destruction in Iraq? Finding non-existent truth among the non-stop stream of lies that flows out of the Bush administration.

Thursday, May 29, 2003

Let's get this straight: The government has been holding hundreds of people hostage at Guantanamo Bay who were captured in Afghanistan a year and a half ago, including some children, without charges or legal representation. Ann Arbor Islamic cleric Rabih Haddad has been held in jail for 18 months without charges. US citizen Jose Padilla has been held as an "enemy combatant" for over a year without charges or the right to see a lawyer. And now, the military admits that it had an Iraqi in custody who was implicated in the murder of thousands of Shiites in 1991 (those infamous skulls), and released him after three weeks.
More On Moron Blair:
While Bush continues to wear Reagan's teflon suit with effectiveness, his poodle is getting kicked around--
Alan Simpson, Labour MP for Nottingham South, said MPs "supported war based on a lie". He said: "If it's right Iraq destroyed the weapons prior to the war, then it means Iraq complied with the United Nations resolution 1441." -- The Independent. The article also presents a rundown of quotes from Bush, Blair and others about the existence of WMD's:

Intelligence leaves no doubt that Iraq continues to possess and conceal lethal weapons. -- George Bush, Us President 18 March, 2003

We are asked to accept Saddam decided to destroy those weapons. I say that such a claim is palpably absurd. -- Tony Blair, Prime Minister 18 March, 2003

Saddam's removal is necessary to eradicate the threat from his weapons of mass destruction. -- Jack Straw, Foreign Secretary 2 April, 2003

Before people crow about the absence of weapons of mass destruction, I suggest they wait a bit. -- Tony Blair 28 April, 2003

It is possible Iraqi leaders decided they would destroy them prior to the conflict. -- Donald Rumsfeld, US Defense Secretary 28 May, 2003

Celebrate Bad Times, C'mon!
What the economy needs is a real stimulus that will create real jobs, not an irresponsible package of tax cuts that will inflate the portfolios of the very wealthy while starving the government of the money needed to pay for essential services and to maintain a safety net for the nation's most vulnerable citizens.

We are closing schools and libraries in America, and withholding lifesaving drugs and medical treatment from the poor. The middle class is struggling ever harder to make ends meet, and reshaping its dreams of the future.

In Washington, they're celebrating.
-- Bob Herbert
Another radical peacenik suggests there was no reason for the war:
It is also possible that they decided that they would destroy them prior to a conflict. -- Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, quoted on Tuesday.

As I recall, Bush, Rummy, Powell and Fleischer said repeatedly that if Saddam were disarming, we would know it. Now Rummy suggests that he disarmed without our knowing it. WMD's were never the issue--Empire was and is the issue. These Nazis should be arrested and tried for war crimes, and now!
Government of the corporations, by the corporations, and for the corporations:
Let's be very clear about this: People who want to privatize prisons and schools and social services are in it for the money. The real questions of government are always: Who benefits, and who pays? And the answer given this session with jaw-dropping regularity is private corporations profit, while people pay the price in worse services.
They don't want to make government better. They don't want it to work well. They don't want it to help people.
-- Molly Ivins
Blair in trouble at home:
Saying that Hans Blix, the chief UN weapons inspector, should have been allowed to carry on with his work, Mr Cook mocked Mr Blair's claims about the Iraqi threat. "We were told Saddam had weapons ready for use within 45 minutes. It's now 45 days since the war finished and we still have not found anything ... We could have avoided this war."

Leftwing Labour MPs will step up the pressure on the prime minister when the commons reconvenes next Tuesday. Peter Kilfoyle, the leftwing MP who has tabled a motion demanding evidence of the existence of banned weapons, was scathing. "This is absolutely dangerous for Tony Blair," he said. "The potential charge is that the House of Commons has been misled."
-- The Guardian.
Sorry, my back is still in bad shape--hard to sit at the computer for long.

Wednesday, May 28, 2003

Hmm...Can't figure out how to blame Bush for this one...
Yesterday, I did something to my back while leaning over to pick up something. It caused me to walk very slowly with some pain all day. Today, that sounds good--I can barely move. So once I'm out of reach of the keyboard, I probably won't be back within reach for a while. In the meantime, y'all can send me suggestions for how I can blame this on Bush! (BTW, this has happened before, and usually gets better in a day or two.)

Tuesday, May 27, 2003

(from an e-mail I got from the campaign)

As he tours Northern California reaching big audiences of new voters and raising much-needed funds, Dennis J. Kucinich continues to raise his voice on issues that distinguish him from the other presidential candidates. Today, he continued his antiwar leadership in Congress by challenging the Bush administration on its dangerous rhetoric and stance toward Iran. Last week, he stood up against the surrender of public property -- the broadcast airwaves -- to giant media corporations.

As ranking Democrat on the Government Reform Subcommittee on National Security, Emerging Threats and International Relations, Kucinich issued the following statement today:

"The rhetoric and posturing by this Administration over Iran serves only to validate impressions in the region that the United States is empire building. It is disturbing that as our nation is just beginning to learn that it was misled in the build-up to war in Iraq, that this Administration is seeking to continue its dangerous policy in the region with an aggressive posture towards Iran. Now more than ever, it is critical that the United States work with our friends and allies in the Middle East to root out terrorists cells and implement a peaceful solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict."

Last week, Kucinich blasted the federally-assisted corporate takeover of U.S. media in formal comments filed with the Federal Communications Commission.
Kucinich's protest comes as the FCC seems prepared to announce new, even more deregulatory rules on media ownership.

"Walking further down the path of deregulation skews the national discourse and is directly contrary to the welfare of the public. It is adamantly not in the public interest to grant a few corporations the privilege to broadcast their views and augment their voice to the American people at the expense of the many."

Kucinich focused attention on Clear Channel, a company with ties to the Bush Administration that now owns 1200 stations nationwide: "Clear Channel's national and dominant presence, a direct result of deregulation, threatens an imbalance in the public discourse -- an imbalance caused by the government granting one corporation the power to dominate the public airwaves, and the privilege to amplify its voice on public property. It is well documented that Clear Channel has removed on-air personalities from stations that it has bought, and replaced those local announcers with more centralized voices."

Please spread the word about the Kucinich campaign for peace, justice, national health insurance, sustainable development, equal rights and diverse, de-monopolized mass media. Despite the media mantra of 'longshot' and 'darkhorse,' the campaign is gaining ground as people learn that Kucinich has a history of winning longshot races.
What's the difference between Iraq and Uzbekistan? About 20 years, more or less.

Some 6,000 suspected extremists are incarcerated, and some are believed to have died over the past several years from prison disease and abuse. With few options for religious instruction, some young Muslims have turn to underground extremist Islamic movements. The police force and the intelligence service use torture as a routine investigation technique. -- from the US State Department web site's background note on Uzbekistan.

Who would possibly support such a government?

The US condemned this repression for many years. But since September 11 rewrote America's strategic interests in central Asia, the government of President Islam Karimov has become Washington's new best friend in the region.

The US is funding those it once condemned. Last year Washington gave Uzbekistan $500m (£300m) in aid. The police and intelligence services - which the state department's website says use "torture as a routine investigation technique" received $79m of this sum.

Mr Karimov was President Bush's guest in Washington in March last year. They signed a "declaration" which gave Uzbekistan security guarantees and promised to strengthen "the material and technical base of [their] law enforcement agencies".
-- from the Guardian.

And we've got this picture all ready for the media to ignore when the time comes for the "Battle of Uzbekistan:"

Rumsfeld and Uzbekistan's brutal dictator Karamov.
It's Baby Animal Day! Since I had been down to one cat since Goofy, my 16-year-old calico, died last October, I had been considering getting another cat. So yesterday I am at my sister's house playing cards when one of my nephew's friends stopped by with a kitten. Voila! Two cats again! Cute little grey kitten with a little white around the nose and eyes. My other cat wasn't very happy, but I think they'll eventually get along.

Then today as I was walking to lunch I saw two deer fawns resting in the lawn of the building where I work. They just watched me, didn't try to run at all, even though I walked within a few feet of them. Maybe I'll have pictures of the kitten and the fawns soon.
If only...
Auschwitz, the Gulag, Guantanamo Bay, Kunduz, Baghdad Airport. While trumpeting mass graves in Basra as a post-invasion excuse, the Bushies are busy filling mass graves of their own.
Deserter pays tribute to soldiers he got killed.
Notice that he now refers to it as the "Battle of Iraq:"
"Beyond the Tomb of the Unknowns, in Section 60 of Arlington Cemetery," Mr. Bush said, "we have laid to rest Americans who fell in the battle of Iraq."

Meanwhile, it's really ironic that the people who couldn't wait for UN inspectors to do their jobs are now asking for patience:

On "Good Morning America" on ABC-TV, General Myers said it was "just a matter of time" before weapons of mass destruction would be found in Iraq. The weapons were a stated reason that the United States invaded Iraq. None have been found.

General Myers said he knew that it would be "very, very, very tough" to find them, but that the United States was still gathering information from the leaders of the old government.

"We just need a little patience," he said.

The war may be "over," but the dying continues.

Sunday, May 25, 2003


The Bushies are considering "destabilizing" Iran's government based on the same sort of flimsy non-evidence they used against Iraq. There's an online poll at that link asking your opinion--tell them that two quagmires in the region is more than enough for now.

Activist Alert!

I write this blog for several reasons: to blow off steam, to provide focus for my newsreading, to inform, infuriate, and entertain. One reason I have is to try to amplify my voice. I can have some impact if I call Congress or write a letter to the editor. I can have a larger impact if I can get five or ten or fifty people to do the same. And right now there are two issues that require immediate action:
  1. FCC to rule on relaxing media ownership rules, meaning that the huge corporations which already own most of our media outlets (GE, AOL Time Warner, Viacom, Fox, Disney, Clear Channel) could buy up even more (possibly one another). This needs to be stopped! Go here to file public comments; you can also call the FCC, and it wouldn't hurt to call Congress either (800-839-5276).
  2. IRV-capable voting machines. This issue probably applies to most states, but it is critical in Michigan right now. The "Help America Vote Act" (HAVA) provides money for states to upgrade voting machines and other election equipment. New electronic voting machines can easily be made so they can handle instant runoff voting (IRV) and other voting methods which are more democratic than the simple winner-take-all method used in most US elections. Michigan's committee in charge of buying new machines is about to make critical decisions about their specifications. We need to make sure that the new machines are IRV-capable. Cyndy at MouseMusings has lots of details on the issue and what you can do to help. Go now! May 27 (Tuesday) is the cutoff day for public comment!
There goes the neighborhood: Dick Cheney's weblog.

(Yes, I know it's satire! I think.)
Meddling with Iran: The Bushies are apparently trying to figure out a way to foment another Iranian revolution. Rummy is trying to tie Tehran to al Qaeda. Iran is, of course, reviewing the lesson that Bush has provided through the other two members of his "axis of evil:" Iraq said it had no "weapons of mass destruction", and didn't, and had the crap bombed out of it; North Korea loudly proclaims its nuclear program, real or imagined, and nothing happens. Iran has learned that Bush, like any bully, won't take on anyone who has the slightest chance of fighting back.

Iran poses a dilemma for the Bushies: no single autocratic leader to demonize. The country is run by a combination of democratically-elected secular leaders and Islamic clerics. I get the feeling that Bush is hoping for a revolution to overthrow the existing government not because it is so bad, but because it isn't bad enough. Another Iranian revolution might generate a Saddam-type figure on whom the Bushies could focus hatred, eventually leading to Bush's next fix for his war addiction.

Other interesting points from the article. The bombings in Saudi Arabia, by all reports, indicated that al Qaeda is alive and well in that country. But, just as with 9/11, the Bushies are quick to try to deflect attention onto other countries, in this case Iran. Another point is that the Americans attacked in the Saudi bombings were people who trained the Saudi National Guard, a key element of repression in that highly repressive regime. Members of Saddam Hussein's regime who taught his security forces were targets for bombs during the war and are targets for arrest now. Why are people who kill Iraq's trainers called "liberators" while those who kill Saudi trainers are "terrorists?"
Sorry for the lack of posts yesterday: I decided it was a good day to present the opposite viewpoint and write about all of the good things George W. Bush is doing. Mission Accomplished.

Friday, May 23, 2003

Chirac to embarrass Bush! Well, he's going to try. That's a tall order--Bush has SO MUCH to be embarrassed about, yet he struts about like a peacock. Anyhow, bon chance, Jacques!
DeLay used FAA to hunt Texas Democrats.
These guys will go to any lengths to destroy democracy. Tom DeLay (R-Hell) is the worst of the worst. Do a google search for "DeLay marianas" and read a few of the articles to find out how much of a scumbag he really is. Short version: DeLay has been instrumental in setting up numerous sweatshops using mostly Chinese labor. The products come with a "Made in the USA" label, however, since the Marianas are US territory (without any of our meager labor or environmental protections). He is also known as the congressman from Enron, and for good reason.
For the first time in history our generation will leave a lesser nation for the next generation. -- Senator Ernest Hollings (D-South Carolina)

Hollings' column on the deficit and tax cut is outstanding! Here's a sample:

Borrow we will. This is just the first installment of the Republican-passed budget that increases the debt from $6 trillion to $12 trillion over the next 10 years. That is an average $600 billion deficit each and every year for a decade. It took 38 presidents and 192 years to reach a trillion dollars in debt; it took Ronald Reagan four years, and it is taking George W. Bush just halfway through his term. The Bush policy takes Reaganomics to the extreme, and if it means getting rid of the government at the same time, so be it.

I hesitate to add the president is not alone in his mission. The Democratic Party is in lock step with him. When President Bush says we need not pay for the war, the Democrats agree. This is the first time we have sent GIs to fight a war and then want them to hurry back home to pay the bill. We in Congress are not going to pay for it. We need a tax cut to get elected next year.

Why are our only good senators southern octagenarians?
Big, Bad Wolf:
I was hoping to jump all over another Wolf Blitzer online poll today, but this is what he serves up today:

What do you plan on doing with your tax cut money?
  • Give to charity
  • Get out of debt
  • Save it
  • Spend it.

Wrong choices, Wolf! Here are the real choices:
  • Buy lunch
  • Take the bus to go look for a job
  • Pay the increase in my state and local taxes
  • Give it to some homeless, sick veteran, 'cause he sure ain't getting anything from Bush
  • What tax cut? I'm not rich!

He also has a stupid commentary on how wonderful embedding the media with the military was.

Thursday, May 22, 2003

Senator Lugar (R-Indiana) critcizes administration on handling of post-war Iraq:

Clearly, the administration's planning for the post-conflict phase in Iraq was inadequate.
President Bush should make clear to one and all that he will declare "Mission accomplished" in Iraq not on the basis of our military victory or the date of our withdrawal but on what kind of country we leave behind.
-- From Lugar's commentary in the Washington Post.

Graham, Lieberman and McCain call for more thorough 9/11 investigation.
It's about time!

Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), who along with Lieberman pushed for creation of the Sept. 11 commission, called for a "full and frank accounting" and said that administration delays in granting access to materials "creates the appearance of bureaucratic stonewalling."

Bush has spent the last twenty months doing the wrong things for the wrong reasons and been getting enormous credit for it. More time and money have been spent investigating the facts behind the space shuttle breakup three months ago than investigating attacks which killed 3000 and which have been used as the excuse for two wars. With these three Republicrats going after him (hopefully), maybe the tide will start to turn. My dream: Bush is impeached, tried and convicted in the Senate as a traitor, and is sent off to Guantanamo Bay with his cabinet and other assorted criminals on an overloaded boat. If they make it to Gitmo, the base is then formally returned to Cuba so Castro can exact his revenge. The headlines scream "Mission Accomplished!"
Senator Byrd made another great speech yesterday!

Our costly and destructive bunker busting attack on Iraq seems to have proven, in the main, precisely the opposite of what we were told was the urgent reason to go in. It seems also to have, for the present, verified the assertions of Hans Blix and the inspection team he led, which President Bush and company so derided. As Blix always said, a lot of time will be needed to find such weapons, if they do, indeed, exist. Meanwhile Bin Laden is still on the loose and Saddam Hussein has come up missing.
Presently our loyal military personnel continue their mission of diligently searching for WMD. They have so far turned up only fertilizer, vacuum cleaners, conventional weapons, and the occasional buried swimming pool. They are misused on such a mission and they continue to be at grave risk. But, the Bush team's extensive hype of WMD in Iraq as justification for a preemptive invasion has become more than embarrassing. It has raised serious questions about prevarication and the reckless use of power. Were our troops needlessly put at risk? Were countless Iraqi civilians killed and maimed when war was not really necessary? Was the American public deliberately misled? Was the world?
What makes me cringe even more is the continued claim that we are "liberators." The facts don't seem to support the label we have so euphemistically attached to ourselves. True, we have unseated a brutal, despicable despot, but "liberation" implies the follow up of freedom, self-determination and a better life for the common people. In fact, if the situation in Iraq is the result of "liberation," we may have set the cause of freedom back 200 years.
Answer the questions!
This Administration led this nation into a war based on a pretext that Iraq was an imminent threat, which it was not. The Secretary of State presented pictures to the world he said were proof. Today, despite having total control in Iraq, none of the very serious claims that the Administration made to this Congress, to this nation, and to the world have been substantiated.

Where are the weapons of mass destruction? Indeed, what was the basis for the war? We spend $400 billion for defense. Will we spend a minute to defend truth? The American people gave up their health care, education and veterans benefits to pay for this war. And for what? Answer the questions, Mr. President.
-- Dennis Kucinich on the House floor yesterday.
Alaska passes anti-Patriot Act Act!
The bill passed the House 32-1, and the Senate 18-0. Apparently it goes to the governor now.

I found out about this through e-mail, and I haven't found a simple link to the resolution, so I'll just paste it here:

House Joint Resolution 22
passed House 12 May 2003
passed Senate 20 May 2003
awaiting transmittal to Governor 21 May 2003

HJR 22

Relating to the USA PATRIOT Act, the Bill of Rights, the Constitution of the State of Alaska, and the civil liberties, peace, and security of the citizens of our country.


WHEREAS the State of Alaska recognizes the Constitution of the United States as our charter of liberty, and that the Bill of Rights enshrines the fundamental and inalienable rights of Americans, including the freedoms of religion, speech, assembly, and privacy; and

WHEREAS each of Alaska's duly elected public servants has sworn to defend and uphold the United States Constitution and the Constitution of the State of Alaska; and

WHEREAS the State of Alaska denounces and condemns all acts of terrorism, wherever occurring; and

WHEREAS attacks against Americans such as those that occurred on September 11, 2001, have necessitated the crafting of effective laws to protect the public from terrorist attacks; and

WHEREAS any new security measures of federal, state, and local governments should be carefully designed and employed to enhance public safety without infringing on the civil liberties and rights of innocent citizens of the State of Alaska and the nation; and

WHEREAS certain provisions of the "Uniting and Strengthening America by Providing Appropriate Tools Required to Intercept and Obstruct Terrorism Act of 2001", also known as the USA PATRIOT Act, allow the federal government more liberally to detain and investigate citizens and engage in surveillance activities that may violate or offend the rights and liberties guaranteed by our state and federal constitutions;

BE IT RESOLVED that the Alaska State Legislature supports the government of the United States of America in its campaign against terrorism, and affirms its commitment that the campaign not be waged at the expense of essential civil rights and liberties of citizens of this country contained in the United States Constitution and the Bill of Rights; and be it

FURTHER RESOLVED that it is the policy of the State of Alaska to oppose any portion of the USA PATRIOT Act that would violate the rights and liberties guaranteed equally under the state and federal constitutions; and be it

FURTHER RESOLVED that, in accordance with Alaska state policy, an agency or instrumentality of the State of Alaska, in the absence of reasonable suspicion of criminal activity under Alaska State law, may not

(1) initiate, participate in, or assist or cooperate with an inquiry, investigation, surveillance, or detention;

(2) record, file, or share intelligence information concerning a person or organization, including library lending and research records, book and video store sales and rental records, medical records, financial records, student records, and other personal data, even if authorized under the USA PATRIOT Act;

(3) retain such intelligence information; the state Attorney General shall review the intelligence information currently held by the state for its legality and appropriateness under the United States and Alaska Constitutions and permanently dispose of it if there is no reasonable suspicion of criminal activity; and be it

FURTHER RESOLVED that an agency or instrumentality of the state may not,

(1) use state resources or institutions for the enforcement of federal immigration matters, which are the responsibility of the federal government;

(2) collect or maintain information about the political, religious, or social views, associations, or activities of any individual, group, association, organization, corporation, business, or partnership, unless the information directly relates to an investigation of criminal activities and there are reasonable grounds to suspect the subject of the information is or may be involved in criminal conduct;

(3) engage in racial profiling; law enforcement agencies may not use race, religion, ethnicity, or national origin as factors in selecting individuals to subject to investigatory activities except when seeking to apprehend a specific suspect whose race, religion, ethnicity, or national origin is part of the description of the suspect; and be it;

FURTHER RESOLVED that the Alaska State Legislature implores the United States Congress to correct provisions in the USA PATRIOT Act and other measures that infringe on civil liberties, and opposes any pending and future federal legislation to the extent that itinfringes on Americans' civil rights and liberties.

COPIES of this resolution shall be sent to the Honorable George W. Bush, President of the United States; the Honorable John Ashcroft, Attorney General of the United States; the Honorable Frank Murkowski, Governor of Alaska; and to the Honorable Ted Stevens and the Honorable Lisa Murkowski, U.S. Senators, and the Honorable Don Young, U.S. Representative, members of the Alaska delegation in Congress.

Read about the Cuban Five
Politics in the Zeros has an interesting post about five Cuban-Americans who infiltrated Miami-based anti-Castro organizations that were undertaking "bombings, assassinations and other sabotage," in other words, these groups were what we would normally call terrorists. The Cuban Five passed information about attacks being planned against Cuba to the Cuban government, helping to thwart those attacks.

Eventually, the US government found out about the Cuban Five--and arrested them for espionage! They were convicted and are serving long sentences. These people were trying to prevent terrorism, and they are doing hard time for it.

That's the gist of it: Read Polizeros' post and the links in it for more details.
If Saddam Hussein does not fully disarm, for the safety of our people and for the peace of the world, we will lead a coalition to disarm him. -- W, State of the Union Address, 2003.

If George W. Bush does not prove that Saddam Hussein had not, in fact, fully disarmed, for the safety of our people and for the peace of the world, we will lead a coalition to impeach him. -- Me, just now.

The Hypocritic Oath--First Take No Caution:
I certainly, with no hesitation, would say that every mother can feel confident that they can feed their children beef in this country. -- Agriculture Secretary Ann Veneman, doing her best to sound just like British officials a few years ago who insisted that bovine spongiform encephalitis, aka BSE or Mad Cow Disease, is not a threat to humans. A cow from the Canadian province of Alberta recently tested positive for BSE.

This quote, combined with Bush's shameless shilling for agribusiness (next post below), makes it so bloody obvious who these Republicans work for--and who they don't. Eating beef is NEVER a good thing, and when there's a chance it may turn brains into useless mush (like Bush's brain), mothers and fathers (how sexist was that, BTW, that Veneman didn't mention fathers?) should be more worried about their children eating beef than about using recreational drugs.

Wednesday, May 21, 2003

I'm not sure if I've mentioned this before, but Bush sucks.
The Dim One was at the Coast Guard Academy today complaining about Europe's opposition to bio-engineered foods. I don't think even Hitler ever contemplated trying a multi-faceted approach to destroying the world such as Bush is pushing. If war, "free trade," tax cuts, non-enforcement of environmental regulations, and abandoning international treaties aren't working fast enough, throw in some frankenfoods. This is so disgusting, so dangerous, and so undemocratic. GMO's snuck in under the radar about eight years ago, and their corporate sponsors have staged a massive disinformation campaign to prevent their being stopped. The genie may already be out of the bottle--the impact on world agriculture may be devastating. Europe has been very wise to resist these monsters, but the brainless bully Bush wants his corporate buddies to have their way on everything. What a completely detestable excuse for a human being.
In case you missed it:
Gentlemen, ladies: We came dangerously close to war today. That all of us reacted emotionally to the nuclear detonation is understandable. But leaders are required to have patience beyond human limits. The kind of action we nearly took should only be exercised after all other avenues have been exhaused, after the strictest standard of proof has been met. By casting me aside so quickly, you effectively lowered those standards, and that was a profound mistake. It was not, however, a mistake you are likely to make again. Therefore, I do not accept your resignations. We have a nation to heal today, and all of you play a vital role in that healing process. -- President David Palmer, from the season finale of the amazing Fox show, "24."

The plot went like this: A nuclear bomb was brought to Los Angeles. Federal agent Jack Bauer finally tracked it down at an airport, and had it flown into the desert before it detonated, where it killed one to three people. The bad guys tried to pin the plot on "three Middle Eastern countries" which weren't specified in the show (I liked to imagine that it was Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Israel). President Palmer was encouraged by his cabinet and the military to launch an immediate war against the three countries. Meanwhile, agent Bauer tried to show that the evidence of the "three countries'" involvement was forged. He convinced the president, who tried to call off the attack, but his vice president and majority of the cabinet voted that this meant he was unfit to stay president and removed him from office via the 25th amendment. Bauer finally got evidence conclusive enough to convince the vice president, now acting as president, to call off the attack minutes before the bombs dropped. The cabinet then rescinded its previous action and offered resignations, Palmer became president once more, and gave that speech to the gathered cabinet.

The show itself is amazing, but even more amazing is that they had this fictional president who actually thought military action should be "exercised after all other avenues have been exhaused, after the strictest standard of proof has been met." So unlike the fictional president we actually have! And this was on Fox!

I don't watch that much TV anymore (except sports), but if you want to laugh, watch "Whose Line Is It Anyway?" If you want to be completely spellbound by an action show, watch "24." The bad news is that season three won't start until probably October 28, after the World Series. The good news is that season one is on DVD, and season two should be shortly. See if you can borrow or rent them! (I try to recommend not buying anything.)

[And Another Thing!] President Palmer pronounced "nuclear" correctly!

Welcome to San Francisco!

Disgusting: Chris Hedges booed off the stage at college graduation.

Chris Hedges, a Pulitzer Prize winner and author of a recent book that describes war as an addiction, was booed Saturday at Rockford College, a small liberal arts school 80 miles northwest of Chicago. After protesters rushed the stage and twice cut power to the microphone, Hedges cut his speech short.

"He delivered what I guess I would refer to as a fairly strident perspective on the war in Iraq and American policy," college President Paul Pribbenow said Tuesday. "I think our audience at commencement were not prepared for that."

Maybe if they'd graduated from a real college, they would have been better prepared. Hedges has covered wars all over the world and knows what he is talking about. But our educational system is so pathetic now that college graduates prefer government propaganda:

Many audience members turned their backs on Hedges, while others booed and shouted, said Pribbenow, who at one point pleaded to let the speech continue.

Hedges characterized the United States action in Iraq as occupation and said that such a mission would generate rage against Americans. He said the capacity to wage war does not entitle a nation to wage war. The reporter also said the United States and the embedded reporters portrayed war as a spectator sport, touting advanced and powerful technology while overlooking the suffering of Iraqis and the deaths of young American troops.

Hedges said he had given similar talks at several other colleges on his book, but had never had such a response.

"I was surprised at how vociferous it was and the fact that people climbed onto the podium," Hedges said.

Elinor Radlund, who attended the ceremony, said a woman beside her began singing "God Bless America" while a man rushed down the aisle shouting, "Go home!"

The perfect replacement for Ari the Liar:

From Bill Schorr.
A trillion here, a trillion there--soon you're talking real money! The pentagon has misplaced some $1 trillion--that's $1,000,000,000,000. That's about $3500 for every American. They also can't find a bunch of planes, tanks, and assorted other weapons of mass destruction--and these WMD's actually existed!
Sanity Pact?Tony Blair's official spokesman Godric Smith announced his resignation just two hours after Ari the Liar announced his. Thanks to Cyndy at MouseMusings for finding that one!

Tuesday, May 20, 2003

Your turn, George!

Thanks again to Bartcop for pointing me to this.
From Bartcop:

Warren Buffet, one of the richest people in the world, explains why the elimination of taxes on corporate dividends is nonsense.

Overall, it's hard to conceive of anything sillier than the schedule the Senate has laid out. Indeed, the first President Bush had a name for such activities: "voodoo economics." The manipulation of enactment and sunset dates of tax changes is Enron-style accounting, and a Congress that has recently demanded honest corporate numbers should now look hard at its own practices.

It's a little confusing to me when rich guys like Buffet, Bill Gates, or George Soros are decent or honest. (I know, at least in Gates' case, that that's certainly not all the time.) I mean, who can you distrust if you can't distrust the rich?
Speak out against the DLC! The Democratic Leadership Council is 100% DINO (Democrat in Name Only). They have been attacking Howard Dean and studiously ignoring Dennis Kucinich, as represented by this awful commentary they put out yesterday (thanks to Seeing the Forest for the link). Here's a quote (there's a bag in the seat pocket in front of you):

Democratic pollster Celinda Lake hooked up 30 union members to dial meters to measure the intensity of their favorable reaction to the seven candidates who appeared. (Sens. Joe Lieberman and John Kerry were present only by video, and were not "dialed.")

The results speak for themselves, and show why we've never been big fans of focus groups, which encourage politicians to tell audiences exactly what they want to hear: According to the Des Moines Register, Kucinich was first with a score of 78 on a scale of 1 to 100. Sharpton was second with 76. Gephardt was third with 75. Dean was fourth with 73. Edwards was fifth with 69. Graham and Mosley-Braun trailed with 66 each.

Call it a psychic flash, but we somehow doubt this will be the order of finish at the Democratic Convention in Boston in July of 2004.

Unfortunately, party nominating caucuses are a lot like focus groups, with their tendency to put pandering first. And like the Iowa AFSCME audience, they reflect views that are vastly different from those of rank-and-file Democrats around the country, not to mention the Independents who often dominate not only general elections but even primaries.

As From and Reed wrote in their memo: "Democrats who champion the mainstream values, national pride, and economic aspirations of middle-class and working people are the real soul of the Democratic Party, not activists and interest groups with narrow agendas."

So, according to the DLC, union members aren't working people, and activists aren't Democrats--Republicans are.

Lots of Democratic politicians are DLC members. We need to let them know that this is unacceptable--we need an opposition party, not water boys (and girls) and cheerleaders. The DLC has conveniently provided a search facility for finding DLC members from your state. Find out who your local "Democrats Loving Corporations" representatives are, and let them know that you don't approve. Here in Michigan, that includes Senator Debbie Stabenow, Governor Jennifer Granholm, and Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick.

Bush increases aid to Philippines for "war on terrorism." -- Washington Post. George W. Bush--the best friend police states ever had.
The wit and widsom of Ari the Liar. Here's what he said about resigning: "I really want to unwind, do something more relaxing like dismantle live nuclear weapons." So he opposes administration policy after all!
Contact the FCC about media consolidation! Here is the web page for filing public comments.

I called the FCC this morning. After working my way through the menus, I spoke to a woman who directed be to that site. She said she had filed her comments, and seemed to be opposed to media consolidation! Hopefully there are still many career civil servants in the government who actually support the intended missions of their agencies, not the Bushies' perversion of it. I got that feeling when I went to Detroit in January to protest the registering of Arabs and South Asians at the INS office--the INS officials who came out and talked to us seemed very sympathetic, and seemed almost glad that we were there. I got the feeling that most INS employees work there to help immigrants, not to persecute them. I imagine that the situation is similar in the EPA and other regulatory agencies, as well as in the FBI and similar law-enforcement agencies. Most of the people working in these places didn't take those jobs to push an Orwellian paranoid agenda; let's hope they are able to provide us with some buffer from the maniacs in charge.

Monday, May 19, 2003

Meanwhile, in the Asian Islands:According to the second article, Philippine leaders are making it clear that their attacks are part of the "war on terrorism." Expect Indonesia to follow suit. Has there ever been a more inclusive tool for suppressing opposition than the "war on terrorism?"
The Daily Dystopian links to an article about General Electric getting into the wind power business, and thinks that might be good news. Daily Dystopian should recall what happened to mass transit when General Motors got into the mass transit business in Los Angeles. (In the twenties and thirties, GM bought streetcar and bus lines in Los Angeles, and then shut them down.) GE's purchase of NBC didn't improve the media situation; don't expect their involvement in wind power to have any positive impact, either.

Personally, I wonder if wind power is such a great idea. If done on a massive-enough scale to put a big dent in US energy needs, wouldn't there be some side effects? Weather patterns could change, and the purifying effect of wind could be reduced. Our already over-cluttered landscape would be cluttered further. The real key, IMHO, is to cut way back on energy consumption. Hydro power was once claimed to be cheap and clean, but most of our rivers have been largely destroyed by hydro dams. Solar power seems free, but how much land area are we going to devote to it, and how will that impact the environment? Our sprawling, glittering cities and lifestyles are predicated on abundant cheap energy, and are unsustainable no matter where the energy comes from. And it's certainly not good news that companies like GE and BP-Amoco, who have profited greatly from the current mess, and positioning themselves to profit from the next one as well.
A Real Difference:
As President, I'll make sure that workers' rights are enshrined in a Workers' White House. As President, I'll issue an executive order which will say that
anyone who gets a federal contract will have to provide that when 50% of the workers sign up for a union, there's an automatic union. As President, I'll set aside those provisions of Taft-Harley which attack the right to organize. As President (with a 100% AFSCME voting record, I might add), one of my first acts in office -- recognizing how trade has devastated so many towns around Iowa and the nation -- will be to cancel NAFTA and the WTO.

I ask this administration: Tell me, Mr. Bush, where are those weapons of mass destruction? I've seen those weapons, and I'll tell you where they are. Joblessness is a weapon of mass destruction. Poverty is a weapon of mass destruction. Hopelessness is a weapon of mass destruction. Let's bring back hope in America. Let's bring back jobs in America. Let's bring back workers' rights in America! Thank you.
-- Dennis Kucinich's opening statement at a candidates' forum in Iowa. Kucinich was rated the favorite candidate by a focus group of AFSCME union members.
"Person of interest" gets hit by FBI SUV that was tailing him, gets a ticket for his troubles. Steven Hatfill has been hinted about and harrassed for nearly a year now because the feds think he may somehow be connected to the anthrax killings of October, 2001. I don't know, maybe he's guilty, but isn't the FBI capable of carrying out an investigation in a reasonable length of time? At this point, it looks like they are just going to harrass him for the rest of his life. (from AP.)

Full disclosure: After reading Nicholas Kristof's column last July 2, and a WSWS followup, I was pretty convinced that Hatfill was a prime suspect. I then saw Hatfill give a press conference presenting his side, and he at least seemed to be telling the truth, and provided reasonable explanations for the "coincidences" linking him to the anthrax letters. Of course, that's probably exactly how a cold-blooded killer would behave. Still, I think following a guy around day and night, running into him with an SUV, and then giving him a ticket for it might well constitute cruel and unusual punishment for someone who hasn't been convicted of a crime--or even charged.
You get tired of having your pants on fire all the time: Ari the Liar is leaving the White House I suspect that he will spend the next five to ten years trying to buy his soul back. He's got a ways to go. Here's what he said about his departure:

"I've just been thinking about what I want to do, when I want to do it," he told The A.P. "I believe deeply in this president, his policies and the man. But there comes a time in public service when you have to decide when it's time to go."

Of course, the NY Times writers David Stout and Terence Neilan appear to be Jayson Blair wannabes:

Mr. Fleischer's tenure, like that of all presidential press aides, was not without its bumps. Even though he did not have to fend off questions about Vietnam or Watergate, as some of his predecessors did, he routinely put in marathon workdays.

It's not that there weren't wars and scandals--it's that the press didn't ask the questions! The Republican actions in Florida before the 2000 election and during the recount were really a much bigger scandal than Watergate, but while Bob Woodward was talking to Deep Throat to uncover the sordid Watergate details, this time he wrote "Bush at War" to further administration propaganda. And Ari didn't get nearly as hard a time as he should have over 9/11, Enron, Afghanistan or Iraq. Let's hope his replacement gets grilled.
If Saddam Hussein was evil enough to merit the most elaborate, openly declared assassination attempt in history (the opening move of Operation Shock and Awe), then surely those who supported him ought at least to be tried for war crimes? Why aren't the faces of U.S. and U.K. government officials on the infamous pack of cards of wanted men and women?

Because when it comes to Empire, facts don't matter.
-- Arundhati Roy.

From Jen Sorensen.
Ted Rall wants to believe:

Sorry, Ted. Bush has no principles whatsoever.

Sunday, May 18, 2003

Wal-Mart shaping the culture--yecch! (Sorry, no time for a more thorough commentary.)
I wonder what the troops think. The first Gulf War killed tens, maybe hundreds of thousands of Iraqis. Some American troops were killed, though almost all by "friendly fire." Kuwait was taken from its new totalitarian owners and given back to its old totalitarian owners. GI's who had either seen no combat at all, or who had participated in the "turkey shoot" against a vastly outgunned "enemy," returned home as heroes, probably wondering why. Soon, some became ill, and today over a third of Gulf War vets are suffering from illness or disability. Some were disillusioned by their experience, including three who became household names: Timothy McVeigh, Terry Nichols, and John Allen Muhammed.

This time, soldiers (sailors, marines, airmen) were told that they were protecting America from weapons of mass destruction. If Saddam Hussein didn't disarm, then, by George, they were going to be a part of a coalition of the willing to disarm him.

But they didn't. Even administration officials are saying now that Iraq may not have had any WMD's. Certainly the military teams looking for them can't find them. While there were more actual battles than in the first Gulf War, it appears that large parts of this war were just more turkey shoots. Those troops that have been in or near the front lines have seen plenty of death and destruction. Some were wounded, captured, or lost a close friend (Jessica Lynch qualifies on all three counts). Many have seen the anarchy that has resulted from the invasion. And now they are finding out that the whole thing was based on a lie. As far as we know now, there were no WMD's in Iraq prior to the war. Without a doubt, whatever there might be there is in much smaller quantity and poses much less of a threat than Bush, Powell and Blair claimed.

So they gave up months of their lives in some of the bleakest landscapes (or waterscapes) on earth, risked their lives and their health, suffered wounds and lost friends--all for a lie. Do you think some of them may be a bit upset when they find out?
Dam Bad Idea. This article from the Ann Arbor News describes how the Huron River, the reason Ann Arbor is here, will likely once again be reduced to a trickle this summer. This is due in large part to numerous dams upstream. Most of these dams only serve the purpose of maintaining water levels in artificial lakes around which the wealthier area residents have cottages. Allowing them to continue to enjoy their high-energy-consumption and polluting recreations of motor boating and jet skiing comes not only at the expense of environmentally-friendly canoeists, but with the risk of damaging the entire river ecosystem. With reduced river flows, the water reaching Ann Arbor is more polluted, and the river bed silts up behind the dams. The river is one of Ann Arbor's sources of drinking water, and with the ground water supply threatened by the Gelman-Pall toxic chemical spill, the river becomes that much more important.

As with so many of the issues facing this country, this has money written all over it. The general welfare of the people would be best served by removing most or all of the dams from the Huron. This would come at the expense of drastically reduced property values for the wealthy people's second homes, as well as redistributing the money among stores selling watercraft (motorboats and jet skis down, canoes and kayaks up). Unfortunately, our form of government responds much more strongly to the intense interest of a small group of rich people than it does to the general interest, and it will probably require a catastrophe before sense is restored to the Huron watershed. This issue compares directly to the sprawl issue: If the general welfare were represented, it would be much more expensive to develop new land, and gasoline would cost enough that it would be uneconomical to live way outside of town. Instead, the intense interest in getting richer of the developers who buy up all of the farmland outweighs the diffuse interest of the rest of us.

Saturday, May 17, 2003

Plan for Iraq Self-Rule Has Been Put Off -- NY Times.
I find it hard to argue that immediately turning Iraq over to a thrown-together collection of exiles was a good idea, but this change of plans just highlights further the cluelessness, or more likely callousness, of the Bush administration. They are no more interested in establishing Democracy in Iraq than they are here.
This week, Pelosi said it is "difficult to understand" why the weapons can't be found. Yet she did not seem concerned about whether any are found. "I am sort of agnostic on it; that is to say, maybe they are there," Pelosi said. "I salute the president for the goal of removing weapons of mass destruction."

Similarly, Senate Democratic Leader Thomas A. Daschle (D-S.D.), who on the eve of war accused Bush of failing "miserably" to win international backing, now talks of giving the president "great credit" for winning the war.
-- Washington Post

This is an opposition party? Bush lied about the existence of so-called "weapons of mass destruction," leading to a war which so far has:
  • Killed over 100 US service men and women, wounded hundreds directly, and possibly many more indirectly (depleted uranium, psychological effects);
  • Killed probably tens of thousands of Iraqis, although no one is counting (in violation of the Geneva conventions)
  • Cost about $75 billion;
  • Earned us the hatred of millions around the world;
  • Been the best recruiting tool al Qaeda could have dreamed of.

And Democratic congressional "leaders" are giving this lying, cheating, smirking twit a salute and great credit. And then the White House expands on its Orwellian logic:

White House officials express confidence that Bush is not vulnerable on the absence of banned weapons in Iraq, if only because few people in either party doubted that Hussein had such weapons. "Both Republicans and Democrats alike know that Saddam Hussein had a WMD program," said White House communications director Dan Bartlett. "In fact, the U.N. Security Council passed a resolution that confirmed it. So why would you criticize something the entire world knows to be true?"

And there's this:

"It's just very strange," said Kenneth Adelman, a member of a Pentagon advisory board who had predicted weapons would be found a month ago. "There will certainly not be the quantity and proximity that we thought of before." Adelman says Hussein may even have launched "a massive disinformation campaign to make the world think he was violating international norms, and he may not have been."

Gary Schmitt, of the pro-invasion Project for the New American Century, said investigators "may well not find stockpiles, because it may well be that Saddam figured out it was better to get rid of the stuff" and start over after inspectors left.

A massive disinformation campaign? Saddam announced to the world months ago that Iraq had no weapons of mass destruction. It now looks like that may have been true.

There's only one ray of hope:
The only candidate making a big issue of the failure to find weapons stockpiles is Rep. Dennis J. Kucinich (D-Ohio), the fervently antiwar candidate. "The basis of the war in Iraq is fraudulent," Kucinich said in an interview. "They misrepresented Iraq's alleged weapons of mass destruction. They misrepresented the nature of the nuclear threat."

Our last president was impeached because he lied to Congress about a personal matter which did not result in US casualties or huge expense, mostly because the opposition party hounded him mercilessly. This president lied to Congress to cause us to start an illegal, unconstitutional, unnecessary war, which cost over 100 lives and $80 billion, and the opposition party is saluting him and giving him great credit.

Friday, May 16, 2003

The Oily Americans -- from Time magazine.
Interesting. This article gives a brief history of US interventions for oil control, going back to the installation of the Shah in Iran in 1953. Six months too late, but Time and Newsweek are finally telling the stories needed to stop the war.
Britain’s Foreign Secretary Jack Straw has admitted that allied forces may never find “weapons of mass destruction” in Iraq.

After having just overturned the entire basis on which the Blair government justified its decision to join the US-led attack, Straw maintained that this failure was “not crucially important” claiming that evidence of Iraqi wrongdoing was overwhelming.

“Whether or not we are able to find one third of one petrol tanker in a country twice the size of France remains to be seen,” he told Radio 4’s Today programme. “We did not go to war on a contingent basis. We went to war on the basis of the evidence which was fully available to the international community.”
-- from the WSWS.

"We went to war on the basis of the evidence which was fully available to the international community." Say what? Some of the evidence had already been openly rejected by the international community, and most of the rest was in doubt. Inspectors were there to investigate the evidence. The US and Britain staged a pre-emptive war on false pretexts--German and Japanese officials and officers were hanged for that crime. I'm not suggesting the same for Straw, Blair, Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld and Powell--multiple life sentences to Guantanamo Bay would be just fine.

Michigan Apartheid: According to the U.S. Census, Michigan is the most segregated state in the nation.
Statewide hearings reveal overwhelming support for curing sprawl: Michigan Land Use Institute.

I HATE sprawl. There is nothing good about it. It destroys the environment, increases traffic, erodes the social fabric. Land is one of the most precious natural resources, and it has been more misused than probably any other. Here's a quote from the article:

Wendy Barrett, an environmental engineer who testified at the hearing in Detroit, told the council that in the 1990s southeast Michigan built 54 percent more homes than there were new households. “So this is a shell game,” she said. “We are just creating new holes as people move into other, new places. This is eroding the tax bases in all of our inner suburbs. We are beginning to see this even in such places as Troy.
Bill Gates, Philanthropist:
Yes, Microsoft is a bullying monopoly. But the software king may go down in history as the single individual who did the most to help the world's neediest people.
Gates has publicly promised to give away 95 percent of his wealth -- $43 billion as of September 2002 -- and he appears to be living up to his words.
-- Salon (you need to view a brief ad to read the whole article)
From Simon Tisdall at the Guardian:
The reason the world watches when Bush opens his mouth is because everybody is wondering: what IS he going to say now? Is he going to invade Iran or have the US liberate France again? Is he going to announce another tax cut for millionaires or start a new trade war with Europe? Or maybe he's going to deliver "America's justice" to another poor, benighted part of the planet before heading back to the Air Force One gym.
The Cuban head of mission in the US, Dagoberto Rodriguez, offers an explanation for the Administration's hardening approach that will cause unease far beyond the Florida straits. He says that by cutting back on US entry visas and weakening the Clinton era agreements on immigration quotas, Bush and his hawkish coterie may be deliberately trying to foment social unrest in Cuba that could in turn lead to more seaborne mass exoduses of "rafters".

Such an eventuality, he warns, could be used by the US as a pretext for direct intervention. Rodriguez told a Washington press conference this week that Cuba has already been informed, officially, that the Bush administration would deem a new wave of illegal immigration to be "an act of war". He suspects that is a scenario some in Washington are secretly pursuing.
This is not an attractive or edifying prospect for the impoverished Cubans, or for concerned Americans, or indeed for a watching world. Threatening more hard words and hard knocks is not a sensible or responsible way to resolve entrenched US-Cuba problems. Perhaps Bush should cancel next week's speech and just go for a bracing jog instead. Even better, go talk to Jimmy Carter about the best thing to do. Now that would be a TV event worth watching.

The Guardian tells 100 stories about people who died in the war in Iraq.
September 11 relatives sue the Saudis, and Bush cronies jump into the fray--on the Saudi side. From Time: Relatives of 9/11 victims have filed a trillion-dollar lawsuit against "scores" of Saudi defendants. The Texas law firm of Baker Botts is representing at least one of the defendants, claiming that his funding of Islamic charities which may have helped fund al Qaeda was done as an official of the government, making him immune from lawsuits. Baker Botts has many ties to the Bush family--James Baker, Secretary of State under Bush I and chief thief of the 2000 election, is a partner.

Do these guys hate America or something?
Texas Republicans Abuse the Purpose of the Department of Homeland Security; but don't worry, DHS couldn't find the plane anyway.
From the Washington Post:

The department's Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement said a Texas Department of Public Safety official had called and said, "We had a plane that was supposed to be going from Ardmore, Oklahoma, to Georgetown, Texas. It had state representatives in it and we cannot find this plane."

The agency said, "From all indications, this request from the Texas DPS was an urgent plea for assistance from a law enforcement agency trying to locate a missing, lost, or possibly crashed aircraft." It said it made some calls but could not find the plane. No agency aircraft were used.

The old joke asks "Which is worse, ignorance or apathy?" The answer is, of course, "I don't know and I don't care." The new joke is "Which is worse, corruption or incompetence?" The answer: "No need to choose--Republicans give you both!"

Thursday, May 15, 2003

Lots of details about the Texas redistricting situation can be found here.
So far there’s a lot more belli than casus. -- Great quote from Newsweek.

Other quotes from that article:
“Once a site has been hit with a 2,000-pound bomb, then looted, there’s not a lot left,” says Maj. Paul Haldeman, the 101st Airborne Division’s top NBC officer. (Gee, do you think maybe using UN inspectors might have been a better approach?)

Last week American troops finally went back to secure the site. Al Tuwaitha’s scientists still can’t fully assess the damage; some areas are too badly contaminated to inspect. “I saw empty uranium-oxide barrels lying around, and children playing with them,” says Fadil Mohsen Abed, head of the medical-isotopes department. Stainless-steel uranium canisters had been stolen. Some were later found in local markets and in villagers’ homes. “We saw people using them for milking cows and carrying drinking water,” says Ibrahim. The looted materials could not make a nuclear bomb, but IAEA officials worry that terrorists could build plenty of dirty bombs with some of the isotopes that may have gone missing.

And finally this gem:

“We haven’t found Saddam Hussein yet,” says a senior Bush administration official. “Does that mean he didn’t exist?” Good point, nimrod. Saddam is/was 200 pounds or so of subhumanity, highly portable. You claimed TONS of WMD's existed, and you claimed to know where they were. You lied.

Good Guys Win!

The Texas House has adjourned, effectively killing the gerrymandering scheme championed by the exterminator, Tom DeLay (R-Enron).

Mary from Fort Worth sent me this report:
Our local paper has been O.K. (with qualifications). Even the Republican columnists have been pretty supportive. We went up to Ardmore on Tues. to tell our local rep hello. There were gratifyingly few protesters and the dems were much more intelligent than the reps (always smug making).

Good going, Mary! Looks like one battle won. The Republitron experiment in fractal politics has failed.

Saddam was apparently going to document us to death
President George W. Bush's national security adviser, Condoleezza Rice, told Reuters on Monday that Washington was sending a new team to Iraq to scour for evidence.

The new team will be ''more expert'' at following the paper trail and other intelligence. She said Iraq appeared to have had a virtually ''inspections proof'' system of concealing chemical and biological weapons by developing chemicals and agents that could be used for more than one purpose, but that could be put together as weapons at the last minute.

She said U.S. officials never expected that ''we were going to open garages and find'' weapons of mass destruction.

Fortunately, Reuters (via MSNBC) actually includes in the article actual statements by Bush and Powell that contradict Rice's new claims. They lied then; she is lying now.
US indicts two more "masterminds" of the Cole attack
I'll ask again: how many masterminds does it take to fill a boat with explosives? I wonder who the mastermind was who found a space big enough for all of these masterminds to meet?
Gerrymander (v): Try to get extra votes unfairly: to manipulate an electoral area, usually by altering its boundaries, in order to gain an unfair political advantage in an election. (Encarta)
The yellow in the picture at the left is the proposed 15th congressional district in Texas, snaking its way along the Rio Grande, up through enough solidly Republican counties to guarantee a majority, and then snagging one quadrant of Austin's liberal Democrats in a blatant attempt to disenfranchise them. There are places there where a politician couldn't give a campaign speech without waking up voters in two adjacent districts. THIS abomination, pushed by House Insanity Leader Tom DeLay, is why Democrats in the state legislature are hiding out in Oklahoma.

See the full map.

Read all about the controversy, including Republican threats to have the Democrats arrested when they return.


From CNN.

From the same article: The important thing is to be able to begin moving oil out of Iraq in due course in order to generate revenue for the Iraqi people. -- Colin Powell. Right Colin. That's the important thing.

France accuses US of disinformation campaign:
Catch this fine example of doublethink from the Washington Post:
France details what it says are false news stories, with anonymous administration officials as sources, that appeared in the U.S. media over the past nine months.
But a senior administration official last night dismissed the French charge of organized disinformation as "utter nonsense."

So, anonymous sources have accused France of selling weapons to Iraq and of aiding senior Iraqi officials escaping the country, and the administration response comes from an anonymous source. Beautiful.

Wednesday, May 14, 2003

Well, let's hope so!
By trying to use the WTO to force GM foods on European consumers, the US is launching the mother of all trade wars and could bring about the institution's collapse. -- Caroline Lucas, a Green party MEP.

If Bill Bennett ran the world's agriculture, GMO's are what you'd get. Evil corporations like Monsanto have been pushing these Frankenfoods on the world for about eight years, in some cases hopelessly contaminating the world's seed supply. In no way are they worth the risk to the food supply or the environment. The collapse of the WTO would be the first good result to come from GMO's.

What are conservatives? They are people who will move heaven and earth, if they have to, who will ruin a company or a country or a planet, to prove to us and to themselves that they are superior to everybody else, except for their pals. They take good care of their pals, keep them out of jail—and so on.

Conservatives are crazy as bedbugs. They are bullies.
-- Kurt Vonnegut
Republicans use Department of Homeland Security (Gestapo) to track down Texas Democrats.

This is the same Homeland Security Department that is supposed to be making America safe from foreign terrorists. It's the agency we were told would never be used for domestic political purposes.

Thanks, Joe Lieberman, for pushing for DHS. It's just one more tool in the Republican Repression Machine.
NAFTA-cide? Eighteen dead found in or near a trailer at a Texas truck stop. Apparently twelve others were taken to the hospital and around twenty escaped alive. NAFTA isn't working for either Mexicans or norteamericanos, except for the very rich. We need a president who will put a stop to so-called "free trade" which allows capital to run wherever it wants but tries to keep labor locked in low-wage prisons (figuratively and literally, since cheap prison labor is being widely used in this country). We need a president who not only won't press for bad new agreements like FTAA, but will repeal the ones we already have, like NAFTA and the WTO. We need Dennis Kucinich!

As President, I will cancel NAFTA and the WTO, restore our manufacturing jobs, save our family farms, create full employment programs, create new jobs by rebuilding our cities and schools. -- Dennis Kucinich.
Here comes the "Oil for GMO's" Program!
In an appointment all too typical of the Bush administration, Dan Amstutz has been put in charge of agricultural reconstruction in Iraq. Amstutz is a former senior executive of Cargill, the biggest grain exporter in the world.

Oxfam, an organization focused on world hunger, said this is an example of the potentially damaging commercialization of the reconstruction effort in Iraq, which it would prefer to see conducted under the auspices of the United Nations. Oxfam's Kevin Watkins said Amstutz would "arrive with a suitcase full of open-market rhetoric," and was more likely to try to dump cheap US grain on the potentially lucrative Iraqi market than encourage the country to rebuild its once-successful agricultural sector.

"Putting Dan Amstutz in charge of agricultural reconstruction in Iraq is like putting Saddam Hussein in the chair of a human rights commission," said Watkins. "This guy is uniquely well-placed to advance the commercial interests of American grain companies and bust open the Iraqi market - but singularly ill-equipped to lead a reconstruction effort in a developing country."
-- from the Organic Consumers Association via the Vegan Blog.

I'll see if I can summarize this in one sentence: Last summer, Congress passed a $180 billion farm bill so companies like Cargill could continue to produce excess grain, much of it genetically modified, for which the market in this country is saturated, and tens of billions of more dollars have been spent in two wars on a largely defenseless country, drastically reducing its ability to feed itself, and now a Cargill exec is in charge of using even more billions to pay Cargill for that surplus grain to feed those masses we have spent billions to make starving.

Cargill will, of course, show its appreciation by giving hundreds of thousands of dollars to the campaign funds of those in Congress and the White House who make this all possible.

Take Action! Tell your legislators to say no to the FTAA (Free Trade Area of the Americas--that is, NAFTA on steroids).
Kids 4 Kucinich!
An eleven-year-old boy has started the Kids 4 Kucinich web site. Be sure to check out Cyndy's MouseMusings today--she's got lots of good Kucinich links, and a lot on putting a halt to media consolidation as well. (This post is easier than just stealing her links one by one.)

The New York Times--the Bill Clinton of this decade

Looking through Slate's political cartoon collection yesterday, I saw many cartoons disparaging the New York Times over the Jayson Blair incident (see yesterday's post All The News That Fits the Agenda for details). As the WSWS pointed out, both the Times and its detractors are raking Blair over the coals, basically for laziness and unprofessionalism, albeit on fairly trivial matters (no wars have been started or stopped because there aren't cow pastures and tobacco fields visible from Jessica Lynch's front porch). Meanwhile, Times' reporter Judith Miller has been actively supporting the administration's after-the-fact justification for war in Iraq with highly dubious third-hand innuendo-laden stories. So, while continually being accused of being part of the so-called "liberal media," its standard bearer even, the Times in reality has been fully supportive of the right-wing agenda. Whether this is their true nature or appeasement I'm not sure, but it definitely reminds me of Bill Clinton. The more Clinton pushed the right-wing agenda: NAFTA, WTO, welfare reform, the Telecommunications Act, etc., the more he was hounded by the right-wing attack dogs. This approach has worked on the media for years--no matter how right-wing it becomes, the Republicans never cease decrying the "liberal" media.

And the Times is at it again today. Here is the conclusion from the main editorial concerning the bombings in Saudi Arabia:

Many in the Western world will always view the tragedy of Sept. 11 as being about America, but to the people who carried it out, the terrorist attack was as much about Saudi Arabia. The United States is a supporting player in the terrorists' own internal political drama, which centers on fundamentalist religion, a grandiose vision of their own role in world affairs and an anger at the Saudi government's alliance with non-Muslim Western nations.

The Bush administration hopes to replace that story with a new one, involving democracy, economic opportunity and liberty. It would begin with a new era in Iraq, the road to peace in Israel and increasing democratization in other Arab nations. Right now, with chaos in Baghdad and foot-dragging by Israel, that path looks treacherous. But it is the best current chance for a way out, toward a future in which suicide attacks on innocent civilians will be understood by Muslims around the world not as a form of political protest, but as utter

You almost have to scream at that last sentence. First, that the Times claims to believe that the Bushies are interested in democracy, economic opportunity (aside from Bechtel and Halliburton) and liberty. And then, continuing the nonsense that suicide attacks are somehow worse than any other attacks. We need to look toward a future in which ANY attacks on innocent civilians will be understood by PEOPLE around the world not as a form of political protest OR LIBERATION OR JUSTIFIABLE REVENGE, but as utter insanity.

And then there is the always bizarre Maureen Dowd, who concludes her Op-Ed with this:

Doing a buddy routine with Rummy yesterday in Washington, as the defense secretary accepted an award, Vice President Dick Cheney was as implacable as ever. "The only way to deal with this threat ultimately is to destroy it," he said.

So destroy it. 

In other words, one of the supposedly liberal columnists for the supposedly liberal "paper of record" accepts our insane vice president's maniacal nonsense and offers him a blank check. And she'll probably get attacked from the right for it.

This blog has lots of facts, background, and speculation concerning the bombings in Saudi Arabia, which we probably need to keep under close surveillance. The evidence has long been there that Saudi Arabia may be the country most linked to the 9/11 attacks: 15 of the 19 hijackers plus OBL himself, funding for the Taliban and al Qaeda, etc. If states' involvement in 9/11 were ranked, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, Germany and Florida would probably rank ahead of Afghanistan, with Iraq on the list somewhere below Tahiti.

As I reported below, Bush and Cheney are making the usual warlike noises, although maybe not directed at Saudi Arabia.

Tuesday, May 13, 2003

Anarchy in Baghdad:
"I don't see it getting better. We can't be everywhere, can we?" said Pfc. Jacob Weber, 21. "I feel like a cop, but I'm not a cop."
Tell Wolf: Do you think the war in Iraq increased or decreased the threat of terrorism? VOTE! (It's 90-10 percent increased now.)
Online Poll!!! Vote in support of those Texas Democrats who are quorum busting in Oklahoma!
Cheney being his usual creepy self:
"The only way to ultimately deal with this threat is to destroy it," Cheney said in Washington.

"In the final analysis, the only sure way to security and stability and protection of our people and those of our friends and allies is to go and eliminate the terrorists before they can launch any more attacks," Cheney said, "and this president is absolutely bound and determined to do that."
-- AP.

Right, you bloodthirsty, daddy warbucks veep-from-the-deep creep! That's how Sweden has always done it. You were warned repeatedly that the inexcusable Iraq war would lead to more terrorist attacks, but you went ahead with it anyway. In the final analysis, there is no finite supply of terrrorists that can be destroyed. Your prescription is for endless war and endless terror.

Texan Jerrymanderers still Looking for a Quorom
Democrats in the state legislature have fled to New Mexico and Oklahoma to prevent Republicans from passing redistricting which would steal several congressional districts from the Democrats. -- Washington Post.
Today, New Mexico Attorney General Patricia Madrid said lawyers for Perry asked her if Texas Rangers might be allowed to make arrests in New Mexico. Madrid, a Democrat, said no. "Nonetheless," she added in a statement, "I have put out an all-points bulletin for law enforcement to be on the lookout for politicians in favor of health care for the needy and against tax cuts for the wealthy."
More Chiapas Pics!
Jenny Cade has posted some beautiful photos of murals in Chiapas, along with a few others. Here's a sample:

Click here for the full-sized version.

Kucinich: Is the Administration Proving it is About Oil?

In the wake of news that the Bush administration is proposing a U.N. resolution "granting the United States broad control over Iraq's oil industry and revenue"(Washington Post, May 9), presidential candidate Dennis Kucinich -- ranking Democrat on the House Government Reform subcommittee on national security -- issued the following statement:

"Today's news once again raises questions about the Administration's true intentions in Iraq. For months the Administration has said the war was not about oil, but its actions tell a different story.

"If Iraqi oil is for the Iraqi people, the United Nations should manage the oil profits until a credible Iraqi government is installed. The United States should not control the Iraqi people or their resources, nor should the U.S. dictate where their resources go.

"This move by the Administration to manage Iraq's oil revenue will undermine the US's ability to reconstruct Iraq and further harm the United States's credibility in the world community."
-- from the Kucinich 2004 web site.
Bush being his usual asinine self:
"Today's attacks in Saudi Arabia -- the ruthless murder of American citizens and other citizens -- remind us that the war on terror continues . . . ," Bush told 7,000 supporters at the Indiana State Fairgrounds. "The United States will find the killers and they will learn the meaning of American justice."
"Any time anyone attacks our homeland, any time anyone attacks our fellow citizens, we'll be on the hunt, and we'll find them and they will be brought to justice," Bush said. "Just ask the Taliban."
He also talked of the "battle in Afghanistan" and the "battle in Iraq," casting them as part of a broader war on terrorism that he has said is not endless but is not nearly done. The attacks in Saudi Arabia bolstered his vow to wage a "relentless campaign against global terrorism."

"I'm optimistic we can overcome any thing in our path," Bush said. "These despicable acts were committed by killers whose only faith is hate."
-- Washington Post.

Having just undertaken a war based on false pretenses which killed well over 3000 civilians and uncounted thousands of Iraqi draftees, not to mention well over 100 US military personnel, Bush's hypocrisy continues to be breathtaking. I do wish he'd learn the meaning of American justice before mouthing off about it yet again.
All The News That Fits the Agenda:
The World Socialist Web Site has a good article which makes two comparisons.

One is the difference between the reporting of the Washington Post and that of the NY Times Judith Miller regarding the search for WMD's in Iraq. As I ranted yesterday (scroll down to "Hans Blix said it would take four months"--my permalinks seem to be "bloggered" lately), the Post reports that the military team searching for WMD's is discouraged, unsuccessful, and about to be withdrawn altogether. They quote named sources from the military. Meanwhile, Miller continues to run articles based on unnamed sources about weapons destroyed just before the war (third hand from the unnamed military based on the hearsay of an Iraqi with a baseball cap who points at the sand a lot), and about "mobile weapons labs." The WSWS describes Miller's connections to neocon groups that pushed for a war in Iraq for ten years, and how her current reporting is clearly aimed at defending the Bush administration from criticism that the whole war was based on false pretenses (not working on this blog, obviously, but the major media are still downplaying the issue).

The other comparison made by the WSWS is between the hyperbolic response of the NY Times to the creative writing of junior reporter Jayson Blair (four pages of angst in Sunday's Times) and the obviously slanted writing of Miller, which was based on little or no direct evidence, yet has not resulted in any similar censure or firing by the Times.

I don't think I can explain it in much more detail without basically re-creating the WSWS article--if you're interested, just go read it!
It's been almost a week since I asked y'all to try to stop further media consolidation by contacting the FCC through MoveOn. That's too long! Please, GO!

Monday, May 12, 2003

The civilian body count in Iraq has now surpassed that from 9/11. Congratulations, warons. For the second time, you have gotten revenge on people who had NOTHING to do with 9/11! (Just a reminder: the people who hijacked those planes were ON those planes, and died along with everybody else. Taking it out on the whole world just guarantees that soon there will be another day which will live in infamy.)

Got a spare bedroom? Take in a Democratic state legislator from Texas for a few days. In an attempt to derail a Tom DeLay (R-Hades) inspired jerrymandering attempt, Texas Democrats have disappeared from the capitol in Austin, making it impossible to for the required quorum of 100 to be formed. Republicans have called for the arrest of the missing Democrats, who have apparently headed to Oklahoma and New Mexico.
Taking the slime show on the road: ChoicePoint, the company that helped to disenfranchise thousands of Florida voters in 2000, has obtained Mexico's entire voter registration list and Colombia's citizen identification database. Mexicans are particularly furious, since their 2000 election was thought to be maybe the first fair election in the country's history. The country had worked long and hard to establish credibility in the election system; now they have to worry about manipulation by a sleazy American company--and a sleazy American government. (Thanks to Mary in Fort Worth for the link.)
Disney to finance Michael Moore's Bush-bashing Fahrenheit 911!
This is AWESOME! I may have to take back some of the mean things I've said about Mickey, Minnie and Pluto! Even Peter Jennings seems suddenly more erudite! If this means Bush actually has an enemy among the Big Five media companies (Disney, Fox, GE, Viacom, AOL Time Warner), maybe there's hope! I do recommend that Moore stay out of small planes for a while.

Cover up!!

Senator and presidential candidate Bob Graham of Florida accuses the Bushies of covering up intelligence failures related to 9/11.

Sen. Bob Graham, D-Fla., on Sunday accused the Bush administration of engaging in a "cover-up" of intelligence failures before and after the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks to shield it from embarrassment, and said the war with Iraq has allowed alQaida and other terrorist groups to become a greater threat to Americans than ever before.

Graham, a presidential candidate and former chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, also accused the administration of jeopardizing the safety of Americans by blocking the release of a landmark congressional report on the government failures that preceded the attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon. And he said the White House has withheld from the public important information about the continued existence of terrorist cells in the United States -- including some with ties to foreign governments that the United States has been afraid to go after.

"By continuing to classify that information . . . the American people have been denied important information for their own protection, for the protection of the communities," Graham said on CBS News' "Face the Nation."

"Local agencies have been denied information that would help them be more effective. First-responders and the American people do not have the information upon which they can hold the administration and responsible agencies accountable," Graham said, adding: "I call that a cover-up."

Atrios says it should be front-page news. Maybe we need to be calling congress to insist that the report be made public? It sounds at this point that national security will benefit more from making the report public than continuing to hide it. That toll-free congressional switchboard number is 800-839-5276.
My bad--I haven't mentioned Dennis Kucinich yet today! (He's running for president, you know, and he wants to fix everything Bush is breaking.)
Another Regime Change in Iraq: Former General Jay Garner was such a wonderful choice as civil administrator in Iraq that he has been replaced by diplomat L. Paul Bremer. Bremer is a former assistant to Henry Kissinger, which should make the whole world shudder.
Hans Blix said it would take four months--our guys are leaving after two:
The group directing all known U.S. search efforts for weapons of mass destruction in Iraq is winding down operations without finding proof that President Saddam Hussein kept clandestine stocks of outlawed arms, according to participants.

The 75th Exploitation Task Force, as the group is formally known, has been described from the start as the principal component of the U.S. plan to discover and display forbidden Iraqi weapons. The group's departure, expected next month, marks a milestone in frustration for a major declared objective of the war.
-- Washington Post.
There have always been those among us who have panicked in times of crisis and, in their cowardice, tried to short-circuit constitutional protections or bully dissenters into silence. They wrap themselves in the flag they claim to love while violating the principles for which it stands.

I have no patience for those who fail so completely to understand democracy, who think so little of our troops that they vow their support and in the next breath trample the liberties being defended with American blood.

People who fear ideas, who fear free and open debate, have been around for a long time. They ran Germany for a while, they used to run Russia and they used to run Iraq. We have no use for them here.
-- Douglas M. Sheeley

Here's what they think in Chiapas:

We asked for some more opinions, and got these:

So, do I really want to go back to Chiapas? I'll cross that bridge when I come to it!

Thanks to Molly Stetson for posting her Chiapas photos. Many more can be seen at the following links:

Who said this?
Few people are aware that, in our country, parents can be forced to testify against their children and vice versa; there is no parent-child privilege under the aegis of the federal government. We have a husband-wife privilege, a doctor-patient privilege, an attorney-client privilege and even a privilege between priest and penitent. But no comparable confidential boundary is recognized for parent and child.

All of these existing privileges place value on certain relationships in order to foster and then protect them. Their inviolability is deemed more important than the truth-finding function of the courts.

Isn't the parent-child relationship every bit as important, if not more so?

Answer: Monica Lewinsky, and I agree with TalkLeft and Atrios--Monica is right. Parents and children should be able to talk freely without fear that they may some day be forced to testify about it.
This article says that the Taliban is coming back in Afghanistan, with support from Pakistan and Russia.

Ted Rall.

Not to give him any credit or anything, but one thing that struck me about W's PR stunt on the aircraft carrier was that he may well have been in more danger during that tailhook landing than most of the people on the carrier were during their whole tour (the pilots and other flying personnel being the exceptions). I mean, Iraq had no navy or air force, and no missiles capable of reaching the Lincoln or any other US carrier. So, no disrespect intended, but those sailors were probably safer on the Lincoln than they are now on shore leave in San Diego or Seattle. I suspect a lot of them were shuffling with more than a little embarrassment as Bush lauded their courage for pushing buttons, turning screws, swabbing decks and peeling potatoes.

Sunday, May 11, 2003

Under a law passed in 1997, the military is supposed to collect health data on troops before and after deployment to a war zone. The bill was passed because of the terrible experience that Gulf War I vets had (and continue to have) getting help for their ailments (such as Gulf War syndrome). Without before and after medical data, it has been difficult for those vets to prove that their illnesses were related to their service in the war. By requiring before and after examinations, the 1997 bill gave military personnel the opportunity to demonstrate changes in their physical conditions because of exposure to depleted uranium, dangerous chemicals, or other possible sources.

Just one catch--the Pentagon didn't obey the law. Soldiers in Gulf War II were not examined beforehand, and, until a recent reversal apparently precipated by a campaign, the military was not examining them when they left the combat zone, either.

Warons expect everyone to "support our troops" by waving flags and shutting up while the Pentagon breaks the law and refuses to give soldiers support they may really need.

Keep your manos gringas off our petroleo Mexicano -- Mexico. The House International Relations Committee's Republican majority passed a non-binding resolution suggesting that any US-Mexico agreement on immigration should include the de-nationalization of Pemex, Mexico's national oil company. This would allow for foreign (read US) investment in Pemex, possibly leading to eventual foreign control. We've seen what Occidental has done for Colombia; let's hope our Republitrons don't get their way and Mexico is allowed to at least maintain the level of independence that it has now. (As you may have noticed, I'm a definite Mexicophile after my trip to Chiapas last month.)
Three possibilities on WMD's?
  1. We suffered a truly massive intelligence failure: Iraq had next to no WMD around.
  2. Donald Rumsfeld's Pentagon failed to realize what its mission was, and Iraq's WMD are now in the hands of guys who (unlike Saddam Hussein)cannot be deterred--guys who don't like to live in palaces, and don't hope to die in bed--and we are in much bigger trouble than before.
  3. President Bush deliberately lied to the Congress about Saddam Hussein in order to get a resolution authorizing the attack on Iraq.

It seems to me that the grownups in the Republican Party need to find out--and find out quickly--which of these three possibilities is correct. If (1) is correct, they need to tell us so and need to fix the "intelligence community" and fix it now. If (2) is correct, they need to tell us so and need to fix the NSC and the Pentagon, and fix it now. If (3) is correct, they need to tell us that George W. Bush needs to be impeached and needs to be impeached now.
-- from Seeing the Forest and others.
It's only fair! If Bush wants to remove the so-called "double taxation" on dividends, he should also remove the limited liability of stockholders. The key here is that if you and your neighbor, as individuals or in a partnership, do something stupid that burns down half of your neighborhood, all of your assets are fair game for your burned-out neighbors to take in a lawsuit (and rightly so). But if you and your neighbor formed a corporation beforehand, and then did the same stupid thing, your liability would only extend to your investment in the corporation. Another analogy: if you take your yacht and dump 55 gallons of oil of the coast of Alaska, polluting someone's beach, that someone can sue you and possibly take your yacht, your house, your car, and so on. If, instead, you bought enough shares in ExxonMobil so that you owned the equivalent of 55 gallons of oil that were spilled in Alaska, your only loss would be in the possible decline of the value of your stock.

This wierd little rant is based on this longer rant at Seeing the Forest, which is based on this Op-Ed from the NY Times.
How did Bush respond to September 11? It depends on who you ask.

Saturday, May 10, 2003

From Molly Ivins:
Where they've got this figured out (almost) is Arizona, with all those unpredictable libertarian Republicans in the Legislature. They're fixing to pass a bill over there that would stop the state or any of its political divisions from offering tax breaks, new roads, cheap electricity, free water or anything else to inveigle some out-of-state corporation to come and build there.

And before you dismiss that with "Arizona is always goofy," take a look at all the studies showing that the jobs attracted by giving these special tax breaks to corporations do not pay out, even in the long run. In Time magazine's classic Barlett-Steele report on corporate welfare, this particular form of welfare was thoroughly exposed as a financial disaster for the states and towns that participate in it.

There's so much screwy going on in this country it's impossible to get around to all of it. The nasty competition between cities and states for factories and other businesses, in which each competitor tries to outdo the others with tax breaks, cash incentives, waivers from certain laws, and so on, has been going on for decades. In the long run, it has benefitted only the executives and stockholders of the corporations, leaving the states or cities further in the hole. I ranted last year about how Montgomery, Alabama (where I lived for seven years) had put together a city-state incentive package worth $126 million to lure Hyundai to locate an auto plant there (Click on the "single file" link near the top of the left column and search for Montgomery to read those rants.). That worked out to something like $70,000 per job created.

I'm going to have to read the Barlett-Steele report that Ivins referred to and learn more about it, but here's my general impression. In the 1960's, American cars were built in Michigan, foreign cars in Germany and Japan. A lot of the money from making American cars went to stockholders and executives of GM, Ford and Chrysler, but a lot also went to well-paid workers who belonged to the UAW. The auto companies and the union members paid taxes to Michigan, Detroit, and the other cities where they worked and lived. Today, American cars are built in Missouri and Texas and Mexico and China (parts, anyway), foreign cars are built in Alabama, Tennessee, North Carolina and Ohio (neither list is complete--there are still some working auto plants in Michigan). Much of the work is being done by lower-paid non-union labor, leaving more money for the stockholders and executives. The workers, being lower paid, pay less taxes to the cities and states. The companies, in most cases, are not paying taxes to either city or state; in many cases they are being subsidized. As with so much that's going on now, the competition between states for factories (always knowing that Mexico, Indonesia, China and others are there with super-cheap labor) has simply resulted in more money going from people who don't have much to those who already have too much.

Friday, May 09, 2003

Does the Pope think George W. Bush is the Anti-Christ?

(Bloggers live for headlines like that.)
Bush's blood lust, his repeated commitment to Christian beliefs, and his constant references to "evil doers," in the eyes of many devout Catholic leaders, bear all the hallmarks of the one warned about in the Book of Revelations - the anti-Christ. People close to the Pope claim that amid these concerns, the Pontiff wishes he was younger and in better health to confront the possibility that Bush may represent the person prophesized in Revelations. -- Read the whole article .
Ted Rall:
Go after Bush's ultimate Achilles' heel: run countless loops of the inarticulate Resident's clashes with the English language. "Too dumb to talk," a sinister voiceover reads. "Too stupid to trust." Use time-proven Republican methods, like name-calling: Extremist. Out of touch. Tax and spender. Hates workers. Racist. Homophobe. Corrupt CEO coddler. Idiot. Drunk. Cut to the post-pretzel-incident photo: "America needs a sober president."

Forget ideas--voters respond to the personal stuff. Dwell on the two years Bush went AWOL from the Texas Air National Guard. "Brave Americans gave their lives in Vietnam," a 30-second spot should intone as the camera pans over names of the fallen on the black wall in Washington. "Rich kid George W. Bush deserted. This coward snorted coke and drove drunk while other kids died." Who doubts that if Gore had played up Bush's DUI arrest, he would have picked up an extra 500 votes in Florida?

:The rest of the story...

Dumb and Hummer...
Hummer buyers are dissatisfied with their behemoths because of their low gas mileage.
From Congressman Henry Waxman's report:

That says that the bottom 80% of taxpayers get a break averaging $29.50 from the Bush tax cuts, while the top 1% get an average of $11,483. Can you say "class warfare?" I knew that you could.

Shining a light on Mayor Kucinich:
In last Saturday's debate, George Stephanopoulos saved his nastiest question for the best candidate. He asked Congressman Dennis Kucinich this: "Congressman, when you were mayor of Cleveland, the city went into default. How do you answer those who say you'll do for America what you did for Cleveland?" (I'm paraphrasing, but that's close. In contrast, George's question for Lieberman was "People say you're too nice to be president." AAAARGH!) Unfortunately, Kucinich had little time to tell the story on TV, but he tells it on his web site, and I'm happy to post it here:

A Profile in Political Courage...and Vindication

Having been elected to Cleveland’s City Council at age 23, Dennis Kucinich was well-known to Cleveland voters when they chose him as their mayor in 1977 at the age of 31. He was elected mayor on a promise that he would not sell off or privatize the beloved and trusted city-owned power system, though Cleveland was deeply in debt.

Cleveland Magazine offered this summary: “Kucinich refused to yield to bankers who gave him a choice: Sell the Municipal Light System to the Cleveland Electric Illuminating Co. or the city will go into default. The mayor said no.”

When Kucinich refused to sell Muny Light, the banks took the unprecedented step of refusing to roll over the city’s debt, as is customary. Instead, they pushed the city into default. It turned out the banks were thoroughly interlocked with the private utility, CEI, which
would have acquired monopoly status by taking over Muny Light. Five of the six banks held almost 1.8 million shares of CEI stock; of the 11 directors of CEI, eight were also directors of four of the six banks involved.

By holding to his campaign promise and putting principle above politics, he lost his re-election bid and his political career was derailed. But today Kucinich stands vindicated for having confronted the Enron of his day, and for saving the municipal power company. “There is little
debate,” wrote Cleveland Magazine in May 1996, “over the value of Muny Light today. Now Cleveland Public Power, it is a proven asset to the city that between 1985 and 1995 saved its customers $195,148,520 over what they would have paid CEI.”

When Kucinich re-launched his political career in the mid-1990s, it was on the strength of having saved public power. His campaign symbol was a light bulb. “Because he was right!” was his campaign slogan when he won his seat in the state senate in 1994. The slogan that sent him to Washington two years later was “Light Up Congress.”

In 1998, the Cleveland City Council issued a commendation to Dennis Kucinich for "having the courage and foresight to refuse to sell the city's municipal electric system."

Okay, I know this is satire.
Suppose for a minute that we were talking about a developing country that had gaping current account deficits year after year . . . a budget ink spinning from black into red . . . open-ended security costs, and a real exchange rate that had been inflated by capital inflows. With all that, I think it’s fair to say we would be pretty concerned. -- Kenneth Rogoff, chief economist for the International Monetary Fund, quoted here. He was talking about the US.

Shameless tugging at heartstrings...

I knew some kittens who died in Iraq...

They were good, honest, dog-fearing kittens...sniff.

(Actually, this kitten isn't usually this unhappy, judging from the adorable pix here, which I found via Atrios.)

Not enough sun in the winter, I guess: Some idiot from Norway has nominated George W. Bush and Tony Blair for the Nobel Peace Prize. Oh well, Kissinger, Begin, Arafat and Peres all have them. Don' mean nuthin'. (Sorry, Jimmy.)

Thursday, May 08, 2003

Tell the FCC to stop continued media consolidation through MoveOn.
Take the bus or walk, and meet people!(Reader warning: personal stories combined with nagging.) As part of my attempt at a more simple, energy-conserving lifestyle, I try to avoid driving my car as much as possible. Frequently, I ride my bike, which provides similar freedom to driving, and more exercise. Unfortunately, it provides a similar level of stress to driving, since I have to deal with the same horrendous traffic and obnoxious drivers, but on even more unequal terms. Since my employer offers a free city bus pass if I do not purchase a parking sticker, I have been taking the bus frequently since last September. The city bus gets me to and from work, or from home to downtown, while University buses (always free) help out on other trips.

One side effect has been that people offer me rides, and I get to know them better. Yesterday, I was walking toward the bus stop to take the bus from work to soccer when a man who works in my building stopped and offered me a ride. This was a guy who never smiled or said "Hi" in the hall, and I had kind of given up on him. I didn't even know his name. But then he stops, backs up, and offers me a ride! So we talked about soccer and softball, and he dropped me off right at the soccer field. Also, at lunch I walked to the Chinese restaurant, and on the way back a woman from my department gave me a ride. I told her I had the tofu homestyle for lunch, and she says "I didn't know you were a vegetarian!" Since she's the one who usually orders food for group lunches, it will definitely be to my benefit that she now knows there are TWO vegetarians in the group! I've also gotten rides to or from soccer from teammates, getting to know them better as well. I try not to force rides out of anyone--most of the time I can either bus or walk my way to where I'm going if necessary, and I ask to make sure people don't go way out of their way to give me a ride (where's the energy savings in that?). But still, it frequently works out as a nice impromtu carpool!

So leave the car at home and try walking or taking the bus! All sorts of interesting things happen.
Roving Lunatic: Bill Clinton used to take positions after listening to focus groups. George W. Bush starts wars on orders from Karl Rove.
Was Senator Byrd right to blast President Bush? Tell Wolf what you think.
Spain considers law to criminalize anti-war protest:

A person who, in a situation of armed conflict of an international nature in which Spain is involved, with the aim of discrediting Spain´s participation in (the conflict), publicly carries out acts against it ... will be punished with a sentence of between one and six years in prison. The same penalty will apply to a person who ... divulges false news or information with the aim of weakening the morale of the population or to provoke disloyalty or a lack of spirit among members of the Spanish military.
Support our troops:
"Pay me compensation," he said. "I want that and I would like to be treated. But I don't think they can treat this." A spokesperson for the Veteran's Administration said once there is a medical link confirming the testing is to blame for Park's ailments, then he has a case. But, they say, not until then.

The person asking for compensation from the VA is Arnold Parks of Oklahoma City, who is suffering from a number of ailments.

In 1965 Arnold was in the army when he was told he was going to be a test subject for some new medications. But when he recently was given access to his medical records from 1965 he was stunned to learn those "medications" were anything but. "And it states right in there on this date they gave me VX, on this date they gave me Sarin, on this date they gave me LSD," Parks said. "

So the government doesn't believe that it owes Parks any compensation for deliberately poisoning him, unless he can prove, 38 years later, that the poisoning led directly to current ailments.

The article from Oklahoma City's NBC affiliate also describes chemical weapons testing done on residents of Stillwater, Oklahoma without their knowledge in 1962.
For demanding blog readers who want more: I have varying amounts of time each day to scan the news and the other blogs for stories to link to and rant about, but sometimes important stuff gets by me. So, if you've missed reading about Richard Perle's advice on how to get rich from the wars he starts, or how the bin Laden family is more closely tied to the Bush family than they've ever been to the Hussein family, a fourteen-year-old neocon, and Loyalty Day, take a quick trip to Thoughts on the eve of the apocalypse and catch up. (That's where I got the Daily Show link (below) as well.) Thanks to Cyndy at Mousemusings for pointing me there.
President George W. Bush debates Governor George W. Bush on the Daily Show
I don't know how well this Real Video plays on dial-up, but it is hilarious.

from Steve Benson.

from Boondocks.
Same government, different dictator: "Americans can't tell the good guys from the bad guys," [Zaab Sethna, spokesman for the Iraqi National Congress] said. "They often mistake the bad guys for the good guys."

Members of Saddam Hussein's Baath party are being given leadership roles under the new American regime. Iraqis are not feeling particularly liberated at the moment.

Wednesday, May 07, 2003

Excellent answer to the French bashers from one of Pandagon's commenters. Vive la France!
The Ann Arbor Area Committee for Peace is planning on having a peace float in the Fourth of July parade, just like last year. Unfortunately, the theme for the parade is "Proud to be an American," a feeling not very evident in the group. We've been discussing through e-mail how to respond to that theme: Any suggestions?
Keeping those bridges burned: Condi and Wolfie are out doing their best to make sure that US foreign relations remain in a shambles, Condi by complaining about the French, Wolfie by complaining about the Turks. The more wrong the Bushies appear, the more arrogant they get.
The Freepers are Turning on O'Reilly, and I'm about to defend him:
"When he said tonight that he thought algore would have done a good job after 9/11, I really could not believe it!" Once I had respect for O'Reilly - but I'm beginning to doubt his common sense. He is starting to lose me as a viewer. Anyone who thinks algore would have done what GW has done has to be smoking something!! -- A comment from a thread about FoxNews blowhard Bill O'Reilly. (The quote within the quote above ("When he said tonight...") came from a previous post in the thread.)

So here goes--I'm about to defend Bill O'Reilly! If we can believe the earlier poster, O'Reilly said that Gore would have done a good job, which is far different from what GW did.

I feel so dirty.

Click on the link above--there seem to be a number of Freepers who think O'Reilly is a closet liberal. Of course, that is how revolutionaries work--no one is ever devoted enough to their cause, as with James Dobson in the post below.
Some nuts falling off the tree?
And now that one of the most articulate defenders of family values in the Congress is under attack, Republicans are hiding under a bush somewhere. The lack of courage is amazing. -- James Dobson of Focus on the Family, complaining about supposed Republican lack of support for gay-bashing Senator Rick Santorum. According to the far-right NewsMax, Dobson and others from the "Christian Right" are considering abandoning the Republican party over this. Wouldn't it be nice to see the Democrat win in 2004 when the right-wing vote gets split between Bush and Dobson (or Robertson or whoever)?
Wolf Blitzer asks "Can President Bush be beat in 2004?" VOTE!
Ritter on the peacepath: Former Marine Major and UN weapons inspector Scott Ritter is telling audiences around the country about how the Iraq war was based on lies by Bush.

“We need regime change, and we need it quick,” Ritter told a gathering of peace activists in New Jersey on Sunday. “George W. Bush does not have the right…to represent the American people, if he told a lie. And he told a whopper.”

That whopper, said Ritter, was claiming that the US government had evidence that Saddam Hussein was hiding massive amounts of weapons of mass destruction and that was why Iraq must be invaded. The facts, he said, are that “the inspections worked. The United Nations did disarm Iraq.”

“I want the president impeached because he lied to the Congress of the United States,” Ritter said. “He may well go out and tell another lie about weapons of mass destruction” being found amid the rubble in Iraq. But, Ritter said, any scheme to plant evidence would run afoul of professional soldiers like those he served with in Gulf War I. “I can tell you, my fellow officers won’t sustain that lie.”

What's really happening in Iraq? This blog seems to know.

Tuesday, May 06, 2003

Tom Tomorrow's blog was the first one I ever read (around Christmas 2001, I believe), and it inspired me to start my own. As time went on, I found other blogs, like Politics in the Zeros and MouseMusings, that I enjoyed reading more, mostly because Tom seemed to be too busy to update frequently.

Well, Tom's blog has gotten a huge jumpstart since Bob Harris started adding his posts to Tom's. Not only are there more good posts, but a wider variety than when it was just Tom. If you haven't "This Modern World" lately, check it out!
Byrd lands on Bush's landing on carrier. (Update: I just changed the link from the news story about the speech to the text of the speech itself from Common Dreams.)
Got 200 grand? You can be a Bush Pioneer.
Some quotes from the press conference given as part of the Blair-Bush Project on January 31:

Q One question for you both. Do you believe that there is a link between Saddam Hussein, a direct link, and the men who attacked on September the 11th?

THE PRESIDENT: I can't make that claim.

THE PRIME MINISTER: That answers your question. The one thing I would say, however, is I've absolutely no doubt at all that unless we deal with both of these threats, they will come together in a deadly form. Because, you know, what do we know after September the 11th? We know that these terrorists networks would use any means they can to cause maximum death and destruction. And we know also that they will do whatever they can to acquire the most deadly weaponry they can. And that's why it's important to deal with these issues together.

Q Mr. President and Prime Minister, if I could, sir, the arms inspectors made their report on Monday this week. You've both made clear that it's a question of weeks, not months. And here we are at the end of the week and the Iraqis are suddenly inviting the arms inspectors back to Baghdad for further consultations. Could I ask both of you what you make of that?

THE PRESIDENT: Let's see if I can be polite. Saddam Hussein has had 12 years to learn how to deceive, and I would view this as more deception on his part. He expects to be able to convince 108 inspectors that he is open-minded. The only way that he can show that he is truly a peaceful man is to not negotiate with inspectors, is not to string the inspectors along, but to disarm in front of inspectors. We know what a disarmed regime looks like. We know what it means to disarm. There's no negotiations. The idea of calling inspectors in to negotiate is a charade. If he is going to disarm, he must start disarming. That's the only thing he needs to talk to the inspectors about, is, here, I'm disarming.

Subtext for the highlighted sentences: "We know that it is impossible for a disarmed regime to disarm. That is why we are demanding it. You know we want a war. Do you think we would actually demand something from Saddam that he could actually do? Where's the war in that? Also: Saddam, al Qaeda, 9/11. I'll say it again: Saddam, al Qaeda, 9/11. There's your connection. All three together in a sentence. TWO sentences. Could it be any clearer? Thank you, and God Bless America."

The Master of Doublethink:

We've got multi-agency teams doing what they do," Rumsfeld told CNN's "Late Edition." "They're looking at the sites we have knowledge of, and of course the reality is that, if we have knowledge of a site -- and a suspect site is probably the way we should phrase it -- it's very likely things are not there."

He predicted that a better way to learn the location of the weapons would be through Iraqis volunteering information to U.S. authorities.

"The only way I know we're going to get it is through people. If anyone has any ideas, we're always happy to hear them."
Rumsfeld implied that ousted Iraqi Deputy Prime Minister Tariq Aziz is unlikely to be one of those information volunteers. The defense secretary said he saw a debriefing session with Aziz, who surrendered to U.S. authorities in Iraq last week.

"It was pretty clear that he was dissembling," Rumsfeld said.
-- CNN.

As I mentioned last Thursday, Rummy was pretty clear before the war that he knew where the weapons were. Now he says that, OF COURSE, if we know where they are, it's very likely they're not there. (Combining the worst of Yogi Berra, Dan Quayle, and Joseph Goebbels.)

Also, it's apparent that Rummy is only happy to hear from those who say exactly what he wants to hear. And what does Rummy want to hear? Probably something like this:

"Saddam Hussein had all of the thousands of tons of weapons with him in the one palace you guys didn't bomb. Just before the statue fell, he ate them all and walked to Syria, where he regurgitated them so Syria could start its own program. That's exactly what happened."

Whoever says that will be the next president of Iraq.

This guy is furious!
I'm furious that my President appears on the USS Abraham Lincoln in a military uniform to address the troops and announce combat in Iraq "over". I challenge him to tell that to the people of Fallujah, who have been massacred in the streets of their city! That aside, I'm trying to think of the last time I saw a "president" in military uniform. I can think of three in particular: Saddam Hussein, Pervez Musharraf and Manuel Noriega.

Read the whole rant.
My old high-school classmate Eric Zorn brings up in his Chicago Tribune column the Bush AWOL details in response to the disgusting flight to the Lincoln last week.

Full disclosure: Zorn wasn't my favorite classmate, but he's climbing!
Winston! Toss that story about looting of museum articles down the memory hole!

Yes, Big Brother, right after the Two Minute Hate.

(A little too cryptic? Here's a summary: The Chicago Tribune is reporting that not much is missing from the National Museum in Baghdad, after all. Winston Smith was the main character in George Orwell's 1984, and his job at the Ministry of Truth (CNN, FoxNews, NBC, Chicago Tribune, etc.) was to rewrite history to conform to current government policy. Articles which didn't fit that policy were tossed down the "memory hole." The "Two Minute Hate" was a ritual observed by Big Brother's subjects where they hissed, booed, and threw things at pictures of Big Brother's enemies.)

Meanwhile, elsewhere in the Tribune Attorney General John "Big Brother" Ashcroft is saying that the artifacts, both those that were and weren't stolen, were stolen by organized crime. In the same article, General Tommy "Ballpark" Franks is saying they weren't. CNN is awaiting further disinformation from the administration before reporting, while FoxNews reports that the artifacts were taken by Hillary Clinton and Susan Sarandon, with help from the Dixie Chicks.
Wishing Tony Blair a happy 50th birthday
One of many birthday greetings sent to the British PM on the Guardian web site:

Happy Birthday Tony

Today, I hope you're reflecting on all those children and babies that you have (or will kill) because of a political decision.

Are you happy to have your name etched in the history books as Bush's poodle. You're the one person who could have stopped this imperialistic madness but, no, you chose to join it.

I hope you can't sleep at night because you deserve to be faced with all of those lives you've ruined, every minute of the day and night.

Count your blessings though Tony: at least all of your children have their bodies intact, your baby wasn't born with massive defects through radiation posioning and your wife doesn't mourn for the family and life she should have had around her.

Think Tony, what exactly did you do?

from Dan Wasserman of the Boston Globe.

from Signe Wilkinson of the Philadelphia Daily News.

from Argentine cartoonist Sergio Langer.
They only hear what they want to hear, and disregard the rest...
Consider the now-disproved claims by President Bush and Colin Powell that Iraq tried to buy uranium from Niger so it could build nuclear weapons. As Seymour Hersh noted in The New Yorker, the claims were based on documents that had been forged so amateurishly that they should never have been taken seriously.

I'm told by a person involved in the Niger caper that more than a year ago the vice president's office asked for an investigation of the uranium deal, so a former U.S. ambassador to Africa was dispatched to Niger. In February 2002, according to someone present at the meetings, that envoy reported to the C.I.A. and State Department that the information was unequivocally wrong and that the documents had been forged.

The envoy reported, for example, that a Niger minister whose signature was on one of the documents had in fact been out of office for more than a decade. In addition, the Niger mining program was structured so that the uranium diversion had been impossible. The envoy's debunking of the forgery was passed around the administration and seemed to be accepted — except that President Bush and the State Department kept citing it anyway.

"It's disingenuous for the State Department people to say they were bamboozled because they knew about this for a year," one insider said.
-- Nicholas Kristof in today's NY Times.

So much for the last tiny remaining shreds of Colin Powell's credibility. No matter his humble Jamaican-American origins, no matter that he is very articulate and sounds eminently reasonable: Powell is an American imperialist and has been since Vietnam. He was willingly used by Bush (Rove and Baker, to be more accurate) to help sway public opinion during the Florida election controversy, being paraded as the next Secretary of State to calm very-justified public fears of Bush's ignorance of foreign policy. He has been about as much of a moderating influence on Bush's policies as Kissinger was on Nixon's. At this point, I think the supposed rift between Powell and Rumsfeld is just more deception to maintain Powell's supposed "dove" image--I think Colin and Rummy have been on the same page since day one.

(Okay, I've used the Simon & Garfunkel line before, but it still works! Besides, it appears that repetition is an effective political tactic. That is to say, repetition is an effective political tactic. Kucinich for President! Kucinich for President!)

Monday, May 05, 2003

Ignore Their Words: from Seeing the Forest. As with most of what is written at Seeing the Forest, this is well thought out and well written. I'm not sure it's right, though. With our state-run media, it is hard to come up with indisputable facts: There were/are WMD's in Iraq, or not; Saddam was linked to al Qaeda and 9/11, or not; etc. But the Bushies have regularly and spectacularly contradicted themselves many times, apparently relying on the national attention deficit disorder to cover their tracks. But for convincing people that they are lying, pointing out the contradictions, in the Bushies' own words, should be effective (although Americans have become skilled practitioners of doublethink). Still, if you can quote Bush or Powell from the weeks immediately preceding the war saying that Iraq's WMD's exist and pose an imminent threat to the US, and then quote them from the past week suggesting that maybe the weapons were destroyed just before the war, or on any number of other contradictions, it may be possible to crack the facade of those whose brainwashing isn't complete.
Grading the peace movement. Did we stop a world war?
Twelve Arrested in O-hi-o. Thirty-three years ago yesterday, four students were shot to death by the National Guard at Kent State University. Yesterday, twelve anti-war protesters were arrested at Kent State.
Uh oh. Cheney's tunnel is coming to Detroit.
What about North Korea?
A tough topic to rant about. Obviously (I hope) I don't want Bush to start yet another war. But North Korea seems to be a real threat to at least do some damage to the US, while Iraq apparently was not. Many have already pointed out (see here, for example) that comparing the treatment of North Korea with that of Iraq sends the clear message to other countries that nukes are the only way to avoid a US invasion. So what's the story here? What is Bush's motive? Here's a hint from the NY Times:
Another official who has discussed the issue with Mr. Bush said his thinking was that the North Koreans "are looking to get us excited, to make us issue declarations."

"And his answer to them is," the official added, `You're hungry, and you can't eat plutonium.' "

So, Iraq didn't have nukes, so we bombed, sanctioned and invaded them so they'd go hungry. North Korea has nukes, or says they do, so we ignore them so they'll go hungry. Sounds like starvation is the main goal of the Bushies, abroad and at home.

Actually, I have no idea. Some things are simply unfathomable, like why the tornadoes in Missouri hit one town but not another. Bush didn't like Saddam's moustache, so invade. He thinks Kim's hair is funny and cute, so don't invade. Who knows?

[Update] Word spellcheck reports that both "tornadoes" and "tornados" are valid plurals of "tornado." My spelling, with the "e," is used by the NY Times and CNN. I don't know--neither one looks right to me. Maybe I'll ask Dan Quayl.
Question Answered:
I mentioned in my debate review that "For some reason, four or five candidates chose to ask Senator Graham questions."
A commenter on MaxSpeak provides the reason: The big point of Graham: almost every question during the candidates question period was directed at him. That giant sucking sound you heard had nothing to do with was the candidates sucking up to Graham to be their VP so they can take FLA. Count on it.
And I still can't believe Kucinich posed his question to Lieberman. Lieberman is best ignored completely, like most Republicans.
The failure to find weapons of mass destruction six weeks after US and UK forces invaded Iraq suggests either that such weapons are simply not there, or that those eventually found there will not be in sufficient quantity or capability to support your repeated claim that Iraq posed a grave threat to our country’s security. Your opposition to inviting UN inspectors into Iraq feeds the suspicion that you wish to avoid independent verification; some even suggest that your administration wishes to preserve the option of “planting” such weapons to be “discovered” later. Sen. Carl Levin recently warned that, if some are found “Many people around the world will think we planted those weapons, unless the UN inspectors are there with us.” -- from "Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity" in a memo to President Bush.

The memo points out that the case made for war in Iraq was based for the most part on faulty intelligence, intelligence that was believed by Congress in authorizing the war and by the UN Security Council when it passed resolution 1441. The "veteran intelligence professionals" go on to recommend that Bush:

(1) Invite UN inspectors to return to Iraq without further delay; and

(2) Ask Gen. Brent Scowcroft, Chair of your Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board, to launch an immediate inquiry into the performance of the CIA and other intelligence agencies in providing the intelligence upon which you have based your fateful decision for war against Iraq.

Some have suggested that the lack of concern about the evidence of WMD's, even the fact that none have been planted to be "discovered" yet, is fully intentional, that the purpose of the war in Iraq was to let any country anywhere know that the US is ready to kick its butt at any moment, no reason required. Do 70% of Americans really support that? Why isn't Bush being impeached?
It's beginning to look a lot like quagmire...
Our government, military, sleazy former exiles and sleazy daddy-warbucks contractors are finding it difficult to bring order to Iraq after destroying most of its government and infrastructure. The Iraqis are being given the same option that the Palestinians and Afghanis have been given: You can have all the democracy you want, just as long as you pick exactly the same leaders we pick. Meanwhile, chaos is rampant and people are dying daily.

Sunday, May 04, 2003

Bob's Debate Review
Initial Biases: Going in, my rankings of the candidates would have been: Kucinich, Dean, Sharpton, Moseley Braun, Kerry, Gephardt, Graham, Edwards, and Lieberman.
Breaking it down:
Positions: I learned a bit more about the positions of the candidates. Based on what I heard in the debate, I would now rank the candidates positions as follows: Kucinich, Moseley Braun, Sharpton, Dean, Gephardt, Edwards, Graham, Kerry, and Lieberman. (The first four opposed war in Iraq--Graham voted against it, but because he said the authorization bill was "too weak.") Moseley Braun and Kucinich speak most strongly on civil rights, both calling for repealing the Patriot Act. Kucinich and Gephardt seem to be the strongest in opposing the "free trade" nonsense.
Likeability: I liked Kucinich a lot when I heard him speak in person, but he definitely needs work on TV. For likeability, based solely on the TV debate, I would rank the candidates as follows: Edwards, Moseley Braun, Graham, Sharpton, Kerry, Kucinich, Gephardt, Dean and Lieberman. Edwards and Moseley Braun come across as very nice and knowledgeable, not much grandstanding. Actually, George Stephanopoulos, the debate moderator, was probably the most likeable. (Where does he stand on the issues?)
Electability: I would hope for Kucinich, Sharpton, or Moseley Braun, based on their positions, but based on the debate I would have to rank Edwards as the most electable. Something about Dean just grated on me, probably more than any of the others (except Lieberman, of course).
Winners and Losers: I'm still supporting Kucinich, but as far as the debate changing my opinions, I would rank Edwards and Moseley Braun as the big winners, Gephardt, Graham and Sharpton as small winners,with Dean a big loser and Kucinich (big lead to less big lead), Kerry as mild losers, and Lieberman no change (dead last to dead last).

Update (another thought): One round of the debate involved each candidate asking one other candidate one question. For some reason, four or five candidates chose to ask Senator Graham questions, while several candidates, including Kucinich, weren't questioned by anyone in that round. I think Kucinich made a mistake by posing his question to Lieberman; not only did it give Lieberman one more chance to say that he is "strong" on defense and homeland security, but it deprived someone like Moseley Braun of a chance to present a progressive position on war, trade or the economy.
Making Iraq safe for Dirty Bombers:
A specially trained Defense Department team, dispatched after a month of official indecision to survey a major Iraqi radioactive waste repository, today found the site heavily looted and said it was impossible to tell whether nuclear materials were missing.

The discovery at the Baghdad Nuclear Research Facility was the second since the end of the war in which a known nuclear cache was plundered extensively enough that authorities could not rule out the possibility that deadly materials had been stolen. The survey, conducted by a U.S. Special Forces detachment and eight nuclear experts from a Pentagon office called the Direct Support Team, appeared to offer fresh evidence that the war has dispersed the country's most dangerous technologies beyond anyone's knowledge or control.
-- Washington Post.

The war was illegal. The war was unconstitutional. The war was immoral. The war was based on false pretenses. The war was so screwed up that it may well have enabled dangerous materials to get into the hands of, well, anybody. Is it just the wonderful economy that is keeping so many Americans supporting our imbecile-in-chief?

Ann Arbor Residents! Next week is Get Out and Bike Week! So get out and bike!
The Washington Post has an ever-so-slightly better article on last night's Democratic debate in South Carolina than does the NY Times, for two reasons. For one it at least mentioned statements by Kucinich and Mosely-Braun:

Kucinich said Gephardt did not go far enough and that it was time to get private insurers out of the business of health care and instead provide "guaranteed, single-payer universal health care" funded by the federal government.
Braun attacked Bush for what she said was an assault on civil liberties. "I think we have a crisis in America when it comes to civil liberties," she said.

The other reason it is better is that it provides a clear listing of the times the debate will be shown on C-Span: Sunday -- 1 p.m., 6:30 p.m. and 9:30 p.m. -- and 12:30 a.m. on Monday.

There is no doubt that finding those two bottles of Chlorox in the Baghdad laundry within a mile of the gas station, is a sure sign of their intent to use chemical warfare. We got them just in the nick of time... -- A comment on the World Socialist Web Site from a reader in Seattle.

PS: Yes, I know THAT is satire.
Mon Dieu! Doonesbury takes on the conquer monkeys in the name (and language) of our friends, the French!
Who invited that Republican to the Democratic debate?
Mr. Lieberman criticized both Dr. Dean for opposing the war and Mr. Kerry for offering what he described as ambivalent support for it, saying that that could undercut the party next year. "No Democrat will be elected president in 2004 who is not strong on defense, and this war was a test of that," he said. Mr. Lieberman said the position of those two candidates "will not give the people confidence about our party's willingness to make the tough decisions to protect their security." -- NY Times.

The debate will be shown on C-Span several times today: here is the schedule.

Apparently, Dean and Kerry attacked each other pretty heavily, with Al Sharpton and John Edwards acting as peacemakers. Edwards said at one point Whatever personal differences exist, Governor Dean or Senator Kerry — either one would be a better president than the one we have. Of course, I think Kucinich, who wasn't quoted in the article at all, offers the best real alternative. But of the nine, only Lieberman seems to offer no real alternative whatsoever--a different smirk, perhaps. In reply to his idiotic comment quoted above, I say the war was a test about respecting the Constitution and international law. Lieberman failed it in the worst way, while Edwards, Kerry, Gephardt were also complicit with their pro-war votes. Sen. Graham voted against it, but he said it was because the war resolution wasn't strong enough. I think all five should be eliminated from consideration as fast as possible, leaving the field to Kucinich, Dean, Sharpton, and Moseley-Braun.

Saturday, May 03, 2003

More on Waron/Satire:
I saw another letter to the editor where a woman was all upset because she saw a sign that said "Ashamed to be an American." She offered to help pay for a one-way ticket out of here for anyone who felt that way. Maybe I'll keep her name and take her up on it if I decide to move to Mexico. Of course, maybe it was satire, too. What if the whole Bush administration is satire, but the whole country is too dense to get it? Any day now, Al Gore and the Supreme Court and Osama bin Laden and Saddam Hussein step out from behind a curtain. With a stiff little chuckle Al says, "Boy, did we have you going! Did you actually learn that supporting right-wing fear-mongerers is seriously dangerous?"

But we knew that already...

It appears that Supreme Court Justices Scalia and Rehnquist may be criminals. Their poker games with morality maven William Bennett apparently violate DC law. Now if the DC cops arrest them, and Bush pardons them, can the pardon be ignored if it is shown that the poker games were going on before the 2000 election, thereby invalidating their decision, thus invalidating Bush's right to pardon them? Probably not, but let's give it a try!
"The wars of the next century will be about water" -- The World Bank

Lots of water links from Polizeros. I don't have a link right now, but don't be surprised if five years from now more of the water from the Tigris and Euphrates rivers ends up in Tel Aviv, with less showing up in Baghdad and Basra.
This much is certain...
What does Bush have to say about the absence of evidence on these two points (WMD's in Iraq and Iraq's ties to al Qaeda)? "This much is certain," he observed in his victory address. "No terrorist network will gain weapons of mass destruction from the Iraqi regime, because the regime is no more."

Well, that's true. No terrorist network will get weapons from Pat Moynihan, either. That doesn't make his death essential to the war on terror.

--William Saletan, via Tom Tomorrow.
Why do they hate America?
Going into his meeting with Syrian President Bashar Assad, Powell said clearing destructive weapons from the region is a long-standing U.S. goal, but now is not the time to address that matter. -- AP.

The US, the country with by far the largest stocks of weapons of mass destruction, just attacked a country in clear violation of international law and the UN charter, supposedly to rid that country of WMD's, which it looks more and more like they didn't have. The US claimed that the threat was so serious that it couldn't wait for UN inspectors to verify it (we now know why). But when Arab states suggest that the US drop its hypocrisy and admit that Israel has more WMD's, including approximately 200 nuclear weapons, that should be destroyed to clear the region of WMD's, Powell says "now is not the time."

Friday, May 02, 2003

The correct answer is: SATIRE! (Referring to my online poll from yesterday.) I fell for it too, at least initially. Once someone pointed out to me that that letter to the editor might be satire, I started to wonder. The sentences were too complete and well composed; most warons seem to be semi-literate at best (W being the prime example). Thanks to Cynthia in our peace group for actually calling the gentleman who wrote it and asking him. He said he thought the part about Iraqis flying more planes into buildings should have given it away, but Cynthia replied that no, plenty of warons believe that.
Dang. Can it be THIS bad?
From Willam Rivers Pitt:
In George W. Bush’s America, being even moderately liberal these days is like being a Red Sox fan. You know what needs to happen, you know what is right, and yet some cosmic force akin to the lingering shade of Babe Ruth always manages to ascend from purgatory and batter you into dust right at the moment when something good and great is within your grasp. If you do manage to get your lineup together - home run issues, grand slam arguments, All Star players - you will get completely outspent by the damned Yankees who are sitting in your division with more money than God and the will to use it. Baseball, like politics, has no spending limits.

And then, of course, there are the umpires. In baseball they wear blue and there is no appealing their decisions, even when a call is clearly wrong. I remember with writhing specificity the 1999 ALCS between the Yankees and Red Sox. A Sox player was charging for second base and Chuck Knoblauch swung a tag at him midway down the line. Knoblaugh missed the tag by a full three feet - there was a barnload of visible daylight between his glove and the Sox player - and the umpire called the Sox player out. No recourse, no appeal, and the Sox lost the series. The Yankees went on to annihilate the Atlanta Braves for their 216,339,102nd World Series title.

In George W. Bush’s America, the umpires sit in front of television cameras and work for major news networks. They look and speak like fashion models instead of journalists. They draw their paychecks from General Electric, Viacom, Disney, AOL/TimeWarner and Rupert Murdoch. There is no appealing the calls they make day after day and night after night, even when there is a barnload of visible daylight between their interpretation and the actual facts at hand. The people running this administration miss the tag with dreary regularity, and yet the media umpires seldom fail to pump their fists and yell, “You’re out!” They hide behind their masks, and all the shouting and dirt-kicking accomplishes exactly nothing.

Being a liberal is like being a Red Sox fan. Man, is that depressing.

See here for more.
Jake at Lying Media Bastards has a rundown of yesterday's Bushian media event, including a photo comparison of the deserter-in-chief with two other fictional heroes.
Ruminate This has a good rant about the continuing media consolidation in this country, which continues unabated under the watchful eye of SecState's son Michael Powell. The five corporations which currently control almost all of US television, and much of the rest of the media, are General Electric (NBC, MSNBC, CNBC, etc.), Disney (ABC, ESPN, etc.), AOL Time Warner (CNN, Time magazine, etc.), Fox (FoxNews, Fox TV, FoxSportsNet, etc.), and Viacom (CBS and others). These are the companies that have been complicit in helping Bush convince the majority of Americans that Iraq was somehow involved with 9/11, based on zero evidence. They should be broken up into tiny little pieces, returning the air and cable waves to the American public.
Hey! I found something in smirky's speech I can agree with!

Any outlaw regime that has ties to terrorist groups and seeks or possesses weapons of mass destruction is a grave danger to the civilized world... -- George W. Bush

And while much of the "war on terrorism" could properly be considered terrorism in its own right (what is "shock and awe" if not terrorism?), the U.S. government now has ties to a group listed as a terrorist group by the US government. See Tom Tomorrow for details.

And outlaw regime? You betcha! Pre-emptive strikes on sovereign nations is as outlaw as a regime can get.

Thursday, May 01, 2003

Fried Rice: Condi's "just-in-time" justification for there being no WMD's:
She has no doubt that the US-led coalition, assisted by experts from Britain and Australia, will find Iraq's WMD programs. But for the first time, Dr Rice is saying publicly that it is less likely many actual weapons will be found. Rather, she described the programs as being hidden in so-called "dual use" infrastructure. In other words, chemicals and biological agents could be in plants, factories and laboratories capable of being used for legal and prohibited purposes.
According to Dr Rice, the weapons programs are "in bits and pieces" rather than assembled weapons. "You may find assembly lines, you may find pieces hidden here and there," she said. Ingredients or precursors, many non-lethal by themselves, could be embedded in dual-use facilities.
She had a new explanation too for Iraq's ability to launch these weapons that were not assembled. "Just-in-time assembly" and "just-in-time" inventory, as she put it.
-- Sydney Morning Herald, via Bob Harris.

So, was it manufacturing and management methods that Saddam was going to sell to the terrorists? Couldn't they just order books on the subjects from Amazon?

We hate them for their freedoms: U.S. says Canada cares too much about liberties

(That's the actual headline...sigh.)
Is it real, or is it satire?

The following letter to the editor was published in the Ann Arbor News:

I am a patient man, but it makes me furious that anyone can be an American and not support our military operation in Iraq. What I cannot understand is how anyone can protest against the government over something as important as war. Don't you realize that nothing is more important, or more American, than war? Don't you realize that Americans have fought and died for your very freedom to protest? At the very least, you could show appreciation for that freedom by having the good sense not to exercise it. Just ask yourself where we would be right now if 56,000 Americans had not died in Vietnam. What do you want, another Sept. 11th? Do you want Iraqis to fly their planes into more of our buildings? And please don't make an appeal to emotion by crying about innocent Iraqis being killed. War isn't about killing people, it's about making the world a safer place. Go ahead and protest, we'll permit it for now, but remember that real Americans will support our troops no matter where they decide to go.

I was furious when I read it, and immediately posted it to our peace group's listserv. Somebody responded quickly, suggesting that it might be tongue-in-cheek. Someone else said he at first thought it was satire, but then decided it was genuine warmonger. What do you think?

Warmonger or Satire?

View the results
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I now know the answer--I'll post it tomorrow.

Presidential Candidate Dennis Kucinich on the war:
Regardless of the outcome, the war in Iraq was wrong. While the United States has won a military victory in Iraq, the Administration never justified the war, rendering it a diplomatic and foreign policy failure.

The Administration led America into a war based on false pretenses. Even today, as the President declares an end to combat, there is no credible evidence that Iraq possessed weapons of mass destruction. These weapons, they said, posed an immediate and imminent threat to our nation and our allies, and could not be eliminated through international weapons inspectors.

The Administration, with its policy in Iraq, has isolated the United States from the international community and threatens to make our country less safe, not more safe.

Bringing the troops home, and bringing in the international community to assist with humanitarian reconstruction and security, must happen immediately. Rhetoric alone will not convince the world that the United States is not occupying Iraq, especially since the U.S. has prioritized the rebuilding oil infrastructures instead of providing humanitarian assistance.
-- copied from MouseMusings.
Attack Injures 7 US Soldiers in Angry Iraqi City. What do you bet this becomes daily news, and then daily non-news?
You've probably seen this quote before, but it bears repeating:
Of all the enemies to public liberty war is, perhaps, the most to be dreaded because it comprises and develops the germ of every other. War is the parent of armies; from these proceed debts and taxes. And armies, and debts, and taxes are the known instruments for bringing the many under the domination of the few.

In war, too, the discretionary power of the Executive [Branch of Government] is extended. Its influence in dealing out offices, honors, and emoluments is multiplied; and all the means of seducing the minds are added to those of subduing the force of the people. The same malignant aspect in republicanism may be traced in the inequality of fortunes, and the opportunities of fraud, growing out of a state of war...and in the degeneracy of manners and morals, engendered by both. No nation could preserve its freedom in the midst of continual warfare.
-- James Madison (quoted by Thom Hartmann).
Tell 'em you're not going to tell them, then don't tell them, then don't tell them some more. Or something like that. Anyway, Rummy told us back in January that he wasn't going to tell us where the WMD's are.
"Top al Qaeda operative" arrested in Pakistan. According to the article, "U.S. officials also believe Attash was the mastermind of the Cole bombing, which killed 17 U.S. sailors October 12, 2000."

Help me out here--maybe I'll find it myself later on, but if you know, please e-mail me--doesn't this make about the sixth or eighth "mastermind" of the Cole bombing who has been captured or killed in the "war on terrorism?" There was Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, who was either captured, or maybe killed in Pakistan last year, or who knows, escaped or never existed. There were those guys killed by a missile fired from a CIA Predator drone in the Yemeni desert. And I thought that Osama guy was to blame! How many masterminds does it take to fill a boat with explosives?

W claims this capture is significant:
"He's a killer. He was one of the top al Qaeda operatives," Bush said at the White House. "He was right below Khalid Shaikh Mohammed on the organizational chart of al Qaeda. He is one less person that people who love freedom have to worry about."

So why wasn't he on the FBI's list of most wanted terrorists? I don't see anyone on that list with a name anything like Whalid ba Attash, or Tawfiq bin Attash or Khallad (names listed in the CNN article). I just made a local copy of that FBI page, just in case Winston Smith is on the ball at the Ministry of Truth, and the fact that Attash was not on the list disappears down the memory hole.

People who love freedom know who they really have to worry about.
In His Own Words:
Rummy, Jan 19, 2003:
"...Saddam Hussein is a liar. He lies every single day. He's putting weapons systems right next to mosques, next to schools, next to hospitals, next to orphanages."
Rummy, Mar 30, 2003:
"The area in the south and the west and the north (of Iraq) that coalition forces control is substantial. It ... happens not to be the area where weapons of mass destruction were dispersed," Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld said Sunday on ABC's This Week. "We know where they are. They're in the area around Tikrit and Baghdad."
Rummy, Apr 18, 2003:
"I don't think we'll discover anything, myself," Rumsfeld said..."I think what will happen is we'll discover people who will tell us where to go find it. It is not like a treasure hunt where you just run around looking everywhere, hoping you find something."

Chain of Evidence: Those quotes are part of a good summary of before-and-after Rummy and Bush quotes from the Hammerdown blog, which was linked to by Hegemoney, which I found through MouseMusings.

Bottom Line: They sold war in Iraq because of an "imminent threat" from weapons of mass destruction. They lied.