Bob's Links and Rants -- Fair and Balanced

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

Saturday, June 14, 2003

Working the Crowds: For the third Saturday, Kucinich volunteers passed out leaflets at the Ann Arbor Farmers' Market. Thanks to Mary (shown in the pictures below), Sharon and Cara for joining me this week!

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

Jobless Claims Drop From A Revised Higher Number. Sort of like getting 15% off after a 25% price hike. From Seeing the Forest:

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.

Two Caveats I'm Tired of Seeing:

  1. Of course Saddam Hussein was a tyrant, but...
  2. 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!

Ninth grader interviews Jeb, finds answers lacking:
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!

California--Always a Trend Setter
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.

Dual-Use Technology
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

This is satire. I'm sure. No doubt, I don't think...
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!

Well, duh... I certainly hope this isn't news to them--CNN says that the FBI is concerned that cell phones could be used to trigger bombs. I'm no electronics genius, but I think I could figure out how to turn my cell phone into a triggering device. If this is news to them, it falls into the same "how stupid can they be" category as Condoleeza Rice's "No one could have imagined that they would fly planes into buildings" quote (after a disgruntled FedEx tried it in 1994, after suspects in the first WTC bombing described such a plot, after Tom Clancy wrote a novel which ended with a 747 crashing into the capitol). Cell phones, pagers, GPS devices, motion detectors and the Internet could all easily be used to remotely detonate bombs. If any of this is news to the FBI we are in deep trouble. We are anyway. We'll never be totally secure; the best approach is to stop pissing off the rest of the world so we don't have so many people mad at us.

From Politics in the Zeros.

Always Work Available for Creative Writers:

From Marshall Ramsey of Mississippi.

Impeachment in one cartoon:

From Rex Babin.

From Kirk Anderson.

From Red Meat.

Homeland Insanity. If you were worried that you might receive a bomb or anthrax in the mail, would you a) carefully inspect all of the mail that arrives at your mailbox, testing or discarding anything that looks suspicious; or b) hire tens of thousands of people to check all mail deposited in any mailbox or post office anywhere. If you picked b, congratulations, you could work for the Department of Homeland Security. Rather than station more agents at US ports to inspect incoming cargo, DHS and the other geniuses in the Bush administration have decided to inspect cargo as it departs foreign ports. And there are a lot of foreign ports, with lots of ships departing all of the time. Many will be headed for Yokohama or Rio or London, but that's what terrorists would say if they were really headed for New York, so you'll have to inspect them all. You'll also have to watch those ships all the way here, or else they might get a visit from a fishing boat off the coast of Africa or Asia with the forbidden cargo. In other words, Tom Ridge is an idiot, like many in our government. We try to fight the war on drugs by poisoning plants and people in Latin America and Afghanistan; we try to fight terrorism through terrorism; and we prefer to have an intrusive, largely useless inspection process at dozens of foreign ports rather than providing real security at our domestic ports. Inspecting every ship that arrives at a US port is a major task which would be expensive and difficult to make entirely effective. Inspecting every ship that leaves foreign ports will be much more expensive and impossible to make effective.

Wednesday, June 11, 2003

The Liberation Continues: U.S. Forces Detain 400 Iraqis.

Sweet Home Alabama
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'll just turn over today's WMD rant to Politics in the Zeros.

Blix speaks out:
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).

Advice for the Bushies: Another Sunday talk show cycle is rapidly approaching, and Colin, Condi, Rummy and the gang are quickly running out of excuses. Karl Rove may already be working on it, but if not, I hereby offer a suggestion. Here is this week's spin:

"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

Chemical warfare in Afghanistan? Daily Dystopian has several links to articles indicating that the US military may be spraying poppy plants in Afghanistan, and killing a lot more than poppies. One of the articles claims that five people were killed after eating fruit that had been sprayed.

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.

Reformed Former Republican Blasts Bush:
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 .

When the lies aren't working so well, try obvious, meaningless and irrelevant truth:
"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.

They are NOT making us safer. War in Iraq involved spending much of our DEFENSE budget stationing most of our troops on the other side of the world. While no WMD's were found, much of the world was outraged, quite possibly adding to the ranks of determined anti-American terrorists. If the WMD's were actually there, the war may have accomplished what it was supposedly intended to prevent: getting WMD's in the hands of terrorists. Meanwhile, shoulder-launched missiles, like the ones we were selling to Osama bin Laden 15 years ago, may well be in the hands of al Qaeda or other terrorists. These could easily be used to shoot down US airliners, unless serious preventive measures are taken immediately. But the Bushies don't see the need to rush:

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.

Hooray for the French! After being vilified for refusing to join in a brutal, illegal and unnecessary war in Iraq, French troops have put themselves in harm's way to slow the bloodshed in the Congo, and to rescue American butts in Liberia.

Tell HR to say NO to W's plan to get the WTO to force GMO's down the throat of the EU! Once again, in English: The Republitrons in the House of Representatives are pushing a resolution today expressing support for the Bushies' attempts to use the World Trade Organization to force Europe to buy our frankenfoods (genetically modified organisms). Go here to read the details and to send an e-mail; please also call your representative ASAP! (Capitol switchboard: 800-839-5276). BTW--Dennis Kucinich is leading the opposition to this one! Go, Dennis!

Monday, June 09, 2003

Meanwhile, people keep dying in a war that was supposedly over.

Check out Liberal Oasis' Sunday Talk Show Breakdown, featuring Rice fried a la Stephanopoulos.

The American Way:

From Doonesbury.

Sunday, June 08, 2003

Trailer Trash: Many analysts think the trailers found in Iraq were not intended for bio-weapon production. -- New York Times.

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.

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.

Absence of Evidence is Evidence of High Crimes:
The secret September 2002 Pentagon intelligence report concluded that there was "no reliable information" that Iraq had biological or chemical weapons. -- BBC.

Perles of Stupidity:
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.

Read This!
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.