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 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.

More Bad News:

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.

The WSWS has two good articles today on the legislative standoff in Texas:

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.)

Hehe: Senate Debates Wrong Tax Bill.

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.

Lots of progress in the "war on terrorism"
41 Die in Suicide Bombing in Chechnya.
Four bombs explode in Riyadh prior to Powell's visit.

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.