Monday, June 30, 2003
Sunday, June 29, 2003
His name was Brandon Sloan, and he was from Cleveland, Ohio. Sloan was an American soldier who was killed March 23 after his convoy came under attack in Iraq. He was 19 years old. He was not the first to die, and he was not the last. When a man or woman puts on the uniform of the United States military and swears the oath of service, they are taking a leap of faith that their lives will not be used and disposed of by those who would lie and deceive them into combat.
George W. Bush and his administration owe an explanation to the family of Brandon Sloan, and to the families of all the other troops who have fallen and will fall in this war. They owe an explanation to the American people and to the world for the carnage they caused with their lies and exaggerations. There must be a reckoning. -- William Rivers Pitt.
Saturday, June 28, 2003
I went to the Martin Luther King Freedom March and Rally in Detroit this morning, joining thousands of marchers and maybe a dozen Kucinich volunteers. As far as I could tell, Kucinich was the only presidential candidate represented at the march, and we got very good responses from almost everyone, especially the union members. Kucinich has a very good shot here in Michigan!
I have posted a bunch of photos from the march here.
Friday, June 27, 2003
This is a key editorial, in a publication read by a large number of Army personnel (I read it religiously while serving). It exposes the "support our troops" hypocrites as creatures worth less than dirt. They LIE to place our troops in harms way. Then they:
- Refuse to double the $6,000 gratuity to the families of soldiers who die in harms way.
- They roll back pay increases for troops in harms way.
- They refuse to pass servicemember-friendly tax provisions, as the GOP's corporate masters get first dibs.
- They provide meager basic increases for the lower ranks.
- They cut the Pentagon's building budget (which pays for things such as barracks improvements, bowling alleys and other quality-of-life improvements at military bases, something that was really important to us soldiers), in order to make room for Bush's tax cuts.
Sure there are! Just look at any Bush speech for the last six months!
The series of indictments, unsealed today in U.S. District Court, charges that the men worked with Lashkar-i-Taiba, a group involved in the fighting in Kashmir that has been designated a terrorist organization by the U.S. government.
The indictment also says that an unidentified member of the conspiracy told other members that fighting U.S. troops in Afghanistan "was a valid jihad for Muslims" and that those killed fighting Americans there would die as martyrs. In early February, the indictment says, the unindicted conspirator celebrated the crash of the space shuttle Columbia in a message that "advised his followers that the United States was the greatest enemy of Muslims."
Specifically, the men are accused of practicing small-unit military tactics on private property in Spotsylvania County and using paintball games, weapons and equipment to simulate actual combat "in preparation for violent jihad," the indictment says.
Royer said [he] worked in Pakistan for Lashkar-i-Taiba writing news releases in 1999 or 2000, and that Yong Kwon, another of the men in custody, was with the group after Sept. 11, 2001. But, Royer said, both he and Kwon were not in Pakistan or with the group after December 2001, when the State Department declared Lashkar-i-Taiba a foreign terrorist organization.
The indictment says that some of the training allegedly occurred at the Quantico Marine Corps base in Prince William County. The men also are accused of gathering at a mosque in Falls Church "to hear lectures on the righteousness of violent jihad in Kashmir, Chechnya and other places around the world and to watch videotapes of mujahideen engaged in jihad in such locations."
The men are charged with violating the Neutrality Act, a federal law that bans people from leaving the United States to go attack other countries the United States is at peace with. [I wonder if the troops in Iraq know about the Neutrality Act.] They also face a variety of weapons charges.
Today's arrests culminate a federal probe in which agents armed with search warrants have previously raided the homes of about a dozen people in the D.C. suburbs and have seized rifles, other weapons, scopes, ammunition, terrorist literature and other documents.
So, a couple of these guys were involved with a group determined LATER to be a terrorist group. If I remember my high school civics, that's known as a "bill of attainder," or maybe an "Ex Post Facto Law." Either way, it's unconstitutional: No bill of attainder or ex post facto Law shall be passed. (Article 1, Section 9, US Constitution). And Allah forbid that they hear lectures or watch videos on the righteousness of violent jihad! FoxNews watchers get that every day!
Dean got 44% of the votes, Kucinich 24%. See here for complete results.
Loser Bush loses big time in big loss in court, the loserWith this court decision, the U.S. has won, Bush has lost. Let's get that straight.
Of course, Moussaoui is probably now about to go over the precipice into enemy-combatant land and never be heard from again, unless he immediately confesses to masterminding 9/11, lying about WMD's, and sending pretzels and Segways to Bush.
Innocent until proven guilty (no matter how awful the charges), rights to see the evidence, question accusers, speedy trial by jury--without these, we are the Soviet Union.
Mr Blair chose to please Mr Putin by staying silent on the Russian deaths from mine explosions and shootings, even though it is thought that the number of Chechen civilians being killed by Russian forces is comparable with that of Saddam Hussein's victims in his final years in power. -- The Guardian.
Mr Putin offered Russian intelligence help in tracking down Iraq's elusive WMD. He rejected suggestions that he had ridiculed the Anglo-American failure to find any when Mr Blair was in Moscow in April. "Russia also thought that Iraq might possess weapons of mass destruction," Mr Putin said.
"We did not know it for sure. But we acted on the premise that it was possible. If they existed, we need to know where they were hidden because they are a threat."
Just because Putin opposed the war in Iraq doesn't make him a good guy. He's every bit as much of a liar as Bush or Blair:
Vladimir Putin yesterday urged the prime minister to let the United Nations take the lead role in quickly forming a new Iraqi government as one way to ease the growing resentment among Iraqis over the US and British occupation.
"Everyone knows how the new authority was organised and legitimised in Afghanistan," he told a joint press conference. At the end of the Afghan war the UN held a round-table conference of all Afghan factions which led within less than a month to an interim Afghan government. (my emphasis both places)
Yeah, Vlady (or should I call you "Pooty-Poot" like W does?), that's working out just great. And the UN had about as much input into Afghanistan's "government" as it did on what I had for breakfast this morning.
Downing Street is in bullish mood and last night sent evidence to the foreign affairs select committee which it believes will prove that No 10 did not propose improper drafting changes to the joint intelligence committee (JIC) report published in September. It has also sent evidence to justify its claim that the second so-called dodgy dossier did include new intelligence evidence.
Mr Straw plans to reveal intelligence material to prove that the claim that Iraq could fire chemical weapons was not inserted into the September dossier against the wishes of the intelligence services. He will also justify the claim that Iraq was seeking uranium from Niger.
Got that? "We can prove that we got false data honestly. Or something."
Oh, what a tangled web we weave...
"Bush is a master at inducing learned helplessness in the electorate," writes Renana Brooks, a clinical psychologist who specializes in language and power. "He uses pessimistic language that creates fear and disables people from feeling they can solve their problems." Brooks makes these observations in a recent article entitled A Nation of Victims. "Learned helplessness" is a clinical condition. It develops when people come to believe that they have no control over their environment, and that problems caused by negative events are both permanent as well as complexly related to other events. Learned helplessness destroys a person’s motivation to respond to outside threats and problems.
Brooks argues that Bush seeks to generate learned helplessness in order to break down electoral resistance to his agenda. To this end, he uses several dominating linguistic techniques including "empty language," "personalization," and "negative framework." -- From the Alliance for Democracy. Brooks' article in the Nation can be found here.
Thursday, June 26, 2003
DeLay, Santorum and fellow criminals push lobbying firms to hire Republicans--only. -- Washington Post.
In his first appearance since the collapse of Saddam Hussein's regime -- an interview with the Al-Arabiya satellite network, al-Sahhaf did not directly back down from some of his false claims during the war.
Asked where he got his information, he said: "From authentic sources. Many authentic sources.''
"And these also will be dealt with by history,'' he said. -- AP.
I expect a similar interview with Ari Fleischer in a couple of months.
[Update] Cyndy of MouseMusings sent me a copy, which I have saved on my web site. You can read it here. I'm pretty sure Bob Harris won't mind the mirror. Thanks, Cyndy!
Q Ari, back on the EU. Did anything that the President serve at lunch today contain genetically-modified -- (laughter.)
MR. FLEISCHER: Well they're eating now, and the President did jokingly say as he got up from the table, let's go eat some genetically-modified food for lunch. (Laughter.) So he --
Q So he's fairly confident that there were --
MR. FLEISCHER: He said it with a big smile and everybody laughed. And I'm here with you, I'm not there eating the food.
Q Can you check and see whether, in fact, there was anything in the menu?
MR. FLEISCHER: I think it was the usual White House fare.
Q Which is very genetically modified? (Laughter.)
MR. FLEISCHER: Which in that building, especially, is delicious. In this building, it's very good. (Laughter.) -- Yesterday's White House press briefing.
They're screwing with stuff they don't understand on a worldwide scale, threatening the world's food supply and life on the planet, and they're laughing about it.
Okay, this is Haaretz quoting Palestinian prime minister Abbas, and it has probably been translated once or twice, so maybe it's not what W actually said (like that Wolfowitz "swimming in oil" quote a few weeks ago). Still, I hope someone asks Ari about it at the press briefing:
According to Abbas, immediately thereafter Bush said: "God told me to strike at al Qaida and I struck them, and then he instructed me to strike at Saddam, which I did, and now I am determined to solve the problem in the Middle East. If you help me I will act, and if not, the elections will come and I will have to focus on them." -- From Zeitgeist via Seeing the Forest.
Very...tempted...to rant...ENDLESSLY...on this (picture me as Dr. Strangelove). Must...wait...for...confimation...AAARGH!
Last evening, the CNN web site had as its lead story a report about centrifuge components and documents having been dug up from under a rose bush in Iraq. Even then, the story contained several qualifiers and was very short on details: when were these things dug up, by whom, etc. The article has now been further watered down with a headline saying "no smoking gun", and it is no longer the main story. I haven't seen any mention of the story on the front pages of the NY Times or Washington Post web sites, although I haven't done a thorough search.
Maybe this is a good sign: The nonsense about a man in a baseball cap pointing at the sand where WMD's were that Judith Miller wrote for the NY Times has been pretty thoroughly shot down, as have the two trailers, and the media is now being careful not to rush to hype someone else's hype.
Except for Representative Dennis J. Kucinich of Ohio, all the Congressional candidates have missed votes.
Mr. Kucinich said he made it a point to cast every vote, though he said it often required a frantic mix of flight connections and catnaps as he hopped around the country on long weekends. "I don't think any of my constituents looking for a new job would be able to keep their existing job for too long if they didn't show up for it," Mr. Kucinich said. -- NY Times, via the Kucinich Blog.
I saw a guest map on Polizeros' site, so I went to get one for myself. There's a link to it on the right. It seems to work okay, except an annoying error window pops up on top of the map when I click it here. Could somebody please try it and see if you get the same problem? I compared the HTML I used to that in Polizeros, and I can't see why mine causes this error window and his doesn't.
Conceptual Guerilla suggest "cheap-labor conservatives" as a good catch-phrase for Republicans, right-wingers, free-traders, etc., and makes a good case for it. He's written a lot about it, and I'm just starting to read it. Thanks to John and Cynthia for the link!
Bob Harris has more on this.
Blogger just upgraded me. It looks different when I'm posting, but I've only noticed one actual improvement so far--the permalinks seem to work! That should help any readers who want to link to my posts: the timestamp at the bottom of each post is a link to that specific post. That was supposed to be how it worked before, but it hasn't for some time, at least on recent posts.
I got to see Dennis Kucinich in person at the University of Michigan Student Union last fall, and that is one of the main reasons I am so sold on him. Here's what I wrote last October:
Dennis Kucinich! I went down to campus this afternoon to hear Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-Ohio) talk about peace and global justice. He spoke for about 30 minutes without any script or notes, and then answered questions eloquently for another 45 minutes. (Try that, W, I dare ya!) Someone asked him whether he would leave the Democratic party, given the wholesale sellout of leaders like Daschle, Gephardt and Lieberman. He responded that Gephardt "led" by ignoring the members of the House Democrats, 2/3 who voted against the war resolution. He said for now he says he is a Democrat, but sees his role as a missionary. Anyhow, if you get a chance to hear Kucinich speak sometime, don't pass it up. Hopefully, I shook the hand of our next president today.
Two people from our Kucinich-Michigan Yahoo! group have posted reports on seeing Dennis in person:
Since many volunteers have not had the opportunity to see Dennis Kucinich in person, the new state director, Bob Anderson, asked me to post my impressions of the Fund Raiser and Rally held in Elgin last Saturday night.
Elgin is about as close for me as Detroit, so I went over to have a look at what they were doing and to see what the "big dog" was like. Wow! I found him very different than the Dennis Kucinich seen on television. His finer qualities somehow allude the cameras.
He was late, but there was music and a number of speakers kept us occupied until he finally blew in. He crossed the stage, jacket open, tie flapping, took up the microphone and talked for two hours without referring to a note. He didn't avoid anything, speaking about security and what he would do about the present cri! sis in Iraq. He moved casually around the stage, spoke confidently, with ease. He was way past the self-importance issue we see coming up in some other of the candidates.
After his speech he perched at the top of the stairs leading to the stage, told stories and answered audience questions. A different side--lighter, humorous, chatty--came out. Nonetheless he seemed dedicated to finding the truth, seeking out root causes, clarifying issues, while well aware of any trickiness, or dishonesty. These various stories convinced you that this man was, indeed, experienced, ready and would stay on track--that this man would be a good president!
At the end he moved out into the audience, shook hands, took questions and worked his way down the center aisle. Then, just before the door, he turned around and spread out his arms as the crowd got up to leave.
So much warmth was there, as though he wanted to touch each person, to honor each person. You really couldn't get past him without shaking his hand. He seemed to know where everyone was standing, yet he wasn't bobbing his head, while looking over your shoulder. He took your hand, shook it, holding it just a little longer than you expected. He thanked you--more than once--as though he was truly grateful for your being there. His desire to serve and make government serve you was so evident, you left knowing that if he were elected he would keep faith with the people.
I would encourage anyone volunteering for the Kucinich campaign to make a point of meeting him, asap, as it will clarify your purpose.
And this one:
I want to reinforce what Carol said about Dennis' charisma and genuine sincerity. I first met Dennis at the Cranbrook Peace Foundation Dinner last winter. He was at a table with Bishop Gumbleton and Marianne Williamson, both of whom I had met in regards to my daughter, Alicia. Alicia was killed onboard United Flight 175 on September 11. Dennis took us aside and with heartfelt compassion reached out to us amidst the hustle and bustle of the moment. Prior to his powerful, insightful and sincere talk about peace, politics, our government and life, he announced that he was dedicating his talk to Alicia. My wife, Bev and I were so moved with his depth, his sincerity, his wisdom and his compassion. But, the real act of compassion came at the end of his talk when he came down off the stage, walked to the middle aisles where Bev and I were, and gave each of us a genuine hug. This man is for real and heads above any of the other candidates. He is what our country needs for healing, for growth, for hope, for our future.
Yours in Peace,
Wednesday, June 25, 2003
Saturday, July 12, 11:00am. Benton Harbor City Hall to St. Joseph Court House, Exit 33 off I-94. All are welcome from far and wide - march for justice for Benton Harbor citizens.
Info: Rev. Edward Pinkney 269-925-0001
I saw a comment on a web site (sorry, I lost the link) that said something like "Why all of the debate over whether Bush lied or was merely incompetent? He lied/lies AND he was/is incompetent." Whether liar or incompetent bumbler, or both, he has no business running the world. And if soulless pragmatists like Friedman will attack him only from the incompetent side, that's okay.
The following account of last night's police shooting was given to Rev. Edward Pinkney:
"About 15 State Police began harrassing a young man who was simply walking down a street. He was pushed, searched, and ordered to lay on the ground. One officer put
his foot on the man's back then stood on him. The man began yelling for help. From a hidden location someone shot one officer in his arm. Another officer then shot the man on the ground in his buttocks. The man is currently under doctor's care."
Since Saturday Benton Harbor has been experiencing TOTAL HARRASSMENT by State Police who are sending a message to the citizens (and the state): we will do anything we want whether you like it or not. Rev. Edward Pinkney and a friend were walking when 25 police cars detained them. They were asked what they were doing in the neighborhood then told they weren't free to go until police were finished talking to them. Fifteen cars were towed on Saturday alone. Hundreds of people have been searched and arrested. Many young people are being harrassed.
THIS HAS GOT TO STOP.
Bush is a coward. I am the one who took his place in Vietnam, so I should know.
Corporate media have convinced the masses of a fictitious warrior Bush, who is a hero. This has been effective, as a neighbor recently told me that “If Gore had been elected, he wouldn’t have had the guts to attack Iraq.” My heart sank when I heard that, as I cannot fathom how it “takes guts” to order bombs to be dropped on children. Only cowards can do such things. Cowards who desert from war themselves while insisting that the working class bleed and die for the excesses of their national security state. -- Jack Balkwill. Read the rest.
Tuesday, June 24, 2003
This new national security strategy is based upon pre-emptive war against those who might threaten our security.
Such a strategy of striking first against possible dangers is heavily reliant upon interpretation of accurate and timely intelligence. If we are going to hit first, based on perceived dangers, the perceptions had better be accurate. If our intelligence is faulty, we may launch pre-emptive wars against countries that do not pose a real threat against us. Or we may overlook countries that do pose real threats to our security, allowing us no chance to pursue diplomatic solutions to stop a crisis before it escalates to war. In either case lives could be needlessly lost. In other words, we had better be certain that we can discern the imminent threats from the false alarms.
Ninety-six days ago [as of June 24], President Bush announced that he had initiated a war to "disarm Iraq, to free its people and to defend the world from grave danger." The President told the world: "Our nation enters this conflict reluctantly -- yet, our purpose is sure. The people of the United States and our friends and allies will not live at the mercy of an outlaw regime that threatens the peace with weapons of mass murder."
Mr. President, our sons and daughters who serve in uniform answered a call to duty. They were sent to the hot sands of the Middle East to fight in a war that has already cost the lives of 194 Americans, thousands of innocent civilians, and unknown numbers of Iraqi soldiers. Our troops are still at risk. Hardly a day goes by that there is not another attack on the troops who are trying to restore order to a country teetering on the brink of anarchy. When are they coming home?
The President told the American people that we were compelled to go to war to secure our country from a grave threat. Are we any safer today than we were on March 18, 2003? Our nation has been committed to rebuilding a country ravaged by war and tyranny, and the cost of that task is being paid in blood and treasure every day.
It is in the compelling national interest to examine what we were told about the threat from Iraq. It is in the compelling national interest to know if the intelligence was faulty. It is in the compelling national interest to know if the intelligence was distorted.
Mr. President, Congress must face this issue squarely. Congress should begin immediately an investigation into the intelligence that was presented to the American people about the pre-war estimates of Saddam's weapons of mass destruction and the way in which that intelligence might have been misused. This is no time for a timid Congress. We have a responsibility to act in the national interest and protect the American people. We must get to the bottom of this matter.
They justify killing thousands and spending billions to rid the world of a "dangerous tyrant,"
and then they give $3 billion to this guy, who ALREADY HAS NUCLEAR WEAPONS:
Since coming to power in a military coup, General Musharraf has shown no signs of relinquishing rule to a democratically elected civilian government, despite repeated promises to do so. Indeed, in the months preceding Pakistan's October 2002 parliamentary elections, the Musharraf administration took measures that all but ensured a military-controlled government. Chief among them were an April 2002 referendum that extended Musharraf's presidential term for five years, and constitutional amendments announced in August of the same year that formalized the military's role in governance and extended restrictions on political party activities.
Torture is routinely used in Pakistan, both to obtain confessions in criminal cases and against political opponents of the government. A recent example is the chilling case of detention and torture of Rana Sanaullah Khan, a member of the suspended Punjab provincial assembly. Khan was arrested under the sedition law for criticizing the military government in November 1999. He was whipped, beaten, held incommunicado and interrogated for a week in police custody before eventually being released on bail. In October 2002, Sanaullah was re-elected to the Punjab Assembly and elected deputy leader of the opposition in the house. On March 8, 2003, he was abducted on the road by heavily armed men, some of whom wore police uniforms. According to Sanaullah:
I was handcuffed and, with my face covered with a cloth, I was driven to the ISI office where I was tortured for three or four hours. They were using some sharp-edged weapon with which they would cut open my skin and then rub some sort of chemical in the wound. I felt as if I was on fire every time they did that. I have 22 such injuries on my body. Later, I was pushed into a car and thrown on a service lane along the motorway some 20 kilometers from Faisalabad. I walked for two kilometers to a filling station from where I contacted my family and was finally shifted to a hospital.
Under Pakistan's existing Hudood Ordinance, a woman who has been raped and wants the state to prosecute her case must have four Muslim men testify that they witnessed the assault. In the absence of these male witnesses, the rape victim has no case. Equally alarming, if a woman cannot prove the rape allegation she runs a very high risk of being charged with fornication or adultery, the criminal penalty for which is either a long prison sentence, including public whipping, or, though rare, death by stoning. The testimony of women carries half the weight of a man's under this ordinance. Further, the Qisas (retribution) and Diyat (compensation) Ordinance makes it possible for crimes of honor (such as the killing of women in the name of honor) to be pardoned by relatives of the victim and assesses monetary compensation for female victims at half the rate of male victims. These are just part of a set of "Islamic" penal laws introduced by the former military ruler, General Zia ul-Haq in 1979, which have been left intact by General Musharraf.
In early June, the provincial legislature of the North West Frontier Province passed a resolution imposing "Sharia laws" in the province. Some aspects of this law will result in de jure discrimination against women, raising fears about Taliban-style policies towards women in this and other parts of the country. General Musharraf has publicly warned against this kind of extremism, but he and the Pakistani government should be urged to take concrete measures to protect the basic rights of women in conformity with international norms. -- from Human Rights Watch.
THE DETAINEES SAY Iraq destroyed all of its banned munitions years ago, and nothing more was produced. The scientists have been threatened, coaxed, offered all kinds of incentives, including safe haven outside Iraq for their families. Nothing changes their stories. -- Newsweek.
And there's this:
One U.S. official describes newly found “destruction documents,” apparent orders from high-level Iraqi officials in the late ’90s to destroy chem- and bioweapons.
I wonder if Rummy will consider evidence of absence as evidence of absence? Probably depends on what the definition of "is" is.
Still no luck in my quest to help the administration find Iraqi weapons of mass destruction. But meanwhile, I'm getting the impression that America fought Saddam, and the Islamic fundamentalists won. Nicholas Kristof, reporting from Basra, Iraq.
So why are so many people making excuses for Mr. Bush and his officials?
Part of the answer, of course, is raw partisanship. One important difference between our current scandal and the Watergate affair is that it's almost impossible now to imagine a Republican senator asking, "What did the president know, and when did he know it?"
But even people who aren't partisan Republicans shy away from confronting the administration's dishonest case for war, because they don't want to face the implications.
After all, suppose that a politician — or a journalist — admits to himself that Mr. Bush bamboozled the nation into war. Well, launching a war on false pretenses is, to say the least, a breach of trust. So if you admit to yourself that such a thing happened, you have a moral obligation to demand accountability — and to do so in the face not only of a powerful, ruthless political machine but in the face of a country not yet ready to believe that its leaders have exploited 9/11 for political gain. It's a scary prospect.
Yet if we can't find people willing to take the risk — to face the truth and act on it — what will happen to our democracy? -- Today's Krugman.
The entire Zimbabwean economy is near collapse. Reckless governmental mismanagement and unchecked corruption have produced annual inflation rates near 300 percent, unemployment of more than 70 percent and widespread shortages of food, fuel and other basic necessities. Is it any wonder that Zimbabweans are demanding political change, or that President Mugabe must rely on stepped-up violence and vote-rigging to remain in office?
On June 6, the police again arrested Mr. Mugabe's most prominent opponent, Morgan Tsvangirai. They paraded him in a courtroom in shackles and leg irons before releasing him on bail on June 20. His offense? Calling for work stoppages and demonstrations to protest economic hardship and political repression.
Like Myanmar's courageous opposition leader, Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, Mr. Tsvangirai wages a nonviolent struggle against a ruthless regime. Like the Burmese junta, President Mugabe and his Politburo colleagues have an absolute monopoly of coercive power, but no legitimacy or moral authority. In the long run, President Mugabe and his minions will lose, dragging their soiled record behind them into obscurity. But how long will it take? How many good Zimbabweans will have to lose their jobs, their homes, or even their lives before President Mugabe's violent misrule runs its course?
Gee, Colin, hitting a little close to home there, aren't you? He goes on to call for regime change:
With the president gone, with a transitional government in place and with a date fixed for new elections, Zimbabweans of all descriptions would, I believe, come together to begin the process of rebuilding their country. If this happened, the United States would be quick to pledge generous assistance to the restoration of Zimbabwe's political and economic institutions even before the election.
Fortunately, for now, he appears to be willing to settle for economic pressure and pressure from Zimbabwe's neighbors to accomplish the regime change. Even though Powell says that "For hundreds of thousands of Zimbabweans, the worst has already come," he doesn't claim that as a reason to invade the country. (It's only a reason when your other reasons have been completely discredited, and when the country is swimming in oil.)
Which leads me to wonder--exactly why did Powell write this? Just another dog-wag like the stunningly successful Mideast road map?
This is a tremendous victory for the University of Michigan, for all of higher education, and for the hundreds of groups and individuals who supported us. A majority of the Court has firmly endorsed the principle of diversity articulated by Justice Powell in the Bakke decision. This is a resounding affirmation that will be heard across the land—from our college classrooms to our corporate boardrooms.
The Court has provided two important signals. The first is a green light to pursue diversity in the college classroom. The second is a road map to get us there. We will modify our undergraduate system to comply with today’s ruling, but make no mistake: We will find the route that continues our commitment to a richly diverse student body.
I'll also note that some right wingers are furious with the Supreme Court for actually considering the merits of a case instead of going with the straight party line. I can understand the right-wing confusion after the 2000 election decision.
GEN CLARK: ...there was a concerted effort during the fall of 2001 starting immediately after 9/11 to pin 9/11 and the terrorism problem on Saddam Hussein.
MR. RUSSERT: By who? Who did that?
GEN. CLARK: Well, it came from the White House, it came from people around the White House. It came from all over. I got a call on 9/11. I was on CNN, and I got a call at my home saying, "You got to say this is connected. This is state-sponsored terrorism. This has to be connected to Saddam Hussein." I said, "But -- I'm willing to say it but what's your evidence?" And I never got any evidence...
By the way, there have been persistent rumors that Clark may toss his general's cap into the ring and run for president as a Democrat. From what I have read about him, he would immediately jump to second or third on my list of favorites, behind only Kucinich and possibly Dean. He has been opposed to the Iraq war all along, and his military credentials deliver a virtual shock and awe to the miserable chickenhawks currently in the White House. He is well known from his CNN work, and, again, based on what I know of him now, I would have no problem supporting him if he got the nomination. But let's keep working for Kucinich, because he would be better! Clark would probably put the brakes on our rapid slide into oblivion; Kucinich would turn us around and head us in the right direction.
Monday, June 23, 2003
On March 1, give or take a day, in Columbus, Ohio, the FBI arrested an American citizen they say is Iyman Faris. There wasn't a word uttered. He vanished. No lawyer was notified. He made no phone calls and wrote no postcards or letters.
He was a United States citizen who disappeared without a trace into a secret metal world.
This citizen's proper name was Mohammed Rauf. He took the Faris from a street name in his neighborhood in Columbus. I don't know why he did this for sure. A friend of mine in Columbus, Mike Weber, told me Friday that he thought the federal agents wanted him to use Faris because the real name, Rauf, purportedly would alert others that he had been caught. Who knows? You believe the FBI, you belong back in public school.
They held him secretly in an iron world for the next six weeks. This is plenty of time to hand out giant beatings. Oh, yes, don't gasp. If cops are performing a Fascist act, then always suspect them of acting like Fascists. They have fun beating people up. -- Jimmy Breslin.
I think Dennis Kucinich is the only current Democratic candidate who offers the hope that things could be significantly better in five years. Joe Lieberman is the only candidate who doesn't offer a massive improvement over George W. Bush. Of the rest, Howard Dean is clearly my second choice. And, with this latest speech from John Edwards, I think he is slipping past Kerry into third place. In the debate a couple of months ago, I thought Edwards came across as the most likeable of the nine (with Moseley Braun a close second). His comment about the squabbling that started the debate was excellent: (paraphrase) "Senator Kerry, Governor Dean--either one of you would be a much better president than the one we have now." In the speech, Edwards takes aim at the Bushies' reward the rich, screw the rest taxation scheme.
The potential of a ‘radical’ candidate is not to run against Bush or the pragmatic candidates. It is to run against the zeitgeist. The fact is that conventional wisdom changes. We can see it changing now with respect to the Iraq war. A progressive candidate has the vision to stick to principles he or she knows to be right, confident that events will carry opinion towards those conclusions. A progressive candidacy can radicalize the public by speaking truth to power, by advancing positions that are right on the merits but unpopular at the moment.
The power of such a candidacy should not be doubted. Nobody thought Eugene McCarthy had a chance of altering Democratic Party politics, and we know what happened. McCarthy made Kennedy and unmade Lyndon Johnson. Kennedy could have been president. I was around then; trust me, nobody thought that would happen.
Winning or losing, such a candidacy can elevate the Democrats’ prospects. Insofar as that candidacy moves the borders of what is perceived as tenable thinking, all Democrats become more mainstream and Bush becomes more extreme.
A couple of readers have expressed interest in my posts on Benton Harbor. Most of what I know comes from a woman, Libby, on our peace e-mail list who has been in contact with Rev. Pinckney in Benton Harbor. But there are other sources, and I'll try to post them as I find them. The World Socialist Web Site had two articles on BH last week: here and here. There is also a 1999 book, The Other Side of the River: A Story of Two Towns, a Death, and America's Dilemma by Alex Kotlowitz, which investigates the problems of Benton Harbor. (I haven't read it, yet, so I can't say much more about it.)
I have also posted an e-mail from Libby from back in April which describes the desperate situation in BH. If you'd like to find out more about BH or to do something to help, contact information for both Libby and Rev. Pinckney are in that e-mail.
Please vote for Kucinich in the MoveOn primary tomorrow, and encourage others to do so! And if you can spare it, please make a financial contribution to his campaign. I confess to not knowing the details, but apparently the amount contributed by June 30 is important. And contributions up to $250 are matched by federal election funds (that check box on your tax form).
By the way, Wolf, one of these individuals is in Chicago [Illinois]. He had been arrested in Israel for providing funds to Hamas back in 1993. [He] was convicted in Israel and then served a sentence and came to Chicago. And he's now under investigation in Chicago.
And the United States attorney in Chicago -- [Patrick] Fitzgerald -- and I have talked. He has some concerns about whether the individual is closely enough connected to the murders. But I believe, and I think this is a message that ought to go out loud and clear, that anyone who contribute to Hamas or any other terrorist organization which is engaged in murdering Americans, those individuals are liable as aiders and abetters for murder in the first degree.
The senator goes on to support Israel's targeted assassinations policy, saying they have every right to kill people without any judicial proceedings. And, of course, the senator doesn't ask for, and Wolf doesn't either, that the Israeli bulldozer driver who killed American peace activist Rachel Corrie in Gaza in March be extradited. Specter's clear message is that Israel can do no wrong, except maybe in not having the death penalty. But Specter is willing to help them out on that. Where do they find these people?
Sunday, June 22, 2003
A: In 2005, the president won't be the dummy.
Good Kucinich article today in the Washington Post.
Saturday, June 21, 2003
From W's radio address (I'm for a free media and all that, but how can they let this garbage on the air?):
As we establish order and justice in Iraq, we also continue to pursue Saddam Hussein's weapons of mass destruction. Military and intelligence officials are interviewing scientists with knowledge of Saddam Hussein's weapons programs and are poring over hundreds of thousands of documents.
For more than a decade, Saddam Hussein went to great lengths to hide his weapons from the world. And in the regime's final days, documents and suspected weapons sites were looted and burned. Yet all who know the dictator's history agree that he possessed chemical and biological weapons and that he used chemical weapons in the past.
The intelligence services of many nations concluded that he had illegal weapons and the regime refused to provide evidence they had been destroyed. We are determined to discover the true extent of Saddam Hussein's weapons programs, no matter how long it takes.
So the excuse now is that the sites were looted and burned. This is just too ludicrous. Do you remember the false argument that Bush's team used during the 2000 election theft? Something like: They counted the votes, and we won. They counted them again, and we won. The Democrats are going to have them keep counting until they win. If it had been true and the votes had been counted, it was a reasonable argument: If two or three full and relatively impartial recounts had shown a Bush victory each time, they would have had a valid argument. Well, now we've got supposed WMD's in Iraq. Former inspectors like Scott Ritter said that Iraq couldn't have anything significant or dangerous in any quantity, given what was destroyed by 1998 and the sanctions. UN inspectors returned to Iraq late last year, and found nothing in four months. Our army of occupation has been looking for almost three months now, found nothing. I'd say that we've already determined the true extent of Saddam Hussein's weapons programs: defunct. Sending more troops to continue looking would be like doing that fourth recount (remembering of course that while the search for weapons has been quite thorough, there never was a full recount of the votes in Florida).
I'm frankly getting sick of this nonsense. Let's get this moron out of office ASAP.
Friday, June 20, 2003
Example--the myth that GMO's are necessary to feed the third world:
The world today produces more food per inhabitant than ever before. In fact, over the past 35 years, per capita food production has outstripped population growth by 15%. The real causes of hunger are poverty, inequality and lack of access. Too many people are too poor to buy the food that is available (but
often poorly distributed) or lack the land and resources to grow it themselves.
Rep. Henry Hyde (R-Illinois): "There is a visibility factor in the president's public acts, and those which betray a trust or reveal contempt for the law are hard to sweep under the rug...They reverberate, they ricochet all over the land and provide the worst possible example for our young people."
Rep. James Sensenbrenner (R-Wisconsin): "The truth is still the truth, and a lie is still a lie, and the rule of law should apply to everyone, no matter what excuses are made by the president's defenders...We have done so because of our devotion to the rule of law and our fear that if the president does not suffer the legal and constitutional consequences of his actions, the impact of allowing the president to stand above the law will be felt for generations to come...laws not enforced are open invitations for more serious and more criminal behavior."
Steve Chabot (R-Ohio): "It would be wrong for you to tell America's children that some lies are all right. It would be wrong to show the rest of the world that some of our laws don't really matter."
Steve Buyer (R- Indiana): "I have also heard some senators from both sides of the aisle state publicly: I think these offenses rise to the level of high crimes and misdemeanors. Now, to state publicly that you believe that high crimes and misdemeanors have occurred but for some reason you have this desire not to remove the president -- that desire, though, does not square with the law, the Constitution, and the Senate's precedents for removing federal judges for similar offenses."
Rep. Lindsey Graham (R - South Carolina, Now Senator): "The president of the United States sets atop of the legal pyramid. If there's reasonable doubt about his ability to faithfully execute the laws of the land, our future would be better off if that individual is removed. And let me tell you where it all comes down to me. If you can go back and explain to your children and your constituents how you can be truthful and misleading at the same time, good luck."
Of course, they were all complaining about President Clinton, who had lied about where his privates had been. Well, President Bush has put tens of thousands of privates where they shouldn't have been (Jessica Lynch, to name one) based on repeated lies told to Congress, the UN, and the American public. And some are coming home in boxes. Thanks to Thomas Ball for the great quotes.
The Times is shameless enough to say this:
Genetically modified food — which can grow more quickly than traditional crops and can be resistant to insects — has caused scant controversy in the United States, where people eat it every day. Almost 40 percent of all corn planted in this country in genetically modified.
There has been scant controversy because our corporate media, including the Times, has not been doing its job. While Clinton debated gays in the military and millions watched the OJ trial, Monsanto was creating "Roundup ready" corn and plants with built-in insecticides, and immediately selling seeds to farmers across the country with almost no investigation into their possible effects on the ecosystem. With a little cross pollination, we may soon have "Roundup ready" dandelions, and many species of plants killing off the very insects they need for pollination and perpetuating their own species. In other words, these crops pose a very real threat to life on the planet. Of course, I don't know that for sure, but Bush doesn't know otherwise for sure. But we already know that he doesn't care about the future of the planet.
What then is the Bush record in fighting the so-called war on terrorism? They have not found bin Laden. They have not found Saddam Hussein and as of yet there are no weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. However, we have found two trailers. Is that why we fought the war? For two trailers? Did we send our sons and daughters to spill their blood in the desert over two trailers? We are spending over $100 billion bombing and then rebuilding Iraq while giving a tax cut to America's wealthiest citizens and denying hard-working Americans making $26,000 a year or less a child tax credit in order to pay for it.
That's the Bush record. It is not compassionate, and with this year's budget deficit running over $400 billion -- a record set by no other President, Republican or Democrat, it is certainly not conservative. -- Read the whole thing.
Cleland is the Vietnam vet who lost three limbs in the war, and lost his bid for re-election last fall because the Repuglican accused him of being unpatriotic (along with the help of some no-paper-trail electronic voting machines).
Arny, a Vietnam vet in our anti-war group, posted a letter from a woman with the American Friends' Service Committee who is currently in Baghdad. Here are some excerpts:
People are afraid. Fear is not unusual here. Under the regime, everyone was afraid to talk openly. But this is a different fear. People are afraid to go out, not just at night but - especially for women - even during the day. This is a new fear and imprisons everyone. They are afraid of the increasing violence.
For the people of Iraq, it must seem like more of the same, a harsh present, an uncertain future. For them, freedom from the oppression of the regime has not brought what people need to feel free: security, jobs, food, water. A doctor in Mosul said to me last week: You know for us there is no difference between the American Occupation and the regime of Saddam. Previously we were in a big prison; now we are in a bigger prison. I have posted the whole letter here, as I couldn't find it on the AFSC web site.
(I just wrote this as a long comment on Polizeros and decided it makes a decent stand-alone rant.)
I'm not very happy with the MoveOn primary; I think it is premature and much too "winner-take-all." It certainly should have incorporated preferential/instant-runoff voting. And why couldn't MoveOn just offer donation collection services for all anti-war candidates, along with good comparative information about them? And MoveOn doesn't provide much opportunity to give feedback; I tried to complain about their continued support of Kerry and others who voted for the Iraq war resolution last fall, but couldn't find any good way to do so.
Still, I think the winner will get a boost, so I'm trying to get all of my peacenik friends to vote for Kucinich. But I wish that MoveOn and other supposedly liberal-leaning groups would start modeling more democratic behaviors in their processes. The Sierra Club board election didn't offer any preferential voting, either. Even if it didn't make a big difference in the results there, it would get people familiar with the concept so they could explain why it would be a big improvement over what we have when it really counts--like the 2000 presidential election.
I think an interesting approach MoveOn could have taken would be along the lines of "Survivor." Instead of picking one of the nine (or is it ten?) candidates to support, have a series of votes to toss someone out of the campaign. Let's first vote Lieberman off the island, and work our way up from there. If the 2000 election had been done on the "Survivor" method instead of the party/primary method, I'm pretty sure that Bush would have been the first voted out. That's what I tried to do, pretending to be a Republican so I could vote for McCain in Michigan's primary. But the money and the purging of the voter rolls and the stopping of the recounts and the Supremes won out, and the world lost.
They dangled one man by his legs from a second-story window. They threatened to kill a woman if she told anyone about the way they were treating her. They stepped on the face of another woman with such force, they dislodged a tooth. Prosecutors say these were not the acts of neighborhood gang members, but of 17 rogue Detroit police officers charged in a federal indictment Thursday. The officers allegedly stole drugs, firearms and money from suspected drug dealers during a two-year reign of terror on the city's southwest side. -- Detroit Free Press.
Michigan's official state motto is: "If you seek a pleasant peninsula, look about you." With cities like Detroit, Benton Harbor, Flint, Saginaw and Lansing, where "free trade" has exported the jobs and left the people behind, the more appropriate motto for this summer would be "If you seek a troubled peninsula, look about you."
As the Bush Administration clearly chose to violate both Constitutional and International law, Veterans for Peace, having sworn once to uphold the Constitution of the United States, hereby calls for the immediate impeachment of George W. Bush, Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld for their recent commission of high crimes against peace in Iraq and the violation of the US Constitution. Read the whole thing!
"What are we getting into here?" asked a sergeant with the U.S. Army's 4th Infantry Division who is stationed near Baqubah, a city 30 miles northeast of Baghdad. "The war is supposed to be over, but every day we hear of another soldier getting killed. Is it worth it? Saddam isn't in power anymore. The locals want us to leave. Why are we still here?"
When the battalion first arrived in Baqubah in late April, "every single person was waving at us," said 2nd Lt. Skip Boston, 24, of Marshalltown, Iowa. Now, he said, "they just stare."
"A man told me the other day that we've been here for two months and nothing's changed," Boston said. "That's not really true, but all they see is us riding up and down the roads and being a nuisance for them."
The focus on crime fighting has annoyed Boston and his men, who said they would rather be blowing up ammunition caches. "It's getting really frustrating," Sullivan said. "We took the city, but what was it for? We took one bad guy out, but now there are lots of bad guys here." -- Washington Post.
Thursday, June 19, 2003
The Senate Commerce Committee voted to overturn most of the FCC's June 2nd ruling which would have allowed even further media consolidation. They even said that radio monster Clear Channel Communications would have to divest itself of some of its many stations (Clear Channel owns four of the five commercial stations in Ann Arbor). Given the support in the committee from several Republicans, including Trent Lott, Ted Stevens, and a surprise vote from chairman John McCain, the bill should pass easily in the Senate. The idiotlogues in the House may be a different manner, but hopefully the ground broken by Senate Republicans will make it possible for House Republitrons to veer off the Bush-DeLay track on this one.
Specialist Corporal Michael Richardson added: "There was no dilemma when it came to shooting people who were not in uniform, I just pulled the trigger.
"It was up close and personal the whole time, there wasn't a big distance. If they were there, they were enemy, whether in uniform or not. Some were, some weren't." -- From a Mirror article on US soldiers killing civilians. And these soldiers will be coming home (hopefully). Most certainly will not have deliberately targeted civilians, but most will probably have been deeply affected by what they saw and did in Iraq. Most will deal with it more or less successfully, able to return to society with only the occasional nightmares. Others will be deeply traumatized, and many of these will end up killing themselves more or less intentionally (It is reported that more Vietnam soldiers have committed suicide since the war than were killed in it). And a few will turn their anger on the rest of us, like Timothy McVeigh, Terry Nichols and John Allen Muhammed did.
(Oh right. The oil.)
And if Karimov develops WMD's? No problem. If he discovers oil? Bombs away.
Now THIS is jounalism!
Why mince words? These are the facts:
1) President George W. Bush is a liar.
2) Secretary of State Colin Powell is a liar.
3) Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld is a liar.
4) National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice is a liar.
To the above facts we might add these: There are no weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, none were there when our war against Iraq began, and none will be found unless we plant them there. -- Harley Sorensen at SFGate.
"He misled every one of us. That's one reason why I'm running to be president of the United States," he told a crowd in Lebanon, New Hampshire.
"I will not let him off the hook throughout this campaign with respect to America's credibility and credibility to me, because if he lied he lied to me personally."
But Mr Kerry said it was too early to conclude whether or not war with Iraq was justified. There needs to be a congressional investigation into US intelligence on Iraq, he said.
While it's good to hear that Kerry is starting to speak out, his tepid approach stinks. IF Bush lied? Too early to conclude whether the war was justified? The war was illegal and unconstitutional even if they find twice as many WMD's as they claimed tomorrow. No one who has taken an oath to uphold the constitution can validly claim that the war was justified.
And don't forget, the lie about uranium from Niger was exposed over a month before the war began. Kerry could have joined a call in Congress to repeal the war authorization, but instead he left that to the few people there who actually took their constitutional oath seriously, such as Reps. Kucinich, Conyers and Lee and Sen. Byrd.
George W. Bush has done absolutely nothing right as president. Everything he has done has made this a poorer, more dangerous country and world. Any Dem who concedes half of W's agenda as good or necessary is part of the problem, not the solution.
Dennis Kucinich's letter to MoveOn memberscan be seen here. He also answers questions from MoveOn members. Please forward the link to any of your friends who may not have heard of Kucinich, and encourage them to vote in the MoveOn primary next week! If Kucinich wins this one, it will be a big boost to his candidacy.
Wednesday, June 18, 2003
The NY Times has an article on Benton Harbor which seems to present a somewhat more balanced picture than the AP or CNN stories. Benton Harbor is about 150 miles west of Ann Arbor on the shores of Lake Michigan.
Libby, one of the most active people in our local peace group, has been in frequent contact with Rev. Pinckney in Benton Harbor for months, and has provided us with frequent updates on the terrible situation there. It sounds more like what people think of as Mississippi in the sixties, not Michigan in the 21st century. A combination of a racist social structure and desperate economy is boiling over. I hope that someone fully and honestly investigates the incident from Monday morning--the story from Rev. Pinckney (see below--Apartheid in Michigan) differs vastly from the CNN and AP versions.
The real character of what Washington called the “liberation” of the Iraqi people has emerged: it is a brutal occupation, with daily killings, house-to-house searches and mass arrests.
Thousands of US troops backed by helicopter gun ships, fighter planes and tanks have stormed through cities and towns across Iraq over the past several days in what the military has dubbed “Operation Desert Scorpion.” -- From the WSWS.
FROM REV. EDWARD PINKNEY, Benton Harbor, MI 269-925-0001
This is what happened in Benton Harbor at 2am, Monday June 16, 2003:
A young man was riding his motorcycle in Benton Harbor. A police car began bumping the back of his motorcycle. The man took off to escape the police harrassment. Another police car cut off the motorcyclist and "drove" the motorcycle into a building. The officer who drove the motorcycle into the building was Mark Lundin. As the man lay dead, Lundin and the other officer present gave each other high fives. There are over forty witnesses to this tragic event. It is believed by many in Benton Harbor that the police are now hard at work to cover this up, ie, repairing fenders, etc. There was a regularly scheduled Benton Township Trustees meeting this evening where 200 people attended and complained about the police brutality situation. It is felt by all that they simply can't take it anymore. This report is going out, hopefully far and wide, because the African American community is not fairly or accurately reported on in the media. It's important to hear our side. Please call me if you have questions. Please attend the special meeting on Thursday night called by Benton Township Trustees. For details: Rev. Edward Pinkney 269-925-0001.
(Forwarded by Libby Hunter, who adds that Lundin kicked the dead man in the head before the high fives. A further report says that CNBC is reporting "riots" in Benton Harbor as a result of this.)
Here's the AP version.
The Bushies are apparently making Idaho Gov. Dirk Kempthorne their number one choice to replace Kristie Whitman as EPA administrator:
Kempthorne received a near-zero rating from the League of Conservation Voters during his one term as a senator (1993 through 1998), but environmental advocates said his Senate background would probably help ease his confirmation process.
"Gov. Kempthorne is a very nice, personable and noncombative person, which are some of the features the Bush administration is looking for and which will help in confirmation," said Roger Singer, Idaho chapter director of the Sierra Club. "But his record on environmental issues is quite abysmal."
Kempthorne, as governor, senator and former mayor of Boise, has frequently raised the ire of advocacy groups because of his desire to reduce the role of the federal government -- and EPA -- in environmental policy, and replace it with state and local authority. This was a prevailing theme during his Senate years, when he championed changes to laws on safe drinking water and unfunded mandates, and has carried over in his opposition to the EPA's effort to expand a Superfund cleanup site at Idaho's Coeur d'Alene Lake.
Snider said Kempthorne sought an environmental policy that strikes a "balance between pollution-free air and water and having a job for your family."
Philip Clapp, president of the National Environmental Trust, said, "That's nothing more than spin. Governor Kempthorne has supported the chemical industry, the oil industry, the timber industry and the utility industry against virtually every environmental proposal since 1993. That's not balance." -- Washington Post.
Doop, de doop doop DOOP DOOP DOOP Bum Bum...
The Final Jeopardy answer is: "The quote du jour for Wednesday, June 18."
And the winning question? What is
I guess if Ari had to rebel, being a Republican is better than being on drugs, but not by much.
-- from Ari Fleischer's dad.
I dunno, Dad, check out this latest quote:
MR. FLEISCHER: Well again, I think the amount of money that candidates raise in our democracy is a reflection of the amount of support they have around the country. So the President is proud to have the support of the American people, and the American people will ultimately be the ones who decide how much funding goes to any Democrat or any Republican. -- Tuesday's White House press briefing, via This Modern World. I mean, Ari's Dad, that a joint or two couldn't possibly be as bad as that.
Labels: Quote du jour
Tuesday, June 17, 2003
Secret War Pact
Senior figures in the intelligence community and across Whitehall briefed the former international development secretary Clare Short that Tony Blair had made a secret agreement last summer with George Bush to invade Iraq in February or March, she claimed yesterday. -- from the Guardian.
Is this going to work? Is anything? If Bush ran over two Korean schoolgirls while driving drunk with a pedophile bishop in the back seat with four six-year-olds, and while having sex with THAT woman, would his poll numbers drop even a percentage point? Or would he just point out that those schoolgirls would never threaten America with horrible weapons again, and get cheered for it?
Actually, it seemed pretty clear to me all along that the war was a given for Bush and Blair--they were never looking for a way out, just excuses and the right time. The Blair-Bush Project was a horror movie for which the script was written long ago.
BTW, CNN asks "Did the Bush administration overplay the threat of Iraqi WMD to justify the war?" Vote Now!
(note: in case there is any doubt, this is SATIRE)
Arab satellite network Al-Jazeera has a new videotape purportedly from al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden. Bin Laden claims that there were several people in the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001 who were planning a massive terrorist strike on the US, one which might have killed millions.
“Compared to the number of lives saved, the collateral damage was tiny. In fact, it was probably the most precise terror attack in history,” bin Laden claimed. “These people were ruthless, and they had weapons at their disposal that could have killed most of the people in several US cities. While I don’t know whether these weapons were destroyed on September 11 or if perhaps they were sent elsewhere or even destroyed on September 10, one thing I know for certain: these people will never threaten America again.”
Unfortunately, bin Laden wasn’t available to answer the obvious questions, such as: Where are the weapons now? A lot of people died, but a lot got out—how do you know you got the right people? How did you know they were going to attack? Are you sure they were going to go through with it? Do you think you really had the right to kill all those people because you thought a few of them MIGHT do something bad? And since when have you cared a whit about the American people?
[Update] While you're talking to your senators' aides, you should ask them to have the senators support Sen. Leahy's call for consensus on Supreme Court nominees. Unless, of course, you'd really like to see Rehnquist and O'Connor replaced by John Ashcroft and Pat Robertson.
So what's the explanation? The answer, one suspects, is that key figures — above all, Donald Rumsfeld — just didn't feel like dealing with the real problem. Real counterterrorism mainly involves police work and precautionary measures; it doesn't look impressive on TV, and it doesn't provide many occasions for victory celebrations.
A conventional war, on the other hand, is a lot more fun: you get stirring pictures of tanks rolling across the desert, and you get to do a victory landing on an aircraft carrier. And more and more it seems that that was what the war was all about. After all, the supposed reasons for fighting that war have turned out to be false — there were no links to Al Qaeda, there wasn't a big arsenal of W.M.D.'s.
But never mind — we won, didn't we? Maybe not. About half of the U.S. Army's combat strength is now tied down in Iraq, facing what looks increasingly like a guerrilla war — and like a perfect recruiting device for Al Qaeda. Meanwhile, the real war on terror has been neglected, and we've antagonized the allies we need to fight that war. One of these days we'll end up paying the price. -- Paul Krugman .
Kucinich: White House Manipulated 2002 Election
Congressman Dennis Kucinich, leader of antiwar opposition in the House, continued to challenge the Bush Administration on the lead-up to war in Iraq, issuing a statement today:
"Last October, this Congress voted to give the President the authority to use force against Iraq to thwart an imminent threat from Iraq's weapons of mass destruction (WMD).
"The Administration urged action against an imminent threat. So Congress voted, only weeks before the 2002 election. Some Democrats voted for it thinking there would be an opportunity to refocus on domestic issues. Instead national security and Iraq's so-called imminent threat became the divisive issue in the election. The question became: who was patriotic and who wasn't.
"The Administration capitalized on the fears of Americans. They misrepresented the nature of the Iraqi threat. They misled Congress. They misled the American people. By pushing for a quick vote before the election, they changed the election and manipulated the outcome.
"The Resolution of Inquiry will establish the truth once and for all." From the Kucinich for President web site. Please check out the Kucinich web site, make a donation, and sign up to volunteer.
Kucinich's Resolution of Inquiry in the House to force the Administration to turn over intelligence to back its claims on Iraq's WMDs, is now signed by 36 Congress members. As a privileged resolution, it must be voted on in Committee within 11 legislative days.
"This nation acted to a threat from the dictator of Iraq," Bush said. "Now there are some who would like to rewrite history -- revisionist historians is what I like to call them.
"Saddam Hussein was a threat to America and the free world in '91, in '98, in 2003. He continually ignored the demands of the free world, so the United States and friends and allies acted."
To applause, Bush added, "And this is for certain: Saddam Hussein is no longer a threat to the United States and our friends and allies." from CNN.
Who's the revisionist, George? Without WMD's, what threat did Saddam pose? What demands did he ignore? George W. Bush was last year and is this year the biggest threat to the United States and its former friends and allies, and the entire planet, for that matter.
Monday, June 16, 2003
From Ted Rall:
George W. Bush told us that Iraq and Al Qaeda were working together. They weren't. He repeatedly implied that Iraq had had something to do with 9/11. It hadn't. He claimed to have proof that Saddam Hussein possessed banned weapons of mass destruction. He didn't. As our allies watched in horror and disgust, Bush conned us into a one-sided war of aggression that killed and maimed thousands of innocent people, destroyed billions of dollars in Iraqi infrastructure, cost tens of billions of dollars, cost the lives of American soldiers, and transformed our international image as the world's shining beacon of freedom into that of a marauding police state. Presidents Nixon and Clinton rightly faced impeachment for comparatively trivial offenses; if we hope to restore our nation's honor, George W. Bush too must face a president's gravest political sanction.
Nixon and Clinton escaped criminal prosecution for burglary, perjury and obstruction of justice. George W. Bush, however, stands accused as the greatest mass murderer in American history. The Lexington Institute estimates that the U.S. killed between 15,000 and 20,000 Iraqi troops during the fraudulently justified invasion of Iraq, plus 10,000 to 15,000 wounded. More than 150 U.S. soldiers were killed, plus more than 500 injured. A new Associated Press study of Iraqi civilian casualties confirms at least 3,240 deaths. Although Bush, Rumsfeld, Colin Powell and Condoleeza Rice denied such legal niceties to the concentration-camp inmates captured in their illegal invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan, these high-ranking Administration henchmen should be quickly turned over--after impeachment proceedings for what might properly be called Slaughtergate--to an international tribunal for prosecution of war crimes.
Anything less would be anti-American.
Chief Pentagon spokesliar Victoria Clarke joins White House spokesliar Ari Fleischer in resigning, although she's getting out as fast as she can.
When asked why she was leaving, Clarke responded "Well, to tell the truth..." and left the room.
"The administration wasn't matching its deeds to its words in the war on terrorism. They're making us less secure, not more secure," said Beers, who until now has remained largely silent about leaving his National Security Council job as special assistant to the president for combating terrorism. "As an insider, I saw the things that weren't being done. And the longer I sat and watched, the more concerned I became, until I got up and walked out." -- from the Washington Post. White House counterterrorism advisor Rand Beers resigned five days before the war in Iraq began.
Asked if that meant such troops would go after Hamas, Lugar said: "It may not be just Hamas, but clearly Hamas is right in the gunsights."
No matter what it does, I think Israel has more unflinching support from the US Senate than it does from the Knesset.
Sunday, June 15, 2003
The Night Before Baghdad, take five
I first wrote this in September; my last update was just before the war started. I've just added five more stanzas on the end:
The Night Before Baghdad, by Bob Goodsell
'Twas the night before Baghdad, and through the White House
Not a Bushie was thinking, not even his spouse
The war maps were hung by the table with care
In hopes that Dick Cheney soon would be there.
They'd bribed and extorted, threatened and lied
Not a one of them cared how many would die
Pope's, vets' and citizens' thoughts do not count
When you've an Iraqi invasion to mount.
No weapons were found by those sent to inspect
But all this meant naught to the pres'dent select
It matters not the UN closed the door
Our very own Hitler will have his own war.
People will die by the thousands and more
America's name soiled by blood and by gore
Lying for truth and warring for peace
The whole world suffers from Bush's disease.
The prez he was nestled all snug in his bed
While visions of 2004 danced in his head
With Condi on keyboard and Colin on bass
Rummy on vocals sang "Bush won't lose face!"
When out on the south lawn there rose such a noise
It had to be Rummy's destructive war toys
But astonished we were as our startled eyes fell
On a tall bearded man riding high on a camel.
"Tell me," asked Condi, "is that a llama?"
"No, token black woman! That is Osama!"
He hopped off his camel and gathered his rifle
Clearly this was someone with whom we won't trifle.
He walked to the door and passed in front of us
He asked to be taken to the Oval Office
The Senate had some of its members in there
And when he arrived he gave them a scare.
"Out Daschle! Out Feinstein! Out Smiling Joe Lieberman!
Out Lott! Out Hatch! Out Schumer! Out Clinton!
You're self-serving pawns of the corporate swine
Selling your souls to the Bush-Cheney line.
"I wanted a war 'twixt Islam and West
You've given me everything! Thanks, you're the best!
Thanks Condi, thanks Rummy, and thanks Colin, too!
And when he wakes up, please thank W!"
He went to the warroom and smiled at the plans
"The hated Saddam is soon a dead man!
The world in turmoil will be fertile ground
For radical Islam to be spread around!"
And flipping a finger toward one and all
He laughed so hard that it shook down the wall
It made so much noise that the prez left his sack
And came down to ask "Is it time to attack?"
And back to the garden Osama did go
No chicken hawk stopped him as he walked out the do'
Not Rummy, not Condi, not one of the staff
Stopped Osama bin Laden or his terrible laugh.
Then George Bush the Senior entered the room
By reading his lips we all sensed the gloom
"You've tried your best, George, I'll give you that, son
But make no mistake: the terrorists have won."
Meanwhile in Iraq Saddam slipped away
He’d be nowhere around on the bloody next day
He’d go into hiding and show up no more
’Til another dumb Bush sought another dumb war.
And back in the states with the press all embedded
Comes the crackdown on freedom that we've all dreaded
When ruled by a man who's conscience bereft
The right to be silent is all we'll have left.
‘Tis three months since Baghdad and throughout the land
Not a weapon’s been found in the concrete or sand
The lies they were told so to war we could go
‘Bout nukes bought from Niger and ‘thrax on the go.
Thousands are dying and millions are crying
As foreign invaders in khaki are trying
To bring back to Baghdad the order destroyed
By their bombs and their guns and their missiles deployed.
They toppled a statue and thought they had won
But now they are finding the war’s just begun
The water’s polluted and everything’s looted
All victims of a mad leader deluded.
There’s money for Bechtel and Cheney’s old firm
The travesty just has to make Jefferson squirm
The Bushies care nothing for those who are dying
As long as the oil flows down the pipeline.
He flew to a ship sailing ten miles from shore
So that all the dumb freepers could once more adore
A dimwit from Texas who still had the gall
To celebrate war after he went AWOL.
If weapons were there who knows where’s their location
Be it Qaeda or Hamas or Aryan Nation
And if they were not then our “president” lied
And for this lie many soldiers have died.
Where have all the weapons gone?
Bush and Powell
Where have all the weapons gone?
Your cause for war
Where have all the weapons gone?
Gone like Enron, everyone
When will we ever learn. When will we ever learn.
Where has all the money gone?
Bush and Cheney
Where has all the money gone?
Huge wads of dough
Where has all the money gone?
Gone to rich folk like yourselves
When will we ever learn. When will we ever learn.
Tell us where Osama’s gone
Bush and Rummy
Tell us where Osama’s gone
Long time ago
Tell us where Osama’s gone
Still attacking still at large
When will we ever learn. When will we ever learn.
Why do they all hate us so?
Bush and Wolfowitz?
Why do they all hate us so?
Never more than now
Why do they all hate us so?
‘Cause you want to rule the world
When will we ever learn. When will we ever learn.
Where have all the weapons gone?
You don’t know
Where have all the weapons gone?
Don’t seem to care
Where have all the weapons gone?
They weren’t ever there at all
But you still got your war. But you still got your war.
I also took a quicktime movie of Marcos rockin' and rollin' to the Dixie Chicks--it's 11 MB, so DO NOT ATTEMPT to download with a dial-up connection (sorry). Marcos has a ball. (Hint: If the movie doesn't play straight from your browser, try "save target as" to save the file to your hard drive, and then play it from there. The file plays fine on my computer, but will not play in IE when I click on the link.)
Saturday, June 14, 2003
There's quite a "progressive corner" at the farmers' market every week now, as can be seen in the picture below. There's a Kerry table, a NARAL table, the Ann Arbor Area Committee for Peace Table, a Dean Table, and a Kucinich Corner (we plan to have a table next week).
Friday, June 13, 2003
For those of you with memories, something might sound fishy about today's weekly jobless claims that "dropped 17,000 to a still-higher-than-expected 430,000, remaining above 400,000 for more than four months now."
Here's why: "The previous week's data were revised to show a 22,000-claims increase to 447,000."
Using this patented method, jobless claims can fall every week, boosting the stock market and Bush re-elects, and be over 500,000 soon.
- Of course Saddam Hussein was a tyrant, but...
- Of course Kucinich has no chance, but...
That said, I do like this article about Kucinich from SFGate. I guess maybe if we get enough columnists saying "Of course Kucinich is the best candidate but he has no chance" that eventually people will just start hearing "Kucinich is the best candidate," and pretty soon he'll have a chance! And at this stage of the campaign, there's no such thing as bad publicity. And more than any other candidate, Kucinich distinguishes himself from the indistinguishable frontrunners (Kerry, Gephardt, Edwards), although Dean has done an excellent job as well. As the economy swirls and flushes, Dubya, just like his father, will see his popularity fall apart. And there will be all of these Democrats who supported most of his insane policies, trying to use their corporate money to buy votes. On the other hand, there will be Kucinich, who opposed Bush every step of the way and offers a complete change of direction. He pulls off wins in Iowa and Michigan, and all of a sudden he's a frontrunner. So OF COURSE Kucinich has a chance!
You are right, Gov. Bush. Parents must seek the best education possible for their children.
I'm just not sure that they're going to find it in Florida. -- Becky Farber, a freshman at Palmetto High School in Florida. The piece is so well written it tends to undercut her claim that her education has suffered due to large class sizes. Excellent reading, nonetheless!
Bob Morris at Politics in the Zeros describes how a recall vote of just-re-elected governor Gray Davis and a $38 BILLION deficit (about half the cost of the Iraq war so far) are about to hit the fan in the state formerly known as "Golden." State Republicans are putting the screws on their members to make sure they don't side with democrats in calling for tax hikes. The Republicans are working at every level to repeal the 20th century. What a mean and nasty country the US has become.
Trucks and trailers in Iraq apparently served two purposes: Whatever the Iraqis were actually using them for, and a casus belli for Bush:
"It was a foregone conclusion that every photo of a trailer truck would be a `mobile bioweapons lab' and every tanker truck would be `filled with weaponized anthrax,' " a former military intelligence officer said. "None of the analysts in military uniform had the option to debate the vice president, secretary of defense and the secretary of state." -- from Nicholas Kristof's Op-Ed today.
Thursday, June 12, 2003
Recent polls indicate that only 32% of Americans favor attacking Iran to overthrow its dictatorial regime and destroy its weapons of mass destruction. Most of those opposed responded with "I thought we just did that." When it is explained that Iran is a different country than Iraq, the numbers rise to a more patriotic 83%.
When it is further explained that Iran possesses no statues of Saddam Hussein to be toppled over and over again on cable news programs, the numbers in favor of an invasion drop to 63%.
While 66% of Americans continue to support "democracy of some kind" in the USA, 47% of respondents agreed that "black is white," 53% said they supported the statement "war is peace," and 67% responded that in the post-9-11 world, they were "comfortable" or "somewhat comfortable" with the idea that "freedom is slavery."
In a related story, the Bush White House has announced steps to counteract what it describes as "800 years of liberal bias," in America's history classes and has ordered the revision of textbooks to reflect that the reason Europeans invaded and colonized North America in the first place was to prevent Native Americans from developing weapons of mass destruction.
Read the whole thing!
Wednesday, June 11, 2003
There are Bush Christians, and there are real Christians. Alabama's Republican governor may fall into the latter category. He is taking aim at that state's highly regressive tax system, saying that it was pretty clearly not Jesus' intention to screw the poor for the benefit of the rich. Read all about it! As far as I'm concerned, those who cite obscure bible passages to persecute homosexuals or justify going to war, while ignoring the clear messages of peace, love, compassion and justice given by Jesus in the gospels are the worst sort of hypocrites. Hopefully Governor Riley will help Christians throughout the country to see the cruel hypocrisy of Bush's policies.
I have my detractors in Washington. There are bastards who spread things around, of course, who planted nasty things in the media. Not that I cared very much. It was like a mosquito bite in the evening that is there in the morning, an irritant. -- UN Inspector Hans Blix, quoted in the Guardian (hopefully not translated into German and back).
"Why is everyone suddenly all concerned with finding Iraq's weapons of mass destruction? It's not like we don't have tons of them here in America, and of a much higher quality than anything Iraq could have put together. And we've got delivery systems that can put them down any chimney anywhere in the world. Plus the facilities to make plenty more at a moment's notice. Even many of our allies, like Pakistan and Israel, would find Iraq's alleged weapons hopelessly primitive compared to what they have. Why would we need to scour the deserts of Iraq looking for weapons that are probably past their expiration date anyway? These liberal nay-sayers just don't think things through."
No need to thank me, Karl. Just a patriotic American doing his part.
Tuesday, June 10, 2003
Spraying drug crops in Latin America has killed and sickened many, while drugs continue to be available here. The Bushies continue to display that telltale sign of insanity: continuing to do the same thing after it is clear that it isn't working. Crop spraying, tax cuts, wars with Iraq, lies. Well, okay, the lies are working with a lot of people.
In place of thoughtful policy we now have superficial and cynical sound-bites. Instead of confronting pressing national problems, our president lands airplanes while Rome burns.
While our troops search for WMD in Iraq, we have found our own WMD right here in Washington -- at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. They are President Bush's weapons of mass distortion, or better, distraction. The Bush administration says one thing and does another to take the focus off the present realities.
Does he think we don't notice?
What makes the actions of the Bush administration so troublesome is the lack of honesty.
It amounts, in the end, to a pattern of deception and distortion; ultimately that does not respect the wisdom of the American people. -- Senator Jim Jeffords (I-VT), quoted in TomPaine.com .
"Iraq had a weapons program," Bush said. "Intelligence throughout the decade showed they had a weapons program. I am absolutely convinced with time we'll find they did have a weapons program." -- from CNN.
Right. Read the accounts of the UN inspectors from '91 through '98. They found weapons and the means for producing them--AND DESTROYED THEM. I guess I should be relieved that Bush can actually tell the truth, but without dates and correlation with the statements he and his administration made in the seven months prior to the war, this particular truth is meaningless. And Bush doesn't even include "mass destruction" in this latest claim. Some Iraqis did shoot back in this latest Bush war--therefore, they had a weapons program.
Bush lied; People died.
When al-Qaida terrorists in Kenya failed in their effort to shoot down an Israeli charter jet with a shoulder-launched missile last November, airline security experts were relieved, but only briefly. Such an attack had long been expected, and though the missile missed its target that day, the experts urged that the near-miss be regarded as a wakeup call to airlines and governments worldwide.
A little more than six months later, the administration of President George W. Bush is making only a limited commitment to reduce the threat of shoulder-launched missiles, and critics both inside and outside the government say he is putting both passengers and the airline industry at risk.
The administration recently blocked two congressional measures to address the threat, including a comprehensive $9 billion plan to begin outfitting passenger jets with sophisticated anti-missile equipment. Instead, a new report by Bush's Department of Homeland Security says the administration is proposing a timetable in which the study and planning would not be completed until 2005, and the first widespread installation of anti-missile technology would be years away, at best. Only $2 million would be spent in the next few months to assemble staff and data on the risk posed by portable missiles; up to $60 million would be allocated next year to continue the study.
Those most familiar with the danger, regardless of political stripe, agree that the missiles pose a significant, immediate threat. Rep. John Mica, a Florida Republican who chairs the House aviation subcommittee, has called the risk "sobering," and at a Washington news conference in March, he said: "We can't afford to not act." A Boeing official privately described the shoulder-launched missiles as "the greatest current threat to the U.S. air transport system." Over the past year, intelligence officials have grown increasingly concerned about the likelihood that al-Qaida has smuggled the launchers into the United States. The FBI in May 2002 issued a remarkable bulletin to local and state law enforcement agencies warning that al-Qaida possessed such missiles and would likely attempt an attack inside the United States. -- From Salon via Atrios.
Monday, June 09, 2003
Sunday, June 08, 2003
Rummy orders breakfast at Denny's
Am I ready to order? Let me answer it a little off to the side.
First of all, there are things that we know. I can look at this menu and see that. But there’s a danger there. Do I 'know' that hash browns are not included in the Original Grand Slam Breakfast? It says that on the menu, which, by the way, is nicely laminated and we’re grateful to the laminator. But getting back to the hash-brown potatoes. I should 'know' that they’re not included. etc.
Rummy also offers some sex tips.
Profiles in Dubyage: After Iraq was attacked, Bush flew over the country at 31,000 feet. Just like he did after America was attacked.
Thanks alot, Michael Powell!
From Jeff Parker.
From Gary Brookins.
From Chris Britt.
From Steve Greenberg.
Okay, I'm getting tired of ranting about WMD's, so I'll turn it over to Senator Byrd:
What amazes me is that the President himself is not clamoring for an investigation. It is his integrity that is on the line. It is his truthfulness that is being questioned. It is his leadership that has come under scrutiny. And yet he has raised no question, expressed no curiosity about the strange turn of events in Iraq, expressed no anger at the possibility that he might have been misled. How is it that the President, who was so adamant about the dangers of WMD, has expressed no concern over the where-abouts of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq?
It is time that we had some answers. It is time that the Administration stepped up its acts to reassure the American people that the horrific weapons that they told us threatened the world's safety have not fallen into terrorist hands. It is time that the President leveled with the American people. It is time that we got to the bottom of this matter.
We have waged a costly war against Iraq. We have prevailed. But, we are still losing American lives in that nation. And the troubled situation there is far from settled. American troops will likely be needed there for years. Billions of American tax dollars will continue to be needed to rebuild. I only hope that we have not won the war only to lose the peace. Until we have determined the fate of Iraq's weapons of mass destruction, or determined that they, in fact, did not exist, we cannot rest, we cannot claim victory.
Iraq's weapons of mass destruction remain a mystery and a conundrum. What are they, where are they, how dangerous are they? Or were they a manufactured excuse by an Administration eager to seize a country? It is time to answer these questions. It is time– past time – for the Administration to level with the American people, and it is time for the President to demand an accounting from his own Administration as to exactly how our nation was led down such a twisted path to war.
And to some great cartoonists:
From Mike Thompson.
From Jeff Danziger.
The secret September 2002 Pentagon intelligence report concluded that there was "no reliable information" that Iraq had biological or chemical weapons. -- BBC.
Here's Richard Perle describing his first meeting with George W. Bush:
"Two things became clear. One, he didn't know very much. The other was he had the confidence to ask questions that revealed he didn't know very much... you got the sense that if he believed something he'd pursue it tenaciously." -- The Prince of Darkness was quoted in Vanity Fair, channeled by Bob Harris.
If Bush has taken Congress and the nation into war based on bogus information, he is cooked. Manipulation or deliberate misuse of national security intelligence data, if proven, could be "a high crime" under the Constitution's impeachment clause. It would also be a violation of federal criminal law, including the broad federal anti-conspiracy statute, which renders it a felony "to defraud the United States, or any agency thereof in any manner or for any purpose." -- from Watergate veteran John Dean.
Friday, June 06, 2003
Thursday, June 05, 2003
W made this ridiculous comment in his speech to the troops today: "But one thing is certain: no terrorist network will gain weapons of mass destruction from the Iraqi regime because the Iraqi regime is no more."
A comment on Atrios gives this outstanding retort:
I can state with equal confidence that terrorists will not gain NBC weapons from the Holy Roman Empire, the Soviet Union, or the Third Reich either. There is a fair chance that they'll get NBC weapons, if any still exist, from the ruins of Iraq, largely due to the administration's incompetence at providing security and massive disruption of the country. What a bunch of idiots we've got running our empire.
W's statement is sort of like a murderer claiming in his defense that "the deceased will never sell drugs to kindergarten children because he's dead," even though the deceased had never done that. True but irrelevant. And the commenter's point is right on: The facts look just as bad for Bush if we stipulate that he was telling the truth about WMD's. If they were there in March and gone in April, the war may have made it possible for those weapons to get into the hands of terrorists, thereby accomplishing exactly the opposite of the stated objective. Mission accomplished?
Frank's senior enlisted man, Sgt. Major Dwight Brown told the troops before Bush's appearance, "I don't want any damn catcalls from the crowd. We have the president of the United States coming to tell us what a great job we did destroying those heathen up in northern Iraq." -- from a Washington Post article about Bush's most recent gloating. The trip ended with a 66-minute flyover at 31,000 feet by Air Force One, with F-18's at each wingtip. A senior administration officials said the detour "was to show that Iraq is now free." Yup. Having a conquering foreign emperor buzz your capitol city just because he can is a sure sign of freedom. And maybe I missed something, but I don't recall "destroying heathen" as one of the reasons given for the war. And warning troops who have given up the better part of a year risking their lives to find non-existent weapons that they'd better not make any "catcalls" sounds just like something a Hitler or Saddam Hussein would do. What a pompous, stupid twit.
Wednesday, June 04, 2003
As best as I can tell, the Wolfowitz quote from the Guardian (previous post below) wasn't quite accurate. Apparently it was a translation from a German translation of the original English, and some meaning got altered. It appears that Wolfowitz was trying to explain the difference between our approaches to North Korea and Iraq--why the one that actually has WMD programs doesn't need attacking while the one that doesn't does. Here's the quote:
Look, the primarily difference -- to put it a little too simply -- between North Korea and Iraq is that we had virtually no economic options with Iraq because the country floats on a sea of oil. In the case of North Korea, the country is teetering on the edge of economic collapse and that I believe is a major point of leverage whereas the military picture with North Korea is very different from that with Iraq. The problems in both cases have some similarities but the solutions have got to be tailored to the circumstances which are very different. (source)
So to summarize: illegally changing regimes in both countries was/is a given for Wolfowitz. North Korea is likely to starve into regime change without a war being required; Iraq would have taken longer because of its oil wealth. Not much better, but not really saying that the war was all about the oil.
My apologies for misleading anybody--I quoted the Guardian accurately, but they apparently didn't do the same with Wolfowitz. I discovered the error by checking Tom Tomorrow's blog.
It WAS about the oil:
Let's look at it simply. The most important difference between North Korea and Iraq is that economically, we just had no choice in Iraq. The country swims on a sea of oil. -- Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz, quoted in today's Guardian.
I'm sure that makes Saudi Arabia, Venezuela, Mexico, Nigeria and other oil-producing countries feel really secure right now. Wolfowitz is certifiably insane, and he's running (ruining) our foreign policy.
(Rep. Charles Rangel's Letter to the NY Times)
To the Editor:
Re "Stating the Obvious," by Paul Krugman (column, May 27): Many Democrats have been saying for months that the president's tax cuts are part of a deliberate plan to starve government of all resources to do anything other than defense.
While I commend Mr. Krugman, he understates the damage the Bush plan will cause when he writes that either taxes will go up again or vital programs will be gutted. In fact, both will occur. States and cities have already raised property, sales and excise taxes to try to meet the responsibilities the Bush administration is shirking. These taxes hit middle-income families first.
The Social Security and Medicare trust funds — financed through the payroll tax on workers — are being rapidly funneled out to "give the money back" to wealthy taxpayers. This lays the groundwork for the end of those two programs — not reform, end — because the money will simply not be there.
The runaway debt and erosion of confidence in our economy will eventually shipwreck our entire society, and all the money in the world won't buy a life raft.
CHARLES B. RANGEL
Member of Congress, 15th Dist., N.Y.
Washington, May 29, 2003
Q: Isn’t it possible that Saddam Hussein ordered their destruction, as U.S. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld has suggested?
A: No. I don’t think it’s even remotely possible. I just cannot follow the Rumsfeld logic; that watching CNN and seeing the American build-up Saddam said to his generals, “It’s obvious that the U.S. is going to invade; we had better destroy our biggest weapons, so that when I am toppled there might be some very difficult questions for Donald Rumsfeld to answer.”
- WMD seems to stand for weapons of mass disappearance. -- Time
- On close examination, some of the statements about Saddam and his WMD made by President George W. Bush and his top lieutenants in the months leading up to the Iraq war included qualifiers or nuances. But the effect—and the intent—was to convince most Americans that Saddam presented a clear and present danger and had to be removed by going to war. -- Newsweek
- What did the Bush administration know-- or think it knew--on the eve of war? -- US News & World Report
The controversy over whether the administration of President George W. Bush either exaggerated or lied about evidence that it said it had about the existence of weapons of mass destruction (WMD) by Iraq before the U.S.-led invasion has mushroomed over the past week. "This is potentially very serious," said one congressional aide. "If it's shown we went to war because of intelligence that was 'cooked' by the administration, heads will have to roll, and not just little heads, big ones."
And nobody has a bigger head, or one more empty, than W himself.
Tuesday, June 03, 2003
The only evidence we need to know that the administration is simply in CYA mode is the fact they don't seem very concerned about the "missing" WMD. If they really believed they existed, the hunt for them wouldn't be motivated by a desire to justify the war, it would be motivated by the very legitimate desire to make sure the deadly weapons were not in the hands of evil-doers. Since the administration isn't sounding the alarm along these lines, it's obvious they're unconcerned. They just want to find some scrap of something - a la the ridiculous mobile "labs" - to pacify the media and dupe the public.
If there were WMDs, and we can't find them, then we have problems.
Absolutely. We've got what, 150,000 troops over there. They've been getting shot at with regularity. If the Bushies really believed that there were WMD's out there (and if they really cared a whit about the troops) they'd make finding those weapons their top priority. They aren't. It isn't. They lied. People died. Others cried. Truth is fried.
Like it or not, ethanol is coming to the nation's gas tanks, courtesy of the U.S. Congress.
A measure requiring the corn-based fuel to be added to the gasoline supply is expected to survive a challenge in the Senate this week, despite objections from lawmakers representing coastal states. They say that transporting ethanol from the Corn Belt to the East and West coasts could drive up prices at the pump and that the plan serves no purpose other than to curry favor in some politically important Midwestern states.
Polizeros adds: And it also provides a renewable home-grown source for fuel and cuts reliance on foreign sources. A good idea, I'd say!
Sorry, I'm not sold. While a quick google search only turned up pro-ethanol-industry web sites which say that using ethanol actually saves energy (like this one), I have read somewhere that when all externalities are included (fertilizer production, irrigation, processing, transport, etc.) that there are no real energy savings from ethanol.
BTW, that Canadian web page says that half the vehicles in Brazil can run on pure ethanol. If something like that happened here, how much of our landscape would be converted to corn monoculture? How much of that would be genetically-modified corn, with possibly devastating effects on biodiversity? Would it provide the excuse for still more destructive irrigation projects, such as the raid of Canadian rivers described in Cadillac Desert?
As far as I'm concerned, ethanol, hybrids, hydrogen and so on must be seen as only offering slight amelioration of massive problems. Without massive cutbacks in energy use, no matter where it comes from, they will only delay the inevitable. If, as fuel cells have already, these just provide excuses for doing nothing for a while and letting waste and sprawl to continue, allowing them to be presented as solutions may actually be harmful.
And I think Senator Feinstein (see the article) has a point--this may be really just another way to transfer even more money from blue to red states.
In Rome Monday, Secretary of State Colin Powell said: "There were weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. It wasn't a figment of anyone's imagination." He cited Baghdad's use of the weapons in the war against Iran and against Iraqi Kurds in the 1980s, and the discovery of such weapons by U.N. inspectors after the 1991 Gulf War. -- CBS/AP.
Thanks for the history lesson, Colin. That's not the evidence that you cited back in February to the UN. Your case for war was that Iraq possessed WMD's in February 2003, not April 1991. While the US government continues to support Pakistan and Israel despite their WMD programs, you are now implying that attacking Iraq was justified because they had WMD's at one time--even though they apparently (eventually, at least) fulfilled their cease-fire and UN-required obligations to destroy them. Unless you find real weapons, you have no case whatsoever.
For the record, I was outraged by the war even while believing that Iraq probably possessed some WMD's. Inspectors had returned, and all indications, including from the CIA, were that whatever weapons Iraq possessed were only a threat to an invading army, posing little to no threat to Iraq's neighbors and none at all to the US. Even if a stash of weapons is eventually found, the war was still not justified. But without such a stash, we have to add outright lying to the illegal and unconstitutional use of a pre-emptive strike without UN approval to the growing list of Bush administration war crimes. And recent statements by Rice, Rumsfeld and Wolfowitz clearly indicate that the Bushies really were not certain of their "evidence." Tens of thousands of Iraqis and a couple of hundred of coalition soldiers are dead based on a colossal lie.
Misrepresentation and deception are standard operating procedure for this administration, which — to an extent never before seen in U.S. history — systematically and brazenly distorts the facts.
It's long past time for this administration to be held accountable. Over the last two years we've become accustomed to the pattern. Each time the administration comes up with another whopper, partisan supporters — a group that includes a large segment of the news media — obediently insist that black is white and up is down. Meanwhile the "liberal" media report only that some people say that black is black and up is up. And some Democratic politicians offer the administration invaluable cover by making excuses and playing down the extent of the lies.
If this same lack of accountability extends to matters of war and peace, we're in very deep trouble. The British seem to understand this: Max Hastings, the veteran war correspondent — who supported Britain's participation in the war — writes that "the prime minister committed British troops and sacrificed British lives on the basis of a deceit, and it stinks."
It's no answer to say that Saddam was a murderous tyrant. I could point out that many of the neoconservatives who fomented this war were nonchalant, or worse, about mass murders by Central American death squads in the 1980's. But the important point is that this isn't about Saddam: it's about us. The public was told that Saddam posed an imminent threat. If that claim was fraudulent, the selling of the war is arguably the worst scandal in American political history — worse than Watergate, worse than Iran-contra. Indeed, the idea that we were deceived into war makes many commentators so uncomfortable that they refuse to admit the possibility.
And look who's leading the charge:
Sen. Trent Lott of Mississippi told a news conference there was no partisanship in Senate opposition to the new cap. "A lot of Republicans, in fact, probably most of the Republicans in Congress, would not agree with this decision," said Lott, the former Republican leader of the Senate.
Time to call Congress again! (800-839-5276)
I've been meaning to mention that I'm a Kucinich supporter and have volunteered here and there for the Congressman's campaign. (Buncha reasons: he's co-chair of the Progressive Caucus, the guy I agree with most on a slew of issues -- Iraq, the FCC, the Patriot Act, health care, etc. -- and a decent working-class guy from my hometown who has upset Republican incumbents his entire career. So there's that.)
Harris made the post since it appears that Kucinich will soon announce his projected cabinet. Good idea--candidates should make clear to the public beforehand whether their appointments will be made in order to fulfill the missions of their agencies, or destroy them. Imagine if Bush had announced that John Ashcroft was going to be his AG--he would have lost the election!
Oh right, he did anyway.
Monday, June 02, 2003
I asked that question a couple of weeks ago, wondering what those people think who were sent to spend months in the desert, risking their lives, because their government claimed that Iraq and its WMD's were a serious threat. Apparently, one of them called CNN's Late Edition yesterday:
My question concerns the weapons of mass destruction that the president, secretary of state and other officials on the way down claim that knew specifically exist. They sent many of us service members into duty and many of us died. And I'm afraid someone might recognize my voice because I'm military. When are you guys going to investigate who knew what, when, where and how does this happen. -- See Liberal Oasis for a rundown of Sunday's talk show discussions of the issue.
I just watched the end of the FCC meeting, where the sleazebag three voted to let big media get bigger. Michael Powell, like his father, is a sellout, good-for-nothing corporate whore. Call Congress now and tell them that they can't let this stand! 800-839-5276.
No; the opponents of this genocidal maniac's removal now accuse President Bush and Prime Minister Blair of a colossal hoax. Because Saddam didn't use germs or gas on our troops, they say, that proves Iraq never had them. If we cannot find them right away, they don't exist. They believe Saddam sacrificed tens of billions in oil revenues for no reason at all.
When weighing the murky evidence of an aggressive tyranny's weapons, President Bush and Prime Minister Blair were obliged to take no chances. The burden on proof was on Saddam. By his contempt, he invited invasion; by its response, the coalition established the credibility of its resolve. There was no "intelligence hoax."
Tell me, Mr. Safire, if Saddam had wanted to keep those billions in oil revenues, what would he have done? Maybe allowed UN inspectors to return, and given them access to anyplace they wanted to go? Maybe he would have told the world that he no longer had any WMD's? Sure Saddam was a very bad guy, but unless and until real WMD's are found, it appears that there was nothing he could have done to stop the Blair-Bush project. Unless those weapons are found, insisting that Saddam disarm was an impossible demand. Even if weapons are found, the invasion was still a clear violation of international law; the coalition established its contempt for law and the world--nothing else.
With a record-setting 2 million people now locked up in American jails and prisons, the United States has overtaken Russia and has a higher percentage of its citizens behind bars than any other country.
A major cause is the war on drugs. In 1980, says Marc Mauer, assistant director of the Sentencing Project in Washington, about 40,000 Americans were locked up for drugs-only offenses. Now the number is 450,000, three-fourths of them black or Latino, though drug use is no higher in those groups than among whites.