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, July 05, 2003

Declaration of Independence

. A reminder of some of the complaints that the colonies had against King George back in 1776--they still work today. (All quotes straight from the Declaration of Independence.)

He has refuted his Assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good. (Kyoto, land mine treaty, International Criminal Court).

He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harass our people... (Homeland Security, TIPS, TIA, Patriot Act).

He has affected to render the Military independent of and superior to the Civil Power. (Declaration of war? I don't need no stinkin' declaration of war.)

He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution, and unacknowledged by our laws; giving his Assent to their Acts of pretended Legislation. (That's what NAFTA and the WTO are all about.)

For protecting them, by a mock Trial from punishment for any Murders which they should commit on the Inhabitants of these States. (ICC again).

For depriving us in many cases, of the benefit of Trial by Jury. ("Enemy combatants," "detainees").

For transporting us beyond Seas to be tried for pretended offences. (People taken prisoner in Afghanistan hauled off to Cuba).

He is at this time transporting large Armies of foreign Mercenaries to compleat the works of death, desolation, and tyranny, already begun with circumstances of Cruelty & Perfidy scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy the Head of a civilized nation. (That's what the British and Polish troops are doing in Iraq.)

He has excited domestic insurrections amongst us, and has endeavoured to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers... (Jeez, it's like he's deliberately following King George's script!)

And what did they conclude?

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. --That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, --That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.

Regime Change U.S. 2004!

Just in case anyone thinks that W's frantic dog-wagging is working:


British object to US tribunals of British citizens. -- AFP. The arrogance is breathtaking. All that "coalition of the willing" crap notwithstanding, Bush really only had three allies for his criminal war with Iraq: Britain, Australia, and Spain. And to kick off his illegal and unconstitutional tribunals of POW's held at Guantanamo Bay, the starting six includes two Brits and an Aussie. They probably don't have any Spanish hostages there, or they'd try them too. Is the whole point of everything Bush does simply to prove that he can do whatever he wants?

Arrogance, thy name is Bush. US troops are now arresting Turkish troops in northern Iraq. Turkey has issued a strongly worded protest.

It didn't take long for Bush to turn things around:

From BartCop. Actually, that's a bit behind the times, since the unemployment rate is 6.4% now. Like father, like dim son.

Better plan that softball game for Wednesday; it'll only be 113 F then.

Soldiers marching around in this heat in heavy packs under fire and Iraqis whose air conditioning still doesn't work should send complaints to:

George W. Bush
1600 Pennsylvania Ave.
Washington, DC

Bring them on.

Regime Change 2004--Here are your choices:

The Doctor is good...but

The Dennis is Better!

The Doctor opposed the war in Iraq, but won't cut the defense budget.

The Dennis opposes all wars, and thinks money spent on bombs and "Star Wars" could be put to better use.

The Doctor proposes a complex, largely untried health-care system which covers all except the most unfortunate.

The Dennis proposes a simple, single-payer system, like that used successfully in Canada and most western European countries, which covers everybody.

The Doctor thinks we should send union organizers along with the jobs leaving this country because of NAFTA and the WTO.

The Dennis will cancel NAFTA and the WTO, and allow union organizers to work in this country.

The Doctor is good...but the Dennis is better!

From Steve Greenberg.

Friday, July 04, 2003

Trust is Important
I have no respect for Rumsfeld. He's arrogant and contemptuous of the American public. His claim not to know the details of the raid is typical of his style. It's pointless for anyone to attend or listen to a Pentagon briefing. Officials never tell the public anything important.
The Republicans in the House and Senate, to their discredit, are blocking a real investigation of the claims that led up to the war. They and the administration folks are slip-sliding all over the place. Pretty soon they will be saying, "We never said Saddam had weapons of mass destruction." Bull again.

As far as I'm concerned, the Bush administration has lost all of its credibility, and an administration no one can believe is an administration that needs to be replaced.
-- Charley Reese

The Attack Has Been Spectacular. Every so often, I make a list of some of the completely unresolved Bush scandals. Here's today's entry:

  • Cheney's Energy Policy Team
  • Harken stock sale
  • Ignored 9/11 Warnings
  • Continued suppression of 9/11 investigation
  • Shadow government
  • Enron connections
  • Killing of civilians in Afghanistan
  • Killing of civilians in Iraq
  • Lies, lies, lies about WMD's
  • Lies, lies, lies about Iraq-al Qaeda ties
  • Tax cuts
  • Enemy combatants
  • Guantanamo Bay
  • GMO's
  • Withdrawal from Kyoto treaty
  • Withdrawal from ABM treaty
  • Withdrawal from International Criminal Court
  • Failure to sign landmine treaty
  • Use of depleted uranium
  • Use of cluster bombs
  • Patriot Act
  • Patriot Act II
  • Florida voting scandals
  • Etcetera, etcetera, etcetera...

Or, you could just read this article by Maureen Farrell.

Can Kucinich beat Bush? Here's a good argument for it.

"Still At War," says general

Iraqi resistance brought them on on the Fourth of July, killing one US soldier and wounding 20.

Here's what I suggest: Instead of flying out to another aircraft carrier, George W. Bush flies to Amman, Jordan. He gets a ride in an unmarked Humvee from there to Baghdad. If he gets there without being "smoked out" by an RPG or a Hellfire missile, he tours the city on foot for a few hours in the heat of the day before arriving at the pedestal where the toppled statue of Saddam once stood. There, in front of a big sign saying "Utter Failure," he apologizes to a crowd of thousands of US soldiers and Iraqis.

Tell it to smirky the next time he swaggers on to base:
Military families are not happy about the ongoing chaos in Iraq:
Frustrations became so bad recently at Fort Stewart, Ga., that a colonel, meeting with 800 seething spouses, most of them wives, had to be escorted from the session.

"They were crying, cussing, yelling and screaming for their men to come back," said Lucia Braxton, director of community services at Fort Stewart.
"That's my biggest fear," Valerie Decal, the wife of an artillery sergeant, said. "That my husband will come back different. Even if you're G.I. Joe, if you have to kill someone, that's not something you just forget about."

Thursday, July 03, 2003

Digital Camera Practice:

Wag that dog, George. This is disgusting. As his glorious wars turn to deadly flops, as unemployment hits 6.4%, and as more people are finally realizing that George W. Bush has done absolutely NOTHING right since he was appointed president, he and his team are frantically creating distractions. First, it's finally paying attention to the humanitarian crisis in Liberia; next, it's the $25 million reward for Saddam (the reward idea worked so well for Osama); and now it's Let's get those tribunals going.

President Bush Thursday designated six captives in the war on terror as eligible to be tried before U.S. military commissions, the Defense Department said.

"The president determined that there is reason to believe that each of these enemy combatants was a member of al Qaeda or was otherwise involved in terrorism directed against the United States," the Pentagon said in a statement.

Senior defense officials, briefing reporters on condition of anonymity, declined to discuss many details of the process. They refused to identify the six individuals by name or even by nationality, saying no charges have yet been brought against them, and said their identities may never be announced.

The Pentagon was next to decide whether the men will be brought to trial before commissions and on what charges, the officials said.

Can you say "banana republic?" Can you say "Soviet Union?" Sure ain't America.

My niece Beth is trying to raise $1000 for the AIDS walk in San Francisco on July 20. Please go here if you'd like to make a contribution.

Bring Them On... Moving flash animation in response to aWol's insane comment. (High bandwidth connection, or several hours, required.)

Wolf Blitzer, Pravda Reporter:
Some would argue going into Liberia is to stop a humanitarian crisis. There is plenty of evidence in postwar Iraq of atrocities on the part of the Saddam Hussein regime to say that's just what was accomplished there, even if the WMD are so far MIA.

Seemingly everyone, including me, stipulates that Saddam was a very bad guy. But were people actually being killed, wounded or arrested faster a year ago, or five months ago, than they are now? Were children dying at a faster rate before combat started on March 19 than they have been since? Maybe--I don't know. But except for some pictures of some skulls, I haven't seen a lot of specific evidence of how bad things actually were when Saddam was in charge, especially in recent years. There are tallies like this which give totals around one million people who were killed by Saddam, but they include 500,000 soldiers killed in the war with Iran (in which the Reagan administration was arming both sides), as well as people killed by US bombs in the Gulf War and by sanctions. The supression of the Shiite uprising at the end of the Gulf War was certainly brutal, but it was done under the watchful eye and with the tacit approval of the Bush I/Powell/Cheney administration.

So, not to defend Saddam's actions, but my question is: were lots of Iraqis being killed or tortured by Saddam's regime in 2002? How many, and where is the evidence? You can't claim to be stopping a humanitarian crisis unless you show that the killing and arrests were on-going (and unless you've actually stopped the killing and arrests, which clearly we haven't). Skulls from twelve years ago don't cut it--they are evidence to be used at Saddam's trial, but you can only use the "stopping a humanitarian crisis" argument if the crisis was ongoing. Of course, that wasn't there reason for the war until all their other reasons proved to be BS. Just because Saddam had been a tyrant doesn't necessarily mean that there was an ongoing humanitarian crisis. There probably was, but I'm sure not going to take the Bushies', or Wolf Blitzer's, word on it.

From Steve Sack.

Unemployment at 6.4%. Highest in nine years. (NY Times) The Bushies are claiming, of course, that the latest tax cuts will be able to undo the damage that the first tax cuts have wrought.

Ask and ye shall receive...

Somebody in Iraq "brought it on" and wounded at least ten US soldiers. Bush really should be prosecuted for this.

Wednesday, July 02, 2003

We haven't finished liberating Iraq, and now we're going to iraqeate Liberia?

How to win friends and influence people:
We are going to fight them and impose our will on them and we will capture or... kill them until we have imposed law and order on this country. We dominate the scene and we will continue to impose our will on this country. -- Paul Bremer, US Viceroy in Iraq, quoted in the Guardian .

A Comment on DailyKos About "Bring Them On:"
I thought inviting people to attack Americans constituted terrorism. Isn't that what made Osama Bin Laden so abhorrent? Isn't this considered aiding and abetting the enemy? At the very least, this MUST violate some provision of the Patriot Act, doesn't it?

A Democrat Speaks Out!

"I am shaking my head in disbelief. When I served in the army in Europe during World War II, I never heard any military commander -- let alone the commander in chief -- invite enemies to attack U.S. troops," said Lautenberg.

Lautenberg described Bush's word choice "bring them on"-- as tantamount to inciting and inviting more attacks against U.S. forces. He said that the U.S. should be aspiring for the opposite military objectives:

"We want to see the Iraqi opposition disappear. We want to see law and order restored to Iraq, which will allow the Iraqi people to live in security and freedom. These should be our goals rather than encouraging more violence and bloodshed."

-- Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ), from his web site. At age 79, Lautenberg becomes the youngest Democratic senator to really criticize Bush, joining octogenarians Robert Byrd and Fritz Hollings. NBC News tonight showed Bush's statement--the "man" is insane. Let's hope this incredibly stupid remark finally opens some eyes around the country.

Mad Cowboy Disease
Our idiot president is apparently trying to incite a riot, if not a full-scale rebellion, in Iraq:

"Anybody who wants to harm American troops will be found and brought to justice," Bush said. "There are some that feel like if they attack us that we may decide to leave prematurely. They don't understand what they are talking about if that is the case. Let me finish. There are some who feel like the conditions are such that they can attack us there. My answer is, bring them on."

U.S. forces, he added, are "plenty tough" to deal with any security threats.
-- from CNN.

This from the guy who flew over the country for an hour at 31,000 feet. This should play real well with the parents of the troops on the front line. What a moron.

Think about this, DLC:
If Dennis Kucinich gets the nomination, it'll be less reason to have a third-party challenge. He's a very progressive Democrat... -- Ralph Nader on last night's CNN Crossfire. In other DK news, Willie Nelson is endorsing Kucinich!

[Correction] Earlier I had posted that Willie Nelson is not endorsing Kucinich. This was incorrect. What I meant to say was that Laura Bush is not endorsing Kucinich--yet. But Willie Nelson is, so I've now decided to go positive and put that in instead. (Actually, Cyndy caught my error--thanks Cindy!)

Down the Memory Hole?
Last week I linked to a post from DailyKos, which referred to an editorial in the Army Times complaining about the many ways that Bush is NOT supporting our troops (in fact, screwing them royally by cutting numerous benefits). Well, the editorial has apparently disappeared from the Army Times web site! Fortunately, it has been mirrored many places, including at thousand yard glare, who also is tracking its disappearance from the Army Times site.

I wonder what's on the other side of the memory hole--probably the cave containing Osama bin Laden, Saddam Hussein, and Dick Cheney.

Bremer asks for more troops -- Philadelphia Inquirer.

Meanwhile, back in the Rose Garden:

President Bush yesterday reaffirmed his commitment to Iraq, saying the attacks on American troops would not force the United States out of the nation before freedom took root.

Bush, in a Rose Garden speech marking the 30th anniversary of the end of the military draft, spoke of "terrorists, extremists and Saddam loyalists" who have attacked U.S. forces, intimidated Iraqis, and destroyed infrastructure. He warned of foreign fighters entering Iraq, al-Qaeda-related groups waiting to strike, and former Iraqi officials "who will stop at nothing" to recover power.

"These groups believe they have found an opportunity to harm America, to shake our resolve in the war on terror, and to cause us to leave Iraq before freedom is fully established," Bush said. "They are wrong and they will not succeed."

What an arrogant, obnoxious liar Bush is. People in Iraq are fighting against an arrogant and incompetent foreign invader. Iraq has NOTHING to do with the "war on terror," and freedom will never be fully established there until the occupiers leave.

Bush Lied, People Died...
and Americans are finally starting to realize that:
For the first time since the beginning of the war in Iraq, a solid majority of Americans believe the Bush administration either "stretched the truth" about Iraqi weapons of mass destruction or told outright lies, according to a new opinion survey.
Similarly, 56 percent of those polled believed the US government stretched the truth or made outright false statements about Hussein's ties to al-Qaeda.
-- from a University of Maryland poll cited by AFP.

Another World:
At a $2,000 a plate fundraising dinner for president Bush the other night, Republicans dined on nachos and hot dogs. And at the event, president Bush said the economy is turning the corner. Well, of course he thinks the economy is turning the corner. He's surrounded by people who can afford to pay $2,000 a plate for nachos and hot dogs. - Jay Leno, quoted by Polizeros.

From Ted Rall.

From Tom Tomorrow.

Mobile bioweapons lab found!

At Fort Bragg, North Carolina. Actually, the NY Times article is co-authored by Judith Miller, which means the evidence is probably some unidentified guy in a baseball camp pointing in the general direction of North Carolina. But it raises a point which should be obvious: the greatest threat to US citizens from chemical, biological or nuclear weapons is from those weapons already in this country.

Tuesday, July 01, 2003

All redistricting, all the time. The NY Times reports that Texas isn't the only state where partisan redistricting has become an all-the-time thing, not just a once-a-decade embarrassment for anyone who cares about democracy. In 2002 Michigan lost two fine representatives, Lynn Rivers and David Bonior, due to Republican-designed redistricting.

I've just done a quick search through the Constitution and its amendments, and as far as I can tell there is nothing there that requires members of the House of Representatives to represent specific districts. Article I, Section 4 states "The times, places and manner of holding elections for Senators and Representatives, shall be prescribed in each state by the legislature thereof; but the Congress may at any time by law make or alter such regulations, except as to the places of choosing Senators." (The method of choosing senators was changed by the 17th amendment.) But as far as I know, there are no states which have more than one representative which use any method other than geographical districts for selecting their representatives (I think Vermont did, but they've only got one rep. now). If there were any interest in improving our democracy, I would think that some states would be looking for better ways to select their representatives than by having the party in power create some mind-warping jigsaw puzzle. This method results in a large minority of the population being poorly represented in Congress--imagine being a liberal in Tom DeLay's district: who ya gonna call? Michigan has 15 seats in the House--having all 15 seats be at-large would almost guarantee that everyone in the state would have several representatives for whom they voted. With preferential voting, it could be even better. Perhaps give every person 15 votes to cast anywhere on the ballot, including multiple votes for the same candidate. This would practically guarantee that every sizeable minority would get at least one representative in the delegation.

So why don't we have something like this? My guess is the blame goes to the highly undemocratic two-party system, which benefits by denying minorities the opportunity to come together in any way unless they are lucky enough to compose the majority of one particular jigsaw piece. In a fifteen-seat at-large election, minor parties would have an excellent shot at getting a representative or two, even if their members were spread evenly throughout the state.

Sorry, I haven't researched this very much--just a quick rant based on the NY Times article. If anyone knows of any errors in what I said, or can shed further light on the subject, I'll be happy to post it. I just find it depressing that there is so much rhetoric about how wonderful our democracy is, and so little debate on the many simple ways in which it could be vastly improved.

Drastically Underfunded, Dangerously Unprepared
The Council on Foreign Relations published a report saying that the U.S. is woefully unprepared to deal with another major terrorist attack. While spending $70 billion or so to demolish Iraq, and hundreds of billions on tax cuts for the rich, the Bushies and the Republitron congress refuse to spend the $100 billion or so deemed necessary by the report to provide adequate preparation.

The report was made by a committee chaired by former Republican Senator Warren Rudman:

"I believe in the next five years cant tell you when, where, what or how there will be an attack," Rudman told Tim Russet Sunday on NBCs Meet the Press."And, God forbid, its an attack with either chemical or biological or worse, some sort of nuclear device. We are not prepared to deal with that."

See Back In Iraq 2.0 for more on this; you can also read the whole report if you've got the time. (Full disclosure--I don't.)

My personal feeling is that 9/11, as terrible as it was, was overhyped, and that terrorism still poses a tiny threat to America. As I've pointed out several times on this blog, more Americans are killed every month in car accidents than have been killed in all terrorist attacks in the past ten years. (A nice several-dollar hike in the gas tax would cut way down on both numbers, as well as those killed by air pollution.) But if you disagree and believe that we must address the threat of terrorism, this latest report clearly shows that, despite all his rhetoric and wars, George W. Bush is not doing that at all.

Talk About Spin!
Time's Joe Klein makes last week's Supreme Court decisions on affirmative action and sodomy laws out to be Bush victories. I should have expected it--the "liberal media" made Afghanistan, Iraq and the 2000 election out to be Bush victories too.

Governor announces jobs program for Benton Harbor youth.

Ten Appalling Lies.

Got Conspiracy? This one is good: A Telegraph article from last October says that IRA spies in the British government obtained transcripts of conversations between Bush and Blair. Sherman H. Skolnick, whom Polizeros calls "a perpetual gadfly, conspiracy buff, and just when you think he's nuts you discover something he's been railing about for years is true," claims to know what is in those transcripts. Here are the juicy parts (my emphasis):

[1] In discussions with British Prime Minister Tony Blair, George W. Bush admits he is greatly troubled by suppressed documents of the American CIA proving there is no danger by Saddam Hussein and no basis for a pre-emptive military attack by the U.S. aided by the British on Iraq. Blair and Bush discuss the oil question. Namely, that in several years Saudi oil reserves will have passed their peak. On the other hand, Iraq has huge untapped oil reserves.

In the past, Texaco got a lof of their crude oil from Iraq. As a result of a bankruptcy situation caused by a monstrous court judgment against Texaco by Pennzoil, that Pennzoil has a great financial interest in Texaco. The Bush Family historically have been financially interwoven with the founders of Pennzoil. Texas state high court judges, beholden to the Bush Family, reportedly were corrupted to nail down the largest court judgment in U.S. history, eleven billion dollar verdict by Pennzoil against Texaco, causing Texaco to petition the bankruptcy court for protection. The U.S. Supreme Court, beholden to the Reagan/Bush Administration, refused to grant a remedy to Texaco.

[2] As apparently shown by the secret transcripts and other stolen documents, George W. Bush expressed his concern to Blair who agreed that Saddam Hussein, if left in power, and alive, is in a position to blackmail the Bush Family....

If that's not enough to get you to read all of Skolnick's article, let me just add that it mentions the Queen of England, Ronald Reagan, Alan Greenspan, Timothy McVeigh, Osama bin Laden, and Hillary Clinton. Something for everyone!


From Mike Thompson.

Anybody out there know Alex Doonesbury? We've got to tell that girl about Kucinich!


Oh Canada!
Now Canada is leading the way. And America is looking fussy, Victorian and imperial. -- from an interesting article on our cool neighbor to the north in the Washington Post.

Happy Dominion Day, eh!

Monday, June 30, 2003

Okay, I got back sooner than I expected! Here's a photo I took of a barber shop in Maumee, Ohio during my brief trip:

Sunday, June 29, 2003

I'll be out of town for a while--probably no posts until Tuesday. Be careful out there!

Bush Lied, People Died, and Continue to Die:
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.