Bob's Links and Rants

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Sunday, August 31, 2003

Got any outrage left? Read this:

A definite bombshell from Time magazine:

The article quotes extensively from a book by Gerald Posner. It describes the US interrogation of al Qaeda suspect Abu Zubaydah in Afghanistan. According to Time, the story reported by Posner comes from two government sources, one high in the Bush administration and the other in the CIA. And the story is:

Zubaydah revealed numerous links between Osama bin Laden and the Pakistani and (especially) the Saudi governments. He revealed this because the interrogators led him to believe that he had been extradited to Saudi Arabia, thinking he would fear torture. Instead, he told the fake Saudis to call his contacts in the government, and he gave them phone numbers of some Saudi princes. According to Posner, these phone numbers checked out.

Posner also claims that Zubaydah said that high Saudi and Pakistani officials knew that there would be a big terrorist attack on the US on September 11, but that they didn't know the details.

One more thing: all of this stuff was reportedly revealed by Zubaydah in April 2002. So how did the Bushies react to evidence that two so-called allies helped to fund, and knew in advance about, September 11:

The Bush Administration, writes Posner, decided that "creating an international incident and straining relations with those regional allies when they were critical to the war in Afghanistan and the buildup for possible war with Iraq, was out of the question."

In other words, maintain alliances with the two countries most directly involved in 9/11 in order to attack a country which was peripherally involved (Afghanistan) and one which had no connection to it at all (Iraq).
US out, Neocons in
Now there's a solution! From William S. Lind in Counterpunch. Excerpt:

Here we encounter the essence of the problem, and of the American failure: those in Washington who brought about this war sought to destroy a regime, but they ended up destroying the Iraqi state. In an era when the most powerful international fact of life is the decline of the state, recreating a state is very difficult. It is not surprising that American efforts to recreate a state in Iraq have thus far failed. Iraqi efforts may also fail, leaving the region in a permanent state of chaos similar to what we find in places like West Africa. Again, by staying longer in Iraq the U.S. does not diminish this possibility, it increases it.

That is my basic answer to the question of what is to be done: promise to have every American soldier out of Iraq by Christmas, and do it. Between now and then, our focus needs to be on keeping the troops who are still in Iraq alive and generally diminishing our role there. We should pull the troops out of cities wherever possible, garrisoning them where they will have little interaction with Iraqis. We should turn every function in Iraq over to any Iraqis who will take it, starting with the puppet Governing Council we set up. The Council will not survive after we are gone, but it can provide some useful cover as we get out. We should welcome the U.N., the Arab League, and anyone else who is willing to come into Iraq as we get out. Leaving someone else holding the bag is what is called skillful diplomacy.

Leaving Iraq will not be a defeat for America, because America never had any interests at stake in Iraq in the first place. There were no weapons of mass destruction, Saddam and Bin Laden hated each other's guts and the notion that Iraq constituted a threat to American security was pure invention. Genuine threats to American security may arise in a post-state Mesopotamia, but we have already created that monster and we will have to live with it. Folly has its consequences.

An American withdrawal from Iraq will be a defeat for the neocon clique that started the war in the first place. To that I say, "Hurrah!" The sooner the neocons are defeated and driven from power, the less the chance that American soldiers will be sent to die in more unnecessary and strategically counterproductive wars. In fact, to make the punishment fit the crime, we ought to round up every neocon in Washington and make them all "Special Representatives" to Iraq, with orders to get on the next plane to Baghdad and only come back on the last plane out. Then, we should forget to send that last plane.
(Emphasis added.)

Saturday, August 30, 2003

Check out the website for the Coalition Provisional Authority
"Coalition Provisional Authority" is the official name of the US-British occupation of Iraq, headed by Paul Bremer. Although you might be confused, since the graphic at the top of the page says it's the "Coalition Provincial Authority."

Just in case they eventually get their heads out of their Ashcrofts long enough to correct this, I'll post a copy of how it looks now:

Billmon apparently discovered this. Check out his comments and those of his readers.

One more thing. I sometimes worry that this website doesn't look professional enough. I know that frames are so 1998, and I'm using one of the standard Blogger templates so this blog looks like dozens of other blogs. But now I realize that I'm just doing my patriotic duty by not making the incredibly amateurish web site of one of the Bushies' imperialistic adventures look incredibly amateurish in comparison to this one. Just quite amateurish.

BTW, Billmon, aka "Whiskey Bar," has a great blog. He actually seems to have an understanding of what's going on in Iraq, which pretty much guarantees that he's not working for the Bush administration. I think maybe I'll replace "Seeing the Forest," who I'm still mad at for his senseless attack on Kucinich, with Billmon on my blogroll!

There! Done!
Revisionist Historians
Rice and Rummy, that is. Slate's Daniel Benjamin demolishes their pitiful attempts to claim that the serious, ongoing and increasing problems of the Iraq occupation are similar to what happened in Germany in 1945-47.

"There is an understandable tendency to look back on America's experience in postwar Germany and see only the successes," [Rice] told the Veterans of Foreign Wars in San Antonio, Texas, on Aug. 25. "But as some of you here today surely remember, the road we traveled was very difficult. 1945 through 1947 was an especially challenging period. Germany was not immediately stable or prosperous. SS officers—called 'werewolves'—engaged in sabotage and attacked both coalition forces and those locals cooperating with them—much like today's Baathist and Fedayeen remnants."
According to America's Role in Nation-Building: From Germany to Iraq, a new study by former Ambassador James Dobbins, who had a lead role in the Somalia, Haiti, Bosnia, and Kosovo reconstruction efforts, and a team of RAND Corporation researchers, the total number of post-conflict American combat casualties in Germany—and Japan, Haiti, and the two Balkan cases—was zero.

I think the number of post-conflict American combat casualties in Iraq is currently around 70 dead, hundreds wounded. And, as Condi has pointed out recently, we're just getting started.
Nah. Not even going to bother...
The NY Times web page shows two new columns:

• Dowd: Who's Losing Iraq?
• Friedman: Worrying About Iraq.

I've read most of the columns these two babblers have written in the past two years. I've got better things to do. I'm sure you do too. (Links omitted intentionally.)

Friday, August 29, 2003

This can't be good
Over 90 killed in Najaf. What can I say? That's at least 90 more people, and their surviving family members, who aren't better off than they were under Saddam.
Dave Barry on the California Recall:

How did California get into this mess? Everybody agrees that the root cause is a person named ''Gray'' Davis, who has the warm personal charm of a sea urchin. Incredibly, Californians elected him governor twice. It's still not clear how this happened. Apparently, from time to time the entire California electorate goes to a bar and chugs industrial quantities of margaritas, and it gets late, and one thing leads to another, and the next morning the electorate wakes up in a dingy motel room, and there, snoring next to it, is: Gray.

To make matters worse, Gray lost the state budget surplus. California had this gigantic surplus, billions and billions of dollars, and now it's gone. They've looked everywhere, but nobody can find it. It is the Weapon of Mass Destruction of budget surpluses.

So now Gray is spectacularly unpopular. Everybody despises him. When he tries to get into the governor's house, his own dog attacks him. When he calls for his security personnel, they side with the dog.

Of course California is not the first state to find itself being led by a known bonehead. Many other states have gone through this ordeal, and the way they have traditionally handled it is to pretend that the bonehead is competent and popular, thus causing him to be so impressed with himself that he resigns from the governorship and runs for president of the United States.

Go Dana!
Dana Milbank is one of the Washington Post reporters who has really been getting on Bush's case lately. Much of it has been pretty serious stuff: lies and deception about WMD's in Iraq, for instance. On Tuesday, Milbank wrote an article on some fluffier, but illegal stuff that W has been up to: desecrating the flag and using the publicly-funded White House web site to promote his political speeches.

They got Al Capone on tax evasion. It would be delightfully ironic if George W. Bush were impeached for flag desecration.
If you had to pick just one person for the mess we're in...
Katherine Harris would be a good choice. Check out this flash animation!
Can you say "Conflict of interest?"
The head of a company vying to sell voting machines in Ohio told Republicans in a recent fund-raising letter that he is "committed to helping Ohio deliver its electoral votes to the president next year."

The Aug. 14 letter from Walden O'Dell, chief executive of Diebold Inc. - who has become active in the re-election effort of President Bush - prompted Democrats this week to question the propriety of allowing O'Dell's company to calculate votes in the 2004 presidential election.
-- Cleveland Plain Dealer

I knew that you could! This country is under attack by Republicans who are trying to do away with all semblance of democracy. These hackable, opaque, no-paper-trail voting machines are a key front in the attack. And the leading maker of these things is committed to delivering electoral votes for Bush.
One more soldier dead, three wounded
North of Baghdad. Still no good explanation for what they, or any other US soldiers, were doing in Iraq in the first place.

Thursday, August 28, 2003

United We Stand: Me and Republicans from Idaho... our dislike of the world's scariest attorney general:

"It's pretty reckless to say that 309 members of Congress want to tip off terrorists," said [Idaho Republican Rep. C.L. "Butch"] Otter, who noted that more than a third of the votes cast for his amendment came from Republicans. "Instead of hitting the campaign trail, the attorney general should be listening to the concerns that many Americans have about some portions of the act." -- WaPo.
Sweet Home Alabama
Not! You're probably thinking I'm finally going to rant about Judge Roy Moore and his graven image of the ten commandments.
Not! Again. Longtime readers may have guessed that I'm going to rant about the WMD's in Anniston.

That is correct! The army is about to burn 800 gallons of the deadly nerve gas sarin in Anniston. About 35,000 people live within nine miles of the incinerator, and Birmingham and Atlanta aren't far away. CNN reports that there are seven other known chemical weapons storage sites in the US (compared to, lets see, ZERO in Iraq): Tooele, Utah; Pine Bluff, Arkansas; Umatilla, Oregon; Pueblo, Colorado; Bluegrass, Kentucky; Newport, Indiana; and Aberdeen, Maryland.

We invade a country 6000 miles away because we think they might possibly have chemical or biological weapons. Meanwhile, we've got tons of the crap just sitting around here.
Halliburton is making a ton of money from the war in Iraq...
And that's all that really matters, isn't it, Dick?

Halliburton, the company formerly headed by Vice President Cheney, has won contracts worth more than $1.7 billion under Operation Iraqi Freedom and stands to make hundreds of millions more dollars under a no-bid contract awarded by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, according to newly available documents.

Independent experts estimate that as much as one-third of the monthly $3.9 billion cost of keeping U.S. troops in Iraq is going to independent contractors.
-- WaPo.
Ted Rall on the "Stay or Get Out" Issue:

The ad hoc Iraqi resistance is comprised of indigenous fighters ranging from secular ex-Republican Guards to radical Islamist Shiites, as well as foreign Arab volunteers waging the same brand of come-one-come-all jihad that the mujahedeen fought against Soviet occupation forces in Afghanistan. While one can dismiss foreign jihadis as naïve adventurers, honest Americans should call native Iraqi resistance fighters by a more fitting name: Iraqi patriots.
Under George W. Bush, truth and justice are no longer the American way. The U.S. occupation of Iraq is misguided, evil and doomed to failure. The sooner we accept this difficult truth, the sooner we decide to stop being the bad guys, the sooner we'll withdraw our troops. The bloodshed may continue after we leave--and we'll be partly to blame for that. But until we pull out, the carnage is all ours.
Great Kucinich Quotes
I didn't get many quotes out of Dennis Kucinich's appearance here in Ann Arbor on Tuesday, but Cyndy of MouseMusings (who was also there) found an excellent article from a Minnesota paper filled with lots of Kucinich gems:

“First, you have to understand what Bush’s presidency is about: accelerating wealth upward. Its about putting the nation’s wealth into fewer and fewer hands,” Kucinich said in a KFAI interview in July, pointing to post-9/11 bailouts that gave airlines billions while their employees got massive layoffs. “The Bush economy is driven by the interests of a few at the expense of the many. That’s what the war and the tax cuts are about.”

Kucinich joined the anti-World Trade Organization (WTO) battle in Seattle. He’ll use Executive Orders to withdraw from the WTO and repeal the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) that’s exported millions of American jobs to Mexican sweatshops.

“Labels like liberal, conservative, Democrat, Republican don’t mean much when you look at these trade agreements. The real issue is: WHOOSE side are you on? Are you on the side of multinational corporations driving down wages, knocking out benefits, breaking unions and crushing communities when they move jobs out?” Kucinich gains momentum, not allowed in CSPAN 60-second sound-bites. “Or are you on the side of people struggling for workers’ rights, human rights and environmental principles?”

“We’re ALREADY PAYING for universal healthcare. We’re just NOT GETTING IT,” Kucinich goes to the heart of the 2004 campaign’s “banner issue”: healthcare. Current U.S. spending is 14 percent of GNP on healthcare, Kucinich explained, projected to rise to 18 percent within 10 years—even without expanding access. “Insurance keeps going up. What do insurance companies do? They make money by EXCLUDING coverage. Everyone knows this. More deductibles, higher co-pays, less access. This is the trend. The ONLY way to freeze costs is for a single-payer system that cares for everyone. Take the profits out so these companies don’t have their hands on your wallet!”
While other Democrats tinker with cosmetic changes, Kucinich is the only candidate proposing universal, single-payer healthcare, including dental, vision-care, mental health and long-term care. JAMA’s study announced last week that 8,000 doctors agree that Kucinich’s plan is the only solution for both containing costs and alarming health disparities. One doctor disagrees: Howard Dean says “it can’t pass,” and his plan leaves healthcare under corporate control.

“Those saying ‘it won’t pass’ are conceding that this system is so corrupt that we’re all captive to it!” Kucinich retorts. “I’ll challenge the insurance and drug companies to do what’s right for the American people. WE don’t exist for them. THEY exist for us.”

“This Administration, cycling fear, created pretexts for war. They became more powerful as they did that. With lies and manipulations, now, they seek to totally destroy the social agenda of our nation with a military build up: $400 billion budget, 13 percent increase. We’re rapidly coming to the point where we spend more on the Pentagon than all other countries COMBINED spend on their defense! What implication does this have for our democracy?”

As he pauses, I realize no other candidates mention military budgets.

“This continued military build up will be the DEATH-knell for our democracy. They’re SUCKING OUT THE OXYGEN that’s needed for the economy!” he concluded. Kucinich is ranking Democrat on the National Security Committee. Vowing to cut military spending, “I’ll correct this direction. We’ll have a strong defense, but we ALREADY had that before 9/11. My concern is that we understand that education is part of national defense, Healthcare is national defense. Having good jobs and full employment is national defense. Making sure veterans have the full benefits we promised them when they said they’d serve is national defense. This is a moment for fundamental and deep change and my candidacy represents that.”

Meanwhile, back in the air we breathe...
The Bushies have decided to ease power plant pollution rules.

Environmental and public health groups argue the new rule will allow old, coal-fired power plants and refineries to emit more air pollutants in some cases.
Saddam suckered us into destroying his country
That's the latest spin, anyway, according to this LA Times article.

Frustrated at the failure to find Saddam Hussein's suspected stockpiles of chemical and biological weapons, U.S. and allied intelligence agencies have launched a major effort to determine if they were victims of bogus Iraqi defectors who planted disinformation to mislead the West before the war.

The goal, according to a senior U.S. intelligence official, "is to see if false information was put out there and got into legitimate channels and we were totally duped on it." He added, "We're reinterviewing all our sources of information on this. This is the entire intelligence community, not just the U.S."
Although senior CIA officials insist that defectors were only partly responsible for the intelligence that triggered the decision to invade Iraq in March, other intelligence officials now fear that key portions of the prewar information may have been flawed. The issue raises fresh doubts as to whether illicit weapons will be found in Iraq.

As evidence, officials say former Iraqi operatives have confirmed since the war that Hussein's regime sent "double agents" disguised as defectors to the West to plant fabricated intelligence. In other cases, Baghdad apparently tricked legitimate defectors into funneling phony tips about weapons production and storage sites.

"They were shown bits of information and led to believe there was an active weapons program, only to be turned loose to make their way to Western intelligence sources," said the senior intelligence official. "Then, because they believe it, they pass polygraph tests ... and the planted information becomes true to the West, even if it was all made up to deceive us."

Recall the chihuahua!
Taco Bell is selling votes in the California election.

Arnold is the Beef Crunchy Taco.

Gray Davis is the Chicken Soft Taco.
Why I'm still considering leaving this country:
63% of Americans say the war in Iraq was worth fighting, a USA TODAY/CNN/Gallup Poll shows.

Fifty-seven percent say they believe the war in Iraq is part of the overall war on terrorism.

This is one STUPID country.

Iraq: Stay in or get out?
A discussion has started on our local peace e-mail list about the relative merits of "fish or cut bait" with regards to Iraq: Send in more troops in an attempt to stabilize the situation, or get out ASAP. An article by Dr. Mohammed T. Al-Rasheed suggests:

It is useless harping on what should have been done. If we take the American claims and intentions at face value, we should try and find a solution that would satisfy all. The first thing to do is for America to drop the pretense that it is not an occupying power. By accepting the fact, it gives itself more public leeway in managing the affairs of the country.The Iraqis are not ready to rule themselves yet, for two reasons. The first is that they have lived under tyranny for so long that any viable alternative to Saddam is now residing in a mass grave. The second reason is that the country is divided internally into tiny puzzle pieces that need time and effort to gel together.

The Americans should fire the council of morons and hand over Ahmed Chalabi to their allies the Jordanians to serve out his jail term. This will give them credibility and get rid of a liability that is embarrassing them and angering the locals. They should put an American at the head of every vital ministry and start distributing contracts to American firms to build up the infrastructure of Iraq. They will be criticized for that, but if done properly, the results will speak for themselves. People in need of food and medication will appreciate the service more than the rhetoric.

They should divide Iraq into voting districts and announce a date for general elections. The elections will result in a temporary Parliament whose job is to draft a constitution. I guess this is already on the table, but America is eating with two hands. You can’t try to be “legitimate” and tackle the massive tasks ahead. Let us drop the pretense of the first and push ahead for the second.

I disagree. After conducting two brutal wars and enforcing murderous sanctions on Iraq, the US is the last country (except maybe North Korea) that should be running Iraq's affairs. That goes triple while Bush is in charge. This is Vietnam 1964. If we pull out, at worst a bloody civil war erupts, killing tens of thousands of people. If we stay, the brutal occupation continues, eventually killing many more while bankrupting the US. Sending more troops just means more will die, and will solidify the hatred against this country. There is no legitimate basis for believing that it will benefit Iraqis at all.

Also: "If we take the American claims and intentions at face value," as Al-Rasheed suggests, then we are idiots. Bush has no interest in democracy in Iraq, or in the US for that matter. It IS about oil and imperialism and controlling the world's resources. Putting more troops there just furthers these goals, not the fairy-tale of democracy and prosperity for Iraqis. Wolfowitz is probably foaming at the mouth (even more than usual) at the thought of Democrats calling for MORE troops to be sent to Iraq. Not only does it solidify US control over Iraqi oil, it also gives someone to share the blame with when the inevitable thousands of GI's die.

[Warning: Following paragraph based on unresearched speculation! Feel free to (gently) set me straight if I'm wrong!] I hear references to the Marshall plan and the reconstructions of Germany and Japan. But they were the aggressive, imperial nations. Okay, Great Britain, France, the US, the Soviet Union, and some of the other nations were more or less imperial as well, but in the immediate 1937-41 sense Germany and Japan were definitely the aggressors. They had attacked other countries and were eventually defeated. Any good treatment that they received was probably better than they expected. The more accurate comparison, instead of the Marshall plan, would be to any rebuilding of France or Poland that Nazi Germany may have done during WWII and how gratefully it was probably received. The hated conqueror will not be the one to successfully bring prosperity and democracy to Iraq.

We should get out gracefully if we can, but not the four-year Nixonian version. Four months, maybe, tops. Try to get help from the UN. The US has no right to be there--there is no legitimacy to the occupation at all. We may leave a mess behind, but staying will not make it any better, and will likely make it much worse.

Wednesday, August 27, 2003

Going out in style!
Memorials in her honor can be made to any organization working for the removal of President Bush. -- From the obituary for Sally Baron of Staughton, Wisconsin, who died last week.

"She thought he was a liar," Baron's daughter, Maureen Bettilyon, said. "I think his personality, just standing there with that smirk on his face, and acting like he's this holy Christian, that's what really got her."
"She'd always watch CNN, C-SPAN, and you know, she'd just swear at the TV and say 'Oh, Bush, he's such a whistle ass!' She'd just get so mad," Bettilyon said.

So--Make a donation today to the Kucinich campaign in the name of Sally Baron! Or make a donation to the Ann Arbor Area Committee for Peace so they can run the "Misleader" ad in the Ann Arbor Observer or Ann Arbor News ( That Sally's death not be in vain.
Enough already with the "send more troops and money" crap!
If the best politicians can do as far as complaining about the quagmires Bush has gotten us into is to suggest that we need to get in even deeper, I respectfully suggest that they just SHUT UP! (Yeah, that means you, Howie.)

The WSWS agrees with me:
While this criminal scheme was intended to enrich a thin layer at the top, it is American working people who are being forced to pay the price, both in terms of the steady stream of young American soldiers losing their lives in Iraq and in the growing deficits and economic dislocation at home. The demands now being made for a massive buildup of military forces and increased economic expenditures to rescue the US neo-colonial projects in both Iraq and Afghanistan can only be realized through a drastic intensification of the attacks on social conditions in the US itself.

The claim that such buildups would aid the people of these countries is a lie. Their purpose would be solely to suppress the legitimate resistance of both Iraqis and Afghans to foreign occupation and to secure the profit interests of the US-based corporations.

Against the drive to escalate the repression in Iraq, the demand must be raised for the immediate and unconditional withdrawal of all US, British and other occupation forces. At the same time, an independent investigation into the methods used to promote this criminal war must be held to assure that those responsible are held accountable.

Once again, a Byrd in the Senate is worth any number of George Bushes:

The administration's reconstruction effort is costing the American people $1 billion a week. It is costing the lives of American soldiers and of civilians from many nations. Only an entirely closed mind could fail to grasp the need for a change in course. Close cooperation with the international community might yet yield a plan for peace and security for the people of Iraq. Haughty statements and unilateral actions will not advance our cause. We must work with other countries to forge what we cannot achieve alone: a lasting peace for Iraq and, in fact, for the Middle East region as a whole.

A hallmark of true leadership is the ability to admit when one is wrong and to learn from errors. Candidate George W. Bush spoke about the need for humility from a great and powerful nation. He said, "Let us reject the blinders of isolationism, just as we refuse the crown of empire. Let us not dominate others with our power -- or betray them with our indifference. And let us have an American foreign policy that reflects American character. The modesty of true strength. The humility of real greatness." It is time for the Bush administration to swallow its false pride and return to that philosophy of humility before it is too late.
-- Senator Robert Byrd (D-WV), from a piece in Tuesday's WaPo.

From Chris Britt.

From Mike Keefe.
Two more dead, three more wounded
Meanwhile, the Idiot-in-Chief was babbling the same old nonsense at the American Legion convention yesterday. I think his speech calls for a good (partial) fisking.

THE PRESIDENT: Thank you, all. Thanks for that warm welcome. It is great to be here in St. Louis, Missouri, at the 85th Annual Convention of the American Legion. I wonder if I'm the only member here today from Post 77, in Houston, Texas.

AUDIENCE MEMBER: No. (Laughter.)

Gee, W, if you'd actually served in the military, or at least attended one of those Post 77 meetings, you might have recognized the guy.

The security of this nation and our friends requires decisive action. And with a broad coalition, we're taking that action around the globe. We are on the offensive against terror, and we will stay on the offensive against terror.

George, to most of the world, you ARE terror.

Because of our military, catastrophic weapons will no longer be in the hands of a reckless, unstable dictator.

Not true, George. We haven't impeached you yet.

Because of our military, Middle Eastern countries no longer fear subversion and attack by Saddam Hussein. Because of our military, Iraq will no longer be a source of funding for suicide bombers in the Middle East.

No George, they fear you. And that's a bad thing.

Because of our men and women in uniform, the torture chambers in Iraq are closed, the prison cells for children are empty and the people who speak their minds need not fear execution.

Oh really? "But in recent weeks there have been increasing reports of Iraqi men, women and even children being dragged from their homes at night by American patrols, or snatched off the streets and taken, hooded and manacled, to prison camps around the capital. Children as young as 11 are claimed to be among those locked up for 24 hours a day in rooms with no light, or held in overcrowded tents in temperatures approaching 50C (122F). On the edge of Baghdad International Airport, US military commanders have built a tent city that human rights groups are comparing to the detention camp at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba. Remarkably, the Americans have also set up another detention camp in the grounds of the notorious Abu Ghraib prison, west of Baghdad. Many thousands of Iraqis were taken there during the Saddam years and never seen again." (from Common Dreams.)

Bush continues:

The work of our coalition in Iraq goes on because that country is now a point of testing in the war on terror. The remnants of Saddam's regime are still dangerous, and terrorists are gathering in Iraq to undermine the advance of freedom. Al Qaeda and the other global terror networks recognize that the defeat of Saddam Hussein's regime is a defeat for them. They know that a democratic Iraq in the heart of the Middle East would be a further defeat for their ideology of terror. They know that the spread of peace and hope in the Middle East would undermine the appeal of bitterness, resentment, and violence. And the more progress we make in Iraq, the more desperate the terrorists will become. Freedom is a threat to their way of life.

I'm sorry, but this is just pure crap. Bitterness, resentment and violence are not appealing. They are the result of people being dumped upon, repeatedly. The US has been dumping on Iraq for 13 years because, supposedly, they had a brutal dictator. Who was installed and maintained in power by the US. And now the US has invaded Iraq, and improved nothing while killing thousands. That's where bitterness, resentment and violence come from. Well, that and you, George.

And as we help the Iraqi people establish security, we are working through that famous deck of cards. So far, of the 55 most wanted Iraqi leaders, 42 have been captured or killed. Heck, some, like "Chemical Ali," have been both captured AND killed!

Murderers will not determine the future of Iraq, and they will not determine the future of the Middle East.

So you ARE pulling out?

He concludes with this Hitleresque bluster:

Our Armed Forces are doing the work they are called to do. They're taking the fight to the enemy so that America and our friends can live in peace. The war on terror is a test of our strength. It is a test of our perseverance, our patience, and our will. This nation has been tested before -- by the character of men and women like you, we've come through every trial.

And so it is today. Our course is set. Our purpose is firm. No act of terrorists will weaken our resolve or alter their fate. Our only goal, our only option, is total victory in the war on terror. And this nation will press on to victory.

Even if it kills us all.

Tuesday, August 26, 2003

I just got back from our local Kucinich appearance. I didn't get any good pictures, don't have an accurate headcount (120 maybe?), but it was a very impressive performance. The man knows what he's talking about, and he cares.

My friend Henry, who was in Palestine last December, asked Dennis some tough questions about the US support for Israel. While Dennis clearly didn't give the solid answers that Henry was looking for, he did demonstrate a detailed knowledge of the situation and an understanding of the plight of the Palestinians. He wouldn't commit to cutting aid to Israel, but he did say that we should absolutely be providing aid to the Palestinians. As with when I heard Kucinich speak last October, he was always impressive, but probably most impressive when answering tough questions. It seems that that is a skill that should serve very well in tough negotiations, whether with Congress, the UN, North Korea, or whomever.

Please, if you get a chance to hear Kucinich speak, don't miss it!
MaxSpeak offers some sound advice to Dean...
... and other Democrats who seem to think that now that we're stuck in Iraq, we should get even more stuck.

Max says: If the Iraq/Afghan occupation turns into a continuing debacle, the goal of Democrats and the left should not be to contest for ownership of it.

Quote du Jour
At the end of the day, it's of keen interest to me to see whether or not we can get Karl Rove frog-marched out of the White House in handcuffs. And trust me, when I use that name, I measure my words. -- Joseph Wilson, the diplomat who wrote the piece in the NY Times back in June that officially started Yellowcakegate (although public knowledge that the Niger uranium documents were forgeries goes back to March). Then, on July 14 conservative columnist Robert Novak said that Wilson's wife, Valerie Plame, is a CIA agent. Novak cited information from "senior administration officials." If senior administration officials did tell Novak that, and it's true, then it constitutes a felony (outing a CIA agent). If false, it is certainly malicious slander (not because there is necessarily something wrong with being a CIA agent, but because of the effect that her being thought to be one would have on all of Plame's personal and business relationships).

Until now, there has been only speculation, usually well below the major-media level, about who gave Novak the information about Plame. Wilson has now pointed a finger at chief Bush political strategist Karl Rove. Go here for lots more on this.


This seems right, unfortunately
Polizeros quotes Slavoj Zizek:

A will to ignorance suggests a troubled conscience: if our government kills and improverishes people to maintain a global hierarchy, Americans don't want to hear about it because it hurts.

It's not just a matter of getting the facts out there. The will to ignorance is too tenacious for that, and there's no master key in existence that will unlock it. But the first step in devising such a key is to admit one is needed. Facts alone won't do the trick.

It's true. Lots of people like being ignorant. They're proud of it. They probably like Bush because he's one of them.
Welcome to BushWorld, Private!

The military expects us to be happy out here. I'm very happy serving my country, but not when the government fails to take care of you.
We volunteered our lives to be out here and we get treated worse than people in prison.
There is no real reason for us to be out here!!!!, We're protecting the oil is all, and as far as the supposed war ending, it hasn't. Not when everyday soldiers are still getting mines placed in front of convoys. Rocket propelled grenades thrown at us.
-- Army PFC Mary Yahne of Bonney Lake, Washington, stuck somewhere in Iraq.

Meanwhile, aWol keeps working on his golf game and taking $2000 donations from people who claim to "support our troops."

From Boondocks.
Compassionate Conservative is Neither
"After three years, he's failed the test," said one prominent early supporter, the Rev. Jim Wallis, leader of Call to Renewal, a network of churches that fights poverty.

Mr. Wallis said Mr. Bush had told him as president-elect that "I don't understand how poor people think," and appealed to him for help by calling himself "a white Republican guy who doesn't get it, but I'd like to." Now, Mr. Wallis said, "his policy has not come even close to matching his words."
-- from a NY Times article on W's failure to live up to his promises.

Monday, August 25, 2003

Deja Vu All Over Again
Remember back in February and March when we had hope that the UN would deny Bush his war by voting down his second resolution? Bush was bribing and threatening countries on the security council--even spying on their UN delegations. But France stood firm with its veto threat, Russia, China and Germany stood with them, and eventually it appeared that Bush might not get more than about four of the fifteen security council votes. So he just scrapped the whole thing and had his war anyway. Well, its happening again:

US may drop effort at UN resolution. The Bushies continue to show the maturity of a kid who threatens to take his ball and go home if the others won't play by his rules.

What it means is that whatever oil they can get out of sabotaged pipelines will go down as the most expensive cheap oil in history. As Senator Hagel said the other day, it may well be $300 to $400 BILLION over three to five years. $400 billion over 4 years would be $100 billion per year, which works out to $343 for each of 291 million Americans. If each American is allocated 5000 vehicle-miles at 20 miles per gallon, that works out to an additional $1.37 for each gallon of gas. But they're not being asked to pay it directly--the bill goes directly to the future: income taxes needed to pay the interest on the huge debt, and money that will be taken out of social security, medicare, and other government programs.

The war is about cheap oil, no matter how much it costs. But the Bushies will do everything possible to prevent the public from realizing the cost at the place it belongs--the gas pump.
Iraqi Freedom
NEVER again did families in Baghdad imagine that they need fear the midnight knock at the door.

But in recent weeks there have been increasing reports of Iraqi men, women and even children being dragged from their homes at night by American patrols, or snatched off the streets and taken, hooded and manacled, to prison camps around the capital.

Children as young as 11 are claimed to be among those locked up for 24 hours a day in rooms with no light, or held in overcrowded tents in temperatures approaching 50C (122F).

On the edge of Baghdad International Airport, US military commanders have built a tent city that human rights groups are comparing to the detention camp at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba.

Remarkably, the Americans have also set up another detention camp in the grounds of the notorious Abu Ghraib prison, west of Baghdad. Many thousands of Iraqis were taken there during the Saddam years and never seen again.
-- from Common Dreams
AK-47: The GI's weapon of choice
American soldiers are using confiscated Russian-designed AK-47 automatic rifles:

"We just do not have enough rifles to equip all of our soldiers. So in certain circumstances we allow soldiers to have an AK-47. They have to demonstrate some proficiency with the weapon ... demonstrate an ability to use it," said Lt. Col. Mark Young, commander of the 3rd Battalion, 67th Armor Regiment, 4th Infantry Division. (AP)

What did you expect for a billion dollars a week? That every soldier would get his own weapon?
Kucinich is coming to town!
Tomorrow! Tuesday! Dennis will be here in Ann Arbor from 8:45 to 10:30pm at Clonlara School, 1289 Jewett (between Packard and South Industrial, about a 1/2 mile south of Stadium). If you're anywhere near here, please stop by and show your support for the best candidate for president!
No Evidence
I've been involved in an ongoing discussion with a friend who supports Dean about an article in the WaPo about Dean. The article mentions that Dean supported the first Gulf War and the war in Afghanistan. I've been trying to convince my friend that this should be reason enough not to support Howie. Bush's reaction to 9/11, including the attack on Afghanistan, was the main reason I became this ranting left-wing blogger in the first place. I never trusted him or his explanations, and just as with Iraq (and as with his Daddy in 1990-91) war seemed to be Bush's first and only choice. In the middle of this discussion, I came across a link to this article from a German author on BartCop.

The article reminds us that while none of knows the true story of 9/11, the "official" story is demonstrably false, and is in fact one of the more ridiculous of the "conspiracy theories" out there. The author reminds us, as I did a couple of times on my blog last year, that FBI director Mueller stated publicly that they never found any evidence in the US or Afghanistan which mentioned the 9/11 plot:

"In our investigation, we have not uncovered a single piece of paper – either here in the U.S. or in the treasure trove of information that has turned up in Afghanistan and elsewhere – that mentioned any aspect of the September 11th plot. The hijackers had no computers, no laptops, no storage media of any kind."

The author of the article also describes how many of the supposed suicide hijackers are alive and well today, and he doesn't mean Moussaui (sp?). Still, the official story is, without any evidence whatsoever, and in spite of direct evidence to the contrary, that these 19 guys with names and pictures and biographies were the perps.

I suggest that you read his whole article--lots of interesting stuff there. In light of this, I seriously question Dean and anyone else who says that the Afghan war was a good thing.

From BartCop.
Dynastic Regimes
From a NY Times editorial:

Earlier this month, President Heydar Aliyev, who has ruled Azerbaijan almost continuously since 1969, installed his son, Ilham, as prime minister. President Aliyev, who has no vice president, is now ill. So Ilham, whose reputation has been mainly that of an international playboy, is first in line to succeed his father and is likely to win the presidency in October if his father does not run.

Azerbaijan is not a monarchy — at least not formally. But its ruler is now joining a sizable list of nominally democratic presidents who engineer a deathbed transfer of power to a son. Such successions promise short-term continuity. But the damage they do to democratic institutions creates long-term instability.

Imagine the horror of living in a country where somebody becomes president mostly because his father used to be president. The damage it does to democratic institutions!
An Unpatriotic Act
The NY Times has joined me in protesting Fascroft's Patriot Act road show.
Bush Poll Numbers Down!
Against this backdrop, President George W. Bush’s approval ratings continue to decline. His current approval rating of 53 percent is down 18 percent from April. And for the first time since the question was initially asked last fall, more registered voters say they would not like to see him re-elected to another term as president (49 percent) than re-elected. Forty-four percent would favor giving Bush a second term; in April, 52 percent backed Bush for a second term and 38 percent did not. -- Newsweek

Still, it's awfully scary to be living in a country where the worst president ever still gets an approval rating of 53 percent. What is the matter with those people? Smirky has obviously and repeatedly lied about everything, and there is basically nothing that he has done, ever, that can be honestly said to be good. He's the worst thing that's ever happened to this country, and possibly the world, and 53% still approve?
Extremists from Outside
I saw Paul Bremer, Viceroy or whatever he's called of Iraq, talking with Wolf Blitzer on CNN yesterday. He said, with a straight face:

Well, I have spoken quite frequently about my concerns about Iranian activities here. The Iranian Revolutionary Guards are present in Iraq. The Iranian Ministry of Intelligence is present here. And we think that Iraqis do not appreciate interference in their affairs. I certainly have found no Iraqis who think that Iran should be playing around in Iraq's domestic affairs. And I think that's the view of most Iraqis.

Bremer also said:

But it's pretty clear that we do have problems with foreign terrorists coming across some of the borders that Iraq has, shares with its neighbors. And we have called upon Iraq's neighbors to do a better job of controlling those borders.

Like maybe Kuwait should have stopped those 200,000 or so coalition forces from crossing into Iraq back in March? This article from the Mirror explains things clearly:

In 1921, Lieutenant-General Sir Stanley Maude said in Baghdad: "Our armies do not come as conquerors, but as liberators."

Within three years 10,000 had died in an uprising against the British, who gassed and bombed the "terrorists".

Nothing has changed, only the names and the fine print of the lies.

As for the "extremists from outside", simply turn the meaning around and you have a succinct description of the current occupiers who, unprovoked, attacked a defenceless sovereign country, defying the United Nations and the opposition of most of humanity.

That is, the So-Called Liberal Dean. Daniel P. Welch has written a good article about not only why Dean isn't a liberal, which has already been well documented, but why pretending that he is one is dangerous.

The Democratic Leadership Council, the right wing of the Democrats, until recently touted Dean as "just the kind of centrist, New Democratic governor" needed to reform the party (i.e., move it, in Young's turn of phrase, 'so far into the orbit of its rival as to render itself meaningless'). This is, of course, anathema to the left wing of the party, such as it is, not to mention the left in general. But far from being the man of the moment to rescue the country from this asphyxiating me-tooism, Dean is instead the very epitome of it-every bit as much as the bulk of his rivals for the nomination. By trying to portray his agenda as more "left" than it actually is, Dean is delegitimizing exactly the kind of challenge from the left that might revive anti-Bush forces. While the press is generally focused on Dean's "anger at Bush," or his willingness to "take on Bush," few delve more deeply.

Dean's faux-left image is dangerous, and, despite his supporters almost fanatic belief to the contrary, is actually a hindrance to building a coalition that will "take back America." Go ahead and be 'tough on crime' if you are deluded enough to think it can buy a few (white) votes in Texas (or worse, if you really think the problem with the greatest Prison Nation on earth is that we are somehow incarcerating too few people). Just don't pretend it's something it's not. Try to keep in mind, though, that we live in an age where the extremist cabal in Washington stole the election, in part, by exploiting the disenfranchisement of ex-felons, real and imagined, to get where they are. Scrubbing these disproportionately minority voters is a key element of stealing and keeping power in the GOP grand strategy-in Florida it alchemized a loss into a win, and casts the same, long racist shadow over much of the Old Confederacy. With more black men in prison than in college, "tough on crime" has long been establishment code for institutionalized racism.

This reminds me of the video about Noam Chomsky called "Manufacturing Consent." Chomsky argues that by having the New York Times, Dan Rather, Sam Donaldson and the like labeled as "liberal," the debate has been safely locked in a box where no outcome will be truly objectionable to the corporate powers. Progressive ideas like universal health care and cutting the defense budget are never mentioned in the mainstream media, and people who suggest such things are written off as radical whackos (or "non-viable candidates"). The technique worked like a charm with Bill Clinton. By boxing him in from the left (actually the center-right) by constantly attacking him and his wife as liberals, the right was able to get NAFTA, the WTO, welfare reform, a continued powerful military, unfettered corporate and media consolidation, and something they could never get on their own--a balanced budget. They also had the pleasure of continually picking on the guy who was doing everything they wanted and who did much to set the stage for the neocon takeover.

Dean as president would stop some of the worst excesses of the neocons, but he would do little to change the system in such a way that another neocon takeover in four or eight years wouldn't be possible.

Saturday, August 23, 2003

What the Iraq war is about, take seventeen
From the increasingly bizarre Thomas Friedman:

We are attracting all these opponents to Iraq because they understand this war is The Big One. They don't believe their own propaganda. They know this is not a war for oil. They know this is a war over ideas and values and governance. They know this war is about Western powers, helped by the U.N., coming into the heart of their world to promote more decent, open, tolerant, women-friendly, pluralistic governments by starting with Iraq — a country that contains all the main strands of the region: Shiites, Sunnis and Kurds.

Yeah, Tom--that's exactly what AWOL said in the state of the union, what Powell told the UN. Bush pushing for "pluralistic governments" in the Middle East, while doing everything possible to destroy the ones we have here (Texas and California, for example). You're a funny man, Mr. Friedman. The war IS about oil. It's about empire. It's about repression.

Friedman tries to atone for this nonsense by ripping the Bushies on their methods:

We may fail, but not because we have attracted terrorists who understand what's at stake in Iraq. We may fail because of the utter incompetence with which the Pentagon leadership has handled the postwar. (We don't even have enough translators there, let alone M.P.'s, and the media network we've set up there to talk to Iraqis is so bad we'd be better off buying ads on Al Jazeera.) We may fail because the Bush team thinks it can fight The Big One in the Middle East — while cutting taxes at home, shrinking the U.S. Army, changing the tax code to encourage Americans to buy gas-guzzling cars that make us more dependent on Mideast oil and by gratuitously alienating allies.

We may fail because to win The Big One, we need an American public, and allies, ready to pay any price and bear any burden, but we have a president unable or unwilling to summon either.

If I actually believed that the war was justified for some reason, I don't think I'd be terribly critical of the way it has been run, except for the giveaways to Halliburton, Bechtel and the like. Occupying a country like Iraq is bound to be difficult, and people will die. If the occupation were justified, I'd certainly give them the benefit of the doubt. I point out the failures of the occupation not to point out every flaw in its execution, but to call attention to the insanity that caused it to happen. The maniacs who did this must not be allowed to do it again. And Friedman is certainly believing his own propaganda if he thinks the Bushies for one minute considered bringing "pluralistic governments" to Iraq or anywhere else.

[Update] Someone else realized that not only has Friedman gone off the deep end again, but in a different spot from last time:

The "real reason" for this war, which was never stated, was that after 9/11 America needed to hit someone in the Arab-Muslim world. -- Thomas Friedman, June 4, 2003.
I'm so sick of this childish rhetoric!
From Bush's radio address:

From Afghanistan to Iraq, to the Philippines and elsewhere, we are waging a campaign against the terrorists and their allies, wherever they gather, wherever they plan, and wherever they act. This campaign requires sacrifice, determination and resolve, and we will see it through. Iraq is an essential front in this war. Now we're fighting terrorists and remnants of that regime who have everything to lose from the advance of freedom in the heart of the Middle East.

And then there's this line: We're determined, as well, not to let murderers decide the future of the Middle East. What a frigging hypocrite! A mass murderer like Bush saying crap like that.
Par for the course
As of yesterday, 22 U.S. soldiers have lost their lives in Iraq while the President vacationed.

Does Bush seem just a tad callous, or what?

It took him four hours to bring himself to speak to the nation after the Blackout began, and then he could do so only on tape. (Drunk or stupid? We report -- you decide.) After this week's bombing that killed at least 20 UN workers, Bush's keepers managed to get him off the golf course, into a suit and tie, and in front of cameras a bit faster. The keepers are learning, it seems.
-- From a great rant on the Mahablog; I couldn't find a permalink to that specific post--it's from August 21.
The cartoonist who drew this cartoon...

was fired. Go here to see the rest of the cartoons that led to his firing by a New Zealand newspaper.

Bush: On the wrong side of every dam issue!
W was out in eastern Washington state yesterday praising the many boondoggle hydroelectric dams which are killing off the salmon populations and have been messing with the ecosystem for decades since their enormously expensive construction. I highly recommend the book Cadillac Desert as a great introduction to America's ridiculous obsession with dams.

Friday, August 22, 2003

Senator Hagel's Comments
I mentioned earlier that I saw Senator Hagel talking to Wolf Blitzer on CNN. Here's an excerpt from the transcript of the show. I've highlighted the parts that I think are particularly interesting coming from a Republican senator.

BLITZER: Kofi Annan, the U.N. secretary-general, says the U.N.members, they're ready to play a greater role, they want to have more responsibilities, but they want to be involved in the decision- making process and not simply defer to the United States. What's wrong with his line of thinking?

HAGEL: Well, I don't think there's anything wrong with that line of thinking. And that is where we are trying to drive our resolution, with language acceptable to all of our friends and our partners and the United Nations.

BLITZER: But it would give up some of the control that Ambassador Bremer, for example, has right now in attempting to reconstruct Iraq, if he has to share responsibility with other members of the U.N.

HAGEL: Well, I don't think there's anything particularly wrong with that. I don't think the United States wants to be in a position -- and I think when you look at what's happened over in Iraq the last 30 days, an increase in military incidents and violence and more deaths and more injuries and more wounded, with a hundred and -- now -- what? -- 145, 000 American troops in there, an area the size of California.

We can't maintain that burden alone. There is no way the United States can sustain the number of troops that we're going to need and the financial commitment that it's going to require to secure Iraq and stabilize it.

BLITZER: So why does Defense Secretary Rumsfeld and others in the administration -- are they resisting what you clearly want together with Senator Biden and so many others?

HAGEL: Well, there's a bit of schizophrenia there as far as I'm concerned. On one hand my understanding of what Secretary Rumsfeld is saying, we are want more help. We want the French and the Germans and the Pakistanis and the Indians and others -- and the Turks -- but we don't want to put any more of our troops in. But we do need more help, we need more troops. So there's an acknowledgement on one hand in the administration that in fact we do need more help.

Well, in fact, if we do need more help, then we're going to have to find a formula that works so that these nations don't just put troops and money in and say to America, OK, you're in charge, you do whatever you want. There's a political dynamic here.

BLITZER: Bottom line, how much is it going to cost and how long are U.S. troops going to be stuck there?

HAGEL: Well, we keep asking the administration for that answer, and the administration has not given us an answer. Jerry Bremer said the other day $100 billion. The study out a few days ago said 300 to $400 billion over five years, over three years, four years. Senator Lugar has said, Senator Biden has said, I agree with, that we're probably there five years. Maybe that's four years.

But the fact is we know it's going to require hundreds of thousands of troops. It's going to require hundreds of billions of dollars. We know that.

BLITZER: It's a sobering thought. Senator Hagel, thanks very much.

HAGEL: Wolf, thank you.

So a Republican senator is saying on a popular cable news show that the administration is stonewalling, and lowballing the real amount of time and money needed to do whatever the heck we're doing in Iraq. Hundreds of thousands of troops (read "draft"). Hundreds of billions of dollars taken out of the country (read "job losses", except for the poor shmucks who get drafted).


FoxNews loses, Franken and free speech win!!!

Saying "This is an easy case," a federal judge ruled Friday against Fox News in its lawsuit asserting that a book by liberal satirist Al Franken violates its trademarked slogan, "fair and balanced."

Fox was seeking an injunction to halt distribution of "Lies and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them: A Fair and Balanced Look at the Right."

U.S. District Judge Denny Chin, after listening to about half an hour of oral arguments, said the lawsuit was "wholly without merit, both factually and legally."

Go Hagel!
Our problems come from the Republicans; it looks like our solutions may also. I just saw Sen. Chuck Hagel (R-Nebraska) interviewed by Wolf Blitzer on CNN. Hagel and Sen. Joe Biden (D-DE) just wrote a letter to Bush calling for them to pursue increased UN involvement in Iraq. Hagel was quite critical of the Bush administration and Rumsfeld in particular. He basically said they can't ask other countries to send troops to Iraq without giving them some say in how it is run.

Wolf has one of his online polls going: "Should the United States ask for international peacekeepers to help secure Iraq?" Vote! (Currently 93% yes)
Come join us in the quagmire!
We'll tell you EXACTLY what to do!

The Bushies are wondering why the rest of the world isn't jumping at this invitation.
Stop the new Patriot Act!
Ruminate This has the details. Go here to send faxes to Congress. Now!!! This is Germany 1935, with better weapons. Herr Ashcroft won't stop until you have a single right left (second amendment). In an administration filled with really creepy people (Rumsfeld, Perle, Cheney, etc.), Ashcroft is probably the creepiest.
I used to be a baseball fan...

Now I'm a blogger. The green is the Detroit Tigers--looks like Enron 2001, doesn't it? The straight line at the end is the Tigers current 9-game losing streak, aimed straight at the 1962 NY Mets all-time worst record of 120 losses. The Tigers are currently 31-95, 35 games out of first place. They're trying their best to make the Lions look good. And now, back to blogging!

A Uniter, not a Divider
Bush falsely presented ties between Iraq and Islamic terror groups like al Qaeda as a reason for the war on Iraq. Instead, those ties may be a result of the war:

Tuesday's deadly assault on the United Nations' headquarters in Baghdad and the bombing of the Jordanian Embassy earlier this month have marked the arrival of large-scale terrorist tactics in the Iraqi capital. U.S. suspicions have centered on loyalists of Saddam Hussein's government as the perpetrators of the U.N. attack, but foreign terrorists have not been ruled out, and Abizaid cited signs of growing links between the loyalists and non-Iraqi terrorists entering Iraq.

"I wouldn't say they have become allies per se, but I believe that there are some indications of cooperation in specific areas," [US General John] Abizaid said. "Of course, ideologically they are not at all compatible. But, on the other hand, you sometimes cooperate against what you consider a common enemy."

Before the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq in March, senior Bush administration officials sought to bolster their case for war by suggesting that connections existed between Hussein's government and the al Qaeda terrorist network. The CIA found no substantive links and warned instead that a war could actually end up driving Hussein's supporters and terrorist groups together -- a prediction that Abizaid's remarks yesterday suggested may be coming true.
-- Washington Post

Coalition of the Grilling

Buddy and Spot (Tony Blair and Aussie PM John Howard).

While George Worthless Bush continues to get much too much of a free ride on his gross lies and distortions which have resulted in enormous death and destruction, his allies in Britain and now Australia are in serious trouble. A couple of unintended regime changes?
How Many More?
Two more US soldiers killed, six wounded today. (Update: Possibly two captured, also.)

Body and Soul has a good rant about the mess in Iraq as it now stands: Is this going to be one tragedy after another that no one can do anything about? Bloodshed if we stay, bloodshed if we go?

Probably. One thing we can do, however, is change the regime in this country before Bush & Co. bring their unique brand of death and destruction to yet another country.
Gary Hart's got a blog
Here's his latest post:

When was the last time you heard political leaders discussing poor people or the system of poverty in America? And would that silence have anything to do with the fact that poor people don’t vote—let alone contribute money? The last national candidate to link the fate of blue and pink collar working people with the plight of the poor was Robert Kennedy, and he is remembered as both a tough politician and saintly hero for doing so.
The subject comes to mind when “leaders” say: “I’m a fiscal conservative but a social liberal.” The only way that shibboleth makes any sense at all is if you define “social” as abortion, gun control, and prayer in schools. But we used to define “social” as the problems of our society—poverty, hunger, illiteracy, homelessness, joblessness, the lonely aged, and on and on. If you use the word “social” in this sense, the sense in which it traditionally is used, you cannot be “a fiscal conservative and a social liberal” for the very obvious reason that it costs some money to help those in need.
The political spectrum is pretty well defined by the orthodox Right on one end and “centrist” Democrats on the other. “Centrists” are particularly fond of the “fiscal conservative but social liberal” formula because it conveniently permits you to work both sides of the street without defining what you are for beyond “work, family, and responsibility.” (I’m still looking for someone against those things.)
So what does it say about early 21st century America when the boom of the 1990s created great wealth, the tax cuts of the 1980s and early 21st century concentrate more wealth at the top, the middle class is stagnant in terms of real wages and incomes, and 20% of America’s children are in or very near poverty? Makes you proud of your country, doesn’t it?
Since most of the Democratic Congressional candidates for president voted for the Iraq war, I guess no one will ask the obvious question: How many of our fellow Americans could we have helped with the $200 to $400 billion Iraq will cost us? How much better a country could we have been? Most importantly, What is it about the Iraqi people that makes them so much more deserving of help than poor Americans? Why are conservatives eager to rebuild Iraq and not to rebuild America?
This is not an isolationist point of view. This is not a “liberal” point of view. This is a common sense point of view.
I sure would like to hear Robert Kennedy on this issue.

(Great post, Gary, but you could have mentioned which candidates voted which way: Lieberman, Edwards, Kerry and Gephardt for the war, Kucinich and Graham against. And both Kucinich and Graham are asking the obvious question. (Graham's quote. ))

Heil Be Back?

From Polizeros.

Actually, from what I've read Arnold doesn't seem to be a fascist. A sexist pig, to be sure, but not a Nazi. I suspect that pretty soon he'll realize the following:
  • He's got a much better job now,
  • He's getting even more unwanted attention as a candidate than as an actor, and
  • his state would be a lot better off if he just made a movie about an Austrian body-builder being governor than if it actually happened for real.

From Steve Sack.
Go WaPo!
"WaPo" being blogger shorthand for "The Washington Post." WaPo has a nice long article today about how "national security" may not be a selling point for Bush in 2004, and he may have to fall back on campaigning on huge deficits, high unemployment, and environmental destruction.

Both Republican and Democratic strategists have begun adjusting their plans for what they once viewed as unthinkable: that Bush's handling of national security in general, and the war in Iraq in particular, could become a vulnerability rather than an asset in his reelection race.

Even the Democrat with probably the pinkest of tutus (BartCop calls wimpy Dems "pink tutu Democrats") is starting to get it:

In one of the new Democratic charges, Sen. Joseph R. Biden Jr. (Del.), ranking minority member on the Foreign Relations Committee, said the images from Iraq are making it ever plainer to the public that Bush's plan for a more peaceful world "has clearly not occurred." On the contrary, he said, "the world is more apprehensive about our leadership."

Of course, the only thing to fear is fear itself--the thing that gave Bush the high approval ratings in the first place. Some Republicans recognize this:

"We should not try to convince people that things are getting better," said former Reagan official Kenneth Adelman, who is close to several Bush officials. "Rather, we should convince people that ours is the age of terrorism."

The Prince of Darkness chimes in:

Foreign policy expert Richard N. Perle, who has close ties to the administration, recommended that Bush caution Americans about the lengthy commitment. "It may be a very long time before we've so substantially eliminated the source of terror that we can pronounce that we are safe," he said.

Unfortunately, the Post nearly undoes the whole article with this whopper:

Of course, a failed foreign policy would undo Bush as surely as it did President Jimmy Carter during the Iranian hostage crisis, one adviser said. But Bush is a long way from that -- and his allies still believe that Democrats challenge his foreign policy performance at their peril.

Bush is a long way PAST Carter in the failed foreign policy department. Without looking it up, I think the Iranian hostage crisis cost about ten American lives: one or two killed when the embassy was taken over and eight soldiers who died in the botched rescue effort. Other than that, all of the hostages eventually returned home safely. (They might have returned sooner if not for some alleged intervention by the Reagan-Bush Sr. campaign to keep the hostages in Iran until after the election.) Carter also brought peace between Israel and Egypt. Double-digit inflation and interest rates combined with his own excessive obsession with the hostages were what brought Carter down.

W, on the other hand, has started two wars which have killed over 300 Americans and thousands of others. He has backed out of numerous important treaties, and has made the US despised and distrusted throughout the world. THAT's what a "failed foreign policy" really looks like.
It took awhile, but here's a photo of me protesting Ashcroft in Detroit yesterday:

Thursday, August 21, 2003

Chemical Ali Captured...
...after having been killed four months ago.
Poll Shows Support for Bush Slipping
52% Approval rating. It still boggles my mind that ANYONE supports the lame-brain liar.
Protesting Ashcroft
I was in Detroit this morning outside Cobo Hall, where Ashcrotch was defending his horrible Patriot Act and trying to sell his even worse Victory Act to cops. There were over 50 protesters there--it was a weekday morning and we had short notice. I took some pictures, but won't be able to post them until later.

Wednesday, August 20, 2003

Quote of the Week:
Liberal policies made America the freest, wealthiest, most successful and most powerful nation in human history. Conservatism in power always threatens to undo that national progress, and is almost always frustrated by the innate decency and democratic instincts of the American people...If your workplace is safe; if your children go to school rather than being forced into labor; if you are paid a living wage, including overtime; if you enjoy a 40-hour week and you are allowed to join a union to protect your rights -- you can thank liberals. If your food is not poisoned and your water is drinkable -- you can thank liberals. If your parents are eligible for Medicare and Social Security, so they can grow old in dignity without bankrupting your family -- you can thank liberals. If our rivers are getting cleaner and our air isn't black with pollution; if our wilderness is protected and our countryside is still green -- you can thank liberals. If people of all races can share the same public facilities; if everyone has the right to vote; if couples fall in love and marry regardless of race; if we have finally begun to transcend a segregated society -- you can thank liberals. Progressive innovations like those and so many others were achieved by long, difficult struggles against entrenched power. What defined conservatism, and conservatives, was their opposition to every one of those advances. The country we know and love today was built by those victories for liberalism -- with the support of the American people. -- Joe Conason
Quote du Jour
Bush and Rumsfeld care for soldiers like Tyson Foods cares for chickens. -- Stan Goff, 26-year Army veteran and member of Veterans for Peace, quoted in Stars and Stripes, the military's newspaper. The article describes the "Bring Them Home Now" campaign that VFP and Military Families Speak Out have started.


Republicans Continue the War on Democracy
According to the Washington Post, Republicans in Ohio are considering following the Texas lead by trying to re-re-district a few more Democrats out of the US House of Representatives. Let me be the first to offer my spare bedroom to any Ohio Democratic state legislator who needs to leave the state to break quorum.

Seriously, this is a very serious threat to what is left of our democracy. It's starting to remind me of playing Monopoly with my brother when I was a kid. If he got the first monopoly, he'd stack it with houses, and pretty soon his small advantage turned into a larger one, and after that I'd just suffer through another half hour of mortgaging my properties and trying to quit. The Republicans are doing everything possible to make any temporary advantage they have permanent, through redistricting, recalls, and right-wing judges.

To me, the best answer to the redistricting fiascos is to do away with congressional districts entirely. Michigan has fifteen seats in the House--let's use some form of preferential voting to vote for all of them statewide. Maybe each voter gets five equally-weighted votes, or gets to cast weighted votes from 15 down to 1. Top 15 vote getters are our congressional delegation. It would destroy the two-party system. Good riddance.

Tuesday, August 19, 2003

Them Again?
CNN offers up some experts who say that Iraq has become a "magnet" for al Qaeda and other terrorists. And guess where they say most of them are coming from?

In the past two months, about 3,000 Saudis have gone to fight coalition troops in Iraq, said Dr. Saad al-Faqih, a leading Saudi dissident based in London who has long been a reliable source of information about al Qaeda.

Still, when the Bushies complain about "foreigners" messing around with Iraq's wonderful reconstruction, they focus on Syria and Iran. But as for nations that were responsible for 9/11 and funding and staffing al Qaeda, it certainly appears that Saudi Arabia was clearly most involved. Afghanistan may have harbored OBL and some of his cronies for a few years, probably without a lot of choice, but the Taliban's contribution to 9/11 appears to have been small compared to that of the Saudi government. Iraq had nothing at all to do with it; they're just paying the price.

The key, of course, is the long-time connections between the Bush family and the Saudis. Bush Sr., Neil, W--they've all got Saudi oil under their fingernails.
No Thanks!
President Bush's campaign will unveil a Web site today that allows proprietors of online journals -- Blogs or Web logs -- to "get the latest campaign headlines and inside scoop posted instantly to your site through a live news feed from!" -- Washington Post
Lame-brain reacts to the bombing of UN HQ in Baghdad.

I'm not going to post any quotes--I might never be able to get the stains out.


US dead from Iraq war. Plus 45 Brits. Thousands of Iraqis. (from Reuters)

Plus thousands of wounded.
Ashcroft: A Plague On America
Helen Thomas rants about Ashcrotch's push for longer prison sentences.
New TV Show
One of my favorite TV shows is "Whose Line is it Anyway?" starring Drew Carey, Wayne Brady, Colin Mochrie and Ryan Styles. They do great improv comedy, especially Colin. Which leads us to another Colin, and an idea for a spin-off show:

Whose Oil Is It Anyway!

Good evening everyone! Welcome to “Whose Oil Is It Anyway!”

On tonight’s show: “Absence of evidence isn’t evidence of absence,” Donald Rumsfeld!
“No one could have predicted they’d fly planes into buildings,” Condi Rice!
“A convenient reason we could all agree upon,” Paul Wolfowitz!
And “No comment,” Dick Cheney!

My name is Colin Powell—come on down, let’s have some war!

Welcome to “Whose Oil Is It Anyway!”, the show where the evidence is made up and the deaths don’t matter. That’s right, the deaths are just like the United Nations—they just don’t matter. (Laughter)

(I carried this silliness even further here)
Truck Bomb hits Hotel housing UN in Baghdad
From CNN.

Bremer, Bush and the rest can try to blame "remnants of Saddam's regime" all they want, but the blame for turning Baghdad into Beirut East lies squarely with them. Bush chose to lie about the evidence and start the war--war was not "forced upon us" as he liked to claim beforehand.

[Update] A comment on Atrios:

On Fox News they're covering the blast and the reporter (dont know her name) had the balls to say this, "While we don't know who is the cause of this, as no one has claimed responsibility yet, this kind of attack must be carefully coordinated. Could this be part of some pre-war agreement between Saddam Hussein and Usama bin Laden?"

Fox News inhabits a different reality from that of intelligent people.
Bush Continues to Lie, People Continue to Die
At least the Washington Post is paying attention:

Asked about U.S. force presence in Afghanistan, Bush said the U.S. presence is being "gradually replaced" by other troops.

"We've got about 10,000 troops there, which is down from, obviously, major combat operations," he said. "And they're there to provide security and they're there to provide reconstruction help. But both those functions are being gradually replaced by other troops. Germany, for example, is now providing the troops for ISAF [International Security Assistance Force], which is the security force for Afghanistan, under NATO control. In other words, more and more coalition forces and friends are beginning to carry a lot of the burden in Afghanistan."

In fact, the 10,000 troops in Afghanistan represent the highest number of U.S. soldiers in the country since the war there began. By the time the Taliban government had been vanquished in December 2001, U.S. troops numbered fewer than 3,000 in Afghanistan. And three months later, in March 2002, when the last major battle against remnants of the Taliban and al Qaeda took place in eastern Afghanistan, about 5,000 U.S. troops were in the country.

Obviously, DimBulb, you don't know what you're talking about.
Bush's Poodle in Trouble
Prime Minister Tony Blair's chief of staff warned that the British intelligence dossier used to justify war against Iraq failed to provide evidence that President Saddam Hussein posed a military threat, a government inquiry was told today. -- Washington Post (page 12, of course)

While our sleazy president and complicit Congress vacation and accept bribes, Britain's parliament is sticking Blair's nose in the huge booboo he left on the carpet.
How to Prepare for a Blackout:
First, bribe the president. Repeat as needed.

Executives of FirstEnergy Corp., currently the prime suspect in the blackout of 2003, have been major contributors to smirky's campaigns, including a $600,000 fundraiser in late June.

Monday, August 18, 2003

In claiming trademark violation, Fox sets a noble example for standing firm against whatever. -- Paul Newman
Bush Lies, People Die
Just trying to get back on focus here...

Neither Arnold, nor Kobe, nor gloom of blackout
Shall keep us from our appointed task...

Of getting Bush and his neo-conmen out of office!
Bush Outsources Fundraising Jobs
The Republican Party has hired HCL eServe of INDIA to do telephone fund raising.

Why do they hate America?
Latin America Update
Fidel Castro gave a speech in Paraguay, and Venezuela's Hugo Chavez did his weekly talk show from Buenos Aires, Argentina.

Meanwhile, there have been attacks on villages, sabotage on oil wells, and kidnappings in Colombia, as usual.
"War on Terror" "progresses" through arrests
It doesn't really matter who gets arrested:

Over the past nearly two years, approximately 10,000 people, invariably branded as al-Qaeda suspects, have been rounded up all over the world in the name of the "war on terror". The most high profile of these are being held at the US base at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba.
Clearly, it is in the interests of the world's intelligence communities to talk up their captures, although some of the descriptions of detainees could have come right out of 1,001 Arabian Nights.

Asia Times Online spoke to a Pakistani field official associated with an intelligence agency who has personally handled the arrest of 10 Arabs in Karachi. "I will tell you the modus operandi. For instance, once the FBI [US Federal Bureau of Investigation] gives us a mobile number we track conversations, during which we learn the whereabouts of the callers. Then eventually we make a raid. That's how we arrested the first alleged al-Qaeda operator in Karachi, whose last name was Alavi. He was arrested from the posh district of Clifton, Karachi. At the time of the raid he was sleeping, and when we arrested him he did not have a weapon."

The officer claims that in most cases the people they were pointed to by the FBI had simply fled from Afghanistan en route to their home countries, but they were arrested and branded as dangerous al-Qaeda operators set on making Pakistan their "playing field for terror".
-- Asia Times
Congressman Tells Off Greenspan:
But today you have reached a new low, I think, by suggesting that manufacturing in America doesn't matter. It doesn't matter where the product is produced. We've lost 2 million manufacturing jobs in the last two years alone; 10 percent of our workforce. Wal-Mart has replaced General Motors as the major employer in America, paying people starvation wages rather than living wages, and all of that does not matter to you - doesn't matter.

"If it's produced in China where workers are making 30 cents an hour, or produced in Vermont where workers can make 20 bucks an hour, it doesn't matter. You have told the American people that you support a trade policy which is selling them out, only working for the CEOs who can take our plants to China, Mexico and India.
-- Representative Bernard Sanders (Independent, VT), quoted by Henry C K Liu in an very long article in the Asia Times which provides a lot of clues to what's really going on.

Thanks to Mary in Fort Worth for sending the article. I wish I understood economics better so that I could explain the article better! Here's another choice quote:

Neo-imperialism works by making the world's poor finance the high living of the world's rich. It transcends the Marxist notion of class struggle and surplus value. In neo-liberal globalization, not just labor but even capital comes from the exploited.
Quote du Jour
The suspicion that the blackout was a karma payoff for the failure to restore electrical service in Iraq may have a more than metaphorical truth to it. Occupied Iraq begins to look like a blueprint for the future of occupied North America under the auspices of "Neo-con Edison" and faith-based transmission systems. From the Sandwichman on Maxspeak.


From a comment on Atrios:
Am I the only foreigner who has a hard time understanding what a leader of a nation is doing going around fundraising while he should be working? If the Danish PM did that, he would be kicked out of office so fast that he wouldn't have time to make excuses.
The Power Companies Screwed Up--And YOU'RE Gonna Pay!
Ratepayers, obviously, will pay the bill because they're the ones who benefit. -- Secretary for Promoting to Interests of Sleazy Energy Companies Spencer Abraham, on Face the Nation yesterday. Liberal Oasis does a good job of analyzing Abraham's comments on the various talk shows, as well as those of former energy secretary Bill Richardson.

Sunday, August 17, 2003

IraQuagmire Continues
Two oil pipelines and a water pipeline damaged. Six Iraqis, a Danish soldier and a Reuters cameraman dead. Two more US soldiers wounded.

Why are they there? Oh right--all those LIES Bush told.
Kucinich on the blackout
DK rips FirstEnergy and the whole utility deregulation scam.
Quote du Jour
We applaud tax relief for the poor. You'll find most Alabamians have got a charitable heart; they want to do that. They just don't want it coming out of their pocket. -- Christian Coalition of Alabama President John Giles, quoted in today's Washington Post.

Long-time blog readers (thanks to both of you!) know that I pay a little more attention to Alabama than I do to most of the red states. I lived in Montgomery for 7 1/2 years. So when the Army decides to burn chemical weapons in Anniston, or Montgomery brags about giving Hyundai a $126 million bribe to locate a factory there, I pay attention.

Right now the big story in Alabama is a statewide referendum to change the state's extremely regressive tax code. I'll let Republican Party Chairman Marty Connors explain:

We've got a conservative, evangelical Christian, Republican governor trying to get a massive turnout of black voters to pass a tax increase so he can raise taxes on Republican constituents.

You see, somewhere along the line Governor Bob Riley decided that being a Christian, in the good sense of the word, was more important than being a Republican. He observed that the tax code was asking more from those who had little, relatively speaking, than from those with much.

The plan would raise the tax threshold from $4,600 to $20,000 for a family of four, and raise the exemption per child from $300 to $2,200, which Riley says would cut or leave income taxes unchanged for two-thirds of the state's taxpayers. The top third of earners would pay more, as would corporations and large land and timber holders. Alabama's lowest-in-the-nation property taxes would rise on average to $490 a year on a $100,000 home (a $136 increase) and to $1,540 on a $250,000 home (a $536 increase), according to the governor's figures.

Amazingly, Republicans may end up leading the way to the "kinder, gentler nation" that Bush Sr. pretended to want. Illinois' Republican Governor George Ryan may have done more than anyone else towards the eventual elimination of the death penalty in this country when he commuted all death row sentences to life imprisonment last January. Alabama's Riley is hopefully striking a key blow for progressive taxation, as well as showing people that being Republican and being Christian are completely different things. And as for getting the neocon fanatics out of the White House, I have at least as much faith in Republicans like John McCain, Richard Lugar, Olympia Snowe and Richard Shelby as I do in Democrats like Tom Daschle, Joe Biden, Diane Feinstein, or Hillary Clinton.


Another Big Terrorist Attack Likely
According to a report from a London-based research company. Only Colombia, Israel and Pakistan are ranked as being more at risk than the US.

"Another Sept. 11-style terrorist attack in the United States is highly likely," the report states. "Networks of militant Islamist groups are less extensive in the U.S. than they are in Western Europe, but U.S.-led military action in Afghanistan and Iraq has exacerbated anti-U.S. sentiment."

Aghanistan ranked seventh, Iraq ninth: "Iraq was actually in the bottom 10 before the war," Mr. Dunn said. "But now with a political vacuum existing, and heavily armed factions, the climate is ripe for terrorism."
Britain is ranked 10th, the highest of any European country. "Motivation for such an attack among Islamic extremist groups is very high owing to the U.K.'s close alliance with the U.S.," the analysts wrote, "while sophisticated militant networks are known to be present within the country."

In 186th place, is North Korea. "Despite being a member of the so-called Axis of Evil," Mr. Dunn said, "North Korea's repressive state has basically made it impossible for terrorists to function."

So, to summarize the "war on terror" so far: The two countries spearheading the insanity now rank in the top ten as far as risk of terrorist attack is concerned. So do the two countries which have been attacked supposedly as part of the "war on terror." The top three countries are all major military clients of the US. The only possible sense that can be made out of the "war on terror" so far is that it is an attempt to turn the entire world into North Korea: repressive and nuclear.

Time to replay one of my rants from July, 2002:

Okay, let's look at the numbers:

World Trade Center attack: about 2800 people killed.
Pentagon: About 190 killed.
Anthrax attacks: 5 people killed.
American Airlines 587, November 2001: 270 killed (government says it probably wasn't terrorism, but who knows?)
July 4 shootout at LAX: 3 killed (government claims it wasn't terrorism either, but that certainly begs the question they refuse to answer: What is terrorism, anyway?).
Total deaths in US from terrorism in last year: about 3,300 [that's July 2001 to July 2002].

Total deaths in US from gun violence (homicides, suicides, accidents) in 2001: over 30,000.

Total deaths in US from auto accidents in 2001: 41,730.

The response: Tens of billions of additional dollars for the military for the "War on Terrorism," restrictions on many of our civil liberties, with the notable exception of our gun rights, and official government encouragement to buy cars to keep America rolling. We can debate whether the response to 9/11 was due to the emotional and spectacular nature of the attacks, the fact that foreigners were more to blame than Americans, or whether it was cynical opportunism on the part of the Bushies to do what they wanted to do all along (my guess). What seems beyond debate to me, however, is that the response is completely out of proportion to the real threat to America from terrorism when compared to the other, more mundane threats that we live with (or die with) all of the time. The "War on Terrorism" is political grandstanding of the worst and most criminal type. Well, maybe not quite the worst. There was a provocation, and Osama was apparently in Afghanistan at some point, so maybe there was the slightest excuse for pulverizing that poor country one more time if you were willing to ignore the less violent and probably more successful approaches available.
(Bob's Links and Rants, July 14, 2002)

And, as I've said before, a nice hefty gasoline tax ($5 to $10 a gallon) would solve a whole lot of problems. No need to steal anyone else's oil--the oil still in this country would be worth pumping again. Much more incentive for mass transit, reduced sprawl, and hence less traffic and less traffic accidents. Correct for decades of the government keeping gasoline prices artificially low by making them artificially high.

Saturday, August 16, 2003

Bush may have told the truth!

Yesterday, discussing the blackout from his closeup vantage point in California, the Liar in Chief made this statement:
“We’ll have time to look at it and determine whether or not our grid needs to be modernized. I happen to think it does, and have said so all along.” — George Bush, 8/14/03

Lambert, writing on Atrios' blog, claims that Bush was lying, because the Republican-controlled House rejected a Democratic bill to update the power grid. Now while this was probably with the full approval of the White House, and passage of the bill might have helped avoid the blackout, it doesn't mean W was lying--this time. In fact, while searching for just the opposite, I found confirmation for his claim on the White House web site:

Bush, May 29, 2001: We have other initiatives, as well. Our nation needs to modernize its networks for moving energy from the power plant to the outlet on the wall. Again, you in California know that well. For almost 20 years, it's been clear that what's called "Path 15," the stretch of transmission line connecting the power grids of Northern and Southern California, needed to be expanded and modernized. And now we're taking action to get the job done.

Energy Secretary Spence Abraham is speeding approval of the necessary permits and easements. We're going to unplug the Path 15 bottleneck. We're dancing toward an interstate electric grid to match our interstate highways and interstate phone systems.

Dick Cheney, June 13, 2001: One of the concerns, obviously, is the aging power grid and the growing problem that we have in getting electricity from the power plant to the light switch. It's clear that we must upgrade and expand the power grid. If we put more connections in place, we'll go a long way towards avoiding future blackouts.

Of course, the Bush-Cheney version of modernizing the grid includes more nuclear power plants, drilling in the ANWR, and lots of other evil things. But when Bush said that he had called for modernizing the grid all along, it appears he was telling the truth. (Is there nothing you can count on anymore?)

Just trying to be FAIR AND BALANCED here.
Fresno: The anti-Ann Arbor?
"If I had one dirty bomb and I could eliminate all the liberals in Fresno at once." -- Fresno, CA city council member Jerry Duncan.

Not only is this bozo not an "enemy combatant," nor is he in jail pending trial, he's still on city council.
What's Behind the California Recall?
What seems to be occurring is that the rightwing forces controlling the Republican Party want TOTAL victory, and not just for the upcoming 2004 election. They want to control the direction of the United States, both foreign and domestic, for the foreseeable future, for decades to come. -- from Common Dreams.

From Rick McKee.

From Kevin Siers.

From Doonesbury.
Don't Trust Him AT ALL
The blackout of 2003 underscored the urgency of the task, administration officials said. "This particular incident has made it abundantly clear to the American people that we've got an antiquated system, and now we've got to figure out what went wrong and how to address it," President Bush said in Thousand Oaks, Calif. -- Washington Post.

Before anyone really knows what happened, W, from his thorough inspection of the Northeast power grid that he's making while campaigning in California, states that it is "abundantly clear" what the problem is.

At best, as with 9/11, this means that Bush is a cheap opportunist willing to find backing for his evil agenda in any tragedy. At worst, it means he and his neocon sidekicks allow or even plan these things to happen to further that agenda. In this case, the agenda is the awful energy plan he and Cheney have been trying to get passed for two years. With 9/11 it was the "Project for a New American Century."

Friday, August 15, 2003

Boarding Schools for Native Americans
One of many sad parts of the long legacy of the mistreatment (much too mild a word) of Native Americans over the centuries is described by Amnesty International.

U.S. and Canadian authorities took Native children from their homes and tried to school, and sometimes beat, the Indian out them. Now Native Americans are fighting the theft of language, of culture, and of childhood itself. (whole article)
If war is forced upon us

"If war is forced upon us, we will fight in a just cause and by just means, sparing, in every way we can, the innocent. And if war is forced upon us, we will fight with the full force and might of the United States military, and we will prevail." (W, SOTU, January 28)

"If war is forced upon us — and I say 'forced upon us' because use of the military is not my first choice — I hug the mothers and the widows of those who may have lost their life in the name of peace and freedom." (W, February 10)

"If war is forced upon us, we will liberate the people of Iraq from a cruel and violent dictator." (W, February 20)

"If war is forced upon us by Iraq's refusal to disarm, we will meet an enemy who ... is capable of any crime." (W, February 26)


There is no reason to presume that Bush was more deceptive and manipulative on the war on Iraq than he is on the war on terrorism or other subjects. Whether Bush and his appointees will be held personally liable for their falsehoods is a grave test for American democracy.
From a fine op-ed piece in USA Today.

Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld told the Senate Armed Services Committee on Wednesday: "The coalition did not act in Iraq because we had discovered dramatic new evidence of Iraq's pursuit" of weapons of mass destruction. "We acted because we saw the evidence in a dramatic new light - through the prism of our experience on [September ] 11." -- Asia Times, July 12.

Somebody please make Bush and Rumsfeld try to connect the dots here! If there was no new evidence, and clearly there wasn't, how was "war forced upon us?" By Saddam's provocatively allowing UN inspectors to roam freely throughout his country? By destroying missiles when they requested it?

War was not forced on us in any way, shape, or form by Iraq. It was forced on us by the Bush administration, a compliant congress, a toadying media, and millions of Americans too ignorant, stupid and mean to care.

From BartCop.
The power's back on...
And now we're getting thunderstorms! Maybe I'd better shut down...
The Unelectability Myth
Twelve-year-old Natasha H takes dead aim at the stupid "unelectable" argument.

Currently, the candidate most often being hit with this word is Dennis Kucinich. Who is Dennis and why are other Democratic candidates trying to label him as "unelectable?" Dennis Kucinich is a progressive within Congress who has a history of defeating Republican incumbents in 50-50 districts. He regularly gets elected by super-majorities, such as the 74% he received in his last re-election. He was formerly the youngest mayor of Cleveland. He stood up against an Enron-type takeover of Cleveland's city-owned power company and was later honored and acknowledged for saving Cleveland's residents hundreds of millions of dollars. So why do his opponents call him "unelectable?" Most Californians probably wish he were their governor.

Perhaps it's what he stands for. He is for honesty in government. He is for peace internationally and domestically, within the cities and homes of America. He is for freedom and the values for which our forefathers fought. He wants to bring jobs back to America. He wants to protect the environment. He wants to ensure that workers receive a living wage so that, when they work, they can afford to live. He is for quality universal health care, as opposed to health care in name only. He is opposed to wasting education and health care funds on missile systems that don't even work. He is opposed to treaties that harm our environment and encourage transferring American jobs to foreign child slave laborers. If you ask most Americans, most would agree with these positions. If most Americans would agree with these positions, they are not out of the mainstream. Sorry Dennis, you're not a leftist. You're a centrist.

[Update--just a thought] It's a shame Rush Limbaugh has a vote and Natasha doesn't!
Maybe I'm jumping to conclusions...
...but isn't W jumping to conclusions?

Bush, taking questions from reporters while visiting the Santa Monica Mountains north of Los Angeles, described the delivery system as "old and antiquated...This is an indication that we need to modernize the electricity grid."

Bush said he did not yet know the cause of the blackout, but said one thing he "can say for certain" is that it was not a result of terrorism.
-- CNN

So--we don't know what it was, but we know for certain what it wasn't, and we know what to do about it. No need to actually find out what happened. Rings about 911 bells, doesn't it? (As does Bush's being as far away from the problem as possible.) The "modernize the electricity grid" line sure sounds like he's ready to jump in with a pre-prepared agenda which probably involves relaxing environmental regulations and other evil things.
Power's Back!
My power just came on about 10 minutes ago--12:30 PM EDT. Since my only information source has been AM radio, I'm pretty clueless about what's going on right now. I'll browse around and get back to you!

Thursday, August 14, 2003

Why Support Kucinich?
Daniel P. Welch has answers!

As far as "not having a chance," the Kucinich campaign offers this analysis (from an e-mail I received):

Columnist Mark Shields made a crucial point in a recent essay when he wrote that "Democrats nominate dark horses, not front-runners...Only twice in the last 44 years has the Democratic nominee for President emerged in the year before the election as the clear front-runner in the Gallup Poll." For example: McGovern ended 1971 at 5%; Carter did not register in any of the four 1975 polls. Clinton was polling at only 6% as late as October of 1991.
Howard Dean, the Liberal's Conservative
If elected, Dean says, he plans "to do what Clinton did in 1993. We need to make a genuine effort to start to balance the budget to restore investor confidence. The second thing I would do is to support the small-business community." Some leftie! Like Clinton, he'll clean up the Republican deficit, making it impossible to fund Democratic social programs. He's pro-defense and pro-business. He's committed to the environment but he'll likely disappoint liberals on health care, taxes and trade. -- from Ted Rall. (Rall's whole article is worth reading, as is his previous one, as background for this particular rant.)

What do we want?
Investor Confidence!
When do we want it?

There's a rallying cry for liberals everywhere. :-s (That's my attempt at a "sarcasticon.")

The 2004 election should be a fantastic opportunity to bring about real change in the way the country is run. After September 11, W's speeches and policies frightened and angered me so much that I started learning as much as I could about how the US really works. The sleazy campaign financing, the corporate control, the so-called liberal media, the enormous military-industrial complex. What I found out turned me into the progressive blogger you read today. As the war drags on and the economy continues to tank, I think a lot more people will realize that a lot of things are terribly wrong. Unfortunately, most will probably not have the time or the desire to investigate the issues to the extent that I have (and I still have plenty to learn).

This is where the campaign should come in. The campaign could expose all of this to the American public. But if Dean is the Democratic candidate, he will probably blame the mess entirely on Bush's lies about Iraq and maybe the tax cuts. It seems pretty clear already that he will not address the things I mentioned above which made it possible for Bush to be selected and for him to sell his tax cuts and wars. He will not open the eyes of millions to the fundamental flaws in our system. As Bush crashes, we need someone pointing out that he and his policies are the result of systematic failure, not just the deceit and incompetence of one extremely flawed man. We need someone who will ask not just "are you better off than you were four years ago?" but "are you better off than you were eleven years ago, before NAFTA moved your (good) job to Mexico?" We need someone who will ask "why should health care be tied to employment? Aren't you most at risk of being unable to pay doctor or prescription bills when you are unemployed?" These are the questions that should be asked, for which the current answers are the wrong answers. These are the questions that will motivate previous non-voters to vote. These are the questions that will make this a better country. We need a Democratic candidate who asks these questions, and makes it clear that there are alternatives to privately-funded elections, to pro-corporate bias, to media consolidation, to inadequate, incomplete health coverage. Not only will having such a candidate bring these issues into play, I think he will have a better chance of beating Bush for doing so.

You know who that candidate is. It certainly is not Howard Dean.

Dean-niks are welcome to reply: Tell me there's some reason you're on Dean's bandwagon besides its size. (Being against the Iraq war isn't enough--there are four other candidates who opposed the war.)
Bush Blows Off UN Again
The Bush administration has abandoned the idea of giving the United Nations more of a role in the occupation of Iraq as sought by France, India and other countries as a condition for their participation in peacekeeping there, administration officials said today.

Instead, the officials said, the United States would widen its effort to enlist other countries to assist the occupation forces in Iraq, which are dominated by the 139,000 United States troops there.

In addition to American forces in Iraq, there are 21,000 troops representing 18 countries. At present, 11,000 of that number are from Britain. The United States plans to seek larger numbers to help, especially with relief supplies that are coming from another dozen countries.

Administration officials said that in spite of the difficult security situation in Iraq, there was a consensus in the administration that it would be better to work with these countries than to involve the United Nations or countries that opposed the war and are now eager to exercise influence in a postwar Iraq.
-- NY Times.

That oil is ours! We stole it fair and square! (Or is that "fair and balanced?")

The hypocrisy is mind-boggling, at least for those of us who have minds. Bush justified defying the UN charter by claiming, largely falsely, that Iraq was in violation of UN resolutions. After conducting a brutal war and occupation, he'd rather have US troops continue to bear the brunt of the hatred, with no end in sight, than to bring in the UN, which would offer at least some hope of a resolution.

Wednesday, August 13, 2003

Fair and Balanced
What did you do Saturday?

Well, I went to the fair and balanced my checkbook. You?

I went to the ballgame. The batter hit the ball down the third base line. It landed just fair and balanced on the railing. A lovely woman picked it up; her hair was fair and balanced atop her beautiful head. I went to talk to her. We had an affair and balanced spoons on our noses.

You win.

So sue me!

By the way, Al Franken's book, Lies and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them: A Fair and Balanced Look at the Right, is now number one on Amazon's bestseller list! Thanks to FoxNews for focusing attention on the book through their frivolous lawsuit about Franken's use of the "Fair and Balanced" catchphrase which FoxNews has used fraudulently for seven years. (In case you were wondering what the first part of the post was all about.)
Doctors Call for Universal Health Care!
Let the US join the civilized world! Health care for all! And we've got just the presidential candidate to do that!

And the Kucinich campaign has just put out an article comparing the real progressive, Kucinich, with the phony liberals Kerry, Gephardt and Dean.
Deja Vu All Over Again
We did not win the hearts and minds of the Vietnamese people because we occupied their country while we burned down their homes and killed them and brutalized and abused them.

We will not win the hearts and minds of the Iraqi people by wrecking their towns and cities, destroying their homes, terrorizing their families and humiliating their men. Incredibly, we have again become an occupying army, out of touch with the realities of the lives and culture of the people we are there to save. Not surprisingly, the Iraqi people are striking back.
-- From an article on Common Dreams by James L. Larocca.
Dueling Headlines
US Forces Bring Peace and Stability to Afghanistan -- US Central Command, August 9.

At Least 61 Killed as Afghan Violence Erupts -- Reuters, today.
Army Concludes: "We're Innocent"
Big surprise there. The April 8 attack killed three journalists, and other journalists said that there was no Iraqi military activity in the building at the time. But the "victors" get to write the history:

The investigation of the incident at the Palestine Hotel, Baghdad, Iraq on April 8th, 2003 is complete. The investigation was directed by the Land Component Commander, U.S. Central Command, and concludes that a tank from A Company, 4-64 Armor properly fired upon a suspected enemy hunter/killer team in a proportionate and justifiably measured response. The action was fully in accordance with the Rules of Engagement. -- from the US Central Command.
Another Reason to Stay Awake...
If you're a soldier stuck in Iraq: Three soldiers have died in their sleep in the past four days. Daily Kos has the details.
Another Day, Another Dead GI--or two, or three?

A U.S. soldier was killed and another was wounded when their convoy hit a roadside bomb 15 miles south of Saddam Hussein's hometown of Tikrit on Wednesday, the military reported. -- NY Times.

The Times continues to downplay the death toll among US troops, which is now over 260 since the war began. You wouldn't know that from the Times, however:

The death brought to 59 the number of U.S. troops killed in action since May 1, when President Bush declared major combat over.

So those who died before May 1 no longer count. Neither do those who die in "accidents" which are frequently caused by driving too fast while attempting to avoid snipers and RPGs. Neither do those who die of illness, or suicide. The Times report mentions in the last paragraph of the article:

Another American soldier was found dead in his bunk Tuesday morning at a base in Ramadi. In Mosul, in the far north of the country, the U.S. military reported a soldier died when his Humvee collided with a taxi.

So three soldiers, at least, have died in the last 24 hours, but the headline simply says G.I. Killed in Iraq Bombing. The two Israelis killed in the recent suicide bombings got more attention from the Times. They need to treat every soldier's death like they were 9/11 victims, or Princess Di, or Bob Hope. Front-page obituaries. Bush lies, soldiers die. That should be front-page news.

Tuesday, August 12, 2003

Slanted Surveys
I just received two opinion surveys in the mail: one from the Democratic National Committee, the other from the Howard Dean campaign. Both are sleazy attempts to elicit the desired response supporting a particular agenda; neither one offers me the answers that I'd like to give.

For example, this question from Dean:

Health Care Policy should:
  • Remain unchanged.
  • Not be considered a guarantee for any group in the country.
  • Be developed to guarantee coverage for all age groups, through a mixture of private and public funding.
  • Unsure.

How about a single-payer government health care program like the civilized world has, Howie? You claim that that couldn't pass--how will you know if you don't even let us tell you? I'm not "unsure;" I'm just sure that you're not offering me the best choice. On pretty much every question he offers only "Unsure" as a default choice--not "None of the above" or "Something else (describe)." He's not looking for input, just for approval of his very soft positions. On energy use, his only two choices are renewable sources or non-renewable choices--he doesn't mention the best choice, conservation by using less energy.

The DNC similarly limits choices. Nowhere does it mention universal health care or repealing NAFTA and the WTO.

Both surveys are meaningless, just attempts to get money.
Fair and Balanced
Following Atrios' lead, I've added "Fair and Balanced" to the name of my blog. Fox is suing Al Franken for using the phrase in the extended title of his new book Lies and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them: A Fair and Balanced Look at the Right. Dozens of bloggers have joined in already! And the attention given by Fox has driven the book up to be the number four bestseller on Amazon!
Botched WMD-Planting, or Urban Legend?
I received a copy of this article from our local peace e-mail list. It comes from the Pakistan Daily Times, but is a reprint of an article on a web site called Al Martin Raw from two months ago. It describes an attempt by the CIA to plant WMD's in Iraq before and during the war. According to Nelda Rogers, supposedly a high-level operative in the Pentagon, the operation was botched and 100 people who were involved were killed in Baghdad, either by mistake or to cover it up.

I checked Snopes and did a couple of google searches, and I haven't found much about this either way. I'm very suspicious of it because the Al Martin article was posted over two months ago, and if there were any real basis to it it seems as though it would have made it into the foreign press, or at least some of my favorite blogs, before now.

I'd appreciate anyone who is interested helping me to find out the truth on this. It seems like one of those too good (or too bad) to be true stories, like the bogus Capitol Hill Blue article from last month. But if 100 US military and/or CIA personnel were killed to cover up an attempt to plant fake evidence, you'd think it would be enough to bring Bush's whole evil empire crashing down on top of him.

You'd think. You'd think there's plenty already! The evidence is clear. The results are catastrophic. Bush's complicity is obvious. HEY LOOK! Kobe! Arnold!

[UPDATE] I e-mailed Atrios (link at right) and he replied: Al's a nut. Sometimes there's a germ of truth in his crap, but it definitely ain't a reliable source.

So it looks like there's probably nothing to this story.
Memo to Saddam:
Bluffing does you no good when you're up against an opponent who has five aces and unlimited weaponry up his sleeves, and who doesn't give a flying flip about what happens to his soldiers.

In the Peninsula Campaign in the Civil War, Confederate General John Magruder paraded his meager army around and around in view of Union scouts, convincing General McLellan that he had many more troops than he actually did. That bluff worked, and McLellan hesitated while the Confederates brought in reinforcements to defend Richmond.

In Iraq, if leaked reports of what Bushie David Kay said to Congress last week are to be believed, Saddam Hussein ordered chemical weapons attacks on invading US and British soldiers back in March. Kay apparently claimed to have evidence of the orders; he also apparently had no explanation why the orders weren't carried out with the non-existent weapons. In the Guardian article that is the source for this post, there is this sentence:

One possibility is that the orders were part of an elaborate bluff, in the hope that they would be intercepted by the US and deter an attack.

The Guardian doesn't attribute this idea to anyone in particular, leaving it unclear as to whether Kay may have proposed it or if it was just the reporter's explanation. It certainly would make sense, though. Many reports from both before the war started and since indicate that most if not all of Iraq's chemical and biological weapons capability was destroyed by 1995, or 1998 at the latest. It may well have been reduced so much that Saddam decided that the military benefit of retaining them was outweighed by the danger of their being discovered. Still, he must have figured that his hold on power depended to some degree on the fear that his enemies, both foreign and domestic, had of those now non-existent weapons. He got plenty of help with this from American scaremongers, including Clinton and Bush.

But, if he did in fact give this order for chemical attacks as a bluff, it was just desperation which ignored several realities. First off, Bush had had the benefit of four months of UN inspections to verify what he probably knew all along--that Saddam had nothing. Second, Saddam was certainly mistaken if he thought Bush would hesitate for a minute about sending troops to a gruesome death. Third, as I'm sure the Bushies are aware even though they try to hide it from the American public, chemical weapons are really no worse than many of the weapons regularly used by American forces, such as cluster bombs, fuel-air explosives, depleted-uranium shells, and napalm. And fourth, I suspect that nothing would have pleased Bush more than to actually have a chemical attack take place--it would have surprised, him, certainly, but it would have helped him to justify his war for oil.

So, if Saddam was bluffing, it was clearly a waste of time. It will be interesting, though, if the Bushies actually try to use this argument to somehow justify the war now. "Well, see, Saddam, who we always said was a liar, was telling the truth just this once when he sent out this order, even though we can't find one shred of evidence that these weapons actually existed, we'll take his word for it."
Is Iraqi Intel Still Being Manipulated?
Short answer: Yes. Newsweek reports that Iraqi nuclear scientist Mahdi Obeidi, who so excited the Bushies by promising them a rose garden two months ago (pulling some shiny metal thing and some blueprints from under a rose bush), has since then refused to tell them what they want to hear. Apparently he insists that the aluminum tubes that the Iraqis bought to make rockets were to be used to make rockets. So Obeidi, apparently, has been held captive and incommunicado in Kuwait since then, instead of the asylum for himself and his family in the US that he was promised.

From John Deering.

From John Deering.
Arnold Terminates Bush Scandal Coverage
Liberal Oasis points out that the media has focussed on Arnold's run for governor at the expense of covering the real news. The Washington Post ran a fairly thorough expose of the lies told by the Bushies about the supposed Iraqi nuclear threat (or "nukular" when Bush told the lies). The article includes quotes from un-named "senior policy makers," which should have touched off a storm of speculation. But no, Arnold is running.

The other item that LO mentions is Newsday's article about Pentagon officials meeting with an infamous Iranian arms dealer who was involved in the Iran-Contra scandal (as were several current Bushies). Again, no follow through, because Arnold is running!

I think LO missed a third important article: The AP story which debunked basically EVERYTHING that Colin Powell told the UN last February. Liberal Oasis probably missed that one due to all the Arnold hype.

LO does offer hope, though. He points out that this stuff came out because people inside the administration wanted it to come out. He thinks they will persist until this gigantic scandal gets the attention it deserves. Joseph Wilson did on the "uranium from Niger" affair: Even though the fact that it was all based on a forgery had been known publicly since early March, only the persistence of Wilson in writing his piece for the NY Times finally attracted the spotlight to it and forced the White House to admit its "mistake." Hopefully other brave souls in the administration can terminate the Arnold hype and refocus the country's attention on our lying, cheating president, his lying, cheating administration, and the lousy, stinking war their lies have gotten us into.
Polizeros compares the redistricting insanity of Texas with the recall insanity of California, and claims his home state of California to be the "winner." He goes on to say "Seriously folks, with politics in California and Texas reaching these Looney Tunes levels, I'm getting the feeling the wheels really are coming off - or that we're building up to something Major. This is not business as usual..."

I think he's right about that. California and Texas are the two most populous states in the nation. Their state governments are under serious attack by right-wing Republicans who are willing to destroy any semblance of orderly governance to further their agenda. Texas Democrats won a battle in the Texas Supreme Court, but the war is far from over. Meanwhile, in California Arnold may become the governor with 10% of the vote or something, and then get recalled himself next March. This is sure to provide the stability needed to resolve the state's massive financial problems.
Go left!
Ted Rall makes a good case for the Democrats to run a truly liberal candidate.

If you're trying to unseat a moderate, swing voters are key. Your best bet is to run as one yourself. But moderates don't beat extremists--extremists do, by motivating their base.

From Slowpoke.
Don't Believe Dean
I just got an e-mail from the Howard Dean campaign which included the following sentence:
Last week, an incredible 30,565 Americans signed up for the Dean campaign-- and today you stand with more than 282,300 Americans, united in our effort to take our country back.

The thing is, I never signed up for the Dean campaign. I don't support him. How many more of those 282,300 are fake? I do wish people would stop deluding themselves about Dean, including Dean. Our country is being stolen by the corporations, and Dean would do very little to stop it. Sure he'd be better than Bush. Just not by much.

And I REALLY resent being counted as a supporter of his!


Monday, August 11, 2003

Is Privatization Killing Privates?
Letters published in Stars and Stripes and e-mail published on the Web site of Col. David Hackworth (a decorated veteran and Pentagon critic) describe shortages of water. One writer reported that in his unit, "each soldier is limited to two 1.5-liter bottles a day," and that inadequate water rations were leading to "heat casualties." An American soldier died of heat stroke on Saturday; are poor supply and living conditions one reason why U.S. troops in Iraq are suffering such a high rate of noncombat deaths? -- From Paul Krugman.
Congratulations to Kim and Dan!

Dan is my younger nephew. He married Kim (and I think her two dogs Gunnar and Scout) on Saturday in Jackson, Michigan. My brothers and I were the ushers, which explains why the posts were sparse this past weekend. Dan is the bass player and second vocalist for the band Calling Marvin, which is really good.

Apparently Arnold would be a hands-on governor.
(Disclaimer: that link is to the National Enquirer, whose record for sticking to the truth without hyperbole is similar to that of the Bush administration.)
Crimes of enormous magnitude have been committed...
But look who gets punished.

A 62-year-old retired school teacher from Florida is being fined $10,000 for being a human shield in Iraq. She refuses to pay, and may face up to 12 years in prison and/or garnishment of her pension and social security.

CNN has an online poll: "Should a 62-year-old woman who went to Iraq as a human shield have her Social Security checks garnished if she doesn't pay fines?" (bottom right of page)

Let's show her some support!
The heat is on in Europe
People are dying from record temperatures in France, England, and throughout Europe. England had its first-ever 100-degree reading.

From here in Michigan, I can't claim that global warming is obvious. Last summer was very hot, last winter was very cold and long, and this summer has been quite rainy. Abnormal weather is normal for Michigan. But it seems as though there have been more strange weather phenomena in the past few years than before. This heat and drought in Europe appears to be exceptionally bad.
Feith-based initiative?
Jim Lobe looks at a series of provocations apparently intended to drag us quickly into other wars, and traces them to the office of Undersecretary of Defense for Policy Douglas Feith, neocon extraordinaire.
Kucinich Nails Dean
At last week's AFL-CIO forum in Chicago, Dennis Kucinich said that Howard Dean had proposed raising the age for social security to 68, or even 70. Dean flat-out denied it at the forum, taking some offense that Kucinich made the accusation.

Kucinich was right, Dean was wrong. Dean had mentioned raising the age to 68 in his Meet the Press interview in June. His mention of 70 was several years ago.

This article has the details.

I guess if Dean gets the nomination and becomes president, we can only hope that he forgets what he said about supporting the death penalty and not cutting the Pentagon budget, too. Meanwhile, shouldn't everyone be considering the candidate who knows what Dean says better than Dean does himself?
Catchy Slogan!
Hate the war? Miss your job?
Don't just sit there, vote for Bob!

No, I'm not running. That's from Bob Graham's new blog.

Kucinich is my runaway favorite (anyone else gets the nomination, I run away), but there's lots of competition for second spot. Graham voted against the war, has been pushing for more investigations into 9/11, and he has a cool first name and a great slogan. He's pretty conservative, but so is Howard Dean. Right now Graham and Dean are my leading contenders for second favorite, although Kerry, Edwards and Gephardt can jump right in by making this simple statement:

"I made a mistake when I voted to give the president authority to attack Iraq. I was lied to. While I disagreed with Bush on many issues, I believed that he was an honest man. I was wrong. Anyone willing to deceive Congress, the American public and the world in order to start a war does not deserve to be president. I apologize to the American public for trusting the president and not questioning the intelligence that he presented. That will not happen again."

Every time I hear Edwards speak, I like him. If he would just say something like that, he could easily be my number two choice. For now, I think I like Graham--his blog looks to be full of good Bush-bashing!
Kucinich and the Wolfman
(Wolf Blitzer, that is, not Wolfowitz)
Dennis Kucinich was on CNN's Late Edition yesterday:

BLITZER: Well, when you say corruption, Bush-Cheney corruption, are you accusing the president and the vice president of the United States of being corrupt, in terms of the problems that Enron had?

KUCINICH: Absolutely I am. There's no question that this administration was in bed with Ken Lay. They've covered up all the meetings that deal with energy policy.

They allowed Enron, to in effect, run the energy policy of this country, to be able to grow and grow, to capture wholesale markets, to put the country in a position -- and California particularly -- where the cost of electricity went up by a factor of four and five. California hard to borrow money to pay the electric bill. California still remains in trouble because of Enron.

You know what? We never had a chance to talk about Enron in the last election because the administration knew it was in trouble, they shifted the discussion to war. And now we find out there was no basis to go to war.


BLITZER: But look at Howard Dean. He comes from Vermont, a much smaller state than Ohio. Virtually no name recognition. He has raised $10 million. You've raised but a fraction of that. Why has he managed to get himself on the cover of Newsweek and Time magazine, for example, and you're still struggling to break out from obscurity?

KUCINICH: Well, I think we have to, first of all, congratulate him for the success that he's had.

However, he's been out there more than a year ahead of my campaign. And I think that as my campaign begins to develop, we're going to be able to attract some of the people who now, currently, feel that Howard Dean is the only alternative.

I mean, my campaign offers a true progressive alternative on trade. I'm the only candidate willing to come forward and say I'll cancel NAFTA and the WTO. On health care, the only candidate who is willing to say, look, the private sector has failed, the market has failed, we've got to go to universal single-payer health care, Medicare for all.

The candidate who's ready to challenge the bloated Pentagon budget, which, as you may know, Wolf, there's a trillion dollars in accounts they can't reconcile in the Pentagon. I'll save the taxpayers money, cut the Pentagon budget by 15 percent. That's $60 billion we can put into education and other programs.

So, as I define the differences, it will be very clear to the American people that I'm offering a true alternative, a progressive alternative. And frankly, it's only that kind of alternative which will motivate people to come to vote not only in Democratic primaries, but to give the American people a real choice versus this administration in November of 2004.

BLITZER: You were one of the early opponents of a war against Iraq, going way back, many, many months. But even in the most recent CNN poll, CNN-USA Today-Gallup Poll, look at this, 63 percent of the American public still think it was worth going to war in Iraq. You're still way in the minority position, presumably not only nationwide, but even among Democrats.

Are you rethinking your stance, as far as getting rid of Saddam Hussein?

KUCINICH: Well, you know, we can't measure truth by polls, because the American people didn't have all the information back then when -- and still today, as they're giving their opinion.

The fact of the matter is that there is no evidence that ever linked Iraq to 9/11, to al Qaeda's role in 9/11, to the anthrax attack on this country. Iraq did not have any usable weapons of mass destruction, and it didn't have the intention or the capability of attacking this country.

Now what we're finding out is that the administration took steps to make the American people believe that Iraq constituted an imminent threat, and the administration hyped a nuclear threat, and there was no proof of it.

I think as the American people learn that, the spell of fear which is on this country will be broken, and it's that truth that will help break the fear.

And when that happens, my candidacy, which comes from not only the heartland in Ohio, but comes from the heart of this country, my candidacy will begin to emerge powerfully, because I've told the truth, because I've been able to let the American people know what's really going on. And they want a president who is not only going to be candid and direct, but a president who is going to lead away from unnecessary wars toward peace, toward prosperity.

That's what I represent, Wolf, and I'm confident people are going to respond to that kind of a campaign.

BLITZER: But don't you think the region is better off right now without Saddam Hussein in charge of Baghdad and Iraq than it was before the war?

KUCINICH: Well, no one's ever made a case for Saddam Hussein's staying, but the problem is, you know, does the end justify the means? I mean, this administration did not tell the American...

BLITZER: Well, that's the question. Does the end, getting rid of Saddam Hussein, his Baath Party, the Saddam Fedayeen, all the elements that tyrannized Iraq for so many decades, doesn't that justify the means?

KUCINICH: Is it worth 259 American lives? No. As a matter of fact, we have to recognize that this administration took this country to war saying that there was an imminent threat and that Iraq had nuclear capability. That has proven to be a lie.

They didn't take us into war in order to create regime change, because if that's the policy of this country, we're going to be very busy looking at regime change in North Korea, in Iran, in Syria and any place this administration feels it ought to.

We have to work with the world community in order to achieve international security, and that's where the mistake was made. We should have worked with the United Nations, we should have continued the weapons inspections.

And it's unfortunate, the administration took us into war, and now they're changing the reason why we went to war. They didn't take us into war so that we could get rid of Saddam Hussein, they took us in to get rid of nuclear weapons.

BLITZER: Let me ask you about a novel proposal you came up with the other day, a creation of a Department of Peace here in Washington. Among other things, you write this, you said, "Of peace, wherein we all may tap the infinite capabilities of humanity to transform consciousness and conditions that impel or compel violence at a personal, group or national level, toward creating understanding, compassion and love."

What are you proposing, actually, by calling for the creation of a department, a federal bureaucracy of peace?

KUCINICH: Well, the same thing that Martin Luther King was talking about years ago when he talked about making nonviolence an organizing principle in our society, to create programs where we teach our children peace-giving and peace-sharing and mutuality and identifying the other person as oneself, where we learn that violence isn't inevitable.

We look at the challenges of domestic violence, spousal abuse, child abuse, gangs in the schools, the problems that exist in racial violence, violence against gays.

I mean, our society has potential to evolve, and I think people want a leader who recognizes the power the American people have to continue this challenge we were given by our founders to create a more perfect union.

On an international level, the Department of Peace aspires to work with the world community to get away from war, to make war archaic. We have to believe in our capacity to create a world which has the ability to survive. And I'll tell you, Wolf, policies of unilateralism, preemption, of nuclear first-strike, building new nuclear weapons, putting weapons in space, building missile shields that contemplate World War III, take us away from the kind of peace which the American people are ready for.

We can achieve peace working with the world community, cooperating internationally. The Department of Peace built on a vision of people who for the longest time have believed that America has this great capacity to be able to not only improve itself, but to take us in a direction that's sustainable.

BLITZER: Congressman Dennis Kucinich wants to be president of the United States. We'll continue to cover your campaign.

Of course, if Wolf and CNN had actually been covering the campaign, they'd know that the Department of Peace idea isn't something that Kucinich just "came up with the other day." If they had been covering the campaign, a lot more people would know the truth and the poll numbers would be a lot different. But at least he gave him some time yesterday.
Finally! A senator rips the administration for lousy planning:
Asked Sunday how the planning was lacking, [the senator] replied: "I think a thorough misunderstanding of how complex the politics of Iraq are and continue to be; an inability to understand the decapitation theory -- that is, getting rid of the top types while the workers continue -- wasn't going to work," he said.

"In other words, the basic assumptions, whoever was making them, at State, at NSC, at Defense, simply were inadequate to begin with." NSC is the National Security Council.

[The senator] said the facts in Iraq show "that if we are theorists before the fact, we better all talk about it a great deal more."

His committee's consultations with administration officials, [the senator] said, "showed that the administration really was not prepared on those grounds."

Which senator was this? John Kerry? Joe Biden? Hillary Clinton? HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!

It was Senator Richard Lugar, REPUBLICAN of Indiana.

The key to getting rid of Bush will be with the Republicans, especially in the senate. My impression is that Lugar, McCain, Shelby, Hagel, and maybe one or two other Republican senators have some real integrity and are greatly embarrassed by the Bush administration. Once they've decided that Bush has to go, the "pink tutu Democrats" (BartCop's term) will fall in line. Nixon fought off Democratic challenges for a year and a half, but was gone within a week after key Republicans abandoned their support of him. Any readers who have Republican senators or representatives, I hope that you are writing and calling them incessantly calling for investigations, impeachment, etc. Give them some cover for doing the right thing!

From Milt Priggee.

From Steve Breen.
Quote du Jour
California is the most progressive state in the union, quite unorthodox at times. I think its citizens would welcome having a smut peddler who cares as their governor. -- Larry Flynt, one of about 200 candidates for governor of California.


From the always blunt Ted Rall.
W's top five sources of intelligence...
revealed by Tom Tomorrow. You'll have to view a 15-second ad for the ACLU to see the cartoon on Salon.
Afghanistan--Bush Quagmire I
Already the signs are there -- a boom in opium production, rampant banditry and huge swaths of territory unsafe for Western aid workers. The central government has almost no power over regional warlords who control roads and extort money from truck drivers, choking commerce and trade.

If the country slips into anarchy, it risks becoming a haven for resurgent Taliban and al-Qaida fighters. And the point of U.S. military action here could be lost -- a major setback in the war against terrorism.

Money spent on the war may end up being wasted, and dragging the country back from chaos could be even more costly. America spends about $900 million a month on its forces stationed here, but little of the $3 billion authorized for aid in the Freedom Support Act has been spent.
-- LA Times

So its $0.9 billion per month for Afghanistan, $3.9 billion per month for Iraq. While I think the war in Afghanistan was wrong and unnecessary, at least there were real ties between al Qaeda and the Taliban (not as much as between al Qaeda and the Saudi or Pakistani governments, but that's another story). Shouldn't those who believe that the "war on terror" is a good thing be questioning why we're wasting more money and lives in Iraq than we are in Afghanistan?

Sunday, August 10, 2003

AP rips Colin Powell to shreds!
AP reporter Charles J. Hanley goes through Powell's February 5 presentation to the United Nations about Iraq's weapons, and points out that it was basically ALL LIES. Satellite photos, audio tapes, hidden documents, desert weapons, anthrax, bioweapons trailers, unmanned aircraft, VX, embedded capability, 500 tons of chemical agent, chemical weapons, deployed weapons, nuclear program, aluminum tubes, magnets, scuds, new missles. All in Powell's presentation. ALL LIES.

The whole lot of the Bushies should be tossed out immediately, and then tried for war crimes.
Washington Post Goes After Bush!
The new information indicates a pattern in which President Bush, Vice President Cheney and their subordinates -- in public and behind the scenes -- made allegations depicting Iraq's nuclear weapons program as more active, more certain and more imminent in its threat than the data they had would support. On occasion administration advocates withheld evidence that did not conform to their views. The White House seldom corrected misstatements or acknowledged loss of confidence in information upon which it had previously relied. -- from a long Washington Post article today.

Saturday, August 09, 2003

Saddam's Human Rights Abuses
This article finally calls into question some of the claims made about the mass graves in Iraq and their implications of the brutality of Saddam Hussein. Tony Blair, especially, seems to be grasping at straws to make the certainly brutal Saddam into a monster orders of magnitude greater than the factual evidence would indicate.

Friday, August 08, 2003

Bush Aviator Doll
Now available at K-B Toys.

Atrios asks why does it look just like Wesley Clark?

Bush DollWesley Clark
Willful pattern of deception
AWol and his defenders have tried to play down the sixteen words about uranium from Africa, implying that it just slipped through the cracks that one time. But according to Walter Pincus of the Washington Post:

Yet in the days before and after the president's State of the Union address, the allegation was repeated by national security adviser Condoleezza Rice, Secretary of State Colin L. Powell, Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld, Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul D. Wolfowitz and in at least two documents sent out by the White House.

Sixteen words, and what do ya get
Another Gulf War and deeper in debt
Coupla hundred dead soldiers and they ain't done yet
This war was sold by Republican whores.

[update] I was just e-mailed an article which says that the Bushies are telling Niger's government to say nothing about the uranium claims. Apparently some government officials have been telling the press that the whole story is a complete lie, and the Bushies sent somebody to Niger to tell them to shut up. "Yes I'm proud to be an American..."
Big Brother Is Watching You

From his blimp:
Long associated with providing television shots at football games and selling tires, blimps could play a key role in homeland security, say military researchers, who envision dirigibles hovering over Washington, protecting the region.
This week, during a demonstration of blimps armed with cutting-edge sensor technology, a 260-foot airship drifted over the woods near Manassas, where a set of blue tarps was strung across the ground to represent a terrorist encampment.

The color-sensitive sensors aboard the blimp easily detected the tarps despite a thick canopy of trees. The location was outlined in red on a monitor. Inside a gray turret attached to the gondola's outer frame, a high-resolution camera turned its lens toward the terrain in question, verifying the find.

We all remember, of course, the blue tarps used by the 9/11 hijackers, and the bright red ones used by Timothy McVeigh. If only we had had super-creepy blimps flying all over the country back then!

It sounds to me like the blimps will do a good job of finding boats in storage and baseball fields in the rain. From a creepy standpoint, this matches the quickly-discredited terror futures market as far as I'm concerned.

Thursday, August 07, 2003

Let's hope this is official policy
Recalling the killing of his sons in a display of U.S. firepower, [Major General Ray Odierno, commander of the U.S. Army's 4th Infantry Division] said that if Saddam were finally cornered he would take no chances, but would rather take him alive.

"We will take whatever force is necessary in order to safeguard our soldiers. So if there is intense fire, if we went and there were several bodyguards then there might be a pretty good firefight," he said.

"Hopefully he'll turn himself in. Do I think he'll turn himself in? Probably not. Would we like to take him alive if we catch him? Absolutely. I think that would be very helpful to do that, let the people see that we have captured him."
-- CNN

If there's any hope of establishing the rule of law in Iraq, Saddam needs to be brought to trial--alive.

Wednesday, August 06, 2003

Yeah, right...
THE PRESIDENT: First, it's been my real privilege and honor to welcome the Secretary of State back to Crawford. He and Dick Armitage came, and we spent yesterday evening and this morning talking about our country's desire to promote peace and freedom, our obligations as a prosperous and strong nation to help the less fortunate. -- from the White House web site.

Of course, not one of the press corps had the courage to say "Great! When are you going to start?"
Unocal to stand trial
The Independent reports that Unocal will have to answer charges of human rights violations in connection with its pipeline project in Burma. Unocal has been a long-time friend of tyrants around the world, including the current Burmese thugocracy, the Taliban, and the Bush administration.
The word from our Congressman:
Mitch of the Ann Arbor Area Committee for Peace reports on a conversation he had with our Congressman John Dingell, who has been in Congress since early in the Eisenhower administration:

Congressman John Dingell paid an impromptu two-hour visit to the tabling section of the Ann Arbor Farmer's Market on Saturday. We hand-delivered over 600 signatures to him, calling for an independent, bipartisan investigation into the Bush Administration's allegations of weapons of mass destruction leading up to the war on Iraq. He thanked us for them, said that he strongly supports us, but said that our efforts would not lead to an investigation. What follows is a rough transcript of the conversation, as best as memory serves.

Q: Why won't we get an investigation?

Dingell: The Republicans would never let an investigative committee be established. They are bad people, and they strongly protect the president. We couldn't get near him.

Q: With President Bush assuming responsibility in his recent press conference and Condoleezza Rice saying that it was basically her fault, aren't we making headway?

Dingell: In every situation like this, they set up a fall-guy. Condoleezza Rice may be that person here. At the most, what this will do is cause someone to take the fall and be fired.

Q: Mr. Levin seems to be making headway in the Senate with calls for an investigation. Why can't we get the House members to start clamoring for an investigation as well? You never know where it will lead.

Dingell: You're looking at the Number One investigator in the House. I've had hundreds of investigations, all of them successful except for one. Even if an investigation could be established, the Republicans won't let it get anywhere. It won't find anything.

Q: Well then what do you suggest we do?

Dingell: Get out and vote, replace them in 2004.

Q: Can we get a fair election with touch-screen voting? Do you support the move toward computerized voting?

Dingell: No. I am strongly opposed to computerized voting. It makes it much easier for tampering to be done. But look, stealing elections is nothing new. Let me tell you a story. Back when I was a prosecutor in Wayne County, the inspector general came running in one election day saying, "They're stuffing the ballot boxes! They're stuffing the ballot boxes!" My boss came over and said, "Calm down. Don't worry about a thing. THOSE aren't the boxes we'll be counting."

I also had a chance to ask Dingell a few questions. I asked him what he thought about Kucinich's proposal to scrap NAFTA and the WTO. Dingell said he voted against NAFTA back in '93, but that he supports the WTO. I asked why, and he said the WTO doesn't give anything away--it's just a framework. I said, well, that framework is awfully secretive. How can it be a good thing when we don't even know what they're up to? Dingell replied that the Europeans are always secretive.

Dingell is a little intimidating to me, but overall I think he's an excellent congressman, especially considering what most of the rest of the country has. He voted against the Patriot Act and against war in Iraq, and NAFTA too! For all I know, he may have voted against the KOREAN war. Last spring I asked him about civil liberties. He said he nearly lost his seat in Congress back in 1964 because he supported LBJ's civil rights legislation. Can your representative in the House claim that?
The mayor of Hiroshima has criticized the U.S. for pursuing new nuclear weapons technology, as he marked the 58th anniversary of the world's first atomic bomb attack.

Tadatoshi Akiba said Washington's apparent worship of "nuclear weapons as God" was threatening world peace.

"The Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, the central international agreement guiding the elimination of nuclear weapons, is on the verge of collapse," Akiba said during the annual ceremony held Wednesday at the Peace Memorial Park.

"As the U.S.-British-led war on Iraq made clear, the assertion that war is peace is being trumpeted as truth."
-- From CNN.
Napalm by any other name
While it was going on, the military denied using napalm in the invasion of Iraq. Turns out those were Mark 77 incendiary bombs--new and improved napalm.

Yesterday military spokesmen described what they see as the distinction between the two types of incendiary bombs. They said mixture used in modern firebombs is a less harmful mixture than Vietnam War-era napalm.

"This additive has significantly less of an impact on the environment," wrote Marine spokesman Col. Michael Daily, in an e-mailed information sheet provided by the Pentagon.

He added, "many folks (out of habit) refer to the Mark 77 as 'napalm' because its effect upon the target is remarkably similar."

I'll do Senator Hutchison's quote for her: "Well, you see, we had to incinerate hundreds of Iraqi soldiers alive, since we know that someday they might have developed nasty weapons and attacked us with them."

Kucinich gets a good review from MSNBC
The leaders of organized labor played host Tuesday night to a nine-candidate free-for-all among the Democratic presidential contenders. Long-shot contender Rep. Dennis Kucinich of Ohio stood out from the crowd, delivering a rousing performance, challenging former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean on why he wasn’t willing to cut the defense budget and demanding that Rep. Dick Gephardt of Missouri tell the audience whether he’d revoke the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) and pull the United States out of the World Trade Organization.

After the debate Kucinich insisted that it wasn’t impractical to cancel NAFTA and pull out of the WTO. “No one here answered that question.... None of them would say it — not even Dick Gephardt who is trying to rely on support from labor to become the next president.”

I watched much of the debate. I couldn't really hear the response from the audience on C-Span; from the MSNBC article it sounds like Kucinich got good reactions from the crowd. Unfortunately, that didn't come across on TV, making his "rousing performance" seem a bit shrill. Dean also was a bit harsh, and his smile was positively scary. Gephardt looks very close to a heart attack every time he tries to be forceful. No one has any idea how Kerry looks when he tries to be forceful, since he never seems to try. His line about "trickle-down economics" seemed to get a great response from the crowd. It was something like "It's time to stop George Bush from trickling down on us." I still have no idea why Lieberman keeps getting invited to Democratic events.

My response to last night's debate is similar to the first one I saw a few months ago. While I support Kucinich wholeheartedly, and no other candidate is close to him on the issues or the record, he does not come across well in TV debates. I'm pretty sure that Kucinich is sincere in wanting to be president, but his several challenges to the other candidates last night almost made it seem as though his main purpose was to get them to adopt parts of his platform rather than to beat them with it. If I had no prejudices going in and watched either debate cold, I would say that John Edwards and Al Sharpton are the most reasonable, likeable candidates. If Edwards were to renounce his vote for the Iraq war, blaming Bush for deceiving Congress and vociferously calling for an investigation leading to impeachment, he would quickly climb to be my second choice after Kucinich.

Quote du Jour:

"I’m a tool."
-- Dick Gephardt

Okay, it was taken somewhat out of context. Out of a reluctant sense of fairness, here's the entire quote:

Gephardt wants to negotiate new international trade accords that will force other nations to allow their workers to unionize and to run environmentally clean factories.

He said the cause of fighting for American jobs is bigger than his candidacy. “I’m unimportant,” he said. “I’m a tool. I’m just one person who believes in his heart that what we’re fighting for is the most important thing in the world.”


Tuesday, August 05, 2003

Jimmy Carter to be Tried for Peace Crimes
"Carter is one of the worst enemies the forces of destruction have known since Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and his non-violent rampages of the '50s and '60s," Simmons said. "Even today, in his capacity as an ex-president, [Carter] continues his pursuit of non-aggression. He must be stopped now, before another terrible war is avoided and more lives are saved."

(from the Onion, of course)
Anniston Alabama 2254, Iraq 0
That's the score, in known tons of chemical weapons on hand. I blogged about Anniston a few times last year (go to my 2002 archive page and do a search for "Anniston"). It's a small city in northeastern Alabama in the Appalachian foothills. Very pretty setting, actually. But in addition to having this huge stockpile of chemical weapons, they also had a Monsanto plant there for decades which polluted all of the streams with PCB's and other toxins.

Well, the Army is finally going to incinerate those chemical weapons (don't worry, the US will still have a stockpile of close to 30,000 tons). They're distributing gas masks to area residents, "just in case."

If the Bush administration had really been serious about protecting the American public from a chemical weapons attack, they would have made destroying the 31,000 tons of chemical weapons in this country their number one priority. If they really were interested in learning a lesson from 9/11 (instead of furthering an agenda), I think the lesson would be that everything needed to cause thousands of casualties in America is already here. While one would hope that our own WMD's, and the airspace above them, are well guarded from attack, there are thousands of other vulnerabilities that terrorists could exploit. A couple of years ago there was a train fire in a tunnel under Baltimore which shut down parts of the city for several days. Many toxic chemicals which would be extremely dangerous if they caught on fire, or even were simply released, travel by train and truck all over this country every day.

Frankly, I don't think that chemical weapons produced abroad, in Iraq or anywhere else, pose any significant threat to the United States. Any terrorist group would find it much simpler to use what's already available here. Probably the same for biological weapons--simple, low-tech methods like poisoning water supplies with botulinum or salmonella would probably cause more fatalities than the fancy stuff like anthrax. (The anthrax attacks of 2001 had total casualties in dead and sick approximately equal to a single hour of auto accidents on our highways.)

There's probably some low "background" level of terror attacks that is unavoidable. Occasionally somebody goes nuts and blows something up, even in Finland or Sweden. But to progress to the level where realistic fear of terror attacks is constant, like in Israel, you have to invade and occupy somebody else's land and repress them for a while, or support someone who does.
Look what passes for a US Senator these days!
Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-TX) was on Larry King last night:

KING: What do you make of the search for weapons of mass destruction? (King actually asked the question of Sen. Bob Graham first, then to Hutchison.)

HUTCHISON: Well, I do think that we will find weapons of mass destruction. We know he has chemical weapons, because he's used them, and I think it's important that we see the evidence of that. I think you have to go back and look at what the president was looking at when he decided to target Saddam Hussein. He had just been through a 9/11, where we were not prepared, where we didn't put all the information we had together to protect our people, and he sees evidence that Saddam Hussein will not let the weapon inspectors do their jobs, and we know he's used these weapons before, and he knows that there is a connection with terrorists.

So the president is saying, am I going to have another 9/11 with the weapon of mass destruction funded by Saddam Hussein, and the answer for the president was no. And I think that has to be looked at in the context of what he knew at the time and what he had seen after 9/11.

And how does Larry King respond to this Republican stream of unconsciousness?

KING: We'll take a break and come back with more. We'll also include some of your phone calls. Don't go away.

"We know he has chemical weapons, because he's used them." Senator, we don't even know for sure that Saddam is alive. If he's on the run like the Pentagon claims, I sincerely doubt if he's carrying a few barrels of VX around with him. And using something in the past does not imply possession in the present; otherwise we could probably convict aWol on cocaine charges right now.

"Am I going to have another 9/11 with the weapon of mass destruction funded by Saddam Hussein, and the answer for the president was no." Senator, the WMD's in the first 9/11 were airplanes made by Boeing and funded by the airlines, flown by Saudis and Egyptians who were funded by the Saudis. Did invading Iraq do anything to prevent something like that from happening again? The answer for this blogger is "No." And your buddy Ashcroft was on all the talk shows Sunday saying that a repeat of 9/11 was very possible.

Hutchison has out-Bushed Bush on this one. What a complete moron. Read her quote again. This is a US senator. Are lobotomies required in order to join the Republican party in Texas?
Senator Hollings won't run for re-election next year
But he's still got plenty to say:

I'm truly worried about the country's direction.
I said no I can tell you this categorically, we've got the weakest president and weakest governor in the history of my 50 years of public service. I say weak president in that the poor boy campaigns all the time and pays no attention to what's going on in the Congress. Karl Rove tells him to do this or do that or whatever it is, but he's out campaigning.
Otherwise, riding up here, I saw this state could care less. I just saw Carolina license plates, Tiger paw license plates, they just can't wait for the kick-offs here at the end of the month. They just don't worry about the 60,100 textile jobs alone we have lost since NAFTA. We always brag on BMW in Spartanburg County. Ten years ago we were down to 3.2 percent unemployment there, and now we're at 8.5 percent unemployment. And in the country this is endemic. In the country itself, we don't make anything any more.

Had to make a talk on trade last week, and I looked it up and found out that at the end of World War II we had 40 percent of our workforce in manufacturing. And now we're down to 10 percent. We've got 10 percent of the country working and producing, and we've got the other 90 percent talking and eating. That's all they're doing. [Actually, I'm blogging and eating at the moment--Bob]

"And we're eliminating jobs – hard manufacture, service, high-tech – all except the press and the politicians. They don't import us. If they'd imported us, they'd get rid of us, too. I can tell you that right now, because we're not making anything any more.

Kristof defends atomic bombing of Japan -- from today's NY Times
Nicholas Kristof examines the evidence regarding the "necessity" of using A-bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. It has long been claimed that many more would have died in an invasion of Japan, on both sides, than died in the bombings. I'll confess to having some sympathy, if you can call it that, for that argument, in part because my father probably would have been part of the invasion force. It's also true that the scale of killing at Hiroshima wasn't really much different from that caused by the fire-bombings of Coventry, Hamburg, Dresden and Tokyo, or in several battles on the German-Russian front earlier in the war. So, even as a dedicated peacenik, I'm not completely convinced that the bombing of Hiroshima was entirely unjustified. One more horrible escalation in a war filled with them. Maybe it did save lives, including my father's (thereby making my existence possible).

About the bombing of Nagasaki just three days after Hiroshima, however, I don't see how there can be any debate. Gratuitous violence, pure and simple. I remember reading that much of Japan had little idea what had happened at Hiroshima for days after it happened. The bomb destroyed all transportation and communications out of the city. Most eyewitnesses to the bomb were either dead or so sick that they couldn't tell what had happened. Given another week or two to fully understand what had happened, it seems very likely that Hiroshima alone would have been sufficient to trigger a Japanese surrender. Kristoff mentions the idea that the US might have held off on the second bomb, but basically rejects it without presenting any reasons.

One other question that I haven't seen asked--was an invasion necessary if Japan didn't surrender? They had been cut off from most of their resources and their military was largely destroyed, at least in terms of offensive capability. Why risk huge numbers of casualties in an invasion? Of course, Japan and Germany are about the only two countries the US has occupied in history that actually seem to have come out better off for it, although the benefit in Japan wasn't shared with the 200,000 or so killed by the A-bombs, nor would it have gone to those killed in an invasion. Like I said, while not necessarily agreeing with it, I can understand the argument for the Hiroshima bomb. I'm not familiar with any good argument for the Nagasaki bomb, nor can I imagine one.

Monday, August 04, 2003

In America, a 'conspiracy nut' is defined as a journalist who reports the news two years before the New York Times. -- Greg Palast.

Palast gives some good insight into why the Bushies are so protective of the Saudis:

And here's the ugly little punchline to the story you WON'T read in the Times. Why has the Bush Administration covered up for WAMY and the Saudi's other blood-soaked 'charity' operations?

For the answer, let me take you back to Midland, Texas, 1986. A young old man, George W. Bush, seems to have trouble finding oil. But he strikes it rich when his flailing drilling partnership is bought out by Harken Oil. Despite the addition of the business acumen of Bush Jr., Harken faces collapse; but is pulled from the brink by a cash infusion from a Saudi, Sheik Bakhsh. The money from Arabia has nothing to do, we must assume, with Dubya's daddy at the time holding the post of Vice-President of the Free World.

The Bakhsh booty continued a pattern of the young Bush being saved from his dire business decisions by a line of Sheik angels. His first oil company, Arbusto, going bust-o, was aided by the American financial representative of the bin Ladin family.

And on BBC TV last month, I reported this: following the bombing of our embassies, the Clinton Administration sent two delegations to Saudi Arabia to tell their royal highnesses to stop giving money to the guys who are killing us. But Mr. Bush, once in office, put the kibosh on unfriendly words to the Saudis.

Furthermore, in the summer of 2001, Mr. Bush disbanded the US intelligence unit tracking funding of Al Qaeda. What is it our G-men were uncovering? According to two separate sources speaking to BBC, the funders of Al Qaeda fronts include those who have previously funded Bush family business and political ventures.

A couple of things I'm mentioning now that maybe you'll see in the NY Times in two years. The story of John O'Neill is one. He'd been the FBI's main al Qaeda tracker for years before resigning in frustration in August 2001. He took a new job as head of security at the World Trade Center, where he died on September 11. The story of FBI chief Robert Mueller is the other. He became FBI director on September 4, 2001, one week before 9/11. He replaced acting head Thomas Pickard, who had taken over for Louis Freeh on June 25. Certainly this could all be coincidence, but it seems very curious that a new guy takes over just before the bureau might come under intense scrutiny. I've haven't seen any quotes where Mueller has used his one-week tenure as an excuse for the FBI's failure to connect the dots; it just seems suspicious when juxtaposed with O'Neill's resignation and the items that Palast quotes above.
FBI and CIA start really investigating 9/11--Finally
From the Boston Globe via MouseMusings:

"They are revisiting everybody. The bureau did not do a very good job of unraveling the conspiracy behind the hijackers," said one government terrorism consultant who asked not to be named. "It may be too late." (My emphasis)

Shoot first, ask questions later. Two wars, thousands dead, respect for America in the septic tank--all before figuring out who was really to blame for 9/11.

"No one could possibly have known that there was a NORTH Korea!" -- Hypothetical Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, September 12, 2005, after a North Korean nuke destroys Crawford, Texas.

The Washington Post reports that Colin Powell and Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage will not stick around for a second W administration (I'm with them on that). The Post says that Rice and Paul Wolfowitz would be the leading candidates to replace Powell. Of all the thousands of ridiculous things that have been said by members of this administration, I think Rice's statement from spring 2002 is the best evidence of incredible incompetence and/or deceit:

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.

Similar plots had been uncovered after the first WTC bombing in 1993 and had been written about in newspapers and books. A disgruntled FedEx pilot tried to crash a DC-10 into FedEx headquarters in 1994. Tom Clancy wrote a novel which ended with a 747 being intentionally crashed into the US Capitol. All of this was known publicly, much of it by me, well before 9/11. The Clinton national security team had passed this information on to Rice and other Bushies. Somebody who would utter the quote above has absolutely no business being National Security Advisor--or Secretary of State.

This doesn't matter in the least, really. If there's a second GWB administration, the United States, and quite possibly the entire world, is a goner.
Wall Street to blame for Argentine collapse
From the Washington Post:
In those days, Wall Street firms touted Argentina as one of the world's hottest economies as they raked in fat fees for marketing the country's stocks and bonds.

Thus were sown the seeds of one of the most spectacular economic collapses in modern history, a debacle in which Wall Street played a major role.

The fantasyland that Argentina represented for foreign financiers came to a catastrophic end early last year, when the government defaulted on most of its $141 billion debt and devalued the nation's currency. A wrenching recession left well over a fifth of the labor force jobless and threw millions into poverty.

An extensive review of the conduct of financial market players in Argentina reveals Wall Street's complicity in those events. Investment bankers, analysts and bond traders served their own interests when they pumped up euphoria about the country's prospects, with disastrous results.

Bob Herbert on the jailing of immigrants

Mr. Nikpreljevic and his relatives are exactly the kinds of productive individuals who help a society to thrive. They have been a boon to their local community and are assets to the U.S. as a whole. But the law, especially in times of great fear, does not always leave room for wise decisions. And where immigrants are concerned, the system becomes more of a crapshoot than ever.

One crazy idea among many
I wondered last week why, of all of the hundreds of warped and crazy ideas coming out of the Bushies, the terror futures market was so quickly axed. Sure it was nuts; sure there was no justification for it; sure it could have been manipulated by capitalists and other terrorists for profit. Same for the war on Iraq. Why was THIS crazy idea shot down so quickly, while all the others continue to fly? Apparently Ted Rall agrees with me:

The SCLM: So-Called Liberal Media
Hidden well down in the body of this NY Times article is this sentence:
Mr. Bush won the support of 35 percent of Hispanic voters in 2000; in this poll, 21 percent of Hispanics who say they are registered to vote said they would vote for his re-election.

So what does the headline say?

Hispanics Back Big Government and Bush, Too.

As Atrios says, "The poll results are basically completely 180 degrees from the slant of the story."

The story also says:

And one-third of Hispanics said they would be more likely to vote for a candidate for public office who spoke Spanish. Mr. Bush does, if perhaps not fluently.

Perhaps? He doesn't speak ENGLISH fluently! Has he ever done an interview in Spanish on Univision or other Spanish-language TV station?

Here comes peace!

From the Washington Post. I have no idea what should be done in Liberia, but it seems ironic that this Nigerian soldier is a "peacekeeper."

Sunday, August 03, 2003

Kucinich Gets Green Support
From the San Francisco Examiner:
Medea Benjamin, co-founder of Global Exchange and Code Pink Women for Peace and U.S. Senate candidate for the Greens in 2000, told The Examiner that Kucinich is "as green as you can get."

"He's so genuine, you wonder how this guy ever got to Congress," Benjamin said.

Hopefully people will be wondering the same thing in two years--about how he ever got to the White House!
The Times Goes to War for Bush--Again
This time it's Thomas Friedman, who tries to present Tony Blair as a sympathetic figure making the case that international law is meaningless.

"What amazes me," [Mr. Blair says,] "is how many people are happy for Saddam to stay. They ask why we don't get rid of [the Zimbabwean leader Robert] Mugabe, why not the Burmese lot. Yes, let's get rid of them all. I don't because I can't, but when you can you should."

Alas, Mr. Blair never really made this case to his public. Why not? Because the British public never would have gone to war for the good reasons alone. Why not? Because the British public had not gone through 9/11 and did not really feel threatened, because it demanded a U.N. legal cover for any war and because it didn't like or trust George Bush.

Good reasons? The United Nations was set up at the end of World War II to prevent countries from deciding on their own to invade other countries. The US and Great Britain were instrumental in setting up that process. Now Tony Blair thinks he and the Moron with the Waron should decide these things by themselves. And Thomas Idiot Friedman thinks that's a good case.
What to tell the children?
Q: Do we always rename foods whenever another country doesn't do what we want them to do?
A: No, we just do that to our friends. Our enemies, we invade.
-- From a masterful fictional dialogue between a father and daughter on Veralynne's achangintimes blog. I can't figure out her permalinks, so just scroll down to the post dated "7/31/2003 02:42:59 AM." You'll recognize the contortions the father goes through to explain why Afghanistan, Iraq and Cuba are our enemies while Pakistan, Saudi Arabia and China are our friends.

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 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