Bob's Links and Rants -- Fair and Balanced

Welcome to my rants page! You can contact me by e-mail: Be sure to check out my Post 9/11 website for links to lots of stuff I care about. I have put all of my 2002 rants into a single file.

Saturday, August 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 Nick Anderson.

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 Kirk Anderson.

From John Deering.

From John Deering.

From Bruce MacKinnon.

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.