Bob's Links and Rants -- Fair and Balanced

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

Saturday, 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...

Bush proposes "free-trade" zone for Middle East:

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.”

From Mike Thompson.

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.