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 26, 2003

At least we've got one billionaire on our side:

International investor George Soros and others are paying for this full-page ad to run in this Sunday's NY Times, Houston Chronicle, and St. Louis Post-Dispatch. To see the full ad in readable (pdf) format, go here. To read more about it, go here.

What I'm Reading Now
Scott Ritter's new book, Frontier Justice: Weapons of Mass Destruction and the Bushwhacking of America.

I've only read about 25 pages, but it looks like it will be good.

Smoking Howitzer?
After the Capitol Hill Blue thing, I'm wary of unconventional sources (of course, after the Jayson Blair and Judith Miller stuff, I'm wary of conventional sources, too!). But this article certainly would explain a lot, including the Bushies' never-ending quest for secrecy:

A captured Al Qaida document reveals that US energy companies were secretly negotiating with the Taliban to build a pipeline. The document was obtained by the FBI but was not allowed to be shared with other agencies in order to protect Enron. Multiple sources confirm that American law enforcement agencies were deliberately kept in the dark and systematically prevented from connecting the dots before 9/11 in order to aid Enron’s secret and immoral Taliban negotiations.

The suppressed Al Qaida document tends to support recent claims of a cover-up made by several mid-level intelligence and law enforcement figures. Their ongoing terrorist investigations appear to have been hindered during the same sensitive time period while the Enron Corporation was still negotiating with the Taliban. An inadvertent result of the Taliban pipeline cover-up was that the Taliban’s friends in Al Qaida were able to complete their last eight months of preparations for 9/11 while the Enron secrecy block was still in force.

Although the latest order to block investigations allegedly resulted from Enron’s January 2002 appeal to Vice President Dick Cheney, it appears that there were at least three previous block orders, each building upon the other, stretching back for decades and involving both Republican and Democratic administrations.


It is time for Congress to face the truth: In order to give Enron one last desperate chance to complete the Taliban pipeline and save itself from bankruptcy, senior levels of US intelligence were ordered to keep their eyes shut and their subordinates ignorant.

The Enron cover-up confirms that 9/11 was not an intelligence failure or a law enforcement failure (at least not entirely). Instead, it was a foreign policy failure of the highest order. If Congress ever combines its Enron investigation with 9/11, Cheney’s whole house of cards will collapse.
-- From Atty. John J. Loftus. Read the whole thing!

Thanks to Jerri for finding this one!

Three more soldiers die -- NY Times
That Uday and Qusay thing is really working. Frankly, I'm torn about reporting these casualties. I don't want to seem glad that Bush's insane policies are getting US soldiers killed and wounded every day, and I'm not. But the Bushies try to claim that the soldiers dying is justified because they are somehow "defending our freedom" by occupying Iraq.

I say that the only possible good that can come out of their senseless deaths is to discredit Bush and his neoconmen (and women--sorry, Condi, you traitor to pretty much everything you are). I think of Uday and Qusay type photos of every dead and wounded GI were published daily, along with full bios on them, their families, wives, husbands, girlfriends, and so on, along with why they joined the army in the first place, maybe the public would wake up and demand that the troops be brought home and that Bush stop his murderous ways. Since the press doesn't even tell us their names much anymore, I think all of us need to make sure that the American public is constantly aware the soldiers are dying daily in Iraq.

The NY Times continues to downplay the casualty figures, using only the "enemy action" fatalities number (161 as of today), not the total including accidents (about 238, I think). As I've read several places, many of those accidents have been vehicular, and the reason for the accident was that the soldiers were driving too fast hoping to avoid bullets and RPG's and such. In any case, Bush sent them there, and they're just and dead as the others.

Parting Shot for the Night
The World Socialist Web Site has a wonderful article about the criminality of the Bush administration as it relates to the murder of the Hussein sons. It provides a clear contrast between the thoughtful, justice- and information-seeking approach that Supreme Court Justice Robert Jackson recommended to President Truman to the frontier "justice" approach of the Blair-Bush project. It's a great article--check it out!

Friday, July 25, 2003

Kucinich's Open Letter to Nader Voters and the Greens
We stand together for national health insurance, Canadian style. We stand together on public financing of campaigns, on same day voter registration, on instant runoff voting. We stand together on civil rights, and equal rights, and human rights. We stand together on voting reforms for ex-felons. We stand together on ending the trade and travel embargoes on Cuba. We stand together in opposition to the current war on drugs, which is all too often a war on the urban poor.

I, along with other local Kucinich supporters, got an e-mail yesterday asking me to tell Kucinich to renounce Nader. I sent off this reply:

Speaking strictly for myself, I absolutely will not ask Kucinich to renounce Ralph Nader. Nader was the best candidate in 2000, and I voted for him. Kucinich is the best candidate now, and that is why I support him. He and Nader agree on most issues. The Democrats collusion with the Republicans to keep Nader out of the debates was shameful, and issues of great importance to America were ignored because of it. Gore's inability to carry his own state and unwillingness to fight for the office he had rightfully won are the main reasons he isn't president; not Ralph Nader.

With Bill Clinton defending Bush's lies, Kerry still defending his vote for the Iraq war, and the DLC attacking Dean for being anti-war, I have little respect for what the Democratic party has become. Kucinich can bring Greens and millions of non-voters into the party by bringing it back to its ideals. Renouncing Nader is no way to do that.

The reply I got was a hate-filled anti-Nader article written by Michael Tomasky, whom I had never heard of before. The article called for some Democratic candidate to "ferociously" attack Nader. I certainly like Kucinich's approach better, and several of my fellow Kucinich supporters have answered the guy in a similar vein.

Frankly, I've had about enough of that particular discussion, but if you haven't, you can check out Leah's post at Atrios, and the comments, for more.

Looking for Someone to Blame for 9/11? Here's Two Suggestions:
An FBI budget official told the Joint Inquiry that counterterrorism was not a priority for Attorney General Ashcroft before September 11, and the FBI faced pressure to make cuts in counterterrorism to satisfy his other priorities. -- from the 9/11 report, p. 47 (p. 79 in the PDF file)

Those priorities focused mainly on depriving the terminally ill of rights they had been granted by their states: the right to assisted suicide in Oregon, and the right to medicinal marijuana for AIDS and cancer patients in California. Ashcroft obviously saw these are greater threats to America than some fundamentalists who had declared war on America and already carried out devastating attacks overseas (embassy bombings and the Cole attack). No wonder Ashcroft has been an even more arrogant prick ever since: He could have done a lot to prevent 9/11, but chose instead to inflict more pain and suffering on those who have already suffered plenty.

Here's an interesting point: I searched the whole report document for the word "Taliban," and it doesn't appear; not once, although Afghanistan being a "safe haven" for al Qaeda members is mentioned several times. "Iraq" appears a few times, but not in any context that implies that the Iraqi government had anything to do with 9/11.

And if you are looking for somebody else to go, if for shear incompetence or blatant lying (take your pick), compare these two quotes:

From at least 1994, and continuing into the summer of 2001, the Intelligence Community received information indicating that terrorists were contemplating, among other means of attack, the use of aircraft as weapons. This information did not stimulate any specific Intelligence Community assessment of, or collective U.S. Government reaction to, this form of threat.
Discussion: [While the credibility of the sources was sometimes questionable and the information often sketchy, the Inquiry confirmed that the Intelligence Community did
receive intelligence reporting concerning the potential use of aircraft as weapons. For example, the Community received information in 1998 about a Bin Ladin operation that
would involve flying an explosive- laden aircraft into a U.S. airport and, in summer 2001, about a plot to bomb a U.S. embassy from an airplane or crash an airplane into it. The FBI and CIA were also aware that convicted terrorist Abdul Hakim Murad and several others had discussed the possibility of crashing an airplane into CIA Headquarters as part of “the Bojinka Plot” in the Philippines, discussed later in this report. Some, but apparently not all, of these reports were disseminated within the Intelligence Community and to other agencies].
-- from the report, pp. 9-10 (42-43 in the pdf file)

I don't think anybody could have predicted ... that they would try to use an airplane as missile. Had this president known of something more specific or known that a plane was going to be used as a missile, he would have acted on it. -- National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice, Spring 2002.

Of course, the buck should stop in the oval office. That lame-brain Texan hired these clowns; it's his fault!

Saudi prince attacks 9/11 report
"The idea that the Saudi government funded, organized or even knew about Sept. 11 is malicious and blatantly false," he [Saudi Prince Bandar bin Sultan] said. "There is something wrong with the basic logic of those who spread these spurious charges. Al Qaeda is a cult that is seeking to destroy Saudi Arabia as well as the United States. By what logic would we support a cult that is trying to kill us?" -- NY Times

This even though much of the evidence of Saudi involvement was "redacted" from the report. Of course, the explanation would make a lot more sense if "Saudi Arabia" were replaced with "Iraq" and it came from an Iraqi, since no Iraqis were involved in the 9/11 plot, as opposed to 15 Saudi hijackers and one infamous Saudi mastermind (OBL). I sure hope that if W tries to defend the Saudis that Congress and the press will remind him incessantly of that.

Major asterisk on this one...
According to the San Francisco Chronicle, somebody has taken offense at the cop-calling shenanigans in the House of Representatives:

The theme is 10 years of one-party rule is enough. They (Republicans) have had control for 10 years, they've gotten arrogant, they demean the institution, they demean democracy by virtue of the heavy-handed way they run the House, minority rights are downtrodden, and it's time, Mr. and Mrs. America, to make a change. -- former House Majority Leader Dick Armey (R-TX).


*I said this called for a big asterisk, because the Chronicle article appears to be the only major news site that has that quote. I found it from BartCop, who got it from the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. The Chronicle doesn't say where Armey was when he said it; from the "Mr. and Mrs. America" line it would seem to be from a speech somewhere. And while the quote clearly seems to suggest that he is calling for people to vote for Democrats next time around, it gets watered down later on:

I hear everybody talking about the good old days when we had such congeniality in the House. In the good old days, they had 30 or 40 votes in their majority, and we had a minority that had become quite expert at being the minority. Now we've got five, six votes in our majority and we've got a minority that is not in any way intending to become good at being in the minority. . . . I don't think it will get better until somebody gets a decisive advantage.

I know that Armey is supposed to be working with the ACLU now and that he expressed reservations about war with Iraq last year, but for a former obnoxious Texas Republican congressman to seem to be calling for a Democratic House...that seems far-fetched. Or maybe he's seen the light and decided to become an Armey of one?

From BartCop.

Is one George W abandoning the other?
Today a conservative administration is close to asserting that whatever the facts turn out to be regarding Iraqi weapons of mass destruction, the enforcement of U.N. resolutions was a sufficient reason for war. If so, war was waged to strengthen the United Nations as author and enforcer of international norms of behavior. The administration also intimates that ending a tyranny was a sufficient justification for war. Foreign policy conservatism has become colored by triumphalism and crusading zeal. -- George Will, arch-conservative.

A comment on Billmon's blog:

I'm not dead yet.

Posted by: Uday at July 24, 2003 01:22 PM

The Democrats ad about Bush's 16 words...


What it should have said.

Thursday, July 24, 2003

A Nation of Assassins
An article about W's version of "justice" from Douglas Valentine at Counterpunch. Thanks to Tatiana for finding both of these articles and posting them on our e-mail list.

Somebody's Not Convinced:
From Joe Vialls in Britain:
If the latest story about the adventurous American 101st Airborne Division was true, Saddam Hussein's two sons, his grandson and their solitary bodyguard, would have to go down in history as some of the world’s greatest and bravest fighters. According to the media these four heroic individuals, including one cripple and one child, managed to fight off 200 heavily armed and highly aggressive members of the 101st Airborne for six long hours, before finally perishing in a hail of Hellfire missiles launched by helicopter gunships.

read the rest...

The Veep from the Deep Crawled Out of His Hole Today..
to utter this nonsense:

Had the Bush administration not acted, Saddam and his sons would still be in power, torture chambers would still exist, mass graves would still be undiscovered, terrorists would still have a safe haven in Iraq and Saddam would still have vast wealth to finance weapons programs, he said.

"Knowing these things,'' Cheney said, "how could we, I ask, have allowed that threat to stand? These judgments were not lightly arrived at. And all who were aware of them bore a heavy responsibility for the security of America.''

What threat? Mass graves are a THREAT? The terrorist connection and the WMD crap have both been thoroughly debunked, and Useless Dick STILL has the cojones the bring them up.

I get tired of hearing the term, but for Cheney it fits. The man is 100% pure unadulterated EVIL.

I went to Dearborn this afternoon/evening to protest W's $2000 a plate fundraiser. Limo after limo filled with fancily-dressed, snotty Republicans pulled up. There were about 50 of us in our little "free-speech" zone, which was surprisingly close to the entrance where the Repugs went in. We yelled "Bush Lies People Die" and "You Should Be Ashamed" at the soulless rich monsters as they left, the two grand only putting the slightest dent in their hefty wallets, which will be replaced many times over with their tax cuts and military contracts. What was really disturbing was how many of these creeps were young. I mean, is there anything more repulsive than a young Republican?

We never saw the stupid little liar himself.

Get lost, Lieberman!
What a slimeball:
I don't believe the American people are going to elect for president in 2004, post 9/11, in an unsettled world, a candidate who has been opposed to the use of military power against a brutal dictator like Saddam Hussein. -- Joe Lieberman, quoted by Fox News (Fox News calls Lieberman a "centrist.")

The report shows there is no link between Iraq and al-Qaida

The report of the joint congressional inquiry into the suicide hijackings on Sept. 11, 2001, to be published Thursday, reveals U.S. intelligence had no evidence that the Iraqi regime of Saddam Hussein was involved in the attacks, or that it had supported al-Qaida, United Press International has learned.

Sixteen words? Try everything the Bushies have said for the past year. The only times they have spoken the truth were either mistakes or attempts to cover up some bigger lie ("The president is not a fact-checker," for example).

This came from UPI, which is owned by right-wingnut Sun Yung Moon, who has been a major supporter of Bush and Reagan administrations. When the report is finally released, supposedly today, will the supposedly more liberal "mainstream" media pick up on this item, or will they just jump on the FBI, which already seems primed to take the fall?

But a bipartisan congressional commission says there is no link between Iraq and al-Qaida. Bush has hinted and actually said there was for months. It was his best excuse for war. It was a lie.

Be sure to read the whole article! It has some great quotes from former Senator Max Cleland, who was on the committee, and some government officials, both named and unnamed. Here's one:

He [Unnamed government official] went on to suggest that the conclusions drawn from the information about the Sudan meetings was indicative of a wider-ranging problem with the administration's attitude to intelligence on the alleged Iraq al-Qaida link.

"They take a fact that you could draw several different conclusions from, and in every case they draw the conclusion that supports the policy, without any particular evidence that would meet the normal bar that analytic tradecraft would require for you to make that conclusion," he concluded.

Yellowcake Letter Revealed

TO: "Saddam Hussayn" []
DATE: Jan 1 1904 00:00:00
SUBJECT: Request Assistance





Thanks to Rick Green for finding that one, and for discovering Saddam Hussein's e-mail address!

Gephardt misses overtime vote
If you have or ever had an hourly job at a store, restaurant or factory or wherever, you know that you get paid time-and-a-half for working over forty hours a week. Well, the House just voted 213-210 to remove that requirement. If that vote becomes law (needs a Senate vote and W's signature), employers will be able to reward overtime with just "comp time," which is just time off later on. Many hourly workers rely on overtime pay to be able to pay the rent and feed their families. That would no longer be an option.

So, while this major screw-the-worker bill was being passed by the House, Rep. Dick Gephardt was speaking to union members in Iowa, telling them how much he'd do for workers if he was president. The other House member running for president, Dennis Kucinich, was present for the vote and was one of the 210 who voted against it.

I hope this gets the attention it deserves, since Gephardt appears to be Kucinich's main obstacle to getting union endorsements. While Gephardt was talking about worker rights, Kucinich was voting to protect them. And with a vote that close, I don't think Gephardt can claim that he knew the outcome beforehand so his vote wasn't needed. Read more about Kucinich's positions on workers' rights here.

Trying to turn an impeachable offense into a flap:
The Washington Post has TWO articles today analyzing the "scandal" about Bush's lies in the State of the Union address in terms of how the Bushies could have "handled" it better. One basically attempts to minimize the whole thing, saying it will blow over soon. The other is more critical, but not much better, since it considers the whole thing to be basically a case of clumsy spin: having the wrong person admit the wrong thing at the wrong time. Both articles focus on the buzz around the "scandal" rather than the scandal itself: that Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, Powell, Rice, Wolfowitz and others in the administration consistently lied about the threat posed by Iraq for the purpose of getting the war that they obviously so desperately wanted.

Fortuitous Timing, or Good Planning?
From today's NY Times article on the killing of Saddam's sons:
In meetings at the White House today, some top aides said they were relieved that the military operation happened to occur just as new details were coming out suggesting that the White House and the C.I.A. had both mishandled intelligence about Iraq's nuclear program as they built the case for war.

Of course, the Times doesn't follow up on this at all. From the official story, it appears that the army only had the word of a single informant that Odai and Qusai were in the house. After minimal attempts to get the occupants to come out, they stormed the building, getting four soldiers wounded in the process. The only evidence we have that the two sons were killed is what the army says, and of course they'll never get any useful information about Saddam or WMD's from the two bullet-ridden corpses. It certainly seems that the main point of the whole thing was to have some news to counteract the daily revelations of impeachable lies by the Bushies, and that's what they got.

Wednesday, July 23, 2003

That was the vote in the House today to overturn the FCC's June 2 decision which would have allowed further media consolidation. Bush has threatened to veto, so it's not done yet, but with almost the entire Republican-majority House voting against him and big-media champ Michael Powell, it looks like we may have won one.

Support Our Troops--Bring Them Home: Kucinich
Dennis Kucinich on the House floor yesterday:

It is time for the United States to get out of Iraq.

But this Administration, whose entry strategy was based on falsehood, with no exit strategy, has trapped our troops in Iraq and exposed them to greater harm. The total number of American casualties is now 232. Here is what needs to be done diplomatically: The United Nations must be brought in. Negotiations for an exit must begin now. An exit agreement with the United Nations must involve the US letting go of the contracting process (Halliburton, Brown and Root, etc).

The UN must also take over management, accounting and distribution to the Iraqi people of Iraq's oil profits. Additionally, a transition from UN control to self- determined governing structure by and for the Iraqi people must be planned. Finally the Administration, which unwisely ordered the bombing, must fund the reconstruction

It was wrong to go into Iraq. It is wrong to stay in Iraq. US out. UN in. Let's support our troops by bringing them home.

Neither will a free, democratic, peaceful Mars, George...
A free, democratic, peaceful Iraq will not threaten America or our friends with illegal weapons. A free Iraq will not be a training ground for terrorists or a funnel of money to terrorists, or provide weapons to terrorists who would willingly use them to strike our country or our allies. (from Bush's speech about the murder of Saddam Hussein's sons)

Of course it won't, George, Iraq never did. That's what Saudi Arabia is for!

Yeah, like that's going to work...
The Bushies have been trying to claim that killing Saddam's sons would cut down on the attacks on American soldiers in Iraq. Wrong again:

Hopes among American officials that the death of the two sons would help to stem the attacks on the occupation army in Iraq dimmed today as two American soldiers were killed in separate guerrilla attacks.

One soldier was killed and seven wounded this morning when two vehicles were struck by a bomb while traveling on a road outside Mosul, the city where Mr. Hussein's sons died, the United States Central Command said in a statement. In another attack about an hour and a half later, a soldier was killed when his convoy was hit by a bomb in Ar Ramadi, the military said. Another soldier and a contractor working with the American military were wounded.
-- NY Times.

Killing Saddam's Sons
Lambert on Atrios explains in detail why it was stupid to kill Saddam's sons rather than bring them to trial. Not to mention illegal and all that. I agree with everything Lambert says, so I won't repeat it.

My name is Bill Clinton, and I'm from the Republican wing of the Democratic Party...
Just as the shell of lies from the Bushies begins to crack, Slick Willie calls up Larry King to defend them.

[Updates] This just infuriates me! I saw it this morning while eating breakfast, and I haven't had time to follow up on it. Until now!

Clinton told King that "Everybody makes mistakes when they are president."

Clinton goes on:

Former President Clinton also said Tuesday night that at the end of his term, there was "a substantial amount of biological and chemical material unaccounted for " in Iraq.
"At the end of the first Gulf War, we knew what [Saddam] had. We knew what was destroyed in all the inspection processes, and that was a lot. And then we bombed with the British for four days in 1998. We might have gotten it all; we might have gotten half of it; we might have gotten none of it.
"But we didn't know. So I thought it was prudent for the president to go to the U.N. and for the U.N. to say, 'You got to let these inspectors in, and this time if you don't cooperate the penalty could be regime change, not just continued sanctions.'"
Clinton also told King: "People can quarrel with whether we should have more troops in Afghanistan or internationalize Iraq or whatever, but it is incontestable that on the day I left office, there were unaccounted for stocks of biological and chemical weapons."

George W. Bush is our worst president ever. William J. Clinton may be our worst ex-president ever.

I always figured that the Republicans had blackmail material on Clinton from way back which explained NAFTA, the WTO, the telecommunications act, welfare reform, the almost complete lack of anti-trust action, and all the other Republican schemes that Clinton supported. I would have thought that it no longer has much of a hold on him, but apparently it does. The only good I can see coming from this is that the heads of Rush Limbaugh and Tom DeLay may explode.

Tuesday, July 22, 2003

Dear Useless Dick:
Reps. Kucinich, Maloney and Sanders ask the Veep from the Deep ten questions.

The Saudis harbor and support terrorists, they've got oil--why are the Bushies covering up for them?
Last week, Senator Richard Shelby told CNN that declassified information in the report would "shed some light, maybe not all the light" on the attacks.

"... I can tell you this, there are a lot of high people in Saudi Arabia, over the years, that have aided and abetted Osama bin Laden and his group," Shelby said, alleging the Saudis had done so via charities as well as directly.

Sort of a rhetorical question; I've got a pretty good idea what the answer is.

By the way, Shelby is a Republican from Alabama. I think Shelby and senators Lugar of Indiana, Hagel of Nebraska, Chaffee of Rhode Island, Snow and Collins of Maine, and McCain of Arizona are the most likely places for cracks to appear in the Republican facade. Finding cracks in the House will probably be much harder.

Can anyone tell me why the deaths of those two conjoined Iranian twins got more press coverage than the deaths of any of the 232 US soldiers killed in Iraq so far? Same question for Laci Peterson, Jon Benet Ramsey, Nicole Brown Simpson, that Baylor basketball player. Chandra Levy may have died because of her involvement with one Congressman. The 232 soldiers have died because of the misdeeds of hundreds of members of Congress and the lies of the most corrupt, evil administration in this country's history. But I can only tell you the name of one of those dead soldiers, and that's probably more than most Americans can. How long would the Bush criminal gang last if every soldier's death were treated by the media like Laci Peterson's, or if every wounded soldier's story, all 1000+ of them, were told like Jessica Lynch's?

Kerry tells Bush to seek international help:
The four-term senator urged the administration to put aside "hubris" and form an international coalition to rebuild Iraq. He said the United States should rely more heavily on Pakistan and other Muslim nations that enjoy more credibility than U.S. troops on the streets of Baghdad.

"I feel this passionately. I feel this very strongly. You can't look a mother or father in the eye when their son or daughter is lost, and tell them you did everything possible to protect them unless you're taking those kinds of steps," Kerry said.

"There are 147,00 American troops in Iraq, compared to about 13,000 non-American troops," Kerry said. "The whole world has an interest in a peaceful Middle East, and the whole world has a stake in our winning the peace."

"This administration did not have a sufficient plan -- they didn't have any plan -- for how to secure nuclear facilities, for how to secure Baghdad, for how to wind up winning the peace," Kerry said.

"I regret that we have to be chiming in from the sidelines to get the administration to do what's right. But lives are at stake. We need to internationalize this. We need to do it now, and we need to do it openly and we need to do it in order to defuse the sense of occupation and protect the troops."

I'm glad to see him speak up, but where were you last fall, Mr. Kerry? Voting FOR the war. Surely he could have seen that the evidence was shaky. And after the inspectors went in, why wasn't he forcefully opposing the war like Byrd and Kucinich did? He could have called to rescind the war resolution, but he didn't. He still defends his vote for war. He certainly did not do everything possible to protect the troops--he could have worked to keep them out of an illegal, immoral war based on false pretenses, but he didn't. Kerry really has almost no credibility with me.

Book Review
I just finished reading a book called "The Cell: Inside the 9/11 Plot, and Why the FBI and CIA Failed to Stop It." It was written by John Miller of ABC News along with Michael Stone and Chris Mitchell. Not especially well written, it frequently reverts to the first person without explicitly telling you which author is speaking. It also has not one single footnote, nor does it have a bibliography. Where it touches on events that I have studied in some detail, like the TWA 800 explosion in 1996, the book glosses over lots of details and generally passes the government explanation off as fact. It also basically buys into the "war on terrorism" crap, believing that killing more people overseas is the way to stop people from getting killed here, whereas I believe the opposite is true. Just because Osama is wrong doesn't mean we're right.

On the other hand, it does offer some criticism of the Bushies, and points out that the Clinton administration was more on the ball with terrorism than the Bushies were before 9/11 (or probably since, all the bluster and wars notwithstanding). This quote was revealing (and properly attributed, unlike many in the book):

"Before September 11, I couldn't get half an hour on terrorism with Ashcroft," says Tom Pickard, former deputy director of the FBI. "He was only interested in three things: guns, drugs and civil rights."

Anyhow, I don't really recommend the book; I try to read the occasional item from the mainstream or even right-wing sources, as a reality check and to see what they're up to. I'd say this book was more bad because it was just bad than because of a particular slant.

The report from the Senate Intelligence Committee's investigation into 9/11 is due out any day now, and plenty of rumors are swirling about its contents. According to AP,

Blacked out in the report is a 28-page section that the officials say criticizes Saudi Arabia's government and details its lack of interest in tackling Muslim extremism.

That section probably also mentions the decades-long ties between the Bush family and the Saudi government, including close ties between George H. W. Poppy Read My Lips 41 Bush and Osama bin Laden's father. If any nation could be blamed for 9/11, it wasn't Afghanistan or Iraq, it was Saudi Arabia. Fifteen of the hijackers were Saudis; Osama is a Saudi. Most of the money probably came from Saudi sources. It's amazing and scary how the Bushies have been able to start two wars, killing thousands of civilians and wounding thousands more, while the country most closely related to the attack on America goes not only unpunished but unexamined.

Quote du Jour
Two in a row for Wolfowitz: I'm not concerned about weapons of mass destruction.

Now he tells us.

As Atrios points out:
This is just the occasional reminder that the reason we need to find WMDs in Iraq, if they exist, isn't simply to help re-elect George Bush. It's also because if they really exist, and we don't know where they are, then we have a wee bit of a problem on our hands. That's why we went to war in the first place, remember.

I'd find the notion that they really believed Iraq was a threat more plausible if all discussions of the weapons weren't simply about ass covering.

Could somebody explain to me how Diane Feinstein is a Democrat?
She voted for the Patriot Act. She voted for the war. Now she's calling for school vouchers in DC. I think Californians may be recalling the wrong politician.

Useful Idiot
Is George Bush the Iraq war's "useful idiot"?

The phrase was coined by Vladimir Lenin to refer to gullible communist sympathizers who swallowed whole the party line. They believed what they were told, and what they were told was mostly lies.
Now Bush stands abandoned by events. No weapons of mass destruction. No nuclear program. No links to al Qaeda. His judgment and his competence are being questioned -- his honesty as well. But the president is no liar. More likely, he is merely an uncritical man who believed what he was told. Lenin knew the type.
-- Richard Cohen in today's Washington Post.

Monday, July 21, 2003

Maxspeak asks a bunch of good questions, and comes up with this answer:
Maybe I'm fighting the last war (or several wars back), but I sense a familiar dynamic. The troops will be the peace movement. The troops will want to come home, and they will be hard to refuse. I went to college a right-wing Democrat, supportive of the war (though god knows not enough to actually enlist). Returning veterans did a lot to turn me around. The weight of the lost cause grew on all who were deluded into envisioning an idealistic and successful U.S. role in Vietnam. In Vietnam, it was never a case of the U.S. military being unable to acquit itself well in actual battle. It was the failure to construct a loyal society out of fundamentally disaffected masses of people. It was good money after bad, each additional life lost more pointless than the preceding.

So far there seems to be no difference in Iraq. You have two coherent national groups -- Kurds and Shi'a -- with no desire to be ruled by U.S. surrogates, and no need to knuckle under to the U.S., and you have the Saddamist-saturated Sunni.

I could be wrong, but I see the U.S. in a hole, and still digging.

Lots of interesting comments to that post as well.

Why impeachment is necessary
I've read several articles recently which suggested that impeachment now is a waste of time and energy, that we should focus on next year's election. But President aWol appears to want to fight his way out of trouble, and he must be stopped before he pre-emptively starts more wars:

President Bush today accused Syria and Iran of continuing to "harbor and assist terrorists," and he warned that they would face consequences.

"This behavior is completely unacceptable, and states that support terror will be held accountable," Mr. Bush said at a news conference with Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi of Italy at Mr. Bush's ranch in Crawford, Tex.
-- NY Times

Our military is already stretched to the limit, continuing to struggle and die in Afghanistan and Iraq, and with Marines now going into Liberia. The "war on terror" is just a big crock designed to let Bush pursue his fascist agenda; it and he must be stopped--now. Impeach Bush & Cheney!

Throwing Tone a Bone May Cost Bush his Fascist Dream:
I suggested on Friday that the Bush administration's announcement that they were going to try six Guantanamo Bay "detainees," including two British citizens, followed shortly thereafter by a willingness to listen to Tony Blair's arguments that the Brits should be tried in Britain, was basically a setup to toss Tony a bone without really costing Bush anything.

LA Times columnist Jonathan Turley suggests that Bush may actually be giving up something--his desire to be a despot:

If the British courts are adequate to try these two men, many in this country will ask why our courts are inadequate — particularly after convicting more than a dozen such terrorists (including Al Qaeda members).

Moreover, other countries will now presumably renew their requests for their own citizens. Some officials also are concerned that there is little real evidence against these men and that a civilian criminal trial in Britain could result in acquittals.

The British share the overwhelming worldview that the Bush tribunals are an affront to the rule of law: denying basic rules of evidence, allowing indefinite detention of suspects, barring access to the federal courts, permitting the introduction of statements derived from torture, barring the application of constitutional and federal laws and limiting the grounds for appeal.


The president has repeatedly acted like an American Caesar, sending some accused terrorists to federal court while others are sent for tribunal justice. In the case of these two men, Bush will allow them a fair trial in Britain as a gift to a friend in political need while he arbitrarily denies such trials to others.

The message is clear and simple: Bush alone will decide the meaning and the means of justice. Ironically, in his actions since 9/11, Bush may have handed these defendants a victory that they could not have achieved alone. The terrorists sought to destroy the American system and to show that we are hypocrites who refuse to comply with rules that we apply to others.

It takes little to destroy buildings and to sacrifice innocent people. It takes a president to destroy a legal system and its underlying values. Like those he seeks to execute, Bush wants justice by his own definition and by his own hand.

Iraq is just practice:
The final paragraphs of an LA Times article:

Still, [Feith] and other Pentagon officials said, they are studying the lessons of Iraq closely — to ensure that the next U.S. takeover of a foreign country goes more smoothly.

"We're going to get better over time," promised Lawrence Di Rita, a special assistant to Rumsfeld. "We've always thought of post-hostilities as a phase" distinct from combat, he said. "The future of war is that these things are going to be much more of a continuum.

"This is the future for the world we're in at the moment," he said. "We'll get better as we do it more often."

Here's a letter to the editor from today's NY Times:
Writing as a veteran of the United States Navy, I can understand the dissatisfaction of Gen. John P. Abizaid, the Central Command's senior officer, with troops speaking out against the war and against Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld (front page, July 17).

As anyone in a military uniform knows, service people protect democracy without being able to enjoy the liberty of free speech. So the fact that the soldiers risked almost certain punishment by publicly complaining reveals the level of their frustration and disillusionment.

I suppose that if President Bush can use military groups for carefully crafted political rallies and carrier landings for photo opportunities, military personnel on the ground should be able to set the record straight for the American people.

Knoxville, Tenn., July 17, 2003

Quote du Jour:
I think all foreigners should stop interfering in the internal affairs of Iraq. -- Paul Wolfowitz

CNN Poll
CNN asks "Is President Bush doing a good job?"

Tell them!

Investigation Coming!
In 1974, the mounting evidence against Richard Nixon finally convinced one of his staunchest Republican supporters to call for his resignation or impeachment, and Nixon resigned a few days later. Apparently George Tenet told the Senate Intelligence Committee some things last week that are changing some minds:

Not a month ago, as the frustration about ''missing'' Iraqi chemical and biological weapons was evolving into suspicions about phony nuclear weapons information, Senate Intelligence Committee chairman Pat Roberts of Kansas, a Republican, was a willing stonewaller. In helping to block hearings into prewar intelligence, Roberts declared there was no evidence of misdeeds and that holding hearings would merely imply there was.

Last week, he was singing an entirely different tune, vowing that ''we will take this where it leads us; we'll let the chips fall where they may.'' That includes the White House - accountings from Vice President Cheney and National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice are going to be difficult to evade.

Roberts's switch follows the expressions of other Republicans whose independence is a matter of record - especially John McCain and Foreign Relations Committee big shots Richard Lugar and Chuck Hagel. In any congressional investigation the first confirming bits of political validity are provided by an administration's fellow party members. That is now occurring.

Roberts did more than switch. In pledging to let the facts lead his probe, the Kansan was opening the door to inquiry into a wide range of statements about Iraq's alleged possession of unconventional weaponry made by Bush, Cheney, and Rice, statements that make it clear that the infamous 16 words in Bush's State of the Union address were but the tip of a hyperbolic iceberg.

What tipped Roberts's hand was CIA Director George Tenet's odd appearance behind closed committee doors last week.
-- From the Boston Globe. Definitely worthwhile reading!

Don't forget the wounded. Over 1000 US soldiers wounded so far, and increasing by several every day. The Washington Post visits with several of them at Walter Reed Hospital in a two-part series: Part One Part Two
In Room 5714, Garth Stewart is sleeping when three doctors arrive. One of them reaches for a light switch, and before Garth can shield his eyes, his room is flash-blasted in white.

"Can we take a look at the leg?"

Garth flips back the bedsheet. His desert tan has gone sallow. His GI buzz cut is a woolly disgrace. Even in this condition, he wishes for a decent soldier's haircut. The drugs have made his stomach cramp so much that he stays curled on his side. Now, with the doctors hovering, he tries to straighten out his 6-foot-4 frame. His amputated leg won't lie down. It trembles in midair.

A doctor works quickly, unwrapping the bandage and then the white gauze. Garth watches as they probe the black caterpillar of sutures on his bulbous stump. He moans. The stump begins to shake violently. "I'm gonna get sick," he says.

"You want your bucket?"

Garth reaches for the container. "I can't do this much longer," he says, holding his hand over his eyes.

"We're almost finished," the doctor tells him.

"No," Garth says, "not that, everything. I can't take it any more."

Sunday, July 20, 2003

From Dan Wasserman.

From Dick Locher.

From Jeff Stahler.

My brother suggests that Bush is concerned about Liberia because his wife used to be a liberian back in Texas.

Deja voodoo all over again
The Bush administration tries to explain away lies it made leading up to the war in Iraq; California tries to overcome the largest state deficit in history; the federal deficit projection revised sharply upward; inspectors look for evidence of an Iraqi nuclear program; CEO pay up--and this was all twelve years ago!

Things will never get better as long as we allow Bushes in the White House.

Bush approval rating down! -- CNN.
A majority in this poll, 52 percent, said the president is doing a poor job of handling the economy, and just four in 10 say the U.S.-led military campaign in Iraq has been a success. That's down from 52 percent who felt that way in late March.

That's right--more people thought the war was a success BEFORE W claimed that major combat operations were over and "Mission Accomplished" than do now.

Peace Row at the Art Fair!

Our Kucinich booth was one of seven in a row with a peaceful message!

(Click on picture for larger image.)

From the left, the groups were the Huron Valley United Nations Association, Kucinich for President, the Megiddo Peace Project, the Women's International League for Peace and Freedom, the Interfaith Council for Peace and Justice, Veterans for Peace, and the Ann Arbor Area Committee for Peace. Other peaceful groups with booths included Global Renaissance Alliance (pushing for Kucinich's Department of Peace), Amnesty International, Ann Arbor Peace Circle, Youth for Understanding, the Green Party, the Libertarian Party, and probably one or two others (please e-mail me,, if I left you out--and Dean and Kerry don't count, since Dean won't cut the defense budget and Kerry voted for the war in Iraq). There were several other booths in line conceptually, if not physically, with the Kucinich platform: Vegans in Motion, Sasha Farms (Thanks very much for helping us with our booth takedown!), the ACLU, the Sierra Club, the Freedom Activist Network, the Ecology Center, and more. Most of these booths were staffed with one or two volunteers for four days, twelve hours per day. That says a lot for the progressive activist community here in Ann Arbor.

The Megiddo Peace Project was very interesting. Long-time Ann Arbor activist Alan Haber had his Peace Table on display. The Peace Table was built around the time that the arguments about the shape of the table at the Vietnam peace talks in Paris were happening. Alan designed the table to be made from a single large board, with nothing wasted. The table belonged to a friend of his for a long time, but has since been all over the world. Nobel prize winners and Dennis Kucinich are among the many dignitaries who have sat at the table. Alan hopes that one day the table will find a permanent home in the US Department of Peace which President Kucinich will establish!

The Peace Table

How the table pieces were cut from one board.

Whom do you blame?
Three more soldiers die in Iraq. (Pay no attention to CNN's headline which says two soldiers were killed; the article says three.) Anita Blount, wife of Major General Buford Blount (yes, that's really his name), says that complaints from the families of soldiers in the Third Infantry encourage the attacks: "When the Iraqis see media coverage of disgruntled Americans, publicly campaigning for the return of our soldiers from Iraq, they are encouraged and believe their strategy is working." The pentagon says the troops can't complain. Personally, I think our mad cowboy president is more to blame: "Bring them on!"

Express your opinion now! Soldiers in Iraq and their family members can vote as many times as they like!

Who is most to blame for the ongoing attacks on American soldiers?
The soldiers
The families
George aWol Bush

View the results
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