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, August 02, 2003

Is Bush really protecting the Saudis?
I said a few days ago that I thought I had figured out what the Saudi "demand" that the 28 pages be released was all about: a carefully orchestrated charade to make the Saudis look innocent and Bush look competent. One thing that has nagged at me, though, is that it seems as though a necessary part of the charade would have been that Bush shared what was in the 28 pages with the Saudis. After the meeting with Bush, the Saudi prince said he understood the reasons for keeping the pages secret, which he didn't before (all of this while we are pretending to believe the charade was real--that is the Saudis were truly outraged before and mollified after meeting with Bush). It seems almost required that anyone believing the charade would have to believe that the Saudis were shown the 28 pages. If this is so, doesn't that severely undercut the national security argument? I mean, here we have information that Bush isn't willing to share with the American public but is willing to share with the government of a country that provided 15 of the 19 hijackers, the mastermind, and a lot of the money to the 9/11 attacks.

This leads to the point of an article that Tatiana e-mailed to our peace group:

Bush seems to be less concerned with national security--the only legitimate reason for censorship--and more concerned with not providing lawmakers and journalists information that might lead them to a sobering question: What if the "Saudi ties" are in reality homegrown?

If Saudi ties find their knot in the U.S. then all current questions must be changed. No longer do we ask why the Saudi information is still classified, but which Saudi ties can be traced back to the United States? And who forced the classification? Who are these suspects President Bush is so scared to have mentioned?

The article then goes on to discuss numerous US-based corporations which have numerous ties with both the Saudis and the Bush administrations (41 and 43). It concludes thusly:

Finally, the involvement of private U.S. military contractors (passively or actively) with terrorists can no longer be ignored. The most popular private military contractors are MPRI, Halliburton Brown + Root, L3, and DynCorp, all of which had contracts with Saudi Arabia.

All of the preceding information can be found in the news archives of various internet sites. It is public knowledge and none of it risks national security. In a move that would make Monty Python blush, President Bush decided not to declassify information that is already available to the average sleuth. The result is, the mainstream media will not pick up on any of this “classified” information and the majority of Americans not inclined to research anything on their own will eat the spoon-fed spin of their favorite networks. You can look for that spin to go something like this:

Saudi Arabia is a base for Al-Quaeda. We thought they were our friends but they said one thing in our language and another thing in their own. The major financiers of terrorism reside in Saudi Arabia.

Once this becomes doctrine, the PNAC cabal headed by Douglas Feith, Richard Perle and Paul Wolfowitz will start promoting their biggest dream: a winner-takes-all invasion of Saudi Arabia. This is a dream wet in oil and blood.

Of course, the Saudis may already be thinking of the lesson that Manuel Noriega and Saddam Hussein could teach--that being a US "ally" can be hazardous to your health.

From Corky Trinidad

From Signe Wilkinson

From Bill Schorr

From Kirk Anderson

From Mike Lane

From Slowpoke

9/11 Report Suggests Role by Saudi Spies -- NY Times
I was working the Kucinich table at the farmers' market this morning. Congressman John Dingell was there, and I had a brief opportunity to talk to him. I told him that I'd seen that the NY Times had more info on the 28 missing pages. He said nothing stays secret for long in Washington, that everything would be known soon.

Family Feud
Jeb Bush criticizes George W. Bush on Cuba policy.

Friday, August 01, 2003

NY Times=Pravda
Michael R. Gordon has picked up where Judith Miller left off, selling tired old Bushie excuses as a bold and entirely plausible theory that may account for the mystery over Iraq's missing weapons of mass destruction.

Saddam Hussein, the theory holds, ordered the destruction of his weapon stocks well before the war to deprive the United States of a rationale to attack his regime and to hasten the eventual lifting of the United Nations sanctions. But the Iraqi dictator retained the scientists and technical capacity to resume the production of chemical and biological weapons and eventually develop nuclear arms.

Mr. Hussein's calculation was that he could restart his weapons programs once the international community lost interest in Iraq and became absorbed with other crises. That would enable him to pursue his dream of making Iraq the dominant power in the Persian Gulf region and make it easier for him to deter enemies at home and abroad.

Gordon then goes on to claim that this "bold and plausible theory" made invading Iraq a judgment call, instead of the gross violation of international law, the UN charter, and hence the US constitution that it was:

If true, it means that the Iraqi threat was less immediate than the administration asserted but more worrisome than the critics now suggest. And it means the decision to use military force to pre-empt that threat was not an urgent necessity but a judgment call, one that can be justified as the surest way to put an end to Iraq's designs but still one about which ardent defenders of the United States' security can disagree.

Recently the emphasis by Bush and others has been that the war was justified because Saddam was a brutal dictator who murdered his own people. Now Gordon is offering the fact that Saddam "retained" some scientists, that is did not kill them or force them to leave the country, as evidence to justify the invasion.

Gordon continues with this whopper:

It is already clear that much of the recent debate over Iraq's weapons programs has been too simplistic. In recent months, the discussion of Iraq's intentions seems to have oscillated from one extreme to another. Iraq was described by hawks before the war as a nation that was an imminent threat to the United States, bristling with chemical and biological weapons, or C.B.W., as intelligence agencies call them. Now the administration's critics seem to suggest that the absence of weapons stocks means that the Saddam Hussein regime had somehow abandoned its goal to be an assertive regional power.

Does Gordon name a single critic who suggested that? What difference does it make? The only even remotely legal justification for the invasion was that Iraq was an immediate threat to the United States. That is what the Bushies claimed, and was the justification that they gave to the UN after the invasion started. The absence of weapons means that Iraq was not a threat in March, 2003, and therefore it violated international law to invade. Bush presented no credible evidence of WMD's beforehand. He hinted that he knew more, but that has now been discredited by the failure to find anything. And if they try to claim that having a goal to be an "assertive regional power" is justification for a pre-emptive attack, I think they will have then justified 9/11 and any other attacks on the US that may occur. There is no more assertive regional power than the US in ANY region on earth.

What an atrocious piece of "journalism."

Americans Stupid? Media to Blame?
I saw the link to a Fortune Magazine article with that title at the bottom of the CNN page, and thought it might be interesting. Maybe it would provide some data or at least fascinating insights from people in the know.

Instead, it turned out to be a prime example of what the title suggests: the media turning people stupid. It basically just presented one-sentence print bites from eight people at a conference, and ends with the author's conclusion, based on nothing at all discussed in the article, that "Consolidation isn't to blame for dumbed-down journalism, and it isn't to be overly feared."

I know that I, for one, am stupider than I would have been if I had read a better article. And you'll be smarter if you read something from one of the other links than if you read that one.

Letters to the NY Times
In my post Wednesday about aWol's press conference, I quoted something very important, but failed to give it the proper emphasis. These two guys writing to the NY Times have it right:

To the Editor:

Re "President Denies He Oversold Case for War With Iraq" (front page, July 31):

President Bush let slip some crucial information at his news conference when he said, referring to Iraq's weapons of mass destruction, "In order to placate the critics and cynics about intentions of the United States, we need to produce evidence."

If the Iraqi weapons exist, we need to find them not to placate critics but to prevent them from being used for devastating attacks on the United States! The weapons that the administration described before the war could be used by whoever now possesses them to kill us by the thousands or millions.

The fact that President Bush did not express concern about this prospect, but instead described the stakes as a matter of political credibility, indicates that he privately assumes that the weapons do not exist.
Bedford, Mass., July 31, 2003

To the Editor:

President Bush maintains that we will find the weapons of mass destruction (front page, July 31).

Well, let's hope that they do not exist, because the question that raises the hairs on the back of my neck is, Who has access to them until we find them?
Old Greenwich, Conn., July 31, 2003

And Atrios points out:

This is just something which has been so obvious from the beginning. They've never displayed the slightest bit of concern about finding whatever it is because it could be dangerous, but only because they need to justify their invasion.


And, for those who are now claiming that the Bush administration was always talkings about "weapons programs" and not "weapons," don't you remember the final double dog ultimatums we kept giving Saddam? You know, we kept telling him that he had to "disarm" or we were going to invade? Disarm WHAT?

Somebody (moi) suggested the same thing back on January 5:

TO: George, Dick, Donald, Ari
RE: Put up or shut up!

Guys: you are making us look ridiculous. You keep saying, as Ari said today, that "Iraq has still not shown signs that it will disarm itself of weapons of mass destruction." Well, Iraq has said on many occasions that it has no weapons of mass destruction. That is their response. If it is true, there is no possible way for them to show signs of disarming themselves of WMD. You claim to have evidence that they do have WMD. Call Mr. Blix, tell him where they are, get him to fly in unannounced with CNN to document it, and show the world that you are telling the truth and Saddam is lying. And do it now. If you don't, I and the rest of the world will see that you are the ones who are lying, and any war against Iraq will be seen as the act of naked agression that it is. You have accused Saddam of playing games for years. Well, this is a very silly game with very dangerous consequences that you are playing, and you need to put up or shut up right now or all those flag-waving Americans who have supported your wars up until now will start to see you for the frauds that you are.

Here are a couple of other relevant blasts from the past:

March 3:
From the White House Press Briefing:
Q Ari, the destruction of these Al Samoud missiles now represents about 10 percent or more of their entire medium-range missile capability. That's a piece of real substantive disarmament under international supervision, but it's not total disarmament. But you aren't denying that that's real disarmament?

MR. FLEISCHER: We are -- it is not real disarmament. There's only one standard of disarmament: full, complete and immediate. The United Nations resolutions did not call for a little piece of disarmament. It didn't say, 10 percent disarmament four months after we call on you to do it immediately. None of that was in 1441. And the only reason this is even happening today in the small degree that it has indeed happened is because he is under great pressure from President Bush, the United States and the coalition of the willing.

Q But it is substantive. It's not just process, this is substance. This is real destruction of weapons.

MR. FLEISCHER: It is insufficient. It is not complete. It is not total.

January 10:
DONALD RUMSFELD, the US Defence Secretary, has suggested that Washington may present little or no evidence of Iraq’s quest for banned weapons even if President Bush decides to go to war. Mr Rumsfeld said that disclosing such details to the world or even to the United Nations Security Council could jeopardise any military mission by revealing to Baghdad what the United States knows. When weighing the demands of global opinion for proof of President Saddam Hussein’s danger against the need to shroud an effective military campaign in secrecy, Mr Rumsfeld said the safer option would be for the US to tilt towards secrecy. -- from the London Times (sorry, article is no longer available online).

The economy lost 44,000 jobs in July. While that's an improvement from the 72,000 shed in June, economists were hoping that positions would actually be added. -- AP (my emphasis).

Gee, Mr. Smith, things are looking up for you! Last month you lost your entire left hand; this month you only lost four fingers off your right hand. That's quite an improvement! I can almost guarantee that you won't lose that many fingers again next month!

When EVERYBODY is unemployed, the lost jobs number will have "improved" to zero. When you got nothin', you got nothin' to lose.

From Doonesbury

Thursday, July 31, 2003

Two More Soldiers Dead, Five Wounded

Bottom Falls Out of Poindexter Futures Market
CNN reports that there will be one less previously-convicted criminal in the Bush administration soon. He had to go because his "terror futures market" idea was so obviously warped. But then again, so were the tax cuts and the wars: why don't they all just leave?

There's only one way the war against Iraq could have gone worse: if Bush hadn't been lying about Saddam Hussein's nuclear program. But short of a Manhattan mushroom cloud, it's hard to imagine a darker scenario than the one we're in. No WMDs. No Saddam. Millions of new enemies. Billions in new debt. And an estimated 35,000 guerillas exacting a terrible tithe--one dead American soldier for every day we stay where we don't belong. -- Ted Rall

Iraq Casualty Count
Somebody's keeping track.

Protecting What Freedom?
If they can take you away and lock you away from your friends, your family, and your attorneys; if they can try you in a court that does not allow you to see all the evidence against you; if they can do all this without review, constraint, or oversight then you are not free. You may not be in jail yet, but that is simply because the government has not yet decided to put you there. If the courts do not put a stop to these actions, then you will live at the government's sufferance, not as a free person. Your freedom will be tolerated, not protected. You will not be free, in any meaningful sense of the word. -- from Lean Left.

He was talking about the Lackawanna defendants pleading guilty recently out of fear that they would be declared "enemy combatants" and disappeared, as I discussed in my post a few days ago.

US Admits Killing Civilians

"Bring Them On" Picture Album

This "enemy combatant" stuff makes me furious--and scared
Same for Nat Hentoff.

The Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals (8 to 4) gave George W. Bush a fearsome power that can be found nowhere in the Constitution—the sole authority to imprison an American citizen indefinitely without charges or access to a lawyer.

This case is now on appeal to the Supreme Court, which will determine whether this president—or his successors until the end of the war on terrorism—can subvert the Bill of Rights to the peril of all of us.

Ain't got no weapons, but they've sure got a WHOLE lot of sand!
Despite vigorous efforts, the U.S. government has been unsuccessful so far in finding key senior Iraqi scientists to support its prewar claims that former president Saddam Hussein was pursuing an aggressive program to develop nuclear, biological and chemical weapons, according to senior administration officials and members of Congress who have been briefed recently on the subject.

The sources said four senior scientists and more than a dozen at lower levels who worked for the Iraqi government have been interviewed by U.S. officials under the direction of the CIA. Some scientists have been arrested and held for months, others have made deals in return for information and at least one has agreed to be interviewed outside Iraq.

No matter the circumstances, all of the scientists interviewed have denied that Hussein had reconstituted his nuclear weapons program or developed and hidden chemical or biological weapons since United Nations inspectors left in 1998. Several key Iraqi officials questioned the significance of evidence cited by the Bush administration to suggest that Hussein was stepping up efforts to develop new weapons of mass destruction programs.
-- Washington Post

From Ward Sutton

Release the 28 pages!
Senator Ben Brownback (R-KS) has joined Senator Charles Schumer (D-NY) in circulating a letter from senators to Bush calling for the declassifying of the 28 pages "redacted" from the Congressional 9/11 Report. According to CNN, approximately 42 senators have signed the letter so far, with Brownback being the only Republican. Senators Olympia Snowe (R-ME) and Richard Shelby (R-AL) have also called for the release of the material, although CNN says that Shelby refuses to sign the letter without giving a reason. Unfortunately, two "Democratic" senators, Jay Rockefeller of West Virginia and Diane Feinstein of California, have said that they won't sign the letter. CNN says that a majority vote in the senate would force the declassification of the material.

Maybe folks in California should support Feinstein for governor: get her out of the Senate ASAP! (Better yet, just recall her!)

Bush Blames Tax Cut Failure on March to War

Jeez, I wish I wrote the headlines! I just read the articles from the NY Times and Washington Post, and neither one mentions what I thought was the most outrageous statement that he made in the press conference, which I quoted in my previous post, but is worth repeating here:

Q: What evidence can you point to that tax cuts, at least of the variety that you have supported, are really working to help this economy? And do you need to be thinking about some other approach?

THE PRESIDENT: Yes. No, to answer the last part of your question. First of all, let me -- just a quick history, recent history. The stock market started to decline in March of 2000. Then the first quarter of 2001 was a recession. And then we got attacked in 9/11. And then corporate scandals started to bubble up to the surface, which created a -- a lack of confidence in the system. And then we had the drumbeat to war. Remember on our TV screens -- I'm not suggesting which network did this -- but it said, "March to War," every day from last summer until the spring -- "March to War, March to War." That's not a very conducive environment for people to take risk, when they hear, "March to War" all the time.

The headline of this post is what I'd like to see on the front page of every paper in the country:

Bush Blames Tax Cut Failure on March to War

Gee, say Mr. and Ms. America reading that, we might actually have jobs and be able to afford to feed our kids if only it weren't for that stupid war that Bush lied to get us into! Heck, even he said so! And I thought he told us those tax cuts would work! Maybe he should be unemployed too!

Aargh!I just checked the CNN, MSNBC, ABC, CBS and (gag) FoxNews web sites: None of their reports mention this particular Bush excuse. All except Fox just used the AP report! Is that nuts or what? Our idiot president gives only his ninth formal press conference, and the major networks can't be bothered to cover it for themselves.

Wednesday, July 30, 2003

More Bu**sh**
And in order to placate the critics and the cynics about intentions of the United States, we need to produce evidence. And I fully understand that. And I'm confident that our search will yield that which I strongly believe, that Saddam had a weapons program. I want to remind you, he actually used his weapons program on his own people at one point in time, which is pretty tangible evidence. But I'm confident history will prove the decision we made to be the right decision. -- aWol, today

Irrelevant, W. That he had a weapons program in the late '80s/early '90s did not constitute a threat in 2003. Hitler had a weapons program, too. If you want to "take out" a world leader who actually has several ongoing WMD programs and has stated a willingness to use them, kill yourself, George.

And don't miss his latest excuse for his tax cuts not working:

Q: What evidence can you point to that tax cuts, at least of the variety that you have supported, are really working to help this economy? And do you need to be thinking about some other approach?

THE PRESIDENT: Yes. No, to answer the last part of your question. First of all, let me -- just a quick history, recent history. The stock market started to decline in March of 2000. Then the first quarter of 2001 was a recession. And then we got attacked in 9/11. And then corporate scandals started to bubble up to the surface, which created a -- a lack of confidence in the system. And then we had the drumbeat to war. Remember on our TV screens -- I'm not suggesting which network did this -- but it said, "March to War," every day from last summer until the spring -- "March to War, March to War." That's not a very conducive environment for people to take risk, when they hear, "March to War" all the time.

Hmm...maybe the networks should pay less attention to the president and his minions?

But then there's this:

THE PRESIDENT: I take personal responsibility for everything I say, of course. Absolutely.

So, let's recall this quote from July 11:

We need to have an investigation, find out who was responsible for it and fire them. -- Sen. John McCain (R-AZ)

There's your guy, John. Go get him!

And this:

Q Mr. President, with no opponent, how can you spend $170 million or more on your primary campaign?

THE PRESIDENT: Just watch. (Laughter.) Keep going.

Q Yes, sir. And with 15 fundraisers scheduled between -- for the summer months, do you worry about the perception that you're unduly attentive to the interests of people who can afford to spend $2,000 to see you?

THE PRESIDENT: Michael, I think American people, now that they've realized I'm going to seek reelection, expect me to seek reelection. They expect me to actually do what candidates do. And so, you're right, I'll be spending some time going out and asking the American people to support me. But most of my time, as I say in my speeches -- as I'm sure you've been bored to tears listening to -- is that there is a time for politics, and that's going to be later on. I've got a lot to do. And I will continue doing my job. And my job will be to work to make America more secure.

Bob's translation of W's answer to Michael's question: "No."

New blogs on the roll!
I added two new blogs to my list:

  • Conceptual Guerilla, who champions using the term "cheap-labor conservatives" for Republicans and their ilk; and
  • Liberal Oasis, who does a great summary of the Sunday morning talk shows every week, and has a great collections of links to help you get involved in about any cause you'd like.

I should probably add a lot more, but many of the blogs I have listed already have great blogrolls, especially MouseMusings, MaxSpeak, and Conceptual Guerilla. I know these are great blogrolls because they link to my blog! So if you've got a few days to spare and want to read some good online commentary, start browsing the blogrolls on those three sites.

Josh Marshall points out that while we're being warned about more possible 9/11 style hijackings, the administration is actually cutting the budget for air marshalls and airport screeners.

Who supports the troops?
Compelling Flash Animation

Tuesday, July 29, 2003

A very special measure of gratitude
Executive summary: American POW's tortured in Gulf War I. They win a $1 billion judgement against Iraq. Bush Jr. administration steals $1.7 billion in frozen Iraqi money, refuses to pay POW's claim.

Teaser quote:

One plaintiff, Lt. Col. Richard Dale Storr, now with the Washington Air National Guard, said the administration's position troubled him. Colonel Storr endured beatings in Iraq that broke his nose, dislocated his shoulder and burst his left eardrum.

"It's sending a conflicting message to our troops," he said of the administration's recent court filings. "Congress and the judicial branch say, `Let's protect our guys to the maximum extent possible,' " while the executive branch is "saying the opposite."

"Disappointing," he added, "would be a good way to put it."

Full story.

Okay, I understand this now. But I'm furious!
Yesterday I suggested that Bush didn't have a good way out after a Saudi prince "insisted" that the 28 redacted pages from the 9/11 report be made public without resorting to some seriously dangerous wag the dog action (I'm not talking about Sen. Santorum here).

But then I read Bartcop's report from yesterday, where he said:

Sure, he (the prince) said that after Bush guaranteed them he'd hide the findings from the American voters.

That BartCop hit the nail on the head was confirmed by the prince's statements after meeting with Bush, who "turned down" the request:

"We are disappointed," the prince said of the administration's refusal. "But we understand the reasons."
"Anyone who believes that this president would cover up for anyone involved with 9/11 must be out of touch with reality," the prince said as he reasserted that his country is a full partner with the United States in battling terrorism.

Sorry Prince, but anyone who still believes, after he has delayed and hindered any and all investigations for the last two years, that Bush is NOT covering up something is an idiot, a liar, or both.

Clearly, this was one of Karl Rove's masterpieces. Have the Saudis "insist" that the pages be exposed while guaranteeing them that they won't be, protecting them and Bush. Last week the Saudis were saying:

Last week, Prince Bandar bin Sultan, the Saudi ambassador to the United States, expressed outrage at the decision to keep parts of the report dealing with Saudi Arabia classified.

"Saudi Arabia has nothing to hide. We can deal with questions in public, but we cannot respond to blank pages," the prince said.

He called it "unfortunate that false accusations against Saudi Arabia continue to be made by some for political purposes.
-- CNN

Now we're supposed to believe that Bush is some kind of diplomatic genius, quicky defusing the "outrage" and leading the Saudis to "understand the reasons" which even Republican Senator Richard Shelby doesn't understand. What a charade.

Call Me Irresponsible...
For President Bush and the press corps that covers him, the month of July has been one long cat-and-mouse game. Five times, questioners have invited the president to take responsibility for the Iraq-uranium allegation that found its way into his State of the Union address. Five times, Bush has deflected the question. Dana Milbank, Washington Post

The Bushies had to get this in before announcing Saddam's death
A new audio tape purportedly from ousted Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein has acknowledged the death of his sons, Uday and Qusay, killed by US forces last week.

"I mourn to you the deaths of Uday and Qusay and those who struggled with them. You are the honour of this nation," he said on the tape, broadcast by al-Arabiya satellite television on Tuesday.
-- BBC

I think they screwed up, though. Wouldn't Saddam also mention by name his fourteen-year-old grandson, who was also supposedly killed in the raid? Saddam probably would, but his body double mourning the deaths of the body doubles of U and Q and the grandson probably wouldn't.

Bush rejects Saudi call to declassify the 28 blank pages -- BBC

Even a southern Republican senator disagrees strongly with Bush on this one:
Bush said, "declassification of that part of a 900-page document would reveal sources and methods that would make it harder for us to win the war on terror. ... It would help the enemy if they knew our sources and methods.''

The top Republican senator on the 9-11 inquiry, Richard Shelby, said Sunday that 95 percent of the classified pages could be released without jeopardizing national security. Bush ignored a reporter's question on Shelby's assessment.
-- AP

Bush's "sources and methods" said there were large quantities of WMD's in Iraq, and ties between Iraq and al Qaeda. Al Qaeda getting access to these sources and methods might be the simplest way to win the "war on terror."

My response to continued government secrecy is: Assume the worst. For Cheney's Energy Task Force, assume that it was Ken Lay and five oil company executives all sitting around saying how much they hate the environment and how they want to destroy it as quickly as possible while making obscene profits. (Actually, probably pretty close to the truth.) For 9/11, assume that the whole thing was planned in a Bush cabinet meeting in March 2001. Tell them that if they want us to believe otherwise, they need to convince us. Make them DEFEND themselves!

Whoever bet that the Pentagon's Terror Futures Market Wouldn't Last...
Just made a killing! Was it just another ridiculous idea from the shadow government's Department of Crazy Ideas that was run up the flagpole to distract us?

Wolfie in Neoconland
"If you're not prepared to act on the basis of murky intelligence, then you're going to have to act after the fact." -- Paul Wolfowitz

"It's a poor sort of memory that only works backwards," the Queen remarked.

"What sort of things do you remember best?" Alice ventured to ask.

"Oh, things that happened the week after next," the Queen replied in a careless tone. "For instance, now," she went on, sticking a large piece of plaster on her finger as she spoke, "there's the King's Messenger. He's in prison now, being punished: and the trial doesn"t even begin till next Wednesday: and of course the crime comes last of all."

"Suppose he never commits the crime?" said Alice.

"That would be all the better wouldn't it?" the Queen said, as she bound the plaster round her finger with a bit of ribbon.

Alice felt there was no denying that. "Of course it would be all the better," she said: "but it wouldn't be all the better his being punished."

"You're wrong there, at any rate," said the Queen: "were you ever punished?"

"Only for faults," said Alice.

"And you were all the better for it, I know!" the Queen said triumphantly.

"Yes, but then I had done the things I was punished for," said Alice: "that makes all the difference."

"But if you hadn't done them," the Queen said, "that would have been better still; better, and better, and better!" Her voice went higher with each "better," till it got quite to a squeak at last.

Alice was just beginning to say "There's a mistake somewhere-," when the Queen began screaming so loud that she had to leave the sentence unfinished. "Oh, oh, oh!" shouted the Queen, shaking her hand about as if she wanted to shake it off. "My finger's bleeding! Oh, oh, oh, oh!"

Her screams were so exactly like the whistle of a steam-engine, that Alice had to hold both her hands over her ears.

"What is the matter?" she said, as soon as there was a chance of making herself heard. "Have you pricked your finger?"

"I haven't pricked it yet," the Queen said, "but I soon shall - - oh, oh, oh!"

I got that from MaxSpeak.

21st Century Card Game
Check it out!

Thanks to Mary S., tireless Kucinich volunteer, for sending me that one!

DLC Continues to Sell Out
I hate the DLC!

The moderate Democratic group that helped elect Bill Clinton to the White House in 1992 warned today that Democrats were headed for defeat if they presented themselves as an angry "far left" party fighting tax cuts and opposing the war in Iraq.

Moderate? These guys are right-wingnuts!

"I miss having a president here," Gov. Jennifer M. Granholm of Michigan said in a remark that drew a hearty round of support from the audience.

Gee, Jenny, you could have invited Bush--he'd fit right in. War, tax cuts--you're singing his tune!

Anybody in Michigan should contact Granholm and Senator Debbie Stabenow and ask them to drop their affiliation with these Republicrats.

Texas Government in Exile--Again!
This time it's the Democrats from the Senate. Polizeros claims that California politics are still crazier than Texas politics. Hey, don't forget about Florida!

But seriously, folks, this is serious. The Texas situation is pure power politics, and could lead to the complete collapse of whatever little democracy they've ever had there. California is about to recall its governor for being a worthless scumbag, even though they knew he was a worthless scumbag when they re-elected him last year. The House Republicans in Washington called the cops on the House Democrats two weeks ago. And Smirky can apparently fly into any city in America, repeat and even brag about his lies, and walk away with another $2 million for his campaign war chest (literally). American democracy was far from perfect when everyone pretended that it worked. But with the pretense of open debate and fairness being dropped, we've reached a crisis. You've probably heard that the Chinese symbol for "crisis" combines those for "danger" and "opportunity." Strong-arm fascism is the danger; a rejection of the status quo in favor of real improvements in democracy (instant runoff voting and the collapse of the two-party system in favor of multiple parties, for example) is the opportunity.

From what I've read, California may represent the opportunity. While the recall sets a dangerous precedent, it seems fairly likely that the state will end up with a better governor. With many candidates and most votes winning, somebody like Arianna Huffington or Green Party candidate Pete Carmejo should have excellent chances.

The new meaning of "American Justice"
Even though "prosecutors never offered evidence that the Lackawanna defendants intended to commit an act of terrorism," they plead guilty. Why?

Defense attorneys say the answer is straightforward: The federal government implicitly threatened to toss the defendants into a secret military prison without trial, where they could languish indefinitely without access to courts or lawyers.

That prospect terrified the men. They accepted prison terms of 6 1/2 to 9 years.

"We had to worry about the defendants being whisked out of the courtroom and declared enemy combatants if the case started going well for us," said attorney Patrick J. Brown, who defended one of the accused. "So we just ran up the white flag and folded. Most of us wish we'd never been associated with this case."

The Lackawanna case illustrates how the post-Sept. 11, 2001, legal landscape tilts heavily toward the prosecution, government critics contend. Future defendants in terror cases could face the same choice: Plead guilty or face the possibility of indefinite imprisonment or even the death penalty.
-- Washington Post

Even the prosecutors seem a tad embarrassed:

U.S. Attorney Michael Battle, whose region encompasses Lackawanna, said his office never explicitly threatened to invoke enemy combatant status but that all sides knew the government held that hammer. "I don't mean to sound cavalier, but the war on terror has tilted the whole [legal] landscape," he said. "We are trying to use the full arsenal of our powers.

"I'm not saying the ends justify the means," he continued, "but you have to remember that we're protecting the rights of those who are being targeted by terror as well as the rights of the accused."

From what I've read, this is exactly how the Soviet Union used to work: Confess, and maybe someday you'll see the light of day again. Otherwise, forget it.

Another quote from Scott Ritter:
Bush as Hitler? You're damn right. For Americans, Bush is worse than Hitler. Hitler never came close to destroying the American way of life; Bush is accomplishing that objective in spades. (Frontier Justice, p. 194)

From Doonesbury.

It's official: They ARE out of their minds
The Pentagon, lead by super-creep John Poindexter, has set up a futures market on terrorist attacks and assassinations. Apparently, if this had been in place two years ago, you could have spent a few thousand dollars on "WTC coming down within three months" and walked away with hundreds of thousands.

Democratic Senators Byron L. Dorgan of North Dakota and Ron Wyden of Oregon blew the whistle on this nonsense, although it appears it ain't dead yet:

The senators also suggested that terrorists could participate because the traders' identities will be unknown.

"This appears to encourage terrorists to participate, either to profit from their terrorist activities or to bet against them in order to mislead U.S. intelligence authorities," they said in a letter to Admiral Poindexter, the director of the Terrorism Information Awareness Office, which the opponents said had developed the idea.

This could be huge:
Saudi Arabia's foreign minister has asked to meet with President Bush on Tuesday, and a diplomatic source said the Saudi official will seek the release of all, or at least part, of the material dealing with Saudi Arabia that was kept out of the public version of the new congressional report on the attacks of September 11, 2001.
Last week, Prince Bandar bin Sultan, the Saudi ambassador to the United States, expressed outrage at the decision to keep parts of the report dealing with Saudi Arabia classified.

"Saudi Arabia has nothing to hide. We can deal with questions in public, but we cannot respond to blank pages," the prince said.
-- CNN.

There has been lots of speculation about Saudi involvement with the 9/11 hijackers. Whether the 28 pages point the finger at the Saudis or not, I don't know. One thing I'm pretty sure of is that there is plenty in those 28 pages that the Bushies don't want made public. I'm also pretty sure that they are overly protective of the Saudis, probably due to the long-standing ties between the Bush family and the Saudi royal family. If the Saudis are demanding the pages be made public, the Bushies are going to have a hard time turning them down.

It doesn't look like they have a legitimate way out. So be on the lookout for some seriously insane wag-the-dog action around the time of this meeting with the Saudis.

Most likely: the death of Saddam Hussein will be announced, killed in a bombing attack that burned the building to the ground. We will be told to rejoice once again that "justice" has been served by assassination, and attention will be temporarily distracted from the 9/11 issue. All this talk of closing in on Saddam is just prepping us for the announcement. Saddam was either killed months ago and they're saving his death for when they really need it, or he's long gone and they haven't a clue as to his whereabouts. But this Saudi-9/11 thing could prompt the panic in the White House that would cause them to release the story. Any relation to the actual truth will be completely coincidental.

Less likely, but scarier: an attack on Syria or Iran on trumped up charges. Or massive arrests across the country, breaking up some alleged terror attack. Or, deity of your choice forbid, another terror attack. Rabid animals are dangerous. Cornered animals are dangerous. If the Saudi thing is about to expose some awful truth about the Bushies to the public, these rabid animals will be cornered. Look out.

Monday, July 28, 2003

From Scott Ritter's New Book:
"The pattern is not just one of reluctant cooperation, nor is it merely a lack of cooperation," Colin Powell told the Security Council. "What we see is a deliberate campaign to prevent any meaningful inspection work." True words, indeed, if Secretary Powell had been honest enough to admit that the nation refusing to cooperate with the inspectors, and working hard to prevent meaningful inspection work, was the United States, not Iraq, because the inspections represented the gravest threat to the war plans of Sheriff Bush and the PNAC posse. Inspections could expose the truth. And truth was the enemy.

Senator Graham on FoxNews Sunday:

GRAHAM: Well, I cannot name a specific foreign government. I can say what a foreign government did that led to that statement that I made.

This foreign government provided logistical assistance to at least two of the hijackers, made acquisitions on their behalf, made payments on their behalf. Provided, not through charities, but through a source related back to an official of that government, significant financial support for these two terrorists.

The question that have had is, one, is there any reason to believe that these two terrorists would have been picked out of the 19 and given this special treatment? Or was it just because we happen to know a lot more about these two that we have this pattern of support?

LIASSON: When you say this foreign government, are you talking about, as a policy, this foreign government did this? Or certain individuals who had connections to a foreign government?

GRAHAM: I am saying high officials in this government, who I assume were not just rogue officials acting on their own, made substantial contributions to the support and well-being of two of these terrorists and facilitated their ability to plan, practice and then execute the tragedy of September the 11th.

Brit Hume and Mara Liasson had been asking Graham about the "redacted" 28 pages from the 9/11 report, saying that all the buzz was about Saudi Arabia. Graham said several times that revealing the name of the foreign country would violate secrecy and be a criminal offense, although he also said the stuff shouldn't be secret. But he's saying here that high officials in some foreign government gave direct assistance to at least two 9/11 hijackers. I think one can safely assume that that government was neither the Taliban nor Iraq, or the Bushies wouldn't have pushed to keep this secret (or if it was, their reasons are even scarier). So Bush has changed two regimes in bloody, messy, expensive fashion, and there's some other government out there that actually did support the terrorists. And they don't want us to know who it is.

I suggest that we start insinuating that it might have a country whose involvement would have been even more embarassing to the Bushies than Saudi Arabia, namely Israel or Great Britain. Certainly in Britain's case it would explain Blair's otherwise inexplicable support of Bush in favor of intense opposition at home. But if the Brits or Israelis were in on 9/11, that would suggest that they were in collusion with the Bush administration, and Cynthia McKinney might wish she actually had said those things she was accused of saying. I don't really think it was Israel or Britain, but only scary allegations like that are going to get the 28 pages unredacted so we can finally find out who our true enemy is, instead of whatever country Bush feels like attacking at the moment.

And isn't it maybe time for Graham or Shelby to practice a little civil disobedience? Doesn't their oath to protect the constitution override their requirement to keep stuff secret which they both say shouldn't be secret? Would two conservative southern senators actually go to jail for letting the public know what they say it should know? Why does the executive branch get to decide what's secret here, anyway?

Bill Maher on Davis Recall in California

"He's the governor. Not some guy you married in Vegas."

On the troubled California economy Davis is being blamed for: "The dotcom bubble burst, just as Gray Davis ordered. ...We went off to two foreign wars, playing right into Davis' hands. ...Enron ripped the state off for billions. So you can see the problem, Gray Davis."

"So you can see the solution, a Viennese weight lifter. Arnold Schwarzenegger: Finally, a public official who can explain the administration's social policies in the original German."
-- from Pacific Views

Further evidence that Tim Russert has been kidnapped and replaced with a journalist
My post below has Russert asking Murky Wolfowitz some great questions. Later in the show, he asks Bob Graham this question:

MR. RUSSERT: Senator Graham, why would we declassify the National Intelligence Report to buttress arguments about the war in Iraq but keep classified some information that could help us find out what our leaders knew was coming down before September 11?
SEN. GRAHAM: Well, I think one of the fundamental reasons for that is to avoid accountability.

Excellent answer! I am in almost complete agreement with Dennis Kucinich's platform, and probably disagree with 70% of Graham's, but if Graham succeeds in bringing down the Bush administration, a strong case for electing him president out of sheer gratitude could be made. He's already ahead of Kerry in my book.

The weird twisted logic of Dr. Wolfowitz
From yesterday's Meet the Press:
MR. RUSSERT: Many people are now asking why the urgency in going to war. If, in fact, we have not found the weapons of mass destruction, could not we have waited a few months with more coercive inspections and have resolved this without a war?
DR. WOLFOWITZ: Let me say a couple of things, Tim. People act as though the cost of containing Iraq is trivial. The cost of containing Iraq was enormous. Fifty-five American lives lost, at least, in incidents like the Cole and Khobar Towers, which were part of the containment effort. Billions of dollars of American money spent so...
MR. RUSSERT: Was Iraq linked to those?
DR. WOLFOWITZ: Absolutely. Oh, no, not to the—I don’t know who did the attacks. I now that we would not have had Air Force people in Khobar Towers if we weren’t conducting a containment policy. I know we wouldn’t have had to have the Cole out there doing maritime intercept operations. And worst of all, if you go back and read Osama bin Laden’s notorious fatwah from 1998 where he calls for killing Americans, the two principal grievances were the presence of those forces in Saudi Arabia, and our continuing attacks on Iraq. Twelve years of containment was a terrible price for us.

So basically Wolfowitz is saying that we had to invade Iraq to appease Osama, whom we pissed off with our last attack on Iraq based on false pretenses.

Here's some more Wolfy logic:
We know that for 12 years Saddam Hussein did everything he could to frustrate U.N. inspectors. He sacrificed $100 billion in money that he could have spent on palaces and tanks and all those things that he loved so much in order to frustrate those inspectors. Isn’t that in itself an indicator there was something there? Let’s be patient and let’s figure out—wait until we can find things out.

Replace "12" with "2", "Saddam Hussein" with "George W. Bush," "frustrate U.N. inspectors" with "block a serious investigation into 9/11," "palaces and tanks" with "tax cuts", and "frustrate those inspectors" with "block that investigation," and the statement makes more sense. The "sacrificed $100 billion" part I assume refers to the very questionable idea that the US would ever have removed the sanctions on Iraq no matter how thorough the inspections had been. From what I've read in Scott Ritter's book, Iraqi compliance between 1995 and '98 was quite good, and inspectors had verified that Iraq didn't have much in the way of banned weapons left. This certainly seems to have been substantiated now. Since '98, Iraq was mostly or entirely WMD-free, but the sanctions continued. On the other hand, Bush willingly pursued an illegal war which will eventually cost over $100 billion, and while global empire was probably the main reason, distracting attention from the massive failures by his administration leading up to 9/11 was certainly desirable collateral damage as far as the Bushies were concerned.

From Tony Auth.

Answer the Question, General!
Q: Ibrahim Hayat (ph), Al-Hayat, LDC. I would like to ask you, don't you regret the fact that you couldn't get Uday and Qusay alive? It would have been probably the source of a lot of information could have got from them both. Also, wasn't a failure in a way, because you didn't use commandos to come and surprise them both? You conducted operation in a very traditional way. How would you describe it? All this attack preparation was only to surround five, probably four people who were armed with light weapons. And also, what about the child of Qusay?

Sanchez: First of all, we have confirmation that we've got Uday and Qusay Hussein, and we've got two other bodies that we're continuing the identification process on them.

On whether this was a failure, absolutely not. I would never consider this a failure. Our mission is to find, kill or capture. In this case, we had an enemy that was defending, it was barricaded, and we had to take the measures that were necessary in order to neutralize the target. When you look at the possibilities of what you may have gained or what you may have lost, that would be pure speculation on my part at this point.


Q: Thank you. General, I'd like to try and see if you could address more of the first question which we had from our colleague up front. The Americans are specialists in surrounding places, keeping people in them, holding up for a week, if necessary, to make them surrender. These guys only had, it appears, AK-47s, and you had immense amount of firepower. Surely, the possibility of the immense amount of information they could have given coalition forces, not to mention the trials that they could have been put on for war crimes, held out a much greater possibility of victory for you if you could have surrounded that house and just sat there until they came out, even if they were prepared to keep shooting.

Sanchez: Sir, that is speculation.

Next slide (sic).

Q: No, sir, it's an operational question. Surely you must have considered this much more seriously than you suggested.

Sanchez: Yes, it was considered, and we chose the course of action that we took.

Q: Why, sir?

Sanchez: Next slide -- or, next question, please.
-- From the DOD transcript of the press conference with Lt. General Ricardo Sanchez on the deaths of Uday and Qusay.

The phrase "dead men tell no tales" comes to mind, as does the phrase "it is easier to fake the identities of dead people than live ones." (I just made that second one up.)

Then there's this interesting quote from Sanchez:

The identification was done through multiple means. We had senior former regime members do visual identification of the bodies. We had four individuals that independently verified that we had both of Saddam Hussein's sons.

We also compared X-rays and verified that the injuries on one of the bodies were consistent with the injuries that had been suffered by this individual during a previous assassination attempt.

That seems to imply that this was an assassination, which of course it was (if it really was Uday and Qusay), but the general seems to acknowledge that. It appears that if U and Q had walked out with their hands held high they would still have been gunned down.

I did not want to be a collaborator
Isam al-Khafaji, a former member of the Iraqi reconstruction council, explains his decision to resign.

Iraq is now in almost total chaos. No one knows what is going on. We're not talking here about trying to achieve an ideal political system. People cannot understand why a superpower that can amass all that military might can't get the electricity back on. Iraqis are now contrasting Saddam's ability to bring back power after the war in 1991 to the apparent inability of the US to do so now. There are all kinds of conspiracy theories.

Sunday, July 27, 2003

Murky and Smirky
Using your earlier screw-ups to explain your more recent ones:

Deputy Defense Secretary Paul D. Wolfowitz, defending the Bush administration's justification of the Iraq war, said today that intelligence on terrorism is by its nature "murky," and that the United States may have little choice in the future but to "act on the basis of murky intelligence" if terror attacks are to be prevented. (NY Times)

Gee, you'd almost think they let 9/11 happen so they could sell war in Iraq!

Funny thing is, Murky, that back in October Smirky said this:

Knowing these realities, America must not ignore the threat gathering against us. Facing clear evidence of peril, we cannot wait for the final proof -- the smoking gun -- that could come in the form of a mushroom cloud. -- President Bush, Cincinnati, October 7, 2002

From the Encarta online dictionary, one of the definitions of "murky" is:

obscure: unclear and difficult to understand.

So even Murky (Wolfowitz) is calling Smirky (Bush) a liar. That makes it unanimous! Bush says clear, Wolfie says murky. Why didn't we call the whole thing off?

From Lalo Alcarez.

Marcos your calendars! August 8, 9 and 10
Fascinating article about the reappearance of the Zapatistas in Mexican politics. Vicente Fox vowed to resolve the Chiapas/Zapatista conflict "in fifteen minutes," but has failed to deliver. The EZLN (Zapatista party) vowed to give Fox a chance. They gave him a chance. The chance appears to be over.

And, in a call to all their supporters throughout Mexico and around the world to put on our shoes and socks and get ready to speak en masse, Marcos wrote:

“It would be good if national and international Civil Society does not make any appointments for the days of August 8, 9, and 10. We don’t know why.”

The Press Coverage We Need
The NY Times finally gets it right. They treat the death of Cpl. Travis J. Bradach-Nall, a 21-year-old marine who was killed in Iraq clearing mines on July 1, just like he was a 9/11 victim or Laci Peterson. Quotes from his mother and many anguished relatives. Like this, for example:

[Bradach-Nall's mother] was always a liberal Democrat, she said, and had signed various petitions circulating in Portland against the war, even as she found herself in the awkward position of trying to support the military, her son's employer.

Now she plans to join the international campaign to ban land mines and do whatever she can to get a Democrat elected president in 2004, she said.

"I don't ever do anything that would hurt the Marines," she said. "However, I want everything to come out about why decisions were made. And I don't want to hear, `Well, you know what, it's over now, the decision was made.' You know what? If you make a wrong decision, you have to pay for that. I want to make sure that changes are made or people are held accountable for what happened."

If a lengthy obituary for every soldier killed in Iraq were on the front pages every day, with whatever space is left over going to Bush's latest lies justifying the war, the remaining troops would be home real soon, and Bush's Texas vacation would be permanent.