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 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

Support Our Troops! (Not like the Republicans.) Daily Kos has a rundown of the many ways that the Bushies are screwing people in the military. Kos is a veteran, and he includes a long quote from the Army Times newsletter, which he summarizes as follows:

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.

Let's Impeach Cheney First, just in case the Bush impeachment succeeds. A former CIA analyst examines Useless Dick's screwing around with the CIA and presenting evidence that he almost surely knew was false. Cheney's actions bring new meaning to the phrase "quadruple bypass."

UN Terror Committee finds no Iraq-al Qaida Ties.
Sure there are! Just look at any Bush speech for the last six months!

Bush gets an 'F' on environmental report card. Apparently it was the lowest grade available.

Arrested for being Muslim, apparently; Read some of the charges (from the Washington Post):
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!

Kucinich finishes second in MoveOn primary
Dean got 44% of the votes, Kucinich 24%. See here for complete results.

It's not the U.S., it's the Bushies! While this headline, Appeals Court Rebuffs U.S. in Moussaoui Case, provides good news that at least some federal courts are interested in protecting the rights of defendants, I hate that the Washington Post claims it as a "rebuff" for the U.S. As a citizen of said country, I think that any decision that protects the constitution and the bill of rights is a victory. And not only is it confusing the country with the maniacs in the White House, the Post is shielding said maniacs from a negative headline. It should read "Court Rebuffs Bush" or "Court Rebuffs White House" or maybe

Loser Bush loses big time in big loss in court, the loser

With 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.

Well yeah, but he's got lots of nukes--for real.
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.

Blair's cabinet takes on the BBC, claiming they do have evidence to refute BBC's claims that they didn't have evidence of WMD's, even though they don't have evidence of WMD's. (,12956,986017,00.html?=rss)

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...

Learned Helplessness
"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

Government of the Republitrons, by the Republitrons, and for the Republitrons
DeLay, Santorum and fellow criminals push lobbying firms to hire Republicans--only. -- Washington Post.

From Cyndy at MouseMusings.

Iraqi Information Minister Talks:
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.

Good News? Well the news isn't good, but what the NBC Nightly News featured tonight in the ten minutes I watched looked like a good sign that Bush's teflon is wearing off. They started with a report on more US soldiers being killed as well as two being kidnapped in Iraq. They went on to a story about a soldier being killed in Afghanistan, and then on to a story about the phantom WMD's, featuring a quote by Michigan's own Senator Carl Levin. They then went to the story of the Supreme Court's ruling nullifying the Texas sodomy law, saying that what consenting adults do in the bedroom is no one's business but their own.

I've been trying to read Bob Harris' Kucinich/Dean comparison for two days now, and I keep getting "Cannot Find Server" errors. Has anybody gotten through, and could you send me a copy?

[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!

Ha Ha
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.

Interesting Hearsay:

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. rant...ENDLESSLY...on this (picture me as Dr. Strangelove). Must...wait...for...confimation...AAARGH!

Memory Hole?
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.

Still Doing His Job While Seeking a New One:
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.

Guest map
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.

Cheap-labor Conservatives

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!

"You call Donald Rumsfeld and tell him . . . (we) are ready to go home," said Pfc. Matthew O'Dell, an infantryman in Betancourt's platoon, as he stood guard last week. "Tell him to come spend a night in our building." -- NY Times.

Statue toppled, Aircraft Carrier Visited, Mission Accomplished, Dying Continues.

From Boondocks.

Decisive Leadership. On September 11, 2001, George W. Bush was told by chief of staff Andrew Card that America was under attack after the second plane hit the WTC. Bush responded, with that famous moral clarity, by sitting there listening to children read for five minutes (we've got the video), and apparently for several minutes after that. Trying to give him the benefit of the doubt, I think, well, reading is important--maybe some of those kids will read about how W's brother disenfranchised many of their parents, aunts and uncles prior to and during the 2000 election, which is the only reason why what W does makes any difference at all. But then, I think--if America is under attack, it seems to be a reasonable possibility that the president might be a target, and his visit to the school was known publicly. Proper respect for the children and teachers would have been to evacuate the building immediately in case an airplane might just happen to crash into it. We now know that Osama (if it was Osama) was smarter than that, knowing that Bush would be a willing participant in the destruction of America, as he has turned out to be, so the school wasn't targeted. But clearly something huge was happening, and decisions needed to be made, including perhaps shooting down airliners, that only the president could make. But he just sat there. Watch the video!

Bob Harris has more on this.

Blogger Upgrade
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.

Kucinich in Person
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,
John Titus
Dexter, Mi

Wednesday, June 25, 2003

Clearly the public would not vote for a progressive today. That's why we need a new public. The only way to get one is to not tailor one's message to prevailing sentiments. -- from a good Kucinich endorsement by MaxSpeak.

Mass March in Benton Harbor
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

How the Pentagon could have failed to secure the known nuclear sites is unbelievable. -- Thomas Friedman. I'm not a big Friedman fan--he supported going to war seemingly on "practical" grounds. The illegal nature of the enterprise didn't seem to bother him much--Saddam was a bad guy so taking him out was a good thing. And Friedman's problems with the Bushies now seem to be strictly of a practical nature: he doesn't mind that they do something wrong, as long as they do it right. But, as he points out, they're not doing it right, not even close.

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.


Bush is a Coward -- from a Vietnam vet.

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

It is sort of fascinating that you can have 100 percent certainty about weapons of mass destruction and zero certainty of about where they are. -- Hans Blix.

The Incomparable Robert Byrd:
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.

You can fool most of the people most of the time... This is why I'm thinking of moving to Mexico. I'm not sure that there is a country in the world right now with a stupider general population than the US.

No Weapons According to "Detainees" According to Newsweek
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.

But who's counting?


Lileth at A Rational Animal has a long rant about the burned Iraqi children turned away by US Army doctors that I mentioned briefly earlier.

Be careful what you wish for...
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.

Trying his newly-won and hard-earned lack of credibility on for size: Secretary of Deception Colin Powell writes in today's NY Times about Zimbabwe:

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?

Affirmative Action. As a University of Michigan employee, I should probably have a lot to say about the Supreme Court rulings yesterday regarding U of M admissions policies. But Cyndy already has two posts on it, here and here. So I'll just add two paragraphs from University President Mary Sue Coleman's remarks on the rulings:

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.

You may have seen this, but it is too important to miss. You're probably aware of the letter written to President Clinton in 1998 by Wolfowitz et al asking that he invade Iraq. You may be aware that SecDef Rumsfeld was talking about going after Iraq while his building was on fire on September 11. Now, according to retired general and CNN analyst Wesley Clark on the June 15th Meet the Press, he and others in the media were encouraged to make the 9/11-Saddam connection, even though there was (and is) no evidence:

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

Heal your own kids. We're here for the oil. Army doctors turn away burned Iraqi children. God bless America.

Another "enemy combatant." Details probably never. This is SO Soviet Union.

Another pipeline explosion... Details at 11.

Another gem from BartCop:

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.

Moving into third position...John Edwards!
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.

Great Kucinich endorsement from Maxspeak. Here's a selection:
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.

Bushies tell NGO's: It's our way or no way. From the Guardian.

Funeral Today. The funeral for Terrance Shurn, the 28-year-old black man killed when his motorcycle hit a building while being chased by police, will be at 11 this morning in Benton Harbor.

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.

Eight Reasons Why WMD's Matter: From Daily Kos. Bushies and pundits are trying to explain away this giant lie with more lies and deception. Daily KOS provides eight solid reasons why they can't be allowed to get away with it.

Tomorrow's the big day!

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).

What do they feed their senators in Pennsylvania? These are some scary dudes. Sen. Arlen Specter tells Wolf Blitzer that he wants Israel to extradite two Palestinians accused of killing US citizens so they can be tried and given the death penalty here. One of the accused apparently bragged about planning a bus bombing on TV, so there's at least a good case against him. But then there's the other one. I'll let Sen. Specter explain that one:

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

Q: What's the difference between 2003 and 2005?

A: In 2005, the president won't be the dummy.

Good Kucinich article today in the Washington Post.

From Jeff Stahler.